Blog: 20th Anniversary Of Londons Times Cartoons. How Did That Happen?

 

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the launch of Londons Times Cartoons and the time has zoomed by most of the time, and felt like walking through thick molasses at other times.  It almost seems like a dream, sometimes mostly entertaining and at other times a vivid nightmare.  In many ways it seemed like yesterday that I was back on my hometown in Ms, broke, without a job and no government assistance. My only resources were my wits and they were running dry.

I had been helping my mom in her final days of  cancer and selling television ads for a small television station whose employees reminded me of the characters in the sitcom WKRP Cincinnati. I’m not sure which one I was but definitely one too.

A friend owned a tin shed on the outskirts oftown; sort of like a small warehouse full of rotting cans of vegetables on makeshift wooden shelves he’d built on the wall in sort of a rural spot between two counties.

A can would explode every once in a while due to its contents fermenting and it being way past its expiration date.  My friend had also installed electricity, plumbing (but no bath or shower) and a phone line.   I bathed in the cold-water only sink.  I washed my stray dog Thor in it as well. Within months Thor found a friendly calico kitten meowing from a low branch outside who I also adopted. Somehow we managed.

Friends would come by and bring me meals or take me out to eat.  Those were exciting, fun, and frightening times.  I was but a tin wall from the outside elements.  For most that time I had no car. I slept on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag.  I bought and way overspent for an IBM Clone PC from a guy near Hot Coffee, Ms who bought old computers and fixed them.

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His garage was full of computers, parts, and tools.  He was asking $800. We settled on $600. I know now it was worth about $150, but for back then it was a bit of a workhorse and I was so naive about technology I hadn’t a clue that he probably would have taken much less for it.

The tin shed had a fenced-in acre and a half yard that overlooked I-59, the main road to New Orleans or in the other direction about 20 miles from The Free State Of Jones.

It was March 19, 1997, and I was a very late bloomer due to a number of issues and events, but the main one being a lifetime of un-diagnosed Autism and punished for it, mainly by family but also by community.  The family press release was very much like Joe Kennedy’s of Rosemary “Severe issues,  she needs to be locked away.”  As we learned much later, she was probably Autistic with mild depression.  She was extremely bright as her brothers.

The big question was,  “Could I ever get past those demons?  Could I ever get past being unwanted and put away in an attic bedroom with each of my friendships parentally controlled” and my being unwanted? Could I get past the pTSD and low self-esteem it caused?  Who was I to think I could be at the helm of a cartoon project (or any project for that matter)?

They say time flies when you’re having a good time. I can remember most of those times not being so fun for me.  In fact I was not sure if I would make it. By then my heart was giving out but I didn’t know it.

I also had vanus (a severe form of flat feet) but had been a long-distance runner and even completed two marathons from Lafayette to Crowley, La. in 1978 and 1979. When finally diagnosed at age 60, the doctors said I had been running (and walking) on “a bag of bones”.  I was fitted for orthotics which I wear daily. Vanus is inherited at birth.  My dad had it, but I was never checked for it until age 60. Lee noticed it first and saw it on a doctor’s site poster when I was getting a brace for tendinitis. The orthotic inserts have allowed me to walk without hurting for the first time, and even do high-mountain hikes with Lee. I’ve learned to love nature and wildlife.

Dial-up Internet was slow.  There was no Google, no Twitter or facebook, nor was there any social media.  There were forums and Yahoo!  Since I was a novice at the Internet, I didn’t know.  I bartered my way through the whole thing.

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I contacted cartoonists who had paved the way long before me.  While I could draw, I couldn’t draw to the level of which I wanted to to project in this project.  I wanted it  to be a “Dali meets The Far Side”,  a cartoon which could be appreciated as art. Sometimes that worked, sometimes not.

I can remember the most generous people with their time were Charles “Sparky” Schulz,  Leigh Rubin (Rubes) and also helpful were Dave Coverly “Speed Bump”, Jon McPherson “Close To  Home”  and several others.   It seemed the bigger they were, the most generous with their help.

So as per Sparky’s suggestion, I wrote the concepts and dialogue, and assigned them to my illustrative partner who rendered them.   He only did black and white for a long time but within a year I talked him into color.  That year a California tee company paid us $10,000 for the rights to 12 color images. We thought we’d arrived.

Though I made a number of barters, I don’t think we made another sale for another 4 or so years so we just kept creating cartoons. I continued to write them and tweak several I’d written years before.  I had a shoebox full from early college days.  My parents talked me out of doing anything with them so I kept them hidden away and finally used them.

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We made a few sales to academic publishers which never paid much but every little bit helped.

I was living out of my suitcase, which was a good thing since every now and again I was evicted. Friend’s couches or extra bedrooms became “my best friend”.  I always had to pay something but never much. I never needed a lot of space; just enough to type and talk on the phone.  God bless those who gave me a chance.

By the year 2000, we had close to 3000 cartoons (mostly color), but the unpredictable and dangerous lifestyle was taking its toll.   I had my first major heart attack in 2001, and another one in 2010 with three surgeries.  In between that time I had a vagus nerve stimulator implant installed to assist my vagus nerve to work properly.

In 2008 I met my later-to-be amazing wife Lee Hiller. She was (and is) a constant support.  She was with me during the 2010 surgeries which were touch and go. All the while she has been developing her own line of designer gifts LeeHillerDesigns.com and taking incredible nature photos (many on gifts) in our National Park in her blog titled HikeOurPlanet.com.  She’s an incredible person and talent.

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Londons Times Cartoons had been the Google  #1 ranked offbeat cartoon for 3 years. It has now been for the past 12+ years (since Jan 2005).  It is usually Bing’s #1 ranked too (though it tends to fluctuate there down to #4 or so). I’m happy with that given that on both engines there’s about a half million competing offbeat cartoons.

We put a counter up on my cartoon site in Jan. 2005 after Google first named it #1.  We were eight years old.  It shows we’ve now had about 8.9 million visitors worldwide.  That boggles my mind still. It is very easy to say “Look what I did all by myself” but that’s not how it  has been at all.  I have been but a cog in the wheel of amazing illustrators, managers, tekkies, vendors and Lee all of whom took the time to contribute to a project that had but a slim chance.   Alone,   I would surely have walked away from computers and try to learn something that didn’t require them.

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This year I learned I also have type-2 diabetes and she has gone right to work on helping me figure out a lifestyle diet that works. While it continues to be vegan, the portions are different as is some of the food variety.  We’ve beefed up the exercise/hiking (or we’ve  “soyed it up” as we don’t “beef” anything).

Today we sit with a gorgeous view of Hot Springs National Park from our office.  We see just about every type of flora and wildlife imaginable outside our window. Hawks and falcons fly by often. Squirrels greet us at the window along with a variety of birds and insects.

All the while we create our gift ideas using digital design on our computers.  While my cartoons are fun to put on items so are my “Famous Historical Quote Designs” which came much later.

We are going hiking later today on our favorite trail known for its deer and woodpeckers (and much more).

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Nature has been very good to  us and provided healing, not always so available in cities (where we have lived most our lives).

A well-known quote in the Autism world  is “The Internet does for Autistics what Braille has done for the blind and sign-language has done for the deaf”.   So I accidentally also found my tool for living, by being a part of the cartoon industry.  I would probably have never learned the Internet; as the Interest wasn’t there.   I developed a bit of interest when I returned to college at age 50 at WGU.EDU.  I learned a lot and Lee has taught me a great deal also.  I would have never have known it to be “my lifeline” as an Autistic.

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I was trying to sum things up and our good friend, Sally Jane Paulson in Norway did so for us with a Harper Lee quote she happened to post today.   I believe it tells the whole story. It’s  at the top of this story.

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Rick London is an author, gift designer and founder of Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times.  He is active with outdoors and environmental, animal, Autism and Veteran’s causes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilukim, Orcas And Freedom by Rick London

What is it about whales and dolphins?  I’m sixty-one and as an aging boomer was brought up like most other aging boomers, to believe cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc.) were happy campers in tanks/pools.

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“Can’t you see them smiling, Rick?”  Why would a ten year old question the sage advice of ones parents?  If I’d known then what I know now, I’d be questioning quite a bit more.  But c’est la vie.

Fortunately my parent’s distancing and eventual abandonment of me, eventually led me to the love of domestic animals and later wildlife and nature and now all of the above.    Meeting my wife Lee reinforced that love of nature and wildlife and we explore everything together.  One couldn’t ask for more. I thank God daily.

I’ve thought about them and created cartoons about them long before they re-evolved into the news.  Seaworld’s “pride and joy” Tilikum, a bull orca, is dying.  He was their prize catch back in the early 80s. He’s weighed 12.5 thousand pounds. More than half the orcas now at Florida’s Seaworld share his genes. Imagine how much money that saved them in pursuing more.  They became a “puppy farm” so to speak, being every bit as much in the orca breeding business as in cruel entertainment.  

And though my beloved wife Lee and I live on the ledge of a National Park/Forest, it is very easy to forget when one lives inland, in the mountains as we do, that Orcas and dolphins are every bit as wild as the creatures we have grown to love in our forest.

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Cetaceans must live in the wild.  In their case it is the ocean.  That is for numerous reasons.  A few but surely not even close to all are their need to swim for miles (sometimes 30-50 per day).  Another is that they communicate via very high pitch shrill sounds.  When communicating in a tank/pool, that sound echoes off the concrete walls, driving each of them insane.  So when they kill or injure a trainer, it is not because they are vicious animals, it is because they are tortured and in terrible pain.  The type attacks do not occur in the wild. In fact, quite the opposite.

Though I’ve done my share of reading, given my Autism, I don’t always retain it. However, my patient beloved wife Lee, has a way of explaining it to where it is not slanted, but simply independently researched (and double independently researched facts).

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That is one reason I have taken it on as a personal cause. Without going into detail, I experienced narcissistic torture as a child well into adulthood.  Without the help of 29 years of therapy and my wonderful wife Lee, I am not sure I could have gotten past “those dark ages”.

I hereby offer a percentage of all my orca gifts in my RickLondonGifts.com/LTCartoons.com line to benefit cetacean captivity.   And I won’t stop in my lifetime until/unless Orca/Dolphin captivity prisons such as Seaworld et al close their doors.

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Rick London is a writer, musician, designer and cartoonist, environmentalist and animal activist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from a metal shed in rural Ms in 1997.  He is married to Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) who is a nature photographer and designer and owner of the popular nature/wildlife blog Hike Our Planet.  To see Rick’s orca gifts whose sales benefit orca causes visit his Orca Store.

Why Are Some Of My Cartoons For The Birds? by Rick London

Long ago, it seems like in a different life now, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to nature.    Though I got to enjoy nature, I didn’t understand anything about respecting it and why.  That’s a whole other story, and I won’t get into it now as I’m just learning, but it has morphed into a love of wildlife and birds.

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Since my amazing wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) who is founder of Hike Our Planet and Lee Hiller Designs started taking me on her hikes, I’ve found an amazing new relationships with wild birds.  Many of these are birds that fly to South and Central America.  Some come back to our forest, stay for awhile and move on.  Most of them are very affectionate and talk to us from low branches.

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They show off their snacks (usually caterpillars or insects) etc. and sing long songs for us.  Many of them follow us along our hikes singing all the way.

Mockingbirds and I have a special relationship and I’ve been known to sing with them for 30 minutes at a time within feet of each other.

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A lot of the tropical birds know Lee well and pose for her camera.  The robins often “escort” us to and from the forest. It’s really magic and quite healing.

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Someone who wants to enjoy nature need not live in the mountains or next to a National Park (though it doesn’t hurt).  They can live near a park in their town and just sit on the park bench and look around or at a table, or just take a hike around. Some live in a wooded isolated area or next to a large tract of undeveloped land. Nature is everywhere, and if you watch it with patience, you’ll  see a type of drama, comedy and every other “movie genre” that actually is not available in the media; no, not even Animal Planet or Wild Kingdom.

Before long one realizes, as Emerson and Thoreau taught us, we are a part of this wonderful thing called nature.  It changes just like we do. Watching it change makes our own human changes much easier and we look forward to it.  Though there was plenty to love about NYC, Washington DC and L.A. this is a whole new ballgame; and a healthy one.   Lee and I have the “been there got the tees” on the others, and this will do just fine, thank you.

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My Bird Mentor & Beloved Wife Lee. Click To Enlarge

You’ll may find that the birds are not as foreign to us as we’ve been brought up to believe. In fact we learned today that sparrows have the same DNA as humans.  No wonder they like us.  At least seems that way.

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You can see my funny bird gifts at RickLondonGifts.com.  I am the founder of Londons Times Offbeat cartoons and funny gifts which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005.  I am blessed to have married nature photographer and gift designer Lee Hiller-London who has taught me a great deal about nature (and life).

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.

I Miss David Bowie And My Brush With Fame, Fame, Fame, Fame…..

By Rick London

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As the years go by, we all have stories of our favorite artists; and our occasional brushes with fame. One of my favorites in my life is that of whom I considered one of the greatest recording artists of my lifetime, David Bowie.

I was in Los Angeles taking screenwriting courses and selling magazine advertising.  I had written two screenplays and gotten my foot in the door of a few large studios but no luck yet.

I got out early in the day and spent most of it pounding the pavement.  I stopped at a little restaurant (cedar wood) but can’t remember the name of it. It was mainly for breakfast and was just north of Beverly Hills and Studio City on Santa Monica Blvd.  My guess is it is still there as it was one of those old “local family establishments” when I was there for breakfast that morning in 1994.

It was several months after the Rodney King Riots, and several months before the Northridge Earthquake.

I walked in with a few friends and to my left at a large table full of people was David Bowie. There was no mistaking him.  I had run into numerous “stars” while living out there, so that was not a big deal. I can remember though the only other time I started shaking was when I met Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo).

I found myself staring at David Bowie as was everyone else in the restaurant.  He suddenly blew out a lot of candles atop a birthday cake in front of him and his table all applauded.  I said to myself, “You’re either going to meet my favorite artist now, or probably never.  I walked over and wished him happy birthday.  The rumors I’d always heard was that he was cold and aloof. Not the case at all. He smiled a big smile and said, “Have a seat. It’s my birthday. Here, have some cake”.  I took the slice and found myself not saying a word.

He said, “I’m 51…and we’re celebrating and now you are too.  Welcome to our celebration.”  He asked my name and I told him “Rick” and he introduced me to his friends.

I finally conjured enough courage to ask him about his 51 years and he started talking (from as far back as he could remember); mostly stories of concerts and being on the road.

I told him that though I love most of his songs if not all, “Ziggy Stardust” probably was my all-time favorite.  There was a slight pause. I thought he was angry.  Not so. He smiled and said, “Mine too”.

I tried to think of something funny to say and I blurted out, “Bet you’ve been through a lot of ch-ch-ch-ch changes.”

He laughed aloud and asked me to sit down and have breakfast.  I did.

For the first few minutes I was quiet for the most part, just to see what kind of group of friends this was. They clearly were not his band members and it had been years since he’d had his “Spiders From Mars” band; and had been working with studio bands when he recorded.

They were just regular guys (and women) who were his friends.  No big Hollywood glam, just regular everyday people.  That felt comfortable.  All were very friendly to me as was David.

I was truly curious and wondered “what drove” David and asked (not as a journalist but as a curious fan.  He expressed that he’d wanted to “do something different” since he was a little kid, and the more crystalized vision of what different was manifested when he was about 14 or 15.  He was not sure if that drove him, but he constantly wanted to do better and loved anything to do with the arts; in fact acting in films was every bit as fun to him as music.

I got him to talk about his travels and concerts. Well actually I didn’t get him to do anything.  I asked and he was generously open and told me a lot of “his oddities” (No pun intended) that had occurred on the road.  It had all been exciting but he didn’t truly enjoy it until he cleaned up his personal life.  That made sense to me.

About an hour later they all decided it was time to leave.  The waitress left us all separate checks.  Before I could look down to pick it up, David had grabbed it and by the time I could put my hand out to take it back, he’d already taken it to the register to pay it.

We all convened in the parking lot (which was a big spread of gravel) and stood there a few minutes talking about the weather, music, and such. He patted me on the back and shook my hand and told me how wonderful it was to meet me.  Aside from The Beatles, he probably was my favorite original musician I’d remembered for many years.

I went home and told a few friends what had happened.  My Los Angeles friends were not very shocked given that running into such fame was fairly common there, and David had been known to be very caring and nurturing.  But when I told friends and/or relatives back home nobody believed it.

I wrote that incident down and put it in my “creative box”.  My creative box was a large shoebox that had literally thousands of ideas that I would one day put into a film, a cartoon, or whatever it was I was going to do later in my life.  I was/am a late bloomer.

When I sat down 5 years later to begin creating Londons Times Cartoons, I did a series called “Panel Hollywood” which included my brushes with fame.

I realized I had looked at David as one who helped “keep us afloat” no matter what.  He was not about money or fame or all the trappings he had.  He was about helping those struggling to make it.

Hence my cartoon, “David Buoy” came to be.    RIP David Bowie. I’ll never forget your music and films; and most importantly the morning we had breakfast on Santa Monica Blvd.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer.  He is best known for his offbeat cartoons and funny gifts, Londons Times Cartoons which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005. London launched the project from a tin shed in 1997.  London has designed cartoon David Bowie tees and gifts that make wonderful collectibles.

New Shoes, Autism Line Of Gifts And On The Road To Somewhere by Rick London

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When I was about 19, I left home to “greener pastures”….Dallas Texas; and landed at a community college in Richardson, Tx called Richland.  I enrolled for no particular reason than to be away from home and see the “big bad dangerous world”.  With Autism and Asperger’s, I hadn’t a clue why I was attending anyway.

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Though I was taking a full load, and retaining nearly nothing due to my Autism which had never been diagnosed, I also went to Dallas Fashion Merchandising College.  Though it was not an accredited school, it was great fun, and for the first time allowed me to express myself creatively. I was told by my parents and others close to me that it was a waste of time; I’d never learn how to design, and I’d do best to throw in the towel there and focus more on my studies (business) at Richland.  I tried but something kept me going to both.

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I was unable to do lesson plans (at either school) but learned as much as I could from lectures. Fortunately there were some good professors at both and I retained a bit.  35 years went by before I had an opportunity to design.  But everything had changed.  In those days, one was to graduate and take their portfolio to a well-known designer.  I was much too shy for that and my portfolio was an embarrassment.

I was older now, and there was something about electronic designing that appealed to me.  I went through three major surgeries while back in college in my late 40s and mid-50s not to mention a major heart attack I’d suffered before becoming a student. I was determined to learn something before I left this planet.

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As time went by, I learned the process of digital designing. I created gifts and clothing bearing my cartoon images, and also learned I could take old public domain images of famous people and their quotes and create designs with them, something I still enjoy doing.

In 2007, I was approached by a POD (Print On Demand) that they’d made a deal with U.S. Keds and wanted me to design some shoes using both my cartoons and public domain famous people and their quotes.  At first it was fun. Then like so many Aspies it became an obsession and I felt I had to design at least 3-5 pair a day.  It remained fun but grueling.  Lee can tell you when I get started on a project my focus is there and remains there until it is finished or stabilized.  There is almost no tearing me away from it.  But she laughs as she is the same way with hers.  As Gary Larson once said, “These little images in a way become our children”.  And he’s right.  We groom them, we help develop them, we show them how to behave in public and private.  They’re just kids.

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I married my beloved wife Lee who had had a much more positive experience with academia and also family members growing up who could sew beautiful clothing.  When I shared digital design with her, I hardly had to tell her anything.  Within 3 months, she had created about 700 pairs of shoes not to mention Tshirts, mousepads, eco-friendly bags, etc.  Today she has about 30,000+, one of the most beautiful lines I have ever seen of both her nature and wildlife photography and her amazing artwork, much of it reminding me of Peter Max from the 60s but with her own flair. It’s a lot of fun and we’ve got a lot of it hanging in our place.

I guess I had about 3000 or so pairs of my “ShoesThatAmuse.com” when Keds and the POD had a falling out.  I woke up one day and every one of Lee’s and my pairs were gone. No explanation, no apology, just a short note on their blog that said, “We’ll be back with another brand that will knock your socks off (no pun intended).  It would be another 6 years before that happened.

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In a lot of ways I’m glad it did happen the way it did.  Though the brand we use now ZIPz is not as flexible in designing as Keds, the quality far outweighs them, and I like knowing that our lines is going to be something people will be able to enjoy for a long time.

I’ve received emails and mail from all over during that time of people telling me how much fun they’d had meeting people who simply asked about their shoes.   Word of mouth was my best advertising.

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After the trauma of hours/years of work on designing the Keds shoes, I changed the name of the store to RickLondonDesigns.com which encompassed all my wisdom, spiritual, motivational, political, etc quote gifts and the store does okay.

Now, I have just purchased the domain AmusingShoes.com which is what I’ve decided to name them.

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My Autism Signature Series Shoes will be part of my Signature Gift series.  10% of profits will go to non-vaccine/non-cure Autism/Asperger’s causes.  As time goes by and we see a real profit, that will be raised.  For now it is the most I can do to keep the lights on.  Bear with me, please.  Thanks.

Time will tell how they will do.  Generally, when I enjoy creating something, it sells. If it is a pain in the butt, it is as if the public knows and won’t buy it.  There’s no fooling the public.  They know if something is a labor of love, or just an item to put up to make money.  I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need to waste my time making those type items.  If it is not a labor of love, I’m simply not going to create it.  Lee feels the same way with her LeeHillerDesigns.com. I don’t blame her in the least.

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I hope you will drop by some of our shops and find items that you can’t find anywhere else. We’ve done it that way on purpose.  We’ve found ways over the years to keep prices affordable, yet make the items as rare as hen’s teeth.  People generally enjoy them.  And for those who don’t there is a 30-day 100% refund, no questions asked.  Can’t beat that.

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Rick London is a writer, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He is best known for his Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts “Londons Times” which have been Google #1 ranked since 2005.  He is married to “his better half” Lee Hiller-London of Lee Hiller Designs who is a popular nature/wildlife photographer and artist as well as hiker and photo poet.  The Autism Signature Series Of Gifts is part of his collection.

Old Codgers Like Me by Rick London

Had a beautiful hike early this morning with my favorite hiking buddy, my beloved wife, Lee.  It was overcast and we felt certain it might rain so we decided on one of the shorter trail.  It was rather cool which made it nice.  One problem though. We didn’t realize today must be “National Don’t Wear A Shirt Even If You’re A Bit Pudgy Like Rick Day” so we had a little trouble keeping our trail mix down.

One old shirtless codger did seem to score.  We let him pass us and pretended to view birds in the distance (which weren’t there) but he still attempted to get our, well Lee’s attention to no avail.

He found his mate up ahead about a ¼ of a mile and they traveled the rest of the trail together.  We immediately smelled the scent of deer musk and didn’t know if it was the happy new couple or a real deer which we see more often than “Shirtless Senior Dating”.

It may sound funny, but it is a bit horrifying.  I say not judgmentally as I have mirrors in my home and they scream “Wear a shirt outside Rick…You’re no longer 25).  I guess not everyone has such mirrors.  But it means someone(s) hooked up, and, all sarcasm aside, that can be a good thing.

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FYI, hiking shirtless in the warm or hot summer at any age is socially acceptable as it is not yelling, “Look at me, I’m available”.  It’s hot outside and people don’t want to be uncomfortable.  But hiking shirtless in weather like this truly compromises the immune system.

Lee and I took a few photos of the beautiful leaves changing and that was fun.  We picked up our bottled water and came home.

I promised myself I was going to write on my book, design some gifts, write a blog or two and maybe some cartoons. This time I did all of the above, with my shirt on, and that was a good thing.  Oh and I took a nap.  When I was younger I never used to take naps.

I think that is one of the wonderful things about getting older.  One can take a mid-afternoon nap with nobody asking, “Do you not feel good”?  or “Can I get something for you?”   They expect it.  After all I’m an old codger….with a shirt.  And I just hiked.  I deserved a nap.  And got it.

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Now I’m awake, laying on the carpet watching the game munching on kale chips.  If someone saw me now, they’d have a difficult time keeping their food down.  Glad Lee already ate.  🙂

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Rick London is an author, cartoonist and designer. He is best known for launching Google’s #1 offbeat cartoons and funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) of Hike Our Planet.

 

 

 

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

 

I like Donald Trump…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crawfish Preschool The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

Crawfish 101 The Story Behind The Cartoon

Though I’ve been a vegan for 3+ years, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve had (and made) some mighty good crawfish dishes in my lifetime.  It was probably my favorite food back when I was a carnivore.  I grew up about 100 miles outside of New Orleans and my maternal grandmother was born there.  Her mother was grandmother was French so I imagine we’ve got a good bit of Cajun blood flowing around in us.

They used to say the bravest man who ever lived had to be the first person to eat a raw oyster.   I’m not so sure about that.  I remember when a friend revealed to me at about age 12 or so that the best part of crawfish was sucking the heads (the brains actually).  Though that sounds particularly gross to me now, I’m sure most of my crawfish-loving friends understand that that is truly a fact (though the tails appealed to me more than lobster).

I wrote a lot of the Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons way back in my twenties and saved them in a shoebox in case one day I might use the writing for something. I didn’t have a clue as to what, but thought maybe tv or radio.  And though I worked in both, never once was there a demand for my “little captions.

One might think the topic of crawfish would be one of those captions but alas, I didn’t realize until about 2006 that I didn’t have one crawfish cartoon in my arsenal of work, and even then it took another 5 months for the artist to get around to it.  I’m glad he did as, though it is not necessarily one of our more popular offerings (a lot of the world still doesn’t know what a crawfish looks like much less tastes like), most of my friends back home near New Orleans often ask for this particular graphic.  Happy haute’ cuisine, Hebert!

To see this cartoon image on Rick London-designed products…….click on the blue box…….

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————————————————————————————————————Rick London is a songwriter, author, cartoonist and gift designer.  He is best-known for his launching of Google’s #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts. He is active in autism/Asperger’s, animal, childrens, and veterans causes.

 

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

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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.