At Sweet Fingers Caribbean Restaurant, Brooklyn, New York.
This drawing is based on a brotha I saw in Alameda, sipping a smoothie outside Jamba Juice. I took a few liberties with his image, like making his hair reach about twice as high as it actually extended (he did have a lot of hair, though) and turning his smoothie into a glass of lemonade.*
*I briefly considered using this piece for a lemon-themed art show, this past summer. In the end, though, I created a different drawing for that show.
I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999. I moved here because of a job, but I stay for the weather. In this part of the country, it never gets colder than about 45 °F, and that’s usually in the winter months. Imagine my surprise when, on our first night in Brooklyn, the temperature dropped to 34. It was near the end of April, and it never occurred to us to bring gloves or scarves or heavy coats. I don’t even own a winter coat anymore, and the 15 block walk down Court Street, from Caputo’s Bakery to our hotel, constituted the coldest 20 minutes I’ve experienced in a very long time. The man in this drawing was one of several locals we passed on the way, and his knit cap and down jacket reminded me that once, many years ago, I too knew how to dress properly for winter weather.
The weather in Brooklyn was wildly inconsistent. By the end of the trip, it was somewhere in the high 60s (Farenheit). The first evening I was there, though, it was so cold I thought my fingers were going to freeze and drop off. Since it was April, I didn’t bring a warm coat or even a sweater, and the first night served up some mid-30s temperatures that reminded me of why I’m glad I live in California.
On our first night in the city, this guy was standing in front of a nearby Italian bakery. I simply did not understand how he could possibly be standing outside in nothing but a t-shirt and khakis. If he was jogging or doing some sort of physical labor, it might have made sense to me; but he was really just standing around looking bored.
I know I have lost my tolerance for very cold weather, but this man was some kind of superhero. I hope to run into him again, some day. If I look a little more closely, I just might be able to see his cape.
At Sugarcane Restuarant, 238 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, New York.
One of the highlights of my Brooklyn trip was our dinner at Sugarcane, a Caribbean restaurant on Flatbush Ave. It’s a wonderfully appointed establishment, with silver paint and glass tiles on the walls, dimmed lighting, and wonderful black and white photos on each of the walls. A streaming music service played a steady mix of dancehall, reggae classics, and contemporary R&B.
The mood and decor of the place struck a nice balance between comfy and cool. It was welcoming while still feeling modern and edgy, and the almost exclusively Black crowd ranged from groups of cool 20-somethings to middle-aged couples. (Me and my fabulous partner fell into the latter.)
The food was close to perfect. I had Jerk Chicken Wings followed by a Jerk Chicken Salad. The salad was served with a deliciously savory mango vinaigrette dressing, and the Jerk chicken was absolutely amazing. The wings were flavorful and juicy and the sauce tasted fresh.
We loved our meal so much that, on our last night in Brooklyn, we went back to Sugarcane for the final dinner of our trip.
At the Arbor Cafe, Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA.
I was postering for the annual Art of Living Black Open Studios Weekend at Mills College (TAOLB at Mills for those familiar with the event), when I dropped in to the Arbor Cafe to leave some postcards. That’s where I saw this brother with the fabulous afro. I’ve taken some artistic license with the table and seating, and both are a bit smaller than they were in real life; but I really wanted to capture the way this tall, thin, slightly effete Black man seemed to have folded himself into a table and chair situation that was intended for someone much shorter.
Time for more drawings of the brothas of the 2014 comic and zine circuit. I chatted with this guy at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest. He didn’t buy anything, but we had a nice talk about the comic book he would like to see me draw next. He was not at all shy about sharing some suggested directions for my upcoming works.
To him I say, “Homie, if I ever do a comic with Frederick Douglass as a time-traveling, light saber-wielding civil rights activist, you will be the first to know!”
Before I continue with more drawings of brothers from the 2014 comic and zine conventions, I need to include this bearded fellow I encountered on a late night Safeway run. We were both looking for items in the same section of the frozen entrees aisle. He and his friend were looking for some sort of tater tot item. I was looking for El Monterey breakfast burritos and a couple other items on a list of foods for an upcoming guest. This guy was tall enough that I was able to grab my items out of the case while he was holding the door open, without even having to duck. He was like a tall, young, Black string bean with a beard. I was like a short-ish, middle-aged, pudgy, Black sweet potato, with mostly white hair; and on this particular, we were both buying highly processed food from a Bay Area grocery megastore.