Archive for the ‘It’s not the heat, it’s the humanity’ Category

 

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.

You guys (all 3 of you who still read this pathetic blog) may remember a couple of posts ago, I talked about my brother and his estrangement from his daughter.  I was regrettably unable to go to her wedding in Vegas, but the pictures were lovely.

Talking to her mother, she has managed to put her troubled past behind her and is now married to a guy who seems to be great, and good for her.  And more importantly. they have a GOOD DOG named Quigley!  Which is a great dog name!

Chatting with her mother, we talked about the potential for my brother to lose contact with his grandchildren.  I said that as an uncle, I would be happy too be a stand-in Grandfather.  I think I would like to be called Papaw.

 

And so as a wedding gift, I did this portrait of them with Quigmeister.  Finally, after digging out and unfreezing the doors enough to get out of the house, managed to pick it up and get it sent off.  I am a bad uncle, but it is still done and in their hands as of tomorrow.

Yes, I cut off their faces.  It’s called framing, because the important thing here is DOGGO FACE!  Also, I am not so good at faces, so I stopped before I made them look like one of my italian movies.  But I think the important thing is that my local framing shop is run by FUCKING ARTISTS, and they take a good piece of artwork and make it SPECTACULAR.

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And this is because we are pretty likely to go see Sam Llanas from this band play in a tiny music bar just across the river from our house this weekend, for 10 goddam bucks and 2 sets…..

 

Unlike my brother, I still have love for my niece and wish her all the best and will do what I can if she needs.

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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.

People who’ve read this blog, may remember that I am not especially fond of ex-Governor Scott Walker, who I prefer to call Turdwaffle.  In fact, he often featured in my long-running feature, Fuck You Friday (to which we happily welcome guest-effer Congressperson Rashida Tlaib).

We often talked about his scant acquaintanceship with the truth, as well as his long running efforts to fuck over Milwaukee.

Which makes this news all the more inexplicable and enraging.

People on The Milwaukee reddit predict much food being thrown at him, and plentiful servings of Snotchos being served to him (don’t accept an offer to dine out with him).

The current County Executive, Chris Abele, has been living in a luxury condo on the same block as my office (and with a view of the Bucks Arena, which Turd-boy supported) and Abele has just bought a massive mansion on the North Shore (Narrator: Abele is independently wealthy).  Which makes me wonder if I will be seeing Turdwaffle around my neighborhood.  I cannot decide whether this makes me nauseous, blind with rage, or excited to be able to yell and spit at him in person.

It should also be pointed out that he is already starting the next fucking run at elected office.  I will point out that he fucking said, he would only run for two terms (Narrator: he lied) and that he would step down if he didn’t succeed in his promise of 250,000 new jobs in his first term (Narrator: he lied).

Why wouldn’t he take his fucking empty ball sack and enlarging Shiny Bald Spot out to Waukesha (now and forever known as That Fucking Walkersha), where they love him for the way he fucks up the minorities and supposedly makes the Libruls cry (Narrator:  He doesn’t make Liberals cry). It has already been said that the only place in Wisconsin that might provide less Turd-welcome than Milwaukee would be Madison.

I guess it makes little surprise, considering that he is angling for his next Koch-funded and Koch-directed elected position (Narrator:  he’s never held a real job), that he intends to move to the economic engine of the State, where much of the corporate power and the truly wealthy fuckers live.

I am not yet inclined to re-initialize the FYF (it was very draining to channel that much rage every week).  But it seems likely that with new Democrats running the State and House of Representatives, I would like to at least re-animate this crappy old blog.  You know, like a zombie or something.

Meanwhile, this is my farewell (and Welcome to Milwaukee) song for Turdwaffle:

That quote, of course, is from the estimable Big Bad Bald Bastard, Fellow hardcore libtard and martial artist, in the long-ago time when we all bloggered.

Wife Sublime likes to travel, and coordinates with the basic school schedule; before, because of Young Zombie and now because she is working on here second Master’s degree.  YZ has shambled off on his own,  which frees us up to go places with better food and wider range of experiences.  but this fall, we went to…of all places… Nashville.  I KNOW!  And we did a day trip to Huntsville.  I KNOW!

So what I learned about Nashville is that this is, essentially, where the music industry discovered how to be an industry, based on the radio broadcasts of country music and what became the Grand Ole Opry.  This is where the pattern of sucking talent in, churning it in, making them play the songs selected by the labels, and doing it over and over again, became the pattern.  Sun Records; Sam Phillips took in people like Elvis, Cash, Roy Orbison and figured out where there talents were best focused;  This became what is known as A&R.  Then these folk went to Nashville and cranked out hits on an assembly line at RCA Studio B.

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Yeah, that’s me at Elvis’ favorite Steinway in the studio.  I used to be able to play a ninth interval cuz HUGE hands, but I broke my little finger shoveling snow and now I suck.

 

But here’s the thing.  There have been so many people for so long, coming to Nashville, and not just for country music, that this is a place that revolves around music, that exists for and because of music.  Jimi Hendrix said that he learned how to really play guitar in Nashville, and the Musician’s Hall of Fame had video of him playing in a standard R&B band, but you could see him starting to play.

We spent over two hours in the Cash Museum, which is small, but man how many times can you watch him sing Hurt?  Well, for me, I can always watch Johnny sing Hurt.  Trent Reznor admits that that is no longer his song.  I got a t-shirt which I will likely wear to bed until it falls apart, and a magnetic “Million Dollar Quartet” bottle opener on our fridge.

We have visited many places, and even New Orleans and Ireland did not have the high music content that we did in Nashville.  One of my sisters-in-law said she was surprised to hear country music at the party, and the thing is; much of  the music I love is at least country-adjacent, if not proper country.  Listen to Robbie Fulks and tell me that’s not country, and we have tickets for him later in fall.

We went to the country Music Hall Of Fame, of course.  Also the Musicians Hall of Fame, which is WAY less country oriented.  And a fair number of the service people we met, they were in punk or noise or other kind of bands. Everyone we met, they were musicians….

Based on recommendations of our friends, we went to a place called the Station Inn.  It is noted as the local musicians’ place to see other musicians, and once was a hangout for Bob Monroe.  We saw Jon Byrd, and he admitted that he learned everything he knew about playing guitar and writing songs in Nashville;  because there is no choice and the competition is fierce and stupendous.  And, of course, he was one of the best shows I have ever paid 12 bucks for.

Because we know history is history, we knew we needed to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium, the original location of the Grand Ole Opry (you go see a show at the overdone theme park version, there is a circle of contrast wood that was stolen from the Ryman when they figured it was going to be torn down).  Our choice was fish, as Rollins once said, so we went to see Lucero with Langhorne Slim opening up.  It was good and for my part, I felt the resonance of the structure with the spirits of the past.  They rocked kind of hard, and I felt the ghosts resonate with us….

 

But look at this; we had bunches of music in various forms, and while most were country, not all of them were.  And being a music fed zombie, I took them all; in the museums, I saw guitars that were worn and played and part of the continuum.  They all still vibrated with the energy of their players, fuck me if they didn’t.  walking through the Musicians Hall of Fame was thick with remembrance….

And so there you have it it, we spent no end of time in country music bullshit one thing or another.  Including  RCA Studio B, which was instrumental in making artists…. but even with that , the musicians in the city still work their asses off to get to one or the other levels.  Everyone in this goddam city plays or sings, and they all are working to be better or get another opening or chance….

And that, fellows and guinea pigs, is what I always say and shout out to you on an unrelenting basis.  There is an unrelenting amount of music being produced by amazing bands at any different directions you ever have seen.

At the end of the day, and tomorrow too.  There is a place for music.

But I bleed music.  And I discovered that there is a City that, while they may not bleed music when cut, they certainly ooze  music when squeezed.

And damnitall, and against all odds, I felt at home there……..

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:

Went to see some bands tonight, Something to Do and The english Beat.  S2D had a new single to play, dedicated it quit appropriately to the ladies;

We’ve been huge fans of these guys for years, and they are criminally un-appreciated.  But opening for the Beat must have been a thrill.

With regards to the show, I am gonna resurrect a post from the old blooger bloggo from the time I saw them – at a very lowish time  for me.

Searching For A Former Clarity
Mirror in the bathroom
Recompense
For all my crimes
of self defense.
Cures you whisper
make no sense
trajectory into
mental illness.

Sometimes you can recognize meaningful change through small details.
My office is downtown, located shouting distance from several entertainment venues including the huge Bradley Center and more intimate places like the PAC and Turner Hall. So it’s not unusual to see touring buses and trucks driving around or parking.
Sunday was a work day, as was Saturday. By midafternoon, while taking a short break to just gaze out the window, I watched a pair of generic touring buses pull into designated spaces alongside the street. In ones and twos, the occupants stepped off, stretching and looking around, and then each one of them did the same thing: pulled out their cell phone to take advantage of the signal and call – friends, family, some kind of home base. Modern technology has helped to soften the disorientation of touring, letting the crew and artists maintain connections and some level of sanity.
In this case, it was
The English Beat and their techs, here to play Turner and we were going to see them later that night. I turned back to the desk; I had to finish what I had in front of me in order to make the show on time.
buy a beach before next summer?
how do you feel in the morning?
if the light’s an awful bother
i could always close the curtains.
just close your eyes and count to ten
see if you still remember when
your life seemed easy, you had friends
but that was different than that was then
you’re drowning, you’re drowning

In 1980 I made my first presidential vote against a candidate, and then watched dumbfounded as America elected a suit that went on to stumble and lie his way through 8 years of deceit and corporate malfeasance. Against this backdrop, punk music was going through a mainstreaming into New Wave, wrapping the energy into a more commercial package; but the music industry had nearly dozed into irrelevance, and the DIY aesthetic released a restless generation of kids, seemingly thousands of new bands exploding into clubs and bars every month.
The English Beat rode this wave, but had a bit different agenda. Wrapping a positivist and multi racial message in propulsive danceable songs built on Jamaican ska and accelerated into a new decade, they were lumped in with the ‘Two-Tone” movement. Their first album was a relentless ska dance party, and many of my friends played it incessantly; but my real introduction was Special Beat Service, their third album, a much more pop-oriented album that Also served as their swan song. They disintegrated into
Fine Young Cannibals and General Public.
No it’s not a joke it’s cards on the table time
Yes I could have phoned
I could have spoke
But how to break the news without beaking your heart
Being dead don’t hurt,
No only dieing
Cards on the table time,
Sometimes it’s right to say goodnight.

But the band wore their hearts on their sleeve, and the combination of Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling on vocals, as well as the multiracial makeup of the band and their fans demonstrated that tolerance and unity not only worked, but you could dance to it.
The warmongering of the Right was decried in their actions and lyrics, one of the few New Wave bands that maintained the political outspokenness of the punk bands, without apology.
you tell me how can it work in this all white law
want a short sharp lesson,
want a third world war
i sometimes wonder if i’ll ever get the chance
just to sit with my children in a holiday jam
our lives seem petty in your gold grey hands
would you give a second thought
would you ever give a damn, i doubt it
stand down Margaret

we played that 3rd album nearly nonstop. During the early days of MTV, “Save It For Later” was a (short-lived) staple and we danced to the TV like kids in earlier days had danced to American Bandstand. Inevitably on Mondays, as we cleaned up the debris from the weekend, shelving one or two Beat albums was part of the process.
They never made it to Milwaukee, although Wisconsin appeared in their lyrics. Local bands covered Beat songs, and we made do.
And, as inevitably happens, we all got older….and lives shifted, as they will.
buy a beach before next summer?
how do you feel in the morning?
if the light’s an awful bother
i could always close the curtains.
just close your eyes and count to ten
see if you still remember when
your life seemed easy, you had friends
but that was different than that was then
you’re drowning, you’re drowning

I guess a few people noticed that I’ve been kind of AWOL of late, closing the old bloggo and generally making myself scarce. [Incidentally, I’d like to extend thanks to the folks who chased me down anyways. It’s weird, and a bit moving, to have someone you’ve never met express concern.]
One morning I looked at the New Post button, and realized I just didn’t have the energy, inclination, or temperament to throw anything out there; moreover, I dreaded the commenting if I just left a post without anything for some time. Commenting anywhere, in fact, seemed like more than a chore; with the prevailing mood, the likelihood of saying something appalling seemed like a near-certainty. In the end, I had no tolerance or patience, and the Internet is not kind to those without tolerance or patience.

So I pulled the plug and tried to concentrate on MeatSpace.

Strength is not the same as anger
Put the taste back into hunger
Searching the box?,
looking for what?
Pushing the gear back into top?
Put the first back into class
Lose your bottle break the glass
You’ll wind up high and dry with just this slow cold comfort.
For several weeks now, the Real World has been coming down like rain; like shit from an incontinent Moose (doncha love my Way with Words?). Professional life has rubbed me raw; old clients have refused to pay, new clients have refused to agree to reasonable fees and existing clients have been demanding full time attention far in excess of contractual and reasonable standards.
Rotating head, keeps on the right side
Colied up and tense remains on the lookout
Expects to be shot or get given the bullet.
Rotating head tries to look on the bright side of things.
For a normal business owner, or even at normal times, a bit of extra work doesn’t come as a surprise and can even be energizing. But the demands in construction season are critical and time intensive; construction schedules hinge upon the work and millions of dollars hang in the balance. Simple mistakes cost tens of thousands of dollars and Owners demand that culpability be assessed and compensated; one particular recent project is costing me a minimum of five figures, and that’s just my liability deductible. Larger firms carry errors and Omissions insurance in hundreds of million-dollar amounts, and one of the bigger firms in town may have $1,000,000 in claims in a given year.
Against this backdrop, we try to run a business, make a living, and maybe – just once in a while- achieve …. well, maybe not Art, but aesthetic satisfaction? Too much to ask?


Sugar ‘n’ stress,
Do everything at least twice
Catch your fingers in your private vices
Sugar ‘n’ stress
With a heart like ice
Hope heaven comes in a number of sizes.
In the middle of this, a Construction Inspector decides that I’m incompetent, and immediately sets out to disrupt my projects to the greatest extent possible to prove that I’ve screwed something up. Clients have no way of discerning whether his allegations have any validity, and meanwhile construction schedules are disrupted by Mr. Bureaucracy; everyone’s looking at me to resolve this and get things back on schedule, without affecting the budget, while my new friend smirks.
When two swords slashing at each other
Only sharpen one another
And in the long run even he’s your brudda’
Even though that kid’s a nazi

Of course, the internal flow of my office is further disrupted by the demands on my time. As we try to complete projects on time and keep the cash flow alive, I have little or no time to direct my younger associates or check their work. Inferior or inaccurate work is released into the real world, with predictable results; further confusion and errors in construction, needing more and more effort on my part ot keep things righted. It’s all supremely frustrating, and of course it bleeds over into the personal life; I had no time for family, friends, or exercising.
And perhaps inevitably, it seemed like I was losing my ability to cope.
one in thirty five is saying sorry through a bottle
say it’s your job to scrape a living up, that’s all it does
well think it back over it, hurts twice as much as living
itchy finger, finger, trigger, trigger
faster faster faster faster

I couldn’t even bring myself to care much about politics, during one of the most intriguing elections I’ve ever seen, and one of the most crucial. Not to mention one of the few that it seemed the Democrats couldn’t screw up.
Just like in the 80’s, we have been living through a greedy, self-centered Administration that is hostile to anybody without a lobbyist or a trust fund. The only foreign policy we seem to have is one of submission to American Empire, and the tragedy of September 11th distressingly gave the political powers the strength and support to force many of their priorities into reality. Wealthy Americans and corporations reaped profits and tax breaks unseen since the advent of the twentieth century, while the economy was starved and wages stagnated.


These thought are so unfair
“If somethings there then it’s worth taking.”
We know where our hearts are-right behind our wallets,
Yes and that’s where they’re staying
Grow up together but we grow apart
Always climbing up is our downfall.
A change of blood or a change of heart?
Another change of address will do no good.
Neo-conservative idealogues destabilized the Middle East through fear-mongering and deceit. Ronald Reagan was deified, and the new Presidnet lied to an extent that was inconceivable twenty years previously. Dissent was demonized as treason, as were liberals. Political dialogue narrowed and veered sharply rightward; torture became codified and sanctioned as offical American policy, while widespread surveillance of Americans got authorized at the highest levels in admitted violation of American laws in place since Watergate.
Hatred and bigotry are enshrined permanently into Republican policy, more explicit than anytime during my life.  The Southern Strategy writ large and driving nearly everything they do.  Fear of others – different races, gays, Muslims-  is the wedge they use to divide America into segments that they can dominate, while religious intolerance becomes the norm.  Civil rights are becoming eroded, while autocratic powermongers dice and degrade the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
our correspondent made to wait in the lobby
torn to pieces by three have a go bobbies
young swimmers in these sun dialling times
sweeping the nation with a dance called the breadline
it’s in our water, and our education
we are oppressed into association
cheated cheated
it’s a joke, but it’s not that funny
cheated cheated
change the truth until it’s worth
money
All of it has seemed like it didn’t even matter to me anymore. The abandonment of my practice appeared a reasonable response, even as the construction industry lurched into one of the worst years in decades and subseqent employment seemed like a long shot, attractive as it would be to just cash a paycheck again.
there’s a training camp when
you come from from saving nations
get a new job and a new leg
social rehabilitation
every time you thing of leaving
you get caught between the lines
it’s the training for the funfair
you get taken for a ride
you!
just get-a-job, get-a-job

Finally though, we made it to Turner Hall that Sunday night. Several friends were due to show up to, and I confess that I was pretty eager to see some friendly faces.

Naturally, most of them didn’t show.
Sooner or later your legs give way, you hit the ground
Save it for later, don’t run away and let me down.
Sooner or later you’ll hit the deck you’ll get found out
Save it for later don’t runaway and let me down, you let me down.

The Beat opened with a measured version of Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret, one of the classics from their debut. Dave Wakeling is the Sole Surviving member of the band and it was quickly apparent that the new (still multi-racial, of course) band was smoother and more skilled than the Beat was during their active years, adding a layer of American soul to the ska underpinnings. I sipped my beer, and looked forward to hearing some new twists on some old songs.
Until, that is, they played their second song.
So cross your fingers say you’re on high
Pretend you’re in den and see what life brings.
But always taking things as they come
Tends to make you forget to put anything in.
The longer you dwell the more it’s like hell
You sit by the well just making a wish.
To make it plain I’ll say it again
We’re all the same
It’s only a game.
With no interval between songs, they launched into “I Confess” the opening song from that album we loved so much. No new twists on this one, the piano charged directly into a straight-up version.
And much to my surprise, I discovered myself tearing up. Okay, hell, not tearing up; call it weeping.
the little you can expect to get
to get from anyone else
makes you look after number one
the only helping hand
you’ll ever be offered
is the one at the end of your own arm
draw in like a breath
it goes tight like a wire
you’re trying to shout
but your lungs are on fire
The memories of the feelings from all those years ago kept running through my mind. Every next song brought back the feelings of youth; idealism, energy. I remembered those years of dawning political awareness and maturing emotional outlook; I recalled the vibrancy of everyday life when another new day was a gift and nothing stopped us from reaching out to each other.
What then?
Do it right, do it now!
Here there, everywhere
Shouting out “I’m mad as hell”
He pushes his legs against the bed
And feels the triumph flooding through his head
He could conquer,
He could win,
Now that dying only means you’re not in next week’s programme
Stop being a baby
I would have expected a much noisier show to be responsible for….well, readjusting some internal relief valves, I guess. By the end of the night, we were dancing to the English Beat again, and the band was as good as anyone could have asked. Going to sleep that night, tired and sweaty and a mild ringing in the ears as “Save It For Later” played me to sleep on the iPod, I felt…. like I had some measure of control, again.
The next morning promised to be just as difficult as any preceding. But it seemed at least manageable, somehow.

And…. the past still keeps bumping into my consciousness. The potential of young years, and thinking there may have been something I missed.
I know I’m being overly dramatic here, and it can probably be dismissed as the onset of mid-life crisis; but when it’s quiet, I wonder if, all those years ago, I made the best decision when I sold my guitar to make my tuition payment.
Someone just smiled for no special reason,
It looks liken the smile’s come back into season
It’s so easy.
It doesn’t have to be a nice day,
Just the only one you’ve got
And it’s coming ready or not!

It’s very affecting to read those words from nearly a decade ago.  Although I can be grateful that things have changed since then, this post makes it so, so easy to re-live those feelings, that desperation.  And in some ways, the hands have just gone around again:  like the 80s, we watched a debacle of an election install a goon, a child, supported by idiots, fascists and staffed with greed heads and warmongers; while the meager economic improvements managed by That Black Man are being rolled back and a new massive recession is engineered; we watch actual Nazis marching in our country and being supported by political actors; while the rightwing insists that pedophiles and criminals should be elevated to high office, and immigrants of good will and good hearts are criminalized and sent back to war zones.

And against the horror and tragedy of that backdrop, these bands blew the shit out of Turner Hall, again Commanding us To Dance, and that the new dance, the Tolerance, can be our Soul Salvation.  And regardless of the foregoing, we see a continuing expansion of acceptance of gender and orientation diversity, a remarkable surge in women Not Taking This Shit From Anyone, anymore, and running for office.  Against this, the retrograde right wing and fascist whites are kicking, but like a chicken fresh from the chopping block, they are merely not recognizing that their time is done.  Yes, they are able to spray blood around before they lie quietly, and we have to be on our guard for fuckery at any level.  But they know; they know.  Even after managing to use every last ounce of influence to take over the government, they can’t get anything done, and they realize, it deep down.  It’s why they keep buying guns, shooting up schools, listening to Alex Jones and shooting themselves in rockets to prove that the Earth  is flat.

Yes, BBBB, I am bleeding music yet again.  Still.  Yet.  I am still not dead, and I’v been as close as dammit.  But this is the music I like, and it still speaks to me, even if it qualifies for oldies status.  And so: