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Bill Russell: Sketchbook Cabbie
San Rafael, CA
visual journalist
Recent Activity
Drawn on the iPad with the Sketchbook Pro app. Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I picked up Raven on 4th Street in San Rafael at 7:00 Sunday morning. She stumbled disheveled into my cab. Her vintage clothes a smelly jumbled mess of black veils. We began a conversation. She tells me she tended bar all night and was tired waiting for the pick up from her boyfriend. When I ask her why her kinky blond hair is all wet she says it was from a lawn sprinkler. I’d guess she’d fallen asleep on someone’s lawn. So I turn up the heat in the cab. What identifies her are her tats, especially the blue-black spiral... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I realized the other day that, while I only drive a cab Saturday and Sunday, I'm doing what every suburban parent is doing out there on weekends, they're driving their kids everywhere. The only difference is that when I'm shuffling people around, I get paid for it. My son just turned 16 years of age and is now entitled to a learner's permit for his official drivers liscense, which I know he will use extensively. It will set me free of my sixteen years of weekend driving obligations to his swim meets, soccer games, birthday parties which have more then... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Digital Impressions with the iPad Brushes App Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Great comment, Michael. Did you hear about this confrontation:
Toggle Commented Apr 27, 2011 on Radiation is Released at Sketchbook Cabbie
Magdelegna sells her handmade ornate palm crosses in front of the Mission San Rafael Church on Palm Sunday. Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I decided to drive despite the fact that I was still getting over a cold. The drug combination of Comtrex (for head and sinus), Dayquil and Tussin (for the cough and sore throat) and Mucinex (an expectorant for the phlegm) had me slightly wired. The haze in my head seemed to be manifesting in my pick-ups. Is it the Buddhists who say you perceive what you feel? My first fare that morning was the aged couple I took to the Marin Airporter at Larkspur Landing after a stay with their daughter. He’s moaning from some pain and she’s attempting to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
What is it about the all the rants and radiation that’s getting released these days? The reactor core of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan couldn’t be kept cool due to Tsunami-related damage and may cause a meltdown and the release of deadly radiation. The plant’s technology and backup systems may prove to be inadequate. Charlie Sheen’s firing from his television show, Two and a Half Men and subsequent rants displaying his hypomania, were the result of drug and alcohol abuse. Viewers can't stop digesting this freak show. New and old media are tailor made to deliver these events, but... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I watch the cab driver ahead of me in line at the taxi stand as he furtively crams this guy’s bicycle and some other grimy items including a rusty toolbox, a backpack and a three-foot length of 4-inch PVC pipe, containing fishing poles and reels. It amazes me that he can fit it all in his taxi trunk. Thankfully, the bike is collapsible. The trunk is closed and in they go into the cab. It seems like they’re ready to go, but out pops the cabbie. He looks disconcerted and lights up a cigarette. The shit box he calls a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
It's a Saturday afternoon and I’m driving the few miles from the Budget Motel to the Marin Vehicle Pound in Corte Madera. Faux Jay and Silent Bob are in the back of my cab reeking of pot. They need to get their car back. These two stoners had it impounded the day before by the U.S. Park Police after being arrested smoking pot (“and just a little hash, ok”) on Muir Beach. “Didn’t you know you were on federal land, guys?” I inquire. Silent Bob answers,” I’ll bet if we jumped in the ocean, they couldn’t arrest us.” This is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2011 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Thanks for your post, Sholla. I guess you were impressed by (and helpful to) Finbar, as well. He's quite a guy, on quite a journey.....Bill
Toggle Commented Jan 11, 2011 on Walkin’ to Oregon at Sketchbook Cabbie
As the architect gets in my cab, he tells me he needs to go back home to Philly. I tell him I’ll take him as far at the San Francisco Airport. Cab driver joke. Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
The biggest event of the year for San Francisco is not Halloween or even the Gay Pride Parade. It’s JavaOne, the Oracle Developers Conference. The city rolls out the red carpet for 60,000 nerds. They take over several blocks around Yerba Buena and the Moscone Center. All downtown hotel rooms are booked. They spend a lot of money and the city needs it. So when I drove a young woman who works for Oracle South Africa and her client from their lunch in Sausalito to their hotels in the city, I got to hear just how much cash was involved.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
She’s the most beautiful girl that ever got in my cab. I figure she’s 32 years of age. With long blond hair and the slightest New York accent. The black business suit she wears hangs slipshod and sexy. She holds a papercup of white wine at a tipsy angle. “They kept pouring it for me on the ferry,” she says. This makes her even more sweetly amusing to me. She needs a lift to her houseboat up the Bridgeway in Sausalito. As I drive, she tells me about her workday, about moving from Park Slope, Brooklyn and how lucky she... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
‘Geez,” I uttered under my breath, after the gent says, “drop me here, drop me here, I’ll walk.” Disconcerted was the feeling I felt, after the numerous other commands, directions and opinions he barked at me as we drove up into the hills behind Dominican University in San Rafael. “Sure you don’t want a ride the rest of the way,” I said. “Nope,” he says stroking the ornate handle of his cane, jiggling his turquoise necklace and oozing some odd cologne. “For this garage sale, I don’t want them to see me arriving in a taxi….get better prices that way.’... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I've been reading Chicago cabbie Jack Clark's very cool crime novel 'Nobody's Angel'. Check it out. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Ben sticks his bruised and battered head in the window of my cab and says he wants to know if I take cards and “How much (is it) to Sleepy Hollow?”
 “Yes and about $15,” I answer. “OK,” Ben responds as he carefully and painfully eases into the back seat.
 “How’d you get so banged up?” I ask. “I crashed my bike on Pine (Street) in the city. It was my own damn fault,” he says. “But last night, I was just hanging in Hayes Valley, no wait, maybe it was Union Square, and this guy socked me, knocked me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Outside the Mayflower Pub on 4th Street, the crowd of colored and face-painted in red, blue and white soccer hooligans gather to celebrate the tie the US team managed to pull off in the first game in their World Cup series against England. Not bad for us underdogs. “USA, USA, USA,” they all chant. The game was televised on the big screen inside and the extra Porta-Potty is set up outside. It’s 1:00 in the afternoon and the copious beer they drink gets them peeing a lot. Maybe one of these drunks needs to be driven home in a cab... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
I was caught in the annual Holy Ghost Festa parade through downtown Sausalito. The annual celebration was begun in Sausalito in 1887 by early Portuguese immigrants in southern Marin County. The festival honors Queen Isabel of Portugal who in the 14th century fed the poor during a famine. Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
“You gotta report every incident,” says Kyle, while on his 5:00am to 2:00pm shift as the security guard at the San Rafael Transportation Hub. “I can’t do much with the dealers here but ask them which bus they intend to be on soon.” To me, this place, at times, can be a nexus for drug dealers, prostitutes, trannies, and people who just show blatant disregard for the place. Like the homeless guy who took a crap on the waiting room floor, last night. Kyle has a more enligthened attitude. He tells me he’s working on his Master’s Degree in Criminal... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
Quick sketch of happy wine drinkers at the Tiburon waterfront. Chauffeuring them back to San Francisco proved lucrative. Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie
thanks Dorothy....I'm in an elite group.
Toggle Commented May 13, 2010 on Speaking their Language at Sketchbook Cabbie
I’ve made it a point to learn a few phrases in Spanish. Sometimes it seems like half of Marin County is Spanish-speaking. “Derecha aqui, senor?” is the one I use most often. Also,”El viaje costará 10 dólares, por favor” is a biggie. Not as much call for French (“Bienvenue sur mon cab”) and Italian (“come stai, gli italiani”), which I know a little. The young couple from Paris I drove last weekend to the L'Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires on Bush at Grant spoke fairly fast, but I understood enough to know they were on vacation and they wanted to go eat dim... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2010 at Sketchbook Cabbie