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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

#68 "Make Your Wish" In Color! August 9, 2013

(Click on Image to Make it Larger!)

I am not a writer.
When I started writing these blog posts almost 5 years ago, it was really just to showcase the drawings. I was only posting the drawings on Bookface before posting them here, and in Bookface there was no description of the drawings, how they were conceived, or any information at all except the number of the drawing. We didn't even name them on there, it would just show up one day as "Tim & Jeremy's Mind on Loup #68!!!" Usually with three exclamation points. When number one hundred was posted, I used all caps. No one cared.
As the blog posts seemed to get longer and longer I also started thinking about them differently. Originally, I would make a couple comments about the drawings themselves, but then I started thinking about the restaurant more. Since these drawings are all done in the restaurant, during the operating hours of service, I thought that it would be more fun for my 8 regular readers to get a glimpse of life within the restaurant.
The Loup is, after all, a strange and magical place. It has been at 105 W. 13th St. since 1989, and was conceived a decade earlier in a different location also on 13th St. Since that time, it has become a neighborhood staple. Regulars know they can come in any time for comfort food and strong, delicious martinis. It is a safe haven for artists and celebrities, who know they can show up and dine unmolested by tourists or people looking for autographs. And then there is the literary aspect. When the restaurant was first opened in 1977 by Bruce and Roxanne Bethany, they decided to court the literary community. They decided that if the place was full of writers, the rest of the world would follow. They were right. Writers of all types have haunted, and still haunt the walls of the Cafe Loup. From Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens' wild late nights, to young unknown poets struggling to buy a pint, the restaurant has been a comfort zone and meeting spot to an entire generation (or two) of New York literati.
Of course I had no idea about any of that when I walked through the doors in 2002 and handed someone my resume. For me, it was off a convenient subway line, it was in a cool neighborhood, and it was a on a block with a bunch of other restaurants so it was easy for me to walk up and down the block dropping off resumes. At the time, I had been unemployed for months and so I would go out every day looking for jobs wherever I could. I was cold-calling places, like the Loup; I was going on mass cattle calls that I found in the back section of the Village Voice, and any other method I could think of to get a job; any job. So when I got the call from the Loup, I was just happy to get a call back. I didn't care if it was a Village Institution. I didn't care if it was a Writer's Bar. I was just happy to get a full schedule and the ability to pay my rent. It wasn't until much later that I realized the respect and admiration the people of New York felt for this little restaurant. I was always a little jealous of the regulars because they had this incredible place to go night after night and interact with all these interesting people. Later on I realized that I was not only part of that, I was helping to continue the tradition of making it people's favorite spot. Cafe Loup was my regular bar, and I got paid to be at it. It was a wonderful revelation, and even though I do have some favorite regular places outside of the Loup (aka work), I still consider it my regular place.
I went off on that tangent to let you know about the restaurant a little, although I am sure I have written all of that in some form or another throughout this blog sometime in the past. The original point of this blog post was going to be me going on a self deprecating rant about how I am not a writer, or how I don't describe myself as a writer. I write this blog out of a weird compulsion to continue writing about these drawings in relation to the restaurant that they were created in. It really is compulsory in that I have no motive, I have no goal in mind for the drawings or for the text that accompanies them. Tim and I have talked about making them into a book someday, and maybe some of this text could be included somewhere in there, but that is not the motivating force for me to continue writing. The truth is, I don't know why I keep writing these things. I think it might be a way of processing the work experience and trying to convey it in a clear and concise manner that helps me understand my past 13 years at this establishment. Not that it is important or even very interesting. Maybe I am trying to defend to myself my employment at a place for such a long period of time, even though working at the Loup has given me the freedom that I moved to New York for in the first place. I needed a place that was steady where I could work while pursuing my other interests, which have been incredibly varied in the decade and a half that I have called New York my home.
So, when you read these posts, I hope you enjoy them, but also know that I am almost writing them as a diary that I might look at some day to help me  remember this time and place in my own history. I always say that in an ever-changing world, at least the Cafe Loup stays the same. I sincerely hope that it stays the same forever, but I know that it won't. Some day it will be a Duane-Reade with a Starbucks kiosk in it, and the Cafe Loup name will be in every mall in America as a "New York style French Bistro." Then, you and I will be able to come back and read all of these blog posts and remember a time that was, of people that were, and a special place in the middle of it all. And we can all laugh at all of my typos, run-on sentences, and basic inability to write in the English language. Until then, I'll see you at the Loup!

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