While the rest of the country was out celebrating the Bicentennial of the United States of America, I was at sleep-away camp doing whatever I needed to do in order to survive in the wilderness of the Pocono Mountains with a couple hundred other Jewish kids. For me, survival mode only meant one thing - Arts & Crafts - as it's not only indoors, but aside from the infirmary and main office, it's the only air-conditioned building in the camp. (This lesson proved quite valuable about ten years later, while on vacation at a Caribbean ClubMed.) With access to art supplies, I began painting reproductions of album covers on scrap wood for my counselors in exchange for hero sandwiches and Cokes that they'd buy for me on their off nights when they'd go to town. On one particular rainy evening, trapped in our tent bunks, the wood, wet canvas, and musty clothes permeated the air as my English counselor, Iain, popped in a cassette he had brought with him from London. It was a sound I had never heard before and it touched my pubescent soul. In exchange for that tape, which I had to have, I drew a couple of the characters from "A Trick of the Tail" into his journal. This was the seventh studio album by Genesis, but it was my introduction to a sound that became the soundtrack of my formative creative years literally overnight. Little did I know, it was just the beginning.
Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, the squonk, is a mythical creature that supposedly lived in the woods about ten miles from the camp. This wart-covered animal weeps constantly, so a good tracking hunter would be able to follow one by its tear-stained trail. When cornered and escape seems impossible, a squonk would dissolve itself in tears. I never saw one in person, but I heard it loud and clear - as the song ‘Squonk' also happens to be the third track on that fateful Genesis album. Leaving Cedar Lake at the end of August, I boarded the camp bus with my trusty summer sketchbook and a high fever. Curled up fetal position in the back-corner seat, I just wanted to be home. By the time I got there, I realized I had left that sketchbook in the back of the bus, in its own pool of tears. From that day on, I never lost another sketchbook, notebook or journal. I've been keeping one, essentially in constant rotation, ever since. Today, I'm working in my fifty-fourth consecutive volume and I have every single one of them - all filled with a lifetime of creativity and self-expression.