Thursday, August 09, 2007

AMERICA: In pictures

Normal art blogging will commence soon. If you met me in San Diego and are looking for art, hit the archives. In the meantime, I’m hijacking my own blog to post my trip, not my art.

Bear with me… There's PLENTY of art coming. I have millions of con sketches that I did to post.


On the way in from the airport, Simbo and myself took our best in-joke photo for all you Entourage fans.

Here’s the view from outside our Chelsea apartment. Mitch and Simbo are cranking it up for Sausage-Fest 2007. While it looks dirty, NYC is amazingly clean. Garbage bags are left out, and at night the garbage fairies come and take them away. Honest.

I’m going to spare you a lot of photos. They’re of the street and the tops of buildings. It’s all reference for my comics. I consider it pretty boring to everyone but me. You see, when I look at the photos, I see Superman standing on a flagpole, the Hulk tearing up the street or the Batmobile tearing around a corner.

But this is from the corner of the street (taken just behind where the boys were) and you can see Madison Square Garden poking it’s great circular head around the buildings. The huge Transformers poster is pretty damn cool.
Times Square is like a little slice of Vegas in New York – or a Vegas is Times Square on steroids. That lady is pointing at Spiderman who just swung past. My reflexes dulled by 50 hours of travel missed the blue and red little bastard.
The Chocolate War is a fantastic book accurately retold here in the epic struggle for brightness and insanity with Hersheys vs. M&M. I’m still stunned by the M&M store. I’m not sure at what stage Smarties (a chocolate we have here in Australia) grew faces and personalities and took over the world.

Just down the street is this. It’s the theatre for the comedy improv group that a great deal of my friends like. Alex Zamm (my writer for Zero G) also directed their tv show!
Here’s our first breakfast in NYC. A place I heartily recommend called Florent down in the Meat Packing district. This breakfast was one of the best we had, and easily the cheapest. More coffee and fruit salad followed. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but my salad rocked all over the guys’ fries. I mean, who eats fries for breakfast? Homer Simpson?

And just outside, this incredible piece of street art… And a garbage bag that a fairy missed. I never said they were perfect.

This is probably one of the most “American” pictures I took. As a point of interest, Simbo and Mitch decided to count flags in NYC, and I decided to count Starbucks. They got up to 412. I got up to 46. That’s almost one flag for every ten Starbucks. Scary.
I’m also a connoisseur of the buffet. My parents were forced to recon every buffet in the inner Melbourne area, as it was the only way to economically feed me without going broke. So what I loved is that almost every convenience store in NYC was also a sandwich store and a buffet! Here’s an example of the buffet. They charge US$5.99 per lb of food with everything from fresh fruit to Chinese stir fries. Load it up, weigh it, pay. I loved it.

So then we jumped on a NYC tour bus. It was fantastic. Our guide was this cool guy who took special delight in pointing out all the superhero movies that featured NYC. I can’t remember the name of this building, but it’s (apparently) the most photographed building in the world. It’s also the Daily Bugle in Spiderman.

This is the pizza store that Peter was fired from in Spiderman 2.

The church from Spiderman 3 (yes, I did take photos of other stuff).

City hall from Spiderman 3 where they give him the key to the city. No Gwen Stacy unfortunately.

One of my favourite shots of the harbour from under a bride. That’s Queens on the other side (where Spiderman grew up – got a Spiderman reference in – Yes!). As an amusing aside, Simbo and Mitch made the pilgrimage out to Queens cos Simbo wanted to visit the firehouse from the Dennis Leary tv show, Rescue Me. I can’t stress enough how safe Manhattan is. The guys claim their asses still haven’t unclenched from their trip through Queens. But Simbo got his photo, and Mitch got some more grey hairs.

Harry Osbourne’s apartment.

The UN. Apparently when filming Virtuosity, Russell Crow wanted the Australian flag in the shot, so they had to rehang all the flags so Russell could get a little bit of Aussie into his film (no Spiderman reference! Wow!)

Ok, double the comic references in this shot. Not only does this have a prominent picture of the FF4: Rise of the Surfer, but this big curvy glass building is the building that Superman confronts the burglar with the suction cups in Superman 1! I was so excited I’m surprised this shot is in focus.

So we noticed on our ticket stubs that we got a discount meal at the Mariott buffet (guess who begged to go). So off we went and found ourselves in a rotating restaurant with a great buffet. Check out this view. I shot about a thousand photos.

My first subway experience. I don’t care what you’ve heard, but the NYC subway is one of the cleanest, safest, most punctual things I’ve been on. I had two great moments. One was when a bunch of old black guys near the back of the carriage started singing, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with full harmonics, and guys breaking in and out doing solos. It was incredible. The second was when two bunches of kids confronted each other late at night and tough words were spoken. Then one girl stepped forward and said, “Oh, yeah? You think you’re so good? Well then let’s Dance Off.” Unfortunately the other kids backed away. I so wanted to see a Dance Off. I was drunk enough to really enjoy it.

Ok, so this is Ground Zero. It’s a little under whelming. There’s a modest plaque at the opposite side where this photo was taken, but really it’s just one big construction site. That’s Mitch with video camera raised.

Our first glimpse of the Lady Liberty. She’s the one in the middle. Although you could be forgiven for mistaking her with the “Men of Steel” in the foreground.

Hey, a photo of me! This is the “famous” bull on Wall Street. And me. Did I mention that’s me? Well that’s me.

Our next destination: The Brooklyn Bridge. I had to make it up there just to pay homage to Spiderman’s greatest loss: The death of Gwen Stacy in issue 121.

Here we are. So I’m trying to get a photo of where Gwen died, when these two jack asses jumped in the frame. I’m amazed Mitch is smiling. We walked so damn far (from Ground Zero, all around the western edge of Manhattan, down around the south, up to Wall Street and then up to the Brooklyn Bridge.) we shoulda been sponsored.

Here’s the view from the bridge. It was so worth the hike.

We wanted to go see an NBA game, but the season had finished. But we were treated to something even better. The Seattle Storm were playing the New York Liberty in the WNBA at Madison Square Garden. Why’s it better? Cos Lauren Jackson, the most devastating player on the Seattle team is an Aussie. We brought our flag and were the only people cheering the Seattle victory.

Here’s The Garden:

And here’s Lauren (she’s really cute too – and bloody tall (6'5")! She score 24 points (second highest) 19 rebounds and a bunch of blocks and assists. She was unbelievable):

Then while walking down the street, I saw posters on a construction site for the new Who Wants to be a Superhero show. I can’t wait! When I went to the San Diego Zoo with my editor, Lauren and art director Chris we were accompanied by a bunch of people. One of those people turned out to be Matt Haley, comic book artist extraordinaire (who I’m a huge fan of – check his work out and you will see his influence on me) creative consultant and art director of Who Wants to Be a Superhero!

Anyway. I laughed at this:
So we made out way up to the top of the Rockefeller building. The view was spectacular. Here’s the Empire State (No King Kong) and off in the distance to the right of the Empire State is the Statue of Liberty.

It seems they were expecting me, as they had lined the inside of the Rockefeller with kryptonite on the way down.

After surviving their fiendish death trap I made my way downstairs to the NBC store and checked out their HEROES and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA window display. Battlestar had the best tshirt, “Frak Off”, but HEROES had the best window. I later came back and bought a necklace with the helix similar to the one the Haitian wears. I was so happy. It’s my favourite purchase of the trip.

Continuing the HEROES theme, I met up with Ryan Gibson Stewart, the moderator of (link on the right). Our Google Earth map was wrong, and it misplaced us by 2 blocks. No big deal, except for the torrential-end-of-the-world deluge that was pouring down. I’ve never been so wet and still worn clothes. Simbo got even wetter, and he’s seen here wearing the Heroeswiki tshirt that Ryan gave me in an attempt to get dry. That’s me pointing, Mitch and Ryan. We were also joined by Ryan’s lovely wife (who is kindly taking the photo). It was so great to meet him, and he was the first of many fellow HEROES fans that I met on the trip.

At some stage we made our way to FAO Schwartz a world famous toy shop that also serves great coffee. Here’s the man-sized piano from the Tom Hanks film, Big.

Heading to the Sony store, Mitch was attacked by Spiderman while trying to drink his coffee. The Daily Bugle is right! He is a pest!

That night we went to see Avenue Q on Broadway. Here’s the stage before I was yelled at to not take photos. It was an incredibly funny play incorporating real life and puppets. There was an incredible performance created through the fusion of actors and puppets. Well worth the watch.

Next day we were off to Hell’s Kitchen (Daredevil’s home), where I shot heaps of photo reference.

While the guys made their way to Queens and did the tv tour (Phillistines), I headed to the American Museum of Natural History.

There were some fascinating exhibitions on bugs, wildlife, meteorites, skeletons, ancient civilisation and Armenians (Simbo’s people). I was interested to learn that Simbo’s predilection towards yaks as food, clothing and sexual satisfaction is in fact, genetic.

And of course, DINOSAURS:

So I wandered across Central Park (beautiful day, great gourmet hot dogs) towards the Met. And what should I find along the way? But the fountain and courtyard area that I drew on the last few pages of War Buddies for HEROES!

And here’s my awesome New York style hot dog. (Man, my nails needed cutting):

While the Museum was ok, the Met is off the chart. I can’t recommend it enough. From the most amazing Egyptian exhibition I had ever seen:

The most incredible display of ancient weaponry and armour (check out this guy, I think he’s happy to see me):

Gothic wooden sculpture, blunderbusses and firearms, beautiful halls of ancient statues:

It was there that I saw my first original Normal Rockwell painting, “Town Meeting”. I studied this for about 15 minutes. Obviously, this photo doesn’t do this simplicity and elegance of his brush-work justice. But it gives you and idea of his scope of performance in his characters.

I then found my second love, John Singer Sargent. Again, the simplicity grabbed me. That crack of sunlight is literally just a blob of paint. I was shocked. I grabbed a photo then got told off by a guard. In retrospect I shoulda shot more photos. I reckon I coulda taken em. Hey, you gotta suffer for my art.

Now most normal people see the Statue of Liberty from the cruise ships. Sod that. We jumped in a speed boat. We got pretty close, but she still looked pretty small. I got a little forlorn that no one makes anything like this anymore. Let alone from one country to another.

We met some awesome Scottish chicks and some beautiful Bella Russian chicks. Simbo and I were going to ask them out to dinner (he liked the brunette, I was getting on great with the blonde) but Mitch was around (who has a lovely girlfriend) and we didn’t want to create a “fifth wheel” situation. So we said our goodbyes to the girls and off they went. I suggest dinner and then Mitch goes, “Well, you guys eat. I’ve got some shopping to do.”

Anyway, this is them. No, I'm not stalking them. I was trying to take a photo of the Statue on a speedboat on choppy water, and got more of them than the statue. Such a shame. =)

So Simbo and I had a totally non-hot chick attended dinner at an incredible Italian restaurant in the Meat Packing district. No pun intended. Nor meat-packing for that matter.

Oh, we stayed in Chelsea at the Chelsea star. Somehow we got upgraded to a 3 queen sized bed (no roll-away) two bedroom mini apartment. It was awesome! Kitchen, bathroom, everything. I don’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t the MGM grand (where we stayed in Las Vegas), but it was so much cooler. It was so… New York.

Humble kitchenette:

Nice little bathroom:

Standing with my back to the kitchenette looking in at Mitch’s bed:

Looking left at Simbo’s bed. Yes, he’s in his jocks. There was more of that than I would have liked.

My bedroom (I somehow got the separate bedroom). We modeled our trip off Entourage, and I think I got the bedroom cos I’m supposed to be Vince. Mitch was Eric (all fuss and details) and Simbo kinda channeled both Drama and Turtle (neurotic dorkiness). Check out the cool water bottle by the bed. That's right kids, in New York, even the water is cooler:

Then we were off bright and early to San Diego for the comic convention, which was (despite how amazing NYC was) unanimously the highlight of our trip.


RyanGibsonStewart said...

I’ve never been so wet and still worn clothes. Classic.

Sounds like you had a great time, I'm glad you're back in one piece. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip and see the million sketches you did.

Check for an email from me.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

Great photos, Jas. Loved all the comic book references. Spiderman is cool, but Batman is the bomb, baby!

I visited the Museum of Natural History and the Met on my last trip to NYC. Loved those dinosaurs and egyptian artifacts!

Central Park is fun -- and so beautiful! On the day I went, it was dusk and there was a light spring mist hanging low to the ground. Dashing and dancing through that magical mist were hundreds of fireflies. They all looked like little faeries!

Oh, the triangular building you didn't know the name of, that's the Flatiron Building.


AcidBurn133 said...

gosh. so jealous! lol.
I forgot to mention in my email, but here's a pic to outdo your's of the r2 mailbox:


Kelly J. Compeau said...

OMG, acidburn, that freakin' hilarious!

Flawedprefect said...

there was an R2 mailbox in that pic? Why was my attention diverted by the "deep fry your pickle at spanky's"?

... I care not to know the answer...

Good to hear you're back in Oz, Jas!

The Polsons said...

I must confess, I, too, was distracted by "fry your pickle." LOL

This was, hands down, THE most entertaining description of someone else's vacation I have ever read.


And now I'm out of commas. Ha.

simbo said...

Neurotic dorkiness? Own bedroom cos you're supposed to be Vince? Dude, you got your own bedroom because you had the Black freakin' Plague, the Rage virus, Bird Flu and SARS, and Mitch and I wanted to make it to Vegas alive. Let's not create any misconceptions. :)