Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
You had blonde hair
But the pigeons that walk around your memorial don’t care
That you died in a car in Paris
I’ve been saving this blog post. I wrote it today. But I’ve been saving writing it. I had this idea, you see, to write a blog post, but really late. And see how much I could write about something I did without it being fresh in my mind. It was something I thought about doing maybe a couple of months after the event, but it’s been over two years. I went to Africam Safari on the 29th day of April, 2012. I went there with an ex-girlfriend, but that’s incidental. I’m not going to mention her by name or anything, but I might use the first person plural. Just so you know, really, that I’m not using the royal we. (Here, though, I would like to plant an image in your head: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles playing bowling on the Wii.) So, yes, it’s an experiment. I’ve inserted photographs, but I didn’t look at them before writing, cos that’d kinda defeat the object of trying to remember stuff, so I looked at them and picked a few and inserted them after doing the whole type-y typing thing.
Africam Safari is, as the name telegraphs, a safari park. It also hints at the presence of African animals, doesn’t it? But, and this is the one part of the blog that I had written down in the Notes app on my iPod as a reminder to blog about it: Africam Safari is the worst place in the world.
Now, of course, that’s not strictly true. Although, “worst” is a subjective word, just as “best” is when saying “Justin Bieber is the best thing ever.” And while we were at the Africam Safari, I wrote in the Notes app on my iPod, “Africam Safari is the worst place in the world.”
We’d gone to Puebla for the weekend. Puebla is a town not too far from Mexico City. It’s quite nice. I’ve been several times. That trip was based around my desire to see my favourite Mexican baseball team, Diablos Rojos, playing against the Puebla team, the Pericos. We saw two games. And on our third and final day in the city, decided to get a bus to Africam Safari, which is about 15 km southeast of the city.
I don’t remember a huge amount about the journey. Just that there was a VW Golf on the side of the road covered in hats. I remember that because I took a photo of it. And that the pedestrian crossing near the entrance to Africam Safari was done like a yellow-on-black zebra pattern.
There was a greenhouse thingy with lizards, spiders, and butterflies, but the main thing was that you could drive around and see the animals up close. Lots of people were doing that in their cars, but we took the small bus. We sat at the back, looking through the dirty windows at magnificent, bored animals. It was hot and dusty in there. There were patterns, like logos and stuff, on the windows. What is the point of that? I have a problem with buses having decals on windows anyway. Nobody takes a bus because it’s their first choice. People take buses out of financial necessity for the most part. Why make that journey crappy by making their eyes go funny when are looking at things outside but they’ve got a dotty pattern that they have to look through and inadvertently keep focussing on? It seems even more stupid when the entire point of the bus, (that is, the bus at Africam Safari) is to allow punters to see things that are outside.
We moved slowly around the snaking roads. Passing zebras, parrots, gazelles, rhinos, elephants, ostriches (or maybe they were emus, I can’t remember), boars, and those cows with the really point horns that look like ice cream cones. It was like being in a traffic jam. Just with extra tigers.
Halfway around, we were instructed to get out. The tour guide fella dressed it up as a drink/snack/toilet break, but really it was just so that we’d spend some time and money in the souvenir shop. A souvenir shop that had some dodgy dolls that, in a safari park in Mexico, could quite easily be taken as a bit racist. We bought ice creams.
Even though I know in my heart that zoos are kinda wrong, I still enjoy being at zoos. But not Africam Safari. That place was shit. I was in a right grumpy mood by the time we left.
I can’t remember much more than that, really. Which is disappointing. As you were.
Every shiny iPhone ad
Flat-screen TV, empty road/new car
Cute kids cuter wife
Life isn’t like that
My insoles crinkle when I put my shoes on
Dust bunnies gather between looped cables
Finger smudges on the screen
The edge of a dictionary brown from dirty hands
I bought you a muffin
Then you texted to say it’s over
So I ate the muffin
On 28th February, at about four o’clock in the morning, I got home from an evening of boozing. Boozing on my own. I’d been a bit stressed with work, and kinda needed to totally forget about the fact that the long day I’d just had would be followed by another long stress-y day. In bed, I typed the following into the notes app on my iPod. Sufficient time has elapsed now, and I don’t really feel as embarrassed by it as I did back then. And it’s interesting (for me) to have a document that clearly reminds me of what I am like when I’m in a thinky mood and full of booze. So here you go. The footnotes were written today.
After an amount of whisky, six-ish beers, and some, not quite sure how many, mezcales, I was walking home (not really in a straight line), and I heard these words come out of my mouth: “I want to be drunk forever.” And I kinda really meant it.* Then I, regrettably, bought a cigarette from some dude on the street.† Then I saw a man walking his dogs and really wanted to stop, say hello, stroke his dogs, cos dogs are ace. But I didn’t, cos I knew I was drunk. Then I went for tacos (sorry, pigs‡) and drank more beer. (Bob fucking Marley playing on the telly in the taqueria, and they had a power cut while I was there, too. That was fun. More fun than “don’t worry about a thing cos every little thing gonna be alright.”) Then I listened to songs that I really like on my iPod (Some Kind of Bliss by Kylie Minogue, Municipality by Real Estate, a bunch of Richard Hawley stuff). Then I felt bad about life. Then I got back to my shitty hotel room.§ Then I felt my balls to make sure I don’t have cancer. Then I posted–that is, now am posting–this on Facebook, for some reason.¶ Love you stroke damn you Zuckerberg for making this the place where one feels in touch with one’s friends. Then I realised that being a random drunk person isn’t the same as being Dylan Thomas. Then I got into bed. Buenas noches. Then I thought, aah, it’s still funny that Man U are so shit this season.# Then I woke up the next morning and deleted this post.** Enjoy, fuckers.
* It’s a nice drunkness to be, I think, when it just feels like you are totally normal in your head.
† I’d given up smoking in late November 2013. It was all going well. Then I had one when I was drinking. And the next few times I went out, I’d have just one. And those just ones became more than just one. I’m back smoking again now, frustratingly, cos I’d got through two months and it felt good.
‡ I stopped eating meat last September.
§ During February and March, I lived in a hotel while my girlfriend and I were looking for a flat.
¶ I did actually do that on my Facebook page. I have two: a private one and a Flip Flop Flying one. If by any chance you feel the desire to add me as a friend on my private page, don’t be offended when I don’t add you back: it’s the only place on the Internet where I keep things that I just want my friends and not the general public to know.
# Still funny.
** I did exactly that.
My mate’s house in Barnet has white exterior walls. At the perfect time of night, when the street lights are on, but it’s not quite totally dark, the wall is pink and shadows are a lovely lovely blue.
Across the street is a supermarket. Handy. Very handy. Forgot to buy butter? No need to even bother putting shoes and socks on: I nip over in my flip flops. The supermarket is a Mexican supermarket called Superama. It’s now owned by Walmart which does smart a bit every time I go in there. Anyway, the other morning, I was stood on the balcony, glazed eyes just staring out over the top of the supermarket at the sky. Evntually, I focussed on the illuminated Superama sign. And then I got to thinking about Bananarama. And David Gedge’s other band, Cinerama. And then I started thinking of as many words as I could that ended in -orama: diorama, panorama… That’s all I could come up with, to be honest.
But it did get me wanting to find out about the origin of the -rama ending. A wee google and I was on the Wiktionary page for panorama. Apparently the word is from ancient Greek: pan (“all”) and horama (“that which is seen”).
So I guess Superama means “the stuff you see in our shop is super.” And Bananarama means “look at all the fucking narners.”
Anyway, here’s a photograph of the supermarket. It’s the view from my balcony. It was taken about a month ago. All of the stalls and people on the street are due to fact that next to the supermarket is a football stadium, Estadio Azul, home of Cruz Azul which, handily, is my favourite Mexican team. You can see the stadium, it’s the blue and white thing. Beyond that, you can see the upper parts (the red bits) of the bullfighting place, which is the largest bullfighting place in the world.
A 43 year old British man was found dead in his apartment in Mexico City today. It is believed he laughed himself to death after arranging a Pink Panther toy to look like he was cradling a big pink cock with his arms.
Fifteen years ago today, I got home from working at a record distribution company and as I’d done quite a bit in the previous six months, sat down in front of my (first generation) iMac. After a couple of months of reading a book about HTML and drawing stuff in ClarisWorks, and animating stuff in GifBuilder, I was ready to put my Web site online. I’d chosen the name Flip Flop Flyin’ (from a Beach Boys song), I had a Virgin account which came with a wee bit of Web space, and thus – hurrah! – I put the stuff online. That Web site was live! Live at http://freespace.virgin.net/craig.robinson1. Snappy URL. And then I emailed some friends to say, hey, go look at my stuff. Please. And a few of them did. And after a couple of months, people I didn’t know started looking at the site. And then more of them. Then I started drawing small pixellated popstars. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Blondie, Kraftwerk. And I kept on doing them. The more I did, the more people started looking at them. My Web site was a little bit popular.
Back on the 12th of May, 1999, the site had hardly any content. But it did have a splash page. A splash page for each section, in fact. Splash pages were a thing back then. And it had a clunky navigation system.
It’s interesting (for me, anyway) to look back at the work I’ve done here in the past decade-and-a-half. I’m way better at drawing now. But I have less patience for animation. Last night, I watched the Pete & Bob series that I did between 2002 and 2006. It seems to be a perfect example of everything I’ve done and still do. It’s a bit silly and a bit melancholy. For anyone else looking at 15 years worth of drawings and stuff, it must just seem like a fairly large amount of content. For me, it looks like a diary. Looking at the stuff totally takes me back to where I was, who I was, and who I was with at those points in my life. I can see the points where I was happy, and the points where I was really miserable.
I can’t really say that I’d want it any different. A few tweaks here and there. Fewer wilful destructions of popular things. Stopping doing Minipops, for example, was entirely about being contrary. This is popular: kill it! I think the biggest regret, though, of all is the way this blog has developed. It was going swimmingly in 2006, then I posted something about my dislike of a popular British artist. It got a load of comments. A lot of them assumed it was just professional jealousy. (It wasn’t. Banksy was and continues to be a shit artist.) That post soured me a bit. And after a couple of months of only posting sporadically, it took a while to build it up again. Things were going great when I was doing my travelling around the Americas in 2008. That was when my blogging was actually quite good. I was writing long posts virtually every day. It kept on going well until the middle of 2009 when my then-wife and I split up and, well, there was a horrible time when I was on a train between Portland and Seattle, and got to my friend’s house and saw that there were 50-odd comments on a post I’d written about that split. It wasn’t pleasant. That experience, without really making a conscious decision about it, soured me to the whole idea of writing about my life. The blog slowly got less personal. Then I had another “I don’t wanna do this anymore” mid-2010. Sporadic posts again, mostly just promoting other stuff I’d done. That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of it being an active blog, where there’d be comments on every post. Since then, and to this day, I’ve neglected the blog. I put up drawings, write the occasional thing, but it’s being kept alive purely out of habit. Twitter and the Facebook page have also made the blog less important for letting people know about new things. I regret this. And right now, it feels like it’d be a shame to throw it all away just because Twitter and Facebook are easier.
Looking again, as I did yesterday, at a ton of my old work, I’m kinda proud of what I’ve done. And I want to keep doing it. And that includes blogging more. I used to enjoy it so much, and I want to enjoy it again. And after looking at the Pete & Bob stuff, I want to get more fun stuff going, too. It’s possibly a coincidence, but the stuff that happened in the middle of 2009 was at the same time as I started really doing a lot of baseball-related infographics. I wonder if infographics were just a way for me to keep doing stuff, having ideas, but without having to put any heart into it. Statistics don’t hurt you or make you think about how your life is going. Right now, I’m a wee bit bored of doing infographics. I’ve done some really good stuff at Flip Flop Fly Ball, the baseball offshoot of Flip Flop Flyin’, and I’d like to keep doing it. But really, it’s time to get back to doing more of the stuff that I love the most. Arty silly stuff. So fingers crossed I can keep all of this in mind.
I had an email recently from a woman called Emily. She said that she and her brother “absolutely loved Flip Flop Flyin’ when [they] were kids.” It was genuinely heartwarming to get an email like that. It’s very nice to think that people like what you do.
Anyway, thanks for reading. And should you fancy looking at what Flip Flop Flyin’ looked like fifteen years ago, here’s that first version of Flip Flop Flyin’.
Also of note, the incredible Saul Steinberg died on the 12th of May 1999. One can only dream of being as good as him.
If you’re going to San Francisco, is it still a visa requirement to wear flowers in your hair?
It’s good that a print shop (in Walthamstow, London) lets you know up front that they will put apostrophes where apostrophes don’t belong.
Kids these days! They don’t know they’re born. Or that their mum’s milk is used to make the cheese in my salad.
They say other peoples’ dreams are boring. But I would also suggest that they are also boring. Saying other peoples’ dreams are boring is boring. Not sure that entirely means we’ve come around to dreams being interesting again, but, well, er, this post is about a dream I had a while back.
I’d read a story on a news Web site about the Queen (that is, the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II) running out of money or something. Boo hoo. And I ended up dreaming about that and the way the BBC is always getting shit from the Daily fucking Mail about anything they feel they can stick the boot in about. So in the dream, the Queen was given a chat show on BBC One, to, y’know, earn her keep. In my dream, she was interviewing famous British people. And the first interview was with Robert Smith. Him out of the Cure.
Here’s a drawing.
I flew back from London on Wednesday. British Airways. Decent enough airline. Departing from Heathrow Terminal 5, which as airport terminals go is pretty good. It’s a post-11th September 2001 airport, it anticipates all the security stuff, and it’s relatively painless.
Going through the departure lounge, I went into World of Whisky and spent a decent chunk of money on a good bottle for my girlfriend’s father. It was nice to feel like a proper adult human being: not saying, “I’m fine, thanks” when an assistant asks if I wanted any help, instead asking if I could taste the whisky I was interested in. Delicious stuff. 16 year old Balvenie. Credit card and boarding pass out.
Before I went through security, I had a look in the newsagent/sweets/water/books shop and saw they had a buy-one-get-one-half-price thing going on. Saw a book I wanted. But not a second book so that I could take advantage of the offer. I’ll try the one in the departure lounge, I thought. Had a look, saw a second book! Yay. Now where is the first one I was interested in? They didn’t have it. I checked the final WH Smith after the wee ride on the shuttle train thingy. Their selection of books was crappy. Bummer. No new books for me. So I bought some Rowntree’s Fruit Gums to eat on the plane. Gave the dude the cash and he wanted to see my boarding pass. Why is that? It’s a packet of sweets. It’s not duty free fags or aftershave. Just some fruit gums. Why does he need my boarding pass. Anyway, the argument I was having with him in my head ended quickly, I said thank you, and went to the Starbucks where THEY SELL BEER. So I had a Peroni rather than a cappuccino. I listened to a podcast about football. Then realised I’d lost my boarding pass. Went to the desk. The nice woman there printed me off a new one. I waited and allowed myself to imagine that Aston Villa would beat Manchester City while I was in the sky.
Soon after they called all the rich fucks and people with kids to board. And then it was just like, “everyone else.” Not people in rows 180 to 225, etc. “Everyone else.” I’d chosen my seat online the day before. Window seat, front row of the cheap section. Needn’t have bothered, really. Of the ten front row seats in the section, only three were occupied. In fact, the plane was only about 20% full. It was lush. Nobody in the two seats next to me.
I got stuck into some Heinekens, took my shoes off, flipped up the telly screen thing. (BA planes, by the way, still have pretty crappy screens. Touchscreen, yes, but the sort of touchscreen where you really have to dig your finger in to choose something. I watched Anchorman 2. It was shit. (Apart from Kristen Wiig, who I seem to love in everything.) Two hours I’ll never get back, but I was on an aeroplane flying from Europe to North America, so it’s not like it was a real waste like if I’d've gone to the cinema or owt.
I had a go at the Lego Movie. Really enjoyed the first ten minutes, but soon figured that I’d rather watch it on a proper telly not on a tiny fuzzy aeroscreen. Gave some music a go. A few songs off the Ultravox greatest hits they inexplicably had on the system. I’d forgotten that Lament is a pretty nice song. Got the 7″ clear vinyl gatefold sleeve in a box somewhere at my Mum’s house. (Sorry, Mum.) Here is a link to a clip of them doing it on Top of the Pops. Here. Warning: Jimmy Savile introduces them in the clip. Listened to that recent Beyoncé album (good), and the Blood Orange album (alright). But I couldn’t stay focussed on one thing for too long. Had a wee flick at Sleepless in Seattle, a film I do rather love a lot, but couldn’t be arsed. Watched some of Her, which I’ve already seen, watched a bit of the Walter Mitty thing which I saw on the flight to London and enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Plus, y’know, Wiig’s in it. (Also note-worthy, cos of course, all of this blog post is scintillating stuff, I flew to London with Iberia. Now they have great screens. Totally modern. It’s like an iPad or somefink.)
I gave up on the telly and got a book out of my bag. “How I Escaped My Certain Fate” by Stewart Lee. I read and read and read and read. I read loads. It’s an enjoyable and funny book. I looked at the time, and we were over halfway to Mexico. Time flies when you’re enjoying a book. I pulled up the window flaps and there was the eastern coast of Quebec, looking snowy and pretty below.
The stewards and stewardesses seemed in good moods. One dude with nice specs kept asking if I wanted another beer. Yes please. I wonder if that job is actually fun. I mean, to me it looks like you’re a waiter in a crappy restaurant where people are constantly farting, wear ugly neck pillows, and take their shoes off.
Soon enough, just as the sky was starting to get dark, we were above Mexico City. I could see my neighbourhood as we got close to landing. As we queued to get off the plane (for a wee while cos the door wouldn’t open) a European guy lined up in the other aisle was chatting up a woman behind me. He asked where she was from. Veracruz. Are all women in Veracruz as pretty as you? She giggled.
Through immigration, I got my bag, and met my girlfriend outside. We exchanged hellos, hugged, etc. “What was the Man City score?” “4-0,” she said.
So, as I mentioned, I had an exhibition at the Euphoric Trumps in London. Here’s some photos.
As well as the printed stuff, I drew with a marker on glass:
Should you be interested, there are limited edition prints available. Top quality stuff, my friends. Very good. Please buy. https://www.coningsbygallery.com/shop/artist/Craig+Robinson
Sometimes I have to write stuff down for other people to read (that is, like in the title of this blog post) so that I can clear it out of my head, so that when I flick through my notebook, I don’t pause, briefly tempted to work on it, turn it into a drawing or a story or something.
If it sits there, it’s a distraction. And this one, Away in a Pret a Manger, is dumb. I want it gone. But it’s not so dumb that I can entirely dismiss it. My brain will spend a short amount of time wondering, maybe it could be good… they do nice Christmas sandwiches in Pret… maybe it could be a drawing of Jesus and his parents in a sandwich shop… eat in or take away? But here it is. Right now. In May. Not at Christmas. Get rid of it now, Craig, cos if you don’t you’ll be tempted in December.
Age is a funny thing. I am 43, but I don’t feel it. I have some grey hair in my beard, but I’ve got a full head of hair, I have no children, and I live an artist’s life. Then something happens, and I feel 73. My girlfriend and I were at a wedding reception on Saturday night. All going well. Looking as sharp as can be hoped for in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie. (I can do weddings, funerals, and reservoir dogs in this combo.)
We drank some, and they had tacos. The reception was being held in the house of the groom’s parents. It had a garden with a tent and stuff. Inside the house on the ground floor was a bathroom, with a pink drawing of a woman on it. Ladies loo. Upstairs were two. Another for women, one for dudes.
Now, I had been drinking, but in moderation. If I drove a car I would’ve been over the limit, but I could walk and basically do stuff in a non-slurring, non-stumbling state. I’d been to the toilet. And as I left the room, saw an old lady (the groom’s grandmother) coming out of one of the other upstairs rooms. She was tiny. Grey hair, grey skin, grey pyjamas. She looked at me, I smiled, she didn’t smile back.
I continued looking at her as I walked down the stairs. She shuffled at a snail’s pace towards the bathroom. In my head, I joked with myself that maybe she was a ghost. Poor old dear, shuffling along dead slow. I came to the bend in the stairs where each step goes from being a rectangle to a wedge and, still looking up, felt that one of my feet wasn’t where it should be: it wasn’t touching a step.
Time, that cliche, slowed down. I’m going to fall, I thought. My other foot lost its grip. I am falling, I thought. I saw people stood near the bottom of the stairs. I am falling down some stairs. I was very conscious of that thought. This is happening. I went head first. Shoulders, hips, knees hitting each step. Somehow I did a half twist before coming to the bottom of the stairs. I lay on my back. I looked up at men in suits and women in dresses looking down at me. Everything below my hips was still there, laying on the steps. I could get up, just cos I couldn’t use my legs to stand. I was a bit dazed. A couple of fellas grabbed my arms and pulled me up. They and the women asked if I was okay. “Si, todo bien. Gracias.” A woman looked concerned and asked again. “Si, si.”
I went back to the table where my girlfriend was sat. I told her about it. And then I felt old. And like a child at the same time. Old, because when you hear of old people breaking hips or arms, they always talk about it like they are annoyed at their failing bodies or the stupidity of the incident that lead to the injury. Young, because I had tore a hole in my suit trousers. Not since school days have I had a hole in my trousers (aside from, y’know, grungy jean holes). That memory of getting a hole in the trousers of your school uniform and dreading showing your mum after school.
I pulled up my trouser leg, women (naturally) swooned at the sight of such delightful pale English flesh, and saw a two-inch gash. I say “gash,” but I’d just skinned my knee and shin. The middle finger on my non-writing hand hurt. But no actual damage, apart from to my ego.
All I’m left with is some ruined trousers, a feeling of stupidity, and the fear that an old lady that looks like a ghost is chuckling to herself about that dumb English fucker who fell down the stairs.