19/12/2003 – 27/1/2016
Auf wiedersehen, Billy
Man 2 Man, Enrique Peña Nieto, Lil’ Wayne, and One Direction
It means nowt to you, of course, but it’s a moderately big deal in my own head:
I started drawing famous people really small in 1999. It was the thing that gave my site a bit of a following. I did a book in 2004 which did alright. I kept on doing them, then in 2009, after threatening (to myself) to do it for ages, I just stopped. But, over the last few months, I’ve had the desire again. I did Sleaford Mods, Nicki Minaj, the 1986 Liverpool team, and a few days ago, The Weeknd.
So, let’s do it again. Reunion tour.
Can’t be arsed to put them all up here, but they are all up here.
A couple-and-a-half of examples:
Self-sabotage is something I’m fairly used to. My brain sees things and goes, “Nope, I’m gonna fuck this up on purpose.” There was a point where I stopped blogging. Actually, that happened twice. Both time I stopped, slowly got back into it and found that each time, the audience has gotten noticeably smaller. Entirely own fault. I stopped using Facebook last year, and deleted the Flip Flop Flyin’ page from there, too. I’d half expected the people who followed my work there to shift, but as far as I can tell, that’s not happened. My own fault, and in hindsight, totally understandable. In the electronic age, me saying “follow me on my blog, not on Facebook anymore” is pretty much like releasing a movie on Betamax.
I think that something that ended up being self-sabotage was entirely unexpected: getting into baseball. This happened over ten years ago. Because of that ten year anniversary last summer (Twins vs. Yankees, Yankee Stadium, New York, 27 July 2005) I’ve thought a lot about the ten years that baseball has existed for me. It took about four years for it to really take over, though. When I split off the sport-y stuff from Flip Flop Flyin’ into its own site, Flip Flop Fly Ball, it was purely to allow the FFF followers to look at my drawings without having to wade through baseball-related stuff. But, there was an unexpectedly large amount of interest in FFFB, and pretty soon I found myself with a contract to do a book about baseball.
And that was it for a few years. Looking at the archive on Flip Flop Flyin’, I still did non-baseball stuff, but I did a lot more baseball-related stuff on Flip Flop Fly Ball. That began to swing back last year. I kinda felt that I had less and less to say about baseball. I still enjoyed it, still went to Diablos Rojos games, but on the whole, I was enjoying just enjoying it; it not being part of my “career.” And personally, that has been a rewarding change. I’ve enjoyed doing and concentrating more on art than baseball. Baseball is a hobby. And I very much like having that as a hobby. So much of the Flip Flop Fly Ball stuff was about learning and trying to understand a sport and culture that were alien to me. By the time the book came out I began to feel like I was a part of the baseball world; certainly the baseball corner of the Internet. I had carved out the niche-y-est of niches on Baseball Internet: The English Guy Who Watches Mexican Baseball.
Something else that probably can’t be ignored is the timing of things. At a point when my personal life was an absolute shambles, I had baseball and I had infographics to distract me. It was very very helpful to think about statistics and facts, organising information into neat infographics at a time when my mental state was the exact opposite: unorganised and emotional. If I read a book about the 1970s Cincinnati Reds then I don’t have to think about my failing personal life. If I investigate the history of early 20th century players, I can distract myself from the fact that I am miserable every day.
But, there’s only so long you can fool yourself. Several cities and loads of apartments later and I’m still not mentally splendid, but it’s time to stop distracting myself. Which is one of the reasons why I’m not gonna be doing much baseball stuff on Flip Flop Fly Ball for the foreseeable future. I’m not killing it off, as much as that is tempting, but I am also not gonna feel guilty anymore about not updating it more regularly. If I want to do something, I will, and if I don’t I won’t. That may mean there’s nothing for a few months or for a year. It’s also possible that this simple act of writing about it might free up my mind enough to not feel any pressure to keep going with the site, and stuff might come flooding out. I don’t know. But right now, Flip Flop Fly Ball is on an indefinite hiatus.
Perry, Schwimmer, Kudrow: you’re not even trying.