Nickel Fare Sketchbook Project at Brooklyn Art Library

1 Nov


One thing leads to another, and through this blog I got the opportunity to join the sketchbook project at Brooklyn Art Library in Williamsburg. So now I am working on creating a marketing booklet for Nickel Fare in the form of a sketchbook synopsis of the story. Here is a sample. Since this is a time consuming project I have decided to forego the illustration blog and concentrate my efforts there for now. I will post the results here when it is finished. Thanks for the contributions and for the readership!


Felicity on a plane

10 Oct

A big Eastern Airlines jet was next. He had the window seat and he wondered apprehensively who would occupy the aisle. It turned out to be a woman perhaps in her late twenties, wearing make-up and the short Carnaby Street bob that Sylvie Vartan had worn on the cover of Guy’s magazine. She was dressed clean and neat in red blouse and flower patterned hot pants and crinkly red wet-look vinyl boots that stretched smooth over the calves. He was not very impressed, except perhaps by her ability to squeeze into that uncomfortable looking outfit. In spite of this, he looked up to say hello anyway. But it was in vain, she had probably sized him up on her way into the seat, and had already averted her eyes.

However, she turned out to be a very gregarious woman, the kind who consider talking to be the most natural human pastime. After the plane had taken off and they were safely aloft, she seemed to come to the realization that this pressurized boredom would be lasting for several hours more, and considering the torture of enforced silence, conversation with this unsexy vagabond no longer seemed such a repugnant option. She sighed deeply in resignation and turned to him and said, “My name’s Felicity.”

Down to the Ninth Circle (in 1971)

4 Oct

At eleven o’clock, when Wilfred had already gone up alone to bed, Nicangelo stepped quietly out of the house and walked to the subway at Atlantic Avenue. There he took the West Side IRT to Sheridan Square, and walked a few blocks uptown to the Ninth Circle. Nicangelo liked this place for several reasons. First, it didn’t really look like a bar at all, built into the main floor of an old brownstone on Tenth Street far from the traffic and crowds. Then, inside the front door, as always the big lug at the inner door said hello to him with a businesslike nod and a flattering leer. And finally inside, he was able to slip by the bar without buying a foul tasting drink. He would immediately descend to the dance floor, accessible through a heavy fire door and down a narrow townhouse stairway. On the flight down, the blasts of body heat, the shouting and laughing and the throbbing beat made him feel that he was descending into the euphoria of some invert Inferno, a mythical place where copious amounts of protection money miraculously shielded the glorious perverts from the wrath of the god of middle class society.

Prompt # 10 : At the hippie enclave on Puerto Rico’s north coast

26 Sep

Nicangelo arrives at Los Tubos.

“Four asylum seekers from Gomorrah! You’re a citizen of Los Tubos now, so renounce all allegiance to foreign potentates and enemy heads of state!”

“Okay,” Nicangelo murmured, a bit confused. He sat down across the picnic table, so as to put some more distance between them, but Marty just leaned in closer.

“Let me tell you the history of our town. It was founded last October, when we arrived from San Francisco with a big shipment of brown rice and macrobiotic foods, like the East India Tea Company landing at Plymouth Rock. The food was ordered for ‘Festival Mar y Sol’, some big rock concert that was supposed to take place. Me and my family,” here he waved at the three women, a clump of cards still clenched in his grasp, “We were supposed to run a macrobiotic concession stand and make the money we needed to buy some land in Sonoma County. The rock concert never happened, but karma was with us, man, because even though we never got the money, we did get the land. This land, that is. Pretty good, huh?”

“Uh-huh,” Nicangelo nodded. “You mean they gave you the land?”

“No, of course not, they didn’t give us shit, they just disappeared. Karma gave us the land. It’s a Buddha Gift.” Marty laughed and flashed a goofy face. “Who’da thunk it, right? Isn’t that how you say it in Noo Yawk? We could have never imagined it. Sometimes it’s like destiny, like some kind of Manifest Destiny.”

“It really is nice, here,” Nicangelo agreed. “A lot different from San Francisco, I guess.”

“Don’t guess it, man, know it, man,” he drawled. “That city has bad vibrations, evil. We were desperate to get out. Here, let me show you something.” He pulled out a wallet and showed Nicangelo a picture. It was of a crowd of hippies marching down a city street. “That’s the funeral. You see the coffin?”


“That’s Hippie in there, man. We had a funeral for Hippie. I was the one who organized it! That was in 1968, four years ago! Hippie has been dead for four years, and as of last fall, we were still living there in the Haight, with all those rotting corpses.”

“What rotting corpses?”

“Those hippies, man! Those people that still call themselves hippies! They’re dead and they don’t know it! I knew it in 1968! I organized that funeral, but they still don’t know it, four years later!”

Go to submissions page.

Prompt # 9: The ghosthouse on Dean Street

19 Sep

He walked quite a distance along Dean Street, his head weighed down by the depressing view and the thoughts of his own homeless predicament. But as he approached Fourth Avenue, a patch of intact and inhabited housing took shape, a mirage-like shore on the horizon. After crossing the avenue and finally stepping down on solid footing, he found number 340, which turned out to be an old wooden clapboard, one of the last in a line of six or seven that stretched almost the full length of one block. Set apart by a vacant lot full of wave tossed garbage, it looked marvelous and eerie, like a ghostship floating in the middle of the sea.

When the door opened, a middle aged white man looked out at him curiously. He was fairly tall, and thin, with an attractive mustache. He was reasonably well dressed and did not make a bad impression on Nicangelo.


“Hi. Manette sent me. With a delivery.”

“A delivery? Of what?” he asked, with a foreign accent that Nicangelo assumed to be Dutch.

“A delivery of slugs.”

“Oh!” he laughed a bit. “Come in!” he said, eyes wide open, the pupils moving up and down to take in the measurements of his young visitor. “I’ve always been a sucker for young men bearing gifts!” He stepped aside and waved Nicangelo into the front parlor. 


Go to submissions page. 


Prompt # 8: Malvina’s terrace, Rincón, Puerto Rico

12 Sep

The view. Just to give an idea

Evenings found him once again on the terrace. That jerry-built, concrete block platform was like a stage set, with its treasures of garish painted pots and kitschy tropical folk art wall hangings. Nicangelo would sit on a wooden slat chair and watch the sun melt into Desecheo Island, it’s redness liquefying and spilling into the darkening waters around Desecheo’s shoreline. Innumerable clouds floated by, some of them dropping shadowy curtains of misty rain over distant patches of sea. He overheard Malvina explaining to another boarder that untold numbers of people had lost their lives over the years trying to make the journey in barely seaworthy crafts from the misery and poverty of the Dominican Republic. For them, these were the waters of destiny and Desecheo Island was a cruel, ironic siren, with its barren, rocky form impersonating safe haven there right in the middle of the murderous Mona currents, tempting them on, toward the fertile, benevolent but totally unattainable golden coast of Borinquen, Puerto Rico.

Any better sketches out there?



Go to submissions page. 


Prompt # 7: A coupla cops

5 Sep

I will upload a new prompt every Monday. Anybody want to give these two cops a go? Any more drawings?

Detective Smollen and the cop with the crotch

At the Richmond County police headquarters on Richmond Terrace he was sent in to see a glaring detective at a smudgy green metal desk. His first encounter with Detective Smollen. 

“Sit down!” the detective commanded. Then he went back to what he was doing: rummaging through the wallet Nicangelo had surrendered back at the apartment.

“This is all the identification you’ve got?” Detective Smollen sneered, holding up the receipt from the Tompkinsville Drug Store for the development of a roll of black and white film. “Don’t you have a picture I.D.?”

“No.” He felt the presence of a very large cop at his side, but he didn’t dare to look.

“What about if you have to cash a check?”

“I have a check cashing card. It’s not there. I keep it with my baptismal certificate.”

 He laughed. “Your baptismal certificate? So, you were baptized, what a good boy. Where were you baptized, at Woodstock?”

“No. In Brooklyn.”

“Brooklyn. I should have known.”

“No bank account?” asked the new detective who was now standing over him, his crotch practically in his face. The cop with the crotch.