Autism Awareness Vs. Autism Awareness. Which Is Best? Can You Do It? Should You? BY Rick London

“Okay I gotcha, Rick. So your brain is neurodiverse and mine is neurotypical…What do you expect of me?”
Glad you asked.
autism suit
Acceptance, not awareness. Accept if you like me, and not if you don’t.
It’s really that easy.
Either way it’s win-win as if you like me, chances are I’m going to give it a chance to like you as well. If you show signs of prejudice or fearmongering, I’m far out of your way before you are mine. Been there done that got the tee.
ad rejected ptsd autism
Top mental health professionals tend to agree that if a child is autistic, and purposely un-diagnosed and hidden away; that is,  created as a scapegoat, s(he) has ptsd or Cptsd and possibly a myriad of other issues.  If fortunate, he/she will seek professional help and stick with it until the answers come.  I’m here to tell you after 30 years of such professional help, the answers came and hit me like a ton of bricks. LOL.  Takes a few months to pick up the pieces.  I also get great support from Lee and consistent therapy.
I got my official Autism diagnosis at age 61 and it was a very big relief and explained so much in my life. It explained everything from remembering my “meltdowns” caused by the Cptsd of abuse at age 4 1/2, to saving my siblings life in a fire in Oct 1965 on a Thu. nite at 6:45 CST while watching the Munsters on my 11 in b/w GE TV in my attic isolation chamber aka bedroom. It had frosted tiny slit windows so nobody could see in (which wouldn’t have mattered since they faced 20 ft shrubberies).
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During that fire I came closed to perishing had I stayed another 4-5 minutes (I could easily tell by the heat and smoke bellowing down the hall) (and this information, I was told, was not to be re-told, as anything to do with the fire “made my dad nervous). I was only 11 and believed my parents. I mean why would they lie? All these things have finally evolved after 30 years of professional help. It all makes sense. “Friends and “family members”, the few with whom I speak still try to “minimize it” or pretend it never happened or that it’s my imagination (the Autism).
I have a very good response when it happens taught to me by a great therapist. (Silence…a LONG silence so they can hear themselves talk, now in middle age). How long can they carry their fantasy, when all the evidence shows, it’s just that, a fantasy, and it is they who might look within. I’ve spent three decades on my changes with phenomenal help. It’s never-ending and I plan to continue it. Lee helps me every bit as much as professionals in their field.
They say you cannot recover from what you don’t know you have. So you surely can understand how exciting it is for me to know what it is, what caused this, Cptsd is actually not a disease but a very healthy response to witnessing or being victimized in some way.
So now God is giving me a chance to recover from those tragedies caused by some extremely ill people. He also sent me my own Angel Lee Hiller-London to show me how that is done. And I love her madly and love learning (however painful some of that may be) to grow up and be me.
Kenny Rogers Cartoon

By Londons Times Cartoons C2011 http://www.LondonsTimes.us

She was the very first to show Autism Acceptance to me; and in fact prefers neurodiversity over NT (Neurotypical). I am one blessed grateful man who couldn’t have imagined this.
I thought the tragedies and pain would be omnipotent forever, when all it took was one person to “enter my world” and accept me for who I am.
It’s a wonderful world. 🙂
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Writer, designer, songwriter, and cartoonist Rick London is Autistic. He was diagnosed very late in life (age 61) and feels good about it.   He is best known for launching Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He is married to nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London.  They are active in numerous causes including veganism, the environment, animals, veterans and autusm.
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Londons Times Cartoons Autism Signature Series Has Launched by Rick London

autism series

One of my favorite things to do is create things (from nothing) that make people laugh.  Though WebMd doesn’t list laughter or humor as a medicine, folklore has, of course, called it “the best medicine” for several centuries.

And though of course technically that might not be so, it has been proven from studies at University Of Md Medical School that laughter does boost the immune system which can often ward off disease and help people tolerate pain better.autism fluffy cohen trinket box

On June 13th, 2015 at age 61, I received my diagnosis for Autism (well into the spectrum).  This was not a huge surprise.  I guess my big surprise was my wife saw it before anyone else did; or at least she had the guts (and caring nature) to tell me that might be something into which to check, so I did.  And I’m glad I did. It explained so much from my life.  It explained why I was put away in an attic while my siblings lived in the “core part of the family”.  It explained to me why I was “always in trouble”.   It explained to me why it was so difficult for me to focus on a job. It explained my life.

As I began talking to others with a late or very late diagnosis, I learned that the majority of diagnosis today happens past the age of fifty; though I was glad to hear that one candidate, Hillary Clinton plans to change that with early screening for all students.  She seems to be the only one, thus far, with the consciousness of how common it is, and how important it is to get an early diagnosis so that students can learn.  Everything I ever learned was “out on the street” and my return to college at age 47, though I had to drop due to health issues.

After the diagnosis I had to decide whether to keep it secret, or be vocal about it.   After talking with my beloved wife Lee about it for several weeks, I decided to be vocal. I am so glad I did as another new chapter in my life opened.

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I learned rather rapidly who had been my friends all along, and who just smiled real big.  So many abandoned me, which was a good thing; hurtful but good.  I didn’t need that kind of deadweight in my life. I love people a lot, but fake people can be complicated and hurtful.  I much prefer to have less friends, but quality friends, than so many who hate just because something or someone is different.  It makes life much simpler, and enforces that I enjoy my true friends that much more.  They are very decent people as is my wife Lee who stood by me through this. It would have scared a lot of people away.

One thing I taught myself about two decades ago was the cartoon business. I did so by contacting masters in the field. I am not that great an artist, but most recommended for me to recruit good artists and I write the cartoons and create the concepts, “blueprint them” and assign them to the team artists.  That was a big struggle for the first decade and now has stabilized into a very nice collaborative effort. I am proud that my Londons Times cartoons and gifts have been the #1 offbeat cartoons & gifts since 2005. I launched them from a tin shed in 1997.

I like to joke that I learned cartooning “by default”.  It’s actually not a joke, it’s true.  I was fortunate enough to have Charles Schulz as a “phone mentor” and friend, and he told me he got into cartooning “because he tried everything else and couldn’t do it very well”.  That too, was the story of my life.  I don’t think anyone wants to go into cartooning.  They do so because nothing else worked out so well.  I’m okay with that and actually enjoy the creation process quite a bit.

Finally, I have decided to open an “Autism Signature Line” of cartoons which benefits non-vaccine/non-cure Autism causes.  The cartoon themes are our regular offbeat topics; not about Autism or Aspergers or neurodiversity.  The thing that makes them different is that each images features the familiar colorful puzzle in the corner of the cartoon plus Rick London’s signature and his acknowledgement of being Autistic.

The Autism community does need support. It is one of those rare conditions that is both a disability and an ability.  The disability is that our modern society is not catered to the way our brain fires.  Our ability is that the way many of our brain fires, gives us the vision to create and do jobs that many others are not able to do.  This is known as neurodiversity.   The same is true of those without Autism, neurotypicals who can do tasks that we are unable to do.

autism duck dynasty

Most experts agree that the world needs both type of thinkers.  Autism is nothing to cure or correct.  There are traits that can be modified behavior-wise if one wishes, and I do so I participate in therapy to learn that process. It is never too late to learn.

And it is never too late to help others from ones experience, even if it had been a tragedy.  That is one of my major goals for however long God decides I should live. I will always do my best to make others feel better via laughter, and support Autism causes.  I never want a child (or adult) to go through what I did (out in the world without a diagnosis).  So many don’t make it, in fact I’m told most.  That is no longer necessary with the knowledge we have today. Over 3 million Americans have now been diagnosed and it is estimated 2-3 times that many who have not been diagnosed are also on the Autism Spectrum.  Please join me in working to solve issues in this vital arena.

autism puzzle

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, entrepreneur and cartoonist. He is best known for his offbeat cartoons and funny gifts (Londons Times Cartoons), and now has launched a line of Londons Times Autism Series Line which includes the colorful familiar Autism Puzzle plus his autograph and acknowledgment of being Autistic.

 

 

 

 

 

Drones Are Wrong (Parody Song) To The Tune Of Stephen Bishop’s On And On by Rick London

Drones Are Wrong by Rick London c2015 (To the tune of Stephen Bishop’s On And On)

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A pilot faker and a piece of tin, a drone takes off like an old spare part,
Planes are in queue, can take down a jet like a battering ram,
Can even cause fighter pilots to scramb-le
Drones are wrong,
And destruction they bring

Litigation files,
One just hit the jet’s wing,
Drone’s owner is dumber than a benzene ring,

Drones are wrong, Drones are wrong, drones are wrong.
Should be a detainee because he’s just not alright.
His film won’t be featured at Cannes,
We need no more overflies,
He might as well fly a pie in the sky,

Drones are wrong,
Could be people dying,
They fly for miles,
And a safe landing they’re trying,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong.

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There’s a reason it’s a bad crime,
It can change the planes rad,

And if your drone hits,
You’re the one they will indict,
The plane is low altitude and it has to land,
Your drone is needless it ain’t nothin’ grand,
You got no friends and you don’t have no fans,
So you endanger people for your testosterone and adrenal glands,

Drones are wrong,
Is that your brain that’s frying,
My frequent flyer miles,
I don’t feel like dyin’,

Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong,
Drones are wrong, drones are wrong, drones are wrong.

drone 4

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Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons And Funny Gifts.  He is active with Autism/Asperger’s, animal, environmental, childrens, and veteran causes.

Title, Tagline and the Journey of this Blog (Blogging 101) by Rick London

  • Note for blogging101 co-bloggers: This blog’s title is Blogging 101: Why Am I Here and it’s tagline is “Art, Autism, And Amnesia”
  • Note for all other visitors: It’s just another blog from me. 🙂

 

I feel honored to be a part of the WordPress 101 Blogging University project.

My name is Rick London and I am a 60 year old autistic author, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer.  I am married to my best friend @LeeHillerLondon (who will also be taking the class) as well as the Branding 101 class of which I hope to be a part.

I mention the autism as I was not diagnosed until age 60, about 3 months ago.  I have much to learn about writing, though I’ve been doing it for about 32 years.

I guess I am best known for launching Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in an abandoned tin shed in rural Mississippi in 1997.  It became Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and offbeat cartoon gifts, a ranking it has held since January of 2005.

I have published about 4500 cartoons but written many more than that. It is a team effort. I create the concepts, write the cartoons, and assign them to one of my three team illustrators. I then design the gift items digitally.

Finally, I have decided to go public, just this year, with the fact that I was a neglected/abused autistic child, never diagnosed, but obviously very different, and hidden away, isolated from my other two siblings in an attic bedroom.  I was scapegoated.  I am public not for sympathy, but because I now know how prevalent such family dynamics are, and I’ve already been told in my last few months of blogging about it, that my story has helped several families.

I have written all kinds of “flights of fancy” and slayed some dragons.  It was my wife’s idea to “get back to basics”, and this seems the perfect place to do so.  When I’m back to basics I am centered, and open to learn.  And I hope to accomplish those things.  Thank you.

 

If I Had A Hammerhead Shark The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons

By Rick London

 

Though I launched Londons Times Cartoons in 1997, most of the first two years of it was practice or trial and error.  It was also mostly in black and white, though, by the end of 1998, we had a few hundred color black and white ones under our belt. 

Even though Gary Larson had, with his “Far Side” paved the way, was the trailblazer “off all things absurd” in cartooning, for many of us, we were still taking baby steps regarding subject matter and “just how absurd we could actually be.  After all, many of us, though all black sheep of families, lived in town where our “normal” family members lived, and was sure to tread carefully so as not to embarrass them. 

As word had gotten back to me from mutual friends I’d embarrassed them from the start, all I could think was, “What the hell. Go for broke. Who cares what they think anyway.  They probably don’t *get* them anyway.  I tested that theory once and gave one of my married relatives a Seinfeld parody cartoon including Kramer with both of them in divorce court. It was a play on the words “Kramer Vs Kramer” being “the ugliest divorce imaginable. 

I was quite proud of the cartoon.  The last thing on my mind was “how my kinfolk’s marriage was doing.  I had the cartoon framed and gave it to them for a holiday or birthday, I forget which one now.  Word got back to me they were “livid”. And “how dare me play with something so sensitive as their marriage”.  

Well that was the first I’d known that “things were shaky on that side of the family, but I had to shake my head, just because they didn’t get that it was a “play on words” and had nothing to do with their marriage.  I thought it was a most thoughtful and creative gift.  They didn’t agree.    I learned at that moment, “You cannot please everybody”. 

So the year 1999 came around and everyone’s mind was on Prince’s ability to party and the following New Years when every computer in the world would break. Not too many were thinking of my cartoons and their themes.

And since they weren’t looking that closely, I decided to try some “Larsonesque” ideas, such as bringing fish and other animals to life and putting them in settings they might not otherwise be; such as sharks in a nightclub…..playing folk music.  

I held my breath and asked Rich (our manager at the time) to upload it and waited for feedback.  There was no Google yet (though word was out that this really neat search engine called “Google” was about to launch and it did that same year. Of course there was no Twitter or any social media for that matter.  Hence there was no instant gratification.   I had to send the cartoon out in emails (that I had captured on my website from writing a newsletter). 

I also sent this one and about 10 others out to “name-brand” celebrities and asked for feedback; reviews of sorts that I could upload to my site.  Oddly enough, several celebs wrote back.  There was not one bad review and all allowed me to include them on my site. Some of them I still display. 

I grew up not far from the Gulf Of Mexico (or “The Gulf” as we called it in south Mississippi).  We spent a lot of time swimming, skiing and fishing so we certainly saw our share of sharks.  Luckily, the merely swam with us and none of us were ever attacked (though we would occasionally read or see on the news of such attacks).  

Another common love that I had with my friends was the love of music.  Folk and protest songs were some of our favorites; Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary and you name it, we loved them. 

Suddenly (again thanks to Gary Larson), I realized it was okay to combine some of the most unexpected things and turn them into cartoons.

This is but one of them; “Shark Folk Singers” or “If I Had A Hammerhead” by Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Though we’ve been selling them for about 16 years, they continue to be one of the most popular of all our images. 

If you feel like seeing them on Tshirts, mugs, aprons, posters, greeting cards, gifts, etc……

Check out RickLondonGifts.com

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The Story Behind Salad Bar Exam Cartoon & Gifts by Londons Times Cartoons

salad bar

When I launched LTCartoons.com in 1997, everything we did was in black and white. We felt newspapers would “make or break us”, and for many years that was true in cartooning. We heard every excuse from “Your cartoons simply are not family-oriented enough” to “Nobody really would understand them…they’re kind of ‘out there’.” Yada yada. I worked with an artist named Richard Larson (no relation to Gary).  Newspapers just wouldn’t touch us. We didn’t take it personally. On any given day there were approximately 100,000 cartoons competing with us (and still are).

On the other hand we were getting amazingly positive feedback from families (even kids of all ages), and on the Internet within a year they were relatively well-known. We finally decided to do color and a t-shirt manufacturer in San Diego paid us $10,000 for the rights to 12 images (by then we were doing color); convinced newspapers were not going to be our bread and butter.

Peanuts creator Charles “Sparky” Schulz advised me that if I was ever to make any money in cartooning, it would not be from newspapers; they merely paid peanuts (no pun intended). He said the real money was in licensed goods, such as Tshirts, mugs, lunch boxes etc.  So that became my focus.  When someone finally created digital design a few years after I launched the cartoon, I spent 15 hours a day learning how to design products digitally.  I have designed about 160.000 products with my mouse and keyboard.  Though it’s not rocket science, it does take a few minor skills to learn. And I’m grateful for those who helped me along with learning that process.

Still curious why so much rejection from newspapers, and downright hostile rejection letters from literary agents.  Though most of those rejection letters were “form letters”, a few added personal comments.  One of my favorite was, “That’s all I need is another failed cartoonist”.  (That came from one of New York’s biggest literary agents who has been defunct for about 8 years). 🙂

I started researching a bit, and talked to some mentors (other cartoonists who had made it) only to discover newspapers no longer were the holy grail.  The Internet, somehow was going to be the place to showcase ones work.  One simply had to be creative and figure out a way to do so (attractively) and market them properly.

I returned to school at age 47 to learn Internet Technology and Business. This helped a great deal; though most of what I learned is now outdated.  However many of the business principles remain the same and I believe always will.

I started selling signed limited edition prints on Ebay and at the time they did fairly well.  I noticed some of my most popular ones had to do with either a particular animal (such as dogs, cats, mice, chipmunks, snakes, etc). Everybody had a favorite.

Also professions were popular, and, believe it or not, nobody liked lawyer jokes (as much as lawyers).  Well most of them anyway.  They loved to laugh at themselves and many bought their fair share of legal-related cartoons.

So I decided to “outdo” myself with one called “Salad Bar Exam” which is now 14 years old. It remains our trademark cartoon and people seem to like it no matter what their profession (or lack therof).  Also many vegans and vegetarians like it too, as well as dieters who love restaurants with salad bars.  And of course just regular people like you and me who like to laugh.

Many collect my licensed items of “Salad Bar Exam” since they tend to go up in value.  They enjoy items such as Tshirts, mugs, caps, eco-friendly bags, aprons, etc.

To view entire Salad Bar Exam line of Collectibles…
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Recalculating – Fighting Rebellion To Grow Up by Rick London

I used to write “the story behind the cartoon” and some friends seemed to enjoy it. I got busy doing other things, and never found time for it.

About a year ago I wrote a cartoon that (I had a feeling) not many would “get”, and I don’t say that condescendingly. I would not have gotten it if someone else had written it.

I realized after publishing it on my website, unless someone knew me growing up, they might not have a clue.  Even my wife Lee, who I’d not met until adulthood sort of scratched her head.

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Every now and then someone looks at it, and moves on to another less complicated one.

The story behind this cartoon that I titled “Recalculating” is more of a self-serving lump of nothing than anything with a moral or lesson.  (Not that cartoons have to have morals or lessons).

Growing up, I was what one might call rebellious; but only symbolically.  Yes, I went through some of the same things that others did, but my parents always had that “invisible leash” and I knew it.

So my rebellion manifested into hair down to the shoulders, bell bottom jeans, black lights and posters, smoking pot (and inhaling) etc.

I had no idea why that was my what my life had become, or even why it seemed attractive.  I imagine peer pressure had a great deal to do with it, and that was that.  I have to admit, at age 15 or 16 or so, shocking ones parents (in the late 60s-early 70s brought great pleasure to a “rebel without a clue” like me.

In my twenties (at some point) I realized I was going to have to learn to make a living.   I was terrible at real estate (which was the family business), due to undiagnosed and misdiagnosed learning disorders, most of which were not even addressed until my 40s.

I learned that I could write, which was odd (given that I’d not read an entire book cover to cover until I was 28 (“Being There” by Jerzy Kazinsky). I later met Jerzy and got some “insider information” into the book and film.   That was fun.

In my 30s I lucked into a cushy Washington, D.C.  job and the world was rapidly going from 60s (hippie) to 80s yuppie, and I had to make a choice.  Suddenly I was editor-in chief at a major radio network.  I hesitantly chose yuppie as “that was the Washington way”, but never really gave up my 60s rebelliousness.  I kept it in the back of my mind as I got up and made it to work early in the morning and left late in the afternoon.  I jogged later and played Trivial Pursuit with my morphing yuppie neighbors on Capitol Hill.

I later opened a bus tour business that did well and sold it.  I moved to California, mainly because I was burning out from the speed-of-light “Washington ways”. I figured L.A. would help me “chill” and get back to my hippie roots.  That’s what I figured.  I had failed at many more businesses and projects than those that succeeded.

By then there was no looking back.  The days of “hippiedom” were gone, even in L.A.  I had a friend who owned a car lot and he talked me into going to the auction with him and made a bid for a used Mercedes in very good shape, at the price I used to buy my junker muscle cars in high school.  It was official. I was a yuppie, but still with the resentment of having to be one, as I’d invested so much into that long hair and so many nice tie-dyed shirts.  Sniff.

The years went by, and suddenly my home in the burbs was swallowed by the Northridge Earthquake.

I realized at that moment I had made “so many plans” and the universe had other plans for me.  If there is a God (and I believe there is) He must have been watching out, as the life I live now, is quite nice, I couldn’t have dreamed it, frankly….but it is nothing like “what I planned”.  It’s healthy.  I love my wife, Lee.  We have similar interests.  And like any couple, we don’t agree on every topic but that’s okay.

We both decided to get healthy (rather than give into being sickly, which would have been an easier route, we decided to expose ourselves to healthy things, people,  get to know nature, and love life just as it is.  That’s not easy (in the start) when one has been “chasing some unknown” for many years, but it makes a lot of sense now.

And every single screeching on of breaks, from as far back as I can remember in my life, and restarting, was nothing more than “Recalculating”; just like the robot-woman in our GPS.

Hence my best explanation for this cartoon…..”Recalculating”.

Live A Little & Be Happy (Socrates Recommended It) By Rick London

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I’ve often heard from well-meaning friends, relatives etc., especially since diving into the world of cartooning, “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should”.

To them I quote Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. (Note: Often Plato gets credit for that quote but I understand it was actually Socrates). Sometimes it’s just okay to try something new, or different, that is unconventional and really not even think twice about what others think….in fact necessary as far as I can see.  To spend one’s life only to please others, or to be “who they want us to be” is the trademark of the unexamined life.  I’m not saying it’s not a good thing to “do unto others”. It very much is, and service is a trademark of character.  And we grow from it.  But we also grow by taking the risk of “being ourselves”.  

And to a certain degree I mean it (to examine ones own life rather than fear it is a key to real success and happiness. I’m not necessarily talking about fiscally, though that can often happen.  The key here is learning to be happy by simply being comfortable with oneself, okay in ones skin). I believed that when I began my “journey of examination” and I believe it still.   I’ve never met a happy person who does a job for instance he/she was forced to do, or inherited but didn’t like it that much and no amount of money changes that.  Once one truly examines ones life, they surely aren’t perfect (I’ve proven that), but they are happy and find things to do, and friends, spouses, etc. that perpetuate that happiness.  

We were taught by our parents and formal education (if we were so fortunate) not to participate in violence, bullying, stealing, to treat others as we’d like to be treated, etc.  And those principles should remain with us for a lifetime.  Those are some of our most important lessons.

But education and loving parents can also have their downside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against either.   Both teach us, whether it is a written lesson, or a “silent rule” to don’t do it just because you can or is legal etc.

I imagine Evel Knievel  was told many times as a kid not to jump his mini-bike across the creek or he’d “put his eye out” or whatever smite might visit him before reaching the other side.

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I can imagine Thomas Edison’s parents begging him to hang out with the kids and play ball rather than act like a hermit in the garage with all these wires and such.

I heard one talking head on one of the news networks, who made perfect sense, saying that if Tesla, Einstein, Edison, Galileo, et al were all alive today they’d have been given Ritalin in school but would have great marketing jobs after high school or college.

We often hear teachers complain about how out of control their classes are; and in many cases I’m sure they are correct.

But sometimes, it’s the teacher who is out of control, or, really doesn’t understand his/her job.

The Greeks, who (scholars believe) ushered in the newer age of education of which we are familiar today called it “educare” or “to pull out”.  The theory is that the young student already has the knowledge, a good teacher knows how to reduce his/her ego and draw out the knowledge from the already-knowing children.  Education derived from the word educare.

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If you’re like me, you can count on one hand the teachers who taught the educare method.  Most felt they had to stuff the knowledge into us because, after all, we were dumb kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for more education (and better education), and feel teachers have about the most (if not the most) important job in the world.  Perhaps if we paid them what they’re worth, they’d all take the time to perform as well as a world-leading surgeon.  Until then, I think we can, for the most part, expect the status quo, blaming the kids and punishing them with Ritalin.

For 30 years or so I’ve been living my life, but in the process examining it too.  Sometimes it is exhilarating, sometimes painful, but always necessary. 

I returned to a good college at age 49 to pursue a degree in Business Internet Technology.  The majority of professors there were quite keen regarding educare (and many of us were “big boys and girls” by that time.  We were still treated with respect as equals.  Ego was cast aside for the sake of learning.

What is the point of my blog.  It is never too late to shift gears, to stop the drama.  We were not created to be unhappy, hateful, violent, ignorant, or any other negatives.  Even actions that extreme can be modified with proper education/educare.

I am sixty now and feel like I’m just beginning to learn about the world.  I’ve changed my lifestyle considerably as has my wife Lee.  Our daily routines are healthy and there’s always something new to learn in what we do.  If we don’t like a certain path part of our work is leading us down, we turn the steering wheel.
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We’re nothing special; well no more special than any other human being (we’re all very special in that way).  If we can do it, so can anyone else.   Please do yourself a favor.  Live a little before you die.  It’s okay.  Really. 

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for the founding of Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He and his nature photographer wife Lee Hiller-London are living green, vegan, hiking etc in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.

Robin Williams Is Gone – By Rick London

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

It was the summer of 1981.  I was living in the Grammercy and later Astoria, Queens area of NYC in search of myself on the stand-up comedy stages of NYC.  I was terrible but I was ambitious (and in denial) so I thought I would eventually become “one of the best”.  I felt wrong.

Nevertheless, I haunted all the old stages of the big city, playing well into the wee hours of the morning at such establishments as Dangerfield’s, Good Times, Bottom Line, Bitter End, The Improv, Catch A Rising Star, and a myriad of venues in Brooklyn and N.J.

One night, while playing at Catch a Rising Star or “Catch” as we liked to call it, I was summoned by the manager to postpone my performance….that “a star” was coming that night to hone his skills.  Generally that meant Jerry Seinfeld (or any of the other future cast members of the standup show), or even Rosie O’Donnell who was still doing stand-up at the time.

I had only been in NYC less than a year, working jobs day and night to stay afloat (from bartending to cab driving to a public relations internship).  I often did all 3 jobs at the same time, leaving about 2 hours to take the train to the comedy club, perform, go home, catch 3 hours of sleep, and go to my office job. I was 28 years old at the time and it seemed so easy.  Today, I look back and shake my head.

About 12 of us (comedians) stood back stage as a surprisingly tall lanky man entered the stage through the back door.  He looked so familiar.  I’m 6’ 2”.  The man in front of me, the one who made me laugh so many times as Mork, appeared to be much taller.  Until this day I was certain he was about 6’ 4” but I’m reading articles today that he was only 5; 7”.  Maybe it was that he was bigger than life even back then. My peers seemed to also agree….”…Much taller than I expected”. 

He greeted us like long lost friends.  Though many of the comics did the spread-fingers of Mork with a nah nu nah nu, Robin simply smiled and chuckled a bit and acknowledged in appreciation that they remembered it, but greeted back with a handshake and a hand on the shoulder.  He was exceptionally warm.   I realized he remembered his “tough early days” of trying to survive as a stand-up.  Nothing easy about it (in case someone has not tried). 

Catch was in a nice area but the crime rate was very high there (around the East 90s at 2nd Ave).  He opened his show,  “Welcome to ‘Catch A Stolen Car….”

After the show he bought us all (the comics) drinks chatted and laughed with us, and was on his way somewhere else (parts unknown).  This happened a few more times over the course of the year.  Especially after making a film, he’d use his “down-time” haunting the NYC comedy clubs (especially “Catch”) to “hone his act”.   Though it was always more than a pleasure to see him, I often wondered why he felt he needed his act to be honed.  I realize now he knew better. He simply loved to be up-close and personal while he was making people laugh.  Movies were great and paid a lot more than comedy, but the comedy club stage was the only place to monitor just how good (or not) one was.

Months went by and we noticed “Mork” was beginning to step into the world of celluloid (Silver Screen).  We felt for sure we’d lost our “occasional mentor” but low and behold within a few months Robin was back with his same friendly demeanor and a kind word of inspiration for everyone.  And though that was not enough for me to stay in stand-up comedy/impressions (which I loved), I also knew, alas, I could write comedy pretty well, but I’d never be a decent stand-up act.  I don’t regret learning that, in fact, it helped me to move on and into other arenas (which also involved humor) of which I still do.

Robin Williams was an enigma.   None of us will ever know why his demons stayed with him, but none of us can judge.  We all have a certain amount of our own demons of which we should slay before judging others for their own, and, even if we happen to slay them, there’s no room for judgment of Robin Williams (or anyone else).  We know that he was trying, and trying hard to straighten up his act and had been working on it for about two decades. 

We are a fortunate generation.  Many generations never had a “Robin Williams” and though Robin’s inspiration Jonathan Winters was beyond funny and probably one of the best comedians that ever lived, Robin took that a step further, wandering into the volatile waters of drama and suspense, and mastered it every bit as well as he did comedy.

He also loved his family.  I’ve heard some say, “Well how could he love his family if he killed himself”?  First of all the investigation is not over and there is every bit a chance this was an accident than a suicide.  But you ask, “Rick how could that be”?  I am reminded of the story of David Carradine’s death which surely appeared to be a suicide but was not (nor was it a murder).  Though auto-erotic asphyxiation is not a topic often discussed, it appears it could easily have been what happened here. 

And even if it is not, Robin Williams admittedly suffered from a type of depression of the worst kind.  He could have easily also been misdiagnosed (as I was) and actually had a faulty vagus nerve, and medically treated incorrectly for so many years.  Vagus nerve disorders are not a mental illness (but can mimic one or more) and if left untreated, can, indeed, be even worse than garden-variety depression, addiction, etc.  It is very rare to get a correct diagnosis for a vagus nerve issue.  I only “got lucky” to get a vagus nerve implant” because I fought it tooth and nail (after reading of the clinical trials) for 8 years.

It is much more important, to me, that Robin Williams be remembered for what he contributed to our culture which is so massive in scope, it would take a Wikipedia to catalog it all. We know he’s gone and I believe the details of that, unless proven foul play which I strongly doubt, should be a private matter of which we’re not involved.  We don’t get those details from our friends in the community when they die, only a “surface medical description” such as “heart disease” or “long struggle with cancer”.  The media could simply say, “After a long struggle with depression….”.; and lend respect of privacy to his family.   In addition to his tv/film/comedy career, he volunteered to go to some of the world’s most dangerous war zones with the USO to entertain our troops.  His career needed no boost (it is said that some celebs hop on the USO wagon when their career begins to wane) and, it is obvious that a few have. 

But not Robin Williams, not Bob Hope, not Marilyn Monroe…..After writing this paragraph, I realize that though Robin was in a league of his own, yet he was also in a league of selfless people who just wanted to make people laugh or smile….and no bullets or bombs were going to stop them.  That’s how important it was to them.  Whether one was or wasn’t a Robin Williams fan, one can surely appreciate his character and his patriotism to our country.  It really mattered to him, and he gave back way more than he took.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons, Londons Times and funny gifts.  He is an activist for animals and eco-causes and lives with his wife nature photographer Lee Hiller in the Arkansas Ouachita  Mountains. 

 

Border Collies, Stocks, & Humor by Rick London

Border Collie Collectibles         Click To Enlarge

Border Collie Collectibles
Click To Enlarge

 

I love dogs.

I like to make money, though I doubt I’ll ever be a dot.com zillionaire. I have too much of a writer/artist’s heart (whatever that is), and am much more interested that certain details of a graphic are correct, than I am if one of my licensed t-shirts is displayed properly (though I do appreciate the importance of that part of business too). Let me reword that. I don’t like selling things.

I probably am fairly good at selling things (for instance I’m fairly good at bartering which takes a certain amount of sales acumen), and by the same token I understand the importance of the myriad of details that go into an entrepreneurial venture.

I have learned over the years that I have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others. There are several remedies for that. In the areas of weakness, I should surround myself with people who have strengths in those areas, and be the strength for them, if they have weaknesses in the areas (of which I have strength).

It’s business but it’s also physics. In basic physics one of the first lessons is “action/reaction”.
What people don’t understand is those physics apply to everything. When we empower someone, we become empowered. When we try to undermine or hurt someone, we become disempowered. Don’t believe me? Try it. It never fails to be true. So I try my best to try to empower those around me. I don’t do it perfectly, but that’s no reason not to keep trying. And I allow them to empower me, if they have knowledge in a matter of which I do not.

Which brings us to border collies and investments.
Rumor has it that art and art collectibles have outperformed Standard & Poors for the past 3 decades. That really doesn’t surprise me much, given the reasons people buy art or collectibles compared to the reasons people buy stocks.

I love art and photography collectibles and my wife Lee Hiller (Lee Hiller-London) who is a fine nature photographer and I have posters and prints of our work all over our home. We have some mugs, cards etc. too. We may, or may not ever sell them, but whatever we do, we’ll enjoy them, and have enjoyed them as the years have passed. We had several new ones to our collection each year. Our wall looks like a nicely stocked gallery.
One could do that with their stock certificates (if they wished) but the emotions that stocks and bonds paperwork seem to enhance are not in the same league with arts and letters collectibles on a print, mug, apron or even ornament.

That’s why I don’t “just design a T-shirt when we create a cartoon but a bulk of collectibles, because a lot of people are like me. They often don’t just want a T-shirt or an eco-friendly bag or a mug bearing that image, they want all three and maybe a key chain and/or button to match.

Which brings us to border collies. I love all dogs. But late in life I shared my home with a beautiful bearded collie mix (I think); and learned about a whole new breed. Most my life I’d had hounds, mixes, goldens labs etc.
One of my best friends had a border collie who reminded me very much of my bearded collie in many ways. Both were extremely bright, a bit hyper, goofy and a lot of fun.
My friend was/is also a sculpture. He has made numerous sculpted metal of border collies which are wonderful.

I’ve not kept up with Frank for several years (his late dad was one of my best friends though), but it gave me the idea of collectibles. If it worked so well on “serious items”, why couldn’t it work with cartoon collectibles?
So I created products, and put them in specific categories and pages, so that one could find a tee, keep shopping for the same design on other products, and not get lost.
Here is a “for instance” of my border collie page at one of my online shops. Enjoy and have a great week.

bored.jpg

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for Google #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts which he launched in 1997 in an abandoned tin shed in rural Ms.