Ben visits an artist who paints whatever he likes, and listens to lots of flower drum songs.
Somboun Sayasane is an anomaly among painters. Hes self-effacing, modest to a fault, and generous with his time and talents. And he loves to sing Chris Isaak, John Lennon and The Bee Gees.
I know this because, since 1991, Ive seen Sayasane at Yet Wah, a San Francisco restaurant that includes a karaoke bar.
Now, after all these years and songs Sayasane has published a book, The Park in the City: Impressions of Golden Gate Park . Its a beautiful, personal celebration of one of the world best-known urban parks, and it gives me all the more reason to introduce him to you.
Sayasane, who is 57, is an American, by way of Laos, and, as a refugee from that country, has reason to appreciate much of what he encounters.
And whenever he sees something he likes, hes likely to paint it.
Everywhere he goes, hes always drawing, says his friend, Henry Arnold . Hes a tremendous artist, and hes a very good-hearted guy.
I first met Sayasane at the Yet Wah. Hed read an article Id written about karaoke, and began showing up with a couple of friends. As a regular, Id begun producing a newsletterthe Yet Wah Tusi (get it?)for fun. It was a mix of news, gossip and slander, with a circulation of maybe a dozen. Somboun began doing cartoon sketches of the singers. Despite our artistry, the Tusi folded, due to a lack of time and ink cartridges. But Sayasane, who was an art teacher in San Francisco, drew on. He...