Still doing this. Drawing each of my son’s shoes / footwear in chronological order. These are the current Nikes, his football boots (aka ‘soccer cleats’ over here), which he wore throughout the AYSO Select Soccer Season (I was the coach, we were the Davis Spurs, he got a bunch of goals. Sadly we lost more games than we won, but we won quite a few, and it was fun). Those feet are getting bigger and bigger. I am on Volume 2 now of my project to draw my son’s shoes as he grows up. Volume 1 was all in black and white, which was a shame as they were more colourful. I decided that volume 2 would be in colour and, well, they have generally been less so.
B Street, Davis. The corner of 3rd and B, to be precise. 3rd Street is undergoing some big changes. I can’t tell you what, but it’s exciting. I can’t tell you what, because I can’t remember. I did read a big sign detailing it all but I can’t be expected to remember that stuff. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast most days. Actually that isn’t true, it’s just one of those things busy people say to excuse their forgetfulness. No, I always have either a chocolate croissant or maybe a bowl of cereal. Sometimes I skip it altogether if one of those things is not available. I have been known to have a Twix from the vending machine if I am really stuck. Cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. I eat junk food, yes I do. That building across the street used to be Cioccolat, speaking of chocolate goods, it was a cafe that had chocolate things, I think so, I don’t remember ever going there. It’s something else now. I don’t know what. I’m not very good at this am I, I should be detailing huge local knowledge but well, knowing things is uncool these days. Do you remember at school when the teacher would ask a question and you knew the answer but you would not raise your hand because the Thick Kids would hit you when the teacher wasn’t looking (or even when they were)? That’s where we are these days, it feels like. Except we don’t need to know everything, because we can Find Things Out instantly with our Devices, and those Things may or may not be even be Real. “Knowledge Is Power, France Is Bacon”. Smart Phones? Why can’t we have Thick Phones? Sorry, you have to say it in a Norf London accent, ‘Fick Fones’. To activate it with voice command you shout “oi!” and when you ask it a question it replies, “you wot? you takin’ the piss? come on then!” No, Fick Fones will never catch on. (Or maybe it already has and is called Facebook?) I do remember fondly those conversations at school though, I remember I was talking with one kid in science class once when I was about 12 and I said something along the lines of, “well it’s all relative, innit” and he gets all angry and starts going, “you takin’ the piss? woss my family gotta do wiv it?” Ah school days, they were such blissful times. I could be pretty monumentally dim myself sometimes though, so it all evened out. One time I handed in biology homework, which was supposed to be an essay based on explaining to an alien from another planet what the difference between cars and living creatures was. I didn’t write an essay, just the line “it’s probably a bit like your spaceship.” That may have not been what they were expecting. I thought it was so clever. God knows I could have warbled on nonsensically, I think they got off lightly with that concise (cocky) answer. My friend Tel once did something similar in history, answering one question that referred to “all four corners of the globe” with “globes are round, they don’t have corners” which to be fair is pretty true, and has remained true ever since. Nowadays though you get the Flat Earthers, which really are a thing, and if you should ever chance down that particular avenue of wisdom, I warn you that it is time you will never, ever get back. At first glance their argument appears to be the classic example of of wilful anti-knowledge and anti-science, but when you taker a closer look, the only honest response to all that is “you wot? you takin’ the piss?”
There is a new team in town. Well, a new football club. Soccer, that is. They are FC Davis, and have been playing for the last few months at Aggie Stadium, on the UC Davis campus. We have been to a few games already, starting with the 1-1 draw against the East Bay Stompers (yes, Stompers), who had one tall player that had a big bush of hair and scored a penalty (you can see him below). Many fans were making reference to him being the Lion King because of his mane, which I think he seemed to enjoy, especially when he scored; he was definitely their main player. Lots of the people attending I recognized from AYSO, being a soccer coach myself, and while it wasn’t a big crowd it was a fun, local atmosphere. The kids of course just loved rolling down the grass verges behind the goals, that’s what you do when you are 9 and 10. It was a bit confusing having the field play on an American Football gridiron – the soccer field was laid out in barely visible yellow marking, much wider than the football lines, and on one occasion at least a player took a throw-in from the wrong place. I was expecting a Mexican wave to start on the other side of the stadium, one bloke to stand up, then another person thirty seats away, and another even further, but it didn’t happen. The sun went down, and it got quite chilly, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw (or ‘tie’ as they prefer to say here).
The club have an interesting colour scheme of black, gold and white, though we only saw them play in white (with gold numbers on the back; the FIFA kit police would not like that). Their badge is a lion; I’m not sure the connection of the lion with Davis California but a lion it is. I’m sure the same can be said for other teams with lions in their badges too, such as Chelsea (no, that is from the lion in the arms of the local Borough of Chelsea), England (no, those are Richard III’s coat of arms), and Aston Villa (ah now that one has a lion for no reason other than lions are cool). Still it’s a more interesting symbol than, I don’t know, a bike or a cow (with apologies to Oxford United fans, and I know it’s a bull). The FC Davis lion is quite stylized though; my son thought it was supposed to be a monkey, so we now call them the Golden Monkey Lion Kings, and I am sure this nickname will not catch on. I also don’t think my new fan song “One Lion” will catch on either, a reworking of the famous 1996 Lightning Seeds / Baddiel and Skinner classic. It goes “One Lion on the shirt, Water-Tower still gleaming, Three months of hurt, Never stopped me dreaming.”
The next time I went they totally went and won for the first time at home. They played Napa 1839 (who very sensibly have a wine bottle as their badge; I wonder if their nicknames is The Bottlers? I don’t know but I already have a slew of potential headlines about them, if ever I have to sub-edit their match reports for a tabloid paper: ‘Napa Caught Napping’, etc and so on, I’m sure there are lots of good wine and bottle ones, ‘Napa bottle their opener’ if they lose their first game for example) (many apologies to Napa for this by the way, got nothing against you, it’s just these headlines would work really well in the British gutter press). So FC Davis won this one (there’s no way they’d get me to write match reports, I go off on more tangents than the Argentine midfield), and Napa sported a two-tone green outfit. It was a close contest, but when FC Davis scored the winner the goalscorer took his shirt off to celebrate with the roaring crowd.
The third and most recent game we went to was against FC Academica. I kept saying it didn’t matter what the score was, “it was academic”, but nobody seemed to hear me. This was a good game. Academica were pretty tough, and took a commanding 3-0 lead. But as it turns out, FC Davis have a a lot of lion’s courage in them, because they came in the last 20 minutes back to tie it up to 3-3, and really should have won 4-3 but had a free kick disallowed (I think VAR would have probably rectified it). It was a very exciting end to the game. I sketched as much of the match as possible (click on the image below to see in more detail). I haven’t had a chance to come to any more games but it was fun sketching them, hanging out with the family and friends and the players on our team, having pizza and beer, and it only cost five bucks to get in. Go Golden Monkey Lion Kings!!
Sorry, ‘Golden Lions’, that is the real nickname. If you’re local and interested, you can visit the FC Davis club website: https://www.footballclubdavis.com/
Another panorama, this one is of E Street in Davis, stood in the shade outside Peet’s Coffee next to Chipotle. Pete doesn’t drink coffee. This was a fun one for perspective. Nothing too complicated, all heading into a single vanishing point at eye level, but made interesting by that Chipotle design going off at a different angle. Yeah some of the brickwork goes askew but that is ok. Again I have used the tree as the middle of the page, to help mask the valley you get in between two pages in these Seawhite of Brighton books, something I don’t get as much in the Moleskines and the Stillman & Birns. Actually in this spread it does open very flat, it’s one of those pages, but nonetheless in these spreads it’s good to have a tree or a pole in the middle so you can fudge it a bit if need be. I didn’t include any people walking by, because I didn’t want to. I have drawn along this street for years, from various angles, never this angle. One time I was drawing, some weird guy said to me “are you pretending to be an artist?” I said “are you pretending to be funny?” He went away. I saw him a couple of weeks later in Newsbeat, and he spoke to me again, “wow Snickers, that is a great thing to buy, you will really enjoy eating that, Snickers, those are great, good choice!” I ignored him, because seriously. Downtown Davis, man. I’ve been in Davis almost thirteen years. This Chipotle was here when I first came, it was one of the first places I ate, I still get the same thing whenever I go, a chicken fajita burrito, no beans, mild salsa and corn, light on cheese. I am a creature of habits. Beyond that, the comics shop Bizarro World (formerly on 5th Street), which is in the former location of Bogey’s Books when I first joined this town, I bought a set of Prisoner Cell Block H dvds there in like 2006 and the guy behind the counter said, “do you miss Australia?” assuming me to be from down under (for many Americans the London accent is easy to confuse with Australian, I’m used to it). I used to love Prisoner though, it was one of my favourite TV shows, old Lizzie Birdsworth and co. Beyond there is De Vere’s Irish pub, which regular listeners will recall is a pub I have sketched many times since it opened in 2011. Really good place for a pint. Across the street (unseen) is Baskin Robbins, from whom I have bought many a massive milkshake over the years. That’s what I get when I need cheering up. Anyway, on with the rest of the weekend.
This is the Robert Mondavi Institute of Food and Wine Science, which I have drawn before. This was sketched a couple of months ago now. Before the World Cup. This World Cup is draining me a bit, it’s all I can think about. I’m up at 5am every day watching it, then spending the rest of my waking hours thinking about whether Germany will get into the knockout stages and how England can avoid them; why both Spain and Iran changed into their away kits when their away kits are the same colour as the other team’s home kit; how unexpectedly brilliant VAR has been; why are Argentina playing so utterly rubbish; was that Iran player’s attempted flip-throw that became a limp roly-poly the funniest moment of any World Cup; when will the 0-0s start? Is this happening to you? There is a day next week when the football stops and I hope to completely catch up with life on that day. Anyway this is as I said the RMI, nearby to my office, sketched one lunchtime.
Ok here are some previous versions…
I hope you are enjoying the World Cup. Here I am in my living room, watching Russia beat Egypt 3-1, the big World Cup poster hanging above my TV. On the wall to the right I have all of the flags on the wall arranged by group, mosaics made of paper, my son and I made many of them for the 2014 World Cup, he didn’t help me make any of the new ones though. I like this World cup, I’ve had a lot of 5am wake-up calls for kick-off, but World cups in their early group stages are still full of hopes and maybes, before the rot sets in. Still some room for excitement and apathy. Soooo…my pre-tournament tip of Argentina winning it? Yeah, they drew 1-1 with Iceland and lost 3-0 to Croatia. I think Argentina’s formation was one big sad face, Messi’s certainly was. Time to break out the “Don’t Cro For Me Argentina” headline. (“Messi Argentina Taken to Cleaners.” “Hrvat’s Going On?”). No 0-0s yet, thankfully, but 1-0s aren’t any more exciting. Goals can be overrated, a good contest is much more fun. I’m glad England won their opener, Harry Kane doing what he does. I feel bad for the North African teams all going out early though. Oh yeah, Tunisia aren’t out yet, but they have Belgium next and the Belgians are looking good. I could go on, but I have had two very long pre-World Cup posts already. I’m enjoying this Russia World Cup, teaching us all a bit more about Russian geography, and the hosts have had a good start, less Russian bots and more Russian boots. The TV studios backing onto Red Square with St.Basil’s in the background look amazing. I had a pen-pal from Moscow when I was a teenager, so many years ago. I remember going to see the Hunt For Red October when I was about 14, and not enjoying it, I left before the end because I was bored. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Big nuclear explosions probably. Maybe there were a few last-minute goals I missed, I don’t know. I never watched it again and don’t want to, I like the mystery of not knowing what happened. Also, I don’t remember anything that happened during the movie anyway. It was no ‘Back To The Future 3’.
Here are a couple of sketches (two months apart) from our dinner table, one looking out to the yard, the other to the kitchen. Fun penwork. The one above was done in the afternoon with a Pepsi Max (or rather, ‘Pepsi Zero Sugar’ as it’s called now over here), while the one below was done in the evening and a glass of Portuguese wine. I am going to Portugal this summer for the Urban Sketching Symposium so wanted to get an early taste. It’s Vinho Verde; I’ve never actually had Port wine, not sure what I would make of it. They tell me it’s a dessert wine, good with cake. When I was last in Lisbon the only thing I saw locals drink was Super Bock and Sagres beer. I’m also reading ‘Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life’, a gift from the Brazilian family whose son was on our U10 soccer team this year. We were the Davis Spurs (naturally). I’m enjoying the World Cup, by the way. I ended up getting the Argentina away shirt, but I was given a Brazil away shirt along with this book so I’m wearing both of those this year (as well as wearing my 2010 England away, my 2014 France shirt and my 2016 Belgium top; I just like good football shirts).
I might get a new dinner table. The chairs are getting a bit wobbly, despite frequent retuning with the allen key. That vinho verde was very nice. I’m enjoying the book.