Sep 25, 2009
We also traveled into the mountains of Lebanon and stayed a few days. It was a sleepy little town whose only source of electricity was a single generator. The power was constantly going out. Everyone in the town seemed to be related. Each person I met was introduced as their cousin. Word quickly spread that an artist was in their midst. Like I previously stated in an earlier post, people in Lebanon really love people who can do art. The first thing I did was draw the house where we were staying. Everyday more and more "cousins" showed up to see me in action. Adults and kids alike. The kids loved to sit one inch from me, constantly bumping and hitting my arms and hand by accident while I tried to draw. One man brought his whole family to meet me. He even called me a "gentleman." I had become so popular that a friend of ours said I could probably get elected mayor of the town. He was not even kidding. The only problem was that every town was full of posters with politicians faces on them. Yun asked about one poster in particular and we were told that he was not a politician. It was someone who was shot dead. It was a memorial poster. He said that you only get on a poster if you are a politician or if you are shot dead. That was enough for me to end my bid for mayor. The highlight in the little town was when a musician (cousin) wanted to show his gratitude to me for letting his son watch me draw by coming over to perform live. It was amazing. I loved it and best of all I got to show off my dance moves for my new friends. What a blast.
Sep 22, 2009
I went drawing on a Sunday afternoon with Butch Belair, Danny Gregory, Jack Gregory and was even joined by Reid Paley. We went to a cool joint on the west side of Manhattan called the Frying Pan. It's a pier that is really a giant outdoor bar and grill. There's a boat that is a club and real boats docked there too. An ideal place to draw because you can get cold beers in an instant. One of the boats is a fireboat called the John J Harvey. There was no way I could really draw the boat from my angle. I had to cheat and distort the boat like crazy to make this drawing work. Somehow I did it.
Sep 21, 2009
When I was a kid I knew nothing about art supplies. I didn't even go into an art supply store until I was in college. In grammar school if I had a project to do, my mom would send me to the candy store with a quarter and I would buy a piece of oak tag for nineteen cents. What the hell is oak tag anyway? I asked some people at work and everyone knew what it was. It's all I ever used as a kid. I found some big sheets of paper in my office. They reminded me of this oak tag stuff. I wondered what it would be like to draw on it now. So this is my little effort at working on oak tag after a million years. I'm not sure I'd try it again but I did feel nostalgic.
Sep 15, 2009
Yun Lee wanted to see the monasteries of Lebanon. I had no clue they even existed. We drove way into the mountains and found this friggin place. It was surrounded by what looked like beautiful green steps but were actually olive, Lemon, apple and every other kind of fruit tree. There were little churches hidden in caves on the site. Some quite large. I told Yun I was going to draw. She wondered off. Somehow Yun ended up being invited to a big luncheon banquet thrown by the monks. There was a long table with about 70 people. It was held in an old banquet hall. Yun said the food which was all made by the monks, was the best she had on the entire trip. I, of course, missed all of it because I was drawing. We also went to what was being called, the eighth wonder of the world. It was called Jeita Grotto. I didn't film this. It was something I found on Youtube. This doesn't do it justice. The grotto really was an amazing place.
Sep 14, 2009
We eat so much processed food in America. You never really know what the hell you're getting. I think it's all grown in giant hot houses in New Jersey. We can get all kinds of fruits and vegetables whether they are in season or not. That's not a good thing really. In the mountains of Lebanon, you step foot outside your house and you are standing in Fruit and vegetable heaven. Lately I've been doing drawings like this one where I pick up whatever is on the ground where I am staying and draw it. This was no hot house in New Jersey. One day Yun and I were taken to the very top of this mountain in Lebanon. In the middle of nowhere was an outdoor restaurant. It was quite cold. There was only a thatched roof. The place held like 500 people. I never saw anything like it before and I'm sure I never will. There was endless rows of very long tables. A herd of goats were perched on the side of the cliffs. I looked up and saw a steak knife stuck into the bark of a tree right above our table. Basically we were the only people eating at the restaurant. There was 25 waiters smoking water pipes and staring at us. I'm not sure what really goes on at this place when the two tourists aren't there.
Travel is tough. One always has to deal with jet lag, new foods, money issues and language barriers. During the day it would reach 90 degrees. We would drive 45 minutes higher up in the mountains to visit other villages and in that time the temperature could drop as much as 20 degrees. Yun was getting a bit beat up by it all. I was just the opposite. Everywhere we went, I would eat three times as much as I normally do. Chowing down huge plates of raw meat with mint and raw onions. Pounding Almazas which are Lebanese beers and chasing them with Arak, a strong local liquor. The whole time I'm smoking Cuban cigars. I was always lugging my knapsack filled with my drawing books, folding stool, tripod, cameras and art supplies. Yun would grab a nap and I would draw in the hot sun. She was amazed at my stamina on this trip and so was I. It wasn't until we got home and Yun made me dinner of homemade Spaghetti and meatballs. I was on my fifth meatball when all of a sudden it hit me. It was only 8 o'clock in the evening but that was all she wrote. I stood up, said goodnight and hit the pillow and slept all night. Now I'm good as new.
Also there was a little blurb about me at The Little Chimp Society.
A huge part of Lebanon is Christian, something like 40 percent. They are not just run of the mill Christians, they are serious-assed Christians. Christ actually hung out in Lebanon. He was walking all through the little towns doing groovy miracles and what not. The apostles dug hanging out there too. Jesus even turned the water into wine and the bread into pate in the Lebanese town of Cana. The blessed virgin, Jesus and various saints dot the roadsides into the various Christian towns. They live in little monuments that are all lit up at night. Some towns like Byblos have churches and Mosques side by side. Religion is everywhere. They make our Christian conservatives look like a bunch of Satan worshippers. I sat and drew this Mosque in the blazing sun. Yun was going down from heat stroke but I battled through it to do this sketch. It is the oldest town in the world, 5000 BC. Lebanese love people who can draw. Tons would gather to watch me. I was a big hit. This town was also a fishing village with a lovely little port. We got there at sunset. It was glorious. The town had one of the nicest restaurants I ever saw. Old and authentic. The funny part was that it was a Mexican restaurant. When Yun and I went through customs to leave, the official could see we were tourists and he said to Yun that a bunch of people from Mexico had just gone through. Yun and I laughed but we still can't figure out the whole Mexican connection there.
I never thought I'd hear myself say this but there I was staring at the skyline and saying. "I'm in Beirut." When I arrived I didn't have too much knowledge about the place. We had a guide who took us around a bit. I wanted to see old neighborhoods and souks but our guide kept wanting to show us Starbucks and new shopping malls. There are signs of destruction everywhere. Beautiful old buildings that are pockmarked from being shelled. Shite slums with people living in abandoned structures. The new and the old stand side by side with the decayed and ruined. Then you have to factor in the gorgeous Mediterranean ocean. There is a huge boardwalk that stretches for miles. People sit smoking hukas or fishing. It is a wild mix of Muslims and Christians. There is so much coastline of beautiful unused beaches. I kept thinking, "I'd love to stick a house here and clean this up a bit." Parts reminded us of Italy and other parts, Spain. Yun and I were the only tourists wherever we went. At one point I saw a bunch of enormous blown up buildings. I asked what it was. They said it was where their ex-prime minister was assassinated. His name was Rafik Hariri. He was a very powerful rich dude who was rebuilding much of Beirut with his own dough. The Syrians finally got to him with a massive truck bomb. It is going to be left just as it as a monument to him. All in all it's a beautiful place with great food and friendly people (except in the Hezbollah camps and Shite parts of town.)
Before heading to Lebanon Yun and I made a stopover in London. We did one of my favorite things. Attended a musical. Oliver. I was singing the tunes all day long and driving Yun Lee nuts. "Oliver, Oliver. Never before has a boy asked for more." I know it's queer but I can't help myself. I also sing, "Food glorious food", "Consider yourself at home" and of course the Fagen tune, "I am reviewing the situation." Yun laughs at me but then she finds herself asking me, "what's the words to that one song again?" Then I hear her humming. It's contagious. I got up early and went out in to the streets of Old Soho and did a groovy sketch of a typical English pub.
Sep 13, 2009
Yun and I took an interesting vacation. We went to Lebanon. Not your typical trip to Disneyworld in Florida. I went there not knowing what to expect. It's probably the reason no one travels there in the first place. We couldn't even find a guide book in the states. Off we went without a care in the world. Traveling to strange places excites Yun and I. Lebanon did not disappoint. I shot a bunch of film so at some point I'll put a little film together. There is something nice about a place where no tourists go. Everywhere we went Yun and I were the only tourists. Especially up in the mountains. Yun read somewhere that there are only 50 Koreans in the country. You can imagine everyone's shock when number 51 arrived with a shaved head skinny little Irish artist dude in tow. I will say one thing about Lebanon. They LOVE guys who can draw on the street. I was treated like gold there. In fact in some small towns in the country I truly believe I could become mayor. That's how much they love artists. No lie.
Sep 3, 2009
Another dumb little movie. This time no dancing and my music's a bit more minimal. I got early one Sunday to make this. I'm going to try to evolve my movies. I bought a microphone and next i may write some copy and do a voice over. Don't worry my words will be highly ridiculous.