Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The yearend is fast approaching and I’m hanging in there and I hope you all are too. It’s been a big year for us what with our son graduating high school and then later this past summer he goes away to college half way down the state. Where did the time go?

I've had fun opportunities to be in many great group art shows with wonderful artists all around the bay area and I'm still cranking out the comix too!

There’s also been lots of stress in the financial world for all of us and then me ending up in the hospital for a week and getting out just before Christmas. Yeegad!

Still, it's almost a new year. 2010 seems so futuristic…. Then again, it is futuristic.

I hope it’s a good one for you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1968 Ampeg 'Reverbojet' J-12R. Got this one a couple of weeks ago from my buddy and excellent guitarist, Ron Corral, Jr. (Twang Ten, formerly with the Rhythm Drivers).
Man, this baby is smooth. 18 watts, tube amp.
I still have to put it through a few more paces but so far, I can't complain.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Here's my 1959  Kay "Style Leader" guitar. It's pretty much all original parts except the tuning pegs. Oh, and the strap buttons that I just put on. I'm also not too sure if it originally had a sun burst finish or not. The only pictures that I've seen of this guitar has it with a sun burst finish. 
None-the-less, it's a pretty rare bird and plays surprising well though it has a bit of 'fret buzz' around the 12th fret.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I just can't say enough good stuff about Derf and his excellent graphic novel, Punk Rock and Trailer Parks.
It all takes place in 1980 in Akron, Ohio during the hey day of the punk scene as some of the most influential bands of the day come through Akron as the hero of the book, The Baron encounters all of the shit most people put up with while being a teenager along with discovering punk rock, love found and lost, bullying, bizarre characters in the trailer park, losing a best friend while a lot of the seminal forces of punk rock drift through from the Clash, the Ramones, the Plasmatics and even the Godfather of rock critics, Lester Bangs can be found within these pages.
I’ll shut up now because I don’t want to give too much but this baby is quite the page-turner and Derf’s goofy cartooning style is really fun. It can remind one of Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley in a way but Derf definitely has his own style and voice.
Man, I wish we had a place like the Bank (punk club) like they had in Akron, Ohio out here in my home town in California.... but then again, an hour and a half ride down the freeway and I was in San Francisco seeing it all anyway. Great book. Check it out!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Las Chicas Mexicanas de East L.A.

This is a picture of my mom (on the right) with her best friend from James Garfield high school in East L.A. The photo was taken around her Sophomore year circa 1942. That very summer before my mom was to attend Garfield for her Junior year that coming fall her house burned down and she relocated to the town of San Gabriel and finished her last two years of high school at Alhambra High school.
I found this photo again after she died back in 1998 in her home in Sacramento, California.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Here's my resonator slide guitar. I've had it about 5+ years now. Not too sure about the year it is. My buddy John Pedersen (Amazing Grace Music, San Anselmo, CA), who I bought it from claims that it's from the late 1920's. I'm thinking that's it's from the mid-1930's. I also think that the body is different from the neck....
Okay, here's the deal... I'm thinking that it's probably a late 1920's National body, which someone welded the seams back together on it (why it's probably painted this monkey shit, Krylon brown) and that the neck is probably a mid to late 1930's Dobro. I don't know about ANY of this but I do know that it plays and sounds fantastic!
When I get my video camera back I'll try to learn how to download these guitars in action. Until then, just dig the picture.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another art show... Yep, it's the Box Show in Pt. Reyes Station. Note that my box for this years show is part of the header this year. Come check out the show, it's a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Here’s a picture of my crappy, circa 1960 Japanese guitar I bought at a pawnshop last year for the HUGE sum of $40. It was pretty much unplayable and I had to work on it a bit to get it running and boy, does it run! YOW!
I like to call it my Hound Dog Taylor model, though it's somewhat like, yet not exactly like the late and great Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor's axe.

I like to use it for open tuning slide guitar stuff. Great and nasty tones emanate from this slab of cheap wood with a couple of tin pick-ups screwed into it and strings stretched across it's heavily scared carcass. I really like it.

Hopefully, I’ll figure out how to post videos on here soon and I’ll put this guitar through its paces and you’ll be able to better hear and see it (while simultaneously being able to mock my playing and my taste in guitars as well).

My dear friend and drummer for my band Los Bottle Rockets, Mr. Curtis 'BPM' Cirillo loves to tease me about never really buying a guitar over $125. I don't think that I do that purposely. I just like the sound and feel of something more than it's label, I suppose.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The infamous, "Heavier-than-a-Samoan" one speed tanker bike I've been carting around with me for most of my life (I even delivered news papers on it for a spell as a young lad). It's a mid-1960's Schwinn "Typhoon" that was originally candy apple red but a relative, who is no longer with us so, out of respect shall remain anonymous painted it orange circa 1970 in East Los Angeles because he, "Thought it looks better orange." I think I'm the second owner as I bought it used for $15 in late 1969 in East Los.
I've given this bike away twice over the years and it still came back to me. It sat in my mother's garage until her death in 1998 and then under my house until a couple of years ago when my wife asked me one night at the dinner table what I wanted to do with it.
I had totally forgot about it and was so stoked that I still had it that I hauled it out the next day, cleaned and lubed it up and ride it to this day.
Here it is replete with the huge, Wald basket (able to hold a few 6 packs of Anchor Steam beer), "Dennis, the plastic crab" on the front, cob webs and rust spots. A beauty to be sure.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

For anyone who may read this blog I am in a group show in Oakland, CA this month and next month, July 13 - August 28.
The Many Faces of Frida.
It will be held at the Craft & Cultural Arts Gallery, State of California Office Building - Artrium.
1515 Clay, Oakland, CA 94612.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

After almost 4 years I have officially moved out of my San Rafael studio and back into my home studio. Part of the reason I was in San Rafael to begin with was because the home studio had someone living in it.

Now, the home studio has been remodeled (slightly) and painted, etc. I will begin unpacking it today and hopefully I’ll be back in full production by tomorrow.

The only downside to being here again is missing all of the nice people I have made friends with in SR. I’ll miss my breaks (walks) for coffee and chatting with everyone. Naturally I’ll be able to go back and visit on occasion as I’m only a town away but with work schedules and all it would require extra time. I’ll try to show up once a month or so for lunch, etc.

In the mean time I have to get back to work.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The frenzy over Michael Jackson’s death is of no surprise. He was undeniably huge in his global popularity. I remember when the Jackson 5 first came on the scene in the very late 1960’s and how all of us kid’s in the neighborhood were excited (yeah, I’m that old).

I admit that the J5 were a small influence on my musical career but I actually lost interest in Michael Jackson’s music sometime after his solo album, Off the Wall (which is still an excellent record). I suppose I'm a pre-Thriller fan.
This all sort of reminds me of when Elvis died back in 1977 and the subsequent frenzy over his passing.

Now, I don’t want to blather on critically about the guy’s music and his bizarre lifestyle. I have respect for his passing.
That being said, I can’t help but feel a bit sad about Farrah Fawcett’s passing as well and even more so because her passing has become quite overshadowed after Jackson’s death.

It feels just like when Robert Mitchum passed away and then the very next day, Jimmy Stewart died and for a week that’s all you heard about was Stewart's death and Mitchum (one of my favorite actors) was almost totally forgotten.

Typical of mainstream media, the protests in Iran, the war(s) in Iraq and Afghanistan and the state budget woes, etc. are all taking a back seat to the (self-proclaimed) King of Pops demise. In fact, I don't think that they're even in the same car at this point.
And so it goes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I have a little ritual where every morning upon coming down stairs (unless I go surfing that day) I drink my coffee as I watch a little bit of the local morning news mainly to get the weather info before I start my day.
Naturally, I sit through about 10 minutes, or so of whatever stories they are covering while waiting for the weather. This means that I generally space out or think about my agenda for the day.
However, this morning a story caught my attention, or more to the point, the reaction of individuals in the story is what caught my attention.

The (quick) back story is this, last year two road cyclists where training in the hills of the Cupertino area and were tragically struck and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy who had fallen asleep at the wheel of his patrol car while driving.
This is obviously a terrible incident to be sure. Now, a year later family and friends of the fallen cyclists are outraged that the officer isn’t being “punished sufficiently enough” for the accident.
Now, myself having lost far too many family members since I was a young boy I can totally relate to the anguish and frustration of the family and friends of the cyclists, but I am sympathetic to both parties.

Upon seeing and hearing one of the family/friends of the fallen cyclists interviewed for the segment and how he angrily spat to the interviewer that, “the officer was basically on a paid vacation for the past year…” saddened me. The guy was so angry and the hate in his eyes was so deep that he was blinded to the whole picture. I couldn’t help but shake my head and think of the officer who will have to live with this tragedy for the rest of his life! We forget that it was an ACCIDENT. I’m pretty sure he didn’t set out that day on his shift hoping to kill some one with his patrol car. Perhaps there is more to this tragedy but that’s all the information that I got.
I couldn’t even begin to imagine how it would be to have to shoulder this tragedy for the rest of my days AND to have a large group of people just hating me for it on top of it all. You try to go on and live a "normal" life after that. I don't really know if that would be possible.

No matter how much this guy is “punished” it will NEVER bring back the cyclists.
I can’t help but feel that the world is losing more and more compassion and sensitivity every day not to mention just plain old critical thinking.

There are more than two victims in this ordeal. I hope the family and friends of the cyclists realize this soon and just try to move on and let this tragedy try to heal with time.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Here's a little drawing I made about two weeks ago. It's (sort of) a tribute to my skateboarding past in Sacramento, California circa the mid-1970's. I even used the N-men logo on the skate deck. The bee was originally drawn by Walt Disney himself back in the 1930's for the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Disney was commissioned by the McClatchy family. The bee was/is named "Scoopy." There is also a television bee, "TeeVee" and a radio bee whose name escapes me at the moment. Basically they are ALL the same bee but representing the three different media holdings of the McClatchy empire. I think I'll call my bee "Bite Me."
Ah, I can hear the McClatchy corporate lawyers now....

Friday, May 22, 2009

I like to read and I like to write. I like to correspond too. Emails are good. I read ‘em and I write ‘em. It’s nice to keep in touch, let others know you care about them and that you are still out there plugging away.

That being said, Facebook, on the other hand is a total time vampire. Yep, I’m on there but I really limit my time with that thing. Why? Because I really couldn’t care less what party you’re going to, what you ate this morning for breakfast or that you have to go to the store for more toilet paper. So f&%king what!? I wouldn’t subject you to that so why should you subject the rest of us?
It’s difficult enough to try and communicate with these little electronic boxes using words and such and even more difficult to truly express what we really mean when doing this activity but GEEZ, are we circling the drain with this technology or what?

It has become such a pandemic that we now have had to have laws put in place because of our addiction (yeah, I said it) with these contraptions so we won’t drive our 2000+ pounds of motorized steel into other folks while we are talking/texting pointless information concerning pointless lifestyles.

And here I sit writing this using a computer and posting it to a blog that will never be read. Ah, the irony.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here’s a question that I have been wondering about more and more lately.
Why are more and more white people (European-Americans, Anglos, gringos, gabachos, gueros… feel free to pick one and apply it) celebrating Cinco de Mayo?
I have in-laws in Michigan and North Carolina who were recently on Facebook announcing that they were in the midst of gearing up to get tore up for Cinco de Mayo. I read this and wondered aloud, “why?”
You see, none of my in-laws are Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Latino, and Hispanic (feel free to pick one and apply it). In fact, some of them have never been to Mexico. There are even a couple who are overtly anti-Mexican and feel that Latinos are “taking over the country.” Funny, I’m the ONLY Mexican-American (I like to refer to myself as Chicano) that they have ever come in contact with at any time. Maybe they are anti- me!? I digress.
By-the-way, In May 5, 1862 the Mexican army along with other Mexican troops defeated the French near the town of Puebla and defeated that stumpy punk-ass Napoleon III and sent what few French that were still standing packing. It is said that Napoleon claimed that once the French were successful in capturing Mexico that they would, in-turn help the Confederacy defeat the Union army in the then raging American civil war.
That didn’t quite pan out.
Also, Cinco de Mayo is NOT the Mexican Independence day. That would be September 16. It was also won 52 years earlier (1810) freeing Mexico from Spain.
Still the question remains. Hmmmm.... Well, my thought is this; Non-Latinos like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo because they are drunks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I went surfing for the first time in 7 months on Thursday. Boy, I’m REALLY out of shape. It took what seemed like forever to get to the line up and when I did get to the line up I had to let a couple of sets blow by as to rest my arms (which felt like lead at this point).

My first ride of the day was smooth. It was a long right on a glassy but occasionally sectioning 3’. I was on my friend, Beth’s 10’, heavily glassed, triple redwood stringer Pearson Arrow. Good board especially though the flat spots. It is also deceptively faster than one would think. Well, faster than my Weber Performer, anyway.
The tide was still out and I rode this wave almost back to the beach, picking up section after section by cutting back left then, once going again bottom turning back into the reforming right and stepping a little forward for speed.
However, remembering how long it took me to get out this morning I wisely decided to kick out a little earlier that I normally would of so I would spare my arms the beating.

After that the next 2+ hours were pure paddling hell. The ocean was punishing me for being gone for so long.

I rode a few more waves but was having problems popping up smoothly. My arms were gone. They felt like they weighed 100 lbs. apiece. Once up the waves quality was changing with the incoming tide and the rides were getting shorter and shorter. Man, my arms were dead. The ocean was punishing me.

Finally I took a shitty, 3’ crap wave all the way to the beach. Once I was on the sand I hopped off the board and bent down to pick it up… that’s when I felt the sharpest, hottest pain snap into my lower back.
I almost screamed it hurt so badly. The ocean was punishing me.
I stood there motionless, hunched over like a Gargoyle on the Notre Dame watching the board surge up and back in the break.
It took me 40 minutes to get back to my truck (generally a 7 minute walk… tops), another 40 minutes to change out of my wetsuit. The ocean was punishing me.

Day 5 now and I’m still flat-on-my-back. I’m popping Vicodin with a whiskey chaser to sleep at night. The ocean is punishing me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It’s not like I don’t have enough to do already but I was recently approached (by email) by Will Drinker who is a film maker living in Los Angeles. He is in the process of making a documentary film about his brother Dan and his everyday life living with Downs.

Will contacted me, as well as other cartoonists to contribute our talents to stories that Will has written about the daily routines and such from Dan’s life for a graphic novel to be completed sometime in the future.

Naturally, I feel honored to be involved in something such as this. Will has sent me three scripts and I am to choose one in which to illustrate. It was difficult to choose as I like all three but I have picked one. However, I have told Will that I just may end up doing the other two as well. Typical of me, I know.

Between another gig I’m working on I am watching clips from Will’s documentary on Youtube to get a better visual of Dan and Will and what goes on in Dan’s life.
You can check them out as well by going to, www.dandrinker.com

Friday, March 06, 2009

I realize that I haven’t been writing on the ‘ol blog much this year but I am one who believes that if you don’t really have anything to say then don’t bother talking, or in this case writing.
That being said, I’ll just keep the two or three people who may (or may not) read this up to speed with what I am up to.

The first issue of Tortilla, my self-published comic book has been out since November of 2008 but I haven’t put it in any stores yet. That will finally happen next week. However, you may obtain a signed copy by mailing $3 (well hidden cash of money order only please) to; Jaime Crespo, P.O. Box 112, San Anselmo, CA 94979 USA.

Also, Slices, the 40 page “best of” Slice O’ Life collection is also available for $4 (same situation and address as above).

I am currently working on my first graphic novel, Turk Street Serenade which is a factual recounting about my time living and working in a San Francisco Tenderloin Hotel as a janitor during the mid-1980’s when crack first came on the streets and Reagan was in the White House and everything was almost as fucked-up as it is now. Think, Charles Bukowski with pictures.

It will be 200+ pages and the first chapter will be featured in Tortilla #2 due out this spring. I plan on releasing it a chapter at a time in my comic Tortilla until it either gets picked up by a publisher or I just eventually waste more money and time and do it myself. It should be done well before I’ve published 15+ issues of Tortilla. Probably by Tortilla #5 if not earlier.

Also, I have to change my publishing name yet again. Thanks to my homie, Norman Zelaya for pointing out that La Calaca was already taken I now have to change it. So, with that I will NOW publish under the Aegis: Corn Tortilla Press! Be warned.

I attended the WonderCon this year on the Saturday schedule with my buddy, E. Francis Kohler and have to admit I was simultaneously overwhelmed and depressed. Overwhelmed by the multitude of people and nerds swarming all over the place and depressed by the current state of the comics industry. Publishing is feeling a down turn (mostly with my genre, the alternative, underground, non-super hero) and it feels like everything is geared towards movies and TV. I get the overall vibe that certain cartoonists and writers are vying for a movie/TV deal as opposed to putting out a great comic.
Okay, that sounds a bit na├»ve and I realize that the market and world is evolving and one must evolve with it but no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd. I see these cartoonists who have become extremely self-involved and have these egos that need constant stroking and just having a great comic (book, strip, novel whatever) isn’t enough. What would one expect from nerds?
Well, we are in a certain “modern day Roman empire” where our culture has become blind consumers, which is corporate and famed based. Why do you think shit programming such as, Dances with the Stars, QVC, American Idol and Maury are so popular?
Okay, time for me to quit ranting and climb down off the soapbox before I hurt myself.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This morning as I was ingesting my first cup of coffee of the day as I was greeted by an email from my friend, poet/writer/dj Darren De Leon that our mutual friend, the fantastic Chicano poet, George Tirado was dead.
Man, I can’t say that I was surprised. George shot dope for a lot of years. He lived life about as hard as it gets and weighing in at around 400 pounds on top of all of the drinking, weed, speed and junk, well let’s just say that we were all collectively waiting for the other shoe to drop. Still, knowing all of this doesn’t make his passing any easier. To say George had his demons is an understatement. He indeed had his demons but writing the truth and pain he experienced in his 44 years on this planet wasn’t one of them. His memorial was today in the Tenderloin at the Ambassetor Hotel, which is located literally right on the next block from the hotel I used to live in 23 years ago, so I had no problems finding my way there.
Darren apologized for the short notice but I wrote back and told him no worries, I’ll be there.
I got to Eddy Street a little early just so I could walk around and look at what may or may not have changed since my days in the TL and to reflect a little about George and what he meant to me. I took a lap around the block past my old hotel, the streets still teeming with America’s thrown out and disenfranchised. A line from a Dave Alvin song came to mind, “Everything is different but nothing has changed.”
I thought about George and his poetry, what he and I used to talk about and the artwork I did for his chapbooks and what not. I can still hear him talking about Oscar ‘Zeta” Acosta, Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, Aztlan, the Chicano movement, dope and music and all the other stuff Chicanos like us used to talk about.
When I got to the memorial at the hotel they ushered us into a small back room filled with about 30 folding chairs and a TV in one corner and an alter with a huge photo of George looking back. “Aw, yeah. There he is.” I said under my breath because that was how I always greeted Tirado when I saw him.
All sorts of people nervously milled about, eyeing the donuts, candy, chips, salsa and guacamole. There were people from the hotel that were friends with George, people from social services that worked with George and in the back were poets and artists who worked with George. On the phone they had his mother calling all the way from Houston, Texas as she listened in to the memorial.
People read poems they wrote about George or they read Georges poems or they just talked about him and said goodbye. On a TV a DVD played showing George at readings.
Afterwards I left with Darren and Josiah Luis Aldarete and we laughed about our favorite George stories as we walked around the Tenderloin.
No matter what is said or written it’s always the bottom line that is forever. George is gone now and I’ll never forget him.