#133 Death & Destruction

#133 Death & Destruction
#133 Death & Destruction
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This piece is an expression of empathy for those who lost everything in the recent natural disasters.

One week ago fam­i­lies across Amer­i­ca sat down to their tra­di­tion­al Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. Some were elab­o­rate, oth­ers sim­ple, but most were savored in a warm, cozy home at a famil­iar table.

But not for those whose homes were destroyed in recent fires and hur­ri­canes. Many shared Thanks­giv­ing din­ner with strangers in shel­ters and even tents. Some made new friends. Some reflect­ed on how their lives had been over­tak­en by osten­ta­tious sur­round­ings. But none were at home.

Oth­ers were too con­cerned about miss­ing loved ones to par­take in Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. Not to men­tion where they were going to live, how to sur­vive, the deep pang of loss — homes, fur­nish­ings, valu­able pos­ses­sions and even cash that was stashed away in their homes. In many cas­es, liveli­hood, as com­pa­nies they worked for, or their home offices, were also destroyed.

The most dev­as­tat­ing and excru­ci­at­ing loss was that of loved ones: par­ents, chil­dren, sib­lings, rel­a­tives, friends, and pets.

At Thanks­giv­ing, no less.

It is hard to com­pre­hend. It is sad. 


Concept

I cre­at­ed this piece to empathize with those less for­tu­nate. I felt it might bring clo­sure to some, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a mor­bid piece. Maybe reflec­tive. I just felt it and cre­at­ed it.

The col­ors and effects I chose for the sen­sa­tions in the fall­en amper­sand rep­re­sent fire, water and seis­mic activ­i­ty, all nat­ur­al forces. It’s iron­ic that ele­ments such as fire, wind and water can be tremen­dous­ly ben­e­fi­cial and also ter­ri­fy­ing­ly dis­as­trous.


Comfort

I don’t know what to say to help the vic­tims of these recent dis­as­ters or past dis­as­ters, as some things are nev­er for­got­ten, nev­er recov­ered, for­ev­er mourned as a void that’s deep as one’s soul. If you have any words of com­fort please leave them here.

Here’s my clos­ing thought: 

Does­n’t nat­ur­al dis­as­ter cause enough death & destruc­tion? Why does man add to it with war and crime?

 Please comment here.


Production notes for #133 Death & Destruction:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Illustrator
Font: Helvetica Ultra Compressed (modified)

Ampersand: Helvetica Ultra Compressed (modified)
Credits:
Background image: deposit​pho​tos​.com
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#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 Des​i​moneDesign​.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: 20x30 inches

Programs: Adobe Illustrator (ampersand), Photoshop
Font: Rockwell
Ampersand: hand-​drawn
Credits:
All barber-​related images: deposit​pho​to​.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 Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

Family & Friends & Ampersands…our greatest holiday gifts

Family & Friends includes my cats!


#75 Family & Friends
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This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
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First, to my own family & friends:

I love you, I appre­ci­ate you, I respect you,
I enjoy you, I thank you.
But most of all, I love you.


About this edition

I got the idea for Amper­Art #75, Fam­i­ly & Friends, fea­tur­ing our friend the fun & fab­u­lous amper­sand, about a month ago, after a friend & a fam­i­ly mem­ber came to my res­cue. More on that lat­er. (Thanks, Joe. Thanks, Roz.) 

Fam­i­ly & Friends is a very spe­cial Amper­Art title to me & hope­ful­ly to you. I went through sev­er­al iter­a­tions to bring you a mean­ing­ful, ele­gant piece that you might want to send to oth­ers with your own sen­ti­ments, or frame for your fam­i­ly room (or Fam­i­ly & Friends Room) wall. It was issued for Thanks­giv­ing 2014, but let’s face it, Fam­i­ly & Friends are time­less.

First, you’ll meet my own fam­i­ly & friends (includ­ing my pets, of course). I am blessed with a lov­ing fam­i­ly &  friends that are the very best. That includes you, too, my awe­some read­ers & sub­scribers — you’re my Amper­Art fam­i­ly!

Then, you’ll see how the Fam­i­ly & Friends edi­tion was cre­at­ed. In response to sev­er­al requests from sub­scribers who want to see how I cre­ate Amper­Art, or how I even choose a top­ic, I’ve explained the process in the next sec­tion. (This par­tic­u­lar Fam­i­ly & Friends piece posed sev­er­al chal­lenges even though the design is quite sim­ple. It’s a per­fect exam­ple of why each Amper­Art piece can take 20 hours or more.)


My own family & friends

I am blessed with a won­der­ful fam­i­ly:

Mom & Dad (both gone but always in my heart) — both of my par­ents are the def­i­n­i­tion of integri­ty.

My sis­ter Roslyn & my broth­ers Andy & Robyou are the epit­o­me of love, friend­ship, hon­esty and gen­eros­i­ty. You’ve always been there when your eccen­tric black sheep of a broth­er need­ed a help­ing hand or a hand-​out. Thank you.

Mary Ann, you helped me get my very first van so I could start my busi­ness. You took care of us kids when Mom near­ly died. And today you com­ment on every one of my Amper­Art pieces. You’re very spe­cial to me…cuz you’re my favorite cuz.

My friends are so plen­ti­ful there prob­a­bly aren’t enough giga­bytes on the serv­er to list them all, so I’ll men­tion the old­est and dear­est, in the order they came into my life: Gary R, Gary S, Joe R (we’re talk­ing ele­men­tary and junior high on those three), Lande WGregg & Jill, Mardy D, Deb­o­rah T, Lisa S (& lat­er Sean), Jim B (if it weren’t for him I’d still be design­ing with a T‑square), Mark H (& lat­er Crys­tal), Pat B, Tara K, Mar­ty K, Sandy J, Denis W, Jeanette F. Those who have depart­ed, whom I miss dear­ly: Gilbert (the one & only!), Joe F, Pre­ston H.

My fur­ry fam­i­ly: Tiger, Bull­dog, Don­ald (yes, a duck), Woofer (my very best friend for six­teen years), Bri­quette, Amos & Andy…and my cur­rent awe­some crea­tures, Jeep­ers & Bebe.

I feel like I’m at the podi­um for the Oscars! Well, you see, that’s what my fam­i­ly & friends do for me.

Now back to what inspired this piece: Last month I had a seri­ous cir­cum­stance, and between my best friend Joe Rin­au­do and my best sis­ter Roslyn (she’d be my best sis­ter, I’m sure, if I had a dozen but she too is the one & only) they did some­thing for me as a com­plete sur­prise, sav­ing me from being home­less for the sec­ond time in my life. Imme­di­ate­ly I thought of com­bin­ing “Fam­i­ly & Friends” into one piece of art — to me they are often one and the same. My broth­ers & many friends & even a few clients have also helped me in need — tremen­dous­ly. If I did­n’t have to get this sent out right now I’d tell you about those Fam­i­ly & Friends expe­ri­ences, too. Instead, I’ll come up with some new ideas to illus­trate those episodes in future edi­tions.


How this project began…and wouldn’t end

This Fam­i­ly & Friends piece encoun­tered so many obsta­cles and mor­phed through so many changes I fig­ured it’s the per­fect exam­ple to explain how I cre­ate my Amper­Art pieces. Read More