There’s been a guitar – or two – in my life for a half a century.
On a weekend visit from college in the late sixties my big brother brought home the first guitar I had ever handled. He could tell I really liked it. A couple of years later he gave me that guitar!
These kinds of drawings are so weird. I started it with a left hand on a fretboard and no idea of how it would unfold or where it would go. It’s done now, waiting in my camera roll for me to insert it into this post; and now my heart is overflowing with emotional memories.
My brother was a central, nearly heroic figure for me throughout the first ten years of my life. By the time my periscope was up high enough for me to appreciate him as my brother, he was already making plans to go off to college; oh, and this devasted me. I remember an exchange we had one evening in the nearby church parking lot while shooting hoops. As he outlined some of the highlights of this plan, the football scholarship, the name and location of the university, and so on, I burst in tears and tried my best to put into words why this was all so unacceptable. Looking back, I knew he understood because he found a way to help me understand how I could manage without him between visits home and why it was the right move for him to make at that time in his life.
So when he gave me that guitar, he gave me a part of his heart that has been a part of my heart for fifty some odd years…and counting.
Made with Paper by Firth Three on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil
Thanks to Google Maps and my iPad’s screenshot capability, I was able to travel across the continent – and back in time a little – to the very first fire hydrant in my life on the corner of Murdock St. and Hutchinson Ave. in Canonsburg, PA.
(click to enlarge)
Here you see a modern representation of my native fire plug so that you can better picture me, not long after Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood, small enough to sit with my butt on the main outlet cap, my legs straddling the secondary outlet caps, while holding onto the head of the hydrant. I would be facing the building on the corner, which at that time was Marcantonio’s market. A large mail box used to be right in front of the fire hydrant against the building. The bigger kids used to sit on top of it. We were all assuming our positions in a tradition that seemed to have neither a beginning nor an ending.
Sketch Club, Procreate, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, Memory Lane
This year Annyth and I were invited for the second year in a row to the Mendenhall Farm New Years Eve Celebration, and the challenge this time was to bring an appetizer – and an accompanying video – that represented our “roots and heritage.” We went with CITY CHICKEN and walked away with this year’s Best Short Video Award!
Annyth and I both have familial roots and heritage in Southwest Pennsylvania in City Chicken country. Not familiar with City Chicken? Then the following video will help you out:
There was an old monk whom I’d see on a daily basis back, oh, thirty some odd years ago. We’d have a similar encounter each and every day. For me it was repetitive; for him each exchange was brand new. He was familiar with Western Pennsylvania, my home region, and he somehow knew about Eighty Four, PA, which was not far at all from my hometown, Canonsburg, PA. Not surprisingly, the headquarters of 84 Lumbar is located right there in Eighty Four, PA.
At any rate, every time I’d see this old buck, the conversation went one of two ways. Half the time it went as illustrated below. When it didn’t go that way, he’d ask me if I was from Canonsburg. I’d say yes. Then he’d say: “I was just talking to a guy from Canonsburg.”
Many thanks to my Canonsburg Friends who visited portfoliolongo.com yesterday to view the Tiny Store post. The guy in the stats department had to borrow a step ladder just to keep up. Memory Lane is being widened and renamed to Memory Boulevard.
What’s the big statistical deal?
The Tiny Store post registered 396 views on Jan. 20, 2015, something very unusual for this illustroblog! That’s well over ten times the average number of daily views. Incidentally, the previous daily high was 143 views on Sept. 14, 2014 for this post; but, who’s counting?
Except for Marcantonio’s on the corner of Murdock St. and Hutchinson Ave., run by Guiseppe “Chipazeek” Marcantonio, and the little store on Iron St. run by Sam “Shy” Benowitz, the Tiny Store on Pike St. in my hometown of Canonsburg, PA, was my introduction to commerce…and candy. The folks who worked there were like family; in fact, one of the butchers, Mario DiSalle was my cousin through his wife, Lena!
Statistical Update: See this important post.
Technical: According to the Tiny Store Facebook page, where this reference photo is from, the Tiny Store closed its doors in 2013. As usual, I used the photo as a reference to do a quick, rough, free-hand, side by side rendering in Procreate. It was anything but tiny!
John McMillan’s Log School, a frontier latin school established in the 1780s, once stood about a mile south of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1895 it was moved to its current location in front the Canonsburg Middle School at the corner of Central Ave. and, of course, College St. The Middle School used to be the Canon-McMillan Junior High School, when I was a student and when I did my student teaching at the 9th-grade level in Spanish. Before the Junior High School it was Canonsburg High School, before that it was Jefferson College, and before that, Canonsburg Academy. In 1865 Jefferson College merged with Washington College in Washington, PA to form Washington & Jefferson College, and because of the ties to Canonsburg Academy and Jefferson College, W&J can rightfully claim to have been established in 1781.
I indicated that I had done my student teaching at Canon-McMillan Junior High School, but what I didn’t mention was that, when I was in the 9th grade taking my first Spanish class, my teacher was Mr. James Podboy, a native of Canonsburg and a W&J graduate. I eventually attended W&J, studied Spanish language and literature, and my one and only Spanish professor was Dr. Antonio Moreno, who had been Jim Podboy’s Spanish professor as well. So, right there in the shadow of John McMillan’s log cabin on College St. in Canonsburg, PA, where Jefferson College once stood, Professor Moreno and Mr. James Podboy ushered me into the teaching profession as a W&J graduate in a pretty darn hometown sort of way.
Technical: I used a reference photo but sketched this freehand in Procreate followed by some photo-editing tweaks in iPhoto.
I love a parade! Always have…helps when your mom’s birthday was on July 4th. For years I thought all the hoopla was because of her birthday! (Secretly, I still do.)
Happy 4th of July weekend from portfoliolongo.com
(Annual Canonsburg, Pennsylvania 4th of July Parade)
Depicted here playing the kamancheh, Mohammad-Rezā Lotfi lives on in the hearts of many … singing and playing setar, ney, daf, tombak, you name it; and he lives on in my heart directly and by means of my dear friend, Sirous, whose heart is heavy ever since Lotfi died a few days ago, which breaks my heart even more.
I met Lotfi in the mid 1980s and heard him perform alone or with one or two others on several occasions in a variety of settings. Over time I came to understand better his role in the revitalization of traditional Persian music. I think I’ve already mentioned that I am, in fact, one of the luckiest guys from Murdock St., Canonsburg, PA! How blessed I was to meet Lotfi, to hear him perform, to be bathed for hours in the sacred, musical poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and others in spite of language barriers. On one very special occasion, thanks to Sirous, while I was a monk, Lotfi and two colleagues visited and performed at the monastery in the vaulted and acoustically-accommodating basement of the basilica in what was one of the most ecumenical and beautiful events ever to take place there! Sirous often reminds me that Lotfi was pleased with the venue and found it conducive in more ways than one. I subsequently saw Lotfi perform in both small, informal gatherings and large concert settings. My heart goes out to Sirous and all who mourn the loss of Maestro Lotfi.
Maestro Lotfi’s music is all over the internet, and it is readily available for purchase. It was this YouTube video that refreshed my memory for the drawing.