A Patient Veteran, A Beloved Wife, A Sweet Irish Setter And Now My Life by Rick London c2016

By now most know Lee’s and my love for animals.  For much of my life, that meant domestic animals such as dogs and cats, and the occasional iguana or hamster, but for the most part dogs and cats and horses.

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I had surmised by the time I was ten or so that I may be the biggest animal-lover in the world, thanks to my late friend Dickey Randolph who, though six years older than me, took the time to teach me about dog care. I got my first Irish Setter from him.   And though I will never forget Dickey’s kindness and goodwill (we stayed friends until his untimely death several years back), I know now it was dogs and cats I loved.

I mention that as, I’d never had anyone explain anything that important to me in detail, that stuck with me throughout my lifetime, and became one of the most important parts of who I am; and most likely began my quest as being a vegan as I am now too.

Part of that “memorable miracle” with Dickey was that I was a disabled, but not diagnosed child with Autism (and now of course an adult with autism).  I was quite hyper, didn’t make good eye-contact, and my attention-span was dismal.

He didn’t care, nor did  it bother him in the least when he returned from Viet Nam, a multi-decorated hero, and very good man.  His guidance led me to the curiosity of nature and animals, and Lee took me to further explorations into the forest to see it in all its glory and how animals behave.  I never get bored with that and it has a very healing nature, very similar to the dog I got from Dickey, “Rusty”.

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I didn’t hate cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, but I dined on them.  Along with overcooked veggies that was my staple until college, at which time McDonald’s took over as “the family kitchen”.  I look back and wonder how I ever lived through that, and in reality, almost didn’t.  I was still 35 years away and two major heart attacks from “seeing the cruelty” in what I was doing.

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Having owned one of the first health food stores in Ms. with a $10K loan from the now defunct (like my health food store) Bank Of Hattiesburg, with a preacher from Glendale, Ms. who was later bought out by an ex-math professor at USM, I had an early curiosity of health foods, yoga, running etc.  It never occurred to me that something as simple as animal protein (including dairy and eggs) was not only holding me back, but eventually killing me, and how I didn’t die on at least 4 occasions has stumped all my surgical specialists.  I am a blessed and grateful man.

I went full-fledged into that business.  Most of my “education” came from salespersons with high-school degrees and books written by outdated writers.  Food science was moving forward as fast as one could turn a page.  The animal sciences were not far behind.  I was dedicated to trying to eat right, take the right herbs and vitamins, run marathons, and you name it.

I have since learned that cooked vitamins might as well go in the toilet.  To my knowledge there is only one firm that makes 100% organic vegan raw vitamins and that is “Garden Of Life” which we buy in powder form from Amazon or Ebay.  It is amazing and one can tell the difference immediately from the ones we see advertised on tv often which have had all/or most of the nutrients and more importantly live enzymes cooked out of them, so they are useless.

I learned that herbal tinctures, in most cases are far better than the tablets or capsules as far as potency. I also learned that organic and wildcrafted are every bit as important.  In addition I learned that “organic” in China would not pass for edible in the U.S. (for herbs and vitamins).  There’s still much more to be learned.  Not all of it works. Some of it is nothing less than miraculous.   More learning.  It’s neverending.

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Enter Walmart, a new “box store” to the town and exit my store, an old overpriced relic.   I sadly closed my doors in 1981

So I spent some time educating myself regarding food sciences and animal science.

I was married in June 2010 to my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller of Hike Our Planet)who became a vegan one year later. I had already read the health benefits and how it helped the planet but that still wasn’t, for whatever reason enough for me. However I did go mainly vegetarian for a year before my conversion to veganism.

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It was impossible to watch Lee’s positive changes and not want that for myself.  I didn’t know if it could happen but I was surely willing to try.  She’d lost about 90 or so pounds and about 20 years of age.  I was astounded and still am.  But that was not her goal. It just happened.

She was very patient with me as my evolution kept going with at least some dairy or cheese and finally I said, “I’ve had it”. I thought she’d be surprised but she was not in the least.  She said, we’d both cook alternate days and eat as much raw as we could, and that is just what we did.  I had no idea I would not only actually like it, but crave it, and the thought of my old “food” never even crosses my mind.  I truly don’t think my body could absorb it.  Lee kept looking and feeling better and her mood became very kind. It was not an act.  I’ve seen lots of acts.  This was a natural evolution.  I wanted that too. (Still working on it  LOL).

The life changes are dramatic.  Forget the goodness to the planet, and though I am tickled to death that it happens, there is nothing that would take me back to my old eating lifestyle. I say that because there is no such thing, really, as a vegan diet. Veganism is more of a learning/lifestyle philosophy.

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

Well, Lee retained the good looks, common sense and brains, and I got to feel human maybe for the first time.

Because nobody gets it perfect (I was told that would happen by Ed Begley, Jr.) on Twitter….. (It’s a long story)….I’ve decided not to become a militant vegan, and that fits me well. While I would love the planet to all turn vegan, I also know as Ed told me, “It ain’t gonna happen”.  I would love to live the rest of my life on the planet not killing any animals, but again, it’s not going to happen.  Even in the making of my computer animals are killed.  Lee and I kill insects for instance on our hikes, our ride to the grocery, etc. but not on purpose of course.

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So I wish the Gandhi-wannabes good luck, and let me know how that turns out.  When curious persons are ready, they usually ask us questions. Lee has come up with the idea to have them start with a Meatless Monday which is now a worldwide movement.

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As time goes by and they are still interested, I often direct people to YouTube to watch Sir Paul McCartney’s “Glass Walls”.  Any time I’ve growled or gotten snarly, they ran they other way and ate more meat, with guilt, more meat, nevertheless.  They didn’t want to be much like me and who was I to blame them.  So I changed, and hopefully so did they.

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Meantime I’ve put together a collection of my favorite animal cartoon gifts and tees and I have a lot more in the store collection.  A percentage of each sale benefits various animal and/or vegan causes.

Also for yet even more entertainment, there’s plenty on my cartoon website.

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Happy laughing…and eating….and hopefully shopping!

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from an abandoned tin warehouse in rural Ms.  He is married to his best friend and hiking buddy, his beloved bride Lee Hiller-London who owns the nature photography blog Hike Our Planet. Though of course cetaceans are animals (Dolphins, Orcas etc.) Rick keeps a separate section for his ocean mammal friends (gifts).

Living Well – Fine Revenge This Valentines By Rick London

Today is Valentine’s Day.

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For many years that day didn’t mean a lot to me, whether I was in a relationship or not.

That may sound like a “call for pity” yet it is just the opposite.  I know now how blessed and lucky I am, not just to have my wife Lee in my life, but both of us understanding with what we deal; autism as well as building our lives together.

Some think I talk about autism too much, and that’s too bad and their issue. Autism is very much who I am, why I do what I do, and how I do it.

For numerous years professionals wondered how I “lived through what I lived through”, and there are times when I did too, yet they never told me what it was in which they were amazed about.

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More than one psychiatrist I told I was hidden away in an attic at age five which lasted my entire youth up until age seventeen and then thrown to the wolves.   I am sure most of them knew what that meant, but maybe most of them felt it was best to tell me I had been severely abused, simply by the act of “residential segregation” and the very different rule structure set for me as compared to my siblings.

They also felt it best that my siblings were quite abusive as well, for the most part of their own survival.  That part I understood and even forgave. One extremely well-versed very well educated therapist told me, “If they’d had a backbone, if they’d had an ounce of good in them, they would have turned off the “hate Rick campaign” and done the right thing, as adults after your parents died, but they were too ambitious to “have their name in lights”.  I could easily see them given that I’d had my name in lights several times (and it was highly overrated). I’d never scapegoat a sibling to do so, nor did I ever.

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So given the abandonment (and even abuse) combined with the autism, it is beyond comprehensible to most that I survived. I did have the wherewithal to continue seeing professionals in an extreme effort to find out what had happened to me.  Remember, I didn’t know I had autism, nor that I’d been severely abused until I was 61. I was programmed not only to fail but to die young.

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And that’s probably why I decided I was not going to die young. In spite of two major heart attacks 3 surgeries and stents, I was determined to discover what had happened and who did what.

Then came Lee.  She loved me and loves me unconditionally.  She helped me in my quest, so that I might not dismiss abuse when it came my way.

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Remember, I never even knew I was “at war with my siblings” (I just felt they didn’t care for me) until age 61.  At age 60 I decided to write one of them to let them know of my autism diagnosis. Also of my vanus diagnosis; an extremely painful form of flat feet, also congenital.  As always, I was dismissed by one sibling by email with a line that read “My spouse’s niece had a bit of autism but is fine now. What will you do for symptoms”. (In other words people live with autism all the time.  Get used to it).

Truth be told, most autistic children do not get hidden away in an attic, scapegoated by their entire family, and never diagnosed.  The difference is apples and oranges (than simply “being autistic”.  I survived a pre-meditated war against me, one I never knew I was in, only to find the real truth, and that the perpetrators of that war were rancid cowards, bigots and haters,  and still are.  Now they will coddle their autistic niece to show “their goodness”.   Educated people expect that and are not impressed…in the least.

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I lost it. I was livid.  Symptoms?  Autism does not have symptoms. Autism is who someone is. It is not something to cure. It is something with which to have compassion because the tools to teach autism are just now coming into fruition.

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I told the sibling a thing or two about symptoms (the only true symptoms of such a condition are hate, prejudice and fear) projected by ignorant people, and I made certain this sibling knew what that meant. I never heard from that sibling again and if I’m fortunate I never will.  I know it sounds erudite but these siblings do not deserve to be a part of my life.

I am not perfect, in fact far from it.  But the torture of another person, especially a child who later becomes an adult, to me falls in the category of serial killers and such.  Before you say, “how crude”, so do a majority of the members of the autism groups which have at least 3.2 million diagnosed members not to mention even more than that that are un-diagnosed.

This feeling is real, and the experience/torture is very much of a similar sociopath nature. Those people need help and need it today.  They will within a few years, most likely, find themselves way on the fringe, at least that is what is being reported by knowledgeable scholars acting within the mainstream autism communities. I believe it wholeheartedly.

And I don’t regret writing that. I do not want that kind of “person” in my life, ever.  And though I know they cannot help that they are that sick, they do have the responsibility to get professional help.  After all, I did, and I was not even the one who needed it most. In fact, I am quite at peace with myself most times, knowing that I finally know what really happened to me, and not the “family press release”.

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Yes, I still get the occasional PTSD that I used to get often.  But PTSD is not a character flaw or weakness. It is a healthy response to something very bad that someone experienced or saw.  I can remember having it since age 5 (the year my first attic isolation tank) aka bedroom was built).  Why would a five year old have PTSD?  Child abuse is the reason about 99% of the time. I was part of that 99%.  I survived it and am very proud of that.  Not all do. And that is why I write these blogs.  I don’t believe any of my family will change.  They have too much invested in “the lie”.  But I know others might read it and see hope. I know NPD parents might read it and seek help.  If just one reads it and seeks help, it’s a success.  Torture is torture and if it prevents just one, it proved to be a good thing.

I merely ask you to imagine a 5 year old child alone, isolated in an attic, for 12 years. The first 4 years crying every night to no response (they couldn’t hear me in such a large home and made sure of that).  This causes all sorts of psychological problems, the worst of all chronic insomnia (which is not even allowed in the most brutal wars by the Geneva Convention). Neither is that sort of isolation.  Some parents truly need not be parents.  They are forgiven (by me).  They are also forgotten (by me).   I survived that and I am tougher than I thought.  They are more cowardly than I ever knew.  Sadly, they knew what they were doing.

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The rest of my life went downhill from there.  Until age 58.  That’s when God presented my wife, and there was a definite curve upward.  Beautiful things began to happen.

I realized rather rapidly I was the lucky one by not scapegoating anyone. I was the lucky one for “taking the fall”. I was the lucky one for letting them cast aspersions and tell lies etc.

I  look at my life and I look at theirs.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else.    God made certain I would not only enjoy but cherish my 61 year old Valentine’s Day.  We have wonderful friends, most married who share the same affection for their spouses.

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I now am learning how to navigate life with autism. I realize I read and saw and thought everything differently. I also know that was not my fault.  I was not diagnosed purposely for nefarious reasons. Now I am diagnosed for decent reasons and have a beautiful chance to enjoy my life.  Lee and I will only associate with good people who support our relationship.  If you are one of those who find you are not, do not try to be a trickster.  We’ve seen it all, and we fight back. We will defend our love no matter what.

If you and I have been friends in the past, in real life, but you are frightened to express it due to NPDs and their “flying monkeys”, might I suggest those days are over, and they turned out to be wrong.  Very wrong.

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And if you don’t believe me try contacting one of the major Autism associations.   Most of them know me now, know the dynamics happening, and are not happy with it at all.  It’s very nice to have that support.

They will assure you that abuse and prejudice against autistics will be a dark part of American History. Please, consider siding on the right side of history.  Not the side in which someone might throw you a few nickels or “property one day”, or if you’re really lucky “be a part of their popularity circle”.  Just remember how they obtained that popularity.  With torture.   I will not tell you not to be a part of that.  We all have to answer to our God.  You know best.

You might look at my life and think it was quite unfair.  The real facts is that I was dealt a very bad hand of cards (by humans).  When I let God take over, things changed.  Suddenly my offbeat cartoon of which I’d worked on for 8 years was the Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoon and a few years later my designer offbeat gifts also became #1 ranked.  They have maintained that ranking through hard work all the way up until now (2016).  That is 11 years.  I am proud, very proud, but I clearly understand now it is from a Hand Above and from the loving Support of my Wife Lee.  I couldn’t have dreamed of this.

That may not seem like much, but given there are 100,000+ offbeat cartoons and gifts on the net on any given day (am told), I feel pretty good about that.  Had I been treated fairly, that would have never happened.  So I do have the culprits to thank, and thank them forever and ever.  Nobody has been as good to me (but surely not on purpose), and of course my Angel wife Lee who willfully has been good to me, and has showed me the world in a whole different manner.  I will always push to look at it correctly, and not as a “mean ol’ place”.  It’s not a bad place at all, and most the people in our circles are very very decent.

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Scapegoating toddlers who become children who become adults, with a pre-planned “program” to make them the bad guy and then “buy their friends” is not even considered humane in the very worse cultures and societies.

Sadly, it is done quite often in these United States, and most children/later adults never knew what hit them.  My parents never figured I would have the photographic/date/time memory that gave them away the first time they committed such a crime.  They were busted. They just didn’t know it.  It took me this long to figure out just what the abuse was.

It was so subtle, so professional, so well done in privacy with me; not when other siblings or friends were around, you would have thought it was an Alfred Hitchcock film.  But most Hitchcock films offer a bit of grace and negotiation. Mine offered neither.  I believe with the help of God and amazing friends, I lived long enough to figure it out, and have enough life in me to help others who find themselves in similar situations.

I am able to vocalize to them they are not alone. I am able to shout to them to hook up immediately with autism legal programs, autism support groups, and the like.  They can then safely tell their story and if someone interferes, it can easily become a civil rights matter and that interfering person may just find themselves on the wrong side of history, not where they want to be.

Scapegoating humans and torturing them is horrendous. Doesn’t work nor should it.  It’s hate. It’s prejudice and it’s fear.  It’s masochistic and brutal.  To support it is as cowardly as the act itself.  That’s not you I hope, and pray.

Love is truly the answer

The Beatles were right. Money can’t buy that.  It can’t even buy “like”.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, gift designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts “Londons Times” LTCartoons.com.  He is married to popular nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London who owns nature blog Hike Our Planet and brand store LeeHillerDesigns.com.

My Old Friend Aqualung The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

aqualung

I loved Jethro Tull…..and I still love them, though I’ve not heard them in quite awhile; though I did listen to “With You There To Help Me” on iTunes yesterday, just because I like to hear some of my favorite old JT songs every now and again.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who, upon first hearing of the band, though for sure that guy with the flute’s name was “Jethro Tull”.  I later found out it was/is in fact “Ian Anderson” and felt like a nut for many years….okay still do.

And I just learned today how they got the name “Jethro Tull” straight from the horse’s mouth…okay flutist’s…Anderson says, “Our agent, who had studied History at college, came up with the name Jethro Tull (an eighteenth century English agricultural pioneer who invented the seed drill). That was the band name during the week in which London’s famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night residency.”

What was it about Jethro Tull that was so special?  They used phenomenal engineering to enhance the music, though it was not only engineering. I noticed upon seeing them in concert several times that the music was every bit as stylish and listen-able as it was in the studio.

I also remember the novelty of when I first heard Blood, Sweat, And Tears and Chicago and their risk-taking adding brass to their repertoire.  The same is true of adding wind instruments (flute) to Jethro Tull. It was new, it was different, and the fact that they made music, a lot of music that remained classics makes me still want to listen to them.

And why this cartoon?  Well the entire song is about being good friends with an inanimate device, an aqualung (used for deep-sea diving).  I imagine it is probably symbolic for someone who provides oxygen but that’s only a guess.

In any case, I envisioned what it might be like if the two ever parted.  And this was the result.

To see (or buy) this image on over 100 items such as tees, cases, mugs, home decor, and much more…..

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist, and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.

Invasion From A Very Hip Planet The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

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Being a child of the 60s didn’t necessarily make me interested in popular culture.  But it turned out to be “one of my favorite hobbies”, that is, to look at each era, the 60s, the 70s, etc.

And though it appeared to us, even this many years later, those of us who were involved in “building the 60s” that is, the fun and creative side of it, the music, the art, etc. it was by far “the most hip” or at least the most original.

I say that without rose-colored glasses.  The 60s children, the hippies, the wanderer, the explorer etc. had plenty “of issues” that didn’t work, and some that were downright unhealthy.

Most of us were able to “get rid of the baggage” that didn’t work, and move in another direction.  And though I (still feel) the 80s and part of the 90s yuppie movement was also not without its flaws, it turned out to be a positive thing as, whenever a country, community, family, etc. turns out “too far left” or “too far right”, it is automatically going to be more flaws.  It swung the pendulum further right, and it continues to swing (left to right and vice versa) each decade or so.  That’s actually healthy for any country, though many don’t view it that way.

Too far (of anything) creates an unhealthy extreme, and it is virtually impossible, unless someone really examines their lives, impossible to see one’s own participation in helping steer it “too far left” or “too far right”.  The road in the center is the sanest, but often also the loneliest as there is a tendency to feel one is “abandoning their cause”. Not the case at all, however. It is a sign of maturity and healing. And yes it is the “Road Less Traveled” in real life.

So you might ask, “Who needs healing?”  Everyone does.  Anyone who has “made it” through these eras to the other side did not get through them without scars.  There was much confusion and disdain.   Babies are not born with hate or prejudice, yet we were able to pick that up along the way (yes whether on the left or right).  We learned along the way to be paranoid, to mistrust, and, as Rod Serling and later Scott Peck came to realize, scapegoat others (whether in groups, individuals etc).

One finally has to ask, “Did that ever serve me well”?  If so, “Is it still serving me well?”  My guess is probably not.   Have a great millenium and laugh a bit.  Say hello to your neighbor.   Learn to speak your mind.  Learn to draw healthy boundaries.  Learn to love.  We all deserve love.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and funny gifts.  He is involved in autistic/Asperger’s, children’s, animal, and environmental causes.

Bedtime For Gonzo Journalism The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

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I was a big Hunter Thompson fan, which also means, of course, I was also a big Ralph Steadman fan (the illustrator of his Fear & Loathing Series). 

As mentioned in earlier blogs, I had big reading problems, and never even read a book cover-to-cover until my late 20s.  One of those books was the late great Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear And Loathing In Los Vegas”.  It is an amazingly sardonic satirical piece 

The book is incredible. The film, though,  included one of my favorites, Bill Murray, was disappointing. 

Many “60s druggies” felt the book was glorifying drugs, but actually many scholars believe quite the opposite, that it mocks the very drug culture of which Thompson was a part. And I saw it as that as well.

Though the book is full of mocking; not just the drug culture, but the whole idea of “hippies”, journalism (of which Thompson’s
alter-ego, Raoul Duke who is contracted by “Sports Illustrated” drives with his attorney Dr. Gonzo to Los Vegas.

On the roadtrip, “Gonzo Journalism” is created. Until this day we’re still not positive of what Gonzo Journalism truly is, but we know it may just be a ploy to keep us curious throughout the book, and we discover early on nobody quite knows what the story angle really is (including the journalists). We do, however, stay curious all the way to the end. It has so many discombobulated twists and turns, it’s very difficult not to be at least a bit curious. 

There’s a lot more super hyper action in the book, but nobody bothers to share what it is. We just know the book is about human appetite and instant gratification; Maslow’s Heirarchy Gone Wild, if you will.

Even better news to my friends and fans, other than my reading skills being lacking (and I don’t say that proudly), a lot of heartache would have been saved had local schools and parents known enough or cared enough to help learn of and/or diagnose my condition (autism). But so it goes.

In addition, I couldn’t hear very well…or see very well. I have to hand it to one smart teacher who noticed that (when I was 13 years old) and I
was able to get glasses. But the hearing issues went on and on; and continue to.  I was fairly sure I read, and heard “Bonzo Journalism” for many years. 

And of course we all remember President Reagan’s “Bedtime For Bonzo” film from his early career as an actor. How the Academy overlooked that one, I’ll never know.

Kudos to illustrator Tom Kerr (our collaborations are always special to me) for recreating “a tribute of sorts” to Ralph Steadman.  If I’d not known of our collaboration, I know I would have thought this, in fact, was also one of Ralph’s creations.  

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997.  London is also active in various causes including autism/Asperger’s, animals, children, and the environment.

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

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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.

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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Orca Captivity The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

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From The Londons Times Cartoons “Story Behind The Cartoon” Series 

All who know me know I love animals.  I’ve loved them since I was a young child.  And not just cats and dogs but animals living in the wild.  I spent a great deal of time outdoors in my youth, and that love of the outdoors and nature never left me.  

I’m fascinated with how nature works and continue learning about it, and the animals who are a great part of it, and I learn something new every day.

But just being there and observing is not enough. I grew up near the Ms. Gulf Coast and watched cetaceans such as dolphins and sperm whales merrily swim the beautiful waters. And though I don’t believe we had Orcas, I always imagined what kind of wonderful time they had in the wild.  After all most of these creatures swim between 30-100 miles a day just for minimal health. 

I still remember in my youth hearing about Seaworld and other such cetacean captivity environments and never could get answers as to why that was allowed to happen.  After all, these creatures communicate with a loud shrill sound, and such sounds bouncing off concrete walls seemed it would be aggravating. I would later learn it drives them insane, depressed, and suicidal.

I decided to research on my own (animal sciences) and sure enough Seaworld and other such wild animal prisons are truly nothing more than torture prisons.  I felt powerless to do anything, however.  I wrote letters to them and they would politely write back that they treated their animals with the utmost of care (yada yada yada).  I knew better. 

When I learned that I had “cartoons in me”, I decided I would do a series of Orca and dolphin cartoons which I’ve done and will continue to do.  And though that is just a drop in the bucket as far as letting Seaworld and others know they are running archaic businesses that need to be closed, every little bit helps. 

When such places opened 1/2 century ago, they were useful.  They were created to show people and allow them to observe sea creatures they would otherwise never see.  

However animal science has shown that such captivity is cruel and unusual punishment and these creatures are extremely intelligent and desperately need to live in the wild.  Seaworld has decided to ignore that science for the sake of profits. 

In addition, there are plenty of other venues now that don’t harm the animals in which people can observe and study them in their true habitat.   The entire “mission statement” of Seaworld and others like it is obsolete.  

I will be running more Orca and dolphin cartoons over the years and tweeting and mailing them to Seaworld.  Chances are they will not do a lot of good….on their own.  But if enough people send letters, cartoons, drawings, pleas, etc., finally they will have to listen.  Already their stock is plummeting.  That is a start.  It is just a matter of time before they are out of business.

The question is, will they go gracefully (its almost too late for that) but there’s still a small timeline, or will they go out of business kicking and screaming with a legacy of cruelty and obscene torture?   Only time will tell.   

Meantime, here’s a good chance to laugh at their latest tv commercial created to “change our minds” about them.  Didn’t work for me. Did it you? 

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London aka Lee Hiller who is a popular nature and wildlife photographer as well as gift designer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Haven’t Finished My Book Yet Due To Procrastination By Rick London

 I’m not sure when I started procrastinating but if legend has it correctly it was around age one….one day old. I was born a few hours late….but I had “things to do”. 

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 Most people grow out of “the procrastination game”….I grew into it.  I try to be at least 5-10 minutes late to anything.  That way, I feel important, yet not too important. 

For the first time since I can remember, I am more than a few minutes late on an important project but it is due to circumstance beyond my control.  Londons Times Cartoons (my cartoon property) which I launched on March 19, 1997 turned 18 years old last week, oddly enough on March 19, 2015.  Man has time flown.  

I am not sure how many people have edited graphics and added text to a Kindle book, but if you have, you are aware that in the best of conditions, it takes patience, concentration, and such. 

Though I didn’t have those qualities in my youth, I did have parents, teachers and other caring adults who wish I did.  And I probably would have if they’d discovered some of the learning disorders that took me about 50 years to even get started fixing and/or treating.

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I had one high school teacher who made it a point to remind me that I didn’t have those qualities in front of the other kids.  While he was trying to embarrass me, he only made me laugh, often really hard as I was a regular fan of an 100,000 watt radio station in Little Rock KAAY-AM which featuring a show called “Beaker Street” at 11pm CST. It played such bands as King Crimson, Black Sabbath and other fringe musicians or songs over three minutes.

 This teacher however reminded me of a line in Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant when he was meeting his new “friends” at the “Group W Bench” at the draft board…., “He was comin’ over to me, and he was mean and Ugly and nasty and horrible and all kinds of things, and he sat down next to Me. He said, “Kid, what’d you get?”

I said, “I didn’t get nothin’. I had to pay fifty dollars and pick up the Garbage.”

I finally decided to tell my friends why I was cracking up every time the teacher did the “shame thing”.  They immediately started laughing as, they too had KAAY-AM on when they were supposed to be sleeping. 

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We all told how we were able to listen to it on our little transistor radios. I built a “bed tent” out of a lot of blankets that muffled the sound to where my parents couldn’t hear it; or so I thought.  Truth be told, I found out later they were glad I was at least listening to music rather than sneaking out and getting in trouble like a lot of other kids did.  Of course I only did that on weekends. 

Anyway, my friend Donzo, upon hearing of my injury earlier this past March and inability to finish my book and get it published by March 19th suggested I release it on April Fools Day. Since it is a book full of cartoons and silly quotes, I thought to myself, “Yes, yes yes”.  Okay maybe two yeses but it was a definite consensus between the left and right side of my brain.

I tried but the age-old “Procrastination-Process” settled into my brain and told me I had a million other things to do, and so I did those other things, while I worked on my book a little each day. 

The point is, the book is written, drawn…finished.

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But I’m not. I have to organize it all onto the proper pages, fit the graphics to the standard that Amazon says I do, put the name of each page at the top left so the Table Of Contents will “see” it and print it, etc. 

Just writing about it makes me tired.  I think I’ll hike tomorrow with Lee and let you know how the book is going and my new scheduled date of release.  You will be able to see it on my Amazon Author Central Page (and later at Barnes & Noble).  If it sells well I’ll have it published into a paper coffee table book and it will be available also at other chains and indie book stores. 

The good news is that the finished product will be edited and uploaded by my beloved (and talented wife) Lee Hiller-London so all will work out fine.  Thank you baby.

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Rick London is a writer, designer, cartoonist, and musician.  He is best known for his Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts.   He is married to popular nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller). 

Cartoon Anniversaries, Obstacles, & Asperger’s Spectrum

Each year I tell myself I’m not going to get excited about anniversaries and other such milestones  (except my wedding one to my beloved wife Lee).  Londons Times Cartoons will be 18 years old Thursday, March 19th.  As most know, I launched it after several false starts in an abandoned aluminum warehouse.  It was not an easy time for me.  But I’ve discussed that often in my blog. 

It seems like every year I end up writing a blog about some of the (what I consider) unique experiences in the founding and eventual launching of Londons Times Cartoons.  That’s fun for me and it reminds me of all the “street education” that occurred (and still occurs) in the management and growth of such a project.  

This time I’m going to take a risk and talk about something a bit more personal.  For some, it may scare them away, for others, it might help them understand; and, hopefully, begin a new growth process, similar to one on which I’m embarking. It’s not what I expected but, that’s life, and I find every day to be a blessing. 

I consider it a compliment when people ask me “How did you know how to do that?”, or “How did you learn that business?”

Truth be told, there isn’t a degree in cartooning unless one attends Ohio State (which also has the largest cartoon collection in the world), and I think a few other colleges now. I didn’t have that luxury. In fact I was a dismal student in my younger days and got a bit better when I went back to school at age 47. But even then I didn’t study cartooning, but learned business and Internet skills that came in handy in the design and marketing of the Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and consequential funny gifts and collectibles. 

I did not learn until about a month or two ago that what most likely helped me a great deal (besides the motivation of my wife Lee) was that I discovered I “most likely” have highly-functional Aspergers”, a form of autism (which I’ve had all my life, but didn’t know it).  To be sure, I took yet another test from the top autism testing centers such as at Psych Central and my score was in the “more than likely has high functioning Aspergers.”

The reason for the “most likely” is that it is impossible to diagnose any form of autism without the help of a trained professional M.D. specializing in the brain sciences.  However, the test will give you a clue if one should see such a trained professional, and also even if it turns out that one “most likely” or “more than likely” has basic autism or another form such as highly-functional Aspergers, they nevertheless may want to see a professional as there are a myriad of other disorders that can be obstructive that may not fall technically into that spectrum, but have similar symptoms and can create issues in ones life that can be less than comfortable. 

At first this scared (and embarrassed me).  Then I learned that often people with this type of autism spectrum can often focus in ways that others cannot.  To me, that kind of focus is “normal” or at times it feels odd that others (unless they have this spectrum) don’t often have that kind of focus).

Oddly it didn’t surprise Lee.  She knew from my vagus nerve stimulator that for my system to function properly, I need “mechanical assistance” (and no, not like Lee Majors).  Her guess was, in fact, high-functioning Aspergers because of my “High level focusing abilities”.  I took that as a compliment.

My embarrassment diminished when I started researching it and learned that the very man who gave me the most advice about the business and world of cartooning, Charles “Sparky” Schulz also had it, as did Alfred Hitchcock according to reports from autism/Asperger’s Asperger’s support sites

Upon further research I also  learned some other notable names who most likely have or had it during their lives are/were Stephen Spielberg, Bill Gates, Dan Aykroyd, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, and Isaac Newton  Albert Lim Kok Hooi, M.D. Doctor of Oncology reported in the Feb. 24, 2011 issue of The New York Times that most historians believe others who had it were Beethoven, Mozart, Mark Twain, Isaac Newton, Michaelangelo, and Darwin.

Also on that list is Jim Henson, Isaac Asimov and Bob Dylan and many others.   It’s worth a view of the list.  If you find you have it, I believe you’ll realize you’re in good company. 

At this point, I can only imagine you thinking, “Is Rick so delusional he thinks he is in the categories of those master craftsmen and women?”

No, and that is the reason I am writing this blog instead of one of my gratuitous ones that repeatedly notes the most “fascinating history in my mind” of my story of entering the world of cartooning and product designing. 

Not in the least.  But I take the time to document them, to remind myself that the disease is not just a disease, but a blessing/gift as well, and, anyone can have it, and it is should cause no shame, in fact, if anything, one might even say it is something in which to take pride.

In 1995 or so, I read a best-selling nonfiction book titled “EQ – Emotional Quotient” by Dr. Daniel Goleman.  

He was diagnosed with autism back in the days when those diagnosed with it were kept out of school, I guess so as “not to infect others with it”.

When he reached adulthood, given his own research, he was able to prove IQ was not the only measurement of intelligence, and in fact EQ was not only another, but much more important than IQ in making ones way in the world.  It is the emotional process of using ones intelligence.

He took the GED with no education at all and aced it.  He later went to Yale and Amherst and finally received his PhD.

Goleman co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at Yale University’s Child Studies Center which then moved to the University Of Illinois at Chicago where he co-directs the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers.  He sits on the board of the Mind & Life Institute.    Here is a very interesting TED Talk he gave on EQ not long ago. 

After reading “EQ”, I took a chance and called him and explained my life and fear of education because I was so dismal at it.  He chuckled and told me (in a nutshell) that it is possible in adulthood to work on one’s EQ and raise it to the level.

I stumbled through much of his direction and programs as I possibly could over the years and returned to college at age 47.   I did fairly well on scholarship and even aced advanced math (I had failed all math growing up and in early college days.  

I also had launched Londons Times Cartoons Gifts and later Rick London Quote Gifts, but several serious health issues hit (seemingly all at once) and I was forced to stop college as I was falling behind.  That was heartbreaking as I was finally enjoying the learning process.  By the same token, the college (and I) were a very good match, and I learned a great deal about running a business using the Internet.  I even learned how to digitally design products (which I still do on a daily basis).

I then got married to my wonderful wife, and we both spend days doing what we love, hiking, nature and wildlife photography (she’s teaching me) and growing our business.  I am what you might consider a happy person as is Lee.

Finally, there is a common thread, I can see, in all my “anniversary blogs”. That thread is, “It is never too late to begin chasing ones dream”; and “it’s a shame if you don’t when you really can”.  I don’t mean necessarily “quit the day job” and jump in.  I found great pleasure in chatting with various masters including Charles Schulz learning how the cartoon business works.  I got joy in reading books on the topic and as the Internet grew, reading websites that “taught” various aspects of it.

With the advent of the Internet, we can all chase our dreams, beginning as hobbies, as most of them do, and enjoy the ride and the path as it becomes more clear on a daily basis.  It grows and changes and so do we.  I wish you the greatest success in whatever journey you decide to choose (or have chosen). Nothing, really, can stand in your way, if you choose not to let it. 

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Rick London is an animal and nature-lover and supports both causes.  He is a writer, musician, cartoonist, and designer.  He is best known for his offbeat comic Londons Times Offbeat Comics & humor gifts.  He is married to nature wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who operates the highly-visited nature blog Hike Our Planet and designs her own line of designer gifts

Here are a few of our Londons Times Cartoons created over the past 18 years.  Hope you enjoy.  Sincerely, Rick

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