Archive for the ‘Shovels’ Category

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unplugged

Posted: July 30, 2019 in Body Count, Humanity is a virus, Shovels

When MTV still did meaningful music, there were two or three times they made a difference.  One, oof course, was the Nirvana unplugged broadcast, and then there were two times they had REM do it.

And here you go (mikey should love this one) featuring the goddess Patti Smith:

 

Because I had the weirdest day in my office today, in that I came in and the internet connectivity was wonky.  Now, this is not that weird and a bit of rebooting of the hardware usually makes it stop.  But this time it didn’t

I spent much time on the phone with actual humans, and we tried several things.  Of course, the service provider would not do anything past their machines, which seemed to be functional.  So I reworked my routers, and reset all my settings, swapped out my routers, and nothing worked.  In the meantime, I was using my phone as hotspot.

So in a final call, I was hoping for a schedule of a technician, and the phone tech managed to ask me about which piece of hardware I was plugged into.  And here was the array of shit they had installed and left me plugged into:

The big tall thing is my Apple router, and the other four things are….something else.  I brought them all in for internet and phone, and the cost is like 1/4 of what AT&T was charging me.  But they had me plugging my router into the tall thing with blue lights, and that’s where we we falling down.  So after talking with the tech, she asked me if I was plugged into the short thing, and I said no, they told me to plug into the tall thing.  So when I plugged into the short thing, everything turned green.

Here’s the weird thing.  The white box on the left is a wireless router that I apparently never used.  Never asked for.  but it was wired in.

So, the upshot is that the guys wiring this shit didn’t know what they were doing, I don’t know what the fuck I am doing, and somehow it’s working now.

John Oliver, who is being a heavyweight offsetting that fucker Maher, had a great episode on the ERA.

As he does, on everything he does.  But his show reminded me of a younger zombie.

A zombie who joined a couple of buses of people., going to DC (my first time!) to attend a rally in support of a final push to ratify the fucking ERA.  Because, of course, America!  where equal rights has always been a controversial idea.  It did seem, at the time, that a few loud voices would help push it over the finish line, and holy hell, how optimistic was I?  All of it, Katie.

Kind of distressingly, a reporter from a Madison paper stopped and interviewed me while we sat on the Mall.  Ignored, of course, my wife and all the other women around, to do a ‘fish out of water’ curiosity rocks piece about an actual MAN that supported the ERA.  Because, fucking patriarchy.  FWIW, even my parents, who had no knowledge of our participation, noticed the interview, which was funny as hell.

One of the things Oliver brought back to cognition was the existence of ambulatory horrorshow Phyllis Schlafly.  I understand if you wanted to never think about her ever again, I know I didn’t.  But Oliver detailed the intensity of her hate for her gender and how ardently she worked to make sure they did not have legal protection for their rights.  Yes, she is one of the most horrible people that had ever existed.

We are one state away from ratifying the ERA.

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Illinois ratified the ERA last year, which was the 37th state.

Phyllis is a loon, who is a tool of the patriarchy.  She lied.  She once thanked her husband for allowing her to make a speech.   She lacquered her hair.  I really did not like her, and I am not happy that I still have to think about her.  Tolkien would have left her out of Lord Of The Rings as too evil to be believable.  I have read several alternative novels about hell, and  none of the levels seem to suit her perfidy.

I don’t like her, is the feeling I am trying to get across here.

But most of all, let’s think about this.  I went on this demonstration  THIRTY FUCKING YEARS AGO.  This is a terrible statement on our country’s lying about our dedication to equal rights.  Yeah, like all those years of enslavement, rape and brutalization of brown people, and the way we are now putting slightly brown children in cages is not able to demonstrate that we have never, not really, grown beyond it.

Well, I started out being kind of cheered by John’s show, and now I think I will start drinking.  Anyways, here is his show….

 

 

Not one of you asked for this, which is why I am putting this out.  LOL.  You guys are all masochists, I am sure.

So, we went to Spain.  This was, as you might expect, very cool.  But I have a history, you know, or maybe you don’t and here you go, whether you want or not.

In college, I was in a studio that had restricted admission, that was involved with the area that was the Olympic Village, and we had one of the architects from the master planning firm drop in for visits.  But I was admitted based on my prior studio work.   I spent much time researching the city and its architecture, and of course I fell in love with the city and with Antonio Gaudi.  Because of course, I have affinity for insane people.

We flew into Madrid.  Lovely city.  and then we went all over the country, and spent much time on a bus, but…. Granada, Toledo, Valencia, Seville, Cordoba.  Every one special in their own way.  But here; I needed to go to Barcelona, because that was where that old project was centered.  And I finally got there, like 25 years after. And we saw Cathedrals, FFS, cathedral after cathedral.  I am so tired of Cathedrals, I know all of this from my Architectural History classes, and I am so tired of thinking that the Church has done nothing  but steal from their people for thousands of years….

And here;  this is the kind of modern intervention I love in the midst of historic cities.  Because, yes, cities are built over time and reflect the new stuff every time, and this is alarming until the next generation, who just say this is part of the city.  But this:

 

Is lovely and exciting example of modern intervention in the midst of an historic city., and this is the kind of thing I love.  The only complaint I have on this is that throughout Spain, all the paving is wonderfully textured and complex and tough to walk on, and this was depressingly plain.  I think there was a lost opportunity here, to make the plaza below a well woven part of the city…

Barcelona is a real, for fucking real city.  Hundreds of taxis, and most people use motorcycles and scooters at best.  Also, they have actual transit.  And after much great times across Spain, we ended up in Barcelona.  Where I wanted to be.  Where I wanted to SEE.  Being in this city was lovely in every way.  But here is where I have to get all architect about this.  SO bail if you would like.

Antonio Gaudi was a lunatic who connected with a patron.  He was aggressive and shitty, and his fame largely came after he died.  Which happened because he was driven over by a tram driver.  Gaudi loved to stop traffic so he could look at his work and he would walk into the street to stop traffic so he could look at his work, and come on, but tram drivers must have hated him. So one ran him over.  And because he dressed like a tramp, he was ignored until someone took him to the hospital for the indigent, where, after a couple of days, someone recognized him just in time for him to die.  Which is the health care the Republicans think we should have available.

So I loved what I found about the city.  The rules about the expansion.  And after being here, the way those expansion  regulations have been incorporated into daily life.  The 8 sided blocks.  The sidewalk cafe culture.  We had sangria and nachos while staring at Sagrada Familia and feeding the pigeons: IMG_2875

Here is where I am going to tell you to go ahead and skim the rest, because I will be getting into the weeds and lots of feels….

Because I have been feeling, since my Adventures in Modern Medicine, that I seem to have lost the ability to feel strongly, for art or music or snuggly animals.  And as great as it was, coming soon after my heart attack, the Mekons show in Mineral Point, I have to count.  I have seen so many great musicians and enjoyed them, but they haven’t made my brain triggers go nutty nut nutters.

And based on that college history, I needed to see Gaudi buildings.  And we did.  But first, we walked around the Cathedral, and as I went around, I was feeling disappointed.  And as the guide talked about how there were a series of dudes who directed the construction based on their own ideas – because Gaudi designed by models and fudging and yelling at people on site.  And the 4 or 5 or 6 people running the show since, nobody really knows what he meant.  But you can see it.  Well, I can see it, you may or may not….

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I was tremendously amused by the fact that they already have to start cleaning the stone of the first efforts, while the remainder is still under construction.  I love that the existing stone  will not only be different from the new stone being used, but that cleaning the older stone will never make them look the same.

But here is what I saw, almost immediately upon walking up.  It is completely obvious that the newer parts of the cathedral are being done by someone else.  You can see that the bronze model of the whole mess is completely different from what is being built.  And I felt, that from the outside, that the lack of a supervising loud person has resulted in something that does not cohere.  My wife agrees, and FFS that is rare….

So here is the thing.  First, I walked up and saw the building and I hated that obviously the subsequent  architects could not resist to put their own stamp on it.  And as I walked around, I started to question the designs of Gaudi.  I found a lot of it to be silly and frumpery.  I became a bit harsh.  I became a bit tough.  I was no longer enthralled, this was not the masterwork it was extolled as, it was kind of a mess.

So the next day, we went to Parc Guell.  Which was completely amazing and a lovely work, in so many ways.  designed with two or three levels, it is a tour-de-force of design for landscape and the integration with the built environment.  It was a chance for Gaudi to party as a designer, and make all kinds of crazy that was still functional and would be a part of the life of the kinds of rich people who paid him for work.

It was all kinds of lovely, and a great ability to recover from my initial response to the Sagrada Familia…

Because then we went back down to the cathedral for an interior tour.  And that was a 4:30 afternoon, on a bright day, which is important.  We were there a bit early so we found a cerveseria, and got some sangrias and nachos, and looked at this:

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So, then we went to our scheduled entry of the church, and the first thing I noticed is that the bronze model of the church is much more complete and coherent than the current state of the exterior building, as I have been saying up above.  Architects love to fuck with shit; Gaudi took the basic floor plan of this church from a gothic architect, and turned it into this massive eruption of personal design.  The eastern apse is representative of the birth of Christ, and the western apse is representative of the Passion;  the southern portion is the eventual entry, which is scheduled for completion on or about 2026 (I am skeptical) which hilariously, requires the demolition of buildings that were built across the street in full knowledge that they would be time-limited, but they kind of thought it would take forever….

And then we went into the church.

It must be understood that Gaudi went beyond any Gothic design or engineering, by using Catenary arches to provide freestanding columns and arches that do not need subsequent support, and then there were more opportunities for colored glass and lighting from above.  He used innovative techniques to design the arches, which all work together to be a complete structure that works together.  And then he had glass artists that provided blues and greens on the birth side, and oranges and reds on the passion side.

I wandered the apse, and I had the audio thing but I paid little attention.  I was looking and seeing and absorbing.  I took some weird vertical panoramas which came out kind of nice:

The spaces within this building were astonishing, and I walked into people because I couldn’t stop looking up.  But the time we were there, we had the opportunity to see the afternoon sun casting through the red and orange windows and making the whole place sing with color.  And I felt joy.

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When we left the church through the passion entrance, which is much more severe and modern in sculpture, but they have a GOOD DOG:

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And a couple of nights after getting back, we saw the Musical Box, a tribute band for early Genesis; which they did not play the song Visions of Angels, if they had I would have likely burst into tears thinking back to the feelings I had in this building.

And so here.  All the feels I ever have.  This church and the previous Calatrava buildings, they brought it back, near as I can tell.  A buddy and I saw the Genesis tribute band the other night, and it swept me up.  FFS, I was walking over a bridge toward my office, listening to the new Mekons album and it brought tears to my eyes. Something- SOMETHING – has been repaired, somewhere.  Was it Gaudi?  Was it Spain?  Was it something else?  Dunno.  Should I care?  It feels good to feel something that has been missing….