A new old friend

Sunday afternoon, I was walking through Astor Place when I saw a man in a familiar position, hunched over a big old moleskine, a pen twitching between his fingers. I knew, from across the road, that he was drawing in a journal.
As I approached, I suddenly realized it was my old partner, Tom Kane. We’d worked together in the mid-80s, dreaming up advertising campaigns for Life magazine, for cigarettes, for Barnes & Noble— we even did a very early rap song about IBM (“We were the mothers who invented high tech, now everybody wants to play Star Trek, but there just ain”t room for all that crew, all the wildest ideas come out of Big Blue, etc…).
Although I never saw him actually draw, I had seen a few pieces in his apartment, near-photorealistic paintings of pop icons, horses, and women. He obviously had a lot of talent but he expressed it on the sly. We’d lost touch over the next decade, but hooked up for a long, candid noodle lunch three years ago. Then I, in my executive haze, lost touch with him again. And now here was Tom drawing in a moleskine. What a weird coincidence.
Tom looked up from his page and, seemingly unsurprised to see me, immediately told me that he had been bought multiple copies of my last book and been lurking around this blog for a while, my book, all of which had inspired him to start keeping his first ever journal. I was floored. It was so strange to find someone who I knew and admired as a very creative and talented person hooking up with the Everyday Matters crew.
Well, as you can see from the drawing Tom was doing at the time, he sees very well. Look at how specific each window is, not just a row of squares but the very particular windows, one by one. His crosshatching is rhythmic without being monotonous, reminding of my all time favorite, r.crumb. I also love the way he fills the page, how he uses the negative space of the sky and integrates his text right into the scene. It’s a great drawing and a beautiful exercise in mediation.
Tom is a very imaginative art director. If you’ve ever seen those wild, bubble headed girls in the ads for Steve Madden shoes, you’ve seen what Tom does in his day job. We dropped over at his place and he showed me dozens of fantastic paintings, photo collages, drawings and rows of tomato cans. I could sense that he is being called more and more to devote his energy to making things that express his passions rather than peddling ladies’ shoes. I hope he follows that call.
In the meantime, I have a new journaling buddy to roam the streets with. What a happy accident it was, running into him.