Archive for the ‘Shovels’ Category

Finest Worksong

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Fridge Note, Humanity is a virus, Shovels


I have been talking recently with a potential client, who owns a small, scattershot industrial building that is filled with a weird mix of tenants doing a weird mix of businesses, with a nearly incomprehensible of access and exiting that is pretty much not illuminated.

It’s not the first time I have been through the building.

NWS site

But the Owner, much as I like him personally, apparently figures I will be willing to work on the basis of a  couple of hundred bucks.  I AM NOT.

After going back and forth a bit, he keeps asking for me to do something shortsighted and cheap.  Here is my answer:

Andy-

A change of use resets the code to the requirements of the new use.  That is why they asked you for a Change of Use Analysis.  The use as furniture storage and showroom is treated differently in the code, and that’s why there is a need to review the new use in relation to the rest of the building.  Also, not having seen the history of the building, it is entirely possible that the prior use was not properly approved.  Which, of course is not your fault in any way.
You may be able to use that area as storage, although storage of furniture may also be problematic, and use as a showroom will be an entirely different aspect. Without an analysis on my part, I am unable to proffer a professional opinion on that.
I am unsure what you would need me to do, because your stated plans for the space are changing.  The building itself has gone through decades of incremental changes, that seem to have never been adequately assessed for code compliance. Conversion of a portion of the building to residential would STILL require analysis of the entire building for exiting and accessibility.
On a professional level, and with respect to my fiduciary duty to you as a client and the protection of public health and safety, not to mention in order to maintain my professional license and my liability insurance, I have an obligation to not only work on your behalf and in your best interest but to ensure that your building remains safe and occupiable and meets the standards of Milwaukee and State building codes.  In my prior experience, when clients insist on abbreviated scope of services, invariably we find that we have to do more work, most often finding ourselves performing the original scope of services, if not more, caused by trying to short cut things on the front end. The scope of services I have proposed is based on the years of experience I have in doing these kinds of things.  
After years of doing these kinds of projects, I have found that trying to shortcut, especially on the front end design and code elements invariably end up costing the Owner more money, resulting in blaming and bad blood.  
That is why I send out my proposals with an itemized estimate, so a potential client can see how my time would be broken down to various tasks.  When I look at them, I do not see any particular task that is not reasonably apportioned.
It seems to me that we may not be a good fit between client and professional.  I am not willing to provide you with a piecemeal approach to your building plans; invariably, I have found it results in more work that expands outside of the original scope of work.  
I really enjoyed meeting you and I like you on a personal basis during the brief time we met.  I also like your building a lot.  But on a professional level, I think we may not be the best fit.
Best regards and my sincere regrets.
Not sent yet.  Someone tell me that is wrong and ill-advised.
Maybe I shouldn’t watch the Walking Dead while writing these things.
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Last year, we attended a fundraiser for Tammy Baldwin, attended by Elizabeth Warren.  It was at a brewpub, and it was packed.  We didn’t even get close in the line to get our pictures with these two political rockstars before we bailed;  but I bumped into Tony Evers, who was just former School Superintendent at the time and had just announced his candidacy for Governor, aiming at Turdwaffle.  So I shook his hand, and wished him the best of luck.  He smiled, saying “We don’t need luck.  We’re going to win.”  I laughed and congratulated him on his confidence.  But you know what they say – If you come at the king, you’d best not miss.  Tony knew what he was talking about, and didn’t miss.  He’s going to be excellent, and it should be mentioned that Mandela Barnes, his Lt. Gov, is also going to be excellent.

And since I just finished the biography of Scott Miller, Here is his band Game Theory with their take on the post title; they used it as an interstitial noise collage before the classic album Lolita Nation started proper with the song “Not Because You Can”.

 

I went to bed with the Gov race essentially tied, and my wife preceded me with a disgusted “that fucker Cruz won, and it looks like Walker is going to pull his own ass out of the fire again”.  I agreed, and rather than hit the bourbon, I went to bed too.  But I woke up before the alarm, and checking my phone, I found that Milwaukee had coughed up 47,000 additional ballots which put Tony over the top.  Milwaukee hates hates hates Turdwaffle since he was County Exec, and got out of town just before the pitchforks and tar-and-feathers crowd got to him.

And in one of the most delightful bits of schadenfreude ever, Walker and his craven Lege had passed a restriction on recounts, only allowing them in the state when the difference is less than 1%.  How much was Tony ahead?  1.2%!!!

Sad to say, Ironstache could not pull it out in Paul Ryan’s old district, which was disappointing but given the demographics, was a long pull anyways.  Randy will be back.

Also, disappointing that Beto did not take down that simpering asshole Cruz.  But let’s remember, he was never even supposed to get into striking distance!  However, as I said, if you come at the King, you’d best not miss…. but Beto gives a memorable speech to his supporters:

If foot-in-mouth Biden can be a VP, Beto who drops an f-bomb is certainly qualified.  Just saying.

But the real deal is that the Democrats made a historic wave, against all the structural advantages the Republicans and the small-population states have, and against all the ridiculous gerrymandering that has been going on for decades.  Democrats have to outperform Shitheads by at least 7 points to just break even.  In the Senate, the Democrats out performed the Crapweasels by something like 12 points (for some reason I can’t find the actual numbers right now THE INTERNET IS BORKEN!) and still lost seats…

So the Democrats have taken decisive control of the House.  More than the supposed Tea Party wave, but we expect the calls for civility and reaching across the aisle to start before this weekend.  But fuck that:  Nancy, use that hammer!  Maxine, start beating on banks.   In any case, Trump now has to face a check on what he thinks is unrestrained power, and he will not react well; he already is melting down and taking too many of his medications.  I would not be surprised if seeing Jim Acosta on his blessed Glass Teat inspires a full-fledged stroke or heart attack.

But here’s the thing.  For two years, us liberals have been reeling and feeling like we have lost everything we have worked for, and suffering from more than a little depression and PTSD.  And yes, we have lost things; but I came of age with Reagan, and had to live through TWO fucking Bushes.  We lost a lot over many years.  And we can survive, and we can be better; remember when there were no such things as same-sex marriages?  And there are people you know, right now, who can remember when women could not access safe abortions.  The Shitweasels never stop trying to spread their hatred and authoritarianism.

We can’t, stop, either.

 

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.

IMG_2450

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……..

 

 

Weirdness abounds.

I designed buildings for a suburban development several years, ago, 8 family condominiums in a squiggly road suburban silliness, but still I did what I could to make them better than the average.

And then 2008 happened, so the developer let the sites lay fallow.  And since then, he (and I ) have moved on to larger, different  projects that do not depend so much on the largesse of bankers, and the remaining sites have been allowed to be sold off to people on a piecemeal basis.  And since I am the Architect of Record and the official holder of Copyright, some of them contact me….

This is not a difficult thing, but neither is it straightforward.  The original permits, which included all the buildings in the development, were obtained in 2004.  And admittedly, we used previous plans as a starting point, but we altered them to include basements and changed the elevation to make them look  a fuck of a lot better.

These were developed as condominiums, intended for young singles and couples and being relatively inexpensive and fitting into the suburban sprawl.  And the Bush Debacle killed them all off.

So I have been contacted by a developer who wants to take a couple of these on, and I wish him the best.  He is going to develop them as rentals, until he can sell them, WTF.  So I am engaged to update the plans and obtain new State approvals.

Here’s the thing. in the intervening 14 years (!) we have adopted a couple of iterations of new building codes.   As I am going through those old, old plans, we had designed a couple of different elevations and a couple of color schemes.

And today I was trying to update the plans for sections and plans, particularly roof plans.

And I discovered the roof plans as recorded were not accurate.  And the drawing essentials, like elevation references, were not properly referenced, as well as all kinds of goofy computer drawing weirdness.

This is the thing that CAD is supposed to allow us to avoid.

I recognize that the setup of these drawings was done before the modern drafting systems.  But they were still confused and not simple.

So I spent a few hours making the roof plans make sense, and correspond to the elevations we have.

I have no anger toward the architects who helped me draw these up in the first place.  The probably did not understand the the way CAD could be referenced and layered, and not the way drafting actually made input to drawings. And the Software we use, has changed-a lot!- over the intervening time. And it is hardly not inconceivable  that I was spending my time on some other issues and did not review it in the amount of detail it should have been….

Which is always the aspect i have struggled with.  I am way more concerned with the specifics and details of the construction and specifics of the buildings I design.  And frankly, I spend WAY more time on design issues than I should on a day to day basis, especially on these smaller scale projects.  I have always been very hands on, until I am not, and then I trust people who are maybe not ready for it.  I never claimed to be the best project manager, all  I am is the best project manager I can be.

So I have been spending a fair number of hours, straightening these drawings and making them conform to the standards that I now use.  I will not, of course, bill the clients for these;  hardly their responsibility.  But it makes me way aware of the importance of seeing the abilities of the CAD software we use, and how to be aware of how to use it on a daily basis as well as use it on our older documents.

It is simultaneously annoying in the extreme and amusing to work through these issues.  And it informs me in a visceral way with how I will interact as a supervisor in the future.

If I ever do again.

 

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 raging curiosity and love of people and every permutation of their foods, 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 our 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 for Mike to live with us for a summer or a semester in Milwaukee, where he could take classes at one college or another, or just live in different environment, but regrettably, 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 meat 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.  It was reminiscent of the members of Joy Division, who admitted after Ian Curtis killed himself, that they never really paid attention to his lyrics.

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.

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.

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: