Tim and Jeremy are both waiters at a restaurant in downtown New York City. During slow times at work, to stave off boredom when it is slow, the two young men draw pictures. These pictures are made using ink and what is called the "Triple Dupe Pad," a book of paper used to place orders in the kitchen. The drawings usually take about a week to make, all the while also being used by fellow employees to take orders; this sometimes leads to other collaborators or in a couple cases, to the loss of the work. The drawings are then scanned and colored in Photoshop where they come to life in stunning technicolor! The subject matter varies from piece to piece, as they are made over a long course of time and under various moods and states of mind. They all retain a playfulness that serves as a coping mechanism after spending a night catering to the endless needs of hungry patrons.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

#60 "The Last Days on Krypton" (featuring Stephen Croce) May 22, 2013

(Click on the image to make it HUGE)

Stephen worked with us for a couple years. I can't remember when he started or when he finished, but I'm going to say that he was at the restaurant for a couple years, which is to say, he was a background player. However, he made a pretty big impact within that short amount of time. There have been bit players who one can't remember now, or if you do remember them, it's with a sigh, and maybe one memory associated with them. Stephen, on the other hand, was a presence. He was (and still is, no doubt) a boisterous, wild man. One of his first shifts, he came in wearing a hat. Who waits tables in a hat? No one said anything to the contrary, so he continued to wear the hat. His mustache was curled on the ends like people were doing back then, and he seemed to be able to pull it off. You see, Stephen had spent the previous 15 years in Paris, living life up to it's full potential, and had come back to New York to become an American again, or something. Who knows why people do anything, anyway. He had known a couple of the people working at Loup back in the 90's, before he left the country for the grand boulevards of the city of lights. So, upon returning, he was set up as one of the gang at the Loup. And he fit in like an old glove that you had lost but found years later in the sofa and were pretty excited to be able to wear again. Everyone at the Loup is a bit of a character. Some people describe it as "The Island of Misfit Toys" from the animated Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer cartoon. That's a pretty apt description of the staff. Everyone is quirky and interesting in their own, special way. And Stephen fit right in. It was like the Loup was the perfect place for him to re-enter American life.  He would come into the restaurant at full steam, taking charge of the dining room with his manic energy. Some people thought he was legitimately crazy, but he was really good at his job. Most of the guests loved him and his wild man antics. When someone had a birthday, he would put a candle into their peach tart and sing to them. And when I say sing, I mean really sing. The dining room would come to a standstill, as this little guy who looked a little like Bob Hoskins and Robin Williams' love child, would belt out the Happy Birthday song in full operatic voice, complete with vibrato and gusto in equal parts. My own father was the subject of this treatment a couple years ago. My dad and nephew have the same birthday and Edie though both were coming in, and so the table was adorned with "Happy 1st Birthday" Lightning McQueen balloons and suddenly, my dad is accosted by the entire staff singing with Stephen in the front, belting out the song. Afterwards, the entire dining room burst into applause, like it was the greatest performance of the song they had ever heard. With a huge grin and bright red face, Stephen beamed in his glory and gave my dad a couple boisterous pats on the back. From behind the bar, the whole scene looked staged and majestic, like an insane scene out of a movie that one can't tell if it's a comedy or some sort of Lynchian nightmare.
Yes, we had a lot of fun. But it wasn't to last. Like most of the cast of characters who exit the Loup, it happens over night and without fanfare. One day they are there and part of the everyday story, and then they are gone and someone will ask about them every once and a while, but for the most part, the show goes on without them. Stephen moved upstate and was commuting into the city for a while before he completely left. The commute started to wear on him, and finally he found a gig upstate so he didn't have to commute anymore. I was pretty bummed out when he finally called it quits. He was a good co-worker and a hard worker when it came right down to it. Yes, he was slightly crazy, and could be over the top every once and a while, but then again, so can I, so we got along famously. He not-so-quietly made it onto the A-Team in his short tenure at the restaurant and would make the place hum on a busy Friday night.
He's still around somewhere, doing something awesome. I like to think of him in his little hat and curly mustache singing an operatic happy birthday song to some disoriented and eventually heart-warmed old lady. You can see him perform in his new band, Painted Blue Sky in and around Kingston, New York. Dude can certainly sing.

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