rechargeable frank


i’m writing this while listening to a song that i listened to in 1999— 10 long and tumultuous years ago. it’s the next to last song on an album that was with me everywhere i went. it was purchased when mp3s were in their infancy.

the first time i heard the first single from this disc was on a sunny april morning, 6:30am. My clock radio went off and i heard it. just like that. it was new music from my favorite band. it was on the radio! the first time i heard it was on the radio. can anyone say that today? today you hear everything on the net. stuff just doesn’t happen. you’re not surprised. you go to look for it or it’s emailed to you. you don’t wake up to it. hearing something for the first time like this is special, exciting. you can’t hit the back button again, you can’t reload the page, you can’t take it with you wherever you go—you have one shot, one specific moment to get it. after that, you just wait for the radio to play it again.

in fact, i specifically remember driving across town to a mom and pop music shop (remember those?) to get this cd on my 25 minute lunch break.

i put the over priced disc (i think it was $16.99) on the sticker covered counter, ready to fork over what was the equivalent of about two hours pay (after taxes, maybe three), hoping that what was on that light blue and pink disc would do something to me… if not increase my consciousness of my oneness of the universe at least let me bob my head to a familiar, yet unfamiliar beat.

the clerk said, “wow, i didn’t know we had more than one of these…”
not sure what he meant by that. but whatever.

i didn’t have a disc player in my car at the time. hell, i didn’t even have a horn— and the floors in the back seat area were completely rotted out… the only thing between my passengers feet and 55mph asphalt was a thin, red, dirty, factory installed piece of carpet. good times.

my friend dave and i listened to that entire cd that night… from beginning to end. never skipped a track…in fact, i think i may have recorded a copy of the album on audio tape for him. no burning, no file transfer— just some not-so-hi-speed dubbing.

that was a time where i thought i wanted to be a musician…that the art thing would be a side thing to my spotlight aspirations. we learned how to play at least half the songs on that album. just acoustic guitar, bass and voice. it felt good to play those songs… even if we weren‘t the best or even average…it made us feel good.

my friend and i ended up seeing this band play three times that year. drove 100 miles to see them in a smoky dive in albany, were willing to streak down a busy street to get tickets to see them a second time, and paid way too much for tickets to see them in a showroom. they were the band we’d form if we were to ever form a band.

i think about all that stuff when i listen to this music… of course that cd i bought that april day is missing…lost in the moving boxes that constituted the last two years of my life…i’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again… earbuds pumping electronic files from a laptop will never be the same as listening to an audio tape in your car stereo, driving with all your windows down on a sunny, 65 degree late spring day. the quality of the sound is not audiophile level, but the experience is uplifting—wind blowing through the car, the smell of fresh cut grass, every cloud in the sky is fluffy white and following you down the highway.

it’s ten years later and i don’t do that nearly as much as i used to. i pick up my guitars every now and then to play those songs we learned that summer of 1999, but lately all i seem to pick up is a pen. or a pencil.

ten years is a long time. i wish it was 65 degrees out today… i think i need to drive.

jeremy merry 1984-2008


there is something to be said for someone who, in a very short amount of time, can have such a profound effect on your life.

i met jeremy in 2003. he came on as my intern through a high school program. i had heard that he was diagnosed with leukemia and had bravely faced it down. when he first came to me i must’ve drove him nuts with questions. what can i say, i was curious. i had family who battled cancer— but i was too young to understand the gravity of what cancer was.

so i just bombarded jeremy with questions: what did you feel when you first found out? what clued you in to thinking something might be wrong? what does the chemo feel like going in? where do they put it? how long does it take? he was such a good sport about it…probably had a whole set of talking points ready to lay on people like me.

he came to me because he wanted to be a cartoonist. that’s all he wanted to do. write them, draw them, read them…i saw so much of myself in him— which is why we hit it off immediately. he was so funny. i loved to hear him laugh. i loved to make him laugh.

i am an only child. jeremy was like the little brother i never had. he loved the fact that i was one of the few adults that would tell him the straight truth. if his drawing sucked, i would tell him it sucked. if it was decent i would say that. i wouldn’t lie to him… if i lied to him it would mean that i didn’t care… and he knew that. and he respected me for that.

i told jeremy that his experience battling leukemia needs to be seen by other people. he was in a unique position to show how lonely and painful battling something you can’t see is. at the end of his intership he had put together the beginning of his chemo experience in the form of a comic book. it was to be the first in an ongoing series. i remember how proud he was, on that last day we were together, to hand me that finished copy of his comic. i helped him do that. made me feel good.

i bought him a small light table for a high school graduation present. and i told him to use it. my mantra to him was “contrast, contrast, contrast!” i would always bust his chops about how his hatching sucked. he would bust my chops back about working so much.

he went off to a local community college. at the time i lived not that far away from him. he was so happy to get out into the dorms. i would occassionally talk to him online— which was rare because he was always out doing something— being a resident assistant in the dorm— he said he wanted to do it to meet people. and meet people he did. i remember visiting him on campus and i felt like i was with the star of the football team— everyone seemed to know him and love him. i have to admit, i was jealous… but after all he went through, he deserved it. and he loved it.

just when things were all falling back into place, when leukemia seemed as though it was going to be a few pages in a huge chapter… i got the call. the cancer was back.


but jeremy was tough. if he was scared, i never knew it. this kid was going to face it down again with both middle fingers up. he tasted life and wanted more. screw cancer. he kicked its ass once, he’d do it again. and he did. but the second one took something out of him.

he went forward to finish up his two year degree. he wanted to write and draw comics, design video games… nothing was going to stop him from doing that. but the cancer thing was lingering it was pushing against him time and time again. but no matter what he was going to get his degree.

when i was going through some heavy personal shit, i remember talking to jeremy. my life as i knew it was falling apart before my eyes… i was confused, scared didn’t think i had many options. i was willing to spend my life miserable because i was too frightened to do anything about it… because doing something meant that i had to sacrifice things… that it would be hard… jeremy could do that in his sleep. he would say that life was too short to be miserable… i’m not saying that his words solely convinced me to change my life… but they helped.

earlier this year jeremy got sick again. i kidnapped him one day and took him to the art supply store. we talked about going to see iron man, the hulk, the new batman movie. i just thought that he would kick this round like the other two. i remember specifically driving home on route 49 with jeremy sitting next to me thinking, ” this is one of the toughest m—–f—-rs i know…” he was still doing the college thing… driving to syracuse for treatment week after week…

when i got settled into my new house, he came over to visit. and he was busting my chops as usual…because i had the house, the white picket fence, the beautiful girl, the small yappy dog… everything i said i’d never be — i became… jerk 🙂

that would be the last time i would see him outside of a hospital.

he went to university hospital not too long after that. i went up to visit him a couple times. i regret now that i didn’t bring a camera with me… i have no pictures of me and him together. with jeremy though, i was being uncharicteristcally optimistic… i’d get my picture with him… when he beat it this time, i told him i was taking his ass to get a tattoo.. i think he deserved it.

his mom called me and wanted to know if i wanted to make an artwork donation for a families of cancer of benefit… instead of pickingout something that was already done i decided to do the portrait of jeremy that you see at the beginning of this post. i mean it was for jeremy. the piece was going to be auctioned off… i knew that… i planned on doing another one just for him. someone was able to buy back the piece from whoever bought it… when i went to see him at th hospital the second time, the painting was right by his bed. that really got me.

but syracuse couldn’t knock the cancer out of him. so off to buffalo…another hospital, another cancer center… nothing. i was making plans to go and see him in buffalo but he left there for another experimental treatment in new york city. so i was starting to make plans to go down there. i kept putting off calling him. my life has become chaotic in the past few months… i couldn;t make five minutes to call him and bust his chops? i would do it. i have to… it’s jeremy.

yesterday, i got home after work… the dogs had wrecked the house, there was pee on the carpets, in my studio, lucy pooped in the bathroom… and i went insane… then my phone rang.

jeremy was gone. the world stopped for a moment.

before he passed, he made sure to tell his mom that he wanted me to be the first to know.

my friend, my boy, my little brother… was gone. his fight was over.

you never know how it feels until it happens to you. this is a mixed feeling. i’m glad that he’s done with the pain, the struggle, that he doesn’t have to spend anymore time in another goddamn hospital. eat another crappy hospital meal. lay awake all night, alone… with nothing but some dvds and a sketchbook by his side.

and i’m angry….i want to have coffee with my friend again… but i can’t. i want to be able to watch him develop as an artist and writer but i can’t. he was 24 years old. 24 years old. everything he ever wanted to do in his life, i’m doing. i’m doing what he wanted to do… i am living his dream… without even knowing it i am.

after yesterday, there are a bunch of little things that really don’t have the weight to me like they used to.

it was an honor to know you jeremy. i’ll never forget you dude.

Categories: painting thoughts

insert title here…


i’ve been throwing ideas around the last few days— along with a thousand other things going on in the land of frank…

i can’t think of a good title for my next bob book. i’m shooting for it to be available by the end of the month thru i also have plans to introduce some new t-shirt designs. i’ll admit that the current ones are a tad old… no i take that back… they’re REAL old. i apologize for that. it will be rectified…

what do you think of the title: “raiders of the lost nuts” does that sound mildly dirty?

Categories: book thoughts