This is a nice spot in the UC Davis Arboretum, it is the Native American Contemplative Garden. This garden honors the Patwin people. Davis and the surrounding areas are part of the original Patwin land. The garden was designed by Bill Wright, a Patwin Elder, along with his family and students in the UC Davis Native American Studies department, among others. At the end of the winding stonework and path is a small column of rock inscribed with the names of Patwin people who lived on this land and were removed the missions between 1817 and 1836. Around the garden are stones with some Patwin words inscribed on them, such as “Ye’te we” (“Dream”) and “Mi muho” (“You sing”). “P’atwin means people”, as it says on one of the stones. I had never sketched here before, so I came along to sit in the shade and try to imagine California’s past, before the Europeans came along.
A couple of weekends ago, at the end of the month of June, the Davis Graduate – known popularly as ‘The Grad’ – closed its doors for the last time. The Grad had been a Davis staple for decades. I mean, actual decades – it opened in 1972, meaning it is older than me. It’s a popular night-out dancing spot, and lots of people came here to watch sports in the daytime on one of the 467 TV screens (ok not that many but as you can see above, they have them all over the place, big and small). I remember coming here years ago early on a Saturday morning, before we had the Premier League in our cable package, and watching Spurs lose against Sunderland back in the bad old days when that would happen a lot, and you would get a little portable speaker to put on your table and just look toward whichever screen had your game on, while others watched Hockey, Golf, Curling or something even more obscure like West Ham. I have to be honest, I never really liked coming to the Grad, partly because every time I’d come to watch Spurs we would lose to some terrible team, but also because I could never feel that comfortable with those big wooden tables and benches and the screens all around, the food orders being called out over the microphone, the long line for the bar, and the lack of windows – when you walk back outside into the hot Davis brightness it’s a jarring feeling. On the few occasions we came here to watch World Cup or Euro matches, there was usually a big and noisy crowd, and the space always just felt awkward. So I never really came here that much, and I never came in the evenings when they would have their dance nights, because if I felt awkward when there was just sports and drink, adding dancing into the mix was never going to make it more appealing to me. However, I knew how much people loved the place, and when I first came to Davis people would always tell me I should go to the Grad, even people at other bars would say the same. I know someone who DJed there who has many fond memories, and I dare say that students over the years have as many great memories of the Grad as my old QMW cohort has of the Drapers Arms on the Queen Mary campus in Mile End (who am I kidding, we don’t remember anything…). I did sketch here a couple of times over the years, the last time being on a Sunday afternoon in 2013, when I draw a 1.3 page spread of the bar, while Marseille played Monaco on a screen next to Judge Judy. So on the very last Saturday of the Grad I came back, and sketched the scene above. My feelings about the Grad had not changed much, I still felt a bit awkward and closed-in, I had only the one drink because the line at the bar seemed really long (I didn’t mind that, I’m still on a diet), but there were lots of people there of all ages enjoying themselves and conversing. Lots of baseball caps. People playing pool away to my right, people eating burgers and fries, people drinking cold beer. I did sketch the outside one lunchtime a couple of weeks before, after I had heard that the Grad would be closing down. I stood in the shade of a tree on a very hot day, and this place was awkward to sketch even from the outside. Although I never went there very often, I am sad that the Grad is closing. This whole University Mall area will be redeveloped, a little bit of the old character of Davis will be lost, another drinking spot confined to the history books.
Here’s a good article in the UC Davis magazine with some old photos and memories from former students: https://magazine.ucdavis.edu/the-graduate-closes/
I have a lot of sketches to scan, but I’ve been a bit scanning-shy lately. I did a load of sketches in one evening at the Mondavi Center, which will take me ages to scan. But, I’m back. Anyway, this is the ARC, the main activities and recreation center at UC Davis. I was never an ARC member (gym? what is that?) until just recently, when I decided I needed to lose some weight so that I could fit into some of my less baggy football shirts. I set myself a target, 20 pounds in three months, with today being the target date. I had a plan to make changes to my diet, not overdoing it but keeping more track of it, drinking more water, not snacking during the day, not skipping meals. I also decided to walk more, which has been amazing. I used to walk loads, back when I lived in England, I loved walking. I ride my bike here in Davis, but because of the heat I usually say, ah no walking for me, too hot. The past few months I have been walking to work (and back) and now I think nothing of it. I’ve been going on long evening walks around the North Davis Green Belt, seeing all the other walkers and joggers, tut-tutting at the dog owners who don’t understand the Davis Leash Laws and think they don’t apply to them, listening to podcasts about 1990s football and formula 1, taking photos of the sky. I also started going to the gym, which was never ever a thing for me. The first time I went in I didn’t want to appear like a total newbie so I’m like, ah yes, the elliptical, yes, oh I know this, yep, definitely, yes I know it’s not working properly thanks, I’m actually just testing it for a minute before getting on this exercise bike, yes thanks I know the seat is too high I like it like that, I do know how to change it I just don’t want to. I’m more used to it now. I use the same three or four exercise machines, I haven’t touched the weights or anything like that yet, I might need to go to one of those beginner’s orientations. I like to listen to podcasts or even watch stuff on Netflix, I’m feeling quite comfortable about it now. I have my new gym bag. I even got, which was a very fancy step for me, an Apple Watch. Normally I use a Lego Watch so this is quite an upgrade. The Apple Watch tracks all my walks and runs and everything. It even tells me off if I have been sitting down too long or if it thinks I need to breathe. I actually love it. I’ve been hitting all my steps targets, and tracking my weight and calories, which has been fun, as I like to keep stats. Anyway today, July 4, I hit the target I was aiming for, right on time. I even had to buy new shorts. Happy birthday USA!
Continuing with the soccer theme, and the long-running story of drawing every single one of my son’s shoes since birth (it’s an interesting tale), this is my son’s current football boot (aka soccer cleat in the US), the Nike Mercurial. He likes his Nike shoes. I wear a lot of Adidas shoes personally, I like their fit, he really likes the feel of the Nikes. He plays a lot of soccer, his AYSO Select season just finished recently with the Davis World Cup and he is now doing various soccer camps this summer. I’ll be back coaching in the Fall season, I’m looking forward to all the practices and planning. Anyway, sketching your footwear is a good way to record your life. I recommend it, for those of you who are in the ‘I’m not sure what to draw’ mood (I get in that mood a lot these days). You spend a lot of your life in shoes, they literally carry your weight and all your experiences. Your soul in your soles. As my mum always said, make sure you buy a good bed and good shoes, ‘cos if you’re not in one you’re in the other.
It felt like a World Cup game. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m just glad we got there, we really shouldn’t have even made it out of the groups. That quarter final against City with the late VAR screen ‘no goal’, that dramatic late goal at Ajax after being three down on aggregate, the fact we didn’t have a home stadium until late in the season, the fact we never bought a single player in a year and a half, it’s a whopping great achievement getting to the Champions League final, our first ever one, my beloved Tottenham Hotspur. It was a wild ride. The final itself was killed off by a dubious penalty decision in the first 30 seconds. Liverpool sat back and soaked us up easily, but both teams looked like they hadn’t played for three weeks. I had all of my Tottenham shirts, which number a good many, hung up around the house like a museum of football kits. I made a couple of banners of all the old home kits, we played the old Spurs music and watched old Spurs videos all morning. I never thought we’d actually win it, years of watching real World Cup games has taught me enough of that, but Liverpool have won it enough times. It would have felt better to lose to a non-English team really. Oh well. We can say that Poch should have done this or Harry should have done that, but at the end of the day it’s a football game and one wins, one loses, and there you go. That’s life. I had always said that if Spurs win the Champions League I would put on all of my Tottenham shirts at once and run around Davis singing Chas and Dave. Well the weather was in the high 90s so at least I didn’t have to do that.
I had a walk downtown that evening though, minus all the shirts, minus the Chas or the Dave. I just needed to sketch and have a pint, and hopefully it would be somewhere that wasn’t showing a replay of the final. I stopped into Uncle Vito’s, who were showing golf, and sketched the above before walking home. Oh well. At least Arsenal lost their final too (unfortunately it was to Chelsea), but that means no North London Supercup. Some other time maybe.
It is that time of year again when I draw Hart Hall again. This was sketched last week, stood in the shade of the Shields Library at UC Davis, the weather is getting more Davisesque and roasting my brain away. I was supposed to go to a meeting today in this building, but I was in a different meeting instead so I forgot. The meeting I was in was far more important though, and didn’t require walking through hot heat. I want to go out and draw more at the moment but the heatful weather is giving me reservations. If I were in another hotted up place like Seville or Rome I would have no compunction about sketching the hot city but when it’s over a hundred in Davis my brain says No, Don’t Bother, You’ve Sketched It Before. The initial flurry of sketchtivity this year has tailed off a bit, and my busy weekends have meant a lack of sketchcrawl organizationing. There will be some upcoming monthlies I promise you, though the one I had planned in San Francisco will not take place for a while longer yet, maybe in the late Falling Summer or the early Autumnal Fall. I’ve been planning a themed sketchical history tour in North Beach, I’ve been drawing the map and everything, but alas life finds a way, so I am putting it on the backbencher for now. I’ve also been planning a Sacramento Sketching crawl as well, mostly because I want to sketch there again but also because it is fun to meet other sketchers there. It is always hotter in Sacramento than Davis though, I find. I did go to the new Star Wars land at Disneyland last weekend though, that was fun, I will post the couple of quick sketches I did there at some point. Anyway, this is Hart Hall, which is not despite the name named after my old drama teacher at school, whose name was Mr Hart. I don’t think Mr Hart thought too highly of me, if I’m honest, I don’t think he thought I was altogether serious about the dramatic arts. He may have had a point, given that I wrote and performed two musicals at school with songs like “Don’t F**k with me, I’m Robin Hood” and “Get Lost, Dracula”. To be fair, they were obviously genius. I remember him getting very cross with me and my friend Terry once though for coming up with very serious characters in class, but giving them silly names like Freddy Ready and Todd Cod. I mean, what is wrong with Todd Cod? If I ever meet someone called Todd Cod I am going to be so pleased. I did work with a guy once whose last name was Reddy but I can’t remember his first name and it definitely wasn’t Freddy. I have met people over the years with much sillier names. I won’t name names here, but they definitely existed.
This is D Street, Davis, sketched one lunchtime (and coloured in later). The Wardrobe is a clothing store that used to be somewhere else in downtown Davis, E Street if very recent memory serves (I’m not generally a clothes-shop-goer, except if football shirts are involved) (have I ever mentioned I’m obsessed with football shirts? It may have come up) (if you follow me on Twitter I might have mentioned it in passing). When I think of the Wardrobe though, I automatically think of the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Which then makes me think about football shirts again, the Indomitable Lions (Cameroon), the Witch (um, Norwich? Ipswich? Luka Mod-witch?) and the Wardrobe (my one, full of football shirts). Ok maybe not. But since we are on the subject, let me tell you a bit about my own history with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was always one of my favourite stories. I adored the animated version from about 1979, it is still one of my all-time favourites and I used to watch it religiously as a kid. When I say religiously, I mean I used to watch it a lot, I had no idea that it was meant to be a fairly religious allegory by the very religious CS Lewis, which was why it was always on TV at Easter, but I was (as now) a very atheist kid who loved a good story. Especially if it involved a massive talking lion. It’s also why I love Turkish Delight. Arthur Lowe was Mr Beaver, and as Burnt Oak’s biggest Mr Men fan, his was my favourite voice in the world. The 1980s BBC live-action version was great as well, but I didn’t watch it over and over like the cartoon. Anyway, fast forward years later, to 2002, when I was living in the south of France. The English department at Aix-en-Provence held an annual play, run by the ‘lecteurs’ and the students, and as I was the drama degree person I was chosen to direct it. My job was to come up with a suitable play, one that could include a sizable and inclusive cast, and attract people to come and watch. I don’t know exactly why, but I got it into my head to adapt The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for the stage, writing the script myself from the original novel, using a minimal set in which much of the props and scenery would be played by four neutral characters called “jokers”. At first suggestion the idea was ready to be turned down, and I’d be asked to do something more traditional, Midsummer Night’s Dream maybe, but I won them over, and we started auditioning. Eventually we found our Queen, our Aslan, our Peter Susan Edmond and Lucy, our Tumnus, our Beavers, our Professor, our Wolves, and most importantly, our Jokers. The Professor acted as the narrator, while the Jokers were the lamp-post, the Wardrobe doors, the falling snow, the reindeer, a window, and anything else that needed a little illustration. I made masks out of foam, props out of cardboard, and costumes out of whatever material I could find. The Queen’s Dwarf wore a blue and white bathroom mat as a robe. The large set-piece battle towards the end of the play between the Witch’s baddies and Aslan’s goodies was my favourite part, because the wolves had lightsabres while Peter and co had French baguettes. I had to leave the baguettes in the sun for a few days to get really hard so that they wouldn’t fall apart in the sword-fighting. I thought about throwing in a pun about a ‘pain’-ful ending but thought better of it (though I did include a bit of Pulp Fiction when the Wolves were interrogating Tumnus: “What does the Queen of Narnia look like? Does she look like a WITCH?”. There was a degree of mispronunciation of English phrases by the non-English cast that have always stuck in my mind, even years later: “phone” instead of “faun”, “Sow” instead of “thaw”, and the brilliant “you’ve been a noyty boy!”, spoken by the chief of the Wolves. While I’d spend a lot of time helping with pronunciations, I deliberately left some, like that one, in, as they added something to that character’s voice. Overall it was hard work, very silly, memorable and hopefully fun to watch, but I do know that one of the faculty had an eight-year-old son who absolutely loved it, it really worked on his imagination level, and wanted to talk about it loads whenever we saw him and his mum afterwards. Not sure if the adults enjoyed it as much but as they French say, tant pis. I loved it. So, I’ve always loved that story. I really enjoyed the modern film adaptation, even if Ray Winstone’s very good Beaver was still not quite Arthur Lowe, and Aslan was the Force-reincarnation of Qui-Gon Jinn, I loved it. I would like to go back to that story somehow, perhaps make a Lego animated version of it. If I do, I am keeping in the phrase “you’ve been a noyty boy!”
So yes, when I see the word ‘Wardrobe’, I think of all of this.