Yesterday, I was a passenger in a car on the autopista coming back from a nice small town called Huauchinango in the state of Puebla. We were behind a big lorry which, in that particular light, was just this white rectangle with a shadow underneath. I couldn’t see the wheels moving. It got me thinking, and I was trying to imagine vehicles as just blocks of flat colour. So I Photoshopped out the cars in an old photo (of the German autobahn) and drew blocks of colour where the cars had been.
Bigger here: http://flipflopflyin.com/motorwayblocks/index.html
Here’s a chart looking a Liverpool players who played at World Cups and how they got on: http://flipflopflyin.com/flipflopflyball/other-lfcwc.html
Every morning, I wake up around dawn.
I get out of bed, go to the kitchen, fill the kettle with water and turn it on.
I get a mug out of the cupboard and put coffee in the cafetière.
I go to the bathroom and then turn on my computer and check email.
When I hear the kettle click, I go and fill the cafetière and wait for a bit.
Some times longer than other times.
I’m never really sure how long I should wait.
Normally it’s two or three minutes.
I pour a cup of coffee.
And she is there.
She is there.
Hair pulled back into a ponytail.
White sports bra top thing (I don’t know the actual word, sorry).
Grey sporty trousers.
She looks at me and melts my heart.
A slight smile.
She smiles while I drink coffee.
She knows I should probably go to the gym with her, but she never says anything.
She knows I like to drink coffee, stare out of the window as the sun comes up, she knows that those first couple of hours are the most creative hours I have in my day.
She’s not a cow in a field.
She’s not text.
She’s not an illustration.
She’s not an industrial farming process.
She sees me at my worst and she doesn’t judge me.
Then I put her back in the fridge.
New drawings for NotGraphs of vendors at Foro Sol, the Diablos Rojos’ ballpark in Mexico City. There’s nine more and some captions here: http://www.fangraphs.com/not/tacos-guero
More finger painting here.
Last year, I went to this thing called the Feria de las Culturas Amigas. It was on the big main avenue in the centre of Mexico City with lots of stalls from different countries. There was food, crafts, other stuff. It was a nice way to see and taste things that you might not ever get to see or taste. This year, it was at the Zócalo—formally Plaza de la Constitución—the huge empty square downtown which has some federal buildings, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Palacio Nacional on three of its sides. The other side has some shops and people selling stuff, and yesterday, a terrible saxophonist busking.
It was a far better location for such a thing, not having to walk along the packed pavement by a big road. Just like last year, the food was good. We had a nice wee brie sandwich from France, bacalhau from Portugal, a big fat white sausage and mustard from Switzerland (the queue for the German sausage, like last year, was big, so we gave their neighbours a go: it was tasty), mate cocido from Paraguay, and pão de queijo from Brazil.
We boycotted the Russia stand. I tried some North Korean food last time. It was greasy and grim. This year, there was no food at the North Korea stand. The USA stand sold hot dogs and popcorn. Exotic food which many Mexicans have never tried before, obviously. There were a few gringos stood chatting behind some books about jazz, comic art, and a few great novels. It was like they were a little bit too desperate for people to know that there is culture in the US. The UK stand was possibly even worse. They had a red telephone box, cutouts of the future king and his wife, and the Beatles. And you could buy Strongbow, Weetabix, and One Direction t-shirts. So proud of my home country.
At the Argentina stand, they were selling tickets for a football game. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate at Estadio Azteca. How had we not heard that this was happening? Argentina’s superclásico in this city. So we bought tickets and come Saturday evening, took a couple of peseros down to the Azteca. Peseros, as I’m sure I must’ve mentioned before, are cheap small buses. They have about 20 seats, and with standing passengers, can easily carry double that. Mostly because they are death traps and the drivers care more about getting an extra few pesos than not killing people in a horrific accident. It’s easy to joke about these buses, but, really, it’s not that funny. Every time I take one, I realise that I’m in the hands of someone who isn’t a good driver. But, they exist, and they cover parts of the city where taking the subway isn’t possible or would be a long convoluted route.
Estadio Azteca is a wonderful place. I like stadiums in general, but this one is huge. I’ve been to four or five games there, and each time I’m impressed by its size. It’s the seventh largest stadium in the world. But that’s not the impressivest thing for me. First, there’s a big Alexander Calder sculpture at the entrance. Second, it’s where Maradona beat England in 1986. Every time I’m there, I look at the goal at that end of the ground and can see both goals happening in my head.
Stood around the Calder sculpture were lots of people in Boca and River jerseys singing and chanting. Touts asked if we wanted tickets and stalls sold bootleg jerseys, t-shirts, scarves, bags, pins, earrings, whatever. They had Boca stuff, River stuff, and stuff from other Argentine teams. Club America, Pumas, and Cruz Azul stuff (those are the three teams in Mexico City). World Cup jerseys from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany.
Going through the turnstiles, a security guy indicated for me to turn around and hold my arms out. He frisked me. He told me I couldn’t take my lighter in, so I lobbed it into a nearby bin. A few yards later, there was a line of policemen. One of them asked me to stop. He did the same frisking. We walked around the side of the stadium to the gate where we were supposed to enter. Our tickets were scanned again, and another line of coppers was frisking everyone. Up the giant concrete ramps to the top of the stadium. We looked at our tickets to see which entrance we needed and walked around to the right. Again a bunch of police there, frisking.
We went in, and realised that the section where our tickets were was right in the middle of where the hardcore fans were, behind one of the goals. When we bought the tickets, they asked if we wanted the Boca or River section, I said Boca because I’d been to see a game at their stadium in Buenos Aires. Girlfriend, who had lived in Buenos Aires for a while, confessed after we’d got the tickets that she preferred River. What we didn’t bank on, though, was our tickets being right there amongst the people who were the most passionate. Jumping up and down, constantly singing, aping what happens at games in Buenos Aires. We decided to look for seats elsewhere, and one section over, there wasn’t riot police around the edges of the section, and other people seemed a lot calmer.
The other end was where the River fans were. Not as many as in the Boca end. Along the sides seemed to be neutral. Down in the lower level of the stadium, the expensive seats were all wet. The roof only covers the top tier, and it was raining. Most of those seats were empty. And actually, most seats in general were empty. Of the 105,000 seats in the Azteca, according to Marca.com, only 25,000 were occupied.
The teams came out to much cheering and chanting. Then they both lined up next to each other and unfurled a banner which read “VAMOS ARGENTINA.” The cheering turned to boos. The game kicked off, and to be frank, it wasn’t all that much of a superclásico. River took the lead in the 36th minute. Boca equalised in the 70th. At the end of the game, because of some fake trophy being given away by the sponsors they had a penalty shootout. Boca missed their first two, and River won 4-2. So far in 2014, the two teams have played one league match and four friendlies. Four! River won the league game and the last three friendlies.
All in all, it was a tad disappointing, but then, I don’t know why I expected one country’s biggest game to have the same intensity as it would in their own city. It was, though, good to see them playing each other, if only for the fact that aesthetically it’s one of the world’s most beautiful sports fixtures. Blue with a yellow band vs white with a red sash. Magic.
(Apologies for the crappy photos. My camera is bust and I kinda have to just use my iPod, which has a shitty camera. Thanks, Apple.)
First: one about the companies that made the kits worn by teams in the World Cup.
Second: an entirely untimely one about the Premier League relegation battle on the last day of the 2010-11 season.
Not an infographic, rather an animation that uses data.
Basically, since the 1958-59 season, English football has had four top tiers. Prior to that, there were the first two divisions and two third divisions: a north division, and a south division. Since that season, of the 92 teams in those four divisions, between 11 and 14 of them have always been London-based teams.
This animation uses the places of those teams within the four tiers and the colours of those teams to create an animation. The longer a team is in a specific division, the closer to the edge of the circle that team is.
It’s the car park of Suburbia on Avenida 20 de Noviembre, just south of Zócalo.
More finger painting here.
More Mexico City stuff here. When I say “more,” I mean one-other-thing-that-I-did-last-year-but-I-intend-to-actually-do-a-lot-more-of-this-stuff.
Stupid Spanish language word play…
More finger painting here.
Drawing of a snow globe with baseball players inside it at NotGraphs.
In 2010, when I lived in lovely Toronto for one lovely summer, I would often walk past a restaurant called Buddha’s Vegetarian. I liked that it was a statement as well as a name. Buddha is vegetarian.
I guess technically the name is Buddha’s Vegetarian Restaurant, as their Web site makes a wee bit clearer. But maybe he was like Colonel Sanders. I dunno.
Just like a no-hitter in baseball, you don’t want to mention it while it’s going on. I don’t even really want to acknowledge it to myself. If it is going on, I try and keep it together: like a casual glance at the Galaxian high score that you are close to beating, but not constantly checking. I can write about it now, because it’s not happening anymore.
When I hit a purple patch, and I’m doing loads of drawing, (specifically drawing I’m happy with), and having new ideas, there’s nothing quite like that feeling. Everything comes together nicely and the brain is skipping along the street in technicolor, while everyone else is drab bowler-hatted men walking across a black and white London Bridge.
Sometimes these spurts happen just for a few days, sometimes they can be for a sustained period. I don’t really know if there’s any way to prolong them. It would obviously be great to control them, but I somehow feel that’s not gonna be part of the deal I’ve made with my brain.
I just came out of a brief one, though. A nice two-week patch of drawing, decent ideas, writing, and—somewhat importantly—feeling good about my work. It began here, actually. When I looked at stuff that I’d drawn while I was in London, wrote up some notes, filled the blog up a little bit. The London trip was average. It was nice, as always, to see friends and family. And, on the surface, it was nice to have an exhibition, but that exhibition itself wasn’t really a success. It didn’t get much publicity, I hardly sold anything (but, a massive heartfelt thank you to those who did buy something), and tapping numbers into a calculator of the cost of it all, there’s a minus sign in front of the numbers at the bottom of the in and out columns for the trip. And when that happens, I don’t feel like an artist. I feel like someone wasting money trying to be an artist. Especially when, in London, I went to see other shows by real artists who seem to have that side of their lives figured out.
That feeling, plus the inevitable post-London blues that I always seem to get when I return to Mexico, and it’s amazing that this purple period happened at all. I had two weeks of good stuff. The drawings I’ve done have made me relatively happy. I’m not gonna say they are great, but they’ve at least shown me a possible way forward. I was surfing and I was upright. But I hit a rock at the weekend. And it all stopped. Which is why I can write about this now. Couldn’t write about it while it was happening. When I’m in a good patch, I like to go to my Ideas and Sketches folder, a dumping ground for things to do later, and have a new look at something. The air dancer story came out of that. It was an old idea, from early in 2013. The Bill and Ted infographic, too. That’s been hanging around for three or four years, just some notes and dates in an Excel document.
Hitting the rock, though, isn’t often as obvious as it should seem. It happened at the weekend, but I didn’t realise it until yesterday. I started working on this thing that’s gonna be a short 30-second animation. I got about halfway through the drawing stage, and then yesterday morning, things just didn’t happen. I looked at what I’d done and realised I don’t have it in me to do it right now. I tried to continue, but it wouldn’t budge. So back in the Ideas and Sketches folder it goes, waiting for a future purple patch.
But “waiting” can’t happen. There will be some days of feeling a bit glum, but I will keep on drawing. Gotta work my way out of this opposite-of-a-purple-patch, which, I guess, looking at complementary colours, makes it a yellow patch.
There’s the billboard poster just around the corner for some theatre thing. Two big faces and some words. But every time I walk by that poster, I can’t help but wonder why Pat Butcher is performing in Mexico.
More of this sort of thing here.
Seven years ago, on 23 May 2007, my mate Keith and I went to Athens to see a Champions League Final. I travelled from Berlin to London to Athens and back to London and Berlin. I was awake for 67 hours. Here’s the blog post I wrote afterwords: http://flipflopflyin.com/g/2007/05/67-hours/
Here’s a picture story about an airdancer in Mexico City.
English version: http://flipflopflyin.com/iwannadance/index.html
Versión español: http://flipflopflyin.com/iwannadance/index.html#espanol