Archive for the ‘Shovels’ Category

(the guy in front is Alan Doughty, from Jesus Jones)

A recent comment thread at Lawyers, Guns and Money, reminded me of a minor episode from the past. the moment that brought this up was:

In their mind, once you’ve taken away their impunity (which they are often very happy to use against white people that piss them off too – just that white people don’t piss them off as much because they are racists),

This goes back a few years, and I may ramble.  Fair warning!

Back in the old days, I shot darts in a league (steel tip, none of this fake plastic tip bullshit) and our team was know as the one that would pay our way at the bar-sometimes the bartender would say, ‘yeah, these guys take one drink all night.  You guys, you make it work!’  and after one Dart Night, we went up to a bar near Marquette University, where we bought beers and paid for music.  However, since this was a bar that sometimes had underage drinkers, the police descended, unplugged the juke, and demanded we all get in line to exit.

Since we were all of age, we didn’t care and elected to finish our beers.  However, that did not show the proper obedience.  Some of our group managed to get out the door, but me and another friend did not, and the cop said “you didn’t get in line, so you can’t leave.”  Some of our friends were the last ones to be ‘authorized’ to leave, and one of them turned to see what was going on, and he asked the officers to be able to talk to us about where we could meet after.  The cops told him “THEY AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE, JUST GO ON” and my friend said “no, I just want to talk to them” to which the cops said “HANDCUFFS”

Here’s the hilarious part.  My friend who was cuffed is an attorney.  My missed opportunity would have been to ask the cops if I could call my attorney, and then responded by saying “Hey Pete!  I need a lawyer!” to the guy sitting 10 feet away from me.  Pete spent the episode fuming.

So, I sat there, being obnoxious white guy.  I asked the bartender for another drink.  He told me to shut up.  At this point, I had not ever done anything wrong.  Let’s emphasize that.  We were drunk, but that is still not a crime by itself.  We were drinking in a bar that sometimes had underage drinking but that is still not a crime.

So I was beg horrible and my buddy was trying to be conciliatory, and eventually took our IDs and gave them to another officer, saying, just run these, we’re OK and she snatched them and they were fucking gone.  Meanwhile, I was being obnoxious, getting snacks from the machine.  There were a few underage drinkers sitting there, watching in astonishment while I was completely refusing to acquiesce.  But we still had not broken a single law.

At this point, I watched one of the cops with a terrible toupee arguing with the cop that took our IDs, saying “What the fuck is his record!” and she responded “nothing” and then he said “DON’T GIVE A SHIT, I WANT TO BUST HIM!” and two other cops said ‘he hasn’t actually done anything” to which toupee cop said “I DON’T CARE!!”  I was not being properly subservient.  Yeah, I managed to be a white guy pissing off a white cop.  He was frothing.

Meanwhile, all the time this is happening, my friend Pete who is the attorney has been sitting on a stool on the other side of the room, furious.

Oh, this is where I will mention that Pete is Hispanic.

I was being ridiculous, but this was obviously white privilege.  I would not have been allowed even this level of insolence if I wasn’t white.

Pete was not even out of order, and in the entire episode, he was the only one in cuffs.  I was obnoxious and ridiculous and confrontational, and yet I walked.  It was obviously racist. It was, in a word, Milwaukee.

After an extended time where they were obviously deciding if we had ever done anything wrong (let’s keep in mind that at this point, all we had done is come to a bar), the one police officer came over with our IDs, and an obsequious grin, saying, you guys can go.

This is hardly comparable to the experiences of black Americans, I know.  But after seeing what we have over the past couple of weeks, this memory came back, and the obvious difference in treatment based on race became obvious.  I was a drunk, obnoxious white guy who faced no backlash; my friend, a hispanic who just wanted to double check on our status, respectfully and without being confrontational, was handcuffed.

The most hilarious thing?  We were all pretty drunk, and all they had to do was follow us to our cars for a righteous bust.  Not only imperious, but kind of stupid.

Yeah, we need a revolution in what we consider to be law enforcement in this country.

I’ll bet the Mythbusters can figure out a way to melt the tanks and war pieces in our police ‘forces’

Minneapolis, the central home of polite people, is burning.

There was an innocent black man, choked to death by a white man he had worked with, by kneeling on his neck, for an alleged fake 20 dollar bell.  Kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes while three other cops looked on, and they ignored the pleas from EMTs to release the man and check his pulse. Now a black man’s life is worth a fake 20 dollar bill, which is actually worth nothing.  This was a straight up execution. Because cops know they are untouchable.

This was mere days after police-associated vigilantes pursued and shot a black man for jogging, in his own neighborhood.

Since then, protests have erupted across the country, which are echoing other protests when black folks have been senselessly slaughtered and murdered by white police, or just random white people with guns deciding they are the law.

When not being strapped, white racists decide to call 911 when black people are just in their presence, being black, knowing that the black person is pretty much going to be arrested if not shot dead.

Henry Louis Gates was arrested on his front porch for being black in his own home. I guarantee he worried for his life.

AND NOW.  A black man has been senselessly and ridiculously executed by a white racist violent militaristic cop, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck.  He fucking knew what he was doing, the three other cops let him do it. It was white racist fucks lynching a black man, because they could.

I have a friend that I worked with here in town, and now is an architect in San Francisco, and is African American.  He posted “Living as a black man in America is fucking exhausting.”  I have no frame of reference for that pain.

And now.

Tonight, my city is experiencing a second night of curfew, and the protests persist.  I’ve got a friend reporting on FB from his bike. There are caravans of armored vehicles, and incessantly circling helicopters.  The common game of ‘gunshots or fireworks?’ seems to be nearly continuous.  Parts of the freeway were shut down yesterday.

Trump is hiding in the Bunker, and tweeting every-more insane incitements to violence.  His white supremacist worshippers are listening, too and showing up at protests to try and turn them violent.  There is some organization to the effort, too; pallets of bricks are showing up before the protests start. The police are reacting as expected: they are waging violent war at the least provocation or no provocation.  The are shooting rubber bullets at the heads of journalists, when they are intended to be target to legs. On more than one occasion, this occupying army has been proudly flashing the ‘white power’ hand sign and giggling like Chucky the murderous psychopath doll.

I change my assessment.  America is burning.

This makes me feel like I need to go listen to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads album, which led me to Mercy Seat, which led me to Johnny Cash’s cover, which led me to the most perfect cover video of a Nine Inch Nails song (aside-that song is playing on a perpetual loop at the Cash museum in Nashville):

And now – now, the dog needs to go outside to pee, and that’s getting harder for her.  We have started the process to bring in another rescue, because after all these years, the concept of not having a dog is kind of incomprehensible.  So, life goes on.  Somehow.

I am not usually one to echo Imaginary Digital Friend mikey’s glum worldview, but I am having a hard time imagining the way forward out of this.  I can imagine Murder Hornets, tigers roaming the city streets,  and a zombie holocaust, but that’s not one my brain can wrap around.

But life will go on.

Won’t it?

I had forgotten how much I loved that Nick Cave album.  But a word of warning; do NOT listen to it if you are feeling fragile.  It is harrowing.  Over the course of the album, hundreds of people are killed. And after all that bloodshed, they did an all-star cover of “Death Is Not The End” which is normally a song of hope for the afterlife but coming at the end of this travelogue of murder, insanity and depravity, becomes more of a threat:

(title lonk) Because there is no musical link more appropriate than this book.

Wisconsin has a long, dark history.  Joe McCarthy was one of the least appalling episodes.  We have had labor wars, the two sides of the Milwaukee river lobbing bombs at each other, Native slaughters, trappers killing over turf wars, housing riots, cannibals and serial killers, and a Playboy model murderor.  We have a dark bent:

And let’s not get into how we are deep into cardiac cuisine and deep alcohol based lifestyles (guilty!).

But during Turdwaffle’s interregnum, Republicans managed to hardwire the Manders of Gerry in such a way that Democrats are disadvantaged to about 7 points, on average. And somehow, this ends up with partisan elected Supreme Court judges, which means we currently have a 5-2 asshole versus reasonable person ratio.  Our recent Death Election, where this biased court decided we had to proceed with a hazardous election – “don’t vote or die” which was the most straightforward expression of Republican politics ever – one of which was turned out but a resounding 13 percent. but he still got to give us a Fuck You and also give  a Fuck You to Governor Evers (which the Wingnut Legislature is always eager to do) when they canceled his Safer at Home orders.

It is notable that they rushed this misbegotten misshapen horror in such an anti-Democrat frenzy that they fucked up how to integrate, and basic direction as to how it applies to existing orders.  They are incompetent, they got their positions by being right wing lunatics, not because they were competent. All that was required was compliance with wing nut orthodoxy.

most higher density cities and counties have their own SIP rules in place, or they put them in place.  In one of my own stomping grounds, Platteville, a picture of a packed bar was immediately pushed far and wide.

Hilariously, one of the most common photos of Wisconsidiots is of a bar in Platteville.  I went to college there for a few years, and drank in that dive quite a few times (it had a different name). But when I was in town, they had $1.50 pitchers on Wednesdays, so we were usually there. Of course.

I got to know the townies in that land-grant college town, and am entirely not surprised by their behavior. They are mostly stupid, is what I am saying.  To be completely harsh, them deciding to make themselves dead bothers me hardly at all.  The people they will infect, I care more about, because they never asked for it.  But they probably all voted for Trump because they are racists, and will do it again, and I really have very little sympathy.  You shitholes want to make all of us get sick and die, so I may be harsh saying I DGAF when you get sick and die from going to a bar when you shouldn’t have, you complete amoral idiot.

Capture-2

Wisconsin just became  a Posse Comitatus state.  It is now controlled by an evil connection between the Trump Republican party in a state that is completely rigged for them, and the media foghorn of Fox News.   The Republicans in the Lege, let’s name the worst of them:  Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald (spit).  Vos is the motherfucker that wore full PPE gear including a gown, while proclaiming that everyone was “incredibly safe” to go and vote after they strongarmed the State SC into not delaying the election.  Subsequently, we are rapidly approaching 100 cases of COVID related to the election.

Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee are the centers of sanity.  They are also the centers of commercial activity in the state. Which irritates the racists in the rest of the state to no end, which is why we have a regular racist vote, every time.

So now we have a huge number of Wisconsidiots, who are suffering from hardly any difficulty, who packed bars and spread everything they had with everyone else. And then they went home to spread it to their families, who spread it to their parents.  And some of them will die.

These people are willing to kill their own family because they are so insanely paranoid that they will fill bars.  The impulse to pwn the libs is so firmly entrenched by the Right Wing wurlitzer they see that as some kind of solution.  To what, nobody seems to be able to articulate.

Apparently none of them ever watched the Mythbusters.

It is completely laid bare that the Republican party wants to kill everyone who is not part of their owners.  Fuck that, they just are OK with killing all of us.

Wisconsin shows how Republicana want to make this country into a feudal system\, where you work or die.  They don’t really care which.  And they have convinced 40% of the country that dying in agony with destroyed lungs is preferable to voting for a DEMONCRAT.

This is terrible. My fellow Wisconsinites will die because of this, fellows even if they are morons, racists and benighted ignoramuses,  and I don’t know if I have a way to respond.

Lord Dampnut immediately crowed as if it was a win.  And most populated cities and counties immediately reaffirmed the Safer in Place order they had established locally.  On the first day, it seemed a bit loony round here, but it seems to have calmed down somewhat.  Most people are still being respectful, although when I went to the bodega today, he wasn’t wearing a mask although I was.  People gave wide berths when walking down the sidewalk.

We have a very weird situation in this state.  We have a good governor, elected over the Turdwafle, but we also have a locked-in Republican legislature due to the ridiculous gerrymandering of the state which would embarrass Mussolini.  All that is missing is painting the Trump jut-jaw face on every government building, and does anyone want to say that won’t happen?

I will send out a classic number to this misbegotten Court:

Go Fuck Yourself Also Too

 

 

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.

 

 

 

When I was in high school, I took many college entry courses in English Lit, 4 1/2 years of math, physics… as well as almost every shop and art class offered. I had no control over what I was interested i, and I was not being adequately supervised. My parents worked, and I never got arrested.

At the time, I was working in the drafting department of a tech equipment company (while I was there, they were working on a machine that could scan a sample and return the percentages of minerals within.  There was much amusement when they scanned a fly)  At the time, our CAD machine occupied an entire goddam room, and had to have a separate cooling system), but everything else was hand drawn.

Hilariously, the obviously ill-equipped High School counselor, when performing the rote pre-graduation review, looked at my transcript and could not figure it out.  He looked at me, and said, “what do you think you should be doing?” to which I replied “I am already white collar, motherfucker, and that’s a good coin for this podunk town” (maybe not in those words.  He shrugged and put the file away.  Thanks, asshole!

However, my father, who succumbed to the anti-college sentiment of a suburb adjacent to a college town, had a chance to go to land grant state school and I think regretted not going, insisted that I go to some kind of post-secondary education.  To which I said (already being a punk) well, then fuck this I am going somewhere else to college, and found a UW school in the middle of nowhere (shut up, you with the ‘aren’t they all’ comments) and enrolled in the engineering curriculum.  That turned out to be a bad fit, but we corrected course and got into pre-architecture and subsequently moved to Milwaukee.

But wait.  That’s not what I’m here to talk about.  I’m here to talk about the draft.  (wait while I refresh my drink)

No, wait, I am here to talk about historic windows.  Wait.  I’ll come in again.

I’m here to talk about drafting standards.  Ok, we’ll go with that.

During that checkered high school history, I took every drafting class offered.  I also took every shop class available, and most of the art classes.  And 4 1/2 years of math.  And 3 years of English and Literature.  (The traverse from one end of the school to the other for these wildly divergent classes sometimes challenged an ability to actually cover the distance in the class break time).  The drafting teacher (who also doubled as my freshman basketball coach) was kind of bemused, teaching a class balanced between art and science and shop, and as that kind of class had many students who were aiming for trade school.  But he discovered I had great skill at hand drafting, and while the rest of the class diligently worked on the current assignments, often struggling, I mostly blistered through them and he had to scramble to give me extra work to keep me busy. At several points, he just told me to not come in for several days until we got to something new. “Take a week off”….

I learned how to handle a pencil to create effective line weights, and what those line weights could mean.  Eventually, in college, I bought some (relatively) expensive graduated ink pens to do those time-consuming presentation drawings.

This is something being lost in the CAD environment.  Colored lines on a screen mean nothing, and do not translate to physical prints of drawing – which we still use, because we need hard copy in the field.  A friend who is in the State plan review area, agrees- he says most plans come in with no line hierarchy control at all.  One of the things I have had to really emphasize employees, especially more recent graduates is that construction drawings are a form of communication, and line weights are the inflections that help to make sense.

in an early preliminary collidge class, I was criticized for using what are derisively called “bubble trees” .  In defiance, I checked out several books on how to identify trees in profile from the library, and most importantly found many illustrations in the endpapers that showed all these various trees.  I  used these to illustrate my next project , and the amount of ink I put on the paper was so much that I had to matte the whole thing with a black border just to make it balance.  One person kept wandering back and forth during my presentation, and insisted that he could see shadows moving in those trees.

But in that high school class, at one point the instructor, I think desperate to find more things for me to do, and maybe looking to present a challenge, had me do large-scale (3″) details of windows and doors.  I fucking loved it.  But I suddenly had a crash course in how windows were built and installed.  It was, frankly, one of the most instructive and informative single episodes in my pre-professional life.

Here is what it looks like when I use those skills on a contemporary project.  And unlike those projects in high school and collidge, this is for-real and for construction, and since they are part of applying for historic tax credits, real value in actual Ameros (if you are interested, those details are now approved by the National Park Service):

X8.2-window comparison round top

Because, for the most part, most windows are based upon hundreds of years of figuring out how to make windows that work pretty well.  In recent years, window technology has gotten vastly better, but the basics that were well established when my house was built in 1904 are still valid.

Amusingly, although I went into college as an engineer but left as a baby architect, when my younger brother who was still in high school told my old drafting instructor that I was going into architecture, the guy said “well of course”.

So here I am 4 fucking decades later, working on an historic building and during investigation, we discovered that a fair amount of the original ground floor windows still exist and they weren’t destroyed and are in good shape because they were covered up at some point which protected them, which will allow for restoration.  Of course, those concealments were unnecessarily destructive, as it far too common. Out initial submission to the NPS showed new windows in these locations, but considering the condition of the existing windows, my recommendation is now restoration, with new thermal panes added to the interior for modern energy expectations.

And here I am, preparing a change to our original NPS approval, showing that we will be preserving the original windows and doors where our original application indicated new construction (since it was all concealed and we had no idea what was underneath), and I am doing details of the existing and since I did those old detail assignments in high school, I know how these windows were built.

IMG_3342

Look at what they did to that masonry detailing. fucking vandals, it would not surprise me if it was done by the Trump family. Also love the GE marketing.

Look at the damage, done so they could put really ugly aggregate panels over everything.  I do not forgive.

Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 1.31.15 AM

Mind you, this is what the masonry looked like when before those savages attacked it with chisels and hammers.

 

But I dearly love reusing buildings and historic buildings. And doing this does  makes me happy.

Happy.

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

Heard about houston? Heard about detroit?
Heard about pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no
Headphones, ain’t got no records to play

I called one of my brothers today.  We don’t talk that often, so he asked what was the occasion, I said, just the standard Pandemic Check In.  He works retail, so he still goes in daily; they have gloves and tend toward no-contact delivery or car window service as much as possible.  My SIL is a hairdresser, and she has had to close her salon by order of the governor; although I am sure she does in-home for anyone who is OK with that.

We have an elderly widow a couple of houses up from us, she makes it a point to walk up to our corner and back every day.  I’ve made it a point to walk out and ask how she’s doing (from 10 feet away).  She has a grandson living downstairs from her, so she’s got someone keeping her stocked.

I got my meds updated to 90 days.  Also got a gift card for our mail carrier (enclosed in a beautiful Chihuly at Biltmore card because I am ARTSY).

Wife Sublime and I are both working full-time from home, and we’re very fortunate to be able to do so.  Had a brief panic episode early on, when the internet service went down for half an hour.  I have had most of my current files in cloud storage, and older stuff on my HD.  We haven’t gotten on each other’s nerves as yet; no more than usual.

That is not the case for a neighbor up the street.  The other day, we had police descend on our corner in force:  at least six cars, 3 vans, two unmarked.  The streets were blocked off, including our driveway.  Cops were lurking around the corners and inside of nearby buildings, hands on their guns and always close to cover.  They dispersed through the backyards and from the other end of the block.  As Imaginary Digital Friend mikey said, it looked like a Hill Street Blues episode, and friends and capybaras, it did at that.

Some of the police did not have hands on their pistols.  Those would be the ones carrying rifles.  

Another friend said the police log simply said “suspect with a gun” because you don’t have that kind of force arrayed when there isn’t.  Later, we learned that he was threatening to shoot his wife although it is not clear whether it was a hostage situation.  My wife said she heard a gunshot, but I missed it. In any case, we weren’t all that surprised; social isolation and a frayed relationship; and someone who might have responded to the pandemic by getting a gun or another one; it was kind of inevitable.  Again, quoting mikey (who sometimes has the soul of a poet): “Nowhere to go, death lurking outside, violence and hatred in your ‘safe’ place.”

IMG_3424

Our last concert was March 5; They Might Be Giants at the Pabst Theater.  the weekend of the 14th, we were scheduled for a trip to Costa Rica for 9 days, and I was nervous but Wife Sublime was so eager for the trip I said I would be OK with it.  However, the tour company canceled all their tours two days before we were due to leave.  Since then, we have been self-isolating and sheltering-in-place like motherfuckers.  My concert buddy and I have tix for Tame Impala on May 30, no word yet.  We also have tickets for Roger Waters in August; no idea.  Summerfest has been postponed and rescheduled for three consecutive weekends in September.  Roll the fucking bones on that one.

Fortunately, our (Democratic) governor was not being an idiot and closed down all non-essential businesses (as noted above, including hairdressers) and being not-a-further-idiot, also declared liquor stores to be essential businesses.  Wisconsin, you know?  But liquor stores are reporting quite a brisk business with the populace staying home with little to do except to self-medicate (and threaten their wife with a gun, of course) and when I am honest, my consumption has gone up.

Wife Sublime is self-comforting by incessantly watching news shows about the pandemic, she even resorts to watching the lying press conferences by Lord Dampnut.  And also reading about other pandemics and epidemics and researching local statistics, then producing analysis charts for Facebook.  She’s an engineer and IT professional and that’s what she does.  She feels uncomfortable when she feels like she has no control, and right now, there is no control to be had.  The best there is is analysis.  FWIW, we’ve been married for a long time, and I understand.  I put in my headphones and watch horror movies.

As I said to friend, “I am watching horror movies to avoid horror reality”.  But man, you bottom out on quality horror movies really fucking fast.  I also burned through Netflix’ comedy specials in like two days.  In the meantime, I am still working on projects, that I had fallen behind on although believe me it’s hard to be productive under wartime conditions.  See:  this blog post.  When I should be working on fire separation details (but at least I got those elevator shop submittals pushed out into the motherfucking mojo wire).

(ahh, you see.  There you go.  wandered off to make a new cocktail and lost my train of thought.)

But of course the difficult thing is the social isolation and the incessant dread and paranoia.  During the day, I hear Wife Sublime on video conferencing with people around the world, and they always talk about how things are where they are.  I usually have to argue with insurance shit weasels about why they won’t give me new CPAP equipment. Oh, sure, sometimes I talk to contractors and such, but since all of them are working at home, that’s almost all email too.  It does all make everything a bit more distancing.

And then, a few days ago, I went to bed and couldn’t sleep and then found myself curling into the tightest ball I could and sobbing uncontrollably.  All the fear, tension, stress and paranoia came spilling out all at once into my arms and belly and sheets.  It came as a bit of a surprise and certainly relief.

Certainly everyone is feeling the same kinds of things, and I hope they don’t respond like my neighbor up the block.  I would also say, if you have guns GET RID OF THEM or at least secure them.  When I was at my bleakest, I often thought about buying a gun and I didn’t but if I had had one available, this might be a very different blog.

Meanwhile, I appreciate all the half-dozen readers I have and all the other readers I have ever had and hope you are all well and things are going well and that  you are coping well.  I have love for you all I send zombie love out to you.

zombie-2

 

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.