What A Long Strange Road Its Been…. Anniversaries 18 & 21 by Rick London

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I am a sucker for milestones and anniversaries.  Especially long period of time ones sometimes bring a tear to my eye.  But a happy kind of tear.

March through June are both fun and emotional for me for that very reason.  First and foremost this June 18th is Lee’s and my 8th wedding anniversary.  (She’ll be proud of me for remembering that LOL).

We married in a old stone chapel in the Ar. Mountains to which one had to hike, there was no road to it.  She found it on a solo hike 9 years ago and came home yelling, “I found our chapel. I found our wedding chapel).  Until she took me there (by foot), I hadn’t a clue what I was about to find.

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      Our Wedding Chapel 

It was a charming 100 year old stone building in the middle of nowhere.  Nature surrounded us.  It was/is us.  We hike back to it each year.

 

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Favorite Pic Of My Beloved Wife Lee Hiller-London

When we chose that day (it was our second pick), the 19th being our first, we had no idea

it wautism 222222222as Autism Pride Day or even that I was/am Autistic.  Lee sort of had a clue given she’d worked in high-tech many years around the world in the early days of technology.  She’s still a wiz at it, even given all the changes. Back then HTML was considered high-tech.  I still love her more than ever.

By the way I was not diagnosed for autism until 2015 at age 60.  It was hidden from me as a child (was not diagnosed) and I was given an “attic bedroom” far away from the family core; quite a frightening way to live, with autism,  at age six-age through age 17 (basically imprisoned with controlled friends).  I am vocal about it because, a lot of parents, later entire families, and finally entire communities disown their autistics (or different) children. My greatest hopes are to help lessen this obscenity. I know I cannot alleviate it.  But it is a form of torture and I plan to speak out.  Whenever the opportunity avails itself.

Future children/later adults need not suffer like that, now that we know what it is, and was. It is well past time to get past the years of character assassination of “those who are different”, and often those of us who are autistic, fall into that league.  Autism is who we are. It’s not a disease or ailment. It’s like being green-eyed or left-handed.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with it any more than there is neurotypical people.

Monday, March 19th is also the 21st anniversary of the day I launched Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997.  Most folks by now know the story of my living in a tin shed with no heat or air and only cold running water (for over a year).  Electricity was installed and I bought a big old used IBM Clone 396 computer for several hundred dollars and a book “Internet For Dummies”.  And my trusty rescue dog “Thor”.  I had $300 more or less.

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Thank you to all the wonderful souls who have been with me through this journey.  There were times when I was certain it would not work, I’d stop knowledge of what I’ve learned, or people would simply forget about me.  None of that has happened, and the works I have done have grown dramatically.

     Thor The Wonderdog

I’ve published 4 cartoon compilation kindle books and one coffee table one available at bookstores worldwide.  I have about 4500 full-color cartoons on my website.  I woke up one day in early January 2005 and my site was #65 ranked on Alexa.com. While that didn’t last long, it stayed the #1 ranked offbeat cartoon (on both Google and Bing); it sometimes fluctuates to #2 but that’s okay given there’s about 10,000 offbeat cartoon properties competing for that spot on any given day.  However 8 million people had visited my main website and now it’s closer to 8 million and 188K.  It surprised me (possibly more than it does anyone else).  It all definitely went beyond my bucket list.

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oldmanHemingway once quoted, “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”  I might add, “…And write several more really funny books to be humbled by the blessings I have received”.

And if all that were not enough, we’ve got Amazon Prime and Netflix and the occasional GMO-Free Popcorn.  Life is good.

 

 

To see my main site ranked Google & Bing #1 Offbeat Cartoons click here.   Most suggest to then click on “New Toons”.  You can find our most popular recent strange cartoons on Instagram here.  To shop there’s several stores. Let me suggest this one which is Rick London Gifts full of comic tees, mugs, cards, bags, jewelry, home and office and plenty of other stuff.

 

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.

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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.

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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.