Mad Old Men unearthed

So many people seemed interested in my recollections about old typewriters that I thought I’d share this dusty relic, a three-part conversation between Tommy Kane and me in which we discuss all the old technologies that used to be part of our work in advertising. If you’ve had a long career in design or what you used to be called ‘Madison Avenue,’ it’ll ring some ancient bells.

We recorded it about four years ago. It’s sort of pathetic how unreliable our memories were already.

Happy Birthday, Jerry Lee!


My colors are a little murky here. I love the vermilllion in my paintbox but it is so soft and rich, like lipstick, that it can easily overwhelm my page.

I notice the rooftop on this row of buildings on 9th Avenue when I walk to work. I like the jumble or chimneys and windows and, because the street is very wide here and the buildings are set against a large flat wall, the corner looks like a set. It reminds me of the many times we have gone to see La Bohéme at the Met.

I was invited to a taping of a concert Jerry Lee Lewis played on his birthday. I got to meet The Killer backstage beforehand. He is quite well preserved and charming and, once he got out to his flame-covered piano, seriously rocked out with Willie Nelson. As always, it was very hard for me to draw while great music was being played, particularly standing surrounded by a coterie of models in the semi-darkness. Nonetheless, I wanted to keep the memory and beavered on.

A Fountain of Learning


As my Rapidograph was still empty, I continued drawing with my green fountain pen. I drew this funny old car against the curb, managing to overcome my usual disasters with angled wheels. The ink in my fountain pen is not waterproof, so I just hit the shadows a little bit with a blue Crayola.

I change the color of the ink cartridge in my fountain pen every time one is empty so the ink is always changing hue. Right now it’s going from black to blue; next up is a vermillion cartridge, so I’ll be entering a sort of purple phase pretty soon.

Ronald Searle is my idol, my spiritual guide, my ideal. Drawing with his tool of choice, the fountain pen, made me want to look at his work again so when I got home, I filled up my Rapidograph with fresh India, opened my copies of Back to the Slaughterhouse and U.S.A. for Beginners and copied some works of the master, Then I drew my slumbering mini-pup, Tim.