Archive for January, 2010

Rich Guzman, a.k.a. Goose “The Goose” Gooseman

January 25, 2010

Typically, interesting things don’t happen to people like me, but that’s fine. You want to know why? Because when you’re the kind of person who, typically, doesn’t have interesting things happen to them, you’re forced to develop a keen appreciation for people who are interesting — and not just interesting, but good and kind and funny and compassionate and innovative — and you hold onto them for dear life. It’s good to have people around you who inspire you, at the very least, are good for a laugh.

For me, Rich Guzman is both. We met when Rich took a job at my former place of employment and became the first and only person to shadow me during my stint there. At first, he was an awkward, quiet kid in a knit hat, but after a solid hour of discussing Brad Neely comics, music and bikes, I could tell he was a good egg.

And as it turns out, Rich, a Pratt Institute grad, happens to know his way around a sketchpad. When our common dream of finding an internship at a letterpress company didn’t pan out, we decided to content ourselves by joining an in-the-works ‘zine, a brainchild of fellow co-worker and co-conspirator, Dan Jacobson. Many a night has been spent at Dan’s apartment drinking Wally’s Hut, listening and dancing to records, brainstorming, telling stories and occasionally venturing to the finest proprietor of Asian cuisine in the Lower East Side, The Golden Forest.

On the night of Thursday, January 21 – Friday, January 22, Dan, Rich, me and our good pal Schuyler celebrated Rich’s 24th birthday in such a fashion. Shortly after midnight, I sat down with my friend and aspiring young illustrator Rich Guzman, affectionately known around these parts as The Goose, to find out what he had to say about life, art and roller coasters.

Rich, Rich. Is it okay if I call you Rich?

That’s fine.

Today’s your birthday. You’ve been 24 for 14 minutes. How do you feel so far?

I feel exuberant, hopeful, filled with good feelings and surrounded by good people, which is ideal.

In less than 60 seconds, sum up the first 23 years of your life.

I was born, I was a kid, I had a lot of interesting experiences, I was awkward around girls, I moved back to New York [from New Jersey] and I never looked back. And what’s that, 40 seconds?

It’s been like, 15.

Yeah, I had a dog. I liked that dog. Buddy. He was very close to me.

What was the best experience of your last 24 years?

I mean, every day is better than the last, recently. Today was a good day. Yesterday was a good day.

Why was today a good day?

I’m here.

Where?

Oh, yeah, I forgot… I’m here in Dan Jacobson’s apartment. Dan is an awesome person. I’m seeing [the brains behind The Acorn Archive] again, who I haven’t seen in weeks, probably a month, and I’m filled with so much joy, my head’s going to explode.

Let’s turn the tables for a second to your artistry. Tell me when you started drawing and why.

The earliest that I can remember… having drawn something was on a Light Bright box, and I drew little these little characters. Basically, their entire head and torso were combined into a large circle. They had only two sticks for arms and two sticks for legs, and they also had helicopter, like, propellers on their heads, and I just had them kind of flying around the box. I believe that’s the earliest drawing that [I did].  Aside from that, I used to draw in my… What were those books called? The golden books?

Yes, with the golden spines.

I used to just draw in the [margins]… I would just draw, like, a Ninja Turtle into it. I was really into Ninja Turtles.

Of course you were. Now, as a 24-year-old, where do you get your artistic inspiration?

Actually, it comes from anything. I spend a lot of time daydreaming. It’s really been a problem throughout my life, but I feel like it helps in terms of, I really have no shortage of ideas. As far as acting upon them, I mean, that’s a whole different story. But I’ll see something, or hear about a story, and have an idea about it… and also work something that’s happened to me [into it]. I like a lot of stories to be told like they’re very familiar, something that’s easily relatable in the sense that I know it personally. I feel like those are the best kinds of stories.

Can you give me a recent example of that?

I did a drawing about three months ago. The one of the people walking through the woods, which was actually based on a dream that I had. It was a little strange. I was walking through a forest, and it was actually the same forest that I had been [to earlier in the day]. I had been in Boston [New York], and we went to a park — me, and my girlfriend and her family; I had been visiting her family. I had a dream the night after we walked through that woods, and we had spent the entire day doing it, so you know, you have a dream after a day of activity involving something you’ve never seen, kind of like when you spend a day at the amusement park, you still feel like you’re on a roller coaster after. [pause] Are you a fan of roller coasters?

Absolutely.

You feel like you’re still on one. You close your eyes, and the first thing you see is the tracks going down. So I had a dream about that. In the hike, we were running into a lot of people coming back from the path that we were on… And for some reason in the dream, they were all completely blanked. They were like voids, they were like these little black hole-ish things walking through a space. I feel like if there’s something very real that happens to you, you’re the best person to describe it. It’s nice, because I feel like everyone has their little story to tell, because they can only tell it in that way, from their perspective.

Why do you think people can relate to a drawing like that, even if they haven’t had that dream?

I mean, I just kind of like to have everything have its own personal perspective on it. Even if I were to take a story that was truly someone else’s and do it, I would do it in the way that I heard it and interpreted it in my mind.

Final question: You said you were hopeful earlier. What are your greatest hopes for the coming year, both peronsally and professionally?

Professionally, I feel that I would like to manifest more of my ideas into something physical. It doesn’t really have to be a drawing. Like, I could scribble on a street sign. I don’t really want [an idea] to linger in my mind more than it already does. [music starts playing in the other room] Is that a phone?

No, that was Bittersweet Symphony, and that’s an amazing song. I don’t care what anybody says.

That was somebody’s ring tone. Schuyler’s ring tone.

Oh.

Just professionally, I would like to complete writing a lot of ideas and stories that I have floating around and really be able to tell them effortlessly. I feel like I kind of have a lot of hesitations about [my art] based on what I feel people will think about it, or what they’ll think about me as an artist, or if they’ll try to pigeonhole me or something.

What do you want to do personally?

Personally, personally… Um, I mean, personally, a lot of the things that I would kind of set as goals for another year have already really happened. Like meeting a lot of very awesome people. And getting work a little more steadily. I kind of feel like I’m ready to really to put my foot down on the gas pedal, so to speak.

If you were to go to my site and read an interview comparable to the one I’m about to write up for you, whose interview would you want to read?

Anybody?

Anybody.

[thinks for a moment] Dan. Why not?

Good answer.

All drawings by Rich Guzman.

For more information on Rich and his work, go here.


The one place in the world where taxidermy is actually kinda cool.

January 20, 2010




I’m always a little ashamed that I don’t know what to do on MLK Day. Almost as ashamed of myself for being 14 before realizing Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation, and Martin Luther King Jr., 20th-century Civil Rights icon, were two completely different human beings. Who lived on different continents. In different centuries, actually.

Details, people. MERE DETAILS.

After that mind-blowing moment in Mr. Schulz’s AP European History class, I dreamed that one day, someone would pit them against each other in an episode of Celebrity Death Match to decide who was more worthy of their shared name. Except instead of ending in stop-motion blood and gore, it would just culminate in laughter and tears and lots of cheering for the end of racism and indulgences. Or something.

But it’s wrong to dwell in the past. I did my default “I-have-the-day-off-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-do” activity — went to Shake Shack and The American Museum of Natural History.

When I moved here almost six months ago and had neither a job nor a real place to live, I made a resolution to visit every permanent exhibit in the museum’s collection. And when I say “visit,” I don’t just mean “walk through quickly and check off rooms on the museum map that everybody gets at admission” (although, as you might imagine, the ritual “checking off” of each exhibit is intensely gratifying for someone like me).

This time around, the major highlights included the North American Mammals room, where I got to see bison, moose and a couple of Alaskan brown bears bigger than my mom’s grey 1989 Dodge Minivan with the broken sliding door (R.I.P.). It made me really want to read My Side of the Mountain, where that kid lives in the tree with his peregrin falcon and eats acorns and turtle soup.

The not-so-highlights were few. But I think I should have remembered that MLK Day would rouse many New Yorkers and a sizable portion of the three-day-weekend tourist camp into an uncharacteristic desire for culture. I also neglected to consider that a large number of said attendees would be, regrettably, children. I thought going to the Gems and Minerals wing (what kid, other than me at 9, would choose rocks over a life-size blue whale?!?!) would mean less screaming children and stroller congestion, but I just encountered flustered parents and their rambunctious offspring trying to do the same thing.

If you’ve ever been in the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, then you know it is the epitome of early ’80s architectural folly, the most outstanding characteristics of which include giant stairs throughout the exhibit (the perfect size for 5- and 6-year-olds to jump off of / climb on / kick repeatedly) and… carpet. Literally, carpet as far as the eye can see, and all of it strangely capable of amplifying, rather than muffling (as carpet is supposed to do) the acoustic repercussions created by the crew of preadolescent ninjas karate-chopping the sulfide display case. It was like having geology class in a McDonald’s Play Place. On Staten Island.

Still fun, but I think I’m going to stick to going to the museum at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, when everybody’s working… or napping or at school, depending on your age :)

Concerning what’s about to happen at this here blog.

January 19, 2010

Since it’s January 19, it’s probably getting too late in the 2010 game to be talking about resolutions, but today, I’m going to go boldly where countless bloggers have gone before me, only about three weeks late.

As friends, family and readers of my former blog can attest, I have a strong fascination — one might call it a preoccupation? an obsession? — with new beginnings. For instance, I really like it when the the first day of the month and the first day of the week (sometimes, that means Sunday, and other times, it  means Monday, depending on which one better serves my own obsessive compulsive purposes) fall on the same day. If I can start a new little Moleskine journal (I carry a small one with me at all times) on such a day, all the better. Sometimes, I’ll throw out a perfectly good one just for the rush that I get from unwrapping that gloriously thin membrane of plastic, cracking the new notebook’s spine for the first time and putting my name and the ever-so-perfect date declaring that it’s THE FIRST OF THE MONTH! in all of its claustrophobically handwritten glory on the front page. I’m ashamed, albeit only a little, of how many perfectly good, barely used and vastly overpriced Moleskines I’ve deposited in various trash cans around this great city just for the pleasure of such a new beginning.

That’s just one example of how resolutions are an ongoing thing for me. They don’t roll around once a year after the ball drops; they happen whenever I start to feel myself slipping into apathy, which happens frequently, i.e. just about every morning when I wake up. I started my former blog as part of the 101 Things in 1,001 Days project, which caters to most people’s difficulty in having only one year to achieve the goals they set for themselves on January 1 — participants have 1,001 days, or a little more than three years, to accomplish a preset list of 101 goals.

The problem for me was that I had too much trouble choosing 101 goals — I think before I quit I’d only chosen 66 — and the things that I was interested in doing were always, always changing. When I started my list in mid-2008, I really wanted to see Kimya Dawson perform live, when I was listening to Remember That I Love You just about every morning before going to work. Now, I could care less (although I still have a very special place in my heart for that woman and that album). Also, what was I supposed to do when I was able to cross off “decorating my apartment” on my list, only to leave Little Rock and move to another city and another apartment that needed decorating? Could I add it to the list? Or was it breaking some 101 in 1,001 code?

I probably thought about it way more than was warranted, and instead of enjoying myself and the journey that 101 in 1,001 was supposed to be, I ended up just getting bored and frustrated. From here on out, I’m sticking to my daily and weekly resolutions — the ones that sneak out of the woodwork right before I go to sleep and jump out of the kitchen sink first thing in the morning, the little things that will hopefully add up to one big thing down the road.

After all, all oak trees start out as acorns (!), right?

A non-apology.

January 17, 2010

Some people have expressed disappointment regarding the deletion of my former blog, The May Day Project, and I want to take this opportunity to apologize to all three of them.

But you know when you say you’re sorry, and you’re not really sorry? You’re just saying sorry because you want the other person to be quiet, and deep down, you’re not sorry at all? Actually, not even deep down? Like, right there on the surface?

Well, yeah. That’s the kind of sorry I am about deleting my former blog. Because everyone — and I’m talking about all of us now (my three dedicated readers and myself) — knew that thing was laaaaaaaaaaame.

So, consider this new blog the righting of a wrong. The yang to the old blog’s yin, if you will.

And I sincerely, from the bottom of my Cheeto powder-stained heart, hope you will.

Cordially yours,

The Acorn Archive