Category Archives: Blog

Winter’s End?

Art easelOkay, let’s be honest. I am here all alone. I mean, I have an 85 year old mom, and an 87 year old dad, and a 5 year old dog that I adore. But this is the extent of my social life. It really is becoming an issue, being stuck in my own head to such a degree. I know I chose to do this, and I’m going on 4 years now, but it’s feeling like I’m sinking.

Where I’m at here in Michigan it’s very very Christian. Everyone you meet says they’re Christian. A common line people ask when first meeting you- “What church do you go to?” And saying you’re not Christian draws a response of stunned silence. That’s okay by me, but it’s one of the several reasons I am without company. If I had even one other person around me to talk to about these things it’d make all the difference. But I do not. And I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future. I had a hard enough time meeting people in a crowded like-minded city. Here I see not a glimmer of hope. Mom’s saying she’s praying I’ll meet someone.

I’m being harshly reminded of how willing my brain is to take me to dark places. It likes to focus on hopelessness, loneliness, and my almost certain future without love. I’m not sure why a brain wants to do this or how that helps at an evolutionary or survival level. I’m sure too the fact that I’m turning 50 in June isn’t helping me subconsciously either. Then, obviously all of this wreaks havoc on my inspirational levels to boot. Maybe though it adds to the fear levels for their motivational purposes? That’s what they say. “They” being my defensive head voices.

Something else no one wants to talk about is how isolating it is simply being a grown single man. A grown single man is almost always firstly suspected of being a creep. I know this all too well from my years at The Square. I completely get why men are seen this way. I get it. But that doesn’t make it any easier to live with daily. Being made to feel like a creep is my #1 deterrent from attempting to meet anyone.

I’m not just laying down dormant and accepting this fate my brain is promising. A couple weeks ago I found a cheap studio space to rent so I can paint. I saw a handful of YouTube videos of different guys saying “Painting saved my life!” and I thought, “My life needs some saving too!”

I’m starting very basic with it since I’ve not painted since art school. But now I want to do it. And I feel like I have the patience, maturity, and desperation to really give it my best shot. I guess we’ll see.

Sales of my magnets have slowed. Many stores are taking less chances when it comes to possibly offending customers. That’s what they’re telling me. I’ve also fallen behind in promoting them as much as I used to. I feel like I’m falling behind in many different ways.

I try and keep a positive outlook on everything when I write these things, but doing that now would feel bullshitty.

I say all of this in hopes that maybe some of you who’ve been hiding in the woodwork might come forward with something. I really don’t know what I mean at all, but there you have it. An update.

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The time I sold Jesus magnets to Andrew W.K. and didn’t know it.

Andrew W.K. w/Normal BobAs many of you know I used to dress up as the devil and walk around the streets of NYC. I did this off and on from about 2002 to 2010 or so. The last time dressing up being for a booth at the 2010 ComicCon to promote and sell my Jesus magnets. The excuses I’d use for getting into the devil-drag were to hand out GOD IS FAKE flyers and promote the site, clubbing with friends, I even went on a few dates where she would dress as a catholic school girl. But most often I’d get dressed up and go out  just because it was a really fun thing to do. Lots of fun.

On this particular evening in March of 2009 it was because my friend Lenora Claire said she’d be in town that evening for a fancy celebrity party, and I was invited. It was an event put on by Vanity Fair and the USA Network to promote a book and television show titled The Character Project. There’d be celebs, free food and booze, but she couldn’t get me on the guest list. She was sure however that if I arrived in full Satan get up I’d be let right in. It was, after all, an event dedicated to interesting “characters”.

My outfit was your basic devil in a tux look. A somewhat dated tuxedo with a red ruffled shirt and black cumber bun, platform boots that zipped up the side. The tux itself was a couple sizes too small for me. I had no beard and my head completely shaven so I’d paint it all completely red with clown makeup, affix a couple homemade horns to the top, some black eyeliner and lip-stick, and that’s exactly how I did it for about 8 years.

For this particular occasion I had a plan. I was going to bring along plenty of God Is Fake flyers to hand out and leave on every blank surface I saw. I’d also bring along several variations of my magnets to try and push on unsuspecting guests. Push them much in the same way one might sell counterfeit designer purses on Canal street.

It was all taking place at this haughty studio in the West Village. If you’ve ever walked by some artsy celebrity event in the Village you know what I’m talking about. They can be intimidating. Velvet ropes, paparazzi, limos, crowds of well dressed rich looking people. A literal red carpet, and very heavy security. I remember approaching this scene thinking to myself, “There’s no way they’re letting me into this place.”

The most intimidating part of it all were the two fancy women at the door with a clipboard asking questions and checking names. But when I got to them their eyes lit up and the one with the clipboard said “HELLOOO Mr. Devil!”

“Hi, uh, I’m a guest of Lenora Claire, and uh she said to just come down and uh, she’s expecting me?” But before I could keep on explaining she gave her list a cursory glance, unhooked the rope and said “No problem! Come right on in.”

Still in explaining mode I was totally unprepared for the wall of flashing cameras on my left. It was an actual line of paparazzi, like 20 or so photographers shooting hundreds of pictures non stop. I hammed it up as much as I could for them, but I also I remember hurrying through because I saw more important looking people behind me waiting next. Here’s one of those photos, I guess now owned by Getty Images, if you’re interested.

It was an impressive party. Waiters milling around holding trays of cookies and ham & cheese on toothpicks. I saw Lucy Liu and Jeff Goldbloom there who both looked at me like I was a stalker they had a restraining order against. But don’t get me wrong. At events like this people actually come up and talk to you. Pretty people! And they have big smiles on their faces! And they’re friendly to strangers and everything! It’s something I wasn’t at all used to when going out in the city. People were approaching me wanting to know who I was with, and which part of the show I was a part of. I would tell them flat out I wasn’t on the guest list and I just came in off the street. I would ask them if they wanted to see some of the stuff I got, and let them peek in my bag and show them my stash of blasphemy. They generally got a positive response. There were a few who were aghast, but for the most part the guests loved them, and me. If they were receptive to the Jesus magnets I’d say “I’ve got others, but they might be more than you can handle.” Then I’d show the Final Justice & BDSM versions acting like I’d snuck a bag of hand grenades into the building. After awhile word of what I was doing circulated and guests would come asking to see whatever it was I was doing.

At one point this heavy metal looking guy came up to me. He looked like just some stoner dude tagging along with his hot girlfriend. I forget exactly how he put it but he made it clear someone had told him to come see what I had in my bag. I remember giving him the flyer and he loved it. So I followed that with a set of the magnets. He guffawed with laughter and said “You’re selling these??” He did not hesitate to buy one. I still remember him and his girlfriend walking away admiring them, but I have to admit I cannot for the life of me remember which set they purchased!

At the time I knew three things about Andrew W.K.
1. He did that I Love New York City song and it would get stuck in my head if I thought of the title, as has happened just now while writing this.
2. That great album cover of him with blood gushing down from his nose.
3. He played all the instruments and vocals on the album.

Afterwards Lenora told me she saw Andrew W.K. walking around with my magnets and that’s when I realized who he was.

I didn’t see him again that evening, and I did laps around that party until my feet hurt and my legs were aching. Upon my exit I couldn’t believe the expensive gift basket they gave me filled with wine & cheese, the $80 photography book they were promoting. All kinds of other pricey things you wouldn’t buy for yourself, but you would gladly take for free.

That was one of the last times I ever dressed up as the devil. Not long after that I grew out my hair, and beard, and it just doesn’t have the same effect.

So anyway, that’s how I sold a set of my magnets to Andrew WK and didn’t even know that I had.

Get me back

Amazing Strangers Wendell iconYes, I’ve returned to NYC for one week, and much to my surprize I discovered I can pick up right where I left off without hardly a stutter. And I had a blast! In fact, I yearn to come back again. But I need help. One basic help, actually.
1. Accommodations.

If I had offered to me a place to stay for a week that wasn’t just a sofa in a living room, but instead an actual room with a bed, it could be done. I could return periodically throughout the year to document this Square. And it’s still going on there from what I witnessed. The regulars still haunt those steps, and I’ve got contacts for so many others who are happy to show and update me on their lives. I have so much footage and had a lot of fun my week there. But damn if my achin’ back and tired eyes were ready to leave after a week of sleeping on a futon in a living room.

Now, listen to this. If there were also a stove to make eggs & toast, and a coffee maker to brew my Bustelo each morning before I set out, I could do two weeks. Two full weeks of content for YouTube’s Amazing Strangers a few times a year. How great would that be? I’m more efficient than I ever was before. The amount of footage I acquired in one day visiting is more than I ever got any day prior to moving away. I have more of an urge to get interviews, document events, and obtain valuable footage than ever before.

So that’s what I’m hoping. Someone out there who sees the value in what I’m doing with access to a living quarters in NYC generous enough to offer a room with a bed. I do dishes. I clean up after myself. I buy my own supplies. I buy my own plane tickets and taxi cabs.

Greetings from Union Square
Greetings from Union Square

I know it can sound like a lot I’m asking. I lived in NYC for 13 years and never once did I let someone stay rent free for a week or two in their own room. I have friends offering me a sofa for days at a time, but my body and mind isn’t cut out for that much roughing it any more. It used to be, but no longer. Otherwise I see myself maybe coming once a year, in spring, for a week. That’s the full extent I can manage on a sofa without a door to close.

I get how to many this might seem petty, or snobbish. Like I won’t come unless I get a red carpet. Fact is, when you’re in NYC spending most your time in the busiest, craziest parts of town, you need that sanctuary at the end of the day. A solid rest with peace & quiet to get back into it the very next day at 100%. Having to go to sleep when the last person in the house leaves the living room, and waking when the first roommate’s alarm goes off and they’re walking past your bed to make cereal, you don’t get that needed rest. Especially needed when you’re almost 50 years old.

My hope is after you see the amount of great content I’ve gotten after just one week it’ll prove I’m worth it to someone out there with offerings. I’m ready to come back and document the park & people we’ve grown attached to over the years. There’s a limited window of time for this unique project to even continue. I realize that too. So let me know if you can be of assistance. I’m ready.




From the Mines of West Virginia

Aaron Osborne/West Virginia coal miner
Aaron Osborne/West Virginia coal miner

Dude, I’ve been stuck watching your Union Square videos for days. I love them!! I’m an underground coal miner from southern West Virginia, and I’ve always loved New York. It’s the light of the world. And your videos are just as good as taxicab confessions or something like that, they just need the exposure or the right advertising and I think they’d be a hit. It’s just sad to me that I can’t make the drive to Union and most of these people probably won’t be there. Except for maybe Signs and Wendell, and they’d probably run me off lol. But thanks for the entertainment man, it’s honestly been great.

The outside of the Oceana, West Virginia mine I work in. You can barely see the drift mouth, to the left of the middle blue building
The outside of the Oceana, West Virginia mine I work in. You can barely see the drift mouth, to the left of the middle blue building

Your views on religion are spot on, and I love watching you calmly and very courteously tear them down. It’s beautiful to watch😂😂😂… I’m 34 years old, and was raised in church. And I slowly started forming my own opinion at 15, kinda like somebody trying to sell you a bullshit Rolex. You want it to be real, but you’re just kinda like “ehhhh iiiii don’t know…”

I tell ya man, it's honestly a living hell. But you depend on each other so much, you form a bond closer than family. And you look forward to work to see your guys, and everybody brings each other food, candy, equipment. And it becomes fun. A band of brothers for sure.
I tell ya man, it’s honestly a living hell. But you depend on each other so much, you form a bond closer than family. And you look forward to work to see your guys, and everybody brings each other food, candy, equipment. And it becomes fun. A band of brothers for sure.

I know ur busy, but I’d love to bullshit with ya for a bit. Gimme a yell man, I got a lot of questions about New York and some of the people. Btw I hope your parents are well, and I love your dog, the sticks crack me up (FB pics). I have a siberian husky that’s full of energy. I love dogs. But anyway bro, I never meant for this to go on so long. Gimme a shout man. I would love to bullshit for a bit.

RIP Joey Boots
Aaron Osborne
Continuous Miner Operator at Blackhawk Mining LLC

(Aaron and I have since messaged each other several times on Facebook.)