under the knife

surgery room

Last September I had to have some surgery on my face, which meant I had to be out in Elk Grove at 7am. It left a massive scar in the middle of my forehead, which is thankfully a lot less noticeable than it first was. I had to be bandaged up for ages. The whole thing took a few hours, a couple of different rounds, but they got it all (hooray) and the surgeons were really nice. They talked to me about things like To Kill A Mocking Bird while cutting into my face, to keep my mind off of it probably. The worst bit was the waiting in between rounds, when I had to sit in the little room waiting to see if it was going to be all good. It wasn’t the waiting – I can draw while I wait (see above), play Carcassonne on my iPad, I’m usually a good waiter. It wasn’t even the waiting for good or less good news, because I knew the surgeons knew what they were doing. It was the music being played in the little room, it wasn’t loud, but it was mostly Phil Collins, I and I can’t stand Phil Collins. And Simply Red, and I can’t stand Simply Red. I had enough of that in the 80s as a kid. My uncle Billy and I used to loathe Phil Collins’s music together. It was always on the bloody radio. I don’t need to explain or justify; I told people here after the surgery that the worst bit was all the Phil Collins being played, and they were like, I don’t understand. I told my family back in England the same thing, and they were all like, oh god that sounds unbearable, they understood. I was given anesthetic so I wouldn’t feel any pain in the surgery, but unfortunately it didn’t block out my hearing. “I can feel it caaaalllling in the aiiiir toniiiight...” oh gawd. I nearly called the surgeon to come and put it back in, I’ve changed my mind! And Simply Red, and others like that, it was like listening to a footballer’s car stereo in 1990. It was eventually over, and back to the (infinitely more enjoyable than the music) surgery. They did a great job. I felt pretty knocked out for a few days after (having fever dreams of Phil Collins singing me lullabies) and the scare was pretty dramatic when the bandages finally came off, but it’s alright now. The area above the scar was numb for a very long time, and even now the feeling is not fully back. It’s not the first big scar on my forehead, I have one over my left eye that looks a bit, well, lightning-shaped, which I got after an altercation with an evil wizard on the Camden Road in Holloway twenty-odd years ago. That one took a bit longer to heal, but I still notice it. I remember not long after it bumping into an old mate of mine on the bus, Gary, and I’ll never forget he said “who gave you that Mars Bar on your Car Chase?” For those who don’t know, in Cockney slang a Mars Bar is a scar (I actually didn’t know that at the time, and had to ask my brother afterwards), while Car Chase is another term for your face, though Boat Race (or just ‘Boat’) is still used. I always think of that phrase, and now I have a new Mars Bar on my Car Chase. This new one is at least in line with my increasingly furrowed brow.

I had to go in a few weeks later to have the stitches taken out and the scarring all looked at, but it was in a different hospital. I was just hoping that they would not play Phil Collins. I don’t recall the doctor’s name, but the nurses told me and for some reason I thought it sounded like a cowboy from the Old West. Dr. Tex Buffalo or something. It wasn’t that but I have an active imagination when I’m in a doctor’s office. My eyes had to be covered up while it was all looked at so I never actually saw him, but it was the strangest thing. Before the Doc came in, the nurses turned on the radio – here we go, with the Phil Collins again, I thought. But it was all country music, Garth Brooks or someone, and I thought, maybe he is a cowboy? I never saw him, he only spoke to me for a couple of minutes, but I couldn’t help imagining him in a big Stetson with rattlesnake-skin boots and a big Colt 45 in his holster. Did he say “howdy pardner?” Surely not. Maybe it just was the local anesthetic talking.

a mind can blow those clouds away

view from MSB 110922 sm

This here is the view from my office. Well I say that, but this sketch is a little bit unreliable, because I have missed out a bunch of windows in the building opposite. I could have drawn them, but for some reason I didn’t, I was so excited about drawing the different autumnal colours. November moves fast. It’s going to be March tomorrow. There are moments when the speed of time just scares me. I have this constant urge to fill it with drawings, as if the time didn’t happen unless I’ve got some sort of drawing to go with it. I think it’s something that I wrestle with, not having the time to draw, versus needing the time to enjoy other things, balanced with the fact I need to draw because it does relax me. If I go somewhere and get what I consider to be a good drawing in, I’m in a pretty good mood afterwards, usually, like I’ve achieved something.

I Wanna See Some History

queens funeral sm

And in the end, they put the Queen in the ground, and that was that. The Funeral was a Real History Moment, the sort that gets played back in years to come on history shows, with the AI clone of Simon Schama in the year 2081 stating solemnly, “Even for us smart-alec artificial-intelligence history bots, just simple bits of code flying around on a Silicon Valley server, even we had to stop sniggering and start paying attention, knowing with a suspicious lump in the HDMI cable that something immense had happened, the death of a matriarch; this was history happening right before our very photoreceptors.” We had to watch, of course.  The Queen’s Funeral was long, solemn, and quite the spectacle. It was like the Avengers Endgame of British royalty and politics, and although the Queen’s last words probably weren’t “And I Am Elizabeth II”, she did somehow snap her fingers and make Boris Johnson disappear into dust. She worked right up to the end, and one of her final acts was to usher in a new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who managed to hang on to her job until just after the Queen’s Funeral. We didn’t watch the Funeral live; we watched it on YouTube after getting home from work. I’m glad I was in America. My friends back home said the mood in Britain was getting out of hand, which doesn’t sound like Britain at all does it, and said the BBC had started to be called ‘MournHub’. In the end though, we got the show, we got the pomp and pageantry, and I will admit, the version of the National Anthem that they played in Westminster Abbey, in that place, was easily the best version you will ever hear, much better than the dreary durge they belt out at England matches, or that used to be played on BBC2 at about midnight before Close. This stirred the soul, it made my feel feel ticklish. I think it may have been the last time we’ll hear the God Save The Queen with that lyric in a while, in my lifetime anyway, it’ll be all God Save The King now. Sounds a bit off, like something Lord Whats-his-name would say on Downton Abbey.

I drew the Westminster bit in Procreate, before taking a break and then watching the Windsor part on my iPad, drawing on a brown envelope, making those red coats of the Scots Guard stand out. It was a long old drive up to Windsor Castle. The Queen was buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and now we have a King, Charles III. Honestly when I first saw that headline, I thought it read “Charles ill” and I thought, oh here we go again already.

Queens Funeral brown envelope sm

The last event like this I’d actually watched was the Funeral of Princess Diana, back in that frankly bonkers period of time in September 1997. Anyone who was alive at the time will remember this, but for those of us in the UK the response was utterly ridiculous. I had no idea the country could react in such a way to anything. On the night Diana was killed in that car crash in Paris, along with Dodi Al Fayed, I remember that I was unironically eating in an Egyptian restaurant just around the corner form Kensington Palace which had pictures of Diana on the wall, and I even said “wouldn’t it be funny if Diana and Dodi came in right now.” They had not been off the front pages of the newspapers all week, their fling in France being like Christmas and birthdays rolled into one for all the tabloid editors, gossip columnists and paparazzi. They were ruthless; she was not the ‘People’s Princess’ or the ‘Queen of Hearts’ back then, that would not be until a few days later. I didn’t know Diana had died until early the next morning, when my Mum woke me up to tell me the news. She was shocked and upset, being a big fan of the Royals, and it was very shocking news. Throughout my young life I’d grown up watching the Diana story unfold – the wedding of Charles and Diana was one of my earliest memories, and we had a street party for that, one in which my dad won the “dad’s piggyback race”, where you had to run to the top of the street with your kid on your back. My mum did meet Diana at least once, while working on catering jobs, though she regrets that she never got to meet the Queen. The most famous person I met while working on those catering jobs (because I used to work as a waiter when I was first old enough to work) was Ronnie Corbett, and he was brilliant. Anyway, we got the first edition of the Sunday newspapers, News of the World or one of those old rags that don’t exist any more, and the first few pages were pure Historic Moment – the shock, the tears, the gushing about the Queen of Hearts is dead, the anguish, the instant canonization of Diana – and yet, because editors had to get this newspaper out in time for people to grab the papers with the biggest headlines, they had not yet updated all the articles a few pages deep into the paper, which were still full of “Diana is disgracing the nation” and showing long range pictures of her in skimpy outfits with Dodi on a yacht off the Cote d’Azur. Still, I had no time to join in the national mourning, because I was off to France myself, taking the coach to Strasbourg with my friend Terry for a few days of being silly, a little vacation before I started university. While we were away, people would ask us, “are you doing ok?” and we’d be like, “er yeah, we’re fine,” thinking, strange thing to keep asking us.

We didn’t know that back in England the place was slowly becoming Diana Crazy. I sometimes call Britain “Totally Normal Island”, but this was the country at it’s Most Totally Normal. The sea of flowers in front of Kensington Palace was only part of it. When we arrived back in London on our coach from France the country had been gripped with the Diana Fever for several days already, and we were a little taken aback. I went to Kensington Palace to have a look at the flowers; hundreds of people were standing around, many bawling their eyes out. My mum signed the remembrance book down there; I didn’t know what to write so I just put some Beatles lyrics in there, I can’t even remember what. It probably wasn’t ‘I Am The Walrus’. Then the Funeral took place. The whole country closed down, shops, schools (I mean it was a Saturday so they were closed anyway), and we all sat around the telly while about a million people lined the streets of central London, watching on big screens down at Hyde Park. This was Funeral with Entertainment. This was the 90s, we had an excited new young cool PM Tony Blair steering the ship Cool Britannia, and Diana was friend of the famous – her good pal Elton John performed a rewrite of one of his classics, singing “Goodbye England’s Rose”, his eyebrows bobbing up and down as that guaranteed number one echoed through the hallowed stones of Westminster Abbey. And the Diana was put into the ground up at the family home at Althorp (which we learned was pronounced ‘Awl-trup’), and then over the next few weeks the country blinked and looked around as if coming out of some trance and went, what the bloody hell was that about? I started university a couple of weeks later and even then, people were not sure what had just happened, and how we were supposed to think about it other than some collective temporary madness. It’s something we can all look back on though, all remembered slightly differently, all with different degrees of cynicism or sadness, but it was a Historical Moment and gives expatriate Brits like me us a funny story to tell Americans.

all things must pass away

All Things Must Pass

I nearly missed it, but yesterday was George Harrison’s 80th birthday. He passed away just over twenty years ago, but he’s still out there somewhere, he’s George Harrison. I love George Harrison. I’m a massive Beatles nerd; Paul was always my favourite, massive fan of John, I adore Ringo, but I always had a huge love for quiet George and his dark eyes, even if one of my earliest memories of George was when Nick Cotton off Eastenders played him in Birth of the Beatles. So last night to celebrate, I rewatched the Scorsese documentary “Living in the Material World” (my wife couldn’t believe his brother was called ‘Harry Harrison’; I tried to convince her that John had a brother called Lenny Lennon, and that Mike McCartney’s middle name was ‘Arnie’), played some ukulele, and listened to the All Things Must Pass triple album while drawing my old copy of the All Things Must Pass triple album. I must admit, I listened to it streamed on my iPod rather than on the record player, because it would mean getting the record player out of the cupboard and I was too tired to deal with that. It tends to play the records a bit too fast anyway. But I love this old album. I don’t love all of it (really not into “Johnny’s Birthday”, although ironically tomorrow is my brother’s birthday and his name is Johnny) but the whole thing is a slide guitar soundscape, and listening to it on streaming means I didn’t have to keep getting up to change the record over (triple albums, really?). It was nice drawing this while I listened to it. I love the songs “All Things Must Pass” and “Isn’t it a Pity”. I wanted to get this posted though in tribute. Happy Birthday George, wherever you are in the cosmos.

have I got queues for you

queen lying in state sm

In the end, they put the Queen in the ground, and changed the national anthem. Next will come the new stamps, bank-notes, post-boxes, coins, and change all the jail names from Her Majesty’s Prison to His Majesty’s Prison. Before they put her in the ground though, the Queen’s coffin was displayed in Westminster Hall for a few days while the entire nation popped in to have a look. The whole thing was broadcast live, like they used to do with Big Brother, so I tuned in and sketched the view.

The Queue was a pretty big deal though wasn’t it. Not being in Britain, it feels like I have missed out on my home country’s massive cultural water-cooler moment. There’s no way I would have spent ten, eleven, twelve hours queuing up myself to see the big box they kept the Queen’s body in, though I would have probably gone down to draw the Queue. It was a Genuine Historic Occasion. The Queue itself became the attraction. People were probably queuing up to see The Queue. I’m surprised the government didn’t charge people a pound so they could use the alliterative phrase, “Queue for a Quid to see the Queen” (from the people who brought you “Bung a Bob for a Big Ben Bong”, which is a real thing an actual British government came up with).

For those who don’t know, The Queue (official title “The Queue to attend Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State”) stretched from Westminster Hall, where the late Queen lay-in-state, down Lambeth way (Oi! ‘Ave a banana), and all the way down the south bank of the Thames, where cab drivers once feared to tread, right past Tower Bridge, all the way into Bermondsey where it zigzagged round Southwark Park like a Pokemon Go party. It was said to be between five and ten miles long, and maybe half a million people lined up in total. Maybe more, almost certainly more. I would not have wanted to be in that line for so long, but it must have been infectious. Perhaps I’d have gone there and found it hard not to join The Queue. All sorts were in that Queue, even David Beckham waited in line for twelve hours, doing his bit, before going off to join a different Q, Qatar, as an embarrassingly well-paid ambassador. At the time, I wondered to my wife how long it might take until this particular Cultural Event is turned into a movie, a kind of ‘Love Actually’ style film, just called “The Queue”. It would feature seven or eight different storylines from people within The Queue, as they move along the Thames, people of all walks of life, with hilarious relationships forming, commentary on the 2020s-era cultural wars. Just like Love Actually it would feature many of the usual actors who show up in these types of things, your Grants, your Thompsons, your Neesons, plus a few newer ones like Tom Holland who would for some reason get into a caper that leads to him falling into the Thames and being fished out by a copper, probably played by Idris Elba or someone, and keep being made to go to the back of The Queue, blushing at the girls as he is dragged past a second or third time. There would be a few comedy cameos: Rowan Atkinson would have a small role as play that guard who fell over; Matt Lucas would play Boris Johnson in a mop wig; James Corden would be that awful bloke who rushed to the Queen’s coffin knocking down that little girl, annoying his grandmother who is played by Catherine Tate (there would be an after credit scene where we find out they actually got together and you see them having afternoon tea and the girl shoving Corden out of the way to get a coronation chicken sandwich, to rounds of laughter). There would be small cameos from famous Hollywood stars; Harrison Ford would play Joe Biden, and Mark Hamill would play one of the guards standing by the coffin, and Ford would say to him, “Aren’t you a little short for a Beefeater?” (Credit goes to my wife for that joke). But it wouldn’t be about the Royals or the VIPs, it would be about the Real People in The Queue, because the Real People are the ones who this whole Cultural Event really for. In fact we wouldn’t see The Royals at all, if they appear it would be just the backs of their heads (though we would find out later that they were cameos from other really famous people like Lady Gaga or Woody Harrelson). Between the actual movie bits there would be actual footage from The Queue with some of those real people, with the usual music, like those airport scenes in Love Actually. I actually kinda want to watch this film now. The taglines would be great/shite. “You can choose your friends…you can’t choose who you spend fifteen hours in a queue with” “The best things come to those who wait…in line” Etc and so on. It would be turned into a Broadway musical, “Queue: The Music”. Ok, this movie’s being made. “God Save The Queue”.

first street’s changing face

1st St Davis 110222 sm

I like drawing construction, because you get to see a place in transition, and your sketch will forever be of a specific moment in time. This was last November; if I went back now, this building will look different (it might be finished, I haven’t checked). I remember that I was listening to a podcast at the time, Adam Buxton interviewing Richard E. Grant, which was really enjoyable. I like Richard E. Grant, of course I’m of the generation that loved Withnail and I. The sort of thing we would quote a lot at university. I studied drama. Seems a lifetime ago, now. I like looking at this sketch, the lines are kind of doing that thing where they seem to skew upwards in a slightly different direction on the right than on the left, as happens in a lot of my sketches, probably because of the angle I hold my sketchbook, but it’s something I’ve come to rather like, though I don’t look for it. 1st street is quite a busy road, usually a lot of traffic, and there was work going on in the adjoining street, I think that was D Street. Yes, that’s right. This was the corner where there was an aging frat house, that I have drawn before, and was recently demolished. This is probably a replacement, or maybe it’s something newer altogether, I never bothered finding out. I probably won’t draw the finished building, it’s probably a bit similar to many other buildings and won’t look as interesting as it did during the construction phase; isn’t that the same as all of us? We’re all quite interesting as we are being ‘constructed’, in our youths, while we are at university watching Withnail (actually no, I was pretty uninteresting then), then we grow up and look and dress and talk the same as everyone else (yeah, maybe; I think this analogy doesn’t really stand up if I’m honest) (This is more the sort of thing you can have a character say in a play, and the audience goes, oh yeah, that sounds about right, I know what you mean, and then you have some other character, let’s make them Scottish, say “does it f*ck! Ye’re talking shite!” and bring us back to reality). Forget that analogy, buildings being built are not like people growing up. Though, buildings do age like people, things start falling off of them, they get ignored, and eventually they get knocked down and replaced with something new. As Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter used to say, “It’s Nature’s Way.”

TLC, the grand opening

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Back in October, the brand new Teaching and Learning Complex (“TLC”; not “talc”) had its formal opening ceremony, which I of course went along to and sketched. I sketched the current Provost Mary Croughan above, describing the TLC as an “absolutely beautiful building”, and it really is. The Chancellor Gary May said that the TLC “marks a new era for learning at UC Davis”, while former Provost Ralph Hexter (who was executive vice-chancellor during the original planning for this building) said “TLC – I’m surprised no-one made this obvious – is Tender Loving Care”. (This by the way is why acronyms are important, and why I probably won’t be allowed to come up any acronyms on campus, because I’d probably make them silly). After this, there were tours of the building, and I was particularly impressed with the top floor’s tutoring center with it’s little sound-proofed pods. I really liked the views as well, and so I came back over the next couple of days to draw them.

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This was the view from the stairwell, looking northwards. I’ve always been interested in that observatory dome on the top of that one building, I think it is Storer Hall, as I can see that from my office. Lot of windows in this one, but that little bit of pink foliage was quite striking, especially as it was October.

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And this is the view from the top of South Steps, where the first sketch was drawn, this time looking southwards at the new wing of the Engineering Building that is pretty much being completed as I type, but was still wrapped in orange back in October. Another building project completed. Speaking of building projects, you can see all of my sketches of the Teaching and Learning Complex at the following link: https://petescully.com/tag/teaching-learning-complex/. And by the way, the team behind the construction of the building gifted me a very special present last summer for all my sketched documentation of the project, a Patagonia sweater with their logo on, and an embroidered version of one of my sketches on the sleeve! That’s a pretty cool honour. It’s also a pretty lovely sweater, though I had to wait about eight months to wear it, because it wasn’t cold enough until about December.


How cool is that! Here is the sketch it is based off of, drawn a couple of years and a couple of months before this grand opening, in the bleak midst of the pre-vaccine Pandemic Time:

Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020

You can read a good article about the TLC’s opening ceremony at UC Davis Dateline: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/tlc-gets-final-tenants-celebration (my tweet about it even got a shoutout…)

any old iron

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I’ve not drawn any Lego for a while. I still have a few Lego sets I’ve not build yet; finding the time (sorry, I mean finding the shelf-space) has been an issue, plus my increasingly bad eyesight means I can’t find those little bits of Lego I drop under the couch until one of my cats spits it out (they’ve never actually done that, funnily enough, though they have done the ‘push a massive Lego set off the shelf’ act). This was one I drew back in September, on the brown envelopes, this is the Lego ‘Iron Monger’. That was the main villain in the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Iron Man. The MCU has got pretty big since then, which I’ve been a big fan of. Like the Marvel comic universe itself it is basically a massive soap opera. I have loved the series, the most ambitious movie project of all time, culminating nicely in Endgame which I thought was a nice stopping point for the Avengers era. Then came the various Disney Plus series of Phase 4, coming just in time for the pandemic when cinemas would be closed and we were all at home streaming telly anyway. While I’ve enjoyed many of the series (Wandavision and Loki were especially fun) some of it all has tailed off a bit. The movies have been less re-watchable than the first three phases, though I enjoyed the most recent Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, everything else has been ok to hmm, yeah. Maybe it’s the lack of Robert Downey Junior. Nevertheless I am interested to see where it goes, since it is heading to Secret Wars (the original was one of the first Marvel comics I read back in the mid-80s, and I really loved the 2015 massive crossover special). But I just watched Quantumania, and while it was largely fun, it was a bit middling. I know a lot of people are very meh about the super-hero/comic-book movies anyway, but I loved Marvel comics and these ones did a really good job (unlike for example the recent DC films which have been fairly atrocious; don’t get me started on Dawn of Justice). I think it’s because while the first three MCU ‘phases’ were all new and “are they actually going to do that? Oh they really are”, they had a through-line and a clear focus, especially being tent-poled around the Avengers series, and as they started introducing new characters and ideas to the mix it was done organically and brought together in the most comic-book-crossover structured movie of all, Infinity War. I could watch those over and over and over, like Star Wars, or the Dark Crystal, or Father Ted. Now with films like Eternals, which felt like it went on for an eternally long time, it feels like the series is not sure where it’s really going. The Multiverse Saga, right, Kang the Conqueror, Secret Wars – but it’s not clear how they are going to get there, or if they will bring us all along with it. Still, I loved Iron Man, and I still love all the Lego. I haven’t made a Lego animation in a while (since the Dr Strange one I made a few years ago), but it’s really fun to draw.

take a seat on G Street

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The catch-up on my 2022 sketches goes into October; this panorama of G Street was drawn on a Saturday afternoon in mid-October on a hot Fall day, sat on the kerb (that’s ‘curb’ to Americans) until my body hurt. I used to be ok sitting on the kerb, but these days I’m so used to standing while sketching that I don’t like sitting right on the street as much, so I ‘curb’ that activity. I don’t even bring along the little fold-up stool like I used to, though I still have one that’s nice and light to carry. I have this idea, not so much in Davis but in other places (London for example) where you might get hassled by a busy-body who thinks you shouldn’t be there on the street near their place, their office or their shop, and try to move you along. It’s rarely happened, though I’ve heard of it and it did happen once in London to my friends who were sketching in the city of London with me on a Sunday, they sat down to draw a church, and a security guy inside the office building next to us came right out and tried to move them along for, I’m not sure what, blocking the view from the window? It was as far as they were concerned their sidewalk (not actually true, they were on the public right of way), and it didn’t matter that they were obviously just drawing the church, this guy wanted them to move. I was standing; he didn’t talk to me. I have heard of other sketchers and artists being moved about by busybody street security guards who like to overreach, even when standing. So maybe that’s one reason I don’t like to sit when sketching? Not really; I usually know my rights. The main reason is I get a better view when standing, and usually if I sit, the worst thing that will happen is a car will park in the way and block my view. Well on this occasion, I did feel like sitting down on the kerb. This section of G Street has been informally pedestrianized since the pandemic, when the restaurants along here were forced to take their businesses out onto the streets – go to the kerbs, or curb your business, I guess. It’s pretty much stayed that way, so on these balmy summery afternoons (in October) it’s usually full of people, drinking outside the University of Beer or eating outside Woodstocks. On this day it was not super busy, but still pretty vibrant. I sat on the kerb (with some subconscious trepidation, obviously) and drew the view of the Kathmandu Kitchen, the G Street Wunderbar, and the sushi place in between whose name I forget. I went to that sushi place once, back in (wow) 2006, when my friend Terry visited (he likes Japanese food; he lives in Yokohama now). My only memories are that you had to go into the G Street Pub (as it was called then) to use the toilet, and also Terry asking if I’d heard of ‘Teriyaki’ before and me pretending I hadn’t so he could explain it. I think I’ve only been to Kathmandu Kitchen once too, maybe in 2006 or 2007? I remember we weren’t that impressed, comparing with the similar foods we would get back home in London, and so we never ate there again, though I keep thinking we’ll try it again some time. Finally, the G Street Wunderbar. I’ve not been there in years; I always associate it more with live music, or loud music, and young people, or loud people, just a different vibe from the regular pub feel of De Vere’s (may gawd rest its soul). I’ve sketched it a few times, first when it was the old G Street Pub, and one time about ten years ago, during a particularly busy Spring Break week, when I really needed to draw a complicated curvilinear panorama, I came here and sat in the middle of the bar and drew all those bottles, while the bar light around me changed colours and people filed in taking shots of whatever and talking. That sketch is below. I really loved a bit of curvilinear then; I need to do more of those, I enjoyed looking at rooms in that style. That’s why I’d sit in the middle of the bar, to get as central a view as I could. You have to be a little bold to do that, when your instinct is to hide away and be unnoticed. Perhaps I could have approached the sketch above in this way; if I had, I might have to have sat right in the middle of the road, to get a more close-up view, and let my vision of the buildings curve naturally. Which is a thing I can do, since G Street is closed up. Actually I always let things curve, even if only slightly, although in the above panorama my awkward seating contributed to the curviness having a little bit of wonkiness (more ‘curbilinear’ than ‘curvilinear’) (or ‘kerbilinear’). Right, new new year’s resolution (my birthday was last week so it’s a new year for me anyway), draw more curvilinear interiors and exteriors again, like I used to a decade ago.

g street wunderbar

A Hot Afternoon in the Mission

SF Mission St 090322 sm

Part two of my day exploring San Francisco last September. I’m writing early in the morning in February, realizing that there were still sketches from 2023 that I had not scanned, including the one above. I was hoping to go on a sketching day down in the City today, but it was pretty rainy when I woke up, so I thought sod it, stay home and watch Spurs (we are currently losing 2-1 to Leicester, and I’m rethinking my decision). It was very hot on that day in September though. I don’t remember the temperature in Davis but probably about 110, it was during that horrible wave of extreme heat we had. San Francisco is usually about 30-40 degrees cooler at those times, the bay area having its natural cooling system off the ocean, but on this day it still felt very hot, and the Mission district is usually the warmest part of the city. A day of walking around, but a day of stopping and getting something cold to drink. I did want to draw this old theatre building on Mission though, I may have drawn it before but I wanted to get all the colour from the street. There were some characters around, music was playing, it was a classic hot day in the City. Mission is very much the main Latin American part of San Francisco and I always look forward to a delicious burrito here, and I love all the little shops and the colourful murals. I wandered about a bit down parts I’d either not been to or hadn’t seen in a number of years. there are changes along Mission, some older buildings gone, but it still feels like Mission. Something about Mission Street, I can’t explain it, but it feels a bit like some streets in London I know, feels familiar while also being completely different. We don’t have palm trees in London, and it’s usually cloudier. It was really hot though, and my foot was already hurting, so I went down 24th and found that old Irish pub I had been to once before (in 2008?), the Napper Tandy.

SF Napper Tandy 090322sm

Spurs are losing 3-1 now, at half-time. Maybe I should go to San Francisco today, but I want to see how we get out of this in the second half. Let’s go back to September. I found the Napper Tandy, nice and shady inside, and got a cold beer (probably an Anchor Steam) and started sketching the bar. there were quite a few people in there, mostly regulars, a lot of people knew each other sat around the horseshoe bar. I remember that from when I went all those years ago, it was a pretty friendly atmosphere. There was live music from a band playing just outside the adjoining bar area, which was a little loud but provided a nice backdrop. I was in no hurry, and was too exhausted to explore more streets for a bit. I stayed for a couple and sketched, making it look greener than it is because of all the Irish stuff, but didn’t got for full colouring in. The music was getting a bit loud and I was starting to feel a bit antsy to explore more of this neighbourhood before the long trip back to Davis.

SF Shotwells Mission 090322 sm

Well as I write, Spurs are now losing 4-1 to Leicester; they’ve gone down to City, while should have gone down to the City. The rain has stopped and it’s sunny out now, though I guess it’s still planning to be rainy down in the Bay Area, so I’ll stay at home. I just tidied the kitchen and ate breakfast while watching that Spurs ‘game’ on my iPad. I think the rest of the day will involve playing the bass a lot, and getting further into Horizon: Forbidden West. Anyway, this last sketch from that day in September was another old Mission bar, a historic saloon I had read about called Shotwell’s, at the corner of 20th and Shotwell. I’d never been to this part of the Mission before so it took a little exploring, and by the time I got there I was very in need of a cold drink. I loved this place, it was perfect on a hot sunny day. This saloon has a long history, going back to 1891, starting out as a bar at the back of a grocery shop run by a couple of German immigrants; after the 1906 Earthquake it just became a regular saloon and the lovely wooden bar that is still there was brought all the way from New England. The saloon had many iterations in the following decades, but became ‘Shotwell’s’ in 2006. You can read all about it on their website: https://www.shotwellsbar.com/history.html. I just had the one beer, while some people played pool and darts nearby, while some good music came out of the speakers. Alas, the BART, the Emeryville bus and the Amtrak train were calling, so I slogged through the hot streets for that burrito I’d been thinking about, and made the long trip back to heatwave-stricken Davis. I was planning to run a 5k the next day (some preparation huh), but I knocked that on the head due to a bad foot, the silly heat even at 8am, and just generally being knackered. Can’t wait to go down to San Francisco on a sketching exploration again. Maybe tomorrow.