Out Of NYC

Pencil drawing of Normal Bob Smith
Drawing of Normal Bob Smith by Walter Roberts a week before I left NYC

I am no longer in New York. In fact, where I’m at is really REALLY not New York! Where I’m at in Michigan is a very different land to say the least. And here is where I’m getting my head together.

I just got off the phone with Shaggy, and he’s turning over some new leafs as well. “No more hanging out with the homeless!” is what he just told me.

After I left, he said he realized he wanted nothing more to do with them. He’s got one, maybe two that he’s still talking to since I left, but decided he’d rather be rollin’ solo than caught up in their drama in any way, shape or form. He even said he’s stopped introducing himself to people as Shaggy (his homeless name) and now says “I’m Bob.”

selfie of friends
Selfie of Shaggy, Colyn & Normal Bob the day before he leaves the city for good

I was the one normal person in his life for such a long time there, and with me now gone he has no interest in hanging with the street people. He’s stops by Union Square for no more than an hour on any given day, hangs with the skaters who say hi to him and keep it movin’, but that’s it. Union’s totally empty now. He hasn’t seen any of the regulars hanging out there lately, and now with Fall just around the corner things are only going to get quieter.

Union Square NYC
Union Square before I left the city taken from Burlington Coat Factory window

I feel very good about being out of there. I’m still settling into my new schedule of doing less. A lot less. And forgetting I don’t have to be as stressed any more. My brain has been programmed to look for things to worry about. And when the top thing gets resolved it goes to the next one. And so on. That has to end.

Just starting to work on new freelance jobs and feeling productive again. That’s the key for me to start feeling good and at home. I need to feel purpose here, so I’m putting those ducks in line now.

artist guy
Richy in his appartment

I had one last video posted for less than 6 hours before the subject of it, Richy, told me he was really disturbed by his behavior in it and he wanted it taken down. It kills me to have had to take it off, but I also don’t want to disturb him. I really do like him as an artist and a person, so I’m trying to figure out another way to present it so he can sleep at night with it out there. He’s just such an amazing artist, and the piece itself I think is one of my best, so I’m going to do everything I can to get it to you in one piece at some point. And this is where it’ll be when it goes up again…

On the flip side, Ricky Dale called me and loves her video. I do too. But I especially love the swan-song she gave me to end my final video with Shaggy Bob.

If I were still there I’d be having a lot of trouble keeping my camera away from her. I hope someone else can pick up where I left off. She deserves to be discovered.

I’m still figuring out my new patterns and goals here. I have a new version of Jesus Dressup I plan on getting to the printers in the next few months. I have drawings I want to do, and freelance jobs keeping me busy at this moment.

“I feel like I just returned from a trip to Oz.”

I’ve also been going through my backup of Union Square videos with a new appreciation. I’m experiencing that bizarre sensation of it feeling like a dream of some sort. It’s really strange. Hard to describe.  I feel like I just returned from a trip to Oz.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I did an interview with Smug Films explaining a lot about why I left NYC, and delved further into some of the less talked about situations I got myself in at Union Square. Listen to that here at Smug Films website.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this footage yet. I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything I’ve got! Until then though, I’ve put off posting all the photos from my last couple months there, so I’ll be getting those up for you to see as of right now.

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Over & Out

normal bob cartoon
Normal Bob for Matchgame Postcard art

My friends, after 13 fruitful years in New York City it’s finally time for me to leave. I’m over it. The bloom is off the rose. I’m moving to go be closer to family, help out my parents and enjoy the freedom to work on my art in peace. That’s what I’ve been doing most when I visit them, and it’s just been impossible for me to find enough space & peace in this city to do that.

There are many reasons I feel the need to leave.
I am no longer enchanted with what I once saw here. I hate what I see it turning into and the type of people flooding in. They’ve priced me out, and killed my enthusiasm to document it. I just can’t keep up.

I also need to be with family. I got none of that here. And lately I’ve been feeling that lack harder than ever.

This isn’t necessarily the end of Amazing Strangers. I have enough footage and photos to furnish many other projects. I also have a lot of unused, unseen stuff to put out there. It does however mean the end of my Union Square updates. August will be my final month.

I will still keep up with normalbob.com same as ever. My passion for this is still strong. That’s part of it too. There’s a lot more I want to do.

It couldn’t be more clear to me that I am done with this chapter of my life. It’s been brewing in me for a while now. I’m also really looking forward to seeing where this takes me. I rule out nothing.

Check out an interview I did with Smug Film were I go into further detail on my departure. I’ve got a few unheard stories that you’ll probably find very interesting, and more.

Bummer Summer

Art Projects

goth girl art
Portrait of Nicole digitized in Adobe Illustrator

Lately my happiness has been coming from drawing people. Stylish, striking, sexy people. I’ve always had this passion. But lately it just beats all.

Please don’t misunderstand. From the wispy goth rocker Nicole, to the hulking beefcake female bodybuilder Tracy, my range for what I find stylish and sexy spreads oceans. And I just have to do them. I cannot stop myself. I don’t even try.

John Waters said, “Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed.”
That’s what it is.

portrait of muscular punk woman
Portrait of bodybuilder/trainer Tracy Argo digitized in Adobe Illustrator

So when I’m not being hired to draw people, I’m picking them out myself and doing it for fun. I can’t tell you how much I’d like to have project assignments like this coming in, but either way that’s what I’m loving, so more’s on the way.

If you do indeed have the inclination to hire me, I am available. Tell me what you have in mind, your budget, and I bet we can work something out.

Union Square

What I’m not loving at the moment is Union Square. It hasn’t been stylish, striking, and certainly not sexy! It’s hot, and stinky, and nothing’s really happening. Well, besides ball playing.

They’re throwing the football around all the fucking time. The day before yesterday they whacked Tabatha in the back of the head with it, and I flipped! I was so pissed I was yelling at them all calling them all pieces of shit! I’m just sick of the constant ball playing, and hitting people, and everyone else having no problem with being hit! You know. Just sayin’.

I’m not sure what this all means exactly. There’s still no postcard done, and my urge to make it is fizzling out. Could be just the summer heat, but I can’t say for sure. Sure as hell no love to be found there! Things have been changing at the park, and in my head.

Complaint Dept

drawing of snarky satan in bowtie
Self Portrat digitized in Adobe Illustrator

As my longtime viewers & fans already know, I have a long history with complainers. Hell, the first 10 years of this site were dedicated to hate mailers. I’ve gotten those who pledge to never purchase my products again, ones who mercilessly insult my talents, and even some who threaten my life. And though the trend of complaining via email appears to have ceased, it has really only shifted mediums. Now it’s YouTube comments. People sometimes HATE what I shoot! They’re disgusted with my complete lack of knowing what a proper Public Freakout video is, or sometimes it’s my own opinions being so upsetting that they have to make their statement by typing “UNSUBSCRIBE” and I assume, very purposefully doing exactly that. Such is the case with one of my most recent videos that’s getting thrashed in the comments.

I don’t think people realize that the videos are for me. Beyond that there’re for the people at the Square. After that it could be argued that they’re for New Yorkers. But beyond that you’re on your own. Unsubscribing means nothing to me. Complaints, insults, thumbs down, they all will not effect what I’m going to do. I figured out over a decade ago that you just can’t let people’s complaints about what you’re doing change you. Not if you yourself like what you’ve done. And I definitely do. I rewatch my videos again and again, year after year.

On the flip side of that however, I do love reading the discussions when other commenters stand up and defend my position (their own too, I assume). They do a far better job of explaining most the time than I ever could. Thank you for that. You know who you are.

While I’m on the topic, I’ve only just now gotten an iPhone. My first smartphone. No joke, I had a flip phone up until last month. But I knew if I was going make my living off the internet I had to get with the times. And already I’m on it way too much. I’ve put off getting one for so long because since I got my first laptop back in about 2005 or so I knew my problem would be not being able to get away from the net. And that goes tenfold for this phone! I don’t want to be in constant 24 hour contact with every update in my friends lives while they’re somewhere else! In fact, I’d go so far as to say I shouldn’t be! We shouldn’t be! Things are just fine with me catching up on this information at the end of each day.

Don’t get me wrong, if something’s happening that’s important they can call me anytime. But being caught up on every funny video Liked, each political viewpoint they agree or disagree with, what they’re having for lunch, or the celebrity they resemble most, I don’t need to be up to the minute on. That’s not catching up on your friends’ lives. It’s items of the lowest priority. It’s meaningless. It’s masturbation. And it’s me too. I put myself, along with everybody else as not having an evolved enough brain to deal with this particular technological advancement. And this is not the first time I’ve declared my position on this issue.

One of the commenters (Stephanie Lovecat) put it perfectly:

“You people are missing the point.
I get that you think Normal Bob isn’t doing anything but the same thing as one of these Scrollers, but he’s doing a service to us more than him.

On this channel we’re seeing tons of life perspectives. We’re getting a unique glimpse into people’s lives. YES, we can get that on Facebook as well, BUT these are live videos. We can see and hear authentic movements and audio coming from parts of the world 99% of us are not from.

Facebook scrolling isn’t doing anything for us but filling us up with 20 million different emotions and perspectives at the clock of seconds. There’s nothing to gain but overwhelming senses that result in us sitting on our phones with our mouth open, thumbing a screen up and down.

At least Normal Bob is showing us substantial evidence that this virtual reality we seem to be living in the 21st century, isn’t the only fucking entertaining thing in this world. We’re not all technology zombies. I prefer Youtube over Facebook anyday. Videos are a special thing…”

But from what I’m hearing this opinion is typical hipster bullshit, end of discussion.

So to all of you who get what I’m doing, I appreciate that you noticed. All others, please don’t feel obligated to stay subscribed. You might be at the wrong channel. Unless of course you enjoy regularly complaining. Then by all means stick around and upset yourself.

Here’s some of my most recent photos.

Artist, Atheist, Anthropologist