The Impact Of American Pop Culture On My Life by Rick London c2016

I can remember what was probably my first, or one of my first record players (turntables), and playing my favorite records all the way back to age 5, though I had it several years before that, and I remember playing it, the details are not as clear.

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It was a brown standalone on a metal table about the size of a night table with one big gold and brown speaker mounted in the front.

I continuously played Elvis’ “Return To Sender”, “Honeycomb”, “Purple People Eater” any Alvin And The Chipmunks song and several others.  I didn’t often dance around the room or get a hairbrush and sing in the mirror as so many kids did, but watched the records continuously spin (as so many with Asperger’s/Autistics tend to do.  I watched in fascination for hours.

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I spent a great deal of time listening very closely to the singers and guitarists and wondering just how they “came to be”.  Some records I played all day.  When I taught myself to play the guitar in my teens, I could play a number of those songs (and later the Beatles, Stones etc.), of course nowhere as well, but I could not read music either.  I’d played the records so many times, to keep my mind occupied.

Of course many know I had un-diagnosed autism, lived segregated from my family in an attic; so had plenty of time to listen to music and grew to love it.

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Autism is a difficult condition to describe to others not familiar with it as it is a developmental condition. It is not a disease. It is not “a bad thing”, it is simply a different type of wiring with which science and education is just evolving to understand.

I was later blessed to have and play some beautiful guitars made by Martin (D28 and D35) and a Mossman, which was dual-backed and sounded every bit as good as my Martins but it was apparently a small indie firm which went under.   I now play the beautiful Crafter my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London gave me as a gift several years back.  It’s a long but fun story how she came to choose that gift and I’ll tell it one day if you’ve not heard it.

crafter

As I grew into an adult, (as many Asperger’s are prone to do), I found a topic I liked and stuck with it.  Asperger’s often don’t care if the topic is a pragmatic shrewd moneymaker or not, and my choice of “American Culture” was most definitely not.  I spent nothing less than a fortune buying music, celebrity, rock and roll, and you name it memorabilia.

My favorite was music, including rock and roll, especially from my various eras; mainly the 60s, but also the 70s-the 90s.

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From age seven until age twenty-one or so, I guess I lived for, or to be like, the Beatles, The Stones, The Animals, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and a host of other (mostly British Invasion Groups).  Later of course David Bowie and Al Stewart.  Ironically, it was the British Invasion that seemed to influence America with the most impact.

Upon hearing interviews with many of them however, it was (mostly) the Mississsippi blues and rock artists such as BB King, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis and the usual suspects that made them tremble at the knees.  Nashville’s Roy Orbison was also at the to of their list; not to mention Tupelo’s Elvis.   Life is funny that way.

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The type things I wanted to collect did not exist; that is cartoons or caricatures of the famous musicians and sometimes actors featured and engineered onto gifts and tees.

I first came up with the idea of “Panel Hollywood” and created about 200 of them (cartoons only).  I sent each one to the actual celeb, business or rock star and asked for feedback or a review. Only a very few were resistant and/or threatened to sue, but the majority were tickled pink I was “keeping their name alive”.

Some of the most appreciative were the Roy Orbison Family, Mayo Hospital, Bo Derek and several others.  It was quite a surprise.

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So I got to work on creating fun memorabilia to keep all their fans happy.  Roy O.’s widow Barbara, who sadly died several years ago, used our cartoon of his as their annual Christmas Card and it is now featured in the Roy Orbison Archives.  Mayo Clinic features two of them on their library wall.

animal collection lion sleeps mug

To see some of the gift ideas I designed, please visit my “Celebrity Shop” at CafePress and first click on “Music And Musicians” and then try “Celebrities And Other Famous People”.  Throughout the store there are well-known American icons that are enjoyable and make fun memorable gifts.  They are also considered collectibles; and since they are affordable, continue to rise in price the moment they are purchased.

At the end of the day (a term I never use), I’d decided I wanted to be a “culture collector” like Andy Warhol; so I’d be sort of like an “Andy Warhol Lite”.   I never got even close to that elevation. However I do own some authentic Campbell’s Tomato Soups in the can for guests.  Lee and I don’t touch (or illustrate them).

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist. He is best known for the launching of Google #1 ranked Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts, Londons Times.  He is married to nature/ wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London.  They are active in environmental, animal and Autistic causes.  Rick’s entire humor gift shop can be seen at Cafepress.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trending At Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons by Rick London: Donald Trump, UFOs and Autism

 

I like Donald Trump…….

No, no, not personally or even philosophically or politically, but he has to be one of the most generous of all politicians for humor writers, cartoonists, late night talk show hosts etc.

And it’s not that he’s particularly any different than any other presidential candidate, because frankly he’s not.  It would be unfair for me to single him out as “something special” in politics.   Am an Independent and have voted both GOP and Democrat. My party days have been over for a long time.

It’s not just the nutty things he often says……it’s…..the hair.  Face it, I’ve seen better-groomed shucked ears of corn.

The only real difference is, he has something that also belongs to many of us who have worked awhile on the humor side of arts and letters.  That is, no filter from  brain to mouth.  He truly doesn’t say anything that all the other candidates don’t think (but have that invaluable filter so as not to say it)….

Aspies (Asperger’s Syndrome) like me often have that same (filter-free zone in the brain).  So how could we Aspies not love him (at least in that respect).

And of course being on the writing side of the cartoon biz, we almost feel guilty.  Who else so generously would write the material for free, and not pay us?

Donald, you are EVERY cartoonist/humorists Apprentice in our hearts.  And trust me, we’d never ever fire you.

We’ve been creating some “The Donald” cartoon gifts, cards and tees for the past 4 or so years.

If you’re curious,want to buy stuff or just “Windows Browse”…………

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Slug Traffic Cop The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

new book slug hwy patrol

I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to the fact that Gary Larson with his “Far Side” cartoon was the trailblazer (as far as I was concerned) at “making insects and other animals) more human (and vice versa).

Sure, plenty of cartoonists did this “fun cartoon trick” long before Gary did, and even during his cartoon, but nobody did it with quite the fervor that Gary Larson did.

Most know, but a few still don’t, Gary Larson majored and got his degree in biology.  He’d thought about teaching and then changed his mind, thank God.

Though I followed The Far Side it’s entire (nearly 15 year run), and it had a vital impact into my thinking process and which way I wanted my humor to turn (I was younger, more immature and “still exploring” at the time).  Then I was invited by some Ms. friends who lived on Capitol Hill in Washington at the same time I did to see a Far Side Exhibit at the Smithsonian.  They had to drag me there even though I loved the cartoon. I guess I didn’t think I was going to “see anything new” that I’d not seen in the newspaper.

Was I ever wrong.  Whomever put that exhibit together knew exactly how to whet and satisfy the appetite of any/every Far Side fan.  Each Far Side was blown up into an 8-10 ft poster on board and hung from the ceiling. It was as if one was walking around inside the Far Side Cartoon and even talking to the odd characters whether they be human, animal, bacteria or space alien.  That exhibit was 34 years ago and, aside from a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fl., I can’t remember any collection of art that had such a life-changing impact.

However it is easy to “take for granted” people of whom have walked this crazy walk with me, many creating their own properties whether they be cartoons or other types of art.

Most know my story of being so naive at the start back around 1997, I contacted some of the biggest names in the industry.  And they were all good to me.   Dave Coverly of Creator’s Syndicate was particularly generous as was Charles “Sparky” Schulz (Peanuts).  Am back in touch with Dave, his cartoon (to me) easily rivals The Far Side but has a “different flair” that is clearly Dave’s own “fingerprint” in his Speed Bump Cartoon.  Dave was generous enough also to leave a positive testimonial on my latest book “Useless Humor” which is (for now) available at Amazon Kindle but soon will have it in other bookstores.  It is our best book I think; and my first to have a mix of cartoons and “useless quotes”.

I’d be amiss not to mention some of the people closest to me such as my beloved wife wildlife/nature photographer Lee Hiller London who is like a “human thermostat”. I can get an idea (often while we are hiking in the forest) and run it by her, and she gives an honest assessment immediately.  I have decided to make cartoons public or toss the ideas away based on her opinion.  Sometimes (on rare occasions) I go ahead with them simply because I like them (and her taste might be different) but she is generally right on target as far as “what is funny to the public” vs “what is funny to just Rick”.  🙂 Lee is also an amazing designer of both gifts and casual clothing and accessories.

Also my long time associate and co-creator Rich Diesslin has steered me in the right direction more than once.  He was with LTCartoons for over a decade and we still work on the occasional project together.  We’ve butted heads, made gains, losses etc together, and stayed friends. He has 3 excellent cartoon properties of his own. I’m in awe of his ability to both create and use left-brain management skills.  Thanks Rich for all you’ve done and continue to do.  Rich also managed LTCartoons the first (most vulnerable decade) and did it well and with integrity.

I’ve been fortunate over the past 3.5 years to work with Tom Kerr who many consider one of America’s finest caricature artists and editorial cartoonists as well as childrens book author.   His latest book is in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Library and deservedly so.    Tom leans more right than I do, but it is that “slight friction” (I’m more to the center) that makes our collaborations work, and they work almost every time.  Tom knows how to make me look good and I appreciate that.  His blog Despicable Jerks is also well worth reading.  You will laugh. Guaranteed.

So what does all of the above have to do with this snail traffic cop cartoon?   Not a lot, but it may give you a subtle hint into how my mind operates.   As if you really wanted to know.  🙂

Thanks again for 18 years of support.  I am truly humbled and grateful.

Important Films And Books On Narcissism (NPD Disorder And Scapegoating) by Rick London (Chapter 4)

Since posting 3 chapters of my book on my autism and being scapegoated, I’ve been deluged with questions. And that’s a good thing.

Snow White - Disney 1937

Snow White – Disney 1937

Some people are not sure, most feel fairly certain they are not on the autism or Asperger’s spectrum; a few feel they may and are getting tested. If planning to get evaluated, please make sure to “vet” the professional who does so. Not every psychologist or psychiatrist is trained in that area expertise.  Mine has chaired the Arkansas Autism State Board for 35 years and is well-versed in the topic.  Yours does not have to have that kind of qualifications, but it should be someone who is well-versed in, not just autism/Asperger’s but various disabilities and truly knows the topic “inside-out”,  and is not likely to make errors. You don’t want a wrong diagnosis.  You’ve gotten this far.

That is good too. I’m starting the book as “a novice”. No, not a novice at being scapegoated or having autism…have had that all my life (for 60 years). But I only discovered both through the help of some very experienced professionals; I could never have figured that out on my own; though I was able to finally put all the pieces together with the help of some very insightful professionals with over 100 years experience in this area of work. So I’m a novice at “knowing the issue at hand”.  For 60 years I knew something was not quite right, I simply didn’t know what.

Keep in mind struggling with the autism was/is challenging enough.  But add the struggle of a narcissist/scapegoating family who had, while abusing their community powers, also recruited other “flying monkeys” to march to their “hate Rick” campaign, the odds were pretty much stacked against me.   But now I have a chance to live my life, and live it well.  The point I’m making is that I am not unique.  Most disabled persons (born disabled) but rather than diagnosed and treated, are hidden away, abused and/or neglected, have a similar unique challenge.  They eventually have to decide to come to terms with what has happened to them, is happening now, and will continue to happen.  I was, and in some cases still am, punished by those who were supposed to love and help me, simply for having a congenital condition of which I inherited, and over which I had/have no control.  That condition is sad and quite a challenge.  Those who were/are abusive are, I’ve learned, much sicker, and much more cruel than I’ll ever be.

The fact that suddenly I have had a “eureka moment” does not change anything on the outside.  The family and the part of the community they have recruited are ill.  Very ill according to numerous top professionals.  They won’t be getting well anytime soon, if ever and their “We must hate Rick for our own self-esteem” will probably go with them to their graves. It is a much a part of them as breathing oxygen. It is their oxygen in many cases and has been all (of my life). I shouldn’t expect any support from them.  Is that painful?  Of course, but now I am getting support from healthy places, and I realize they will die ill and bitter.  That is what hurts.  The good news is the replacements.  Those who lost the chance to share my love, and there are many (former relatives, friends, etc. are actually the ones who have lost an opportunity).  No, I’m not anything particularly special or great, but I am strong.  Very strong.  None of them could have survived what I have. Not one single one of them. I could have taught them a bit about strength, about character, and about things they’ll most likely never know. Their loss.

People I once looked up to and trusted, never were trustworthy, and never will be, and as my doctors have suggested, in many cases it is best to ignore them, they don’t deserve the honor of my presence, and only address them (or let the government address them) if they continue to try any bullying or abuse (whether directly or through a third-party “flying monkey”.)    Still, I remain very optimistic simply based on the internal changes I have seen, as well as the external ones, that is, suddenly the type of healthy and loving people in my life, of whom I never felt I would have access. And they love, respect and support me back.  To me, that is success. Others may define success however they wish.

Arthur: The Film

Arthur: The Film

So there are plenty of questions of which I don’t have the answers (at this point) though I plan to study it for the rest of my life and learn as much as possible and I promise to share any and all pertinent information that may be helpful. Nobody, under any circumstances should endure scapegoating, and to scapegoat a disabled person is absolutely indefensible and repulsive  facilitated only by the most nefarious characters among us. Funny thing. The Brother’s Grimm in the early 1800’s had great insight on scapegoating and/or NPD (narcissism personality disorder).

If you’ve only seen Sleeping Beauty as a child, I strongly suggest to have an adult look at it.  No story I’ve seen explains the narcissist/scapegoating process like this story. It goes further into only those dynamics but “community/power/money” dynamics as well. Nobody wanted to “get on the bad side of the evil queen”.  After all, they could be her next scapegoat.  She “won by intimidation” (or almost did), but failed only because there was someone honest in the kingdom who could not kill Sleeping Beauty.  A lot of it is corny (it was written for kids), but it was also clearly written for adults.

Snow White is wonderful too with a similar theme to help both children and families of NPD disorder and scapegoating.  Of course Cindarella is also the epitome of the scapegoat child.

There is a tremendous moral to that story; how important it is to sometimes if not often “go against the tide”.  What one might be hearing is only rumors.  Not to put ones dog in a fight that doesn’t belong there.  How envy and hate can be omnipotent in some very sick people (as the queen was) and it happens in our towns, cities and communities all the time.  The other moral is “how one man fights the tide” and wins.  It’s an important story. Disney brought it back for a reason in 1937.  He knew the importance of something that he knew was epidemic if not pandemic.  He wanted the public to know.  And it became one of the biggest box office hits of all time.

If your esteem is down from being scapegoated, here’s the good news. You should pat yourself on the back for having survived. It is the narcissists and flying monkeys among us, who used our good name, who should hang their head in shame.  And if they continue doing it, and you are disabled, it will be worse for them than hanging their head in shame.  I’ll mention the disability webinar later in this blog.  Whether you have autism or any other disability, and you’ve been scapegoated (and/or still are), there’s some good news for you, and some bad news for the perpetrators.

Most of their children’s literature covered such topics. They deemed it important to write it in a format that both parents (reading to their children) and children could understand it, and, if their family dynamics were already in the middle of narcissistic parentel destruction, they could recognize it and get help. The Brothers Grimm knew only a few would, but even if it were only a few, consider the amount of suffering that would be avoided.

Original Sleeping Beauty ~ Brothers Grimm

Original Sleeping Beauty ~ Brothers Grimm

Fast forward several centuries. A novice filmmaker named Walt Disney also considered that topic high on the list of important educational topics. One of his first films “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs” (1937) was based on the same Brothers Grimm book and covered the topic of NPD disorder and in a way that both the layman, the child and the parents could understand it. Knowing most NPD families are in total denial (for a lifetime),

Disney also knew this important message may only help but a few suffering families. But to him, a few was a lot better than none. It meant lifetimes of avoiding needless suffering (of children who later became adults). Here is a list of other popular films from Arthur to Wall Street to A Streetcar Named Desire…that all dealt with NPD disorder and scapegoating.   Another one, highly recommended but not listed on Wiki is “Gaslight” which won numerous awards.  It is creepy though and very difficult to watch, but clearly explains some of the “crazy-making” in more extreme narcissistic/scapegoating cases.

I recommend to rent these films on Netflix or Amazon for a few dollars. They can much more clearly explain scapegoating and NPD disorder than I can. As I stated, as I write this blog I am still new at “knowing” this is my story.

Film: Basic Instinct

Film: Basic Instinct

Where does the autism fit in? That’s complicated in that the autistic child (and later adult) already has developmental issues. When parents, siblings and the community scapegoat that autistic child, it can be lethal. Fortunately for me, God was apparently looking after me. I wanted to improve. I longed to improve my life. And I kept my faith. If I can do that, anyone can.

If you suspect NPD disorder occurred in your family, chances are there are still “Flying Monkeys” in your stratosphere. There are now ways (legally if need be) to keep them at bay. I strongly suggest a webinar by the Autistic Network. By clicking the image below that says “IPMG” you can register for free.  It is important, and will educate you on your rights, and make your life a lot easier.  I’m looking very forward to it as is my beloved wife Lee.

Click To Register For July 17th Webinar For Free

Click To Register For July 17th Webinar For Free

And though this webinar is targeted toward persons with autism and/or Asperger’s, it will be helpful to anyone with a disability. One of the main focuses is going to be knowing your rights (and what to expect from the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) which is part of the Department Of Justice. They are not only interested in your disabilities, but your rights if anyone (whether they be family, friends, strangers, groups, lawyers, you name it, they want to know) if you are being injured,  stalked, or harmed in any way by anyone(s).

Magnolia: The Film

Magnolia: The Film

If you were raised with an un-diagnosed congenital disability, chances are very good you were scapegoated, still are, and there are “flying monkeys” in your life. Groups like this offer you resources and protection.  You only deserve the best. You’ve seen the parts of life that nobody should have to see.  It’s your turn to enjoy your life with no sociopathic “flying monkeys” interrupting in yet more attempts to hurt you via censor, fiscally, or whatever other dirty trick they have up their sleeve on any given day, and believe me they do have dirty tricks up their sleeves, always. They are sick and it doesn’t go away unless they come out of denial and get real professional help. Sadly, the majority don’t.  They are convinced they are well. Very well.

As for you….. Don’t just “Want it”, “Demand It”.  You deserve the best. You always did. And now it really is your turn.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is actively involved in autism/Asperger’s, animals, nature and children’s causes.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997 from an abandoned tin shed in rural Mississippi.

The Story Behind Brookus Brotherus Cactus by Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons (Rick London)

A little bit behind this cartoons:  See below it…………..

I was fortunate to have neighbors growing up whose parents had retail businesses.  So when I went away to college and needed jobs, I didn’t always have to wait tables, though I often did.  More often than not I found myself working in mens fashion in large department stores in Dallas or later in Washington, D.C. (when I was in between jobs).

One thing I didn’t expect after leaving my tiny little burg of my birth, was the seriousness in which people took their retail merchandise.  The proper mens shirt/tie combination was closer to a deity than “an outfit”.

Others looked at some of the more elaborate brands as if they were created in a lab by Einstein, Hawking or even Al Gore.

I don’t mean to sound haughty or erudite (and of course anyone who uses the word “erudite” obviously is; but I digress.

My point I want to make is, I was in my early twenties.  I liked nice clothes, but I didn’t see a big mystique in something that was made with polyester and/or cotton and a needle and thread.  Correct me if I’m wrong but things happening at NASA aroused my curiosity more so than things happening at Neiman’s.

I spent most of my days after school, or on days I didn’t have classes at Richland College at a downtown Dallas store called Saenger-Harris, which competed with Neiman Marcus, and I think is now defunct, but it was very nice.  But not NASA.

However, it was a Saenger-Harris that I learned about color and how to match ties and shirts and pants and even sports coats or putting them together for displays in suits and how to “pick up the colors and make them shine” in that display window.

I would crack a bit of a smile if I “did it right” as I knew that put my name on the list of possibly getting a raise (if I did it often enough).  Others (and I’m not making this up) would actually applause, as if the mannequin was a live actor who had just won an Emmy.

Needless to say, I did not end up working in a physical retail store in my adulthood (except on rare occasions when I needed jobs between media and/or writing jobs) which much closer matched my skills (what few I had).

Ironically, I actually am in retail (to a certain degree) though I don’t work with the public. I actually design clothes and gifts, using my imagines and/or concepts that are digitally designed onto clothing, mugs, etc and sold through online retailers.

And again ironically, much of what I learned 40 years ago, is useful today in dealing with wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers who sale my licensed goods.

I’ve come full circle and in many ways I am, again that 20 year old kid, wondering just how I was going to “conquer the world”, something I never quite fully did, but I’ve had a really fun time trying.

Though “Brookus Brotherus Cactus” is now about 15 years old, it remains a very popular gift and tee item for collectors or gift givers.  If you want to see how it looks on one of my items…..

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What’s So Funny? by Rick London

This March 19th, Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and funny gifts will be eighteen years old.  From the start, people asked, “What’s so funny?” or “The world is a mess” etc.

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Click To Enlarge

I agree with them, actually, and admittedly as the world gets crazier (or maybe it was always this crazy but social media helps us see it more microscopically), we need to laugh.

Laughter, I read long ago is important for our health.  And it’s not just fringe alternative medical studies that show this to be so.  By 2014, nearly every major medical research center, including Mayo Clinic, have conclusive studies showing laughter improves everything from the way the immune system operates to reducing pain.

Did I think I was going to “save the world” back in 1997, when I launched Londons Times in that abandoned warehouse in Ms.?  Probably so, but I was as naïve and stoked as the next entrepreneur with a unique idea or different vision.  Needless to say, I didn’t save the world, and  not even sure I made it any better, but I did make a contribution.

I made my share of mistakes, but I suppose if I hadn’t, I would never have been able to build it to the scope that it has been built. I was able to recruit some of the best illustrators in the world who understood (and understand) my blueprinted concepts and render them.

I have been able to design tens of thousands of products by learning digital design through tutorials and learned to market them for sale by returning to college at age 50.

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Click To Enlarge

As I look up and read what I wrote, I can easily see it as a “bragging right essay” and perhaps it is.  I am proud of Londons Times and I make no apologies about that.  The work often was 24/7 and sometimes that was nonstop.   Ironically the time since its launching in 1997 is all a blur, as if it has been at high speed velocity. And yet I can still look back at old letters and emails and smile at “that bump in the road” or that “bit of my own ignorance” and wonder what I did, if I did, do, to overcome and learn by it.

Several months ago, as I’ve described in recent blogs, I did some real damage to my upper right shoulder, arm and hand.  I am in physical therapy now and have elastic braces on part of my arm and waist.

I just did a photo-shoot of Lee (using her camera) in her new Oarttee (one of our new associates) “all over print” tee, one of her designs that was beautifully printed and shipped to her.  That was a challenge as I had to hold the camera up high to get a full shot.  (She ended up taking a great many shots using the timer and tripod also) so chances are one of those shots will end up on the Internet.  It’s a gorgeous design created from one of her photos of a bright red/pink camellia (one of my favorite flowers).

Though “partly-brag”, part of my message is to “stay the course”.  I am aware a good many young people follow my cartoons and read my blog, but also middle-age and older people (who may think it is too late to try something they’ve always wanted to do).

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Though I say “Be pragmatic”, I also say “TRY”.  It really is never to late to give it a shot.  Don’t worry about mistakes or the learning curve.  One can be rest assured there will be plenty of that.   And whether (in your mind) if you succeeded or not, you can surely say you tried.

Several decades ago when I was visiting my maternal grandmother Ruth London in the nursing home, I often chatted with some of the other residents, and many had much to share.

I decided to learn something for myself so I asked many of them if they could live their lives over, is there anything they would have done differently.

The common thread was, “I would have done some of the things I always wanted to do but was too frightened or was told it was not sensible”.  I know without a doubt that was the impetus for my trying Londons Times Cartoons; the elderly and geriatric residents of Hattiesburg Nursing Home on Bay St. in Hattiesburg.  They taught me not to regret a chance to try something “later in life”.  I was forty-four when I launched the cartoon.

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What will be your next contribution?

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, designer and musician who is active with green and animal causes.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts. 

LTCartoons.com Was & Still Is The Only One To Do This by Rick London

What makes Londons Times Cartoons different than others?

We like to think it is a lot of things; as, a lot of elements go into the cartoon and subsequent gift items on the marketplace (from concept to end user).

In a nutshell (in hopes of not getting too grandiose), we like to be the cartoon that is different in more than just one way than all the others.

For instance, we were/are the first and only offbeat property that is 99% in color, featuring 4000+ images. Though several other offbeat cartoons can boast beyond the 4000 mark, none of them (except us), most are in black and white with a few color offerings.

zazzle orgnanic tern

In addition, we take great care in how we have our products manufactured, and what we have manufactured.

We are the only “green” offbeat cartoon on the planet (to our knowledge); that is “cruelty free” in the making of our products. For instance, we have a line of ties, which we only make using polyester. There is silk available, but we’ve opted out of using it. The ties appear to be silk in texture, are much more affordable, and no animal loses its home.

Admittedly we have about .07% of gift items (on Amazon) that contain leather, and that is beyond our control (though we are working on finding alternative manufacturers who make the same products in pleather or some comparable material).   This is found on products such as ceramic framed tiles; not on the majority of our items.

zazzle organic columbus

We were/and are the first and only offbeat cartoon to dedicate an entire shop to 100% organic No-GMO tees RickLondonOrganics.com.
We’re very proud of that shop. It is not yet a profitable store, but we feel it is worth it, to have clean materials available to our more health-conscious customers. process.

Yes, we still have tees that are not organic and are made with mainstream dyes, but the largest scope of our following demands that, and we cater to them too.

However, our goal is one day to be able to sell nothing but 100% organic gmo-free tees.

Of course tees are not our only product. We were the first (and still the only) cartoon to offer a line of offbeat cartoon real USPS postage.

zazzle stamps saladbar
We’re very proud of our stamps. Philatelists love them and collect them. Non-collectors often buy them with matching greeting cards or postcards from our RickLondonGifts.com shop.

zazzle postage squid

Finally, we invented the offbeat cartoon gourmet coffee gift basket which has been available on Amazon since 2006. Though I call it “Ruth London’s Exquisite Coffees”, each basket contains 5 imported delicious whole coffee beans, a jumbo cartoon mug, four matching coasters and the gratuitous gourmet biscotti. Can’t beat that as a gift and it’s exclusively at Amazon. We offer about 1000 different cartoon baskets. It’s a gift that is always remembered (and enjoyed). http://bit.ly/LTGftBskt.

This coming march it will be 18 years since my favorite dog “Thor” and I launched LTCartoons.com in that little abandoned Ms. warehouse. I’ve worked with some of the world’s most talented people who helped make this happen, and learned a great deal. The learning process never ends.

amazon coffee gift basket

Maybe that’s the reason I love doing what I do. Every day is a new challenge and opportunity to create something that makes someone smile or laugh. And though, yes, I do look at it as a business, no amount of money in the world can replace the fact that products that I create make people happy. As corny as that sounds, it’s important.

Thank you and have the happiest of holidays this season.

Sincerely,

Rick

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, and designer.  He is best-known for his founding of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He also founded several Great Quotes Shops which feature famous faces from the past and some of their most famous quotes on gifts, cards and tees.  His main offbeat cartoon site is Londons Times Cartoons.  He is married to nature and wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) who is best known for her designer gifts, Lee Hiller Designs.

Londons Times Cartoons “Unfinished Business From College”

november 999 kneeds small

I actually enjoy when people ask “What made you think of that cartoon?” I don’t always know (or even remember as 17 years and 4500 cartoons, I can’t remember every little spark in my poor brain). But occasionally I can (remember the impetus that sparked it), and this is one of those cartoons.

I’ll be the first to admit (okay maybe the last; my former professors will be the first) to admit, I was not a great student.

Ironically in some of the classes I loved the most, I made the worse grades, and the ones I loved the least, I sometimes aced. This behavior followed me far into adulthood; even upon returning to college at age 48; where I aced advanced math, and did dismally in English. Go figure.

But what stumps me the most, still, is that at institutes of higher learning, something happened to me, and I wonder if it did to others as well.

And that was “unfinished business”. I’m not talking about fast-track romance and fast cars, and strange spring breaks waking up somewhere in the panhandle of Florida.

I mean thoroughly studying a topic, and walking away feeling I had less knowledge about it than when I first approached it.

One of those incidents was trying to learn Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.
He pretty much summed it up on a pyramid.

maslow-pyramid

Sure, as a generalization, Maslow is right on target. But take it a step further and on any given day all of mine can change. I pointed this out to the professor who (by the way hated questions of which he didn’t have answers hence added me to his hate list).

Maslow was not my only “unfinished business of academia”. I “learned” a lot of things that, last I remembered, someone else was doing (and doing a lot better than me).

Hence, I’ve taken Dr. Maslow to another realm; the realm of baking. I love good baked food and my wife Lee is one of the best bakers on the planet. She makes an art of most things for which she has a passion. And upon eating her challah, my kneeds are met.

The Real Story Of The Invention Of The Internet….As Told by The Real Inventor & Cartoons/& Their Inspiration by Rick London

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

By Londons Times Cartoons Click To Enlarge

     Sometimes people believe the story behind this cartoon and more often than not, they don’t.

     Perhaps the year was 1999. I was taking a sabbatical from cartooning but still talking about it with people because I was mainly looking for people who could lead me in the right direction.  My venture was only two years old and my site contained less than 1000 cartoons. Some of them were fairly good, but remember I was 44 and quite immature for my age, okay immature for a 25 year old’s age, but hey, I was becoming in my mind “The King Of Cartooning”.

     Along the way, online, I  met a very nice guy, a Dr. Vinton Cerf who lived in Washington, D.C as I had done for 12 years.  Vint was a Sr. VP at MCI when it was still open.

     Back then, if I remember correctly broadband was not available, or if it was it was in limited places.  Vint had AOL Online and he had my team draw a graphic of a skeleton with cobwebs sitting at his pc with an alert on his monitor “Welcome To America Online”.  Back then, that was very funny as AOL, Compuserve, NetZero and the  rest were quite slow at connecting, and felt even slower once broadband arrived.    A copy of it still sits on my site in the computer cartoon archives.

     I remember feeling a bit bad at the time because a childhood friend from 1st and 2nd grade, Bob Pittman, after founding and selling MTV, became CEO of AOL for a good many years.  I hope he never saw it but one never knows. I never got an ugly call from him and Vint was happy. He loved to joke about how long it took him to get on the Internet using his trustworthy, but very slow AOL.  

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

Custom Cartoon for Dr. Vint Cerf, Father Of The Internet by LTCartoons.com. Click to enlarge.

     Well there is more to the story.  Vint was just a sophomore at Stanford in 1969 when he came up with the idea of TCP-IP, the protocol which eventually became the Internet.  Professors and others talked him into selling the rights for awhile to the Pentagon and they called it “Arapnet”.  It was mainly an email communication device between different governmental entities.

     In 1974, Vint learned that will a bit of work, it could go public, but it would take a Congressional vote.  He approached a young (then Congressman from Tn. Named Al Gore who liked the idea and called it the Information Superhighway. 

     That same year he pushed it through Congress and the world had the Internet.  There was not a lot to it except email, bulletin boards and some domains.

     Ten years later an MIT professor named Tim Berners-Lee invented a software called the WWW which would drive the Internet into places we never dreamed imaginable. 

      Suddenly it became a major media and communication device.  The best features at that time were Yahoo!, Hotbot, email, and some bulletin boards.  There was no Google, online college, social media, or anything else that has driven it to become the most important media of our time. 

     Hence the silly little cartoon at the top of the page.  Compare it to the one we did for Vint, and you can see we’ve come a  long way baby along with that little invention of his The Internet. 

    And by the way all these years the joke was NOT on Al Gore. His exact words were, “I created the incentive to invent the Internet”, and in Washington political terms, that is exactly what he did.  Though I’m not a big Al Gore fan, I surely do get a good chuckle when some know it all jokes about Gore and the Internet and has snide know-it-all chesire grin to go with it.

By the way Dr. Vinton Cerf was selected as creative director for Google which is where he remains for about a decade now. Way to go Vint. 

8 Secrets To Becoming The Most Brilliant Creative Entrepreneur In The World In Less Than Two Decades by Rick London

mar stupid 

                   

   Am I the only one who, the older I get, the more I look for things to do?  I don’t mean go to the mall or neighborhood pub, etc.  That’s not my thing.  I mean in my business.  The funny thing is, every day I wake up there is plenty of things (mostly routine) to do, but the child in me is always looking for something new to create, expand make, produce, sell etc.

 

      About an hour into my morning coffee (I’m a slow drinker), the obsession starts.  “If I don’t create something so new and so different, the world, even my close friends and loving wife, will forget who I am or ever was.”

     Then I come to my senses.  I’m not a pimply-faced 12 year old who wonders why he’s no longer a boy but not yet a man, but it is amazing how fast that feeling can return if I’m not doing something productive.  I give myself permission to play on Twitter and facebook, and of course go mountain hiking with Lee but to me, that’s part of what I call un-work; regenerating or winding down, whatever one likes to call it.  I become a kid again in the forest. I love the flora the smells, the wildlife and yes, even the wildflowers.  If I didn’t  get out in nature far from the maddening crowd at least twice a week I’d explode.  In fact I think Lee has seen me explode once or twice and its so messy.  Fortunately Lee loves it too and it’s not only play for her but a major part of her work. 

mar waldo finds self

 

      The great irony of it all is that I’m into my 15th year of Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts and the large core of the work (not quite 5000 cartoons and about ¼ million gift items) are completed.  It didn’t seem like hard work but I know it was.  Actually more discipline than hard work, but staying focused and with a purpose.  I know that just about anyone could do what I have done (if they really wanted to).  Then I start thinking, “But who would want to”.  Then I remember, “Well there’s other nuts out there”.   In that 15 years at one time or another I was certain I was the “most brilliant entrepreneur in the world”.  Then I went back to school at age 47 and actually met some of the real most brilliant entrepreneurs in the world.  I learned humility. I would never come close to being so, but playing pretend can be fun.   I did learn some things from my amazing classmates and wonderful professors.   

       What Lee does is hard work too and she started Lee Hiller Designs very similarly to how I did, virtually with nothing but a computer, a brain and talent.  She got better as the years passed.  She is in her 5th year and is still expanding and I love watching her work grow.  At first it was almost all nature photography.  Then she started experimented with her art which she’d given up in high school, only to find out it is a public favorite and sells on all types of items worldwide.  Her posters are very popular and several of them dawn our living room walls (next to my silly cartoons), but hey, I do my best.  Lee has about 30,000 products on the market and I remember when she started in late October of 2009.  I couldn’t believe her discipline and work ethic.   It continues and it’s contagious.

      In the strange economies in which we’ve lived the past three or four decades (on and off), I admire anyone who looks at obstacles as something to overcome, work hard, and keep a project or entrepreneurial venture alive.  It’s not magic and it’s not brain surgery.

oct moo it 3drose

 

      For us, this is what it took.  This is not the only way, but if a couple can agree upon it, and live it, they can go far (so can a non-couple)

Tear up your credit cards. Plastic surgery They look appealing when starting up a business, but they are not your friend (unless you own the credit card company) 

1 Pay with cash or debit cards (we rarely even use checks anymore).  We pay as we go. 

2 Advertise for free or cheap.  Why pay for major media or even overpriced newspapers, radio, or tv, when you can often reach as many if not more people consistently using social media.  We use it nonstop (even when we are not at the computer we use pre-scheduling software) which keeps our tweets going.  Many old-school twitterers pooh pooh that idea; but those are the types who often turn into life coaches and other type shadowy types, living on other’s blood and their credit cards, posting their various addresses (of which nobody cares or believes anyway), and don’t tend to do very well financially (or spiritually), which has been our observation. 

3 Never give up.  That’s become so common its cliché’.  I will add, “It’s okay to give up for a little while, an hour, a day or even a week”.  Everyone needs to regenerate and rest.  But know you are going back into the ring with a new plan.

mar horse nay

4 It’s your business.  Use an attorney with agreements/contracts.  If you can’t afford an attorney, use one of the legal sites and get affordable agreements, but understand you are not as well protected, generally, as you are with a good attorney who understands your business needs (or even your business).  But they are better than nothing (usually).

5 Hype yourself.  No, nobody wants to know how ethical you are, brilliant you are, creative you are, moral you are, religious you are, etc etc., at least not from your lips.  If someone else says it about you,  it has a lot more credence. If you say it, intelligent people will tend to find people who really has at least one of those qualities and do business with them. 

6 Don’t be afraid of looking silly.  Why? Because no matter what, at some time or another in any startup, you are going to look fairly silly.  So prepare and realize it’s part of falling down and getting back up (which has happened to me more times than I’d like to count).

new cow capone 7797979797097

7 Use barter, talent and sweat-equity wherever and whenever you can. Your service or product is worth something to someone. Make a list of what you need, but perhaps cannot afford, and contact at least 20 people in that business offering your service or product for their service or product.  Out of 20, I usually have always gotten one positive bite. Different people have different thresholds, but the whole idea of a startup is every bit as much “a numbers game” as it is “a talent game”.

8. Scale down.  Have a car note or mortgage that is giving you nightmares?  This is where the tough decisions have to be made.  Sometimes we can’t have it all.  The good news is that a lot more people are scaling down than moving up; we are not in the “yuppie years” anymore.  We are all surviving the best we can.  So getting a smaller house, apartment or whatever might be the right move.  Lee and I have older cars that have been paid for for years.  We keep them serviced and they run like new.  We got a much smaller place, in a better location.  In NYC, our same place would be about $10,000 per month.  We pay a fraction. We have no car note.  At first it was not easy.  We’d both lived “in the burbs” and had picket fence homes in the past.   This is so much more manageable and anyone “turned off” by it doesn’t have to be a part of it (though most think its a very good idea and area doing similar things) and finding their bills are paid on time and worry of debt is not a big part of our lives.  If we can do that, anybody can. 

  Yes you can find venture capitalists but it’s not always as fun as it looks.  A venture capitalist is involved in many businesses and unless a close friend, generally only looks at the bottom line, not your potential (only you know that), and there are sites in which you can attempt to raise money online. If using one of those sites, offer back credits, not ownership. Own your own business.  That is why you got in it, isn’t it?  Aside from expressing yourself in our economy using commerce, it was for freedom, and nothing offers more freedom than being a successful creative entrepreneur. 

lt peanut surf goober

So with all this pent-up knowledge am I great, ethical, moral brilliant, etc?  Nahhhhh, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which has been Google & Bing #1 ranked since 2005.   London has shops with funny t shirts and gifts such as Rick London Gifts and also designs Famous Quote Gifts at his RickLondonDesigns.com.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer and blogger Lee Hiller-London who also owns designer affordable gifts at her Lee Hiller Designs shop.  Together they hike the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they live.