Archive for the ‘Fridge Note’ Category

Passage to Bangkok

Posted: May 13, 2020 in Fridge Note, Shovels

 

 

Ok, here’s a personal story.  Feel free to ignore.

Back before I was an independent, when I was working for a very repellent boss (another story), I had friends who had acquired a very beautiful site in a development northwest of Milwaukee, on a site that was hilly and wooded and was cheap because it was considered the least usable in the development.  To me, it looked beautiful.

The asked me to design a home for what they expected to be a full family.  after initial consultations, they said they wanted a timber frame house; with experience in barn renovations, I was full on board.  In one of our first meetings, in their house not far from Milwaukee’s airport, I noticed some particularly lovely deco-style sconces in amazingly well built brass.  One of my first comments is that they replace them with builder grade fixtures from Home Depot, and take them along.  They did; they look amazing in their new entry hall.

They were worried that they disagreed about what the house should be.  They argued.  I calmed them down, and got them to express their own desires directly to me, rather than between themselves.  When they kept getting into their own disagreements, I said “let me work on this; I’ll see what I can do.’

Brothers and sisters and capybaras that is what I did. I designed a house for them on a difficult site, overlooking a lovely valley and a cathedral known as Holy Hill, that not only achieved all their goals but resolved every thing they thought they disagreed about.  During the discussions, the biggest resolve was whether the laundry should be part of the bedroom level or the first floor.

Working with timber frame was also a tremendous experience.  It was very similar to the work I have done for years in mill-style industrial buildings.  We also had a timber contractor who was very sympathetic to our design work.  In a memorable exchange, once when he was erecting the exterior insulated panels, which were not pre-cut for windows, he was approached by a neighbor concerned by the blank face which would face their appallingly bad suburban ranch. He responded by saying “oh sure, we will cut the windows later” and then cut the smallest window opening in that wall, leaving the rest for later.  I like that guy.

But that’s not what I am here to talk about. I am here to talk about the draft.

Wait.  Let me refresh my drink.

Ok, looking back, apparently I am here to talk about an episode.  Settle in, this is great, and believe it or not, the preceding is pertinent.

So after that house was built, Paul and Katie loved it.  And they often told me that they would discover great details in the course of their lives that they didn’t expect . And they had the expected family, two boys, and unexpectedly Paul started some very effective brewing in the basement level. They told me early on that they wanted a house that would become a legacy. They have one.  I made it.

After that house was built, and before they populated it, they recognized the amount of effort I did without asking them for payment (remember I was moonlighting). I did a lot of interior design and detailing, for which i never requested any payment.  I even built them a model of the timber frame, which they displayed on their fireplace for years!

They wanted to give me a thank you.  They had a time share in Puerta Vallarta, and said we should go there with them.

Well, are we dumb?  We are not, so Of course we did, and two other couples got standard rooms in the joint. when we got there, half the group went to check in, and the other half went down the street to the Corona bottlers to stock up on Coronitas.   We wanted to hit the ground running…

So we went down there and had great times with much alcohol.  but at one point, we decided we also needed some weed.  So a couple of the guys went to talk to one of the bartenders, who accompanied them into town, with the 50 bucks or so we had all thrown in.  They came back after a fair amount of time, grinning like idiots.  When we asked the outcome, they just pulled out this bag of pot as big as my forearm.  50 bucks goes a long way in Mexico.

We tried heroically, but there was no way we were going to kill that in the few days we had left, and none of us were dumb enough to try and take it back into the States.  So we hit on the idea of making brownies.  As you do.  A quick trip to the grocery for brownie mix, and we used the mixer to chop the leaf thoroughly, and voila!  Fresh baked stoner goodness!

I’ve had terrible pot brownies, but these were good, and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t really notice.  Also, if you didn’t know the difference between smoking pot and eating it, then you might not be careful….

Katie had never had baked edibles before, and she was amazed that they actually tasted pretty good.  So she had one, waited a few minutes, then said “maybe these are a bit weak, I’m not feeling anything yet”. How many have you had? we asked?  “Three”.  Uh-oh was the consensus. so we had to explain to here that absorption through the stomach than through the lungs, and that it took longer, but lasted longer.  after a little longer, she said “Oh yeah, I am starting to feel it.  How long will this last?”  You had three?  You are in for a long ride, most of the rest of the night.

Paul and Katie are pretty certain that their first son was conceived that night.

 

 

 

I have been very quiet on new music lately, mainly because I often get most of my inspiration by seeing live shows which obviously we are not doing anymore.  Last live show was They Might Be Giants, and that was pushing the edge of the social distancing directives.  We had tickets for Tame Impala, Mountain Goats, and Roger Waters; all shows that have been postponed.  As is Summerfest, and every other festival in the City Of Festivals.

But looking at my newly added playlists, I realized we have had an extremely impressive series of new music releases (does it mean anything to say ‘albums’ anymore?  Don’t care, it’s how I relate.)  Some of them are from social media alerts from the artists, some are from some music blog posts; but as usual, there is no mainstream venue for any of this music to reach anybody.  So, in that vein, here is an EXTREMELY non-mainstream venue…

First, up, is a new album from longtime retro-punks, X, Alphabetland.  It’s available on Bandcamp, and I actually haven’t listened to this one yet.  But it features the original lineup, including Billy Zoom.  I saw them last summer with Zoom on guitar and while he had to sit on a stool, he still smiled his way through and Exene had to maintain her pallor by performing an afternoon show with a parasol.  Billy Zoom still HAS IT. WOULD SEE AGAIN.

From the new frontier lines of music, is a punk alternate group called Daddy Issues, an all female group that has the MOST disrespectful version of Boys of Summer since Mojo Nixon did “Don henley Must Die”.

It hasn’t come out yet, not fully, but Jason Isbell’s new album “Reunions” is on the cusp, and has a few songs out for pre-release.  As ever, they are amazing songs, amazing musicians, and he is offering it cheap because he knows we don’t have a lot to spare these days.

We saw him and the 400 Unit last summer, and they were pretty awesome, even though his wife and violin player, Amanda Shires was not there.  Having seen him once with Drive By Truckers, I am there for him.

Speaking of which, the Drive By Truckers also have an amazing new album out, and they have discovered a new populist and leftist bent that is in full flower.  Songs like “Thoughts and Prayers”, “Babies in Cages”, “Grievance Merchants”, and “Thoughts and Prayers” have apparently upset the southern racists who loved when they talked about George Wallace.

What an amazing thing that were such a great band when Isbell was there, and after he left, THEY BOTH BECAME BETTER.  I feel gifted to have seen them in all iterations.  And really, when I saw them the first time at Summerfest, I just stopped by because I had heard one good things, but MAN the show was so good.

Here’s a more personal add.  A local singer, Tawny Newsome, who has played with an extremely extensive list of amazing people including Jon Langford ad Four Lost Souls.    I just found out that she has been cast in a Netflix comedy series, “Space Force” with Steve Carell on Netflix, out next month and the only problem I have is there is probably no place for her to sing.  Also, singing with her is Bethany Thomas who we have seen locally in Hairspray and Hedwig and her voice is able to stun.  I totally fanboyed her when I saw the Four Lost Souls.

 

Another favorite, Brian Fallon, has a new album out – Local Honey.  The amazingly inspiring of his early efforts with Gaslight Anthem; “I’d a called you Woody, joe” and “The  59 Sound” he knows he had to move out of the shadow of his inspiration and on his solo albums he is doing that.  I saw him with the Gaslight Anthem band, and it made me cry it did, but I have also seen him play solo and I understand what he is striving for.  His solo work is quieter and less anthemic, but is more introspective and personal reflective; he’s getting older, as we all do and and sometimes there are other things.

And amazingly the Boomtown Rats.  This is ridiculous.  When I was leaving my terrible high school life, my younger brother had a magazine that talked about how the Rats created frenzies at their show, and I said, that sounds kind of cool so I got a copy of Tonic for the Troops, and then went to college. At that point, Fine Art Of Surfacing came out, and in the cowtown land-grant college, that was just enough to label me as Punk.  Which I welcomed.  I Have loved this band for a long time.

But amazingly after 36 years, these idiots managed a new album.  Which is….not too bad, actually.  they mess around with some different styles and influence, sometimes successfully and some not, but it’s been decades, I can’t blame them.  If I had to make any comparison, it is most similar to their first album.  But…it’s still pretty damn good.  The Rats were always willing to present their experiments along with their more regular songs.

A local buddy, Deano Schlabowske, has been very active. One of the founders of the Waco Brothers, he has been doing a carousel as Rambin Deano, a punk rebel folk artist. We saw him do this at a recent Jon Langford show; but he has been doing much contact-less release of his music, and as a working class enthusiast he allows downloads, but just asks for donations.

https://deanschlabowskemusic.com/home

Since lockdown, he and his partner, Jo of the Meat Purveyors, have been doing online shows  he has released his third album of rebel folk music, with many of his friends, called Bad Luck Days, and his prior was Pills, Puppies, and Bacon. All lovely, and available at his website for the cost of what you might feel like donating.

Lucinda Williams has a new album, Good Souls Better Angels, which sounds as good as ever but I haven’t had time for a focused listen.

And finally, the release that gives this post a title.  Fiona Apple has a stellar new release, Fetch The Bolt Cutters.  I haven’t listened to Apple much, but based on a couple of reviews, I put this one on the drive, and… Well.  Every time one of the songs comes up on rando, I have to stop and check the artist and title.  The songs are arresting and demand attention.  Rapidly becoming one of my favorite albums of This Plague Year.   In addition to having one of my favorite titles ever.

 

Bad times are when we need art and music most of all, and judging by this batch, our musicians are stepping up in a big way.

Wife Sublime always got annoyed when we would buy furniture, and they always wanted her approval; more than once she snapped at them “ASK HIM!  He’s the one who knows.”

It is well known that males are, generally, not as well disposed to to color considerations, even beyond the ‘not caring’ aspect.  But there is apparently a real reason for that, in that when our genetics develop, they short-sheet the color receptors.

But somehow, they never did that for me.  Early in our relationship, it became apparent that I had better color perception than WS.  She responded by going to a predominantly black fashion.  I have gone the other way- I am exploring many ways of color display.

I was sent in this direction by a colleague, who encouraged me to do projects with brightly colored doors, which is very traditional extending back to the English Mews, where they painted the doors brightly for individuality (and so drunk husbands could stumble into the right home).

People love it.  Your entry door is an opportunity for expression and personality. Hell, I directed the painters of my house to do a three color scheme that included stripes, and when the original yellows were NOT RIGHT made  them adjust in mid painting to get it right.

BUT here’s the thing.  I love color in the built environment. While I am basically a modernist (with much side appreciation of modernism and others) I refuse the monochromatic idea.  Antonio Guadi did too.  So did Frank Lloyd Wright.  Colors are delightful.

And I have done several projects with contrast color doors.   They are most universally accepted; people want their house to have personality.

So, when I am working in design mode, I always try to find places to add that kind of color personality to the project I am working on.  And, over time, I have discovered that when I talk colors, the males I work with either don’t care or don’t see a difference, but the women I work with are on the same wavelength.

Back when I first went to land-grant college, I started in engineering school, because that is what my Dad wanted. When I figured out that was not for me, he was very disappointed, but I took one of those tests that gave back results in how you correlated with various disciplines.  My first correlation was with Female Architect.  The second one was Male Architect.  The third was Female Engineer.  The fourth was Male Engineer.  I guess I have a feminine aspect.

 

During quarantine, I have been spending my time mostly at the dining room table on my laptop, doing drawings and documents and powering them back out through what Hunter called the Mojo Wire, but I miss the big screen at my office workstation, as well as my old 17 inch MacBooks which were a good stopgap.

Normally, when I am working on an historic project, I recommend removing paint from the exterior to reveal the lovely masonry beneath.  In one particular case, the local Historic Preservation Officer said we shouldn’t (the current direction from the NPS is to not remove paint, because most of the removal techniques tend to damage the underlying masonry) but I pointed out that under the paint, you could see there was different masonry at various levels under the paint, so we utilized proper removal techniques and revealed a lovely pattern of masonry: P0004215

And yep, I selected this colors to complement the masonry.

This project had an unpainted masonry in a lovely orange color, So I augmented it by painting the wood and using deep yellow doors and black windows.  The interior halls are accented by an orange similar to the masonry color.Beaver Dam 9-1

Beaver Dam 20-1

The problem with paint on a factory or warehouse building being converted to offices or residential is that the conversion VASTLY increases the moisture content inside the building; this moisture then wants to migrate to the exterior through the exterior walls which were mostly porous until now, and new windows are very much tighter. Sealing those walls by painting them will result in degradation and spalling of the masonry, because of the action of water within the wall during the freeze-thaw cycle.  Water vapor migration will peel the exterior paint.

On our current project, the Owner wanted to not spend on paint removal, and since we don’t have any idea what the masonry or stone looks like, I see no reason to push for it.  We are planning on using a breathable elastomeric coating; most of the products have pretty good color selection.

I always start color schema based on the building element with the fewest color choices; in this case it is the windows.  In this case, since the building will be painted, the color choices are nearly limitless.  So I slapped together several alternatives.

prelim color scheme A

prelim color scheme Dprelim color scheme F

 

Obviously, although the new color scheme will be lively, it stays within the historic paint palettes, nothing except the doors going in a bright color.  No purples or chartreuse.  The exception is the rooftop deck addition, which is inspired but the colors of Italy.

 

deck aerialThe building is now painted flat white overall, and is located in an industrial district (currently becoming one of the most active redevelopment neighborhoods in the City).  When we get this done, It will be transformed into a little spot of color.

My Hometown

Posted: April 7, 2020 in Fridge Note, Shovels, Uncategorized

I have never made much secret of my love for my home state of Wisconsin, and my adopted hometown of Milwaukee.  mikey often mocks me as the ultimate booster, but I feel the state is an overlooked gem (and to be honest, I think I kind of prefer it that way).

I grew up outside of Madison, I went to state land-grant colleges to achieve a relatively affordable Master’s degree, I married a Wisconsin farm girl (who wanted nothing more than to never have to work on a farm again).  Young Zombie graduated from a widely respected Milwaukee engineering school.

The state is amazingly gorgeous.  It stretches from Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, to the Mississippi River, and up to Lake Superior, the deepest freshwater lake in the world.  Amazing forests, tremendous nature preserves, and absolutely lovely rolling prairies.

Plus we had Bob LaFollette (shut up about Tailgunner Joe).

Milwaukee sports the Harley Davidson Museum, a world class zoo, only excelled by the San Diego Wild Animal Park; a Riverwalk that exceeds San Antonio because theirs was built around a drainage trench, but the Milwaukee River is a real, functional river.  We led the way in the idea that freeways are not the solution and actually tore one down, resulting in a boon in development.  We are the most diverse area in the state, although we admittedly are still struggling with segregation.  We have, at the same time, the best and worst schools in the state.  White people from the suburbs are still frightened to come here.

We have fucking Summerfest.

But the Republicans not only hate all that, they are trying to destroy it.  They hate the liberal blue areas, they despise the areas with minorities.    They would like to kill us all.

They appealed to the Supreme Court the Governor’s recent order to expand mail and drive up voting for the primary and to extend it for a few weeks, because the lack of people willing to expose themselves as poll workers was pretty much non-existent.  Because it was a request from a fucking GOP group, the SCOTUS did an emergency ruling saying NO!  NO DEMOCRACY FOR YOU!.

The Wisconsin Republican legislature is dominated by shit weasels elected in viciously gerrymandered districts, protected by insidious math.  Robin Vos is an evil motherfuckers, and I may just resurrect an old gif just for that fucker:

Go Fuck Yourself Also Too

Tomorrow’s election, which is now completely fucked up electorally due to Republicans on the Supreme Court, has a critical judicial election (Kelly is a fucking Trumpidiot, if you want to know) is going to tell us how much of an Alabama Wisconsin is going to be.

As I said, I am not embarrassed by the love I have for Wisconsin.  I have visited a lot of other states, and some fair amount of other countries (hello Ireland!)  But this one does it for me, and I include the snow.  the silence of new snowfall is a very special sound.

And I sincerely love Milwaukee.  The first American city to build  a Calatrava structure, seriously?  We even beat New York!

But the things that Republicans and the Koch Brothers have been doing to this state are criminal.  The racist portions of the state have to be beaten with sock full of marbles.

Meanwhile, here’s a story.  Apparently, one Bob Zimmermann, while on a bus trip, writer a song about traveling into Wisconsin, but never finished it.  Milwaukee musician Trapper Schhoepp got his handle on the lyrics, wrote a few wraparounds, threw some chords on there, and when it made it’s way to Dylan’s attention, Bob said “let’s share the songwriting credits”  the first time ever.

this video features cameos by the Mayor, Russ Feingold, Tammy Baldwin and so many more, and all in respect to that Dylan video.  Plus, Trapper’s dog!

 

Wisconsin will live through the struggle friends

Made very famous by REM’s use of it in one of their great, great,  songs from Monster – an album that I waited in line at midnight to buy as soon as possible-  But also not noted is that one of my other favorite bands, Game Theory, used it in the proper phrasing “Kenneth, What’s the frequency?”

It was a slight amazing bit of sound and intro to one of the best of the albums from the 80s, and one of the best bands I had ever seen.  Saw them in a dive on the south side of Milwaukee, in the middle of winter, which seemed to shock the women in the band, because they wore completely inappropriate skimpy tops.

I saw Dan Rather interview the Two Mikes from REM the other night, and of course the phrase came up.  They had a clip of Dan Rather trying to sing the song during a sound check which was not amusing, it was painful.

So, let’s talk about the frequency of eye lengths.

Do you guys remember being in grade school?  Do you remember being asked to read the text on film strips?

Well, it was Second grade, I was seven, you know?  And when the teacher was going through the class asking for students to read the film strip, and got to me, I was not able to respond.  Not because I couldn’t read, but because I couldn’t SEE. After she spent a little time trying to help me because she thought I couldn’t read, she eventually understood it was an eyeball thing….How would I know?  My eyes were what I had, and what I could see was the way things were.  Had no idea I should be seeing better, because I had no comparison.

So after my teacher stopped embarrassing me, she told my parents that it was time to get an eye test.  And after that, I got some glasses for the first time in my life.  And I saw things I had never seen before.  IN fact, when I had glasses, I was weirded out by the depth perceptions.  It made walking weird, at best for a short tome of acclimatization, until i got used to the way everything seemed a bit….closer.

I have worn glasses since then.  Or contacts. For a few years, as a kid, I needed new glasses pretty much every year, because my eyes kept going south. I much prefer contacts, but it is hard because I have a weird diagonal astigmatism.  I haven’t seen my eye doctor in some time, And I need new contacts and new glasses.

I had my glasses fall apart tonight, one of the lenses fell right the hell out, and I was forced to use a bent paper clip to put them back together.  Believe me, as a guy who has worn glasses for WAY more than half my life, I have worked out any number of ways to do emergency and field repair.

And it was curious, in that I was forced to use my backup last version glasses, and that those glasses seem to serve better than the ones that lost the screw.

See now here.  As a diabetic, I am supposed to expect my eyes to go weird and degrade.  Which, I guess, is not going to be any weirder than any year before; my eyes have degraded all  my life.

Since I have been wearing glasses all my life, and my prescription is weird and changing and I have the diabetic multiplier, I have long been sensitive to the quality of the eye care I seek out, and I have a very clear preference for a for-real Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist versus an optician, and when providing lenses, I have never had a satisfactory experience from the mall shops or places like Mall-Wart.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors is an Optometrist, and a good one; and in a fine example of work going both ways, I designed his new office on the south side:

IMG_0012

What we found is that my right eye has decided to make a run for it, getting much worse over the past couple of years.  So I need new contacts, and we’ll be trying a couple of different treatment options, and my existing frames get new lenses.  There doesn’t seem to be any other degradation of my eyeballs, so other than just getting older and worser,  we seem to be in good shape.

 

on the last post, I mentioned that today, I had a building walk-through in review for an RFP that is upcoming.  Keep in mind that I do not often respond to Requests for Proposals, which are often sent out in shotgun fashion to any architect that shows up in the first 20, or 30, or 40 Google search results.  The last couple that came in through the mojo wire I read and passed, and the last one I started considering, I abandoned when the structural engineer I called had already heard (and passed) on two other architects who had already called him.  So really, the only reason I went further on this one is that it’s in my neighborhood and Young Zombie attended a preschool that was in the building previously.  Also, it’s a progressive Episcopalian church, so I figured they wouldn’t set me on fire.

One of the things about my practice is that I get very little work from marketing kind of avenues; most of my projects come from referrals or repeat clients.  In fact, I have one client that I have designed a residence for three times (one small colonial house on the East Side, an extensive and exotic rooftop penthouse condo downtown, and a suburban estate, FWIW).

I once read that Frank Lloyd Wright sometimes said he was never the committee choice, he was usually too risky and committees are notoriously risk-averse.

So I gathered with six other groups in this complex of buildings to review the existing.  In no particular order, and with an approximate employee number:  ZDG (100); UWRS (40); Groth (30); MSI (150); PRA (75); QA (10); and me.  It is a relatively small community in the city, and I had met several of the professionals there and knew all of the companies by reputation (and interviewed at most of them at one time or another!).  And, in a turn that I fully expected, my former partner also turned up.  Am I a bad zombie for having kind of perverse satisfaction in seeing her on crutches due to a fall from her bike?

The big difference between my practice and all of theirs is that they have a marketing plan and spend some amount of money and effort on pursuing these type of cattle-call long shot proposals.  I spend my time and effort into my work and design, and my reputation is based on that, not on glad-handing.  Oh, I am perfectly congenial and can handle a professional gathering with complete equanimity, and I made small talk as appropriate and made other professional small talk during the 3 hours or so we were on site.

And I have made contact with other professionals to team up with on the project:  a structural engineer, HVAC engineer, Plumbing engineer, and Electrical engineer.  Ostensibly, the proposals are due on 9/27, which is no problem at all, at least conceptually.

But the gathering and walk through went pretty much as I expected.  The building is an older worship building, with a couple of additions and remodeling over time.  The staff involved in the building were a bit negative on it, but having been through these rodeos many times, the building’s basic elements are predominantly intact and there is nothing that amounts to a deal breaker that makes any part of the building unusable.  If anything, their biggest problem is that there is far more space than they need, and it should be reduced or sourced out to tenants.  Actually, it’s a very handsome building and I would be gratified to help the parish move into a new era and fresh life for the structure.

aerial

But that’s really neither here nor there.  As I walked home – it was a truly gorgeous fall day in Milwaukee, and like I said I live in the neighborhood, I live 6 blocks away- I thought further about the walk-through and the other people who participated.  And I started to consider Wright’s words; what is the value of the work I will need to do to compile a responsive proposal?  When there are bigger name heavy hitters in the mix?  Does it matter that I am a neighbor?  (probably not).  By the time I got home, I was ready to skip it altogether, but there was a message from the mechanical engineer….

So here’s one where I am not hoping for help from you helpful 3 or 4 faithful readers.  Mind you, I won’t mind feedback or opinions, but you lot are an opinionated bunch of fuckers. 

Because I have decided, for any number of reasons, to follow this one through.  I’ll go against these bigger more corporate firms who have ‘name recognition’ and ‘connections’.  I won’t say ‘more established’, because one of the attendees was my former partner whose firm I was a founding partner of.  Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition here’s your fucking refund.

But I will go in because this is a step up and forward, and I can use it.  Plus, I need these bigger firms to KNOW WHO I AM.  Last night, my concert going buddy asked me if I wasn’t well known by the quality of my work and I had to give him the knowledge that that is hardly ever considered in consideration for hiring of architects.

So I am in.  I am drafting, in my mind, the rudiments of the proposal and I am working out some ways of throwing shade in a backhanded way at the larger firms (for instance, with my ex-partner in the mix, my resume instantly changed to say I was a Founding Partner in Charge of Design at the firm she took control of).  My references will be stellar, because they are all personal and direct connections with people of high stature in the community.  My track list of similar projects will be impressive, but won’t be the most impressive; however based on the walk through, I can directly relate parts of them to portions of the building they would like to address; and a Marketing Person in one of these firms will not be able to see that.  I did that on site in one instance, asking a question of the rector about the character of window leaks because I had experienced similar problems with a steel lintel that leaked into the windows in a particular way.

I am in.  I would, indeed, like to expand my practice.  I think I have learned some good and bad things in my history, and think I could grow it better and be a much better leader and administrator going forward.  And even if that isn’t in the cards, being a believable competitor among the Big Boys of the local community will be worthwhile in itself; I have proven myself from a practical standpoint as well as having received several design awards.

I second guessed myself on this, and then reconsidered, then shot it down again and then talked myself back into it.  Yes, I have a very active internal life, and AT LEAST a dozen voices that will chime in to argue at a moment’s notice.  But, for now, I AM IN.

SHUT UP VOICE  # 5.

Recycler

Posted: September 5, 2019 in Body Count, Fridge Note, Music nobody listens to

Nearly forty years ago, I was on the home stretch of high school and thinking about college (not sure I was going yet, but thinking about it.  Mainly because my father insisted, and Dad, I Thank You).  And there was a song on the radio, a sound I had never really heard before and lyrics about sunglasses.  So when the band in question played the Madison Coliseum (hereafter called the Great Clamshell because: Original-Coliseum-1030x660

I decided I would roll the dice and go solo to check it out, as Joe Bob Briggs will eventually say.

Since I was flying solo, I didn’t bother drinking anything and after the opening bands I was sitting on the main floor, when two absolutely shitfaced girls came stumbling by, tripping over me, kind-of-apologizing then one of them barfed on the floor next to me.  I found it kind of inconceivable they paid to get in then got completely blotto before the main act even started.

ZZTop changed most of my thoughts on what a live show would be.  They had almost nothing on stage, other than a drum kit, two mike stands, and ranks upon ranks of Marshall 4×4 cabinets.  And then only three guys come out, with ridiculous beards.  But when they started playing, all ridiculousness stopped, and complete no-nonsense rock and roll commenced, with a Texas twang.  I knew hardly any of the songs, but I loved it all.  It was loud, and the synchronized shuffle and on-stage communication was entrancing.

I was not aware of the backstory, that after their run of their first albums, they all decided at the same time to go incommunicado, independently.  Nobody knew if they were coming back, not even them; but eventually they did, and started making a dent on radio with Deguello, containing songs like “I Thank You”, “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”, and, of course, “Cheap Sunglasses”.  But here they were, and they rocked me hard.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see the “Texas House Band” (as Molly Ivins referred to them) several times, never disappointed.

So.  Tonight.  My concert buddy had asked if I wanted to go to the 50th anniversary (!) show, with Cheap Trick opening, and I figured, well, I’ve seen both of them multiple times, so felt no huge compulsion.

But things being what they are, and things going as they will, Concert Buddy’s date fell through, so I said I would go, nothing to lose.  Except I have been in the middle of trying to catch up on work after vacation, and I have a building walk-through for an RFP tomorrow morning.  The show was at the BMO Pavilion, easily the prettiest open air venue in the State. summerfest_bmo_2019_wp-620x400

So, after 40 years or so, I found myself in a similar situation. Watching ZZTop kicking ass, staying sober while the people around me were getting well lubricated (although way older than before) and more-or-less behaving myself.  They, and Cheap Trick were good as ever, and produced a pretty effective greatest hits overview of my high school and parts of my college years.

Although when I got home I poured a couple of bourbons and sent out about $15,000 in invoices.

 

so, tonight we had a party.  It’s one we do every year, really ever since we bought a house.  It’s a combination house warming/anniversary party, and friends and family always get invited.  We drink and talk smart, eat food that would cause our many doctors to look at us with the hairy eyeball, and tire the dog right the fuck out.

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It is often the only time we see many of these folks, and we all have a grand old time.  But the friends become scarce and family starts to fade.  Mortality takes its toll, and where once we would party like college students, now we are old people.  Hell, even most of our kids have aged out, and now don’t really want to spend a night with the parent’s old clueless friends.

Oh!  Hey!  I have to mention the kewl gift I got from one of my bestest friends.  This takes a bit of backstory; we got to be friends while playing league darts for a local dive bar (steel tips, not those namby-pamby machine darts) and competitive drinking.  At one point, his father wanted to get a computer, and he asked me if I could help set up the old man, which of course I was happy to do.  Well, his dad and I hit it off, and in addition to becoming his IT department, also became good friends.  Sadly, a few years back R’s dad had to enter a nursing home and then passed, leaving R with a shitload of debris and belongings.  And amongst those, was a certain item.

R knew that his dad meant it for something, since it was published well before we ever did the Macintosh stuff together, and it must have took work to track down.

R knew that his father would love that I now have it, R was happy that I would have it, and I am tickled fucking pink to have it.  It is a pristine copy of the inaugural, number one issue of Macworld, from 1984:

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Now, here’s the thing about this that makes it something I will put in a safe place and treasure:

I am not entirely sure about R’s future, and I fear that it may not be long before this is what I have to remember him by.

When I first knew him, he just was an ebullient drinker.  But as time went by, he lost several jobs because he would drink at lunchtime and become inconsistent and unreliable.  Eventually he became a cab driver (and a good one!  at one year’s Milwaukee Film Festival, there was a short film about him!)  and all the while, we remained good good friends.

But at the same time, other friends were fading and ghosting, not wanting to be seen as ‘enablers’.  While I was seeing R being abandoned and becoming more isolated; I have since learned that is often the result.

R eventually ended up in Hazelden, and worked to become sober for quite a long time.  But again, as is often the case, the addictions snuck back in; yes, addictions both smoking AND drinking; the classics!

R has been off and on, sober or sober-ish, and then backsliding.  Tonight, he was abjectly apologetic that he was too drunk to visit me in the hospital on my Events (which I assured him I never held against him and instantly accepted his apology, trying to assuage his feeling of guilt).

But things got worse.  He had a doctor diagnose him with cirrhosis of the liver (which may have been erroneous, but nonetheless alarming) and had throat cancer discovered.

Thankfully, we once had a President and government that actually gives two squeaky shits about the normal fucking people, and expanded the range of health care coverage; R was able to obtain health insurance on the ACA markets, and went to the doctors for the first time in years.  Not only the alarming things up above, but started getting his diabetes under treatment. Thanks Obama (not sarcastically) and fuck you Republicans (in complete earnestness).

he had the throat cancer successfully treated and removed, hurting like a motherfuck.

R and I are not only good friends, but also concert buddies of the first order.  I recently sent him a text, remarking on the upcoming concert schedule, that I had seen all that I cared, and nothing was coming up.  Recently, we saw the Outlaw Music Festival at Summerfest, Jason Isbell at the BMO Amphitheater, and the incomparable Figgs at the tiniest East Side bar, Circle A.

So I spent the late evening, dialing up our favorite songs to give him hope and courage; Jason Isbell, Trapper Schoepp, Okkervill River, Sally Timms, Trampled by Turtles, Mountain Goats, Gaslight Anthem….basically anything visceral and affirming, that might give him the feeling that there is value in staying around.  We talked late into the night, and I sent him off to spend the night with his fuzz bucket dogs and aggressive greenwing macaw named Biko and telling him he could be strong enough to get through.

Rory is the kind of guy that everybody loves.  He admitted tonight, that his happy-go-lucky life of the party persona is a front – it kind of had to be, I think – he was not only an instant lover of our first dog Mieshka, he also came up with a hilarious drunken backstory at at the first party we had her, identifying her as a ‘Kalaka’ a fictitious Russian attack breed.  Check it; this dog is only lethal if you are allergic to dog licking;

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But….yeah.  I don’t know how this ends, except like that line from the Mountain Goats song “this scene ends badly, as you might imagine….”

But it is a one time I wish I wasn’t joking about this zombie thing, so I could bring R back in the worst case.  Because he would, undoubtedly, be an AWESOME zombie.

Money Becomes King

Posted: February 19, 2019 in Fridge Note, it's the humanity, Shovels

A friend on facehell linked this article and I was inspired to expand it tinto a discussion.  Often, when new projects are publicized, people respond with hatred and little realization of the actual aesthetic composition of the project, but just like to complain that it doesn’t look like the idealized small community that they grew up in , the Twilight Zone/ Star Trek Next Generation hologram deck fantasy.

This is a very informative article on how changing construction standards, changing building materials, and changing building codes are having an effect on building form. What it does not say, is that this is something that has happened often in the past, and resulted in similar rapid expansion of certain building types or construction types. It is mentioned in passing, but the popularity of Balloon framing was massively expedited by the Sears company selling home kits, using that method; but balloon framing was found to be inherently dangerous from fire in that the walls provided internal chimneys that allowed fires to rapidly (meaning in bare minutes) expand to engulf the structure (noted that our house is ballon framed, but it does have rudimentary fire stops at the floor levels).

As a designer, I find the similarity in design to have a couple of sources. First, that this is what is acceptable to the market (whether secondary buyers or renters or condo buyers). And frankly, like much infill and mid-rise construction of the last hundred years, can be handsome and fits in well with most neighborhood design. There is nothing wrong with background buildings. Second, many designers of this scale of building are familiar with what they have seen, and find it expedient and successful to go with what has been built before. And I do not think any of those people are to blame for any of that; as a designer, I try to encourage my clients to stretch their images and think about new forms, new approaches, but it sometimes is OK to be straightforward.

Where I disagree with the article is about the way the model code arrangement is oriented. My experiences with the code officials, both at our state level and at the ICC level do, indeed, take their public responsibility very seriously, and they work very hard to respond to changes in the construction environment to protect the public. The expansion of sprinkler requirements over the past several years is one example; the recognition of nw materials is also a constant work in progress.

At the end of the day, where I disagree with the article is the idea that the basic building configuration (1+4 or 1+5) is the problem he dislikes. Designers respond to challenges in different ways. Most of them will respond in ways,(and in consultation with their clients, to be sure) that are conservative and similar to other successful projects.

It takes a rare combination of a designer who is able to see the opportunity, is willing to push the envelope, and a client that is willing to accept it.

 

I have been fortunate to find that combination more than once.

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I did not say in my professional forward-facing discussion, but as a fucking designer, just stop being so fucking unwilling to push the envelope.  And there is nothing wrong with discarding a crappy client that is tacky and insists on shit.

OK, I can say, there are times to play the standard card.  But a good designer can still make shit aesthetic look ….well, acceptable, if not good.  Pay the bills,, it’s OK.

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Yeah, so we have Hell Fuck Eternal Cold Vortex bearing down on us.  I may be unclear on the terminology.  That’s what it feels like when you walk outside – and believe me, what Lucifer the Orange thinks when she goes out to try and squeeze out some frozen pee or some poopsicles is probably unprintable, even on this crappy blog.

And this is on top of the 12 inches of snow we got Sunday-Monday.  WHICH IS on top of the cumulative 10-12 inches that we had from the last couple of snowfucks.

So yeah:

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We stayed home on Monday, both of us “inter tube-communicated” or whatever the kids call it, and traded episodes of shoveling. in between thawing our fingers under the dog.  But even then, we resorted to hiring the roving bands of shovelers that arise during this weather to do the heavy lifting, especially where the snowplows had created White Walls at the end of the drive way (but we had to re-do it anyways, because the plows are FUCKING RELENTLESS).

Even at the end of the day on Monday, you could feel the new COLDFUCK starting to move in.  it got here today, but mostly the city had plowed and shoveled out; although I have sympathy for the people living on smaller streets who struggle with parking rules and being plowed in.

Today got all the way up to 2 fucking degrees F.  It will be 16 below tonight.  Tomorrow will get down to 20 below.  I know the TV idiots like to talk about the windchill, but fuck that.  These are the temperatures at which windchill is near-meaningless; either way, it is dangerous.  Fortunately, of course, there is a neighborhood store less than a block away that sells liquor.

I had been kind of keeping my plans open, but at this point, I doubt I will go into my office this week.  Maybe on Sunday to see how much our delivery guys delivered.

Because yeah.  USPS are suspending deliveries for most of the week.  All the schools are closed, including UW-M.  Most City and State offices have told people not to come in.  Most offices are closed, and if I had employees right now, I would tell them to stay the fuck in bed with their spouses and pets.

But, you know, we have lived through this kind of shit before.  That’s why we have brandy.  In fact, most of us save these up to tell our kids and grandkids about the Blizzard of 78 or whatever.  we may be stupid to live here, but we ain’t weak.

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[ANGRY FONT]

But here comes Cheeto Mussolini, the Bone Spur Hero, to misspelling use our Weather Emergency to flog his infantile understanding of weather.  Saying, of course, in the most ridiculously smarmy insulting way that Global Climate Change must be proven wrong by cold weather.  Of course, his tiny thumbs fucked it up and we now must all refer to it as “Global Waming”  all other references will be memory holed immediately.

Deadpool is VERY aggravated at the maligning of Wham!

AS IF he ever has had to endure harsh weather.  As if he has ever shoveled snow.  As if he has ever had the snot freeze in his nose.  As if he even gives a shit other than to ‘own the libs’ and to provide fan service to his moron base.

Of course, no end of mostly intelligent people responded on Twitler and FaceHeil to say why he is wrong, and some went at length to talk about the actual reasons why climate change causes these extreme weather events.  I look at the people who try this with a kind of sad disdain.  I mean, I know what they are trying to do, and I recognize that the spreading of knowledge like this is a good thing, but I really hope they don’t actually expect to reach the rational levels of the Orang’Hai.  Let along the Prime Oran-Orc.  I mean, it’s not as if they read, or as in A Fish Called Wanda “Yes, they do (read) they just don’t understand it”.  Or refuse to understand it, and turn back to their comforting lies from Fox, Breitbart, and Limbaugh.

As the estimable driftglass has said, these are the reprogrammable meatballs that have been bred for the last 40 fucking years to act like flying monkeys attacking whatever targets are identified by the God-fearing Rightwing Leaders and Kings and Rulers and Daddies.

But speaking as a zombie who has to live in this current manifestation of the ravages of global climate change (and shout out especially to the West Coast folk who got burnt up -ostensibly because you don’t fucking rake) this kind of condescending and politically oriented shitlord, can I just say:

 

A while back, I had a bigger office with a few employees, and there was one guy besides me who like Tom Waits.

 

It’s not Friday, but Fuck You, Donny.  When you are put into the cold, cold ground, I will post the perfectly appropriate Elvis Costello song, and yes, I will tramp that fucking dirt down.