Friday, April 27, 2012

TSA at Work in Orlando

Travel Advisory: US Airways

So my fifteen hours in Orlando was a success. The gig went off without a hitch, although I couldn't exactly tell you what the conference was. Doesn't matter. I did my job and caught the shuttle to the airport.

I'm flying US Airways, middle seat, row 20. I just had a stopover in Phoenix and now I'm on the final stretch. US Airways is not one I usually fly, and it has some peculiarities. They assign seats, but they also board in "zones." Before they board the zones they first give preference to their gold, silver, platinum, zinc, and magnesium preferred customers, then to their star alliance preferred customers, then to some other preferred customers. As a regular passenger you feel like you’re in steerage aboard the Titanic. Then, finally, they start in with the zones. I was in zone five so I had to wait till the bitter end before I could board. It didn’t matter, I had an assigned seat. The zone scheme guarantees that there will be a pileup in the aisle as the passengers make their way to seats that are randomly scattered all over the plane.

As a guy with some years behind me I appreciate the fact that US Airways hires older flight attendants. It looks like they take the worn out flight attendants from other airlines and put them back to work. Each leg of my journey featured a pink and corpuscular fellow in his late fifties with the broken capillaries in the face from heavy drinking.


Leggy zombie

US Airways has a first class section but it doesn't look like much. The passengers looked unhappy like they’ve been ripped off. Through the thin curtain I watched them being handed hot towels and served unappealing cheese tortellini. In steerage we could buy snacks from a menu in the seat back pocket. I ordered an italian wrap based on the photograph of a nice big cylinder, nine bucks. When I opened the box it was the size of an egg roll.

Seats OK, leg room OK, half hour late taking off from Phoenix. Overall rating C.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baseball Season

I learned to draw anatomy from observing athletes.
Here it is April and I’ve made my yearly resolution to take Oscar to some Giants and A’s games this summer. In yet another way that I may be failing as a father I haven't drilled sports into my son, not soccer, not football, not basketball, not even my old sport, baseball. He can't throw or kick. When I was his age we thought that kids who didn't play sports were slightly effeminate and strange. And, because Roger Janeke's parents spoke German at home and he didn't play sports, we assumed that it had something to do with being German. As for being slightly effeminate and strange, I got there eventually, but it took maturation and an interest in the arts. Up through high school I was all juiced up and red blooded and if it had a ball or puck involved I was passionate about it. Actually I never played hockey even though it was a major sport in Michigan and many of my classmates were toothless from it.

Every year now I buy beer and learn the ESPN channels and flip them on when my son is nearby. Look, son, I say. The Giants are going to really have a helluva team this year! I grab him in a headlock and grind my fist into his head affectionately. Oscar pulls away and looks at me like I've got a mushroom growing out of my forehead. Dad, he says, baseball sucks.

What Oscar doesn't understand but a father must understand is that sports is the great equalizer among men. Two men who might instantly despise each other for class, race, hairstyle, rivalry over a woman, or a million other reasons, become conciliatory at the mention of the weekend's upcoming Bruins-Vikings game. It's a common love that men can share without being sentimental or queer. It's mathematical and statistical and puts men into a pleasant, dreamy state of mind.

Today I was talking with a guy from Dallas. We had nothing in common, it was obvious from the difference in our posture, dress, and natural bearing. You're from Oakland, he said. You a Raiders fan? I'm not taking sides, I said. Figures. You're an artist, he said. Artists are interested in important things. He was mocking me. Obviously I’ve lost my way.

Sports are the great connector and I fear that Oscar will never enter the world of men unless he develops some fluency with them. When I was in my teens I had a fear of authority and no understanding of men. My friend’s dads were absent or they were bullies and coaches. My dad was a black hole of mystery. That’s when I got a job at the public golf course. With my encyclopedic knowledge of players, statistics, and the politics and strategies of sports, I became conversant in the language of men for the first time and it gave me a great deal of confidence. I could hold my own with big, chesty men who had sideburns, wore cologne and plaid pants, and smoked cigars.

I entered the world of men

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Orlando by Lloyd Dangle

Thoughts on the Road

It's the 24th and I'm on a flight to Orlando for a gig taking place at a conference for the global lieutenants of a fast food giant. I'm in pain. Bambi made me do some squats and upper body stuff yesterday that makes my butt and shoulders feel like they're on fire. I hope I'll be able to raise my arm above my shoulder tomorrow so I can draw. The presentation I'm recording isn't until noon so I can sleep in at the hotel. Then I work for an hour, go to the airport, and fly home. I've never been to Orlando without ending up having dinner in a sports bar. They're everywhere. I bet when the taxi pulls into the Marriott there will be a place called Rudy's right across the parking lot.

The last time I was in Orlando it was for a Graphic Artists Guild mid-year meeting. One of our executive committee members was a goth from Portland who wore Victorian attire, had a beard that tapered to a point, and looked unhealthy like he really did just claw his way out of a coffin. He liked to carry a pair of plastic vampire teeth with him that he could pop in whenever the moment called for it. There was a sports bar across the parking lot called Buddy's or something and we all trundled over there to eat. The incongruity of our goth drinking a Miller Lite at Buddy's made a strong impression on me. I wish I could say that it freaked out the tourists but they really didn't seem to notice. Everybody sees vampires on TV. But what really surprised me was that he found and befriended some actual Orlando goths and the next day they went off together. Probably to a place called Dudley's that served Blue Moon on draft and chicken wings.

Last week I was in Santa Cruz filming one of those RSA knockoff whiteboard animations. It went great but then on the way home the clutch on my truck committed suicide and I was stranded on Santa's Village lane just fifty feet off the highway where she came to rest. A fierce-looking mute tow truck driver took me to Integrity Automotive and left me there. After Enterprise rent-a-car gave me their special "stranded motorist" deal I sat in the mother of all rush hour traffic jams for hours.

It took three days of Integrity to manage the installation of a new clutch and so the weekend arrived. I was getting used to driving the Nissan Altima and the memory of my old pickup was beginning to fade. On Saturday I picked up Oscar from his sleepover party and we headed toward Scott's Valley where the truck was being kept. Oscar said that the new car smell of the Altima stunk like cheap plastic. He also stated that he had only gotten four-and-a- half hours sleep the night before, the ten-year-olds had partied so late, so he was feeling sleepy and cranky. I told him that we would go to the beach. He said, "I hate the beach at Santa Cruz! The sand is disgusting!"

I was listening to some Mose Allison music the other day and it struck me, that's Oscar. He's a ten-year-old curmudgeonly southern jazz pianist and songwriter.

Don't waste your time tryin' to be a go-getter
Things'll get worse before they get any better

Those lyrics sound like Oscar wrote them.

Anyway, much more hilarity ensued and I eventually got my pickup back. The high point of the weekend was taking it to the car wash where Oscar blasted it with the pressure hose. Afterwards he asked me for a dollar for the service.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fleeced in Scott's Valley

Fleeced in Scott's Valley by Lloyd Dangle
Oscar and me waiting for hours as they tried to figure out why the clutch didn't stay fixed after they took three days to do it. As soon as O and I hit the road for the beach the truck started giving off that burning clutch smell, all metallic and rubbery. He had some Icy Dots, cotton candy, a hamburger, and a soda on the boardwalk and then it was back to Integrity Automotive for the afternoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Broderick Comes Through Again

I really wasn’t feeling happy about this blog because it lacked something very important: the touch of my pal, extraordinary designer, Patrick Broderick. It just didn’t feel right. Pat has designed all the cool stuff on my sites for over a decade. He understands me better than my own mother did. He told me he’s giving up on web design because the technology has passed him by and he’s sick of having to learn the new coding. It’s a damn shame! Without Pat, I had to make my new site myself with Wordpress. It’s good but it lacks the Broderick warmth and the Broderick jazz.

Anyway, I begged Pat to design a header for this blog and he took his sweet time, but as you can see he did it! And it is awesome. The vermillion and gold of the lettering is explosive. The colors set your jaw on edge. The word “Dangle” appears in a font so distressed it’s not a font at all. It calls bullishit on fonts. The “G” looks like the claw of a decomposing crab. It’s the kind of lettering I draw when I wake up after a week-long tequila binge. Pat also sprinkled in some cartoons that I drew for him but he held back on them, grayed them down just a bit so they comfortably settled into the background. I don’t know how he does it. Thanks to Pat for all those years of Troubletown design excellence. I’m still going to tap you for a button from time to time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cub Scout Sleepover Debrief

A pledge

It was the yearly spring cub scout overnight camping trip. Hae organized it and reserved a group campsite that accommodated fifty at Sunset Beach near Watsonville next to a huge strawberry field.  The cub scouts got a chance to observe migrant farmworkers earning a small pittance on their knees under the hot sun. The scouts all resolved to become investment bankers or lawyers, except Oscar who is resigned to becoming an artist. 

I never learned much about perspective in art school
The methyl bromide truck came by every hour

The setting was pure Steinbeck. The workers pitted themselves against the growers and demanded better conditions. Woody Guthrie came by and sang songs from the back of a truck. The growers’ thugs tried to intimidate them, sometimes using violence, but the heroic farmworkers held together and formed a union. This all happened during one hour while I sketched in my notebook.

The growers



The kids had a great time running around playing various types of wars while the parents jawboned about the struggles of parenthood next to a crackling firepit. There was one casualty. A boy was hit in the head during a pinecone war and bled profusely. The mother was shaken, she packed up the tent and took her son home.

A day at the beach in Northern California
The beach was just on the other side of a dune, but over there it was cold and windy so we had to bundle up. Kids dug giant holes with a shovel we brought. A lifeguard came by and asked the kids to fill in the holes so that their truck wouldn’t bottom out when they were driving around. Then he told of a terrible story about a girl who was killed digging holes on the beach. When pressed for details his story fell apart. His point was that terrible accidents can happen, he said. I remembered to put sunscreen on my front bald spot but forgot to do the rear bald spot. I turned my chair around to brace myself against the wind causing the rear one to get full exposure. Today my head hurts.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Break News

It was just spring break for Oscar and there was snow up in the Sierras so we went skiing. Readers know that I have a love-hate relationship with skiing, mostly hate. Championship Olympian Ben Nichols gave me a lesson this time and I got a little better with my turns. Turn left, turn right, turn left, fall down, over and over again. That’s what skiing is all about. Bend your knees, they say. My knees don’t bend. I’m into the beginner’s mind and all that but it sucks when all the adults (hell, Oscar and his pals too) are patiently waiting for Mr. Pathetic to get up from my splayed position in the snow. At the prices they charge ($1 a second) I feel bad when people are helping me up instead of flying down the hills like they would prefer to be.

I find the ski lodge bar to be the place to be. Even though they charge $18 for a hamburger and fries in the restaurant, beers in the bar were reasonably priced. There are lots of people with odd hats and strange facial hair for me to capture in my sketchbook and I could check my email obsessively with their free WiFi.

We stayed in a hotel a couple of nights and Hae read to Oscar from the Odyssey (a kid’s version), so I made a couple sketches from the Greek classic. And then we watched a TV show about the Titanic and I sketched some sinking ships. With that and all the ski bums I burned through a sketchbook during vacation and it was good. Oscar recently said, “I thought you didn’t draw anymore.” I proved him wrong. He also said, “You have the power to suck the fun out of anything.” That hurt my feelings. I asked him what he meant by it. He said that I always make him stop playing video games but that momma lets him play video games. That's not even true.

On Wednesday the snow came down pretty hard. It was wet like the snow in Michigan. Hae and I pelted Oscar with snowballs while he made a snowman. He giggled like a maniac and rolled around in the snow until all of his clothes were soaking wet. That was fun. Then we drove home.