#62 Shave & Haircut

AmperArt #62 Shave & Haircut

 #62 Shave & Haircut
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Andrew J. De Simone
December 31, 1899 – March 29, 1962

Daddy's Gravestone

ANDREW J. De SIMONE
Beloved Husband & Father
1899 – 1962

Before I release AmperArt #100 with a big celebration later this year, I wanted to include in the first 100, two specially-numbered pieces of my artwork to honor my mom & dad, both of whom I love & admire, & from whom I inherited my talent:
My mother, who died at 84 years old on February 13, 2001, for whom I created #84 Love & Devotion, issued this past February 13.
My father, who died at 62 years old on March 29, 1962, for whom I created #62 Shave & Haircut.

This was to be issued March 29, the anniversary of my father’s death, but computer crashes prevented that. So I spent an entire day writing & editing the story about my dad. I have stripped out everything that has little to do with Shave & Haircut, or barbering, and will publish that for Father’s Day. Then you’ll read, besides knowing my father as the barber, why my childhood was so rich with happy memories & abundant love. That part of the story, however, will begin with Mother’s Day. 

(#84, the tribute to my mother, is actually the 98th AmperArt created & this one, #62 for my father, is actually the 99th one created—the edition numbering does not relate to the order of issue. The next AmperArt will be #100, both in edition number & issue. I have no idea what the theme or title will be.)

barber shears

Daddy was a barber. Hence the title of this piece, Shave & Haircut. Being a barber was, to me, very special. I got to visit him at the shop which was walking distance for my mother & me from our house in Glendale, California. I loved the smell of the barber shop, always a spicy fragrance of tonics, & my dad “wore” that scent when he came home from work, along with the menthol of his Kool non-filters and Lifesaver mints. And his warm smile & silver hair. Here’s what I remember & what I’ve been told about my dad:

Born the last day of the century—my dad’s incredible birthdate. He was born in Sicily December 31, 1899 & came “on da boat” to America when he was 6 months old. The family settled in Chicago. What’s remarkable about his birthdate (besides being born the last day of the century—the century before last, in fact) is that his age was always the same as the year, to the day. I was born in 1951, & Daddy was 51. He died March 29, 1962, & he was 62. (I find that fascinating. If he knew his age he knew what year it was, & vice versa—a memory device I could use as I get more & more forgetful.) 

Daddy grew up in Chicago with his four brothers & two sisters, was smitten with a waitress from Indiana 16 years his junior (& left her tremendous tips, she told me), & chased after her to Los Angeles. They got married & I was born several years later. I have always liked waitresses (& left them big tips)—like father, like son.Barber comb

Daddy had his own barber shop, although early on upon settling in Glendale, he had a partner—his brother Sam. Those are their actual business cards in the picture below. Very special thanks to my brothers for scanning and sending me images of the business cards, and to my sister for keeping them safely stored. There were four barbers among the brothers: my dad Andrew J., Samuel J., Anthony J., and Michael J. My dad’s middle name was Joseph, so I assume the other brothers were too. (I have no idea who Joseph was in the family ancestry, except that was their father’s middle name as well.) The brothers grew up in Chicago, then relocated near Los Angeles. 

We drove to visit each of Daddy’s brothers who were all barbers, frequently on weekends. I’d play with their children & enjoy some spectacular dinners, both Italian & otherwise. I enjoyed being among the grownups as they conversed & laughed with each other. (I recall lots of cigarettes, cigars & Miller High Life—as well as Sinatra, Perry Como & Vic Damone on the radio.) I enjoyed all my cousins at those visits—Rosie, Chuck, Steve, Cindy, Irene, Ronnie & Michelle.

Another relative (whose family had nothing to do with barbering) we visited frequently was my cousin Mary Ann, who was always there to take care of us when Mom was in the hospital, or to help out in any other way she could. Her father, my Uncle Carlo, tended his garden where I tasted the best tomatoes in my life. He also brined his own olives, sending large jars home with us, & to this day that is a cherished flavor I wish I could experience again.

Those are good memories, hanging out with the aunts & uncles & cousins on the weekends.

Daddy had two sisters & one other brother, none of which were barbers or stylists. I have fond memories of all my aunts, uncles & cousins, on both sides of the family. I will tell you about them when I release a future AmperArt titled Aunts & Uncles. It will include my cousins as well.
Shaving brush

As for the barber tools, I loved the sound of the scissors with their constant snipping rhythm. There was the smell of the tonics & the talc, which Daddy “wore” home every day after work, smelling so fresh & crisp & clean. That was mixed with Spear-O-Mint Lifesavers & the menthol of Kool non-filters. A wonderful, memorable combination.

Barber tools and business cardsAfter each haircut I’d get dusted with a fluffy brush full of lavender talc, and then the best part of all (besides my dad’s soft voice & friendly smile): The Massage. Wow, I have never had a better head-&-neck massage since those by my dad, with the machines strapped to his hands that vibrated every finger deep into the scalp. His massages were wonderful with just his fingers alone, but with the Oster massagers it was amazing. (I inherited one of them, and used to massage my cat with the motorized device. As soon as he heard me turn it on—they were quite loud—Woofer would jump on my lap & start purring immediately. Most cats react to the electric can opener; mine to the electric massager.) I enjoy giving a good massage—and I’m always told “Don’t stop!”—so I wonder if I inherited that from my dad.

One barber tool I didn’t care for so much was the barber strop. Daddy was a good father, kind & gentle, but in those days it was normal for kids get a whipping with a belt when we acted up (I was the king of acting up—still am). Well, Daddy didn’t need a belt—he had something far more effective, the barber strop: two thick pieces of material, one leather & one heavy fabric, used for sharpening the straight-edge blade. Zowie! That stung! It’s pictured near the bottom in the photo of the barber tools—shown far smaller & less intimidating than in real life.

Straight-edge razor
I enjoyed visiting Daddy’s barber shop. I’d walk to there with mom, or Daddy would drive me to be his “assistant” at the shop. I would sweep up the hair on the floor, but I’m sure I scattered it more than anything. It was fun playing with the barber chairs, raising & lowering & swiveling them with the levers. Of course Daddy would pull out the booster seat to give me a haircut, and after he finished I’d give him a penny to tip him like the grownups. Doesn’t sound like much, but in those days, the 1950s, a good tip was ten cents. Remember the ditty “Shave & a Haircut, two bits”? Two bits meant 25 cents, and I recall haircuts in those days weren’t much more than that—well, double, but still only 50 cents. I don’t know how we ate so well, steak just about every night with full-on salad, vegetables, potatoes & dessert—unless Mom made her incredible vegetable beef soup, or lasagna, or spaghetti & meatballs, all from scratch—on a barber’s salary.

Getting back to barbering, I soaked up how my dad interacted with his customers. He was gregarious, cheerful, and always had kind words. I enjoy dealing with clients, and I often think maybe that’s part of my dad’s  influence on me. Mom’s too, as she was a waitress whom everyone loved. One thing I surmise is that I get my artistic talent from both my parents: the conceptual & lettering side from my dad (who had beautiful handwriting) with the whimsical influence of Italian heritage; & the design aspect from my mother (who told me once she would love to have been an architect) with the logic & exactness stemming from my German heritage. As for my perfectionism—that’s just a character defect.

AtomizerDaddy always had a box of Lifesavers (twelve rolls) in his barber shop. In those days they were used as breath mints. He usually had Spear-O-Mint, but sometimes Cryst-O-Mint. I liked those; they were Cryst-O clear. (My favorites, though, were Butter Rum & a strangely minty Choc-O-Late, which is no longer made. Every Sunday Daddy would take me, and eventually my brothers & sister after they were born, to Sav-On Drug Store to stock up on the usual for the week: First, each of us got a nickel ice cream cone, & there was a lot of ice cream on them for just a nickel. What I remember most about the ice cream counter was the beautiful red & white sign with just a touch of green, spelling out Carnation Ice Cream with an illustration of a striped carnation—the type that’s white, rimmed with red. We had all sorts of carnations growing along the side of our house. To this day the striped carnation, just like in the ice cream sign, is my favorite flower. 

After the ice cream cones, we would head to the candy aisle where Daddy would get a box of Lifesavers for the barber shop. I don’t recall if he’d grab his carton or two of Kools on our Sunday errand, or get them from the liquor store across from the barber shop. Most likely he sent a kid over to pick them up and would tip the kid as much as the cigarettes cost. He was like that.

Finally, back in the candy aisle, Daddy would pick up a Cup-O-Gold candy cup which was a special treat he’d give Mom. Sometimes she would share hers with me. They are delicious (like a Reese’s peanut butter cup but instead of peanut butter there’s marshmallow and almonds in a cup of chocolate) but hard to find. Once in awhile I see them & when I do I stock up.

Barber comb

Daddy died at 62 (in 1962) from emphysemia, & I’ll never forget the eerie wheezing sound of the oxygen machine he sat at for 15 or 30 minutes every day for the past months or years of his life. They weren’t silent portable devices like they have today, but a large metal apparatus with shiny steel arms & a huge floor-standing tank with knobs & guages & a horrifying mask. I can still hear his tremendous coughing echoing in the tiled bathroom, especially in the morning as he was getting ready for work. I understand he had malaria as a child, but no doubt it was the Kool non-filters that killed him. I have never smoked for that reason. (In those days, the mid-20th century, smoking was the norm. But our mom quit eventually, & lived to 84.)

Towards the end—prior to the stroke that caused him to go blind for the last days of his life—Daddy’s health was getting progressively worse. But he kept suiting up & showing up to take care of his loyal customers. (My dad would dress up in a crisp white shirt, suit & tie everyday that he served his customers, then add a white barber smock over that when he got to work.) His customers were truly loyal. As his health deteriorated so did his haircuts. Shabby as they were, his customers would have no one else cut their hair. They simply loved my father. That’s one of the finest testimonies I have ever heard about anyone. And right before he took his last breath, he told my mom to grab an envelope out of his coat pocket & give it to his brother. It was payment in full for a loan. My dad had integrity. 

I may or may not have cried between his passing & the funeral; I don’t remember. Was I trying to be brave, now “the man of the house” at just 10 years old? Did I not truly comprehend my father’s life had ended? I’m not sure. But I vividly recall bursting out in tears upon seeing Daddy lying still in the coffin. It finally hit me. I can actually feel that moment right now.

After Daddy died & we were cleaning out the barber shop, we discovered proof of what a typically stubborn Italian he was. Mom brown-bagged his lunch each day, and sprinkled a little Adoph’s on his sandwiches. (Adolph’s was a salt substitute, as Daddy wasn’t supposed to have any salt which he loved as much as the ton of sugar he put in his coffee.) In the back room of the shop—you guessed it—we found a one-pound container of Morton salt!

barber shears

Daddy, you were the fuzzy warmth of the gray sweater you always used to wear & the crisp scent of tonic, mint & menthol. You were kindness, love & integrity. I wish my brothers & sister could have known you as I did, but then I wish I could have known you longer as well. You live in all of us, I can tell, as I see your honesty & and generosity & kindness in all your children. I admire you & I love you.  I’m proud to be your first-born, too, the spoiled brat that I was (and still am).

Carnation


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. It’s mostly about design, typography, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving.


Production notes for #62 Shave & Haircut:
Original size: 20×30 inches

Programs: Adobe Illustrator (ampersand), Photoshop
Font: Rockwell
Ampersand: hand-drawn
Credits:
All barber-related images: depositphoto.com (modified)
Daddy’s gravestone: photographed by Robert DeSimone
Business cards: archived by Roslyn Clark, scanned by Andy DeSimone & Robert DeSimone
Carnation: someone’s garden
You may repost the image. Please credit AmperArt.com.
To download a full-size high-resolution 11×17-inch poster, click on the image.

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#78 His & Hers featuring Word of the Year & Color of the Year

#78 His & Hers


#78 His & Hers
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New word & colors for your Valentine… whoever they are

Don’t you agree it’s always been awkward, when you didn’t know the gender of the person in a sentence, to have to write “he/she” & “he or she”? AmperArt #78 His & Hers was inspired by this situation. (Frankly, I usually just write “it” whether it’s a person, animal or slice of pizza.) So we’d usually say “they” which up till now was not proper grammar, especially in writing.

But it is now. “He/she” can now be properly referred to as a singular “they.”  As in “Whether his is a tie or a tablet, or hers is a necklace or a notebook, give them a gift they can really use.” (You could also give them a subscription to AmperArt which is absolutely free.) 

According to the Washington Post,

“We know about singular they already — we use it everyday without thinking about it, so this is bringing it to the fore in a more conscious way, and also playing into emerging ideas about gender identity,” said linguist Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who presided over the voting…”

Full Washington Post article here.


Word of the Year & Color of the Year

“They” has been named the Word of the Year for 2016.

Again, from the Washington Post article:

Singular “they,” the gender-neutral pronoun, has been named the Word of the Year by a crowd of over 200 linguists at the American Dialect Society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Frankly, I never heard of a Word of the Year till now. But I do know there is always a Pantone Color of the Year—except for 2016 it’s plural (not singular like “they”); there are two Pantone Colors of the Year:

Rose Quartz & Serenity

Rose Quartz & Serenity are Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2016. I like Pantone’s decision to feature two colors — just like His & Hers — so we can have fun with more ampersands. And these two colors are perfect for Valentines Day. (I dare you: go ahead and express your love with a bar of soap, in the appropriate color of course, and see just how much they love you back.)

More about Pantone’s Colors of the Year (all years shown—lots of fun) at Pantone.com.

Various shades of each color were used for the bathroom tiles in this month’s AmperArt #78, His & Hers. The wire towel holder is just one use for this fun & functional ampersand accessory. It can be configured as a wine rack, photo frame, jewelry holder, and more. Eventually I’ll be featuring this in the online AmperArt gift store, but for now the patent is pending and can be made to order in a variety of materials & finishes. Please inquire.

To Do & To Don’t List

AmperArt-TO-DONT-LIST-2016-227w

Here’s a fun & functional TO DO & TO DON’T LIST featuring the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016 to help keep his & hers goals on track for 2016.

The new design features the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016: Rose Quartz & Serenity.

Download the TO DO & TO DON’T list here and print out several copies for your friends.


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at DesimoneDesign.com, my commercial graphic design website. There’s lots for both his & hers interests—designers, typographers, copywriters, artists, photographers, just about anyone in the creative field … whoever they are.

Most articles will cover various aspects of design, printing, publishing & marketing, but on occasion I’ll divert to a sideways topic that just can’t escape my ranting & raving. (more…)

#80 Believe & Achieve in 2016 – Happy New Year!

80-Believe-&-Achieve-wm


#80 Believe & Achieve
Click to view full-size or download hi-rez image for gallery-quality printing and framing.
This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Happy New Year

First, have a blast celebrating 2015! Then use these tips to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

If you haven’t made any resolutions yet—because you know they are so excruciatingly hard to keep—read this wonderful advice from a friend, Tammi Brannan. You might even want to rethink your New Year’s resolutions and actually look forward to keeping them in 2016!

When choosing New Year’s Resolutions that you want to achieve, make sure you do these 3 things:

  1. Identify 2-3 areas in your life you’d like to improve.
  2. Pick one action item for each area that you can do now to exact change.
  3. For 5 minutes, 3 times a day focus on each action item, whether you’re saying it to yourself as a promise or you’re taking steps towards accomplishing that action.

The 2 reasons why folks fail when it comes to their New Year’s Resolutions is because they:

  1. Pick Resolutions they don’t care too much about achieving, and…
  2. Sit by in hopes their New Year’s Resolution will come to them, instead of taking active steps to achieve them.

If finding the perfect occupation or business is one of your 2016 goals, Tammi Brannan offers career development coaching for individuals & teams. She says, “Live a life that is truer to you.” You’ll find lots of insightful videos & articles at her website, InstinctiveLife.com. I endorse Tammi as a person of high integrity & genuine concern for individuals.


To Do & To Don’t List

AmperArt-TO-DONT-LIST-2016-227w

featuring the Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016

Here’s a TO DO LIST guaranteed to simplify your life. It’s actually my specially designed TO DO & TO DON’T list. This is brand-new artwork in the two Pantone Colors of the Year for 2016: Rose Quartz & Serenity. Download the TO DO & TO DON’T list here and print out several copies for your friends.


chaz sez ...

My favorite quote about dreams & possibilities is by Walt Disney, who really accomplished some astonishing feats. (Did you know Disneyland was built in less then one year from groundbreaking to opening day?) Walt said:

 “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

And he did. Birdies sing & flowers croon.

(more…)

#83 Straight & Narrow

83 Straight & Narrow

 


#83 Straight & Narrow
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Working on AmperArt #83, Straight & Narrow, I thought of my dad, my mother, my brothers & sister, some of my relatives & most of my friends, for they all define the phrase “Straight & Narrow”:

The way of proper conduct & moral integrity.

Several people who have followed the Straight & Narrow path are:

Gandhi
Mother Teresa
George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Richard Nixon oops—scratch that
Martin Luther King
Leo Buscaglia
Warren Buffett
Stephen R. Covey
Denis Waitley
John Wayne
Roy Rogers
Jesus

If you can add to this list, please comment below.


crooked pathchaz sez ...

I wish I could say my path had less detours & bumps in it, but just ain’t so. In fact, this AmperArt piece, Straight & Narrow, was created & issued only 10 minutes before the midnight deadline on May 31, 2015, to meet my quota of at least one new AmperArt edition per month. The time zone is PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings), which allowed me to cheat, as it was already June 1 elsewhere. Is that what they mean by “artistic license”? A little crooked, I suppose.


I selected a no-nonsense font, Times Roman, for the words “straight” & “narrow,” but a fun & fancy ampersand, which straightened out to follow the Straight & Narrow path when it was time to be serious & responsible.


Production notes for #83 Straight & Narrow:
Original size: 20×30 inches
Program: Adobe InDesign
Fonts: Times Roman, Colonna (modified)
Ampersand: Colonna (modified)
Credits for #83 Straight & Narrow:
Photo: Danette Popowich, Canada (123rf.com)

For professional graphic design, please visit Desimone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#29 Success & Nothing Less


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This is a high-resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Download to print special size for Balboa students’ notebooks: 8.5 x 11 inches


AmperArt #29, Success & Nothing Less, was inspired by Balboa Elementary School, for it is their motto, and it’s where I learned my abc’s, in Glendale, California. (It’s also where I learned the difference betweens it’s and its.)

The typestyle is Aachen, same as used on their school signage. The ampersand is derived from the Z in the team’s name, Blazers. The colors used in this edition are, of course, the school colors.
The phrase was made famous by Snoop Dogg on the show Entourage where he said, “Success and nothing less, man!”

One of my favorite quotes about success is by Jack Canfield: “If you love your work, if you enjoy it, you’re already a success.” I guess I’m a success then, for I love creating AmperArt and all my other graphic design.

That and many other quotes on success can be found here. And there’s a Facebook page called SuccessAndNothingLess.

The Leona L. DeSimone Award

I have always been grateful that I went to three tremendous public schools, all in the Glendale, California Unified School District: Balboa Elementary, Toll Jr. High and Herbert Hoover High School. I even went to Glendale Junior College but didn’t learn much there as I was already more focused on running a graphics business.

It was at Balboa School, during 4th Grade, that I lost my father to emphysema. I was the oldest of four, with a sister and two brothers. Our mother struggled, I mean really struggled, to clothe and feed us, holding down a job at a lunch counter in a vitamin store. Somehow she always had time for us kids and made sure we were to school on time, and helped us with our homework. All the while putting up with tantrums from me, the spoiled firstborn.

I’ll never forget seeing Mom cry when money was short, counting pennies to feed us, going without dinner herself. Or walking five miles to work in the blazing heat when the buses went on strike.

We didn’t have much money but I don’t think there was a family in Glendale any richer than ours with love.

Several years ago my sister Roslyn set up an annual scholarship at Balboa Elementary, in our mother’s name, for a deserving student (especially if their family was in similar circumstances that ours was in), and each year one of us siblings presents the award.

I was honored to present the scholarship at the end of the 2012 school year to a special student who was also raised by a single mother, and who came to school early and stayed late to work on the computers, since the family could not afford their own.

Upon arriving at the school for the presentation, I discovered the school motto is “Success & Nothing Less” so of course that would be an upcoming AmperArt piece.

This year’s Leona L. DeSimone Scholarship recipient is a shining example of one who aspires to achieve the very meaning of her school’s motto, “Success & Nothing Less.”


Production notes:
Original size: 20 x 30 inches
Program: Illustrator
Font: Aachen
Ampersand: hand-drawn, based on school team lettering

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