That’s Milwaukee punk Irish stalwarts Whiskey Of The Damned, a personal favorite and currently touring the fuck out of the planet, doing something like 200 gigs a year. Their shows are sweaty, fervent, whiskey drenched and nothing but fun.  Eoin, the singer, is sone of an Irish musician who decided to move to Milwaukee because it was nicknamed Brew City.  Eoin plays in his Da’s band and feels like it is too slow; his Da thinks Eoin plays too loud and too fast and is damaging his listener’s brains.  It is also Irish Fest this weekend….

It is always Another Day Dead at the Empire, but here in Milwaukee the Apocalypse was the course of the day as the Vulgar Talking Yam stopped in to dance on the still-smoking embers of a long-festering chancre on the social pact.

I recently saw an analysis that indicates during Turdwaffle’s tenure in public office (nearly all his life!) he has reduced public transportation into and out of Milwaukee, and within Milwaukee, to the extent that Milwaukee residents lost access to 30,000 jobs.  Combine that with the Targo debacle, and is there any wonder that the black community is ready to explode?  Especially combined with the abuse by the police?

Yeah, yeah, you will hear that the murdered person had a gun and ran from the police. But he hadn’t done anything wrong, and Walker’s ALEC-goons had made carrying a gun a right in almost any venue.  Yeah, he had a record.  But when black men will be gunned down WHILE SURRENDERING, or killed in custody, how is that even a reasonable indictment?

What you will not hear, is the massive turnout of all Milwaukeeans into the area to help clean up.  Heck, a bunch of barbers set up in a park to give free haircuts.  Gwen Moore has been walking white politicians and reporters through the area for days, explaining how it is a vibrant part of Milwaukee.  Hell, Springsteen’s 1975 Bomb Scare Show was in the neighborhood.

So, Fucking Trump.  First of all, let me say that I do not think of Trump as an anomaly. He is the pure, undiluted id of the Republican Party since the Southern Strategy made racism a permanent part of their genetic makeup.  He is only surprising to Beltway Pundits who have been pretending for decades that BOTH SIDES.

So of course Hair Furor  stopped by to gloat and trot out the Lawn Order speech.

While flanked by Turdwaffle and insane fake-cowboy Milwaukee County Shirriff & Just For Men Beard customer Clarke, he apparently stayed at downtown Pfizer Hotel, but traveled about an hour northwest (at least 40 miles from the areas of actual unrest) to West Bend – a community in which I’ve done work, mind you — (and which you might remember seeing on appliances, back when we actually made things here in America, before people like Trump and Romney sold them off for scrap and/or moved the jobs to third world countries with no labor laws and no environmental safeguards)…

Ahem.  Anyway, so he stood up there with two Wisconsin political grandstanding assnuggets, and addressed a completely white crowd (most of which are terrified of actually going to Milwaukee) and took to whitesplaining to black people on why they should vote for him.

It was kind of astonishing in its cluelessness.  

The most obvious thing is how he considers African Americans to be completely stupid.  They have a very good idea who has their concerns more in mind, and are fully goddam aware that is is not the Republican Party, and even less Donald Trump.

This was a speech directed entirely at suburban white folks.

People who feel uncomfortable with the racist demagoguery on display, and are perfectly comfortable with black folks in service jobs, but feel like saying “I have a black friend” inoculates them.  But are still racist as fuck, and when a black family moves int the neighborhood, are alarmed.  My own damn parents are this cohort.

But it was intended to make borderline white folks feel more comfortable with TrumpVoting, because “he’s obviously not that racist, remember when he blamed the liberals for black rioting?”

Yes, he is a fucking racist, he learned it from his father.  Both of them lost lawsuits for racist rental policies.  He is a failure at business; his biggest success has been being able to create a pyramid scheme to keep his lifestyle afloat while his ventures fail one after the other.  he hates you and me, he hates good taste, and he hates the people who build his tasteless crap because they can do something he can’t.  He is insecure and self-loathing, and he directs that outward.  I am coming around to the idea that his head is not so good, as his non-teleprompter shouts are increasingly deranged and disassociated from reality.  Of course, as a rich fuck-snorkel, he has been disconnected from reality for his entire life.

Yeah, so no news here.  But fuck I hate the fact that he came to Milwaukee (or Milwaukee-adjacent) to try to make hay over the problems we have that have been simmering for decades (and which I have documented, mostly from an architectural / urban planning aspect).

Elect Hillary.  Fuck this clown.  Fuck the Republican Party, who nominated this clown.


Warm Summer Sun

Posted: August 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

OK, this is a bit tough couple of days up here in Zombietown, admittedly.  And I suspect people are looking to see what I am thinking, as my hits are a bit higher than normal inactivity warrants.

So here goes.  The post title may seem incongruous, until you listen the the actual song, or at least listen to the lyrics.

Firelight and toast. Firelight and toast after I come home
from playing cricket. Now sweeping across tne western sky.
Great Furnace doors are open and light the sky like a
Night and day there was trouble that the eye could almost
see. In the Valleys that lay open. In the papers now
recovered. Read in the bright mid-morning among the flowers
under trees.
The choices thatyou made are a mystery and were not yours
any more. I look out on corpses, skeleton trees. An
unimaginable hell in front of my eyes.

Apparently more violence is occurring tonight.  Had a friend and mentor on Facebook remark, ‘this invalidates the entire movement’ and I wonder, is it the fact that black people are involved supposed to somehow negate Black Lives Matter?  Since a  cop shot the guy initially, does that invalidate Blue Lives Matter?  Does the KKK invalidate the entire structure of America which benefits white folks?

Here I should say that a couple of my Imaginary Digital Friends did check in to see if there was any trouble, and I reassured them, we are 4 or 5 miles away from flashpoint, with two major barriers between.  BUT:  I did my Master’s thesis on a site in the neighborhood, I did several projects in the area, and worked like hell to try and save an historic 60s era neighborhood library for an appropriate use, before it decayed away.  There re people I know in that area, I used to shoot darts in a bar not too far away.  This is  wound to everyone who considers themselves a Milwaukeean.

And it is a wound upon wound upon wound to folks in the African-American community.  Milwaukee, for a time, was a destination for blacks looking for decent work at fair wages, and Milwaukee had lots of heavy, dangerous work.  So blacks  moved here, and created a community.  Centered around an area called Bronzeville (and yes I have done much work there as well)  that had a vibrant culture, and active social network, and as just generally kind of awesome and as far as I can tell, pretty much cooler than the white folks.

So, of course, the white folks had to kill it.

I mean, we know that good paying blue collar jobs were moved to the white-flight red-lined suburbs as soon as possible.  But also, Milwaukee drove freeways right through the fucking goddam middle of these communities.  Divided them up and destroyed established neighborhoods and connections, in order for white people to be able to drive through them as fast as fucking possible. And also to cut them off from the parts of the city that had been deemed as better….

you know, when I fell in love with architecture as a career this was the kind of shit I really had little knowledge of; and when I fell in love with Milwaukee as a city, I had no knowledge of this.  But as I worked, as I learned, as I started to know the African Americans who were my fellow citizens, I have become increasingly appalled.  At this point, I will just tell you to go read Ta-Nehisi Coates “Between the World And Me”

dammit at this point I am queuing up “Revenge Of The Mekons” so I don’t just fucking weep in sadness and rage all the way through this post.  

One of the things Milwaukee has been noted for is the City of Festivals.  And, to our credit, we expanded that to include African, Irish, Mexican, Italian, Polish, Native America, and Gay.  I may be missing some.  Used to have an African restaurant around the corner from my office.

It is very difficult to repair the damage between races. On one of those projects on North avenue, I had one of the board members challenge me, because I did not remember him,  because “we all look alike to you” and I couldn’t even respond honestly because ‘I have shit memory for faces’ was crap.

BUT this is where things go awry. Media has trained white folks to fear anyone with color.  Black folks see the daily shit they have to live with…And white folks are able to find jobs and black folks are not.

And then, we have a police force that is trained to treat the populace as the enemy, and that black populace are inherently threatening.  And that they have to be shot, no matter what…

Let me not pretend I am defending the guy who got shot.  He apparently had a gun.  But, this is a state where open carry is fine.  And running is not a crime.  And he was still killed.  What I will say is that there will at least 4 different ways of dealing with him, but only one involved discharging  a firearm….

But here’s how I look at it.  In this City, blacks have been driven down for decades.  They had their self-established communities destroyed.  Now, they have watched their young men targeted and killed without reason.

This is not longer acceptable.  the African-American community no longer is wiling to be accept something lesser (and no they shouldn’t)

I want to find something right now.  I want to be able to create a festival that brings us all together.  I want to find a way to create a life where we all get together.

It is, of course, Hard to be Human again….


Sunday, nightfall.  It’s been a strange week, and the festival the week before took all the weirdos and freaks out of circulation for a fair amount of time, which made my life easier.  because, of course, I was one of those weirdos and freaks.

It’s not as if I can expect that sultry woman with available cash and a questionable task.  I am, after all, an Architect.

But I do have a large bottle of brown goods to keep me company, and a bit of work to keep me occupied.

And I have a large outstanding bill, enough to buy me a new Lexus, from a formerly good client.  So, I will be debating the need to send large, unreasonable people to his place for resolution.  Or opting for more civilized solutions.  Because, the large uncivilized person will be me, when I decide to no longer be polite (to be honest, the client is like 14 inches shorter than me).

Complicating this, as it always will, is that Client is also my Landlord.  We have done bartering of my fees for rent for quite some time, and I am still WAY ahead.  But as I have reported, he is upset with my performance on a prior project; and rather than going the proper route to tap my E&O insurance, he seems to be withholding my fees on other projects.  Notably, the fees are for an unrelated project.


That, of course, is not how this works.

So, I either need to find a smoky hot Noir Babe to deliver my demands to him, a direct phone call, or filing liens on his office, home, Range Rover and perhaps one of his children.

This has required me to terminate my associate, so I am back to solo.  Which is fine;  I am better at this fucking crap that most people I know.   What I am NOT good at is doing it in a larger more corporate environment.

So, it’s time to hit the Office Rum, re-watch a little Breaking Bad, and try to understand how to salvage a damaged professional relationship, or failing that, turn it into a giant flaming devastating holocaust.



last doctor visit, BP was kind of way high.  changed my meds, and I got busy and went out of town, then forgot to get back for a followup, so I did that today.  Much better, but still too high for someone on the high side of half a century, so more adjustment.  Weight was slightly down, so that was good.

Doc listened to my chest, checked feet for swelling, professed himself satisfied.  I like him, but going to the doctor always makes the BP go up.  my old doc referred to it as “White Coat Syndrome” and at least I don’t have it as bad as the Bloggess (read her book.  Sometimes she passes out at the VET…)

 I ascribe it to the chamber of horrors that was the clinic I went to as a kid, named the Quisling Clinic, which was actually the reference used by Elvis, not the fat dead one, in this song:


Nurse asked me to pee in a cup.

I mentioned that I had been reading that before chemistry, doctors, who had noticed that ants liked the sweetness of diabetic pee, that they would diagnose diabetics by tasting their pee for sweetness.  We laughed and agreed that things are much better now, and my!  weren’t we having a lovely time….

Since I had already had my morning pee, I had nothing, not even the couple of drops.  Sorry.  So it was all about the glucose, she resorted to the finger stab, which I am very used to…

The blood test came back quick enough ain’t modern medicine wonderful?  A1C at 5.9. 6 months back, it was at 5.1.  Doc professed pleasure at the control.  I asked if it was possible to go off the insulin injections?  He is OK with it, looking for frequent daily testing to keep an eye on glucose, which is really no problem.  I am kind of chuffed…mikey says ‘dude, you’re cured’ which I do not think I am, but on the way, with some luck…

So I asked the doc and the nurse to approve the refills of my meds, and the new one although I have some insulin I will use up…later in the morning, I got the text from the pharmacy (ain’t technology wonderful?) saying my scrips were ready, so just to make sure everything was there (ain’t getting old wonderful?  Now I don’t have to check if my prescription is ready, but whether ALL of them are ready). and looking over the list, I saw the copays.  yep. a buck….2 bucks…3 bucks… 500 bucks… WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE.  the alternative to insulin was a 500 GODDAM COPAY PER MONTH???!?!!?!?  WTF, doc.  I know my record says I am an architect, but you don’t know what being an architect is worth these days.  So when I went to pick up the meds, I told the pharm (and I have to say I am coming to love the pharms, even the dudes although the women are irrepressibly cute, and I am verging in to ‘Sexy Grandpa’ territory…) that I couldn’t pay that, and I would take the cheap ones and if necessary, cancel the Stupid Big Horse Pills of Golden Leaving.  But he, being a Good Person who is now on the Zombie Apocalypse Shortlist of People Who Get A Pass, spent a little time doing some computer.  Lo and behold, if they gave me twice as many pills at half the dose, and I took them twice a day, the cost was ….TWO GODDAM DOLLARS!!!!!

What the actual fuck, dudes?  how does a double in dose result in an increase in price of 25,000%?!?!!?  Sweet living fuck-the-vampires, that is ridiculous.  Dammit, if I used that logic, my billing rate would  be 30,000 dollars an hour.  So, thank you to the CVS Pharmacist who did the right thing and helped me out.

instant I am still excited to be off the insulin spike.  I still have other issues, and the content refrain from every doctor is ‘…for the rest of your life” which includes the ominous threat that if I don’t, the life will not either…but yeah.

Now, I just have to deal with the formerly reliable client who is now deciding to stop paying me since January.  But that is another story, and since I lived through another Father’s Day, rest assured it will show up here….

Oh wait.  I should remark.  In the past couple of weeks, Wife Sublime asked me if I wanted anything for Father’s Day.  I responded by saying, truthfully, “Not spending it in the hospital”  And I guarantee you that is something you want as well.  It is especially hard, because Wife Sublime’s father died on Father’s day as well.  It makes it hard for her.  I would have done it on a different day if I could have….

So on Father’s Day this year, my wife and son took me to lunch at Pizza Man, a local standard and longtime favorite, and we had bloody marys and great food and sat on the balcony in the sun and my, we had a wonderful time.  And Wife Sublime and Young Zombie gave me an iPad Pro (with Apple Pencil!).



M. Ward has not played in Milwaukee since 2008.  Since then, we had much discussion on the bloggerhood, especially when Pinko of the California (at the time) Punkos turned me onto this song:


Man I love that song.  Which I find especially lovely because of it’s unusual structure, recursive lyrics, and extended coda.

So when we saw that he would be playing at the gorgeous and fine Pabst Theatre, I got tickets of course I did.

There were two very fine opening bands, a poppish group featuring Jenny Lewis called Nice as Fuck, who wandered down the aisle to their stage in front of the stage to the JEM! theme song, and they performed a great song called “Put Your Guns Away” and the crowd responded enthusiastically, in this post-Orlando week.

Because, boys did we need to have some music.  Last Sunday, after reading the news, we went to Locust Street Days to see The Mosleys and the Whiskeybelles, local awesome musics.  It was a good tonic, but reading the way the NRA, the Republicans, and Donald Trump responded took more.  I mean, after the retching.

I am not sure about the actual name of the second band.  The Pabst listing is:  “Erika Forster from Au Revoir Simone & The Like’s Tennessee Thomas” but I think the band has an actual name, although I did not catch it.  But Ms. Forster alternated between very quiet introspective folk songs, country ballads, and full-on guitar squall freakout worthy of Sonic Youth.  Sometimes in a single goddam song…talk about being  right the hell in my wheelhouse…

So.  Given those songs up above, and especially, M. Ward’s new album More Rain, I was not sure about what the show would sound like.  I thought it might be a very quiet, folky, jazzy night and tell me if you wouldn’t think the same thing.

But M.Ward hit the stage with an instrumental, that got very noisy halfway through. He had Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, the Minus Five, Robyn Hitchcock and REM on bass. I missed the name of the second guitarist, but Ward’s Gibson was front and center and really loud.

He played a lot of really great songs, a couple of covers, a Monsters of Folk tune, and that Chinese Translation song up above….and they were all a fuck of a lot louder than on those albums, which I now consider to be overproduced.  And the instrumental outdo on that song got WAY longer and WAY louder than  on the album , and it made this zombie happy…

M. Ward is a very under-rated guitarist, not the least for being able to tell when to lay back.  But in the live venue, he doesn’t do that, mostly.  Also, I love his songwriting, because it borrows from rock and R&B from everywhere, and puts it together in unconventional ways, with no choruses, or refrains that occur in weird places.  Again, right in my wheelhouse.

He came back a couple of times for encores, and every one of the bands acknowledged the beauty of the historic venue they were playing, and the crowd was super enthusiastic for all of them.  It was a great end to week following a tragedy, and I think the artists believed it and did what they could, which is often just what we need and it is what we kind of need from our artists.  And, in some ways, it was just what we needed.   And My!  Didn’t we have a wonderful time!

Pretty good warmup for Summerfest….

Also, thank you Pinko Punko for turning me on to him…..

Madness To The Method

Posted: June 16, 2016 in Fridge Note, Wa fuckin Ha

This is a bit weird.

I haven’t done an OPC (what I call an Opinion of Probable Cost…as the architect, I have little control of the actual cost of construction, and so for Plausible Deniability, E&O insurance people like it when we call it an opinion.  Can’t be sued for an opinion!)  in some time.

Most of our recent projects have involved a contractor as part of the design team, or clients who self-perform a lot of their construction, so there has not been any real need…

I learned much of the OPC while working for a Nazi Architect Who Is Not Albert Speer, even if he Likes the Speer work, whose partner would do an extensive, line by line analysis of costs.  So when I went solo, I adopted some of those ideas, but since I am not a fucking Luddite, I used it with a custom spreadsheet and use of relatively expensive annual cost compendiums.  But the thing is that when you use these, you need to fill in a lot of blanks with supposition.

This is often useful when the clients need to talk to banks about financing the project. It is also useful when you need to disabuse the client of the idea that they will build their project for 8 bucks per SF…

But in the course of actually finding a way to build something (a path that is as difficult as a Hobbit going through Mirkwood)  It is a very effective way to demonstrate the cost of many many small elements, into a largish budget.

I have been involved with several projects, where the clients really object to the final cost, but then respond by removing a few doors and a window or two, and then congratulate themselves by adding a hot tub.  This process allows me to show them where the hell the money went…

It is very easy for clients to say “There’s no way that it will take $120 per SF to build this, but when you break it all the way down, and they see that there are very few single items that are breaking the bank (Also, are you going to object to structural framing?), they have no way of saying that somehow every number will be magically reduced.  [As an aside,it frustrates me that some other architects will regularly design projects that clock in at $300 per SF; the time we had that kind of commission, we pulled out all the stops and never got over $180.]

OPCs counteract this in a couple of ways; first, a good understanding of how many building systems interact, and second ability to interpret very loose preliminary drawings in a way that represents actual construction.  Finally, in a representation of the actual costs of various aspects of construction…

I tagged into this estimate effort due to a reference from the people who organized those Charrettes I have had so much fun at. Being fucking good at what you do is noticed, even if it doesn’t result in immediate follow through. But I met with the Director of the organization, and we had a few acquaintances in common, and so they want to do an addition to one of their buildings.

It continues my work within Milwaukee’s African American community, work that I am inordinately proud of for the extent and the quality.  And yes, my amazing congresswoman Gwen Moore has been at our grand openings, and I have been stable star-struck because she is FUCKING AWESOME

Dunno if this will go further.  May be that when they see the actual costs, they will freak out –  I imagine that at this point, people have been blowing smoke up their ass.  But I am doing my best to tell them what their project is likely to cost, and they have no way to proceed if they don’t have that at this point.

But, and I have little defense for this, but dammit I am kind of enjoying this.  It speaks to my fundamental brokenness, I think…

Live Through This

Posted: June 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

So, this happened.


Some of you may remember the past couple of years, when I was designing a six-story, 92 unit apartment building in the first-ring Milwaukee suburb, facing much work with the Planning Department, the Design Review Board, and the public input.  We got it through, because I am Magic Zombie Designer and Awesome Public Face, with beard and Good Hair.

However, my current little micro-office, regardless of the advantages of CAD and such, (maybe once we were in the realm of doing the whole project, back in the glory days when we had NINE, count ’em fucking NINE people) nowadays it is out of our reach, if not our grasp.  So the developers engaged what is called an Architect of Record, who is responsible for the construction documents, code issues and permitting and construction administration and suchlike.  And hey!  I have always been a design-oriented architect; I am happy to let someone else do the heavy lifting (although I love doing detail work – Mies Van der Rohe had it right, even if he sucked at it)….and we have done that kind of arrangement successful in the past, so let’s go.

So, we shepherded the design through the whole design approval process, working with the developers in unit mix and numbers and making the building happy-making for as many people involved in the project:


And I got to the end of my involvement, with some design-level details of balconies and windows and such like.

…over the course of the project, I discovered that I had a significant disconnect with the Architect of Record; he was used to much more straightforward projects, he was not nearly as experienced in the use of the International Building Code, he is very excitable and reactionary, and he apparently thinks I am incompetent…

[ADDITIONAL SIDEBAR]  It should also be noted that in the current environment; especially in older communities, design requirements ask for windows to be set back from face of wall.  However, contractors like the ease of installation of what is called flange windows, which are basically flush with the exterior.  To generalize, in urban areas, people expect deeper window recesses which require direct set windows; in suburban areas, they don’t care so much and flange-set windows are OK.  To be even clearer, I am an architect who is experienced in and comfortable working within more urban areas; the Architect of Record is very experienced in suburban work.

I had expected to be able to review the Construction Documents when they were ready, and I expressed to the developers and the AoR that I would be happy to review for compliance with the design requirements whenever they wanted, progress, final, whatever.  At the Grand Opening of the first phase of the project, I directly asked him for a copy.

I never got any of them…

I distributed all of the plans, diagrams and details we had developed in the course of design and approval.  Our CAD plans indicated the extra-deep walls necessary to make the reveals work.  I have much experience with a wide variety of construction conditions in the cases of existing buildings and I had some time with a colleague with extensive experience in analyzing building failures.  Frankly, I know how the fuck to make unusual details work…

Sigh.  Last Friday, I got an email from one of my best clients, a very severe email.  It tasked me and the AoR to address a very serious issue, and that he expected us to step up, fix the problem, and after that, we would talk about liability exposure and claims.  Which is a perfectly acceptable response.  It’s a fucking 9 million dollar project….

So, (and I wonder if Robert didn’t plan it this way, then I remember how good he has been in all previous work, and I know it was not that), but the Long Weekend was me spending much time thinking about my response and unsuccessfully trying to sleep.  On Tuesday we met to resolve the issue.

Oh yeah.  The issue.  As I said, Window recesses.  Modern construction with a brick veneer usually results in a 3″ reveal.  Older communities want to see a reveal of greater than 4″.  As I also said, suburbs usually get flush windows, because this makes this super-easy for carpenters.

The details and the construction in place indicate window recesses MUCH less than I had detailed and that were approved. Fuck it all.

Don’t know where the disconnect happened.  At this point, don’t care.  What we need to do is correct it.  Following through and placing blame?  Later.  But it is likely to hit my E&O insurance.  Which has a 5 grand deductible, so the fact that another architect disrespected me to the point of ignoring everything I ever gave him….

I got the email on Friday before the holiday.  So I got really drunk on Friday night, went to see the Pirates of Penzance on Saturday and got a bit drunk on Sunday.  Monday was crappy, because I couldn’t sleep.

I have had colleagues who work at other firms tell me that the have annual claims on their liability insurance.  That doesn’t bother me, i am here to tell you that we allfuck up.

What I will tell you is that in the 20 years or so I have been practicing on my own, I have had ONE claim on my liability insurance.  Also, I have a $5000 deductible.

So yeah.  I am in the midst of a construction debacle that is weird and maybe-avoidable and may destroy the relationship I have with one of my best and favorite clients.

So, I am having a fucking goddam drink. And maybe another fucking drink after that.  Fuck you blood sugar, fuck you blood pressure.  Fuck you Architect of Record who thinks I am incompetent, and who ignores everything I ever forwarded.

Dammit, I think I would have been much better served by keeping that 57 Les Paul and joining a Milwaukee punk band rather than selling it in order to stay in college….