One of the many fun e-mails I get – and share – daily from friends had this touched up image with a title, The Perfect Irish Bar. It gave me a chuckle and brought back a memory from my traveling days back in the early 70′s.
I was enjoying a well-deserved semi-retirement sabbatical after finally selling my property and businesses in Toronto in ’73. My girlfriend and I had driven across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and down the West Coast to Arizona and then all the way down to Mexico in my camper van with no particular itinerary, savoring new adventures as they came up. My girlfriend loved her beer and there wasn’t a bar we didn’t visit along the way. My Asian genes kept telling me I didn’t really enjoy alcohol at all but that’s a story for another day. Read the rest of this entry »
Seems you can’t even post something up for sale on Craigslist without some scammer trying to hit you up. I re-posted a large printer late last night and I’ve already received 4 scam inquiries. This one was the most brazen and I’m posting the entire exchange online here along with what I also found out about mi nuevo amigo, Hector Fanandez!
Snoqualmie Pass is a key road running through the Cascade Mountains along Interstate 90 coming from Eastern Washington by way of Idaho. It’s a really important road that’s critical to all kinds of goods to and from Seattle. When this highway gets covered in a major snowstorm, they get it cleared as quickly as possible, sometimes going so far as to blast some of the ice and snow down from the mountains just to avoid snowslides on to the road. So when they had to finally re-pave this puppy this past May, the DoT had to tear I-90 up and replace it immediately so everyone’s back in business with as little disruption as possible.
Well, I had no idea that Seattle was such a pinball center when my kids and I first moved here back in ’97. But when we expanded my startup into our large office spaces in ’99 during that first dot-com boom, one of the fun things my CFO and I decided to do was set up a small pinball arcade room. All those young kids had their foosball tables and ping pong tables in their startup offices. But hey – we were older guys and we wanted some more serious classic stuff for everyone to enjoy! So we ended up building a glassed-in soundproof arcade room right off our front lobby, much to the amusement of our visitors.
Way back in the early 70′s, I actually owned an arcade for a year or so in between gigs. And it was not only fun but turned out to be a relatively lucrative little business. Not as much because my arcade was busy every weekend but because of the first big run on silver at that time. A lot of younger people won’t know this but a large majority of our coins back then were minted with real silver and copper. It wasn’t until later that the cost of these coins became too expensive to use pure silver and copper so the mints all over the world have now been using cheaper alloys to make our coins (and the actual cost of materials is still a lot more than the face value of the coin itself in many instances). But back in the early 70, most silver coins were over 95% pure silver and a silver dollar was just that: a silver dollar! So a month or so into running my arcade, I decided to start sifting through all my quarters and was shocked to realize how many pre-1965 quarters were in each machine! I was doubling and tripling my take as the silver value of those quarters kept rising. But unfortunately as more collectors started realizing that even old and worn quarters were worth twice their face value or more, the supply started thinning down quickly. Gradually in less than a year, my arcade became a whole lot less profitable and it was time to start a new business.
Among my favorite machines was Gottlieb’s Magnotron from back in the 70′s. I’d first run into Magnotron back in Paris during a semi-retirement phase in ’74. A lot of my time was spent painting and writing and it was while living in Paris that I first came across this just-released machine at an arcade close to my fifth floor walkup studio on the Left Bank. It seems there were thousands of pinball machines all over Paris, in the bars and cafés and just about anywhere you could squeeze one into a corner. I made a lot of new friends playing pinball. And it was in Paris that I found my inspiration to start a new series of high-realism paintings on man and his machines, specifically machines that you put money into and received something in return. What better first piece than my beloved pinball machines? It was in Fall of 1974 when I started painting Magnotron and Sky Jump, working from some drawings and photographic studies taken at this Parisian arcade. I still remember carrying this half-finished canvas on board an Air Canada flight headed back home to Toronto after living in Paris for 10 months. In those days, we had no T&A Security or baggage restrictions; one of the stewardesses simply put my painting into one of the coat closets up front for me to retrieve as I got off the flight in Toronto. I ended up finishing that painting along with several others while I was living in a shared studio/living space with three other artists in the warehouse district in downtown Toronto. Read the rest of this entry »
OK – I’m really fired up this morning. Sometimes fake science just goes too far and you have to shake your head. There’s a new “study” from the CDC (Center for Disease Control, no less!) about how 20% of our kids suffer from some form of mental illness (!). And it’s rising!
My friend, Dr. Daniel Amen, posted a link on his Facebook page today with a link to a recent article from Forbes about multitasking. Unfortunately, all too many people only see multitasking as a detriment or as a disorder that’s part of ADD/ADHD. For me, it’s all about lumping people into general categories so they’re easier to define. Hey – multitasking? Bad! You must be ADHD.
Well, some people probably are unfocused and can’t stay on task. But for others, the ability to work on several tasks or projects at once is a skill and an asset. Everyone’s different and we all think and work differently. And that’s the point.
As with lots of other things in my crazy life, my birthday also has a few stories attached to it, happy and sad and everything in between. I was born on December 6th in Halifax, Nova Scotia. What was significant about that date? The Halifax Explosion happened on Dec. 6th, 1917. At 8:45 in the morning, a Norwegian relief supply ship, the Imo, collided with a French ship, the Mont Blanc, loaded with 2500 Tons of munitions. With both ships ablaze, the crews abandoned ship and they floated through the harbor until the Mont Blanc finally exploded at 9:04 a.m. Many still consider it to be the largest accidental man-made explosion in history. The explosion was measured in Megatons.
Dad had just arrived in 1916 from China as a young boy of 9 to join his Father at the Chinese laundry that he and several partners owned in Halifax. So he’d only been there a little over a year and was slowly adapting to life in a new country. On this particular morning, Dad happened to be a few minutes late leaving for school and was in a rush to run out the front door. As he grabbed the door knob to the big wooden door, the impact of the explosion literally shattered the glass from the outer door and sent the shards of glass flying into the wooden inner door that probably saved Dad from certain death had he only been mere seconds earlier. He immediately turned and hid under one of the work benches in the laundry, joined by some of the other men. No one had any idea of what had happened at that point and I’m sure it took a while for the news to travel in those days.
Most of us have seen the real life pictures of people who went on crack and meth and how they aged at least 20 years in a short span. But have you ever wondered what you might look like in 20 years? A cool new app called In 20 Years (of course!) has been up and running for a little while now and recently even added a Facebook app.Click HERE to try it out.