Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tulip City

It's spring in NY and nothing could be finer!


Tulip sniffing at Barrow St. Gardens,

(Tulips in this post spotted on the High Line, in Chelsea, West Village and St. Luke's, but they're everywhere!)


And Readers, please take a look at the new Rat's Nest comic, done a few days ago, before coming to New York:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Faded pictures

I started this blog to somehow cope with my empty nest, but despite my attempts, the facts remain: you raise your kids, they go away, their youth stretches out in direct proportion to you getting older, and just as you find solace with your creative life, you're back to facing the same old demons, whatever they may be. Good thing no one tells you this at the beginning. Maybe that's what my mother was trying to say when she said, so forthrightly (and she wasn't always so forthright), if given a choice she might not have had kids.

I thought about this all weekend, just to match the mood of the cold and rainy, gray and overcast days, and then as i was rummaging through the fridge this morning, I noticed them— faded, partially hidden pictures, pinned on the door by magnets, of past trips, of past happinesses, faded and almost gone. But not gone, like a memory lodged inside the brain. So, not empty either, when you get right down to it.

 Joshua Tree

 Mekko and Ben

In London on Abbey Road with the kids

Monday, April 8, 2013

Along the Arroyo

There's a perfect little spot off Via Marisol in Highland Park, called Hermon Park, not more than ten minutes from my house, with lush lawns, a busy dog park, tennis courts and Art in the Park, home of the Lalo Guerrero School of music, run by the formidable Berta Sosa, a Mt. Washington neighbor. But best of all, and something I just discovered, is a way down into the Arroyo Seco, and onto the bike path. 

(You can't access the bike path at the pedestrian bridge, as Wikipedia claims, but further north, adjacent to the dog park. Watch out, sharp curve here!)

The Arroyo Seco is a stream that starts in the Angeles National Forest, makes its way down the mountain into La Canada Flintridge and Altadena, flowing underneath the Foothill Bridge, under the Colorado Bridge, then into a concrete flood control channel along the Pasadena Freeway, flowing southeast of Mt. Washington, past Hermon, Highland Park, Montecito Heights, Cypress Park, and ending at the LA River, near Elysian Park.

Whew. That's a busy stream, for such a meager trickle once it reaches L.A. But because it runs inside this wide, concrete channel, making the stream seem even more meager, there's plenty of room for biking.

The concrete walls are gray and ugly, but the ride itself is not, as you take the graceful curves and experience another world along the Arroyo. The other day, I rode past Montecito Heights, past my own exit, off the 110 freeway, then turned around and headed north for a mile or so, emerging near the San Pascual Stables in South Pasadena. 

Along the way I kept noticing chipped off indentations in the concrete banks, things that I'd otherwise not notice, save for the fact I'd just read cartoonist Lynda Barry's Picture This, a hard-to-describe illustrated book about the creative mind. She finds images in ink spots and stains on paper (Saul Steinberg found them in fingerprints!), augmenting them just a hair to make a monkey or a buffalo or any kind of  demented animal. And here they were in the Arroyo, chips that were life size, gouges formed by wind or water, or, perhaps, weak construction. 
I noticed this one in particular:

What does this look like to you?

A few days later, when it was almost dark, I came back with my partner in crime, Molly. We painted in the indentations:

Then I went to work stenciling what I had imagined: 
Africa and the island of Tazarat, Land of the Giant Rat!

(click to make larger)

It got darker and darker and I kept adding more rats, until it became a heavy migration. I'll call this one an experiment, not yet done. Of course there's no Tazarat, except in my mind, and on the digital pages titled "Voyage to Tazarat" in my computer. Now it exists on this wall, as well.


For those of you who follow my other blog, Rat's Nest Comics, here's a new one called "Woman Seeking Treatment." Enjoy.


Friday, April 5, 2013



They call them exotic pets, but there was nothing exotic about Lily. She was blind, she didn't like to be touched, she'd bite our toes under the blankets, she wouldn't come when we called, spending many a night in the oven, but sometimes, when she was on the verge of sleep, we could pet her and she'd relish in the touch. 

The first time I saw her she was on the shoulder of a teenager who sold her (and Blu) to us. We knew the minute we got home, they'd given us a blind, unfriendly rat, but we didn't care. We still loved her. Tom found her dying in the cage this morning at 4 a.m.; I took her into the vets around 9, to have her put to sleep. Her heart was strong, but she was in pain and Tom insisted I take her in. Perhaps it was the best thing, but I don't know, maybe the business of dying for a rat takes a long time.

Here's to you Lily, for being who you were without apology.