Memo from Theo via hot rocks and crazy goats:
For magazine illustrator's, the contents page of Rolling Stone is one of the choicest assignments you can land. There are very few things that surpass it, such as a cover assignment for The New Yorker.
It is the first thing you see when you open the cover of Rolling Stone, hence it is an assignment that opens many doors in ones career. So after years of scrawling for "alternative music zines" I was shocked that day in late Summer 2001 when Fred Woodward and Gail Anderson rang my telephone to tell me they had an extremely quick turnaround assignment for me on the contents page.
They had to have it in less than 48 hours. I would go without sleep to get it done and in their hands.
Now please bear in mind that the competition for this is like trying to get cast on a television show starring Jennifer Aniston, who just so happened to be the cover star of the very same issue.
No. It is even harder than that. It is like trying to get a date with Jennifer Aniston, who by the way is Greek. Just like me. Maybe if you're Greek and your parents know Jennifer Aniston's parents from the Greek Orthodox Church, when both of you were babies, and they arranged your marriage before either of you could crawl, in order to prevent either of you from ever marrying a white person, thereby having children with two distinct eyebrows. Maybe if this be the case you could get a date with Jennifer Aniston. Otherwise forget it. You're dead to her.
So two Greeks are in the same exact issue of Rolling Stone! What are the odds? Only a Greek Bookie could tell you. Did you know that Telly Savalas is Jennifer Aniston's Godfather?
That's right, Kojak.
How cool is that? To have a total bad ass like Telly Savalas as your Godfather!
I should have been so lucky. About my Godfather I will only say this. It is a good thing my parents didn't die while I was a child. Like I said earlier, the typical outcome for an illustrator landing the contents page assignment in Rolling Stone was that their career took off like an APOLLO Rocket launch. (Apollo is another Greek, this time a God). Every art director in the world would see your work and they would start to call you and offer you more work.
It is promo that you get paid for. How Greek is that?!
Trojan promo baby! In disguise as an illustration in a magazine.
I didn't sleep and I got the illustration done in time. It was for some band I'd never even heard of, never mind heard, Alien Ant Farm. I hope that their career is doing better than mine, and that they haven't been reduced to playing gyro's stands. Now I was all set and waiting for my telephone to really start ringing, and my email to start filling up. Except for one thing that was about to happen.
What philosophers and mathematicians (Greeks again) call a Black Swan. Maybe it was Zeus again, and he screwed me just like he did Leda! It was late Summer 2001. This issue of Rolling Stone came out the week of September 11, 2001. That's right. The same exact week that the World Trade Center came down. Nobody cared about a vacuous pop culture magazine that week. Not even your Greek family! It is probably the worst selling issue in the history of Rolling Stone, like if they put Yanni on the cover. Jennifer Aniston's career made it through it. Alien Ant Farm and me? Not so much.
About a year later my friend Jeffrey Neumann asks me if I have seen the AIGA Annual for 2001.
AIGA is the American Institute of Graphic Arts. I told him no, I hadn't. He told me that they gave me one of the top awards for illustration in 2001, for the Alien Ant Farm piece in Rolling Stone!
This is equivalent to being on that aforementioned television show with Jennifer Aniston, winning an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Single Episode, and no one tells you about it. They don't invite you to the banquet or the awards ceremony. Nothing, nada, zilch.
Just like Ulysses stranded on that island with those goats, I'm sitting there slack jawed, drool in my beard, while Jeffrey tells me all about it. The big shot at AIGA who bestowed this honor upon me while simultaneously deciding never to tell me about it, said something to the effect that they had seen a lot of work in recent years that was pretending to be alternative and weird.
But that my work was obviously the real deal. Authentic and strange.
That's me, Uncle Theo. The poster child for beautiful freaks.