Calmly Begging for Rescue

Hire Me

Normal Bob sits above No Your City sticker
Normal Bob sits above No Your City Normal Bob place-holder

Yesterday I had an experience with a client that sent a chill down my spine. The client, who’s hired & paid me good money for an art  job told me, “I’ve got other jobs I’d love to have you working on, but you look so busy, I assume you don’t have the time for more stuff.”

In that brief instant, during a time when I’m scrambling around for money to pay bills, I imagined dozens of other potential clients saying to themselves, “Dammit! I’ve got jobs for this guy but he looks too busy to do them. I’ll go look for someone else I suppose.” Then flash forward 6 months to an image of me packing a U-Haul with what’s left of my possessions which have been put on the street by my landlord, on my way to a new life in Idaho to make some lame map of a park there that no one will ever care about.

Let me please be as clear as I know how to be. I need work. I have time for work. I LOVE to work! I also love to be all caught up on bills make-believing I can afford to still live in this city on a starving artist’s income. Please, for the love of God, if you’re out there needing art, or any other elements of my creativity, and you’re happy to pay, contact me! Prolong my stay in this expensive city! And thank you very much.

If you don’t have a job for me, but you’d still like to see me continue what I’m doing here, visit my store. That helps pay my bills as well.

I’m happy to say that after expressing these same thoughts to the aforementioned client he immediately sighed with relief and began a list of more jobs for me.

Jesus Dressup

This has been the toughest year for the magnets yet. The stores who’ve got them on their shelves have no problem selling them, but far too often I’ve been losing them because of customer complaints. It’s an ongoing problem I’ve always had to deal with (others frowning upon me profiting off the crucifixion), but I’m shocked at how many store managers as of late just don’t even want to chance it.

I’ve been dying to produce the new Batman Jesus Dressup I’ve got it designed and ready to go, but as I mentioned in the previous entry, I just can’t seem to accumulate the necessary funds to get that ball rolling. I’ve gotten a few stores recently who are very excited about Jesus Dressup in general, and it’s because of you people that I was able to find those stores and send them samples. So if there’s a store in your neighborhood you think might be interested in my magnets, please don’t hesitate to pass their name onto me. That simple act can make a world of difference.

Union Square

Amazing Strangers Wendell icon

Things are just getting underway at the Square, and I’ve got the camera rolling. Everyone’s been asking about that hat thief kid, whether or not he’s behaving himself since then, if he’s crazy or on drugs, and anything else I might know about him. All I can say is he’s been at the park several times since and has been pretty subdued. No other excitement from him yet, and from the looks of it he appears to have learned his lesson.

I’ve avoided tracking him down and grilling him for answers simply because if he wants his space I’m happy to give it to him. Also, I always have the lingering fear in the back of my head that when we finally do talk he’s going to ask for the video to be taken down. Yes, that’s what I have to deal with regularly in this unconventional hobby.

And then today, Apr 21, 2015 he approached me having just seen the video for the first time, twenty days later. His reasons and explanations may not be what you expect.

I got word that Chewy (Tarzan) got caught trying to sell dope to an undercover, and because he’s got priors he’s been put away for more than a few years. Matty Ice has been MIA since the last video. And there’s no sign yet of Lotion Man either.

I could go down the list of everybody who’s made an appearance thus far, but it’s easier just to show off the photos I’ve been taking.


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Wendell’s Hat Thief

Amazing Strangers Wendell iconSpring truly sprang yesterday when Wendell had his hat swiped off the top of his head by some crazy kid. And he seriously WOULD NOT give it back!

He taunted Wendell, and everybody else, kicking it around with the whole park chasing him. I was shocked when Wendell somehow found a way to snag the kid’s wallet. That’s when the true standoff ensued.

But wait, this is New York City, so of course a marching band comes right into the middle of the chaos, and the hat thief starts it in with them too. Kicking their money jar halfway across the park, he showed off both his complete lack of regard for anything, as well as some killer dance moves.

Because Wendell was able to get into the kid’s wallet we found out he’s actually a student at The New School! And if you pay close attention you’ll notice that Wendell was able to stick the wallet back into the kid’s pocket after getting his hat. I was impressed.

Anyhow, the last we saw of the hat thief was the girl who was crouched, speaking with him earlier in the video walked him away from the park. There was no sign of him for the rest of the evening. It was a wacky afternoon at the Square to be sure! Also, here are some other photos taken from that same beautiful day.

20 days later…

Jeffrey Babbitt

Jeffrey Babbitt who would be killed a year & a half later at Union Square by a chess player
Jeffrey Babbitt

A couple day ago I was looking through old photos to upload to this new Amazing Strangers Gallery and by chance I stumbled across pictures and video I’d taken on the day I’d met Jeffery Babbitt. In September 2013 when I’d heard one of the regulars had gotten killed at Union Square, I looked up the victim’s name. I was immediately saddened when I recognized him.

Jeffery was one of those guys who never made a nuisance of himself. He stood out because despite being a little odd looking he had a memorable style. He was a Greaser. His pompadour and sideburns harked back to the early 80s and made me think he was probably into Sha Na Na or Fonzie. In the 80s (Jeff would have been in his early 30s) there was a resurgence of that 50s Outsiders style. Combine that with his love for fairies, which he wore sewn to his coat, with pink, aqua or lavender colored tee shirts, I likened him to Emilio Estevez’s “Two-Bit” character’s ironic obsession with Mickey Mouse.

After finding the photos and watching the video again for the first time in years, the memory of meeting him that day came back clear as day.

My friend Samir had brought over her new pet mouse, Fitz, and while I was filming Jeffrey came over and started petting it. I was really happy he’d finally come over because before that I’d always wanted to take his picture but never had reason enough to ask.

In the video you’ll notice that he’s a little hesitant to walk away. That’s because while I was filming I was smiling, and wanting him to hang around, but I also wanted the video to look natural, so I let him walk away. Before he got out of earshot though I turned off the camera, called him back over and asked to take his picture. I told him how I’d been seeing him around for as long as I could remember, dug his style and would it be okay if I took some photos. I made sure to get good shots of both sleeves.

jeffery babbit cartoon illustration
Jeffrey Babbit drawn in remembrance of a true Union Square character

Jeffery obviously deserves to be counted as one of the Union Square originals. He should have made it to the postcard years ago. So yesterday when Shaggy said I should add him to the drawing I’ve been working on of all the characters from postcards past, I thought it was a great idea. He suggested I draw him flying up to heaven, which was inspired, because up until that point he had no idea about Jeff’s love for fairies. Drawing him ascending up to the Union Square in the sky with fairy wings truly completed this piece.

union square amazing strangers cartoon drawing
All of the Union Square characters for Matchgame Postcard gathered at park digitized in Adobe Illustrator

He was as gentle of a man as he appears in the video. It’s a travesty his life was taken a couple years later in such a violent and ugly crime. I hope these images and video are seen by the people who love and miss him most.

Limbo

Amazing Strangers

Wendell Headley art
Wendell Headley digitized in Adobe Illustrator for Amazing Strangers logo

We’re almost completely back. There’s been a few tolerable days at the park between 45 and 50 something degrees. Some footage has been shot, and almost everyone’s falling back into their designated compartments, waiting. Impatiently waiting. You can see it in their eyes. Signs grumbling through his routine not quite spritely enough to be smacking me on the back of my head and calling me a dildo butt. Roman is lurking around, but ducking out of my camera’s view. Jeremy’s annual promise that this is the last year he’ll be doing Free Hugs. Matty Ice is dizzily wobbling around in his oversized winter coat. Even Qween Amor stopped by to chat a bit. No sign of Wendell yet. The first Wendell sighting is when it’s official.

For a few years now I’ve been trying to figure out a better symbol for Amazing Strangers other than that Coney Island-like face. For some reason it was a puzzle that confounded me for a long time. What face or image sums up the Square? Then, a week or so ago it hit me. Just before I was drifting asleep, I had an epiphany. And it was Wendell. Wendell is obviously the face of Union Square! It took some time to figure out how exactly to draw that trademark hat of his, but eventually I nailed it.
The new face of Amazing Strangers. I hope he’s alright with it.

Amazing Strangers of Union Square NYC logo

Speaking of which, I’ve also been getting inquaries from you people asking how it might be possible to donate money to specific Union Square Strangers. And I’ll tell you what won’t work. Giving me money to pass on to them. I can’t imagine what my life, the videos, and a day at the park would become if I turned into the guy for them to come to for dough. And I can’t imagine there’s any sort of charity specifically pertaining to Union residents. However, if you’ve got a workable solution, I’m open. Until then the best I can tell you is to go to Union and hand it to them yourself.

Bob Smith USA

girl in pin teddybear suit with green balloon art
Sasha Janegs digitized in Adobe Illustrator

If you haven’t seen the documentary I was in from 2004 “Bob Smith USA,” Neil Abramson (the director) has set up a place on Vimeo where you can watch for just $1! It’s hilarious, and strongly recommended viewing.

Right now I am at Astor Place Starbucks. It’s pouring rain outside. I’ve been doing some art. This lovable picture of my friend Sasha is some proof of that. And just like everybody else mentioned above, I too am in limbo. Impatiently waiting.
And we wait.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Artbucks Coffee

Inna art
Portrait of Inna digitized in Adobe Illustrator

My ex messaged me last month saying, I keep waiting for your annual ‘winter sucks and I’m lonely in this cruel city’ message, but none has come. Are you happier this year? I hope so.
Well, I’m now officially in winter’s pattern. Wake up – Coffee – Starbucks – More coffee – Art – Go home – Finish art project – Sleep.

That’s it kids. That’s my life come winter. I mean, I know that’s not 100% the case, but Jesus Christ, it’s a difficult pattern for me to shake. Good news is though, I’ve been producing what I consider to be some of my best pieces. I’m proud of these portraits that’ve been coming out of me. Yesterday I finished this Inna Portrait (above), and I swear I went to sleep gazing at it (A selfishness I’ve allowed myself since I was a teen), and imagining myself waking up to 10,000+ Likes, an Inbox filled with emails congratulating on what a spectacular job I’ve done, and knocking on my door demanding sex. None of that happened of course, but it doesn’t slow down the desperate need I’ve got to draw. So instead I just send those emails to myself, and pound on my own door. There it is, as the ex requested.

Shaggy looked at me sketching Inna last week and said “What’s your obsession with Inna? How many times have you drawn her?” And I realize that posting this one the day before Valentine’s Day may seem like love, but it’s not. I mean, I do love Inna like a friend, but I am not harboring a deep seeded crush on the girl. I do think she’s an ideal subject. Her style is something that deserves to be drawn again and again. So Shaggy, including the little cartoons of her I’ve put on the Matchgame Postcard, the answer to that question is now officially 5.

Soo Catwoman art
Soo Catwoman digitized in Adobe Illustrator

I know I keep repeating myself with subjects. Inna for instance. Yolandi, of course. Also, Soo Catwoman. But for whatever reason I just have to draw these people again and again. Their aesthetics just please me so. And if Im sitting and drawing, I’m doing something good. In fact, I’m at my best. And that’s reason enough.

All of this too I hope will encourage inquiries about hiring my artistic talents. Yes, I am available for work. Now more than ever. After the holidays things slow down, and they usually don’t pick up again until Spring. So if you know of any jobs that pay for this level of drawing & Adobe Illustrator skills, please contact me. I’m really good! And worth every penny.

anglerfish art
Anglerfish digitized in Adobe Illustrator

Presently though I’m working through the disappointment looming on the horizon of not being able to afford printing Batman Jesus Dressup magnets. I thought I’d have enough after the holidays, but the holidays are over, and I’m coming up short. I’m hoping these next couple months I can get the necessary work and sales to solve it, but at the moment they must be put on hold. Do stories like this encourage sales & paying gigs to appear in my mailbox? I suppose this is exactly how I’ll find that out.

Latest art & photos with videos attached –

Morgan Forgives Me

Something I never expected to happen occurred this last week. Morgan forgave the injustice she felt I’d done to her a couple years back.

What happened was, when I first saw Morgan back in 2010 or so, I knew I wanted more. More Morgan. I was dying to draw her (as it’s no secret I’ve got a soft spot for punker girls) and add her to the postcard. I admittedly was also dying to nose my camera into her life some. I still hadn’t even introduced myself when I was handing out the 2011 postcard with her on it.

morgan cartoon
Morgan drawing from the 2011 Union Square Matchgame postcard

I forget who it was that showed it to her, but I do remember seeing her precious reaction. I wish I’d been filming because it got the cutest smile out of her. A smile that read of flattery with just a touch of embarrassment. From that point on she started hanging out and letting me film her. And there was always something to film when she was around.

She has so many standout videos. Her and the gang singing “Brown Sugar.” That’s a classic. Her swooping in and rescuing us from the creep who wouldn’t leave. That was an absolutely priceless moment for me. And once, as we were walking back to Union from St Marks, after she’d almost beat a man with a chain she told me, “I need someone to film my life. Someone’s gotta be documenting the shit I go through.” That’s when she invited me to film her – Whatever/Whenever. I asked her, “If shit’s looking dangerous, and you look pissed at me, should I still be filming?” (something I’d witnessed before). She couldn’t guarantee my safety, even from her, but the answer was the same – “Yes. Film it.” And that’s how it began. I never wanted to break that trust.

Unfortunately she didn’t completely understand what she was getting herself into, and on one particular weekend when she introduced me & YouTube to her new beau Devan, it crossed the limits of what she thought she could handle seeing of herself. The video blew up too, and she was getting recognized, and having even to deal with fans from the site. After all of this, I started to see less and less of her, until finally I’d heard she wanted the video gone. She didn’t want to be filmed any more.

I completely respected that. I would even put my camera away if I saw her after that.

I’m never that surprised when someone from the streets finally sees their video, hates it and regrets ever letting me in. In this case though, it was different. When I’d heard it hurt her I was really sorry. So I’m glad we’re friends again.

Artist, Atheist, Anthropologist