The Shape Of Things To Come

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

Watch this space….

I brung this over from Facebook, because it became apparent that I would go long on this.

http://web.musicaficionado.com/main.html#!/article/The_Classic_Rock_Band_Current_Lineup_Scorecard_by_craigrosen?campaign=fbbandscpc

This is an interesting digression. Because, as we all get older, the people in the bands we love tend to die. Now, loss of Kurt Cobain obviously meant Nirvana was no more, as he was singer and principal songwriter. But for a band like the Mekons, every song is credited to Mekons and they are legendary for mixing and matching band members not only over time, but over a year. (They leave themselves an out, in that all people who have performed with the band are Mekons or Deputy Mekons, forever and anon and, as Jon Langford once said “The only way out of the Mekons is in a box”. Maybe not so funny now that people are actually taking that exit…)

But here’s where it gets to the nub for me. Because, you know, before you knew the band they changed members. Pretty regularly. It is, in fact, very rare that bands maintain any kind of band roster, even after they get a recording contract. For instance, many people will not know that Steve Perry was not an original member of Journey.

Also, as far as I am concerned, kicking Dennis DeYoung out of Styx was simply a reasonable use of a fortuitous occurrence to being able to play on stage without wearing robot costumes EVER AGAIN….

The examples are Numerous.  The Who went on without Keith Moon, but some would say they were never the same.  I have personally seen Springsteen with and without the Big Man, and the show without was better (although not because of the change, admittedly).  REM soldiered on without Bill Berry, but the spark seemed missing.  Pink Floyd are a completely singular case, as they seem to need to discard primary members on a regular basis…

Elvis Costello and ELO had a singular driving personality, but they benefitted from band consistency, but it did not turn out to be crucial  Red Hot Chili Peppers had to deal with rotating drug use/ guitarist flaking, but they seemed to go on just fine; the time I saw them was post-Hillel and they were pretty fucking awesome.  The Pretenders stopped pretending and just have a band backing up Chrissie at this point.

The English Beat are one of the worst, with Dave Wakeling leading a band of much younger people through the songs he wrote and sang when he was much younger.  But you know what?  The songs are the same….

And that, to me is where the dividing line happens. When the band has new members, do they move on and try to move into new music, or is it a simple desire to recapture past glory and serve the nostalgic impulses that people will pay money for?  Because, like I said, bands change members all the time while they are building audience and writing material.  So, after they get famous, what is wrong with them continuing to do so?  Except, of course, for the fact than no one comes out to their shows to hear new music.  Mick Jagger once said in an interview that “No one wants to hear your new songs”.  To which, David Bowie SHOULD have replied “Well, maybe they don’t want to hear YOUR new songs”…

A long-lived band has that tough row to hoe.  I can see how it is much easier to just go into the nostalgia circuit (hell, I just went to see X play from their first four albums.  I saw Matthew Sweet do Girlfriend.  I am Guilty).

So I am going to talk about two bands I am most familiar with and you know who I am going to say. Blue Oyster Cult and Mekons.  Come on, you knew where this was going.

Blue Oyster Cult was existing in a couple of different incarnation in the late 60s and early 70s, mainly revolving around Buck Dharma and the Bouchard brothers. Their early stuff was more psychedelia filtered through garage rock; but adding Menacing presence (although oddly short) Eric Bloom and sharing songwriting with Sandy Pearlman took them in a darker tone.  Yes, they spent the 70s with a single lineup.  But when band members started dying, Bloom and Buck kept on, tapping some great musicians and continuing to record albums resulting in great songs that you never heard like “Dance On Stilts” and “Harvest Moon” which should have been hits.

Look, here is a timeline of band members:

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That is what every band’s life looks like.

At this point I will not even get into the Mekons band life, which is twisted even by that standard.  So here’s what I have to say.

I really respect bands who continue to work past their supposed “high point” by working hard and writing new music (Hello, Cheap Trick!”)  and I am the guy out there cheering for your new songs, because new music is the fuel I use to keep moving….

But there are bands that helped make us the people we are today, and sometimes the best you can do is to see them in some weird modern incarnation.  I mean, for me, seeing the Beach Boys without Brian Wilson would be meaningless, but many people like it.  Of course, none of them want to hear any new songs, but want to hear a greatest hits compilation .  This is where I should badmouth them, but I saw the Police reunion tour (and Elvis Costello, opening, with vital new music, was SO MUCH BETTER but that is me).

I have seen Styx several times, and I think they are better without Dennis DeYoung.  I saw Blue Oyster Cult in various levels of original members, and with one notable exception, they were always great. I have never seen Cheap Trick in a any way not be fantastic. But there are tribute bands, that are working the circuit to compensate for bands that no longer perform.  I have been a great fan of Chicago’s Think Floyd, who I have seen prefer an entire Wall show.  Toronto’s Musical Box performs full theatrical performances of Genesis, true to their performances in the 70s including costumes. I have seen them do Lamb Lies Down on Broadway three times.

Sometimes bands pull it together for a cash-in.  The Violent Femmes are way guilty of this (although once they did it in a Tsunami benefit; for which we have a signed band-aid poster).

Because here: it’s about the music.  Its about what it means to you.  The music happened, once upon a time.  Sometimes, people perform it for you.  Some of them may have been part of the original band, some may have not.  If you love classical music, no one involved is still alive… But enjoy it or not, based on the skill of the musicians involved….and then, at the end, say wasn’t that the best?

With that offhand comment by Jon Langford, the Mekons had a mission statement, and proceeded to act it out.  Because of course they did.

At this point, they not only are perfectly willing to completely throw any conceptions about music, songwriting, and performance away, they have earned the right to do so.  If you have hung out here for any amount of time, you may have absorbed some of their background; art-school punks who not only COULDN’T play their instruments (actually, Gang of Four’s instruments, but that’s neither here nor there) but they REFUSED to.  And they’ve been unceremoniously dropped by more record labels than you have parents.  But they still keep on; and as was said in Joe Angio’s stellar doc “Revenge Of The Mekons” it may be argued, with little disagreement, that here and now, nearly 40 years on, they are making the most vital and important music of their career….

It has been a really good time to be a Mekons fan.  Langford has been as prolific as ever, solo and with the Wacos.  The Mekons released a wonderful collaboration with the amazing Robbie Fulks (Jura), recorded in a remote Scottish island.  There was a tour that came to Mineral Point Wisconsin, which brought me back from the dead. The afore-mentioned documentary, which had great reviews and had TWO showings (with band members for Q&A!) at the MKE Film Festival (yes, I went to both!)

I have said several times, and I expect I will again; that I deeply regret not being able to attend this event, held at a small art place in Brooklyn; Jalopy (BBBB was SINGULARLY unhelpful in getting me a ticket NOT THAT I AM ANGRY).  75 Mekon fans and the band with a single mic input recording all-new music and the audience was the on-hand Feral Choir.  I mean, I am as feral as anyone!

And, being the Mekons, they also did a book and full-length video.  Because, again, why not and they have earned the right to do whatever the fuck they want.

The video is by Barry Mills, who has worked with them on several projects.  I saw his work when Langford and Timms brought The Executioner’s Last Songs to Alverno Theater.  This is, essentially a full album rock video; last done by REM for their second album.

The book is filled with prose and poetry, lyrics and art and free-association diatribes.  It will be best read while drunk.  Or maybe sober.  Or maybe while stoned.  Out loud?  On the beach at midnight, maybe. In any case, like the music that is not easy-listening, this is hardly easy-reading. As a friend, Boocock, says, this will take much reading and listening to digest.

The music is some of the best I’ve heard from them.  it is simple and straightforward, and the Feral Choir is a great addition (although maybe lacking for zombies).  I hear some echoes from the electro album, Me, in some of the drum-n-bass lines and some of the guitar work.

It is deceptively simple, but the references are thick and fast, not only to their own prior work, but the whole recorded history of music. There are even parts that sound like their first two albums.

In the book, one writer used the phrase “shambolic precision” and that is a perfect distillation of the Mekons.  You watch them play, listen to them, and you don’t know whether they know what they are doing or whether they are just getting lucky. It always seems to be just this side of going off the rails, and that is what makes it so engaging when it turns into anthemic rage or a lovely dirge.

I know that this will do little for most of you, but here is a part of the video, for a song called “Fear and Beer (hymn for Brexit)”  featuring normal violin playing Suzie Honeyperson on piano:

 

To me, this album has really built on and taken the best from their last four or five albums (which were mostly really good, with one stellar).  It is deceptively simple, but keeps surprising you.  It has a wide variety, but the enforced order of the recording process keeps a common thread.  It may be noted that the contributions of Steve Goulding and Lu Edmonds may help to keep it on the rails more often than not. But  It also sounds like they were having a helluva time, playing in front of a bunch of friends and fans.  And let me tell you, watching the Mekons play when they are having a good time is a special thing indeed.

It’s worth mentioning that the first time I saw the Mekons, they were on their first major label tour, and they were having a blast.  The next time, I brought Wife Sublime, and they had just been dropped by the label, in the middle of America.  They were decidedly NOT having a great time.  We left.

It is very odd, when I think about it; why this band has come to mean so much to me.  You may also be perplexed and you are allowed to be.   They are, yes inconsistent. Although they came out of the first flush of British punk, they moved on from that long ago.  Although they pioneered the ‘alt-country’ genre, they do not play the American version of it like Wilco or Old 97s (both of whom I love).  They WILL play a song you hate just to get a reaction.

However, they are perfectly happy to drink with you before and after a show, and they have absolutely no pretensions of being ‘rockstars’.  They are musicians and artists who respect that you have paid money for their work, and they kind of love you for that.

But I think the basic reason I love their work so much is that they are unwilling to repeat themselves; they have no interest in doing similar things, over and over but rather want to explore, to find the things that interest them and where that takes them. This extends to all of their creative artistic endeavors, art writing whatever.  They are not content to sit still.  If you look at the difference between “Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Curse Of The Mekons” ; although the band thought they were delivering what the record label wanted, it was different enough that the second record was never released and the band was dropped mid-tour (see above).

They have said that they only get together when they feel like there’s a reason; memorably, they had an introspective, acoustic album called Natural that happened when a mutual friend died, and they were all in one location for the funeral proceedings.

Everything they have ever published has been credited to “Mekons”, even though there have been like 300 Mekons and Jon Langford has said “the only way out of the band is in a box” and since a couple have died, that is not so funny…

I ramble, on I ramble, like Brian Jones I ramble, and I don’t know where I am going or where I should be going.  I have tried to grapple with my affection for these art-school dropout weirdos, and am not sure I have gotten any closer.  But I will say that after three listens and the video, that I think this album is one of my favorites.

The Mekons started in the late 70s.  I saw them first in the mid-80s.  The album “Rock ‘n’ Roll” catapulted to my favorite list and yes, i put it on top of London Calling.  And since then, as weird and off-kilter they have been (or maybe because of it?) they have remained there. To me, they never disappoint, and I think that is mainly because they never bother do work that disappoints themselves…

Across The Universe

Posted: August 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

It may come as little surprise to you folks that I was a bitt odd as a teenager.  I loved heavy metal, but I was also bookish.  I was heavily involved in arts classes, science classes, English classes, and shop classes.  My assigned counselor took a look at my class history, and that I had As and Bs in everything besides athletics, and threw up his hands.  When I told him I already had and after school job in an engineering firms’s drafting department, he said “sounds good to me!”  Thanks, guy!

The company was kind of hi-tech for the time, creating scientific and medical scanners.  The drafting department was one of the first to incorporate serious CAD equipment, to the extent they had to have a climate controlled room for the mainframe.  the rest, of course was done by hand; some by pencil and some using line-tape on mylar.

Although I only spent a few hours  daily, I soon proved my worth and moved up from basic filing and such and started doing real drafting remarks and such.  I was pretty good at it and it was a damn sight better than other work I had available.  One of the other draftsman, Kell, took me under his wing or maybe he just liked that I could be effective; although older than me, we became friends.  At a company picnic, when another employee got me shit-faced on Yukon Jack, Kell made sure I got home safe.

Kell was a great guy.  His mother had been treated wth Thalidomide when she was pregnant, and he was ‘fortunate’ in that he was ‘only’ born with the lack of two vertebrae in his neck.  he had to turn his upper body to look at you….but he was an awesome athlete and even made the Pittsburgh farm team.  But he decided he needed a career.

He introduced me to lots of great music.  Genesis.  And he also introduced me to good pot.  And he introduced me to 10cc….

I linked on Facebook to a This Day In Music post. And I have been on a 10CC kick since….may not stop for a few days.  If any blog readers would actually stop by our party, it might be a 10cc/related loudness….

I don’t know what it was that clicked for me with this band.  Previously, I was much into metal and loud rock.  They are hardly that.  They have an amazing background in music, and also were in school for graphic arts (like the Mekons!).

They are gifted songwriters, as you are likely to know because you all have heard their hits.  But they are also sarcastic and sardonic and snarky.  Kell introduced me  by playing “Good Morning Judge”.  “I’m Not In Love” is a vicious break up sex song.  FFS they wrote a prison riot song called “Rubber Bullets”.  AND IT WAS A FUCKING HIT.

“The Dean And I” was about screwing the Dean’s daughter. “Clockwork Creep” was about a guy who planted  a bomb.

They are fucking hilarious, and they are such great musicians.  They once did a prog rock masterpiece called “Feel The Benefit” and made it fucking FUNNY….

And on top of that, they invented a guitar effect, called the Gizmo, and used it to create one of the most intense prog-rock-concept album masterpieces called Consequences.  I actually have the full release vinyl version of it. Smut Clyde can be jealous…

At the time I was a huge Queen fan, so I was very open to varied musical influences and histrionic effects.

I will say, however that 10cc had a huge impact on me and I still love them and all the musicians who have been part of them.

And their cover of this song made me buy the Beatles album, but fuck you, I think this is the right way to play this song…

Saw X last night, with original Guitarist Billy Zoom.  I think this was a kind gesture from the rest of the band, since he is recovering from cancer.  Yes, he spent most of it on a stool, but he spent the time playing Punkabilly riffs with never looking at the fretboard, like Buck Dharma.

X  is like the punk Black Sabbath.  The first four albums are FLAWLESS.  I didn’t get into them until Under The Big Black Sun, but holy hell did that burn holes into my psyche, and the songs that dealt with the death of Exene’s sister managed a way of being sad and screaming into the void that I have always loved about my all my favorite music.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about .  Here to talk about the draft.  Wait a minute.  Let me back up.  Get a new drink.

I’m here to talk about Republicans.  Conservatives.  Bigots.  Tea Party.

Mikey and I had much of this discussion on a prior post.  But I want to kind of go on to enumerate things that I see on the Uncle Liberty and Wingnut Facebook network.

  • Hillary is a liar.
  • Hillary is a criminal
  • Hillary is a murderer.
  • The Democrats will ALWAYS steal an election
  • Al Gore is fat
  • Hillary has brain damage.
  • Hillary has bad personal style.

At this point, I will not bother with the Benghazi benghazi BENGHAZI! bullshit or the email fucking beating of a fucking dead horse.

Seriously, I have to laugh at the conservatives I see.  The only thing they have is to be able to use photo memes that solely reinforce the above list with no actual links or references.  In fact, on FB I recently saw one of them hijack a quote from Andy fucking Borowitz, swapping out “Trump” for “Hillary” like that somehow proved something….

Which is the funny thing I find about the Republicans respond when you respond with actual facts and links; without fail they do one or both of these: tell you that mainstream media links are not worth considering, and then going into a Gish Gallop.

Here is the reality:

Hilary Clinton has spent her entire life trying to help other people.

She spent much of her early life going into poor and minority neighborhoods, finding out what the worst things were, and directly attacking those problems. With much success.  Doing it in a very direct, face-to-face way that made many black people lover her and her work

And she did that as the wife of a Governor.  Continuing to go out and doing the fucking hard work of hitting the bricks and finding out what the problems are, and meeting the people who had those problems. And making helping those people one of the most important things ever.

As a daughter of privilege, she bought into the hippie idea that we have to help the lowest FIRST, and she did that with everything she did ever after.  She started her life by declining a law career in favor of helping the poor and children who needed health care and education.  A white girl going into poor African American communities.  And the Republicans say she doesn’t care about black people….

She tried to help America with doing something better with health care (HOW EVILE)  and when that crashed, she pivoted and started working directly to create SCHIP, which put millions of kids under health care.  Of course, the Republicans have opposed that….

hmpf.  I once thought I would go through all the stupid bullshit.  But you know, it is all more than obvious, so fuck that.

Here’s the summary:

  • Hillary is not the antichrist
  • Hillary is not the devil
  • Hillary is not a lesbian
  • Hillary never murdered, or ordered the murder, of anyone.
  • Hillary, at 68, has no more health concerns than 70 year old man. Maybe fewer; most women are better at managing their health than men….
  • If you think Hillary having problems in heels, going up stairs, then let’s see Trump doing the same thing….
  • Election Fraud is non-existent.
  • Election Fraud is a fake reason to allow for voter restriction.
  • Hair and personal style is only allowed as a criticism against women, never men.
  • I kinda love the idea that they have resurrected the Clinton Kill list.
  • The Clinton Foundation is as scrutinized and high profile a charitable foundation as ever created.  They return 88 cents on the dollar to actually helping people around the world, Bill and Hillary take no salaries, and both of them are revered around the planet for the good they have done.

I remember back eight years, when SO MANY people told us how voting for a Democrat, was going to be horrible terrible and so horrible and this was horrible. It ws going to result in wars, death and devastation, the destruction of the economy and the takeover of America with sharia law or some damn thing like that.  No, it never made any sense but then paranoid racist fantasies never do.

None of that happened.  Not a single thing.

Obama managed the most significant progressive legislation in many years.  He salvaged the economy. Record advancements in LGBT rights.  the Iran Deal.  making Republicans shit-eating crazy….

As OBS says, this election is going to set some very bad precedents; it already has.  Releasing tax returns is now a thing of the past.  Treating opponents with respect is now abandoned in favor of infantile insults and grade school nicknames (which do, I admit, seem to be effective at least on one side of the spectrum). Dick sizes have been measured in a televised Presidential debate.  I am sure we will see many more accepted norms be blown up in a spray of orange cheeto dust and flash of flammable hairspray.

But you know what?  After watching Clinton in the 2008 primary, and her ability to put it behind her to become SoS, and watching her deftly handle a serious challenge from Sanders…not to mention the decades of scurrilous, sexist, rightwing whack job hit pieces on her and her family – and she is still perfectly poised and never actually losing her shit at any point of the way.  The wing nuts are mocking her for her delight in the Democratic balloon drop, but I have to say, after the past few decades, a few minutes of delight at a momentous occasion?  She fucking deserves it.

She is a long-lived politician who, despite constant attacks from opponents, is still standing.  And that drives them absolutely fucking crazy.  And she mocks them for that. I think, after all these years, she is kind of looking forward to giving them the back of her fucking hand.

And yes, THAT is kind of exactly the person I want to be leading our country.

 

 

 

 

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
sunset.
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….