Accomplished January

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo art
Lisbeth (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) digitized in Adobe Illustrator

Today is the day I was scheduled to fly back to the city after an entire month here in the midwest. That is until “The Storm Of The Century” hit and brought everything in New York to a screeching halt.
No open businesses.
No vehicles on the streets.
No food delivery! And certainly no airports. So I’m adding a few more days to this visit.

My initial goals for January were to learn WordPress, build the site you’re looking at now with that knowledge, and do art. Lots of art. All of these things I swept through painlessly, and I want to share with you these accomplishments now.

Lisbeth

I’m not sure how I went so long without ever drawing Lisbeth , but the other evening when I sat down to do so, the sketch took me about 20 minutes. Then it was completely digitized (above) before I called it a night. Tell me this though – How is it that I draw what I consider to be this striking black & white portrait, post it on Facebook, and it gets just 2 Likes? Has she already been forgotten? Was the remake despised that unanimously? What the hell happened? Anyhow, no matter what people think, this piece is one of several proud accomplishments of January.

Danni Daniels

TS Danni Daniels art
Porn Star Danni Daniels digitized in Adobe Illustrator for dressup game

One of the most exciting things that occurred this month happened as the result of a simple pen & ink portrait I drew of this infamous porn star & performance artist. I was dumbfounded when she made it her profile pic on Facebook. Then it turns out she loved it so much that we’re now working on an entire dressup game to go with it! It’s turning into the most outrageous game I’ve ever worked on. And if you don’t know who Danni Daniels is, Grace Jones referred to her as “the white me.” I will surely keep you up to date on this unprecedented project.

The Sauce

Cute muscular girl in fuzzy white cat costume art
The Sauce (close up) Digitized in Adobe Illustrator

I don’t remember how or when I first stumbled across “The Sauce” on Facebook, but when I did I knew I had to draw her. She’s real life Pippi Longstocking all grown up living out her dreams in the Burning Man universe. I’m just stunned by her. Something I don’t think I was able to keep any kind of a secret in this piece.

The Old & the New

The other accomplishment of the month was learning WordPress with the assistance of the Lynda.com tutorials, and building my new site. Yes, I’ve finally dragged myself out of the dark ages of the web.

The old site at normalbobsmith.com shall remain in tact, but I do not plan to post new content there ever again. For 15 years I’ve been maintaining that URL. Can you believe it? Perhaps I’ll turn it into a complete archive of the site’s history? It could include a tribute to the different elaborate front pages I’ve had over the last decade and a half. Maybe adding back the long lost Super Chic pages and the Unholy Army adventures? A complete archive of everything I’ve done there since Sept 2000. That could be really fun.

From now on though, everything’s going to be here. I’ll be adding the Amazing Strangers section next month, a new art portfolio, and lots more. If you’re finding yourself snowed in with nothing to do, check out the “Select Month” & “Select Category” tabs in the left sidebar. I plan to update those areas with some of the best content from the past, as well as some never before seen blogs I’ve recently run across. You see, back in ’08 I actually went and saved all of my MySpace blogs before they erased everything. How many of you thought that far ahead? I’ve already started incorporating them into the backlog. And while you’re at it, take a look at the new store, and the Mohammed dressup games brought center stage for all the obvious reasons.  It’s safe to say I’m really looking forward to seeing where this new site leads.

Roman’s Public Apology

man with funny sign
Roman Shusterman

I received  an email from Joey Boots yesterday. Roman is in a psych ward, and he wants me to call him there. He thought maybe it’d help to talk to me about whatever it is he’s got going on. He also wanted to make a public apology.

I’d heard Roman wasn’t doing well in August. He’d stopped showing up at the Square, so I started asking people he knew what was up. I was getting mixed details about his whereabouts and wellbeing. Some were saying he was doing terrible, wanting all his videos removed and in a hospital losing his mind, while others said he was all good again and planning to return to the park.

If you don’t know who Roman Shusterman is, he’s the guy who went viral writing his strange but funny sexual declarations on signs and giving detailed speeches about them at the park. He first started his exhibitionist style demonstrations in 2010 when the Free Hugs phenomenon hit the square. He hung around those Free Hugs kids carrying a FREE MASSAGES sign. And it worked!

Those soon turned into “Free Massages + Foot Worship.” Girls who took him up on his massages would then be asked if they’d mind a foot worship session as well. Much to all our surprise that worked too.

Creepy guy kissing bottom of woman's foot in public
Roman foot worships woman while crowd watches

Then there was his “Peace through Face-sitting” campaign, getting girls to sit on his face for world peace. The Fart Smelling Movement, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, and on and on and on. Roman is responsible for some of the most shocking and hilarious events I’ve ever witnessed. When asked what’s the most outrageous event I’ve ever seen at Union Square Park, I always give a detailed account of the afternoon Roman Shusterman took a lady “Out To Eat” in front of everybody there on the steps. It’s safe to say I have always adored what he brings to the Square.

man with funny sex sign waving
Roman Shusterman smiling & waving

I put word out that I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to know I genuinely cared for his well-being, and if there was any way I could help I would. I thought Roman needed to be told there’s nothing wrong with what he’s done, if that’s what he was regretting. He’s not hurt anyone. In fact he’s made a lot of people laugh. It’s comedy. Shocking at times, yes. But comedy none the less.

When I got Roman’s number to call, I realized I honestly cared for the guy. He wanted me to come visit him at the hospital, but I am away from NYC this month, so the phone call would have to do. I was happy to do it. I was anxious to do it! I wanted to talk to him myself and get the full story. I also wanted to ease his worry about whatever it is he thought he needed to apologize for. So this afternoon I called him.

The phone was answered by another patient in the ward who had to go find Roman, shouting his name to a room.

He spoke to me on the pay phone there used by everyone. It was clear he wasn’t his usual self. I started right off telling him he didn’t have anything he needed to apologize for.

“I want to apologize for anything I may have said or done that made light of the Elliot Rodger’s tragedy. I don’t feel that way and I deeply regret disrupting that event. I really want to get that out there.”

The top thing on his list was he wanted to make a public apology for any comments he made about being in solidarity with Elliot Rodger. At some point last year he’d attempted to disrupt one of the protests that followed the shootings & suicide. There were a group of protestors there with signs stating that Elliot’s views on women were common among men, and Roman hassled them with his usual “I deserve hot girls” routine. It’s a sentiment similar to Elliot’s. Roman told me he deeply regrets doing this, and making light of the event in any way.

At one point, when we he was telling me about the voices in his head he’s dealing with, the phone disconnected. His time was up and I had to call him back. He explained to me he thought the phone disconnecting was a sign he probably shouldn’t be talking about the voices.

It was clear to me after our 15 minute conversation, he’s pretty medicated and having to deal with a lot of troubling thoughts, paranoia and regret, and these are all weighing on him immensely. He also regrets not having planned better for his future.

Not to diminish what he’s going through, but I also reminded him that in the dead of winter feeling depressed, secluded and hopeless in New York is something a lot of us deal with. Winter can be a nightmare in this, the loneliest city.

Presently Roman’s in a cycle of taking medication and trying to heal. He wants to get back to the Square and regrets letting these events scare him away from it.
He and I have planned to get lunch when I return in February.

2015 Resolutions

Sasha Janegs Union Square NYC
Sasha poses Hunter S. Thompson style at the Square

I’ve made a New Years resolution that I plan to actually come through on this year! That resolution is to learn the essential knowledge necessary to update the site. To make this happen I’ve gotten a Lynda.com membership so that I can teach myself WordPress to a greater extent, and other valuable skills so I can stop looking so goddamned dated online! Lynda Weinman’s book on Dreamweaver is what I used to first learn that program back in 2000 to build JesusDressup.com! I’m hoping to bring everything that’s at normalbobsmith.com either to here, or archiving what’s no longer being updated. It’s time. I know this. So I’m thinking. parts like Super Chics, hate mail,  Sheeples, etc (which have all fallen to the wayside) will be archived, while Amazing Strangers, Jesus Dress Up, the store, etc (which keep expanding) will take center stage. Simplify!

TrueStoryASA vs Joey Boots & Normal Bob

Joey Boots from 2014 Matchgame Postcard
Joey Boots drawing from the Union Square Matchgame postcard

So what else is new? Well, one thing that’s happening is TrueStoryASA keeps striking & deleting videos of mine that they appear in! And about a week or so ago they threatened getting lawyers on me if I continue to oppose their strikes.

“our next step would have to be legal action from our end”

You can read more about this on Reddit. This might be a good place to also tell you that I’ve opened a Reddit account and I’ve been really impressed with the traffic results it’s bringing in. I plan on posting updates there, as well as things like favorite videos & photos from years ago, related news, and whatever else. It’s also the ideal place to ask any questions you may have about anything related to the site.

Amazing Strangers & Reddit

creepy photographer with boy's underwear
A stranger who was taking pictures of me while holding his camera with a pair of boy’s underwear

Amazing Strangers 2015 Year In Review has been posted which means there’s little else going on at the Square now that winter has stomped its brutally cold foot down there. That doesn’t mean though that there’ll be no more videos until spring. Shaggy and I frequently meet up at Starbucks this time of year, so you can bet if something’s going down there I’ll try to record it. And there’s been some funny shit I’ve caught happen there before!

And btw, if you’ve been wanting to get more interactive with the videos and the site in general, Reddit’s the place to do that at. I check it frequently and am more than happy to respond to questions and/or encourage posts that have to do with my site, Union Square, or whatever else you might have to say about what’s been going on here.

For now that’s about it. It’s about 6 degrees where I’m at right now, so I’m chillin’ out in front of my online tutorial learnin’ stuff.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Holidays

BDSM Jesus Dressup magnets
BDSM Jesus Dressup fridge magnets ($15) include Betty Page wig, Leather Daddy, Nurse & Horsetail Buttplug

I just received word that the cargo ship carrying my BDSM Jesus Dressup magnets has completed its journey across the Pacific Ocean, docked safely at the coast in City Of Industry, California, and its contents are now being loaded onto a truck to begin the long track across these United States to New Jersey, and then NYC. That means they will be here by Monday or Tuesday, so this is your last opportunity to purchase aforementioned magnets at the preorder, discount price of just $9. On the day that that truck arrives at my front step honking its horn, and I am lugging those 20 pound boxes up my staircase, that’s the same day put them back at their normal price of $15 each. There’s already been a few handfuls of these preorders made whose envelopes are postmarked and ready to fly out the door, so consider yourself fairly warned. Now’s the time to buy if BDSM Jesus has been on your or your dom’s wish list. I’m really looking forward to a thriving holiday season with these li’l demons back in stock.

Also, I have about 60 sets of the Star Wars Jesus Dressups left (just under two boxes – 40 per box). The same goes for the Jesus Christ Superstar sets (3 boxes) and the Original Jesus Dressups (2 boxes). Once these run out, that’s it. Especially the latter two, I have no plans in the near or distant future of producing again. There’s too many other versions I want to spend my time and money making, like Batman Jesus! 2015, I hope.

Purple haired Sketchgirl Nat
Sketchgirl Nat looking alien in her new goggles and purple hair

It’s October, and another unique year at the square is coming to a close. There’s been no shortage of Amazing Stranger drama there this year. So much so that I’ve had to take several weeks off just to regroup before throwing myself back into it! But now that I’ve got my head back together again, I’m wishing there were maybe a couple more months of that mayhem left before winter sets in. I’ve been pacifying myself by going through hundreds, probably thousands, of photos I’ve taken over the last decade and uploading my favorites to Reddit with dates & details. Most of these images have never before been published, so if you’re into the Union Square/NYC experience, these images will most likely fill that empty spot Humans Of New York can not. Which is also my point.

I’m sick of being an obscure reference. I have confidence enough in the content I’m churning out to have it seen by more than just a couple thousand views on Youtube! Some people are telling me I need to monotize my account (which I believe includes opening them up to bothersom ads), which in turn gets them into the YouTube promotion rotation. Others are demanding I get on Instagram (but I still only have a flip-phone) or the dozen other places there are for me to post my junk. I am happy to say though that the folks over at No Your City have made it clear they’re there for me. And more than a few different Amazing Strangers projects have been discussed, including the Union Square documentary of Union Square.

What else, what else? The production of a Jesus Dressup app is presently a mystery to me. I will let you know when I find out more.
I’m completely available for art projects. For Christ’s sake, hit me up!

 

Where I’ve Been

Since I seem to not be able to give you folks updates on any other section of the site, I’ll give it here.

First of all, I’m relieved to announce that the order for BDSM Jesus Dressup has been placed, and it’s expected to be here by October. I cut it so close raising the funds for these, but the BDSM Jesus has been the fastest selling version for me so far, and it’s the one the stores have been nagging me to get as soon as possible! My hope is that I can get over this Mohammed Dressup magnets mistake (I should have gotten the BDSM JDU ones done last year instead), then after the holidays, which I hope go well, invest in the Batman version next. Then, perhaps by next summer I’ll be able to get more of the Star Wars made (because those will be gone by Christmas), and get everything back to where I was a year ago. It’s been a struggle getting caught up since being forced to move in January. That took such a serious bite out of my budget, my energy, and inspiration. I’m really hoping to turn things around this Christmas.

BDSM Jesus Dressup magnets
BDSM Jesus Dressup fridge magnets ($15) include Betty Page wig, Leather Daddy, Nurse & Horsetail Buttplug

The new BDSM version has been tweaked and slightly updated. I redrew Jesus’ submissive nurse outfit, and replaced his pig mask with a sheep’s because of the whole “Lamb Of God” thing. Short of that however, everyone who I asked seemed to think it couldn’t be improved upon. So if it ain’t broke, yadda yadda yadda. Have a look at the sample sets that arrived as of 8/13/14! (Product is in stock as of 10/10/14!)

I’m not fond of selling sets in advance, but in an effort to catch up from previously mentioned setbacks I’ve decided to offer a discounted price for anyone willing to wait for shipment until October (possibly November). When they do arrive they’ll be priced at 15 bucks a pop. But if you know you want it, and you’re willing to wait, you can get them now for just $9 (no quantity limit) plus shipping. I wouldn’t even post this offer if I didn’t get so many emails asking where, when, and how to get them. Now I have an answer.

Amazing Strangers has been lagging, I’m aware. We’re all well aware. We had such a strong spring, and now it’s come to this! I’m not even sure if I ever announced the latest page update. Last month there were two separate, very real threats of violence if certain videos didn’t get removed, and in addition to that, almost every single day for the last month and a half it’s been Volleyball.

Volleyball, volleyball, volleyball. It dominates pretty much everything else at the south end of Union Square. Ask anyone there and they’ll agree. Volleyball eclipses all that’s happening at the park. It’s altered the mojo. Add to that Roman moving away, Wendell & Signs rarely showing, there’s little I can do but sit and wait for something to happen. If the section of my site were called “Amazing Volleyball!” you’d be getting lots and lots of updates! But it’s not. And to me there’s very little that’s amazing about these strangers.

Remember Bob Smith USA? The movie by Neil Abramson about me and 6 other Bob Smiths? Well, earlier this month Neil granted me permission to post the full movie on my YouTube channel. I’m very excited for everyone to be able to see it now. I’m still very proud to’ve been part of that project, and to get that part of my life and the site documented for future generations. I strongly recommend it, and sharing it with your friends.

As for me and my personal life, I just turned 45. I think my vision is finally beginning to fail me. I’ve been single for far FAR too long, and everyone tells me it’s because I’m not on any dating sites. Is that true? Is that the only way now? Is that why everyone’s staring at their phones when they’re crossing the street? Did I lose touch because of my flip phone?
I’m beginning to think that guy who told me to “stop looking and it’ll come to me” gave me shit advice. Time to start peepin’!

Artist, Atheist, Anthropologist