May 24, 2010

News From Bollywood

I had a strange occurrence happen to me recently. One day I checked my email and I got quite a few subscriptions to my YouTube channel. It was very out of the ordinary. I was getting an awful lot of comments on one particular video I had posted. It was a commercial I had done for New York lotto with director Ken Nahoum. The spot was posted on my channel for over a year and only had about 1000 hits. Now when I checked there was 50,000 hits. Something happened but I didn't know what. The next morning it had grown to 100,000 hits. I checked my google alerts (for those who don't know what that is, it's an email notice you get everyday that searches the internet to see if there are any stories about you). Usually there are a couple of things about me but this day was different. I discovered there were tons of articles about Ken and I all over the news in India. Turns out the model we used in the spot ten years before went on to become a huge star in Bollywood India. Some news person discovered my spot on YouTube and turned it into a sensationalized story. The model was nude from behind so they tried to make it seem scandalous. All the news picked up on it. It was even on India TV. In two days I had 250,000 hits. There are a few people from India in my office. I showed them the articles and they were stunned. They said the stories were in the biggest news outlets in all of India. One said she had already read the articles but never in a million years imagined I was the Tommy Kane they were talking about. All I was doing was minding my own business and now I'm embroiled in an international scandal. Britney spears and I have a lot in common.

May 23, 2010

Hasidic Brooklyn

Recently I bought a bicycle. Now when I go and draw I don't use my car. I've discovered different neighborhoods to draw because of bike paths. I'm taken through places I ordinarily wouldn't have traveled. There is a war waging between the Hasidic community and the bikers. Seems that the way to get in and out of Williamsburg flows through the major Hasidicville. The Hasidic are even painting out the bike paths. As I was spinning through there the other day on the Sabbath, I noticed an amazing building. I set my bike to the side and stood on the street staring at it. There was a problem. The streets were filled with Hasidic families strolling the boulevards as they do each Saturday. I felt like an intruder. A bike intruder no less. What should I do? Should I just leave them alone and go away. I was transfixed by the building. If I set up my stool and start drawing are they going to be hostile towards me? I made my choice. I unfolded my stool and began. As the drawing grew a bit, something unexpected happened. I was mobbed. They stood 5 deep trying to get a look at what I was doing. Everyone wanted to talk to me. They told me it was the home of a very famous rabbi. Everyone was dressed to the nines in their fur hats and suits. The kids went crazy. There would be 25 at a time crowded around me. Jostling, pushing and shoving. They gave me no space and constantly asked questions. Did I go to art school? Where do I live? What are you going to do with the drawing? Are you going to come back tomorrow? The whole scene was not what I thought would happen. Families gave me their address and asked if I could send a copy. Everyone was so appreciative of my talents. Most people on the street watch me for five minutes and then move on. They would watch sometimes for a half hour without moving. One kid asked if he could bring other kids over. I said sure. Within minutes there were kids all over me. A couple of them took my business card. During the week a Hasidic woman called me and asked if I would do some work for her. She needed some birds and flowers drawn for some plates she was making. She too, wanted to know when I was coming back. It was so crazy. I have to go back there. I would have loved to have filmed it but it is not the kind of situation you can just whip out a camera. Stay tuned because I shall return to see what happens next.

May 20, 2010

Sweet Station

This is the corner of Canal street and Bowery. Whenever I see this place it doesn't look like it belongs in New York. It's impossible to draw moving cars. So a good trick is to draw the scene without the cars. Then go around the streets looking for parked cars. Select one you like. Position yourself at the right angle for the drawing. Then you can take your time sketching the car. Now people will think you are some kind of genius who can capture moving cars at a glance.
I recently got mentioned on a cool blog called sweet station.

May 18, 2010

Tea Garden

People love to visit tourist spots when they travel. They don't always do it where they live. Ask New Yorkers if they've been to the Statue of Liberty. Most likely they will say no. I have a lot of cousins who live in Ireland. When I was there once I asked my cousin Jack if he ever goes to see the Blarney Stone which is not far from his home. He said, "why would anyone want to see that?" He also said that kids break into it at night. They climb up and pee all over the wall. They laugh thinking about the stupid tourists hanging upside down kissing it. Yun and I have lived for two years in Brooklyn. I'd never been to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In the back of my mind, I always thought it was some touristy joint. On Saturday I asked Yun if she wanted to go. It was such a groovy place. I loved it. There is a great Japan garden when you first step in. I drew this sitting inside a little gazebo. Masses of school kids crowded around me. They all whined when their teacher said they had to leave me. It is definitely a place I will return to, as a local not a tourist.

May 7, 2010

Street Food

If you live in New York, you are used to there being lots of street food fairs. They start in May and go all the way until September. It's always the same stuff. Sausage and peppers, zeppoles, hot dogs, candy apples and corn on the cob. Not in my neighborhood. My block is all restaurants. There are the usual street vendors but they also allow the restaurants to do whatever they want also. There is a bar called PJ Hanley's. It's an Irish joint that takes their food seriously. The first thing they do is build a huge pit in the street. The begin roasting pigs very early in the morning. I sat and drew the owner, Peter. In my sketch is their rib smoker. I had it built out of a boiler from an old ship. The contraption is full of brisket and spicy rubbed ribs. They use big cleavers to hack them up. They serve pulled pork and beef along side giant orders of the smoked ribs. All the bars have tables and chairs on the streets with their kegs out front too. We sat drinking beer and eating our goodies. No hamburgers or zeppoles for us.