Joseph Fiedler
February 2007
Rat Pack Days!

Jumping right onto the celebrity show and tell bandwagon, I thought I’d post MY story. 

Near the end of the famous “Rat Pack” era, Dino had to take time off to recuperate from a bad hernia operation.  Apparently, he had “strained” himself in Palm Springs moving a refrigerator for his ailing mother! A client of mine was a job printer who worked for a lot of sketchy nightclub owners with reputed “mob” ties.  Mostly I did cheesy napkin and matchbook graphics for him. One day he mentioned that the Chairman was looking for a temp to fill in for Dino and before I could say Ring-a-Ding, I was on a bus to Vegas!  Since I couldn’t sing or dance and I wasn’t funny yet, I mostly hung around the casino lobbies and corralled the “ponies” for later on.  Of my time spent with the guys, I can only say that the public image of the Rat Pack was not really representative of the actual goings on.  There was a lot more talk about athlete’s foot and support hose than broads and booze for starters, let me tell you!  The biggest thrill of all was watching Sammy and May through the motel keyhole in our pajamas.  We laughed so hard that the tinkling ice in our Manhattans gave us away!  If we only had cell phone cameras back then!  This picture was taken at the Sands. My face is yellow from jaundice that I caught from an infected Philippina hooker Sammy set me up with in retaliation for spying.  At least I can say that I’M still alive!
May Britt
Beer & Pencils2
This is the second installment in the Beer & Pencils series. Beer & Pencils is a post designed for curious, imbibing illustrators with discerning palettes. This installment features hearty UK brews. OK, call me a shite head, but there are just way too many excellent UK beers to choose from so I have to be very strict and limit them to only those I’d blog home about.  Most serious beer drinkers know them anyway, but I’ll give it a toss.

Samuel Smith’s This is the yardstick brewery.  No fooling around here.  This is definitely not a brew for what our Governor calls “girlymen”. The real McCoy in every way! The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and is Yorkshire’s oldest brewery. Samuel Smith is one of the few remaining independent breweries in England. The rich Samuel Smith strain of yeast at The Old Brewery dates from the early 1900s. Hops are hand-weighed by the master hop blender, and the brewing water is drawn from a well sunk over 200 years ago. First introduced to the U.S. market in 1978 by Merchant du Vin, Samuel Smith beers quickly became the benchmark ales for the emerging craft beer movement. Absolutely nothing tastes like Sam’s.  Each product is quintessential and singular. If you know the Edouard Manet painting, A Bar at the Follies-Bergere [1881-2], you know that a Sam’s sits on the bar [next to Bass Ale –the oldest trademark in existence BTW]. Check it out!

Tetley’s Pub Ale My favorite beer in a can. The hyperbole is all true. Brewed in Yorkshire, England, Tetley's has been England's best-kept secret since 1822. It is the perfect blend of barley, hops and water from deep below the Yorkshire Dales. Opening the can triggers the release of Nitrogen from a floating widget to ensure you get the same dense creamy head for the delicious smooth mellow, malty flavor like a real draught pull.  It’s a beautiful pour, like a well-made Latte. Trust me on this one!

Green King Abbot Ale I survived harsh winters in Detroit with this libation [and did a lot of jobs with a pint handy]! The history of brewing in the Suffolk town of Bury St. Edmund’s can be traced back as far as 1068, just 20 years after William the Conqueror first stepped ashore in England. In that year the cerevisiarii [ale brewers] were chronicled in The Domesday Book as servants of the Abbot of the Great Abbey of St Edmundsbury: hence Abbot Ale, the name given to Greene King's premium cask beer. It was in 1799 that Greene King first began production of its exceptional ales and the brewery still draws water from the well sunk into the same chalk beds under Bury St Edmunds. Also a widget can.

MacAndrew’s Scotch Ale Absolutely the best label in the industry [well, there’s Pinkus Pils, but that’s German] with a taste to match.  Not common. This beer is better known in the States as MacAndrews Stock Ale. In Scotland, this type of beer is called a Wee Heavy - a style similar to a barley wine but is usually maltier and darker. The rest of the world generally calls it Strong, or Scotch Ale. Also marketed by Merchant du Vin.
Boddington’s Pub Ale Boddingtons is originally from Manchester.  It has been brewed for more than 200 years. The Strangeways Brewery was founded by two grain merchants, Thomas Caister and Thomas Fry, in 1778. Brewed in Manchester since 1778, Boddingtons contains 3.8% and 4.1% alcohol-by-volume in cask. In September 2004, InBev announced plans to close the Strangeways brewery and move production out of Manchester to Lancashire, South Wales and Glasgow. However, the brewing of Boddingtons cask ale was moved to Hydes Brewery in Moss Side, Manchester. Also widget can. Similar to Tetley’s and commonly found on tap.

Fuller’s London Pride They have this on tap at the Pelican Inn, a really fine, traditional English pub next to the ocean at Muir Beach out on the west coast of Marin County.  FLP is very well balanced with just the right amount of caramel and bitter.  Unusually good drinking. Fuller's beers have a unique record. Since CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) first held their Champion Beer of Britain competition, Fuller's have won the Beer of the Year award five times. Fuller’s beers have been best in class no less than nine times and ESB has been voted Best Strong Ale an unprecedented seven times making it something of a legend. London Pride is a smooth and astonishingly complex beer, which has a distinctive malty base complemented by a rich balance of well developed hop. At 4.1% a.b.v in cask (4.7% ABV in bottles) London Pride is an ideal “session-strength” premium ale. Its flavor has been likened by Stephen Cox, beer writer and former campaigns director at CAMRA, to 'the sensation of angels dancing on the tongue...'! No wonder I get cotton mouth!

Now, let’s get out and work so we can afford this shite!

Scarys’ Rule of Thumb: It doesn’t matter if you don't like it, just drink it, OK!


I love Half Sour Pickles. Pickles and beer, that’s my thing. Don’t forget, you’ve got to eat them while they’re green and crunchy [and hope that they stay down]!

Half Sour recipe from Tommy J’s Kitchen

1/3 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/3 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 or 2 whole allspice
1/3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 tsp. black pepper corns
1⁄4 tsp. dill seeds
1 – 2 Tbsp. dill weed
2 or 3 pieces broken dried bay leaf
4 – 6 cloves garlic
1⁄4 cup pickling salt
4 cups water
8 or 9 pickling cukes

First, buy some pickling salt. Look for salt that specifically says “pickling salt.” That’s because pickling salt is simply plain, pure salt. No iodine, no additives to ‘ensure free flow,’ no nothing. Just salt, sodium chloride, NaCl, that’s all. Even Kosher salt, these days, usually has additives (presumably Kosher additives, but still . . .). For a pickling brine of any kind, just plain salt is best.

This is a cold, fresh-pack approach to pickles. No heat, no boiling, no sterilization in the autoclave, or canning in a boiling water bath, no antisepsis of any kind other than normal kitchen cleanliness. In other words, against all the rules promulgated by the FDA and every other official food agency. So if you want to stay out of the hospital, be scrupulous in your cleaning.

The process itself is pretty simple. Dissolve the salt in the water. Grind up all the dry ingredients except the dill weed and the bay leaf in a mortar. Chop the garlic. Wash the cukes and pack them in the jar. Dump in all the dry stuff, all the garlic, and pour in the salt water to cover everything. Wait. Chill.


Warning! Excessive consumption of Alcoholic beverages can cause serious debility.  If you experience a loss of appetite, income, weight or relationships discontinue usage almost immediately.

El Stigmatismo: 4X4 feet, Mixed on Panel

I believe the term is "trope".  It's like a meme, Richard Dawkins' term for a cultural gene.  It's how we transmit culture from one brain to the next.  Like a virus.

This painting was done for Mark Murphy for a Lucha Libre show at the Anno Domini Gallery in San Jose back in late 1999 or so.  The small version was the "sketch".  I based the image on El Santo or "The Saint" a famous luchador who never took of his mask.  I thought it was funny how the Catholic culture of Mexico embraced the violent, vulgar antics of the luchadores as well as the matadores so I combined the two in a luchdor with stigmata.  One needs blood to be entertained these days.  And big tits!. I guess some things never change!

Some people really seem to be bugged by Mexican Wrestlers for some reason I've noticed. I think that it's funny. Happy Ash Wednesday!
Small version "sketch". About 8x10 inches, Mixed on Paper.

Giant Robot San Francisco opened 8x10, a group art show of forty artists using the rawest of writing instruments (pencils, pens, crayons, markers, etc.) and a stock frame size [8X10]. Contributors come from indie comics, crafting, street-art, and fine-art backgrounds.
Some items for sale in the "store".

The theme was 8x10, so basically anything went as long as it fit an 8x10 format - mostly all the pieces were pencil/ink drawings with little to no color - some of our favorites were a skeleton tree with hands made out of bones for leaves and a spine, ribcage and skull for a trunk some others included a little girl with either a sleeping or dead whale and a bee eating a dead hummingbird! Some highlights from the evening included the lively senior senior who came to view the show fully equipped with her walker, orthopedic shoes and FACE PAINT!!  It was clear that her favorite piece was a line drawing of a naked woman sitting spread eagle with the dialogue bubble of "hello kitty"!  Seeing this the old lady replied "hello kitty...more like hello PUSSY...hey how much for this one?"  She then managed to run over just about every member in the crowd trying to "walker" her way through the already tiny and cramped gallery. Of course, as always there were delicious snackies of gummy bears, red vines, almond cookies, multi flavored crackers and capri sun. In other words, it was a typical Giant Robot show, the crowd was small this time, and after about 20 minutes we found ourself satisfied and heading back out into the foggy Haight Ashbury night.

Giant Robot San Francisco

Squirrel Master L reporting for BAYSIDE ARTBEAT BERKELEY

Meet the Beat!

When we was young!
Found on the inside of my 1941 copy of the Story of Jesus! Note: Early signature!
I can't say when it was made [could have been anywhere from 1956-61 or so!  Viva la lapiz!]
Year of the Pork.
Sunday, February 18
Art as printed.
I did a job for the San Francisco Chronicle recently.  It was about a woman who, although from the Bay Area, suffered severe burns in an unexplained accidental explosion in Boston.  Her long recovery was sustained by her dream of once again riding her bicycle in Golden Gate Park. That goal was realized.

The story ran Sunday, February 11. I got this email later that day:

Just wanted to thank you for the illustration you did to accompany my 
essay, "Pedaling My Way Back Home," in today's Chronicle Magazine. I 
appreciated the sensitivity with which you depicted my experience.

I also felt very touched looking at your preliminary sketches in your 
sketchbook.  I felt fascinated looking at them, since you were able 
to portray my experience in a way that really spoke to me. X

It’s not the usual case.  Often we work away and never hear from writers involved in projects.  Or, if we do hear anything, it’s most likely an art director telling us how the editor doesn’t understand our ideas [it almost doesn’t matter what AD’s themselves think anymore]!  It’s heartening to me to know that I was connected in such a way as to ACTUALLY approximate the authentic expression of an idea.

Pretty Cool!

BTW TWIMC Sorry for working for them.
Poe Me!
Winsor & Newton Alkyd on Strathmore Bristol.

Normally, I don't go in for doing too many portraits as uncommissioned samples.  I did recently with my little series of colonialist/imperialists but I'm not about to paint Hilary Clinton without commission any more than I am to do something about Mutual Funds for myself. BUT I DO HAVE A POE!  I did it as a classroom demo about 2 years ago in Detroit. Shawn Barber was visiting my class that day so we did a little painting contest-demo right in front of the students.  I did Jim Morrison, Popeye and Poe while Shawn painted Ray Charles.  Makes sense, huh?
Forever is Nothing: Jason Holley at SR2
Holley with Stetson.
Illustrator Jason Holley was in town for the opening of his exhibition "Forever is Nothing" at the SR2 Gallery on University Ave. last night. SR2 is Sacred Rose Tattoo [you can see the shop in the back of the photos]. 

Holley, whose work is considered to be among the most stylistically unique in illustration today told me that he'd made all the work for the exhibition in "about three months." and that it was created specifically for SR2.  Interesting feature is the sculptural, 3D effect created by cutting the paintings out and mounting them on light, wooden armatures. Holley considered the work to co-exist as a series of pairs with larger, more sculptural pieces positioned next to more traditionally framed work.  It is a very impressive gesture and a real boundry blurring proposition for an illustrator to undertake.  Holley lives in Los Angeles and teaches at ACCD.  He is also a musician.
There was a pretty good hipster turnout, but with lots of kids too.
They were actually working on customers in the Tattoo shop during the party.

All photos by FIEDLER  and Squirrel Master L.

Forever is Nothing

Paintings by Jason Holley
SR2 Gallery
1728 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94703

thru March 21st


Napoleon on the Nile
For all of you interested in the artistic sublimation of the imperialist urge!

By Michael Kimmelman [from the NYT]

There was a time, a couple of centuries ago, when a proper military invasion, even a losing one, included an army of doctors, engineers, economists, botanists, zoologists, translators and artists who made sense of the place being invaded. Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, militarily, was a notorious failure (he fled in the face of an insurgency), but his team of savants, as they were called, took notes, drew maps, gathered specimens and documented ancient and modern sites. From this they produced, after nearly 30 years, in 23 huge, sublimely illustrated volumes, "Description de l'Égypte," one of the great encyclopedic surveys, a monument of colonialist ambition.

"NAPOLEON ON THE NILE," at the Dahesh Museum, includes, from the "Description," engravings of Egyptian bugs and animals by Étienne Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire and Jules-César Savigny, painstakingly precise views of Karnak by Jean-Baptiste Lepère and Henri-Joseph Redouté, and panoramas of contemporary Egypt. The French savants documented Egyptian ethnic and social types too, a typical European venture at human classification: an odious endeavor in principle, although, as it happened, in the engraved portraits by André Dutertre, a catalog of humane and dignified individuals.

The "Description" conjures up, from an era before photography, not just a remarkable sense of eternal Egypt but also an enlightened imperialist's constructive desire to find order in what is unfamiliar and foreign. Call it an eternal lesson. Through April 29, 580 Madison Avenue, at 56th Street, (212) 759-0606,
Beer & Pencils
Franziskaner and Hoegaarden

Speaking of inspiration, I gotta mention beer.  More specifically, White Beer, Wheat beer, Weiss Beer, or Heffe-Weizen depending on where you come from [or where IT comes from!].  Maybe inspiration isn’t the right word, but it’s something like that anyway.  Well, it’s a supply, like pencils.  I asked my accountant many, many years ago whether or not I could deduct my beer expenditures.  I reasoned that since I used beer in much the same way that I do pencils, and that if I could deduct the pencils, then why not the beer?  Needless to say, I’m still with the same accountant after 17 years!  No, I can’t deduct!

My featured brews today are two of my all time faves: Spaten Franziskaner [Germany] and Hoegaarden [Belgium].  For those of you who don’t know, beer made from wheat originated in the Belgian lowlands in a town called Hoegaarden.  Belgian brews, unlike their Germanic cousins, were not subject to the Reinheitsgebot [see below] and so were open to various flavoring additives such as Cloves, Coriander and dried orange peel.  These additives lend a distinctive caste to the taste of Belgian Whites [and honestly, even though I’m 100% Austrian, I prefer that].  German brews, under the strict purity laws, do not use additives and so have fewer peculiarities in their taste.  Either way, White beer is normally served with a lemon wedge to temper the yeasty flavor.  I suggest using Meyer lemons [if you can find them].  I discovered the Meyer after moving to the West Coast in June.  You may not be a citrus head like me, but dude a Meyer can make you stop and consider.  Well worth the effort and extra expense.

If anybody has figured out a way to deduct libations, please let m know before I send out my taxes!


Reinheitsgebot [German Beer Purity Law]

Beer brewing has been regulated by law in Germany for over 800 years. A long-standing tradition to which all German brewers still remain true today:

 German Beer Purity Law from 1516

 "How beer should be served and brewed in summer and winter in the principality"

 "Herewith, we decree, order, express and wish, together with the Privy Council, that from this day forth everywhere in the Principality of Bavaria, in the countryside as in the towns and marketplaces, wherever no other specific ordinance applies, from St. Michael's Day until St. George's Day a measure or head of beer shall not be sold for more than one pfennig Munich currency and from St. George's Day until St. Michael's Day a measure shall not be sold for more than two pfennigs of the same currency, nor a head for more than three haller. Violators of this decree shall be punished as prescribed below. Whoever should brew a beer other than Maerzen, is forbidden, under any circumstances, to serve or sell a measure for more than one pfennig. We especially wish that, from this point on and everywhere in the countryside as well as in the towns and marketplaces, nothing is to be added to or used in beer other than barley, hops and water. Whosoever knowingly disobeys this decree will be severely punished by the court having jurisdiction over him by having his barrel of beer confiscated whenever this offense occurs. Whenever an innkeeper buys beer at the prescribed price from any brewery in the countryside as well as in the towns and marketplaces, he is allowed to resell it privately to the lowly peasantry for one haller more than the price of the measure or head of beer stipulated above."

 (Translator's note: "measure" and "head" were units of volume and "pfennig" and "haller" were monetary units in use at that time. "Maerzen" was a somewhat stronger beer brewed in late winter, which is still brewed today.)
Meyer lemons
Please stay tuned for more faves.  No arguments!
Cool Boat Watch!
From the SF Chronicle
Yesterday at around 4 pm, the Queen Mary II sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge making it the largest ship ever to dock in the San Francisco Bay. The ship is one of the largest afloat and cleared the bridge with only 30 feet to spare.  They actually had to wait until the tide went out to accomodate it. It was a big deal and an impressive site to behold.  Now I have three major historic moments:  the funeral of Japanese Emperor Hirohito,  drinking at the SOI bar until 5am, and now this!
Botero Abu Ghraib

I just saw the Botero Abu Ghraib paintings.  I don't know how many folks got to see them when they were shown at the Marlborough Gallery in NY, but this is the first time they've been shown in a public institution in the US.  Pretty interesting stuff.  The small drawings were really nice too.  The paintings were painted over a period of 14 months, most of them very large.  Botero is a Colombian [from Medellin-I'd imagine he knows about scary!]. 

If you get a chance, drop by. The paintings are on display in the Library of the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and are sponsored by The Center For Latin American Studies.  Through March 23, 2007

More images at The Marlborough Gallery
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Fiedler is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!