There’ve been some shocking revelations at Starbucks this winter! The new Amazing Strangers winter update is here!
It’s been forever since I’ve updated, or have even done anything productive on the site. I have a good excuse though. A couple months ago I got word that the building I live in was sold, and everyone had to be out by January 15th. It was quite an interruption to any holiday spirit I might have had. It’s the place I’d been living for more than 7 years, and I had accumulated quite the stockpile of Jesus & Mohammed magnets. So the job ahead flashed before my eyes and all creativity ceased to be.
Anyhow, I’m completely moved into my new residence as of this week, and 2 tons of magnets (not an exaggeration) have been put into storage. Jesus God, I just did the math on that and I’m having trouble believing it myself. But I finally feel like I have a stable home base again. I’ve realized through this whole ordeal that having to move is my number one anxiety producing fear, beating out Death by a landslide. It goes hand in hand with my fear of landlords.
Oh Christ, and I can’t tell you how much it stings being on the butt-end of NYC’s inside joke about “Hipsters being gentrified out of Bushwick by the incoming Generation Tween.” This is so very real. Some sort of trickling leak in the damn ruptured in 2013, and the flood seems to be dressed in outfits their parents got them for Christmas. I’m not talking about young wanna-be artists & hipsters. Looking poor & “not able to afford” is OUT! I think Occupy may have drained the life out of that fashion statement. What I’m talking about now is streams of young professionals hoisting bushels of shopping bags, with electronics coming out of every hole in their head trying to replicate something they’ve seen on “Girls” or “Sex In The City” or whatever the hit NYC based sitcom is at the moment. I haven’t got my thumb on it precisely yet, but if you’re next to me on the JMZ I’ve no problem pointing it out in great abundance. It’s really an embarrassment.
The holidays have completely depleted my stock of BDSM Jesus Dressup magnets. Those are SOLD OUT! While the Original version, Star Wars & Jesus Christ Superstar are all tied for 2nd. Those will be gone by Summer I predict, so be warned! I did however stumble across a couple boxes of the old 2006 version of Final Justice which have always been my favorite. So to celebrate self-love I’ve added those to the store until they’re gone too.
I know there’s an Amazing Strangers “Year In Review” owed to you. It is in the works. Shaggy has already given his rant on film. Now all that’s left is editing. I’m on it. [Click here for video] For the life of me I’m trying to figure out where the next creative burst is going to relieve itself on the site. I have some ideas, but only time will tell. Other than all that everything else has been fine. Magnet sales are always abundant through the holidays, and freelance jobs have been consistent and keeping me busy otherwise.
Thank you to all of you who continue to keep me in business despite my performance levels! You have not gone unnoticed.
A few days ago Amazing Strangers got a shout-out on Buzzfeed for my coverage on some “Celebs who’re only famous in NYC,” including Wendell & Quarter Guy. As far as I know this is the first time Quarter Guy has gotten any kind of press coverage outside of my site.
Now, Quarter Guy is easily one of the most mysterious & evasive characters I’ve come across in my Amazing Stranger hunts. No one knows him, he hangs completely alone, and seems genuinely unable to have any sort of normal conversation with anybody. Certainly one of the most obsessive & bizarre characters NYC has to offer. Unlike Wendell for instance, Quarter Guy does none of what he does for show. Nor does he do it for sexual fulfillment like other non-socials I’ve followed, ie: Earth Angel or the Peepers. Quarter Guy seems to stand alone. In Shaggy’s own words, “Quarter Guy is the most authentic New Yorker there is.” – Yet, no one knows anything about him. Until now.
Earlier today I received an email from someone who once knew the Quarter Guy.
Here is what she had to tell.
Came across a post on Facebook that included the Quarter Guy. Link took me to your page. I know this guy. Or should I say I knew him when I was younger. His name is Kim Williams. He graduated the H.S. of Art and Design between 1983-85. I believe he was a year ahead of me. Was friends with him back then, we where even in a band after H.S. very briefly. He played drums. Lost touch with him shortly after that. We all did stuff back in the day, but everyone pretty much knew their limits. Kim just kinda faded away, then I started hearing stories about him or a guy that looked like him around Union Square. I lived uptown in the 90s, and then briefly in the LES around 2000. I remember seeing him, but he didn’t recognize me. The guy I knew was pretty much gone.Not sure why I’m writing this, maybe just to put a name to the face and just to say he wasn’t always like this. The guy I remembered was funny, a good drummer, and a decent person. Maybe it was drugs, maybe mental issues, maybe somewhere in between, or maybe he said fuck all this rat race bullshit, and mentally checked out on his own terms.
|Whoa. This is not at all what I was expecting. When you see the videos of him, is there any of that personality in the guy you once knew?When you say you “did stuff” back in the day, I’m not sure if you’re talking drugs, or just regular things like you went out for pizza and movies stuff. Can you clarify?If you had to estimate about when he started going around for quarters when would you guess?
Thank you for contacting me.
|Recreational drugs. No needles or anything crazy. Don’t want to start rumors. I just watched a videos, sorry to troll. It’s just blowing my mind. The girl in the video is a classmate or ours. I can’t remember her name, but I know the face. I’m surprised he recognized her, but when I saw him so many years ago he seemed really messed up. That was roughly 14 years ago though. I’m guessing he didn’t want to talk to you in front of her.He was a really talented, guy art wise and music wise. Maybe he didn’t want to put it out in front of her that he pan handles. That would be my guess, if I was on the street and ran into someone from the past. Or maybe not? I don’t know. Like I said before, maybe it’s mental, drugs, or maybe just dropped out hippie style?
To many this might seem pretty trivial, but this last week a big thing happened. I got Mohammed Dressup for sale in a physical store. And not just any store, but a store on Hollywood Blvd. One that’s been selling loads of my Jesus magnets for years.
I still have my obvious doubts as to how much they’ll actually sell. I’ve never thought there’d be any sort of mainstream interest in the general population to post Mohammed’s image on ones fridge door for a game of dressup. But I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb stating that this may very well be the first Prophet Mohammed toy item to sit on a store shelf, like, ever. Am I being too bold?
The store is SoapPlant/Wacko, Hollywood CA, and maybe they’re just putting them out there as a “Who gives a fuck. If they sell they sell. If they don’t, then done” shot in the dark. But for me it’s huge. I hope that giving them a shout out for this isn’t sabotage of some sort. It’s hard for me to keep my cool in this case. It’s a big deal.
I’ve been kicking myself for ordering 2,000 of these motherfuckers earlier this year. I should have gone for 500, or 1,000 at MOST. Knowing what I know about the industry, and what I’d been rebutting on my hate mail pages for the last decade, I should’ve been more cautious. I’ve been saying since the first “I dare you to do Mohammed” email that they’re a tough sell. No one with a credit card gives a fuck about The Prophet, except for the shock-value. But no, here I go again getting all excited over another one of my drawings, spend too much money, and get myself in a predicament where 3 months later I’ve got literally a half ton of product (.5 lb per set) at my doorstep, the tower of which presently stands at the foot of my bed.
It started around 2005 or 06 when I posted the first playable Mohammed Dressup game online that included a burka, an Abu Garb blanket strung up with wires, Uncle Sam, and even a burning plane for him to crash! You’ve seen it. From the beginning of that one, I felt somewhere deep inside, despite the positive feedback, it wasn’t right. It was something I was not. It gave the wrong message somehow, and the feedback was confirming this. So I archived it and set out to try again last winter (2012/13).
The key to this thing, making this Mohammed joke, is it’s not THAT obvious. It does’t have to be chopping off his head with a butcher knife. The success of this image is that he’s beautiful. So beautiful in fact, that anyone not vowed to the Quran would clearly see he’s at least metrosexual. An image so flattering that objecting to it in any way, especially with threat of death, makes the point.
The shipment arrived and the challenge laid itself out before me. At first I could only sell them on the streets. During the course of normal conversation the topic of what I do would come about, and some would buy it off me then and there. One every couple weeks wasn’t going to cut it, obviously, so more needed to be done.
I talked about them in several interviews, but in each case my “Mohammed project” would be dropped out of the final print. This didn’t surprise me. It’s a thick bowl of soup many don’t want to dive into. I wrote some of my own articles. Funny ones, like opposing reasons to buy Mohammed Dressup. But who the fuck is going to respond with their money to a self-promoting blog?
I had an idea for the “Under the Counter” product promotion. It gave reasonable explanations, at least in my mind, as to why stores should consider carrying Mohammed under their counters. It was very sound, but again, it really wasn’t doing the trick. In fact it was probably making them even more paranoid.
If you saw this tower in my bedroom, maybe you’d understand the panic I go to sleep to each night. So when this order for a whole bunch of Jesus magnets, plus 12 Mohammeds arrived, I sighed a great relief.
This could be the end of the story. I’m not expecting the sky to fall, a Jihad, or even mention of it anywhere else but here. Which is why I write about it so thoroughly now.
Back when Mohammed Dressup was just a twinkle in my eye, even then I knew they’d be a tough sell. I’d already experienced first hand the hurdles of Jesus Dressup. Stores probably won’t carry them, any help with promotions is almost impossible, and even other atheists choose to sidestep the topic. They’re a hot potato item to say the least! But goddammit if I was going to let that stop me!
Finding myself now, as a struggling, independent artist with the burden of moving the unmovable, I’ve had to be extremely proactive, and creative. So today I decided to take a trip down the street to the Shopping Mecca of the World – Times Square! It was time to pop my head into some of the most popular game & toy stores and see just how things were done, and what I could do to aid in the sales of my cute little dress up game.
Working my way north on Broadway the first place I came across was Toys R Us. The Times Square Toys R Us is a gargantuan five level mega-store, crammed to the brink of fire code violation with shoppers from all over the world! There’s even a ferris wheel inside towering up to the ceiling. Then, turning the corner towards their puzzles dept, what do I see? My sweet Mohammed magnets on prominent display! There they were immediately adjacent to their Disney & Winnie The Poo puzzle games, I can’t tell you how elated I was! For way too long there’s been such a stigma attached to showing Mohammed The Prophet’s image in any context. Seeing him now, with my own eyes, here next to Poo-bear, I couldn’t help but reflect on the progress we’ve made. The walls we’ve torn down.
With a new spring in my step I made my way towards another part of the store. I was shocked a second time to spot them in their Baby’s R Us section among other games and puzzles. “How far we’ve come!” I thought to myself as I strutted onto the street, to which I directed my attention to the next destination. “How far we’ve come indeed.”
Next on my list, just a couple blocks north on B-way was the Disney Store! “What are the chances,” I thought, “that Disney will have opened up their mind to take a chance on a guy like me?” The Disney Store in Times Square is smaller than you might expect. There’s a long escalator ride up to the main floor, but surprisingly little retail space to browse. I was sure I wouldn’t be so lucky as to score space here.
As I browsed my way through their magical kingdom towards Aladdin’s Castle, my inner genie whispered that another wish might soon be granted. And wouldn’t you know it, there directly under the Jasmine Princess dresses and dolls were even more of my beautiful Prophet’s magnet games on sale… at The Freaking Disney Store! It is a small, small world after all.
Last but not least, I made my way up to M&M’s World, pressing my luck as to just how fortunate I could be in one day. So much candy and toys for little girls and boys, and M&M’s in every direction! But would they make room for the Greatest M of them all? Answer: Yes! There amongst the USA cups and mugs sat a pile of M’s to top all M’s! Even here they were on display front and center where anyone could to snap a picture with their phone and post it on the web.
I never thought I’d say this, but our War on Terror has opened up the hearts and minds of corporations and the American public alike! If you would have told me ten years ago that my fridge magnets of the Prophet Mohammed would be on sale at the 3 largest toy stores in Times Square, I would have called you infidel and stoned you to death.
After the Inside Edition segment on the Peepers of Union Square, the Peepers kinda disappeared for a while. However, this year, as I predicted, they are back, and bolder than ever before! This week’s Amazing Strangers is proud to bring you new Peepers, Creepers and all different kinds of Peoplers!
This year the number 13 shows itself in more ways than one at Union Sq Park. Amazing Strangers 2013…
Once again, the park comes alive to deliver a fantastical new page of Strangers to your doorstep! Come inside. Take a peek. Don’t believe your eyes!
Again, a lot happened, and I sum it all up pretty well on the page itself, so that’s where you should be right now.
After long last, the new Matchgame Postcards are in, and there’s never been so many changes! The map’s different, and there’s tons of new characters! It’s the BROWN card, and all you need is a pencil & Union Square, and you’re ready to go! Buy them online, or come to the Normal Bob Free Store at Union Square South and pick up one of your very own.
It’s been a slow year, so everyone at the park got together and really put fourth a real effort to make up for all the lost time. I’m so proud of them! I’d like to thank all the park rats for making this new page of Amazing Strangers possible.