Memorial Day: It’s The Little Things by Rick London

 

memorial day

 

I live a relatively blessed blissful life. Except for the usual suspects (aches/pains) of getting older and not having the energy I had in my 20s (though occasionally I have more), I have no complaints.

I live in (what I believe to be) the most beautiful part of the U.S. When I was a teen, often to my objection, I was sent to summer camp near Asheville, N.C. Though I didn’t want to be away from my friends, I made new friends and saw something I’d never seen before in my life.

Mountains. And big ones. I remember thinking more than once, “If I could keep my camp friends and bring my hometown childhood friends up here, the Blue Ridge Mountains would be the ideal place to live.”

I still think that. But it didn’t happen.

Before I turned fifty, I knew that I was not going to live in the town in which I was raised. Though the town has some very good qualities, I found the negative far outweighed the positive (as far as my goals were concerned).

My goals were (and are) low crime rate, peaceful, apolitical (at least in civil discourse…most of us vote), cost of living, education, etc.
Though Asheville N.C. was up there at the top (and that was 1998), so was Hot Springs, Ar., and it was closer to people I knew within the state and adjacent states. I chose Hot Springs.
Like any move to a new city, there was a culture shock. I had lived in large metropolitan cities much of my adult life and I walked fast, talked fast, and found myself not enjoying the very slow genteel pace I had been seeking. I learned that was/is a process and it eventually did happen.

But I wanted mountains, tall ones, with lots of mountain lakes and plenty of bass fishing (I was not vegan when I arrived).  I fished nearly every weekend for 6 years; and sometimes during the week. Yet another freedom I took for granted all my life.  

I met my wife Lee about a decade later. Her move to Hot Springs from Portland, Or. was also a tough culture shock. She’d lived all over the world. As time went by, we learned to love it.
We never want to take for granted the lush 5500 acre second oldest National Park in the U.S. (Hot Springs National Park). One of the main trailheads is about ¼ mile from our front door. We live within ½ mile of the purest water in the world, and its free from a four spigot water fountain maintained by the National Park Service. Elvis had that water shipped montly to Graceland in Memphis. He, of course, could have had any water in the world shipped to him. He chose our 2000 year old thermal water that doesn’t see the light of day until its passed over mineral rich crystals for a long long time. And he drank it. Never did he Return To Sender.

I don’t blame him. Lee and I could never go back to tap water (or even bottled water for that matter). Mountain Valley Water bottles it (in the dark green with red/orange label bottles) but the taste is not even close to how it tastes fresh out of the ground from the city spigots. We fill about 7-10 jugs per week and try to drink at least ¼- ½ gallon per day. With a little fresh organic lemon, it is the best body cleanser out there. Some pay hundreds and even thousands a month for a similar cleansing that we get for the cost of a few lemons.

Lee found a beautiful century old “wedding chapel” atop one of our favorite hiking mountains and we decided to marry there.  Some of the park rangers didn’t even know it was still up there. She had found it on a solo hike one day and told me about it when she returned, already calling it “our wedding chapel”.  

Though our tiny hamlet allegedly lures 5 million or so tourists from around the world annually, we have about 30,000 residents. It always seems much larger due to iconic landmarks like the five star Arlington Hotel, the National Park that is the only one in the country whose edge is right in our gentrified downtown area.

Some of the most interesting architecture is in our downtown area, and residents have done some amazing work renovating the sometimes 100-200 or more year old structures.
The history of the town is unique in that it was “America’s First Tourist Town” and advertised as such. After it got the word out that it was “a tourist town” (nobody really knew what that was), other towns tried it, some with success, most not.

Hot Springs had/has something pertinent for both travelers and residents. The bathhouses are magnificent. Only one is still open as a bathhouse and the price for a bath and massage is around $80, 1/10th the cost of such larger more lush destinations such as La Costa, etc.

Though we have people for neighbors, and most of them are quite nice, the neighbors we know best are deer, a myriad of tropical birds; raccoons, snakes, lizards, turtles, and many we don’t see but we know are here such as panthers and numerous other large cats, bear, and numerous other interesting creatures. Not that this is a lure, but Arkansas has more venomous snakes than any other part of the country, and we’ve seen our share. People not familiar with snakes should take note that snakes, generally, unless threatened, are not a threat in the least. They simply want to move out of the way (if they get in the way). Moreover, most are very shy when they hear or see hikers coming.

Only once did I have a close call with a 5 ft Western Copperhead (we’re still not sure how it got here; its much larger than our southern copperheads). I came very close to stepping on her, and not looking. Lee screamed at me and I looked down to see her looking up at me. I slowly walked around her and kept a distance of about 10-15 feet. Lee had her old camera and was determined to get close-ups so she went back to our friend and snapped away from just a few feet away. This happened at the end of our hike. We’d left the trail and were on the side of the street.

The snake was simply waiting for dinner to cross the road. Copperheads, like most venomous snakes, don’t really feel like wasting its toxin on something that they don’t consider dinner (and they don’t consider people dinner). They will more often do a “head slap”, which is a warning (they generally do not bite on a first strike); and only then when feel threatened, or, one steps too close to their nest. We’ve done hundreds of hikes and had no issues with any of the animals except a few mean insects that show no mercy.

The worst insect bite was not deep in the forest but hiding under the basket rail in the parking lot at Walmart. I didn’t feel it bite my hand but by the time I walked inside, the clerk asked me what happened to my hand. The lump was literally the size of a baseball (it took less than 5 minutes to swell that large). It had to be a scorpion (we have plenty) or recluse or black widow. It took a month for the swelling to subside.

Given this information, aren’t you just rarin’ to pack up and visit Hot Springs?

Days like the bug bite are very rare. We get stung by something about once or twice a year; it goes with the territory and is usually healed with some tea tree oil within a week or less.
One of the things that we never take for granted is our nearby Kroger (for groceries) and WalMart (for dry goods), Lowes, Bestbuy, are all within a few minutes drive and even one of the top vegan restaurants in the state is a few blocks away. In every major city where I’ve resided, it was a real chore to get to just about anywhere. These type of things turn out to be important in the golden years. I don’t want to spend half my life in a car. I never did like doing that. And Lord knows why I ever chose large cities “as home” for so many years, given the hassle and dangers of living in them.

Large cities do offer a great deal of culture, museums, sporting events etc. that small towns don’t. But most of downtown has been turned into galleries and museums, and major exhibits always seem to hit our little town. We can walk to most of them. We have the oldest documentary film festival in the country, which just qualified this past year for the Academy Awards. We’ve seen some top-notch films at HSDFF, reviewed some, and even made friends with the producers, directors, etc.

Our place has a beautiful home office view of Hot Springs Mountain and it is not unusual to see hawks and a variety of other beautiful birds fly by our window.
Which brings me to why we celebrate Memorial Day and hawks. People have asked me if I’m a hawk or “pro-war” etc. because I’m supportive of our military, and have a strong feeling for those who have perished due to war. The answer is “No, I’m not”. And to be honest, I’ve never met a sane person who is (pro-war). I am an adult now and I realize there are times when war is necessary, and is always a last resort. We’ve been in wars in which we needed to be, and others maybe we’d done better not to participate.

Either way, if we send our soldiers to foreign lands, we owe them every bit of support we possibly can offer. They deserve at least that. And that has nothing to do with how we may personally feel about that particular war. Those are human beings, they are away from home, war is a frightening and traumatic experience, and they better know we’re here for them (while they’re there and when they come home). Most of them can think of other places they would prefer to be.

Many in my family have been in the military. I was willing to go and signed up for the lottery in the early 1970s but my number was too high, I was not drafted, and I went to college. The Viet Nam War ended shortly thereafter.

The soldiers were only there doing their jobs. They did not start or stop the wars. They simply did the job they were trained to do. They were willing to give everything for us when they enlisted, so that we could have the freedom to move wherever we wanted, to hike and enjoy the beauty of our country, to visit the grocery and not wait in long lines for a crust of bread and processed meat. We have the freedom to buy organic and even be vegan if we wish.

Please think of something for which you’re grateful. Doesn’t matter what it is. A picnic with friends or family, a cross country trip or even a trip to visit the grandparents, finishing finals in school, or you name it.

Please remember our soldiers who gave their lives in war. Remember the wounded warriors, and remember them all. These human beings do not go to dangerous foreign lands “just for fun”. They bravely participated so that our freedoms, most of which we take for granted, would never be removed from us. It is real easy to forget, since a lot of those heroes fought so many years ago. But let’s not ever forget. By not forgetting, it makes it much easier to be grateful for the smallest of things that make us happy, and never take them for granted.

Thank a soldier today, and tomorrow, and any day. You have that freedom too.
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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 his Brand e-Mall Rick London Shopping.  He is married to popular nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who has HikeOurPlanet.com

Londons Times Cartoons: How Shirley Temple Of Doom Happened by Rick London

by LTCartoons.com c2012

by LTCartoons.com c2012

 

There was a time when I went to the movies at least once per week.  I was hypnotized by the silver screen.  At times I was sure I would be an actor or director, and then came real life, and Hollywood was sure I wouldn’t become either one (so I listened).  But I did continue to investigate the business to see if there was anything pertaining to it that I already knew how to do (or could be taught).  Screenwriting!  So I took workshops from several well-known excellent teachers and classes from some not-so-great teachers. 

What I didn’t learn, until the end of numerous workshops that screenwriting is at the bottom of the totem pole in “the industry”.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem starting at the bottom and have done so many times.  Then after taking more workshops, I learned that about one out of ten thousand scripts that go through the major Hollywood studies ever become a film.  In other words, I might as well just buy lottery tickets; my chances would be just as good.  

I did manage to write two romantic comedies, each in screenwriting format, “Elvis Vs Godzilla (really), and another called “Tabloid”.  Tabloid was actually more of a drama about journalism (but had some humorous lines). 

Then came the Northridge Earthquake which swallowed my home in the Valley (including my computer).     Then my Mom called from Ms. She was very ill and would be alone.  I felt the combination of those facts had sealed my fate.  After 16 years away from home, I had come full circle.  It was time to return. 

To keep my mind occupied, I wrote cartoons. I had done that when I was away at college in Dallas back in the early 70s and still had that shoe box-full.    I never quite knew what I might do with them. I had taught myself to draw, but not to the point I wanted “my cartoon” to be.  It was to be part fine art/part cartoon in bright colors.

I found a way to contact master cartoonists still living and most were quite helpful.  One of them told me to use “the Disney Model”; that is, write them, blueprint how they will look, and assign each one to my team of artists.  

For the first 3-4 years my “team” was one artist and me.  When his wife had a child and he went to work in a bank, I thought it was over.   That was one of the many times I “threw in the towel”.   

As time went by, several illustrators came to me and “auditioned”.   At one time I found myself writing from 15-100 cartoons per day and assigning them to each of my 12 illustrators.  Though I often felt “burned out”, it also kept my mind occupied, as I needed some kind of creative outlet; being back in my home town.  

One of the most fun things I remember doing was taking the names of film or TV celebrities or movies and combining several names.  Though I wrote this one a long time ago, it wasn’t until I knew there was a team player who could draw the caricature of a young Shirley Temple and do it correctly capturing the colors, facial expression, and “feel of the movie”.  This example “Shirley Temple Of Doom” rendered by master caricature artist Tom Kerr, made it happen.  My parody line of cartoons later became known as “Panel Hollywood” (part of Londons Times Cartoons). 

This cartoon was drawn in 2010, maybe a decade or more after I wrote it and put it away in a file in my head.  That was 13 years after Londons Times Cartoons was launched.  I’ll be turning 60 in a few months and wondering if I will still be able to “think these things up”.  I have come to realize it is a gift, and one that I ignored for many years which caused unhappiness in my life.  

I’m convinced everyone has “a gift” of some sort.  I believe everyone should explore their gift(s), research it at the library, Internet or wherever. Maybe take classes.  Maybe you can teach yourself.  I watched my wife nature/wildlife photographer teach herself that art, and become one of the best if not the best in our state.    

I’ve seen friends mid-life, mid-stream try something completely new and different.  There were obstacles.  There were challenges, and of course there were naysayers.  And it was all those things/people that kept our brains sparking and alive.

The more they said it could be done, the harder we worked to find a way to make it happen.  Life is good today.  I set my own pace, I go hiking, run errands, and I only have to be funny about once a day.  That’s not a bad life.  

Stay creative friends, 

 

Rick

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Rick London is a designer, writer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoon Londons Times Cartoons & Funny Gifts.  He is married to nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who manages her popular nature blog Hike Our Planet.

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Londons Times Cartoons “Unfinished Business From College”

november 999 kneeds small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

maslow-pyramid

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

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

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

Mayo Clinic: The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

I love the English language. And though I’m not certain other languages offer the same kind of slang, puns, etc, for now the English language has plenty of content to keep me happy.

So many words not only sound like other words, many of them synonyms, many of them actually are the same word.

There are a few research hospital’s websites that are full of excellent information in the way of research, and even documenting experiments and clinical trials of alternative medicines such as herbs etc.  I do believe in allopathic medicine, but I also believe there are some herbs with very healing alkaloids for post traumatic health events and even to prevent them.

Apparently in agreement with me are MD Anderson,  Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and many others, and though not their primary source of medical treatment, many of these herbs are so at their peers in Europe, Australia and several other regions.

About 2 years ago I received a call from Mayo Clinic. The librarian saw several of my cartoons featuring Mayo Clinic.  As it turns out, the founder of the Mayo Clinic library, Dr. Lucy, was a big cartoon fan, and collected cartoons that contained Mayo’s picture, name or both.  They wanted a signed copy of both of mine.  I gladly agreed, and within 3 days I received a thank you note from Mayo, that the cartoons were now showcased in the library. I felt so proud.

About two years later I received an email from Mayo’s lawyers that they noticed I had cartoons up with their client’s name and to cease and desist immediately.  I was livid.  Was this a joke?  The librarian was out of town for a week.  I told Mayo’s legal department to talk with the library, that they the hospital was perfectly happy with the cartoons, and apparently they, the legal department was not quite doing their job; and I contacted the hospital to let them know what had occurred.

The hospital was quite embarrassed, and I never heard from them again.  But it was a valuable lesson that no matter how big a company becomes, their departments need to keep in touch with each other, so as not to embarrass each other.  Am sure Mayo can afford the very best of attorneys, yet on that day, they seemed as if they’d not even passed the bar exam.

In addition, it was parody, protected by the Fair Use Act.  Even if Mayo had not had my toons on their wall, I clearly billed them as cartoons, and not trying to confuse anyone that “this was real” and I was a “part of their medical establishment”.

Some of the biggest lawyers have done this; and then backed away when they realized the creator understands the protections of parody when it comes to the Far Use Act. 

I still love Mayo and their site; in spite of their less than pristine legal department. 

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Rick London is an author, designer, songwriter and cartoonist.  He has created cartoon gifts featuring this Mayo Clinic Cartoon.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons, Londons Times (or LTCartoons.com) and number one funny tees and gifts.

Way Too Complex Carbohydrates The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

I’ve told this story before, but, I kind of enjoy it in a strange sort of way, and if you’ve not heard it, you might enjoy it.

In late August or Early September 2001, I was rushed to National Park Hospital for angioplasty after a major heart attack. 

For those who are not familiar with angioplasty, (in my case) rather than putting me under with full sedation, they put me in what is known as “twilight” where, allegedly the patient doesn’t know exactly what is happening, nor remember much afterwards, but really doesn’t feel any discomfort or pain during the procedure.

I can remember floating around in the room and seeing what many describe as “a tunnel”. Uh oh. Was I going to be one of the many who’ve now been on national media claiming to have seen the afterlife and come back to tell the story?  Not quite. First I returned to my body. Important work to do.

I found myself in a large picnic area.  On one of the wooden tables was a plate of food talking, debating philosophy.  Most of the food was foods we know to contain complex carbohydrates.

I asked one of the cardiac nurses for a pen.  She said that would not be allowed during surgery.  I asked her if I told her a cartoon concept might she remember it.  She said no, but if I did after surgery in my regular room, she would gladly give me a pen and paper.  Good enough, I thought.

I am fairly sure she figured I would forget the whole event, given the amount of anesthesia running through my brain at the time. 

I remembered.  First question back in my room. Not “Is it over?” or “Will I live?”. It was “Where’s that pen and paper you promised”.  I actually had the strength to write a portion of the cartoon concept down.

When I was released from the hospital a week later, I knew just the LTCartoons.com illustrator who would be assigned this project.   And Johann Wessels had it completed in less than 3 days.

A lot of young people ask me about getting into cartooning.  I try to encourage those who are creative or have artistic and/or writing abilities, but many don’t.  To all of them, I explain, but you don’t have to have a heart attack to do this type work.  Only be crazy enough to where you could easily give one to someone else.  I do both. 

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Rick London is an author, gift designer, songwriter and cartoonist.  He has created 50+ gifts and tees featuring this complex carbohydrates cartoon.  He is best known for his #1 offbeat cartoons, Londons Times (or LTCartoons.com).

 

Shy Elusive Mooomaid: The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London

Moomaid by LTCartoons Click To Enlarge

Moomaid by LTCartoons Click To Enlarge

Long before there was a Far Side, I had a shoebox full of cartoon concepts that started in 1973 when I was but a wee freshman in college in Dallas. I had no idea what would become of these weird concepts, and I showed them to but a few close friends (who from the day I showed them they looked at me funny), but seven years later a stranger from Tacoma, Wa. launched a single-panel cartoon called “The Far Side”.  Please don’t cast aspersions yet. I don’t put myself in the league of The Far Side. 

As were a lot of people, I was elated.  So much of the “free association” that “we children of the 60s and 70s” was captured in this comic.   The “I’ll create it the way I want/authority-be-damned” feel swept the country within a  week.  The Far Side was king.  A new trail had been blazed.

Furthermore, so many of my already written concepts included cows and mythical characters from mermaids to unicorns and a combination of several. 

The vision of my cartoon, however, went way beyond the limit of my capabilities, however.   I had thought for many years that cartooning could be and should be, at times, fine art; or at least colorful close-to-fine art. 

Thanks to several of my early mentors, I learned that at least 30% of cartoons we see are group efforts, and it was/is perfectly fine to find astute and talented illustrators who could read “the blueprint of a cartoon concept”, add a caption and it would happen.  And they were right.

I wrote this cartoon around 1974 back when I’d written less than 1000 of them.  I always felt it had potential; that mooomaid toys would don every Toys R Us store and that the play “Moomaid” would launch on Broadway.

Though I was highly mistaken regarding the grandiose visions of peripheral marketing, we were able to create The Moomaid who still exists….but only in or minds.

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Rick London is a designer, songwriter, author and cartoonist.  He is best known for his #1 offbeat cartoons and funny gifts, Londons Times. 

The Great Humpty Conspiracy. Who Killed Him. The Story Behind The Londons Times Cartoon by Rick London

humpty

Like everyone else in the world my age, I lived in NYC for several years in my 20s. Why? Because I thought I was cool.  I wasn’t.   Don’t get me wrong.  I’m using NYC symbolically as “the big city”, or “a big city” that was not their hometown, so they could explore the world, explore their inside, learn to accept obstacles and/or challenges, or whatever. In other words, to grow up.  To see how people live, act, breathe, walk, talk and think outside ones own hometown.  Though I was the furthest thing from a success, I did learn quite a bit. Lessons and experiences were presented to me that I would have never even imagined in my small, safe, sheltered Ms. Home.

I have to share a secret and this mostly for the younger people south of the Mason Dixon Line who have decided NYC is the only place to learn these lessons.  Learn to talk.

But you say, “Rick, I already know how to tawk”.  Uh huh.  And I ain’t goin’ to no bullsh** charm school…or as they say in NY “Chwhm School”. 

Ok, so you aren’t going to learn to talk before moving to New York.  There are a few things you can do to make up for that, but they are risky.

For instance, the Sunday New York Times Book Review section is mighty snobby.  And if you sit there holding it open with a great look of amusement or concentration on your face, you might be allowed to keep your IQ. That is, back in the days when people cared about newspapers.  Today, if you try that, most New Yorkers will wonder why you aren’t in your Central Park West apartment with your iPhone or laptop reading the copy.  After all, “Do people still read the paper edition of The New York Times?”  Do they even still publish it.

One that I used to use to keep my IQ at least above 70 was to always have a copy of New Yorker Magazine and 2-3 copies from previous weeks so people could easily see, not only was/am I interested in the most recent culture in the center of the universe, but in case I missed a story last week, I will be aware.

There is only one problems for us Mississippians reading New Yorker Magazine in New York.

Eventually someone is going to ask, “What are you reading”.  Really. New Yorkers really say it like that and not “Whatcha readin’?”

“New Yolker”, I would respond obviously with egg on my face as New Yorkers would find reasons not to have to stand close to me.

Hence the birth of a new cartoon back around 12 years ago.  I wrote it around 1983, and shoved it away in a shoebox.  Again, neven understanding why I didn’t toss it in the trash, but I didn’t. Did I really think it might become a cartoon one day?

“Darn tootin’!” 

London has 30 or so wonderful Humpty Dumpty collectibles and gifts bearing this image at his RickLondonGifts.com (Zazzle shop).

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts “Londons Times” which are also Bing’s #1 ranked.  Google has rated them #1 since 2005 an Bing since 2008.   London and his wife nature photographer of HikeOurPlanet.com,  Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller) live in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they hike Hot Springs National Park and act as stewards of the property.   Lee

“I Want My ACA” Song Parody by Rick London c2013 To Tune Of “I Want My MTV” Dire Staits

“I Want My ACA” Parody by Rick London c2013 To The Tune Of “I Want My MTV”

march 999 money 4 nothing facebo

I want my ACA.   I want my ACA….I want my ACAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA………………………. 

Now look at all that dough I paid to go to St. Vincents ER while republicans threw a fit,

Now I see my own doctor if I’m in need,
I’m disabled I ain’t workin, that’s the way it is. Suck on that,  GOP.
Hang on a sec….In that jar I gotta pee,
Won’t hire me? I ain’t workin’ Aww the 1% mad. What’s wrong pals take a little hit?

They’s mad cause they can no longer throw me crumbs,
I used to come and go but now I linger
You keep votin’ tea party if you’re sure you’re that dumb.

You’re still angry at Obama but this is only the beginning,
Thinking maybe after Hillary you’ll get one shoe in?
We know we’re patriots but you call us traitors,
But there’s more than Fox on your color TV.

The Tea Party think we’re maggots but spray on dark skin 4 anyone networks that are Hispanic,
And they say they love us if we’ll opt-out of health care,
Is this a joke or are they really that insane?
When men or women hold hands they say “they love them” but “that kind of equality ain’t fair”

Oh good they love us they just hate our sins,
On equal rights they just want a short 5000 year freeeeeeeeze.
They need to get a…new orator,
The last one got taped quoting a percentage & in his pants he peed.

Now Mr. Cruz is the new GOP Czar,
He’s for enough haute GOP haute’cuisine like orange-glazed duck and a pack of TUMS,
What is it mama Michele Bachman’s sayin’ to the camera?
Man, SNL is going to have some fun.
She’s dancin’ with her hubby and they look so poised,
Somethin’ about him makes me think of “Glee”,
I’m disabled and I ain’t workin’, Your lies don’t move me one little bit,
We all pay our taxes and my health care’s free.

Come on guys its like a big 60s love in,
I get to choose my Obamacare for next to freeeeEEEEEE,
The GOP needs a new orator,
Ted Cruz acts like he thinks he’s the Lord,

Now that I ain’t workin’, I should get my ACA for free,
And a SNAP balance so my family I’ll feed,
I ain’t workin, you say “Food….You don’t deserve it”,
But Corporate Welfare is big bucks for freeeeEEEEEE,
You get money for bling but my tofu’s freeeeEEEE.

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Rick London is a songwriter, author, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) which have been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny tees and gifts since 2005. 

Salad Bar Exam: The Story Behind The Cartoon by Rick London – Londons Times Cartoons

 

     If I had to pick salad bar examany one cartoon that is our “trademark image” it would have to be “Salad Bar Exam”.  Even though the cartoon is about 12 years old, it remains our most popular. We even put it for sale on all types of odd products, and some not so odd like tees and mugs and such. 

      The story behind the cartoon, truly is nothing that dramatic about “the story behind the cartoon”; at least the story does not seem that dramatic to me.

      I actually wrote the concept around 1974.  I was in college (my first time around) and had switched to about 3 different majors; one of them being political science, which seemed to be a great pre-law major at the state university I attended. 

     As a vegan now, I look back at some of the “things” I ingested and wonder how I ever survived that time.  Some of my staples included peanut butter, sardines, ramen noodles, Gatorade, more ramen noodles and white bread.  No wonder I was sick all the time with the flue one week, strep throat the next week, etc. 

     It was about that time salad bars became popular at restaurants and Shoney’s, an establishment near USM had a huge salad bar.   My friends and I would go in and just order the salad which was super healthy, but then load it with blue cheese dressing, making it as fatal as any ramen noodle could be even if it didn’t try (to be fatal).

       By the same token I was losing interested in the law, and getting pulled over and warned by it (the law) more than I was learning the logistics of the Constitution.  Besides, my shoulder length hair got in the way of my eyes when I was trying to study, and to me, that was “a good thing”.

       My friends started losing interest in school, and the law generally about the same time I did.  Maybe 80% of them ended up in liberal arts like me.  I was liberal and an artist so why not?

        I can remember many a night debating staying in college and maybe pursuing the law, or maybe becoming a chef, a salad chef at that.  The two sort of melded together and this is the image that evolved.  It didn’t mean a lot at the time. I rough-sketched it with the caption “Salad Bar Exam” and it sat in a shoebox  with several other strange concepts and rough sketches for nearly 35 years.  At the time, I felt one day I would dispose of the entire box of silliness.  I felt that many times since too.  Funny how some of the most mundane things can become a major part of ones life. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, cartoonist and designer.  He is probably best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts “Londons Times Cartoons” or “LTCartoons.com”.  London is an avid hiker, a vegan and lives with his wife Lee Hiller-London in the Ouachata Mountains of Arkansas where they hike often and commune with nature, only to go home and eat soy n’ stuff. London adds, “Hey, its better than ramen noodles, eh?”   London offers a variety of products bearing his award-winning cartoon “Salad Bar Exam” on funny tshirts, aprons, mouse pads, and much more. 

Kratom: My Safety Net From TRD & Vagus Nerve Surgery

I can’t count how many times the topic of conversation has turned to “Big Pharma”.  Often people ask me my thoughts about Big Pharma (or the drug manufacturing business).

I have a love/hate relationship with them. I’ll explain.

I think of them as extremists in a way.  When they do something right, they do it very very right (with the help of the medical community).  When they do something wrong, it is dismal.

Here are some examples in my life.

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In 2001, I had a major heart attack in which I had no cardiologist.  So I was assigned one; and he happened to be the worst in town (I was told later before they ran him out of town).  He performed an angioplasty, and sent me home with a lifetime of drugs, not asking me much about my medical history and/or reaction to the drugs.

I guess since I don’t look like Bill Gates, he figured my education and/or ability to research was zilch, so it wouldn’t matter if he gave me the very worst cheapest of all the meds he prescribed.

I was waiting for my 6 month checkup in his office when he was called away to an emergency at the hospital and all of us in the waiting room had to go home.  He fired me in a “matter of fact” letter the very next week (gave no reason), and I learned that within a month later he was asked to leave the hospital for sleeping with too many married patients, many of whom were married.  His wife was not thrilled about that activity either (she discovered charges for two to the Caribbean etc. when he was “going alone to Chicago to a medical convention” and other such charges.  Oh well. 

Anyway, they assigned me a wonderful younger cardiologist in 2010 and he had to perform 2 surgeries.  He looked at my meds and tossed them, giving me the best in each category. Since my insurance didn’t cover Crestor for cholesterol, he made sure I got 6 weeks worth of samples whenever I needed them as did (and does) my wonderful GP.  They both look after me.  What a chance from a Don Juan has-been who fired me because he had to leave before the appointment.

The new drugs along with my own mixture of medicinal hearth-healthy immune boosting herbs helped me heal within a year, and in better shape than when I was in my twenties within three years.  It was no piece of cake, but I know the drugs helped a great deal.  I do blood tests every 4-6 months and can see the dramatic difference. I’ve switched to a mostly raw vegan diet.  I hike mountains 2-3 times a week.  Three years ago getting out of bed was a chore (for months).

On the other hand, 28 years ago, my mood dropped when I was in college and running my health food store and I went to the campus psychologist.  I told her I had depression so she didn’t test me to see if I might be wrong, she started what became a long term talk therapy along with psychiatric drugs from psychiatrist referrals. 

Though they all were great cheerleaders over the years of how much better I was getting, I knew I was not. In fact if anything, worse. 

I began to research. Maybe I didn’t have depression, but if I didn’t, what could it be.  One afternoon around 1996, I was at a friend’s house reading a New Yorker Magazine. In it was an article about something called “VNS Therapy” or Vagus Nerve Therapy.  It had been approved for a decade for TRE (Treatment Resistant Epilepsy) but studies were still being done for TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) which is a bit of a misnomer in that it is not depression at all but a vagus nerve issue. The vagus nerve runs up the chest to the brain and is the longest never in the body. Until recently, not much was known about it.

Now thanks to worldwide research and clinical studies, much is known about it.  It is estimated that approximately 2 million of the estimated 20 million people who think they have depression, don’t.  They have a vagus nerve issue, and the only treatment is VNS (which is a magnetic implant installed In the chest and prompts it to function properly.

Big Pharma and the insurance companies fought it tooth and nail, as the studies showed it was getting much higher success rate than the older (and newer SSRI) depression drugs.

vagus 4

Big Pharma, with all the good it does, does not like something that is not a drug taking money out of their pockets.   They proved that with St. John’s Wort again a bit earlier.  Though major European hospitals and doctors prescribe St. John’s Wort as the primary treatment for even the most severe depressive disorder, the FDA let it stay legal in the U.S. if the vendors would label it, “May help minor depression”.  And of course, very few American doctors recommend it or prescribe it; though it has proven to work better than potential dangerous psychiatric drugs, but the traveling drug salespersons in America don’t sell St. John’s Wort, hence who would make the money.  Yes, sadly, bottom line is a very major force in American medicine. 

And it is not that it this is not so in European countries, it is that the medical community makes getting the patient well, even if it means less money (and it often does), a primary issue.  Hippocrates “Doctor do no harm” is taken very seriously there, and one does not have to be an Einstein to know that some of the most commonly prescribed drugs are killing and shortening the lives of people daily.

I am not against prescribing drugs when they are needed.  I am, like the Europeans, for the patient having a choice of what type of drugs, what type of medical modicum; such as allopathic or naturopathic, etc.  They are living better and longer and I imagine that might be one of the reasons.  It is also much more freedom than we have here in the good ol’ USA. And don’t get me wrong, I love America and don’t want to live elsewhere, there is much we can learn from countries that have been around centuries longer than we have (and learned from their mistakes). 

In September of 2004, VNS was approved by the FDA for TRD.  I contacted the manufacturer, Cyberonics in Houston, Tx. And immediately got a caseworker.  There were still some hurdles.  Many.  My current psychiatrist who was using drug and talk therapy told them I was doing 100%+ better in the past year (which was a lie).  Finally he had to provide proof and of course he had none. I was honest in therapy and simply said, This isn’t working”.  The doctor was certain it was my imagination.  Turned out to be his.

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On January 25, 2006, I had the VNS implanted at UAMS in Little Rock.  I awakened 45 minutes later with no “depression”; none because I never had it in the first place. 

I spent seven years depression-free. Well, I say depression-free but a more precise diagnosis would be mostly depression-free. I awakened to days that were better than others; but none of the heavy “I can’t make it through this” existed.

Then last week I went for my quarterly “tune up” (yes a psychiatrist uses a magic computerized wand that he placed on the device in my chest (against my skin) and tunes it to how a working vagus nerve works in the body.

Now I’m facing another obstacle. The lithium battery in the device only lasts 6 years; I’ve been fortunate mine has lasted seven but it is time to get it changed.

Since the time I was blessed to have the surgery, Big Pharma and the insurance companies have changed the status of VNS for depression back to “experimental” from “approved”.  It is still approved if one wants to pay cash (about fifty thousand dollars for it), but not covered by insurance).  That includes accessories such as batteries. 

Big Pharma will do what it has to do not to lose money on its drugs.  And it did this to me.

vagus 6 kratom

I called Cyberonics who assured me they will donate the device/battery, if a surgeon will donate his/her time to install it.  I am working on that now, and will keep you updated to how it works.

I’ve been thinking about it this week, and I’ve also been fortunate enough to discover kratom this year.  How in the world would I make it without kratom; especially if it turns out I cannot get the battery for my device.

That sounds like “Rick must get high from that kratom herb”.  Anything but.  I suffer from chronic severe pain due to neuralgia and several other ailments, which is a pain so severe it would cause constant depression in the toughest of humans.

I’ve had two major heart attacks, three surgeries for it, and nothing, not those attacks, surgeries or anything else has come close to the pain this neuralgia causes.  With kratom, I cannot feel the pain after years of living with it. 

I hope and pray I get my battery for my device.  But if by some chance I don’t, I have a safety net. I know God is looking out for me, and I feel very blessed.  

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Rick London is an outspoken proponent to keep the medicinal herb kratom legal.  He tends to promote the best kratom  on the planet which, according to him is at Kratom-K.com.  If one enters the word “kratom” in the coupon code at checkout, they receive an extra 15% discount.   London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoon, Londons Times Cartoons and Funny Gifts.