Category Archives: Interviews

A Packers fan timeout

You know, I’ve always said (today even) that I’d rather win to a worthy adversary.  Also, I’d rather lose that way.  Well, OK, not ME, but my team.  (I don’t personally compete in anything lol.)

But this game.  At time of typing we have 14 minutes in the fourth remaining – and since the biggest comeback in history is still standing, I’m making the assumption we may catch up a little, but not win.

The Falcons kicked ass today!

They did.

And my team fell short – a lot.

Here’s my opinion and I would like to think with ‘sportsmanship conduct’.

Tell you what though Falcon fans, you’d better take it ALL the way now!

You deserved to win today, but our chance at the bowl is done.  Beat whoever you’ll compete!

 

 

My chat with a stripper

So, My honey and I were bored.

“Lets go to that stripper joint!”

It’s only 2 blocks from us.

Yes, a girl tried to kiss me and yes, another girl tried to lap dance my honey. lol.  I think he enjoyed it, or at least, I hope he did.

It only took me two songs before I found the bathroom and found the women behind the scenes.

I asked for interviews, but they had to be back on stage.  Or, were scared to talk.  As the evening carried on, I had strippers sitting beside me next to the stage and telling me their life stories!  Amazing.

But it was full on tits out, deadline situation before I finally I convinced one lovely lady to talk to me on camera in their dressing (undressing?) area.

I spent my time being amazed by their abilities on the pole and being amazed by the stories I pried out of them.

I’m pretty ruthless.

I have a goal.

I needed to know WHY were they there?

The money.

Bottom line, the money.

All 5 girls I talked to had a family, and kids, and hopes and dreams.

And all 5 talked about poles that were not safe, not being escorted to their cars at night – situations that were not conducive to safety at all!

Here I was, sneaking an interview in a no cameras allowed establishment, and begging them for info.  I promised them ‘No names’ and they gave me that.

This is me in the middle of two amazing chicks.

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Who are doing what they can, with what they have.

And yeah, I gave them my name and number because, I know they are more than their bodies.

And I think I found ‘my thing’.  I think I love sneaking in and interviewing people.  Maybe, one day, I’ll be a journalist.

Interview with a meth addict. Looking for good and finding it.

Those Junkies! Crackheads! Methheads! Losers! Addicts!

Waste of space. Waste of life. Human trash.

If you’ve never wanted to feel like anything but yourself, you are blessed.

If you’ve never felt the pain and grip of addiction, you are blessed.

We seem to sweep under the rug of convenience the ‘prescription pill addicts’ – the ‘dirty martini addicts’, the ‘work out addicts’. The ‘I partied with a little coke” confessors.  As long as there is someone doing something worse than us, we’re ‘ok’.  Even the news is geared to shock and awe us into ‘phew, my life is not THAT bad’.

It’s funny – but there’s even a stigma within the addiction community – there’s those who snort, those who smoke and those who shoot up. Much like doing a crime and doing the time in prison, if you’ve sinned you’ve sinned right? Nope. They have their no-no’s. If your conviction involves harming a woman or child – watch out. No matter if you murdered someones son. We judge, judge, judge.

When it does come to addiction, did you ever stop to wonder who ‘Those People’ were before they turned to drugs the first time? Afterall, ‘they’ are daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, moms, dads. Who are ‘Them”?

They were once clean and innocent, had hopes and dreams. Healthy and excited about life.

What happened?

What takes a person from sobriety to addiction?

I shall break the 4th wall here and tell you that I could answer if you ever asked – there is more to the name of my blog than meets the eye and I have hundreds of stories I could tell.

I have to tell you that this is the hardest piece I’ve ever written – being an ‘interviewer’ and while caring very deeply for her subject.

But today I am telling you someone elses story.

We were chatting on the phone the other night and he asked “Did I ever read you what I wrote in my journal?”
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No. No he hadn’t. (largely due to the fact that he only recently found his journals once again) So he proceeded to share. And once he did – I insisted on an interview, (after already inviting him to share his story on my blog.)

Open your heart and mind and join me as I introduce you to one of my friends, in the most candid interview I’ve ever been privileged to share.

Behind the scenes info:

I had to stop several times due to the authenticity (that you know I love) being too overwhelming for me.

I always want to wrap the ones I love in cotton wool and put them in a matchbox for safekeeping. I don’t ever want those I love to hurt.

You wonder why I consider the parents when I speak of my neighbors? Because I look at everyone with Clockwork Orange eyes – large and engaged and unable to look away. And with a past of understanding. That’s why.

I give to you my friend Jim. He gives himself to you too – and if you want to reach out – contact me and I will put you in touch with him.

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A journey back. ))))))))))) please join me while we travel with James Beck former upstanding father, citizen, brother, son, friend turned wrong by the need for speed. 100% methane nitro supercharged 50,000 Watts of power pushing overload! This is the fucker that I will beat. I’m looking you right in the eye this time and I will put you down like I have before without blinking an eye! This time I’m going to make Mr. meth hurt. Kick that cocksucker in the mouth then make him eat the curb for dessert. He will feel my potential grow till no light will shine on that worthless good for nothing user of life and love. Like Pac-Man eating dots he sucks the life and hopes, dreams into the abyss. Battle is on. I will also turn this whole experience into a positive. Hey friends, brothers, sisters, mother, you!, I’m putting “God first” ,working hard on making amends on the things I have executed out with the help of Mr. meth, Lucifer, and of course the big S man, Satan! God has my heart now. Satan will no longer feel my mind, heart, soul with his evil. Giving it to Him. I love you Lord and pray for your help. Use me please Please!

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Me: Tell me about the first time you wanted to feel ‘different’ – get out of your reality.

Jim: I think that goes back to as far as I can remember. I am the youngest of six kids 10 years behind my closest brother. Early in my life I had a sister who OD’d when she was 18 years old and I was 5 1/2.

My family really didn’t know how to handle it. She didn’t die but she lost her mind and became schizophrenic.

(Editors note: Not sure if ‘became’ schizophrenic is accurate – I do believe you’re born with the genetic disposition – and a certain age brings it out (see rapture) – but from a young family members memories – this must have happened in tandem)

From those early days on I felt different and uncomfortable. I suffered a lot of mental physical and sexual abuse from her. I never felt normal and I always felt like I was different from others. I had a few close friends and that was it. My outlet for all that was sports. Then in my early teens I discovered something that could really change my reality. Drugs and alcohol

Me: What came first? Drugs or alcohol?

Jim: Drinking came first. Like I said I was with a group of tight friends – five of us. They’d all smoke pot and drink and I resisted for a while.

Then I took my first drink. It was out of a bottle of Smirnov vodka, 1 gallon size. It was before a Friday night football game and I remember it well. Within a week or two of that first drink I was drinking alcoholically . My drink of choice was Schlitz malt liquor bull out of a beer bong with a quarter pint of Southern comfort. This went on for almost a year. My friends smoking pot and doing other drugs and just drinking for myself. The fear of being like my sister kept me from doing the drugs

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Me: That first drink – how did it make you feel?

Jim: It was euphoric and I loved it. I remember going to the football game and sitting in the stands with the crowd of kids that I have set with many times and felt totally alone and uncomfortable. That night was different. I talked to a few girls and was very much more social. I found the answer

Me: Did you tell anyone what your sister was doing to you? How long did that carry on?

Jim: No I never told anybody.

She abused one of my friends with me a couple of times. He’s the only one whoever knew until I worked The steps outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. She abused me physically until the age of 13. The mental abuse was horrific. I can remember her coming to my junior high school in a bikini and walking through the girls PE class asking “Do you any of you know Jimmy Beck”

One of the worst days of my life. The sexual abuse ended when I was eight years old and I could run away and kind of knew what she was doing. Before that I was naïve and vulnerable. The last day of the physical abuse took place in my kitchen. I was 13 years old and was getting ready to play baseball game with my spike cleats on. She came at me like she had done many times before but this time I fought back and fought back hard. I remember sinking my metal cleats into her flesh. That was a great day for me.

Not such a good day for her.

Me: Oh Beck … You found the strength to do that, why did you not tell anyone?

Jim: Probably because of the reason why many victims of sexual abuse do it. Embarrassment and fear.

Me: Very true. Ok. So you found alcohol and were wary of drugs – what was your first drug and how did you feel crossing that line you’d mentally drawn?

Jim: The first drug I did was marijuana. It was outside my school with my good friend Rick and two girls. I hadn’t planned on doing it but I kind of liked the one girl who was doing it so I did it. Peer pressure driven by lust I guess. LOL. I remember after doing it I went into ceramics class. I felt like my head was the size of a basketball and couldn’t stop laughing. I loved it. I smoked pot every day after that for the next 30 years. I loved it

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Me: You know when people say ‘Pot is a gateway drug’ and other people laugh at that? I’ve always believed that’s true. Not because you want to shove a needle in your arm after you smoke pot, but because you’ve gone from being a non-drug user to a drug user. It’s easier to take it to the next level. Do you agree or disagree?

Jim: I sort of agree. I think alcohol is the gateway drug honestly. At least two harder drugs for me. The one thing being involved with marijuana does do, it puts you in places where other drugs are being used and distributed. If you stay in the barbershop long enough you’re going to get a freaking haircut you know

Me: I tend to think that when you’re not thinking straight, and your inhibitions are down, you’re more willing to do something stupid. But yeah – I know. So, Jim went from pot to ….?

Jim: I think the next drug I did was cocaine probably when I was 15. Again I loved it! From the age of 15 to 19 I used cocaine probably on a weekly basis. Not during the week very often. At that same time I started using LSD mushrooms speed and anything else I could get my hands on. I’m a garbage can

Me: Were you still at home at 19? There’s a Hawaii story somewhere here. From 15 to 19, who was putting a roof over your head?

Jim: I lived with my dad until I graduated high school when I was 17. Then I moved to Phoenix Arizona and went to diesel mechanic school. Lots of pot smoking and partying in there. I did graduate with almost straight A’s. When I move back to California I am immediately got a job doing my profession and live with my mother at that time. Free rent meant more money for cocaine on the weekends you know. It was all about The party. At that time I acquired a fake ID when I was 19. Then the club scene started happening

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And yes there is a Hawaii story. Actually a couple. My junior and senior years I went to Hawaii for the summer. I was 16 and 17 years old. Took a lot of cocaine and a backpack with my one buddy. We spent most of the time up in the cow fields collecting mushrooms and tripping. I don’t know how my parents let me do that at such a young age. Absolute insanity for sure. I’m lucky to be alive. One night I ate probably three or 4 ounces of fresh mushrooms which took away my vision. I remember praying to God please help me Lord I will never do this again if you give me out of this. The next day I did it again. One of many pleas to my God in times of desperation that I took my word back on

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Me: We’re skipping something I think people ought to know – and I know you have a loving relationship with her now – but at home, during your most difficult times, your mom wasn’t exactly (or literally) there for you

Jim: Do you want me to elaborate on that?

Me: Yeah, we’re on record

Jim: My parents were real good people. My father was a fireman who worked two days on two days off. He was as good of a dad you could find. He coached me and baseball and was a father figure to many of my friends. My mother was a schoolteacher at the local elementary school. She spent 80% of the nights out gambling and staying away from the house. I think the situation with my sister was too much for her as well as being addicted to gambling. I remember many times pleading with her ‘please don’t leave me alone’ with Loretta my sister. Only to have her say I’ll be back shortly and never coming home. It was kind of a split life.

When dad was home everything was great. When dad was at work my life was hell. A living horrible hell.

When my mom divorced my dad when I was 13 they took me into a room and said that I would be living with my mother. I refused and didn’t speak to her for a year and a half. After that and throughout my life I used my mother for a place to live and for a source of money. That was all.

As I was saying I acquired a fake ID at the age of 19. I would work throughout the week earning a good income and spend it all at the bars. Red onion, Bobby Mcgees, black Angus, the hop, following the dollar drinks circuit. At this time I also was introduced to meth. This was my favorite drug I ever tried. I could work on it without the mental craziness that cocaine gave me. Everything was better with meth.

When I was 21 I had an opportunity to try out for a local college and get a football scholarship. I had been out of high school for three years and have been working as a diesel mechanic for those three years.
I tried out and got a partial scholarship my first year so I enrolled and started my college education. This is the first time in my life I had been exposed to any type of real God. The University I went to was a Christian University and part of the criteria was taking Bible classes and attending chapel. I really started to feel a closeness to a God.

In my second year of college I was on the central coast of California visiting my brother Bill with a couple of friends. We had went out the night before to a nightclub and I remember being greatly hung over.

My brother’s phone rang and it was my mom. I got on the phone and she informed me that my brother Bobby had committed suicide.

It’s still hard to talk about. He was a beautiful man and a good friend as well as a good brother. A person who when he walked in the room it just got better. He was high on cocaine and alcohol and jumped off a three-story building. I turned my back on God that day.

This event set me into a tailspin. I spent the next two years of college smoking meth and drinking to excess.

I still played football and actually did quite well at that. My senior year I was an All-American. I can remember showing up the morning of the games after being up all night drinking and using meth . Talk about feeling weird, show up to a Christian breakfast with 45 teammates that are completely sober when you’ve been up drinking and using all night. What an awful feeling that was.

Me: Why did you turn to drugs after it played a part in your brother’s death?

Jim: That’s what addicts do. I had no other coping mechanism.

I didn’t want to feel. Seeing my father bury his son is something that I will never ever ever forget. No father should ever have to bury his son and addiction makes this occur far too often.
I’m so grateful he didn’t have to bury me also

Me: Someone special came along not long after that …

Jim: yes that next summer at a local carnival in my hometown of Hacienda Heights I reconnected with a girl from high school. She was the “hottest” girl in my school. Way out of my league in high school but I had matured and gain some confidence in that area. We hit it off immediately and were inseparable.

Me: Inseparable – and what happened next? (I know WHO happened next )

Jim: After dating for a couple of years I ended up buying a house.
We moved in together and a couple of years later she had an idea she was pregnant. She went to the doctor and came back with the wonderful news she was pregnant .

Later that night my brother called me and told me my dad died.

Again I turn my back on God. Such a bittersweet day that was.

Anyways D and I had used together for the previous four years. Mostly on weekends. We loved each other very much and with the coming of my son Taylor she wanted us to quit drugs all together.

Me: Wow. Poetic irony. A death and a life. So – you were still using and D decided baby was coming and time to change … did you quit?

'Tweaker'

‘Tweaker’

Jim: I promised her I would. I did quit using with her. Instead I just used by myself.
The relationship began to splinter and after a few more years she gave me an ultimatum. I chose drugs.

She met another man very quickly and move to Ohio.

I maintained custody of my son in California, (because you can’t move a child out of state unless you prove the other parent ‘unfit’, I was unfit, but functional).

This was such a horrible time in my life. I was using every day commuting to work, getting my son into daycare everyday and trying to take care of him.

I was falling way short. I remember one time getting in a high-speed chase with the police with my son asleep on the seat next to me. I ended up pulling into a driveway and the police drove by.

I made the decision that day that my son would be moving to Ohio with his mom.

Me: Do you think looking back. that you CHOSE to use? Or was the addiction too strong?

Jim: I have the mentality of this is who I am. I can quit at any time but I choose to use. I have a job, I have a house, I have two cars, I pay all my bills, and that’s what matters.

Me: I’ve seen videos of you and your wife and your son – you seemed so normal, so happy, but were using – fast forward. How long did you use meth?

Jim: I used meth from the age of 19 to the age of 31 when I move to Ohio to raise my son. The only reason I didn’t keep using meth is because I couldn’t find it. But I had no problem finding cocaine there which I have used on a regular basis.
But it wouldn’t be the last time that meth ruled my life. I’ll touch on that in a minute

At this point in time in my life I had given up on any type of life. I just wanted to be a dad and help raise my son. I partied like a rock star when I wasn’t with my son and then on the weekends when I did have him I wouldn’t drink or use any type of cocaine or that type of drug. I did smoke pot when he was in my custody though

Me: I know how much you love your son – I want to touch on the juxtaposition between loving people and the grip that addiction has on a person – you were trying moderation – how did that work out for you?

(I have to stop here – I was multi-tasking between translating to the blog and the interview – and while posting his photos – I was crying my eyes out. I called him. “This is hard” I said. “I see this kid – and he’s holding a beer – and I know what he’s been through – and I know how it ends, but I love this person and it’s so HARD!” “I’m in the middle of a sentence” he says. LOL! Let’s carry on.)

Jim: My moderation button is broke. I’ve never had two beers, I’ve never smoked a hit of weed, I’ve never just done a couple lines. Once I activate there is no stopping me until my run is over. I fell way short and those years of being a really good dad.. I spent most of my money on drinking and cocaine. I ran up bar tabs and had to pay them on payday in order to keep drinking for the next week. I remember borrowing money from my son on Sundays and paying him double the next week so that I could drink on Sunday night. I guess I did teach him about interest.

I lost so many really good jobs in my lifetime. My capability of making money was very high but I could never get the good job because I could never drug test.

This was the darkest time in my life in Ohio. I really didn’t fit in there. I didn’t like a lot of the people. I had an opportunity to work in California when I was 43 years old. I packed up a few bags in my car and told my son I would be back in a month. I never went back to my place and didn’t see my son for four years. I came to California picked up the meth pipe and couldn’t put it down.

In those four years I never paid rent. Are used up all my friendships sleeping on couches and getting by however I could. I used to live and lived to use.

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Me: I know that ‘enough is enough’ is not enough. You have to want it. What was you’re “I’m done”? Tell me about that journal …

Jim: The journal I wrote in a $1 million house in Simi Valley that I had been squatting in for almost a year. Squatting is living in the residence and not paying rent. I had met a woman who was growing marijuana out of the house and I was doing work for her. She got arrested and I moved into the house and rented out five bedrooms to local college students. I sold meth out of the master bedroom. Overlooking the whole valley, I was King of the Hill. After being in the house for eight or nine months without paying mortgage, the bank finally was closing on the house. I had been living with a girl there named M and she had tried to get sober a few times. I took her to rehab once, but she got out and used immediately.

Me: Then what?
Jim: I remember knowing that I was being kicked out of this house and had nowhere to go. No friends, no money, no self-respect, no hope.

On January 3, 2008 I dropped M off and she went into rehab again. The bank came and took the house and I was homeless in the San Fernando Valley where I hit my worst bottom. I was shoplifting, slinging dope and doing any kind of hustle to live. I was living in various abandoned garages and flop houses.

Me: Were you thinking of your son? Of your family? Were you a ‘Loser’ at this point?

Jim: Finally one night one of the man who I was living with, an ex marine 6’2, 290 pounds thought I had screwed his girlfriend and kick me out onto the street. That night I spent the night in a car I broken into. The next morning I called my best friend who had called me “you’re a loser” a year before and told me not to call him until I was done. That day I made the choice. I was fucking done. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I was going to fucking do it!!!!!

Me: What did ‘DONE’ mean to you at that moment? And when did you write that journal entry?

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Jim: I had written in the journal five months before when M was first trying to get sober. She had left me for the fourth or fifth or sixth time because I ran out of dope.
(M has almost 6 years clean and sober as of publication)

She would leave to her ex dealer boyfriend and steal money and dope from him and bring it back for us.
I wanted to change at the time I wrote the journal but I needed a little lower bottom my guess. The day when I called my friend it was March 12 of 2009

My friend picked me up that morning on the streets. He drove me to the town in Arizona where my mother lived. I crawled into bed for two weeks and didn’t move. I had been on a 4 1/2 year meth run.

I went to the local mental health facility in my moms town. I entered an outpatient program and begin to attend narcotics anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After a month in the outpatient program I qualified to go to a 30 day rehab in Prescott Arizona. Hillside recovery center.
In my time there, there was over 30 addicts and alcoholics. I was only one of the few who took it seriously. Within a couple months of being out everyone had relapsed except for me.

Me: I know the outcome to this story – Beck – what were some of the goals you wrote in one of the journal entries?

Jim: As I wrote in the journal I just wanted to quit hurting the people who loved me.
I wanted to be there for my son.
I wanted to have peace in my life.
I didn’t want to lie anymore.
I didn’t want to steal anymore.
I knew I could get a job, a good job if I could just stay clean and sober.
I wanted to be helpful to others and use my experience to help others.
I was a perfect fit for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Deep down inside me was a person who just wanted to be good.

I had nothing when I hit my bottom. I had the clothes on my back and my dog Roscoe. That’s it.

At around 90 days sober I chose to move back to California.
With God in my recovery I have lost fear and began to believe in myself.
I came to Thousand Oaks California and got a sponsor an Alcoholics Anonymous. I worked the 12 steps and dealt with so many things that had ruled my life.

I dealt with the issues I had with my mother and sister. I finally grieved the death of my father and my brother. I finally had peace and serenity in my life.

Me: What do you have now?

Jim: My life is so much different now. The mother who I had such resentment for , I am her caretaker. The sister who abused me, I’ve forgiven and she acknowledged what she had done to me.
Huge step in my life.

I now have a great relationship with my son and I’m able to help him through college and take him on vacations. I’ve been able to make amends to him as well as the rest of my family. I have my friends back in my life now. I have a great job making more money than I ever have in my life.

Me: It was just very recently that you visited the graves of your loved ones – sober.

Jim: Yes recently my best friend’s mother passed away and I was able to suit up and show up for the funeral.

Be there for him.

She was put to rest in the same cemetery as my brother and dad.

I was able to visit their graves for the first time clean and sober. For that I’m grateful. Such an emotional moment for me.

My life these days is pretty simple. I am grateful to go to work. I spend each day in recovery and try to help others to walk the road I walk. We don’t shoot our wounded in recovery, we pick them up we dust them off and we love them.

Me: For those that are struggling – those who are hurting – those who are running away and maybe not ready to stop running – or, maybe just speak to Jim at 8 – what do you have to say?

Jim: Never lose hope. Find a God of your own understanding. Try to help others. In helping others we are less interested in ourselves which is a good thing.

It’s not what somebody can do for me these days, it’s what I can do for somebody else.

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(Note: If you or someone you care about is suffering from addiction – seek help. It doesn’t have to be a 12 step program. Any program that focuses on recovery and therapy will be of help! The person you love, if willing, will explore their own path … ‘God’ in the blog owner’s interpretation is a power greater than self. Do not let religion or lack thereof, stop you from believing there is a solution to your problem. Science is a higher power, Faith is a higher power – Nature is a higher power, a group with like minded goals is a higher power. If you need help, get it! You can Contact Me and I can put you in touch with Jim if you like.)

Live Walking Dead goes Viral

But we knew it was already infected.  Right?

Fellow blogger, Screen Writer and friend, Austin Hodgens has graciously agreed to an interview after his post The Walking Dead To Film Live Episode In Maine was taken a tad too literally. 

I was instantly amused after Austin pondered on Facebook what the heck happened while he was at work Monday.  As hits in the tens of thousands continued to climb on his blog, I responded with helpful comments like ‘LMAO!’ ‘WTH?’ and ‘You realize you have more hits than the Obama Care website?’   (I can always be counted on to be helpful in times of confusion.)

My first request was for any Walking Dead action figures that might come his way due to internet infamy (Hey, they’re on my Christmas wish list okay!) 

Then I remembered I did interviews.

Sorry Dead fans – Walking Dead is not to be Live, nor filmed in Maine.

Austin’s brainchild, (brains – I had to get that in there) is: The Return of the Modern Philosopher and contains a LOT of very cleverly written satire. 

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The House on the Hill is home to an extremely creative native New Yorker who moved to Maine and has conjured up some very interesting neighbors.  Among them, Zombies, Witches, Gargoyles, and Vampires (Oh my!) … none of which seem to mind his Toga.

It was only a matter of time until this avid jogger added the official Walkers to his blog.  And no, it was not an intentional ‘hoax’ just a sampling of his imaginative writing.

I should mention – I like to conduct my interviews in a more organic way – via Instant Message.  With follow up questions and a back and forth flow.  Tonight was bonkers.  Austin and I tried, and failed, multiple times to chat on Facebook. 

I am convinced – the debacle that ensued was due to a Zombie Curse!  But, because the show must go on – here are the questions I wanted to ask that he still graciously answered via email.

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Me:  An environment where Norman Reedus would have to wear sleeves?  It doesn’t make sense.  How could people believe that?

Austin: A world swarming with Walkers doesn’t make sense, either, but the living learn to adapt.  With that in mind, I think Daryl would spend the episode in a full length mink coat.  He’d look like a totally bad ass pimp.

Me: Live zombies + lights, camera and action – could the Maine Zombie Census Bureau Agents have handled such a large herd?

Austin: As you know, the Maine Census Bureau Agents really just track the herds, keep population counts, and try to force the Zombies into certain parts of Maine, far away from the public.  However, the Maine Zombie Hunters, also government employees, would be there to keep the Walkers under control.  They can handle anything.  Best bureaucrats in the business!

Me: Andrew Lincoln is a consummate professional.  Do you really think he’d be so excited as to slip into his native accent?  Maybe he could have pulled a ‘Love Actually’ card reading instead!

Austin: That’s the thrill of live television, Amanda, we never know what is going to happen.  Lincoln is the consummate professional, but we don’t know how he’s going to react to live Zombies coming at him.  Is he really that good of a shot?  Englishmen are used to Werewolves in London, but are they prepared for Zombies in Maine???

Me: Why do you think there are no naked zombies?  Surely someone had to have been bitten in the shower …

Austin: Naked Zombies?  My question to you is: Why aren’t there Zombies in togas?  Nothing is more comfy than a toga.  If Zombies could form a Deep Thought, I would recommend they ponder on that.  And why would you want to see a naked Zombie?  Is that some form a zany British humor???

Me: Do you think Jeff Probst would be miffed if he knew the Survivor Maine post was outdone? (Or would that be ‘outplayed’)

Austin: Have to say this for Jeff Probst: he did address the Survivor: Maine rumors on Twitter and retweet my post, so he’s okay in my book.  No word from The Walking Dead staff yet.  My gut says Jeff would be upset to be outdone, and would start up rumors again just so that post got more hits.  Of course, this gives me an idea for a future blog post… Survivor Maine: Humans vs Zombies!!!

Me: Maggie, you – who gets the third chair on the porch?

Austin:  Bonus points for mentioning one of the most popular regular features on the blog.  I’d conjure up a special episode for Maggie.  One Chair on a Porch and she sits on my lap.

Me: Now you’ve stirred up the Walking Dead fans, do you have a Breaking Bad come back post planned?

Austin: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I stopped watching Breaking Bad during the second season.  Does that make me a bad person?  I thought writing satirical posts that get strangers in an uproar was what made me a bad person.  The Devil is sitting right here next to me, and he says I’m going to be spending eternity with him because I’ve riled up too many people on the internet!

Can I just add that I really hate that the local paper referred to this as a hoax.  It was a typical post on my comedy blog, I write about Zombies in Maine all the time, and it was clear that the article could not be true.  I hate that some people got so upset by it, but it’s humor, people.  Don’t get mad at me because my imagination took you a place you wanted to go.  I was just trying to make my readers laugh and attract some new fans.
 

I’m glad people read the post, and most happy that my biggest fan is incredibly proud of me…

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‘Drawing the invisible’ My interview with James D. Foster

I am a proud comic book fan.  (Okay, I’m a total nerd)

I am a member of The Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance (AKA: The Tick fan club)  True story.  Here I am with the Cypher Matic Decoder Wheel!

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I am also a fan of artists, of finding out what inspires them.  And I am in complete awe of natural talent.

So, it’s only fitting that I asked my long-lost/recently found talented friend if I could interview him.  Because he has natural talent in the art department.

In spades.

I’ll start with sharing what he labeled as his ‘nerdy’ stuff.  *Cough* bullshit *Cough*

For instance, this 'nerdy' drawing.  Because we all know, hands are SO easy to draw.  Not.

For instance, this ‘nerdy’ drawing. Because we all know, hands are SO easy to draw. Not.

This is my favorite - amazing grasp of lighting and shading and ... just everything!

This is my favorite – amazing grasp of lighting and shading and … just everything!

Now a little gratuitous moment – we played around with a short story I wrote, and these were some characters that were going to appear in the comic version.

She's the love child of Vanna White and Pat Sajak (in my story)

She’s the love child of Vanna White and Pat Sajak (in my story)

The main character – and I cannot for the life of me remember his name?? Arnold??  Anyway, the bananas had disappeared, but he’s holding one.

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And I have to assume this guy was the antagonist – that, or Jim got fixated on bananas – notice the one on his lapel.

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Yeah, Jim.  Such ‘nerdy’ stuff.  Early works – and amazing.  Just amazing.  Then he really found his stride.

Let’s chat with Jim shall we?

Me:  So, you’ve handed your mom your first drawing as a child – it goes on the fridge?

Jim:  Yep. That’s remembering pretty far back. But, I drew like any other kid in those days. Family members with pig feet; houses with smoking twirls from crayola chimneys; cavemen riding around saber tooth brontosaurus. I drew like any average kid back then.

Me:  That was my next question (talented AND psychic) when do you first recall drawing something, looking at it – and realizing. Oh … that’s GOOD

Jim:  1981. I was bedridden with pneumonia for two weeks when I was 13. My Father had bought me this amazing book on the art of the ‘Dark Crystal.’ Somehow it all just came together, and I realized I was way better at drawing than I had thought. Plus, I was 13, I’m sure what ever hormones I was dealing with didn’t hurt either.

Me:  So would you say that being exposed to a certain genre of art made something ‘click’ in your head? Like ‘Ah, there’s this other amazing way to have smoke curling out of a chimney’ The hormones I’m sure didn’t hurt, did drawing become an outlet for frustrations and expressing yourself at that time?

Jim:  Like any kid dealing with all of that craziness . . . you gotta have an outlet, an escape. I had whole worlds living in my head, but never could quite express them in any meaningful way. So, that’s when I got my first sketchbook, pen and quill, and started to draw whatever influenced that escape.

Me:  I love that you had whole worlds living in your head – only a few are able to translate them into something they can effectively share with others … what was the response of ‘others’ once you found your groove?

Jim:  It helped that my first art teacher saw something in what I was doing, and at that age, someone seeing potential in what you’re doing is a tremendous push. All the other kids saw it too. But, it no way put an end to getting pushed around. I always had some kid bug the heck out of me, to draw some girl they had a crush on naked. Pretty much, I was just a kid who drew better than most of the other kids. But, it never won me any popularity contests.

Actually, I have to correct myself. I won ‘Most Artistic’ my Senior year. It did actually win me a popularity contest.

Me:  You must realize now as an adult, that ‘pushing around’ stemmed from envy right?

Jim:  The girls always liked it. So that always helped. And they always had me drawing something for them. I played two years of high school football, and two years a pole vaulting and track. So sports was not really my problem. I suppose any kid at that age is envious of everybody else. I think it just helped me more or less break out my shyness. It was kinda my ice breaker.

Me:  Other than grades K-12, did you have any formal instruction with regards to art, or are you self-taught?

Jim:  Mrs. Spann was my first art teacher in High School. She was an incredible influence my first year. Sadly she had a heart attack, and had to retire. The next three years were all subs. So Mrs. Spann was the only formal training I had. In Jr. College I took a painting course and hated it. So that pretty much sums up all my art schooling.

Me:  Natural talent. That’s huge Jim. Seriously. Okay – fast forward. When were you drawn to comics? (No pun intended)

Jim:  Actually I always wanted to be a writer, Lol. So it just kinda made sense one day. Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ was a big eye-opener when I was 18. The art was great, but the story blew me out of the water. Up to that point, I had always figured that comics were just kid stuff.

Me:  They’re definitely not kid stuff – and they’re a lot of work! And, you do it all, Concept, writing – then you’re the penciller, inker, colorist, letterer AND editor. What are your tools of choice?

Jim:  A good pencil, a good pen, and blank piece of paper. That’s pretty much it. I love Photoshop, but it always feels like I’m cheating. But, it works, so I go with it.

Me:  What kind of pen? Doesn’t look like any ink that’s come out of any of my pens lol

Jim:  I used to use Rapidographs. But, i find that they’re too scratchy, and a pain to keep clean. Anything that has a smooth feel to it, and you can just throw away and not feel bad about it.

Me:  Then I guess the key is to be wicked talented – not so much the tool. What medium do you use for the coloring process? You mentioned photo shop – I have no clue how that works, but I know you’ve colored by hand too

Jim:  Photoshop, that’s it. I really need to get away from that too. Nobody wants to buy stuff you’ve Photoshopped. They want something real and original to hang on their walls. I’ve always wanted to check out silk-screening. Printing your own posters and all. But, for a long time it’s just been on the computer.

Me:  Digital inking/coloring. I guess that’s a good thing – if you had spent a lot of time doing it by hand, then screwing up a section – starting over would have to be frustrating as hell. Ever do that? Finish a frame and not like the lettering or something and have to start over?

Jim:  More times than not. That’s why I love the computer. It saved me a lot of good pieces. If I had actually gone to art college, maybe I would have a better grasp at doing it all by hand. Raw talent will only get you so far.

Me:  Speaking of ‘starting over’ – you lost 6 years worth of art and sketch books in a fire. I can’t imagine how that must have felt.

Jim:  Felt like hell. What the fire didn’t get, the fire hose did.

Me:  I’m so sorry. So much work. Almost like losing years worth of diaries and photos …

Jim:  That was right around the time the whole ‘Capzowski’ storyline really began to seed in my head. That was my first attempt at doing real comic pages. 11 x 14 bristol board. It was a real pain trying to figure out what I was doing. There’s more that goes into a page then one tends to think. Like 6-8 separate drawings that all have to flow and mesh like some weird dance on a page. I got about twenty something pages worth out of that year. Left them all on the drawing table. Got home the next day, it was all gone.

Along with the rest of my apartment.
Me:  Once again, you’re psychic – my next question was going to be about ‘Neo Pompeii’. How did you come up with the Capzowskis?
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Jim:  Bit by bit over the years. I like letting things write their own selves in time. I still have no idea what ‘Neo-Pompeii’ actually is. It was just a word that i likes, and used as a working title ever since. Just characters began to pop up in my art time and again, and you start thinking how they’re all related to one another. Then you start asking questions, all the way down to what the like for breakfast, and how do they take their coffee.
Me:  That’s the writer in you. I know your character of Starsky transformed a lot – when do you know you’ve fleshed them out to your satisfaction?
Starsky (on the phone)

Starsky (on the phone)

Jim:  When I stop asking questions at to what they like and hate and what not. That’s something I love to capture when i draw each of these character. I don’t need thought bubbles to explain their ego’s and personalities. You can look at them and see their thought process. That’s my favorite thing about art. Not just drawing cool characters, but drawing what you can’t see. But, it’s there none the less. Like drawing gravity. It’s invisible, but in the manner that you illustrate an individual, you can feel their body weight. That’s what I get a kick out of art. Drawing the invisible.

Me:  One character that has a misleading look would be Francis … he’s so menacing, yet Sissy is the heavy?

Francisco (Francis) Wolfgang Capowski

Francisco (Francis) Wolfgang Capzowski

Francis 'looking' tough

Francis ‘looking’ tough

Jim:  Francis is the ugliest guy in town . . . but he gets all the girls. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass as that he’s kinda apish. He’s a talker. Everybody knows him, everybody likes him. Everybody owes him a little something, and he always comes back to collect. Sissy, his twin, either people hate her or a terrified of her. A bit of sociopath, but not in a cool Hollywood way. Has zero social skills, and no friends. AS if there were a polar opposite to Pippy Longstocking. That would be Sissy.
Meet 'Sissy'

Meet ‘Sissy’

Sissy colored

Sissy colored

Sissy before color

Sissy before color

Sissy after color

Sissy after color

Sweet family table time?

Sweet family table time?

Me:  I love the feel of Neo Pompeii – I might even be convinced to move my Tick comic books over to make room for the first Capzowski issue. Okay, so the big question – I know your life is in transition – but, let’s say the your Art Fairy Godmother floats down from wherever they float down from … what would be your art related wish?

Jim:  Lol. To write a novel.

Me:  A graphic novel?

Jim:  A novel first. Then a graphic novel.  A combo piece let’s say. One would feed into the other.

Me:  Anything you want to say to kids who have found this interview by googling comic art related topics?
Jim:  Just draw your asses off. It’s way cheaper than what they’re charging in art school these days. Plus it’s the best way to discover your own style.
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**Photos, Art and concept are sole property of James D. Foster – printed with permission.  Use of any material above is expressly forbidden.  If you would like to reach the artist – you may contact me utilizing  the ‘Email Amanda’ option on the right hand side.**
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