Escape Route

Posted: June 18, 2018 in Body Count, Humanity is a virus, Shovels

It’s been a kind of rough time for creative types.  In recent weeks, we’ve seen some high profile instances of Nope-ing out.  While I have no particular connection to Kate spade, the loss of Scott Hutchison and Anthony Bourdain both hit me kind of hard.

Hutchison is the singer and songwriter for Frightened Rabbit, an amazing band.  Of course, Bourdain was a famous chef and raconteur and an actually worthwhile reality TV host, who has spent the last decades of his life traveling the world.

These are not the first nor will they be the last of people I respect that depart this festering sphere.  But, neither is it inappropriate for me to respect their passing; seriously, people who make their mark on the world and indeed even if they don’t they still deserve being marked when we send them off in a pod into the great unknown….

Scott Hutchison, I will respect by listening to his music at length and mourning what he will never write and sing for us, but that will be a personal thing.  His singing and music is a personal taste and I love it, but I have no idea if you do or not.  But, you know, you are here through the internet so you can find it and decide for yourself, and I love the idea that you might be hiring it for the first time. Use headphones.

But the thing about Bourdain.  Wife Sublime has a tendency to only listen to reality TV and news and such, which is kind of annoying when it is Fareed Zakaria.  So I tune it out, and have never really watched Bourdain’s show.  Although I saw a clip of his lunch with Iggy Pop and was completely charmed by two old, grizzled survivors of punk and drug lifestyles sharing a healthy meal.

So, after Bourdain pulled the eject lever, I found that 8 seasons of “Parts Unknown” (excellent title) were on netflix, although they threatened that they were not long to last, so I’ve been bingeing them…and they are lovely and wonderful and so full of life.

What we find is a person who has a wide ranging curiosity and love of people and every permutation of food, being given free rein to go where he wants and do what he wants.  He walks down streets without fear, and eats food from street side grills, usually never even worried about what he is eating before putting it in his mouth, and invariably saying “Oh, that’s good”.  I am a fan of meat of most times, and I love chicken livers and marrow, but I still kind of winced when he busted a grilled rabbit head open to eat the ‘chiclet-sized’ brain, and then considering that ‘next year, I am making these for Easter’ which made me laugh my zombie ass off.

During the course of what I saw, he spent as much time on the reality of the places he visited for people, races and economies as he did for food.  He went to Iran, and the people were so hopeful for improved relations with America, which now seems so distressingly unachievable.

Everywhere he went, he used his love of every cuisine every and every food of any kind, to reach out and create connections to people of all kinds.  And it was fucking CHARMING.  I recognize, of course, that this was TV, and we do not see the whole of reality, but this is Bourdain’s show, and he writes and produces.  He says, more than once, that food is the thing that connects people across races, languages, and political lines.

He was a handsome guy who made it look easy.  When he sat down for a bowl of noodles with President Obama in Vietnam (yes really) he said “I think every American should have a passport” I felt proud to have one.  When I saw him in places I have visited, I said “Damn!  I wish I had been there!”

Sidebar.  We are visiting Nashville in the fall, and he has a Nashville episode.  while I doubt we will get a Tattoo at a house party with the Singer of Dead Weather/ Jack White, we have some new ideas….

But here’s what I want to say.

Scott Hutchison wrote some wrenchingly, tragically personal lyrics and had his band play them.  yes, they are moving and amazing.

And Bourdain insisted on being the sole writer for his show.  And there are times where he does a monologue over video of himself, walking by himself, through various cities.  He often talks about his discomfort with crowds, and his hatred of carnivals.  and in one (now painful)  episode of Buenos Aires, he talks about how easy it is for him to slip into depression based on nothing more than a bad hamburger.

And this is what I really want to talk about.

I have mentioned a couple of times, we have a nephew who was adopted by out brother/sister in law, who was amazingly smart and limited by the really small community he grew up in – in a bigger community he could have found a geek/brain community, but there he couldn’t.  We thought about offering the opportunity fro Mike to live with us for a summer a semester in Milwaukee, where he could take classes at one college or another, or just live in different environment, but regrettable, it never happened.  And after a terrible descending spiral of damage and hatred and finding no way out, he wound up in the back yard of his parent’s house, blowing his brains out.

But in the cases of Scott Hutchison and Anthony Bourdain, it has been the kind of thing were we see that there are, yes there are, signs.  So many of Frightened Rabbit’s songs are distressing.  And so many of Bourdain’s shows involve video of him walking, solo, down weird alleys.  And most heartbreakingly, during a visit to Buenos Aires (where everyone, basically, goes to a psychotherapist) he went to a therapist (also went to a met grilling joint later) where he talked about how he has the best job in the world, but he also is able to be launched into a several day episode of depression by having a shitty airport hamburger.

The thing is, both of these guys launched themselves into the heart of the sun when they were in desperately lonely situations, but in both cases, they had really put up as many fucking alarm flags as you might have wanted.

And somehow, with all those people watching and being part of their production; nobody was listening.

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Well, this has laid here barely twitching for about long enough, don’t you think?

Do not, however, think I am suddenly going to go all foul mouthed and rant-fueled.  I am somewhere else right now, and it probably has to do with my SECOND near miss involving my traitorous heart.

But I am currently on my third watch-through of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and enjoying it as much as the first time, if not more.

It is a period piece from the 50s, about a woman who spent her entire life working toward the expectations of the time:  college for an MRS degree, jobs from the parents, kids, and apartments in the best parts of Manhattan.  BUT; her husband, having a stupid hobby of doing comedy in basement clubs, leaves her because she is funnier than he is (he relies on stealing from Bob Newhart records).

The night he leaves, she gets drunk and takes the train (for the first time) downtown to the grungy basement club and stumbles onto stage, where she free associates her frustrations and anger about being left, and then exposed her tits. Resulting in arrest, and which she managed to get bailed out at the same time as Lenny Bruce.

She doesn’t remember the thing about the boobs, but the scene where she completely misunderstands the legal process of courts is fucking adorable.

And during a terribly awry family get-together, she drinks up and then goes to the club, and the bartender says “here we go” for another great free-association rant.  And she is AMAZING at quashing anyone who tries to interrupt her or heckle/.

From there, it gets better, trust me. it is awash in period details,  and it is admittedly kind of a fantasy in the way it shows women at a time they were hardly allowed any agency outside of shopping for groceries.

So it’s kind of a fantasy.  But it has the rapid fire attitude of old school farces like Bringing Up Baby, but with an attitude and language that is contemporary.

And it visits the ideas of free speech and women’s rights in a way that is clever and humorous. AND it includes a cameo from Jane Jacobs, which very nearly dropped me to the floor laughing, because I realized I was one of the few that recognized her….

In any case, it is so well done, and so fucking funny and so fucking intense, I watched it once by myself, once with my wife, and once more by myself after I listened to the star, Rachel Brosnahan, on Marc Maron’s podcast.

Before I even start to talk about my Further Adventures In Modern Medicine, I think I need to be forthcoming about a more important thing.

We went to Italy.  Kind of a thing for architects.  They got a few buildings, you know.

We did go on a tour, but based on our trip to Ireland, this group does a helluva job, and we spent WAY less time in lines to see things like David and the Coliseum than if we had wandered in on our own.  Downside?  the bus environment allowed me to get a chest cold, but it didn’t take hold until we were home.

We started in Venice ,and we did not, perhaps, experience it to it’s full as it was snowing.  Fuck.  We did at least see the Doge’s Palace and Piazza San Marco, which were as spectacular as I had been led to believe.  Also, got to have a chilly gondola ride, with musicians.  Best time, was we went to a random nearby restaurant, met a fellow American on an adjacent table, and spent like 3 hours talking to her about all the things we had in common.

We moved on, and hit Florence, or as they say Firenze.  I very nearly bought a 700 euro leather jacket that looked great, even on me, and settled on gloves and a belt.  I saw several cathedrals that I studied in college, and much of the medieval architecture started to come back to me, even as I tried to ignore it back then.

Most importantly, however, was that our guide at one point said that they had an ongoing cleaning program on the cathedrals that consisted of sandblasting the marble.  When I pointed out that sandblasting was destructive, he admitted that they just replaced the marble.  I was seriously appalled.  As a professional that works diligently to preserve buildings, especially exterior materials, to have such a cavalier approach presented so casually was kind of a punch in the gut, and these were not even the buildings that I cared about all that much. Here’s what it looks like when you sandblast marble:

Yeah, that’s what it looks like when you sandblast ANYTHING. Sandblasting buildings is something that responsible people just don’t do anymore, and finding that people do it to significant monuments just…kind of hurt.

Rome is amazing.  A contemporary city, fetid and squirming around the history of epochs.  My first thing to say, is that walking into the Colosseum, is that it is completely recognizable as an arena  that are being built right now.  Also, if you want a building to last for centuries, then overbuild it by a factor of like 12.

We also went to Pompeii.  They liked fucking, apparently.  Not like us.

I had many great servings of carbonara.

The colors got to me.  It is obvious that there is a Color Police, they are inside of my head, but they are great colors. They, and a couple of other things, helped me to resolve a couple of design issues on a project I am currently working on.  In particular, this:

these are called rafter tails, and my own house has them all the way around.  I like to use a simplified version on my projects and DAMN but carpenters whine about doing it.  Photos like this will be my excuse for saying “these hard-asses did this with hand tools.  How good are you?”

We spent much time doing great stuff.  We went through the Vatican as they were preparing for Holy Week, which involved armed guards.  I internally laughed, as I thought even Holy Poppa does not trust in Gawd’s protections….

but but but , I still absorbed a lot, a a country (and one that is younger than the building my office is in) and liked everything, everything, everything….because experience makes my thing wiggle, as they say.

And at the end of they day, it still comes back to the fact that while nobody in Pompeii ever though to name streets, they still resorted to street signs:

it points to porn district.  Humanity never changes.

 

ETA.  Nobody asked, but here is the design model for the rooftop deck that I resolved using inspiration from the trip:

OK< so here we go again.  Some of you, that go all Book of Face, already know that the zombie here had another episode of re-animation.  This, then is my storification of that, my attempt to wrap my soft noggin around the simultaneous notions of mortality and that I am fucking tough to kill.

So, in the middle of the first month of Donald Trump’s second year of trying to kill all of us, we had some snowfall.  I went out to shovel, and got winded easy, but figured, what the hell, I’d take it easy and did it in a couple of goes.  And the next day, we had a little more snow, and when I went out to shovel, I got winded a bit easier.  So again, I took it in a couple of goes and still got the job done.  But with the flu going around, I thought maybe I was getting some lung crud and went to bed early, figuring I was coming down with something.

Oh yes I was.  But it wasn’t a virus, oh no. By the next day, I couldn’t stand for any length of time, and walking across the house required sitting down for a rest.  Even zombies know this is not a good thing….

It starts as what is known as a DVT, Deep Vein Thrombosis, which starts in the deep veins of your legs.  Clots form, then those little fuckers decide to go walkabout.  These decided to camp out in my pulmonary arteries, which are the ones that take oxygenated blood from the old air sacks to the heart and then to the rest of the body. Since these were now clogged up, the old heart was working hard to get air oxygen everywhere, and the upshot was that I was breathing hard and got dizzy really easy. Well, having had my heart try to abdicate in the past, it was time to make the trip again; since Wife Sublime was on a work gig, I made the obvious call:  Uber.  Quicker and cheaper than an ambulance, and I knew I was going to the ER anyway.

So, once again, I walked into the ER under my own power.  After a brief listen to my laboring heart, they put me into an ER room, and the huge numbers of medical professionals took over. They quickly determined that it was not another heart attack, and rolled me into the CT room.  After the scan, no shit, it took a bare 2 minutes before a doctor came back, saying I had a pulmonary embolism.

PULMONARY EMBOLISM.

Fuck me, that is some scary words.

They told me they were going to inject some very dangerous chemicals into my body to melt those little ambulatory fuckers, and that I could get them into an arm IV, or into a jugular IV.  The difference being the jugular would be able to deliver the chemicals more directly at the clots causing the problem, while the arm IV increased the potential for problematic internal bleeding.  I said, Doctor Vampire, please go ahead and spike me in the jugular vein.

YES, I SAID THEY INSERTED IV SHEATHS INTO MY JUGULAR VEIN.  

But the extremely dangerous chemicals did their jobs, and within 12 hours, my lungs were doing the job again, they terminated the chemicals after 20 hours, and within a day, my heart and lungs were providing more than enough oxygen into my system.

Ok, here’s the horror show.  Since the drugs involved make it very possible for bleeding to happen, it is very common to have a urinary catheter installed, to monitor the bladder output.  In the ER, a technician attempted catheterization, and botched it resulting in blood.  Now, I am only a patient, but I figured blood spattering from the penis is not a desirable outcome.  So he aborted; after I screamed at him in pain.    And, since I was on extremely powerful blood thinning agents, for the next day or so, my groin turned into a slasher movie special effect, bleeding all over fuck at random times.  O, and as a bonus, urination was AAAAARGH PAIN PAIN PAIN needles in the dick.  And although the underlying situation was life threatening, this was the part that was painful.  In a mordantly amusing factor, all the medical professionals that ever walked into my room, for like two days, asked me if I was still having chest pains; I never had chest plains.  Please talk to me about my pissing pains.

It took about two weeks all told, before the doctor in charge was able to let me go.  He was slow-walking my process, without telling me, and the blood threshold we needed was subsequently not being met.  When he finally admitted that he was doing that, I was pissed.  Still am; I respect his opinion on that, but to not let me know that he was doing so and why was, to me, bullshit.  When I forced him to let me go, and my normal doctor took over medications, we hit the blood level that is considered therapeutic in a couple of days.

But there are a couple of things I’d like to mention.  First of all, the ER staff are fucking heroes.  And two of them tracked me down in the ICU after I left their care, just to see how I was doing.  That impressed the fuck out of me.  Those are some amazing people.  Second of all;  The doctor in charge of my case during the stay, did not communicate effectively at any level, and did not involve me in his decisions on my treatment.  At one point, I had to snap at him “I am not a fucking idiot”.  It’s not just that he treated me as if I couldn’t participate in the decisions about my treatment, but that he made them without my involvement.

 

Well, since the nastiness is over, here’s some humor.  With the Uber, I got to the ER sometime after 3 in the afternoon, and after some testing, the ER staff asked me if there was someone they should call.  I knew WS was on a work gig, so when I got the chance with my phone, I called and left her a message, knowing she would get back to me or the hospital.  But for the next few hours, the staff kept asking me for her phone number, and they left a series of messages.  You see, WS has two phones, a personal and a work phone and on this particular day, she only had her work phone.  So, after they ensconced me into an ICU room, I texted her with “I am in room xxxx”, figuring she had my VM.  But she didn’t look at her phone until she was going to bed, and saw a bunch of messages.  But she saw the text first, which was just weird.  So eventually, late at night, she called me and asked if she should come in, but not really at that point.  I said that for the most part, the medical team didn’t seem to need her input…

But, at the end of the day, I find a funny aspect to this.  Many people touching base on FaceHell and others, keep asking me if I have been getting exercise, if I’ve been taking my meds,  what other things I’ve been doing wrong.  But here; the doctors have said that I have not had the typical issues that result in these DVTs.  What people want to hear, is that there is someone at fault, there is something that was not or was done that made for this occurrence.  Friends try and couch it in terms of concern, but what they really want to know, is that they are making themselves safe and that whatever health issues you have just had will never apply to them.  They are Safe, because they Act Properly.  But here’s the thing; sometimes bad things will happen and there is no fault.

Sometimes I feel like Fletcher Christian
twisting off the serpents head
for the mutiny I’ll shoot the big one
hot and hungry, far from home

Through the sun and sea my skin is peeling
but it don’t make the pictures fade
those shapes and symbols, I know their meaning
the shameless riches of another world

If I return they’re sure to hang me
so I guess I’ll have to stay
and if I should croak out in the darkness
No-one will know I got away

Well, it’s been a tough year.  I think a telling pointer to how bad it was, is that the year-end “This was the year that was” mail-it-in contractual obligation pieces have been WAY fewer than I ever remember.  It seems nobody wants to dwell on it, other than the Fast-Food toddler playacting as truck driver/ Elected official.

At the holiday gatherings, I had my right wing brothers-in-law ask me how things were going in business, and when I said I was busy, they smirked and said “Trump is being good to you, huh?”  After I said that the economic activity is due to the Black Guy and nothing Big Diaper Boy has done, I expounded by saying that NOT ONLY has Turdwaffle tried to kneecap the larger historic preservation projects in Madison and Milwaukee by capping single-project credits at $500,000.  which seems like a lot, sure, but see this; the current project I am working on, is only medium sized, and the budget is about 7.5 million; the State tax credit is 20%, so it should result in tax credits of 1.5 million.

AND I went on.  I pointed out that in the Rich Guy giveaway fest just passed, the Federal tax credit went back and forth between the House and Senate, and it never seemed to reach a consensus of a real sort.  I imagine they were much more concerned with protecting the underserved inheritance of spoiled shits like the Trumps.  The Federal historic preservation tax credit is also 20% of eligible construction costs.

now, I will point out several things.  First, that an overwhelming majority of Americans support saving older buildings.  And further, that money expended on historic preservation projects (which is not the same as the tax credits offered, as the tax credits are usually recouped within a few years by the increased tax revenue from a newly re-assessed and active building) returns about $1.60 for every dollar expended, which is one of the best returns showed outside of drug deals.  And finally, that Preservation and restoration of historic buildings are usually in neighborhoods that have been on the downs, and that these projects very often result in the renewal of these areas.

So, between Turdwaffle and Comrade Stupidhair, we stood to lose about a third of the development incentives on this project.  On a 7.5 million dollar project, it amounted to 3 million dollars that the developer could use as part of his financial portfolio and tax planning, which, believe me, this guy would appreciate.  And without it, it was not likely to be a viable project.

They kind of shut up about the Trumps at that point, as I was armed for Russian bears.

But here.

On the occasion of the a new year, I am weirdly optimistic.  On the political side, David Clarke got kicked off of Twitter for being an Internet Tough Guy, threatening the “media”.  Turdwaffle has appalling polls.  Trump is making being a Republican not only as popular as being a pedophile, but actually SYNONYMOUS with it.

In addition to the project above, I have two townhouse developments in planning, one private, one LIHTC.  Several smaller projects for repeat clients, and a fun restaurant project.

It is a hazard, I suspect of being an architect.  It is an inherently optimistic occupation, that dwells on building for the future.  But as those of you have followed the Empire, I have been through darker periods, and longer.

But, in any case, I usually resort to this later in the year, when I am trying to find the strength to make it all the way through.  But this year, it strikes me as a statement of purpose, a rallying cry to keep the eyes up and the focus sharp.

my broken house behind me
and good things ahead
a girl named Cathy
wants a little of my time
six cylinders underneath the hood
crashing and kicking
aha!
listen to the engine whine

There will be feasting and dancing indeed. (LOL.  I was going to post this on FaceHell, but figured the terrorist theme would be taken poorly)

 

Blood And Roses

Posted: December 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

It is becoming kind of depressing that I only write on this decrepit old blog when one of my appreciated artist joins us in the post-breather status.

So, Let’s go Political!  Tonight, the perfect storm of horror at Republican policies, revulsion toward the fat tub of orange goo occupying the White House, and the comically evil Roy Moore combined to afford the Democrats a win in ALABAMA GODDAM, a state that in 2016 was R+24.

Look, if we can maintain a Democratic advantage of 20 points in the midterms, both the House and the Senate will flip.

Eiron, the goddess of Irony, is at her finest; Doug Jones prosecuted white nationalist terrorists who killed young girls, and his opponent enjoyed victimizing young girls.  Roy Moore liked to fantasize about eliminating all the Amendments after 10, and women and blacks swamped him, even in ALABAMA GODDAM.  Doug Jones is a real person, with real accomplishments, while Moore enjoys prancing around on stage with a comically tiny pistol while cosplaying as a cowboy using props from Pee-Wee’s old show.  Who has at LEAST ONE JEWISH LAWYER!

Consider this the part where the zombie does the zombie happy dance.

giphy

In 1986, I was in grad school working toward a Master’ in Architecture (excuse me I have to turn this up).  and I had managed to get into an invitation-only design studio that was supposed to explore the intersection of design and pop culture.  One project was to be a revisitation of Wright’s Midway Gardens, and the other was to be a house for David Byrne (with a potential for a visit from Jerry Harrison).  But that is not of our concern.

At the time, True Stories had just come out.  I was aggressively political, and covered my workspace with political cartoons to the point where someone left an anonymous note telling me to shut the fuck up (since I was a cartoonist in the campus newspaper, this was FUCKING FUNNY).  The others in the room loved the pop stylings of Little Creatures, completely missing all the satire; but I loved the wider, more disparate sounds of the new album. Plus, i played A LOT of punk, ska and reggae, which the white baby architects kind of hated.  And in the midst of that, I found that Especially For You was an acceptable middle ground.

The songs were 3 minute pop nuggets, little platinum nuggets.  They were a bit too fast, and a bit too aggressive but not punk.  Also, this was a fucking amazing album…

I played that cassette, and while I loved Blood and Roses as is proper, the lyrics and song to Behind The Wall Of Sleep nearly destroyed me.  It captured every feeling about loving someone on the stage, and not being able to even meet, and that your dreams are the only recompense.

plus, the music is too perfect. the drum stings, the Rickenbacker;  the punk JUST STOP ending.

Pat DiNizio, singer and songwriter for the Smithereens, passed away at 62 and FUCK YOU WITH LAWNMOWERS, DEATH, YOU BITCH.

As is the way, I confess that I’ve seen them several times, including once at a weird cowboy barn and a couple of Summerfest gigs.  Which allows me to say, once again, that you should go see the musicians you like every chance you get, because they KEEP FUCKING DYING

However, Pat DiNizio and Tom Petty playing together forever makes me happy in a sad kind of way.

 

 

Lucifer, the Orange Leaky Ass Dog from 2008:

IMG_0047Lucifer, the slightly-less leaky ass dog from more recent days:

IMG_2076.JPG

I guess we need some Hair Club for Dogs around here.  I have sympathy.