Every year, Independence Day means taking the D train to Coney Island to catch the hotdog eating contest, that flamboyant epitome of American culture. For those who don’t know: The contest is an annual pop art spectacle held on the beach, which features mountains of buns and sausages forcibly disappearing into the gullets of pumped up contestants, cheered on by a crowd of fascinated spectators, journalists and beach goers.
I have an extensive archive of drawings I’ve made in and around New York City, and which I will share over the next couple of days; the first set are a series of sketches I made at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, where the eccentric visitors were at least as eye catching as the garments and paintings.
Once again I managed to brave the heat to make it out to Coney “no shade in sight” Island to draw Nathan’s annual Independence Day tradition, the hotdog eating contest, except this time, I had backstage passes, aka a better view to draw from. Why? Because my friend Yasir “Doggybag” Salem had finally qualified for the event, and was on stage with the likes of Joey Chestnut and Eater X. All drawings seen here were done in real time on location, and colored in later using Photoshop.
Despite thunderstorms earlier that day I found myself seated in the heart of Times Square to attend the premiere of Mad Men season four, an hour ahead of the rest of the country. I was later upgraded from puddle-seat to VIP area (admittedly way comfier than the wet bleachers (thank you V!). The majority of the drawings were done during the pre-show costume contest, and my personal highlight was seeing the “falling man” intro of the show at the bottom of Times Square signage canyon.
On a recent trip to California I stayed in a classic Old Hollywood haunt called the Culver City Hotel, an idiosyncratic red brick wedge of a building that towers over the diminuitive Epcotesque Art Deco buildings around it. The hotel lobby greets visitors with august, dark-wooded, faux-Patrician charm complete with piano bar, wooden globe, and enormous furniture, next to which the tiny check-in desk disappears almost completely. I made a few drawings at the farmer’s market, which is held right next door to the hotel, between the mansion from Gone with the Wind (really!) and a Trader Joe’s supermarket, and saw what I am reasonably certain are real hippies, which excited the anthropologist in me quite a bit. I also bought some unbelievably tasty organic apricots there.