My very favorite YouTuber, for a year and a half or so now, is friendly 30-something (I guess) luthier Ted Woodford of Hamilton, ON. Ordinarily he gets a new no-frills, 15- or 20-min. submission up on an every-few-weeks basis, but this past week has been a sort of lockdown special for the show, with material posted almost daily. He’s been doing an array of commonplace repairs and ‘upgrades’ to a 1960s Harmony guitar, and he’s been in excellent form. A real treat! I honestly can’t get enough of the guy. A lot of other people seem to feel the same way. Sort of dreading his wising up and disappearing behind a Patreon paywall. I never did work of the relatively refined kind he does, but I had shop space of my own for a while, once, and my very adaptive-creative basic way of thinking about shop-work has a lot in common with that of an instrument-maker/repairer like him. If I’d found at some point a path toward craft like Woodford’s, I think I might have been pretty happy with the life. I never envisioned such a path for myself, though (was always chasing first of all the large idea of mastery in some facet of built-environment work), and no such path lies ahead of me in any future I can imagine. The shop I said good bye to when I moved to New York. The tools that went along with me on that venture haven’t accompanied me in the move to Chicago. I’m fully occupied — since less than a year into New York — in pursuit of other work altogether. In the work I’m now occupied pursuing there’s a little place for some drawing — more of a place than there was in working on houses. Whether that space for drawing grows or recedes, it’s hard to say right now. It’s likewise hard to say what kind of satisfaction there is in it. My old dreams of making a difference in the world working on buildings are pretty well hollowed out, but a lot of days I’d still trade whatever the satisfactions might be in what I’ve come to these days, with or without expanded place for drawing, for still being able to pursue them. (Of course, it was largely my apparent unsuitedness to that business existence that led to present, in some ways much reduced, options. There’s cause for gratitude in acknowledging that, not to be overlooked.) Not much in the way of ‘quickies’ to show for last month, but I did end up with a spaceship. Probably haven’t tried to produce a spaceship since I was a teenager. Relatively speaking — that is, for someone brought up fetishizing military machinery, believing in the ‘progress’ of the West, and drawing a lot — I haven’t devoted all that much of my life to thinking about spaceships. But following illustrators and comics-biz types means they appear in the feed with some frequency, and Lord knows they can be fun. They’ve been in the feed more than usually, lately, because of #stayhomeanddrawspaceships, a lockdown-days thing started by one of the first illustrators I ever stumbled on and followed online (in blog form, first, then on Twitter) maybe ten years ago, Scottish game-and-movie concept man Ian McQue. Can’t say whether I’ll do more in this way. Might. The other novelty introduced below, the couple of strictly digital doodles, is more about business than whimsy. Until this last couple of weeks, I’ve put off any experiment with the purpose-made digital drawing-&-painting ‘brushes’ the great bulk of commercial-art design and illustration depends on today. I probably shouldn’t have been putting this off. Certainly could have used these tools on my last WisdomMe project, for instance, I now realize. Even with my very limited hardware, the ease of use and potency registers pretty dramatically with just a little fooling around. A little fooling around is all I’ve done yet — barely a toe in the water. I can’t afford to get carried away with this stuff. But I do expect more ‘digital art’ to feature on this site in days to come.

the usual (but with a spaceship): scanned sketchbook doodles, pencil-drawn


and doodles subsisting entirely digitally — though they could be passed off (to inexperienced eyes) as created on paper, e.g. with markers


I’ve been the subject of lovely compliments from Tara in a tweet thread or two recently — this one, Monday, particularly nice:

Quarantine isn’t exactly the word for our situation, but it’s the expression that’s taken popularly, lately, of course. We aren’t sick, and we get outside for essentials (groceries, mainly).

It can’t be overstated how really irregular and unexpected my life has run since soon after my move to NYC, Dec. 2014, or how weird it is to watch as the pandemic crisis suddenly compelling collective attention simply merges in, in my private experience, with the situation of seemingly permanent moderate-level crisis I’ve been living for years. I don’t like to present my story in these terms — hence, in no small part, the public/private divide on this site. It’s hard to avoid, though. Replying with polite brevity to inquiries about how I’ve been is a long-standing difficulty.

Pride aside, I don’t like to present my story in perpetual-crisis terms especially now, as in spite of everything I enjoy a period of real, exceptional happiness, making (however meagerly) a home for two with someone I love and who — in spite of everything! — very much wants this with me.

If I felt like listing ways my life could be a good deal worse, possibly, than it is, the headlines in this spring of the year of our Lord two-thousand twenty offer a convenient point of departure: a little success, three years ago or so, and I might’ve been still living in New York.