Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

American Wake

Posted: April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

Don’t have a viddy to post for the title,  a Black 47 song.  But here is one about Irish immigrants doing shit work for shit pay in America.  “Aww, mammy dear, we’re all mad over here, drinking in America”

I have been saying that Ireland is like Wisconsin, except with less snow; their life revolves around bars, eating, drinking, and music.  we added cheese.

But one of the most notable things about Ireland is how fecking OLD it is.  My house was built in 1904.  My office, in one of the oldest areas of downtown swampland that is now Milwaukee was built in 1852.  I am currently working on a building built in 1858.

Piffle.  In Ireland, they have bars that have operated continuously longer than that.  The have buildings that are 400, 600, 700 years old.  They have ruins that are older. They have been invaded by EVERYONE.  And then they sent them to us…

Ireland was a fertile land that was invaded, over and over, by Vikings and Normans and the English, and the lands were pillaged and the forests were clear-cut and the locals killed and raped and beaten into submission.  Over and over again.  You know, kind of what the white assholes did to the American Natives, except without the horrible consolation of allowing them their own sovereignty on uninhabitable lands.

Which is kind of interesting, in a weird way.  We did a bus tour of Ireland, and on the first evening introductory meeting, we saw people that we kind of recognized.  They were, indeed, from Milwaukee, and our sons were friends in grade school.  And the husband plays in one of our favorite local reggae bands, and the wife is part Menomonie.  Yes, it was Weird.  And yes, we did Milwaukee proud.

We got into Dublin with some time to spend, and so we went to Kilmainhaim Gaol.  This is an awesome stop, because the guides are superb; but also last year it was renovated for the 100 year anniversary of the executions of the rebels, including killing James Connolly who couldn’t even stand up, so the had to shoot him in a chair.  I said at the time, there are a lot of lyrics by Irish bands that start to make a fuck of a lot of sense.

Our bus tour hit some of the touristy things, like Blarney Castle (yes I kissed the damn stone,, but I dunno that you guys may welcome me being MORE verbose) But we also visited places like Kilkenny and Galway, and saw some great aspects of the environment, and we had a guide who told us many informative things about Irish history.

It will be noted here that, on my mother’s side, we have lore that indicates we have Irish blood.  Like it’s fucking breaking news.  But the funny thing is that going into Ireland, I had no real knowledge of whiskey,  I had no appreciation for Irish Coffee.  And now I do.  O yes.  On the cab ride out of Dublin, when I said this to the cabbie, he said “you obviously have some Irish blood”.

Have you ever been forbidden from singing, or dancing, or practicing your chosen religion?  That was Ireland. Their were fiercely religious, but since that was not the Official British Church, they went underground.  They had their dances and parties in the parts of the country that were inhospitable, and the English didn’t want to go there.

They kept rebelling.  They tried, and failed and tried again.  The fabled rebellion of 1916 failed, resulting in the brutal assassination of 16 rebels in Kilmainham Gaol, including a mortally wounded man who had to be propped into a chair to be shot dead.

And yet, they persisted.  The eventually won their independence.

And they are people who really love to enjoy life.  Music and drink and food and loving life.  They are awesome people.  They re incredibly friendly and the country is beautiful and exciting and they have stupendous ruins.

In America, we don’t really have any buildings that are as old as the ruins in Ireland.  We have never suffered the extreme plundering and abuse by an invading force (my apologies First Nations).  But in our immigrants, we have people that cannot contain their excitement and play music and sing and dance and paint and add vitality to this country that somehow, a lot of white people think is offensive.

As an architect and a designer. I once emblazoned a project in Grad school with a quote from David Byrne:  “we steal from what we like”. I am sure of that. I steal, borrow, compile and re-compile.  i will use what I saw in Ireland like the things I have seen in Mexico, Yellowstone, and many other areas.  I take it all in, and put it into the Designer Bin.  It all counts.

But here’s the thing.  The Irish people have been beaten down by the huge Hulks of their time.  They were basically quiescent farmers, who were at peace.  They were invaded by the FUCKIN VIKINGS  and the goddam Normans, and had all of their good stuff stripped.

So, like the First Nations, they had all their riches stolen.  And most interestingly, we were there with a Milwaukee person who was a First Nation heritage, who was married to an African American, whose son was a friend of our sons back in grade school, and that seemed kind of weird or pre-destined.

What I took from my visit, is that the Irish are tremendously resilient and they are amazingly lovely people that remind me of the people in my state.

And here is the takeaway:

  • They have spent generations being beaten down, having their lives and livelihoods stolen
  • They have had to fight, over and over again, in revolution.  They do not always win.
  • They never allowed any of that shit allow them to stope dancing and drinking and singing.  Even when that was illegal.

we elected a stupid person.  That was bad.  But at the worst, that is less bad than what the Irish survived.  And they made sublime whisky in the interim, not to mention the lovely music.

If we think we can’t survive the idiocy of Donald Fuking jerkwad Trump, our Irish brethren are mocking us.

 

I have a personal adage,  I use when I am working with my clients.  When I feel they are pursuing something that they shouldn’t, I make my best arguments against three times, in forceful but respectful fashion.  If, after all of that (and I have documented history of telling them it was a bad idea), and then go ahead with their bad idea.

I have been re-watching the West Wing; it gives me comfort for a time when we al thought competence and a functional, non-corrupt government was something of value.  And in the episode I am watching, they are talking to people who were part of various administrations.

And the brings me to a Facebook exchange I had with a Chicago architect who is now a pundit and critic.  I asked Ed “if your asked to be the Architect of the Capitol, would you do it?” and he responded by saying, flatly, “NO”

After watching this episode (which included Karl Rove, a man I loathe) I think my friend Ed is wrong.  I (who am in absolutely no danger of being asked to do so), if I was asked to be Architect of The Capitol, would do it immediately.

Because I am passionate about buildings at every level. I love old factory buildings. I love historic government buildings. I love cape cods built by people just trying to live one more season.

If i hd the opportunity, I would oppose him at every level, until he decided to give us money for restoration and preservation .

Yeah, I would be fired the first time I told him he can’t install gold plated toilets in the White House.

But I will tell you this:  I do not suck up to anybody, and while I am willing to compromise, fuck that selling out shit.

And I would be fired.  Probably the first tine I refused to allow a gold plated toilet to be installed in the White House.

Have I ever talked about my educational background?  I have what may be called a checkered past, maybe…..(scenes from a zombie’s school background):

  • I never passed an art or industrial arts class with anything less than an A
  • I took 4 1/2 years of math in high school.
  • I only passed college chemistry because I rode the coattails of a guy in the dorm room next to mine.
  • I took way more English than I ever needed in both high school and college, including a literature course in science fiction.
  • I had to request an academic probation in college rather than just abrupt dismissal.
  • In high school, my counselor looked at my transcript and was completely confuzzled, throwing his hands up.  I told him I was already working as a professional draftsman in a local engineering firm, so he said “sounds good to me!” and threw me out.
  • My father insisted I go to college (mainly due to the fact that he declined an opportunity to go himself because of a local antipathy to college boys) and I have thanked him for it ever since, believe me…
  • Because I didn’t plan on going to college, I hadn’t done the preparatory research, taken the good tests, or made applications.  So it was a matter of which colleges had majors that seemed like a good fit, had entry requirements I could meet, and available space (and also, which ones were out of town, so I could move the hell out).  And at that point, Wisconsin still believed in the value of affordable State colleges, so there was one or two that fit that definition (this becomes important almost immediately).
  • After all that, I graduated from SARUP undergrad and grad school, with two separate special studios at the high level of Master’s.
  • I have been invited back to the school as a participant in design efforts, student reviews, and special presentations.

Land Grant Colleges are an important and amazing idea in the history of our country.  They provided high level educational opportunities to people from moderate means across the country, and most of them, especially the University of Wisconsin (which was further supported by the incorporation of the Wisconsin Idea, which pledged the use of the resources of the college campuses to further and develop ideas in support of the public good. In recent years, the Dean of the Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning has been exemplary in using the talent in his school to foster free exchange of fresh ideas and progressive ideas.  It is no random happenstance that since he took Deanership, we have seen Milwaukee out perform the economic development of every other area in Wisconsin, and we have seen things like expansion of public transit, improvement of sustainability, development of spectacular puck amenities like the Children’s Museum, the Calatrava museum addition, expansion of Summerfest, continued development of the Riverwalk, making Milwaukee one of the best bicycle cities in the Midwest, and on and on.

So I find this a bit personal.

Turdwaffle , following on his ALEC-ordered attack on unions with Act 10, followed up by trying to avoid the huge public outcry and do this on the down low:  removing mentions of the Wisconsin Idea from his budget;  obviously the first step to removing it from all public documentation altogether.  This was in 2015.  It was of course, done, because he has a compliant Republican Lege, who fall in line like a bunch of big, stupid dominoes.

So now, Our Governor Fucknuckle has decided that the best thing for one of the highest regarded research and publicly oriented college system in the country now needs to be more oriented toward making it a fancy-pants technical school providing drink workers for the rich and wealthy.

Oh, am I being hyperbolic?  Here:

Walker wants UW campuses to compete for $42.5 million in new funding based on graduation rates, average time to degree, percentage of graduates who get jobs, and how many of them work in high-demand fields in Wisconsin, among other measures.

So these colleges, acclaimed worldwide and also offering amazing opportunities to people who might not otherwise have them, now have to go cutthroat about how many of their students get placed with work farms that are acceptable to the Wisconsin Government Corporate Masters.

So yeah, I feel this is a bit personal.  The existence of the UW system allowed me to go to college in a way that was not high-stress and was still access to an amazing education that opened up my fucking world.  And Turdwaffle says “let’s try to fuck this over!” because he is a dim, small-minded, Republican knee-walking shit-sniffing obsequious complete fucknuckle.

It’s not a Friday, but here you go:

 

Go Fuck Yourself Also Too

Hell No, I ain’t happy

Posted: February 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Hey, how y’all doing?  I say y’all because I saw the Clash of the South, Drive By Truckers, with wife sublime and still hain’t settled down. The hit the stage under the strains of “Know Your Rights”, the keyboardist had a Black Lives Matter banner, and the spent time talking about the stupid airport bans and cheered on JOHN FUCKING LEWIS…this is rebel music, baby, this is the south finding a real voice.

BUT.  Let’s also talk about stupid southern shit. Someone yelled out “Freebird” and the band said FUCK YOU and then included an additional fuck you in the lyrics to the next song.  AND.  No one on stage was wearing a stupid cowboy hat, and nobody had confederate flags.

You know who NEVER avoids the opportunity to wear a big stupid cowboy hat?  You know who loves to ride a horse in the streets that do not really accommodate horses anymore?  You know who likes to have fun decorating his semi-fascist uniform with medals he invents?

Yeah, it is Fox News favorite wingnut black guy insane sheriff who was elected by white suburbanites, since he was one of the ‘Good ones’.  Yes, it is Sheriff David Clarke, poster boy for the beard color product.

Here’s the thing about Clarke.  He rode into office on the Scott Walker Racism wave, and he was One Of The Good Ones.  He was installed as Milwaukee County Sheriff, which is a very limited office.  That was not to his aggrandized opinion of himself, so he started to decorate his uniform with ridiculous and made-up medals and awards.  And then he started coloring his stupid wingnut face mullet….

Let’s keep in view that as County Sheriff in Milwaukee, he has not so many duties.  He has to oversee the freeways in the county, and the jail that puts people on ice until they get sent otherwhere.  That’s pretty much it.

So, yea, cutting to the chase. The overseeing of this asshole, and at least four people died included a fetus ARE YOU CLAIMING TO BE PRO LIFE, SHITWIPE?

Since then, he has not only used county officers to harass a person that just give him MILD shit about wearing Cowboys gear on a Packers flight, but ASSHOLE followed up with threats on official venues.

So, when fuckface is not spending time on Fox News talking shit about black people, and being bitter that his angling for being the token black lunatic on the Trump Circus Car, he has been watching that even the Walker-sucking Journal-Sentinel has said his polling for re-election is Not Likely, against any person that does not have felony convictions.

So, he decides that his only Wingnut Gravy Train os to move up to the fucking Congress.  And so, since Plastic Man RonJon is an automatically reliable vote for every horrible thing the Republicans ever dream, he imagines the only target is Tammy Baldwin.  And they launch the run by having third party insane fuckers attack her for her sexuality.

Let me tell you how stupid that is.  Her prior elections,lacal and statewide, she came out and has been openly gay for years.  She has been so effective as a legislator, that my parents, who prior to their deaths were vocally not comfortable with gays or minorities, still voted for her in state offices and national offices.

Stupid ass Fake Cowboy Clarke is an idiot and a hateful bully. He is trying to build off of Fox Not-news because his job is otherwise gong to result in his ouster.  But he is trying to move into a senate spot because he’s hoping racists in the out-state Wisconsin will vote for a black racist in favor of a white woman lesbian with a great track record.

Perhaps he can get a job as a cowboy.  He has the hats.

 

Lovers In A Dangerous Time

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

I grew up as stupid suburban white boy metal head.  But then, since we were adjacent to a city with a good radio station, I learned about punk and new wave, and I learned the lessons well, yes I did.

And I took those lessons to land-grant college, and immediately alienated my roommate roulette person, but found some people in an adjacent dorm. I continued to learn about punk an new wave, yes I did.

I lived in a house that was once of the only places that played the first REM album.

Later, I moved to Milwaukee and tried to culminate my professional degree. But in that time, I worked much with local music people and worked with Bruce Cockburn on one of his tours, and he was so nice to me, as I was just holding a ladder while they sound checked.  What a lovely guy.

I am not sure how much music can make a difference, in the coming hard rain.

But I know a couple of things:  the fascists have no music.

And they have no artists.

And if you don’t have music, and you don’t have artists, then honey YOU DON’T HAVE PEOPLE

 

 

It’s a World of Love and Hope

Posted: January 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

OK, I know that sounds all wrong for the Empire.  I would add a “fuck” in there, but it would make the joke not work.

Extra introduction.  I left a teaser back in the last Year of Hell, and this is just easing me in.  My music posts have always been easier than my political posts; talking about things I love is much easier than about the things I hate; unless I just went on an unrestrained primal scream of FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK…. (yes, I realize, I did that as well).  But I recently had a reason to dredge up the beginnings of the proto-Empire, and it was the constant horror of the Cheney Regime that made me start doing that. So I am thinking that  I will likely go to rage, horror, mockery and incessant zombie apocalypse jokes in Our New Reich (I promise to never refer to Orange Hands MicroPenis as “President”).  Heavy on the mockery, because that is what gets him the most irate.  In the interim, I am easing myself, and you, Dear Reader(s) into that with a music post…..

Here’s the source, a new album by Chicago Musician’s Band, The Flat Five.

Word of warning, it is music that will make you wonder if I took a blow to the head, as it is jazzy, poppy, unabashedly retro, and pretty much nothing that I normally like.  ZOMBIES, THEY DO THE UNEXPECTED!

But really, the band – Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, Alex Hall, Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor- do hit me in two of my sweet spots; first, a bunch of musicians who truly love to do what they do, and second, an amazingly adept mix of stupendously talented singers making your hindbrain tingle with their harmonies.  They are a band that has been performing around Chicago for ten years (!) and this was the first time they played Milwaukee….

Here’s the crazy shit. I had been aware of Kelly Hogan for a bit of time, and when she did a show in the Pabst Theater (bar) Good Friend Rory and I went , and it was SUBLIME indeed, friends and guinea pigs, yes it was…and in the after, going to the merch table, I realized I had seen this amazing talent once before:

just out of college, in my first professional job I was delegated with one other guy to go down to Atlanta to a CAD convention try and find the best system for our operation.  And after a day or so of doing so, we went to what looked like a coolish pub to get food and drink.  And a band started playing, The Jody Grind.  I loved it.

And I recognized that she was the amazing vocalist that sang for that band, and she remembered the bar we saw her in.  She is a flat-out fucking ASTONISHING vocalist, and she is currently singing with the Decemberists, Alejandro Escovedo, and Mavis Staples.   But really, that is the story of all of the people in this band; they are the kind of band that other musicians say is the best band they’ve seen.  And THAT, is, of course, my ultimate sweet spot.

So yeah, Wife Sublime and I braved the fucking cold to see them on Saturday (not far from ZombieHome and directly next to one of my projects, yea!) with about 150 other people (in a venue that had insufficient toilets for that number of people, LOL, that’s what I notice)

The sticker on the band’s vinyl says “Chicago’s underground twisted sunshine pop vocal band” and while that sounds like adjective mania, it’s not bad.  The played all the songs off their new album, which are mostly jazz-pop (play them quiet, and they are easy listening) but an amazing array of covers; ranging from Beach Boys, to Phish, to Nilsson, to somebody they found on YouTube.

The thing about this band is that as a group and as individuals, they are all embarrassingly talented. they trade instruments, while Hogan mocks their inability to get their shit together.

And at one point, Hogan admits they have been playing together for ten years (What the FUCK Chicago; are you keeping them secret, as bitter retribution for your sports teams?  And now, with a World Series, you let us see them? I will need to see documents) and that a few years back, they decided they wanted to focus on, more positive, sunnier songs.  DAMN!  There goes my hope of seeing a stupendous version of the Magnetic Fields’ genius song “Papa Was A Rodeo”….

One of my favorite songs of all….

So anyway, here’s the thing.  The band admits this is dark times.  We all do.  And there is nothing wrong with that, recognition of Darkness On The Edge Of Town is an important element in being able to approach and deal with that fucking orange darkness… but I know my readers are not hopeless. Not lacking hope, I mean.  And even if you are feeling a bit down, then this band and their album is like a sweet sunshine ray of hope from the 60s and 70s to help you out.  The band, themselves, who have individually and together explored all kinds of musical genres (including gospel music that doesn’t mention Jesus. “short set list”, they say) said that they made the conscious decision a few years back to concentrate on music that has positive connotations.  Without being overly chirpy, you understand…

As you all two may know, I say that I think music is one of the most noble ways of making people better.  And after watching the Flat Five assault me with positive pop perfection, am I better?  Well, fuck me I am more cheerful and I treat that gassy orange dog better.  YOU TELL ME

The band played two sets, and Hogan said that as the daughter of a police officer, she knew she was playing with fire by playing overtime, but they felt like they had ignored Milwaukee for far too long (and you HAVE, Hogan, you have).  To our pleased amusement, Wife Sublime recognized one of the songs (Bird of Paradise) although she mis-identified it as a Phish song although it is a Joe South song (THANKS STEVE JOBS).

It was a helluva night, yes it was.  The band was as good as anyone could ever expect, and better than they have any right to be.  The songs were fun and varied and rendered with amazing versatility by wonderfully talented musicians.

And to circle back, they help me find a focus for the Empire going forward. As I have hinted, I feel like I have to re-invigorate the shit out of this damn ugly blog, and was looking at the worst days of horror, rage, spit, and breaking shit but I started to realize something…. the thing that aggravates the Idiot Bigot Brigades the most, is the fact that not only do we not knuckle under to their Reich, but we continue to NOT take them seriously, we continue to fight for our goals and our ideals, and continue to argue that they are objectively wrong.  They feel like they won, so we should perforce be obligated to acknowledge they are right.

Well, they’re not.  

THEY REMAIN WRONG.  THERE ARE FOUR FUCKING LIGHTS!

But what they hate most of all, we continue to tilt against the Knights of Ni, laughing at their idiocy and mocking their shrubberies.  We continue to laugh at their ridiculous concepts, their laughable logic and imaginary science, their small hands and tiny weeping swords.  As Molly Ivins, a liberal in Texas, said, this is a fight that you can only take on with laughter in your heart.  We will lose battles.  Things will get horrible.  And I am not saying we belittle the losses of other Americans we care about who will be damaged and, yes, killed.  But, like vampires who shrivel in daylight, the Right is allergic to two things:  Facts.  And humor.

So, going forward, while I will not lie to anyone by saying that the Empire will not devolve into anger, Fuck You Fridays, and screaming Diz-Buster fits of pinwheel rage; I think my major effort will be to take Molly’s lead (Chthulhu grant me the blessing of a modicum of her talent) to make mock of them.  Make much mock of them.  Mock mock mock.

Jebus.  Lucifer, the Orange, Leaky Ass Dog Who Has Been Less Leaky Ass Of Late, is now leaky ass again.  I’m not looking forward to getting older….

The Shape Of Things To Come

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

Watch this space….