Some of you may remember, that in between sporadic posting, drunken benders, and arguing incessantly with mikey, I occasionally perform professional architectural services.  One of which is doing a facade inspection on buildings five stories or greater, which almost always involved boom lifts or swing stages, and these efforts often result in amusing anecdotes involving petrifying fear of heights. HA!  HA!  Fear is funny, says the Firesign Theatre….

Well, I haven’t had to do that in a while; I decided that my Fear Billing Rate is equal to my highest billing rate, and on top of equipment rental that makes my fees to do these things fall at the higher end of the spectrum.  Don’t miss it, although I never minded cashing the checks.

So anyways, one of my current engagements is to provide professional consultation for a wall failure on a 6th floor penthouse addition to an older building, where the original contractor is out of business and the track of culpability is not able to be established, yet the wall needs to be repaired and rebuilt.  We’ve tracked the cause of the failure, and as we disassemble the walls, the internal evidence supports our hypothesis, so the repairs we are specifying are appropriate.

And last week, I was called to the site to review some conditions that exhibit a bit more deterioration than we’ve seen, and the contractor wanted to get my review.  The residents of the penthouse floor were not available to obtain access through their units, so we had no choice but to use the boom lift to access the sixth floor, roughly 70 feet above street level.  I geared up in a harness, explained to the Operator that I was not a fan of aerial work, and up we went….

As we rode the bucket, we chatted.  Operator told me that the building developer was pretty tense going up, I told about having a boom trip the overbalance breaker once, and as we went higher and higher, I was glancing out at the roads, and to the East the Summerfest grounds; and I became aware that my hands were not white-knuckling the railing. 

When we got to the sixth floor, I clambered out of the bucket onto the roof, and we spent the rest of our time walking back and forth along the roof, looking at the exposed structure and level of deterioration, and discussing various potential remedies.  Climbed back into the bucket, and rode down….

When we landed, and I unbuckled my harness, I reflected on what just happened.

Every prior time I was doing aerial work, my fear of heights triggered, and I was terribly uncomfortable.  Sometimes, just walking out onto an elevated balcony (one I had designed!) was enough, and there was a full height railing.  Glass walkways could trigger it.

Best I can figure, is that after The Event a couple of years ago, I now have a different frame of reference for existential Fear.

Riding a bucket to 70 feet or so, while wearing safety gear and with a trained operator pales in comparison to sitting in an Emergency Room with a half dozen medical professionals trying to keep me alive while it becomes more and more difficult to breathe.

I guess there’s no moral to this, unless it’s that you can cure acrophobia by having a heart attack, which seems like kind of a stretch if not a kind of unadvised attempt at a cure.



Posted: May 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

As most of you know [Joe Strummer/ ALL THREE OF YOU/Joe Strummer] We recently went to Ireland and had a WONDERFUL time.  While there, we met a family that we already knew from Milwaukee, and spent much time drinking with Deb and Stu and two of their kids.

It was very weird and wonderful that we traveled thousands of miles to become good friends with people we had only met peripherally through our children’s school and activities, but that’s the universe for you.

Stu is guitarist for a local reggae band, King Solomon, who is currently in the midst of a monthly residency at a local music bar, Up & Under.  Yeah, if you’re in town, stop in.  It’s worth it; local drinking and music dive bar but you have to walk up.

Regrettably, Wife Sublime had urgent business to conduct in Japan, and they were playing on Saturday night.  I was up early, and did a bunch of varied tasks and duties during the day.  Walked the damn dog, and gave her her pills and took my own damn pills.  And then was very tired.  But after some slight dozing in the easy chair, I decided I should support local music, and headed down.  Five dollar cover CHEAP, dammit.

During the night, I remarked to several people that when I moved to Milwaukee, you couldn’t go out on the East Side without seeing live music.  SO MUCH MUSIC GREAT MUSIC.  One of the club owners was notorious for insisting that the bands play for the door, that if they couldn’t convince their friends to pay a couple-three bucks, they needed more or better friends.

And that since then, people have gotten stingier.  Fuck, I saw the people in front of me, and several other people after, want to circumvent the 5 dollar cover for this show.  Five dollars!  Won’t even buy you a Starbucks, darling.  Ridiculous, and an unsupportable outgrowth of the idea that people are somehow entitled to the work of artists because the internet makes it easy to steal it.

Fortunately, also talking to some people tonight, the Milwaukee music scene seems to be bubbling under with tons of amazing new artists, working to find new ways of making art and making money.

King Solomon played a lovely show, and although Deb (Stu, the guitarist’s wife) told me they were all kind of not on top of things — mainly due to the prior night’s birthday party for JD, the singer/toaster— it sounded good to me and the pretty full bar crowd, who were dancing and cheering and apparently it was part of the recordings for some future live release.  I confess I left shortly after the second set started, as I am old and I had to try to make my way home through the college crowd drinking areas.

During the night, however, I had a bit of time to reflect on moving to Milwaukee in 1983, when the music scene, especially on the East Side, was not only thriving but the major labels were paying attention.  There were so many good bands, but the local musicians were trading places in cross-pollination that made everybody support everyone else and all of them create new music that was different.  It was not an accident that the Pretenders asked the Femmes to open for them at the Oriental, it was destined. Da BoDeans were always going to be signed.  Local labels started up. Every weekend, if not every night, you could find great local bands doing great stuff.  At one point, I had a roommate bail on me, leaving me holding the lease, and when I was trying to figure out what to do, I would often go to Murray Tap to see a blues band play a smoking set from a plywood stage set up on one end of the bar.

Since then, it has become much harder for musicians and performers.  Especially in Milwaukee, where people balk at playing 5 dollars.

Paying for art of any kind is a hallmark of a modern civilization.  We are becoming a cruel, pinched and self-concerned society who not only resents supporting the arts, we want to punish artists by not allowing them access to any kind of health care.  And when arts are paid on the federal side, they are attacked as not being Christian or conservative enough.  Gilead enough?

But, while I was putting myself around a few whiskeys,  what I noticed in this small dive bar on an historic street in Milwaukee, is that a reggae band was playing for a wildly diverse crowd.  Fuck, in the immediate circle that I knew upon landing was a mixed-race African American, a Native American, another mixed race African American and before long a transgender man showed up. There were women dancing sexually with each other.  There was a guy I didn’t know who kept walking by and shaking my hand.

While I was there, the crowd was mostly…well, I will only say they were mostly brown.  I will not hazard a guess as to their racial makeup, and it merely points out that why should I care?  Being Milwaukee, there were also plenty of melanin-challenged folks, but at best we were a bare majority.  AT BEST.

And that is therein the crux.

I grew up in a white flight suburb of Madison.  And went, at first, to a very white cow-town land-grant college.  When I moved to Milwaukee, it was a tremendous opening of my eyes; after much work, I eventually became comfortable working with and within the black community.  To be honest, it also involved the members of the AA community becoming comfortable with me.

I will probably struggle with racism for all my life.  I grew up with it.  My parents were racist.  My wife’s parent’s were racist.  Some people will say they are no longer racist, but if they are white, they are lying.

Racism is boiled into the foundation of our country.  White people, for the most part, refuse to acknowledge that.

And for this time, tonight, watching a reggae band do what they do, while all kinds of people dance and drink and spend their time flirting and drinking, I knew this.   Party and music and dancing and having a good time is something that is inimical to the Republican party.  P.J. O’rourke once wrote (back when he still could managed decent writing and some humor) that he determined, through a time-honored method, that people of all races were basically the same; by sleeping around.  And that seemed to be the order of the night, it certainly did.

Hell, we even welcomed the people from Michigan who stopped in as refugees from the Hall & Oates concert.

At the end of the night, it was comforting reminder of why I came to appreciate and love living in a (relatively) high-density urban environment with healthy populations of minorities.  That America is made up of, and stronger for, immigration and diversity.  And that good people of many races and orientations get along JUST fine outside of right-wing divisive hate-fantasies.  And that music erodes barriers.  And that King Solomon is opening up for Ziggy Marley at Summerfest.  And that this is a zombie filled with love.



so, after-action subsequent action report.  We went to see Old 97s at Turner Hall the night after, and Good Friend Rory and I have seen this band 10 times?  Maybe?  At all kinds of venues, but they love Milwaukee and love Turner hall and Rhett Miller said they were a little worried about playing on a Sunday night, but they scorched the damn stage, one of the best tightest and hardest I’ve ever seen them play.  And on their new album, they have Brandi Carlisle sing a song – Good With God- with Rhett, and for the show they brought out opener Nicole Atkins (who is totally boning Rhett Miller, and hey he’s so gorgeous that I am tempted and Wife Sublime is basically in love with him) and she really just kicked Brandi Carlisle’s ass.

It as, of course, a completely different crowd from Saturday night, all pretty much white.

But in any case, it was a reminder that we have such a vibrant music scene in Milwaukee right now, it reminds me of when I moved here.  Except for the pain in my back and feet from standing all night.

House We Used To Live In

Posted: May 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

Ben Carson is the Director of Housing and Urban Development.  I thought I would mention that, if you might have forgotten it in the onslaught of horror from the Orange House.  He is so sleepy and dim, how much damage could he do?  Well, apparently, a fuck of a lot.

But now he has pissed me off, and he is going WAY up the list of first people up against the wall in the Zompocalypse.

Gonna link to a Big, here, he thinks most low-income housing is way too comfortable.


See, and here, that in my real life, I am an architect and you all know that.  But what you may not know, because when I write about these I get longwinded, but I have worked on many tax-credit projects intended to provide decent housing for people on limited means.  It was called Title 42.  It was not an entitlement program, but it provided tax credits for projects that provide low-cost rental apartments to people with limited incomes.  It is intended to put slumlords out of business, by providing apartments that meet code in lieu of shit apartments.

In that realm, I have designed a few hundred apartments across Wisconsin.  Many in Milwaukee, in the African-American community.  I worked for many years with Welford Sanders, one of the most respected Community Organizers I have ever met, and he sadly passed a couple of years ago and I miss him both as a catalyst…and a friend.

After a couple of projects with Welford, I attended a ‘groundbreaking’ for a further project, well attended including the Mayor and Gwen Moore.  During the presentation portion, a woman who moved into one of the prior phases of the area’s projects, spoke movingly about her experience living in one of the units.  In fact, she had a few sobs, because she talked about moving from a crappy, sub-code apartment with her kids to a clean, well-built new apartment where she didn’t have to worry about her kids being shocked by shitty electrical work.  She upstaged Gwen Moore and the Mayor.

When I have walked around these black communities, I occasionally get challenged.  When I say, I am the architect who does these projects, I get thumbs up and acceptance.  I care enough to make them good, and they respond with respect.  You know, like humans do.

Ben Carson pisses me off not because he’s being a rich asshole (although he is).  And not because he is pissing on black people (although he is).  Several of my projects were out of the urban areas, and mostly populated by white Wisconsinites.

But what he is doing is saying that people who avail themselves of the several levels of housing assistance are not worthy of basic human dignity.  They must be subjected to humiliation and degradation.  The idea that this will spur them to make more money in some magical way.  It has been estimated that people under the poverty level have to work for 20 fucking years, and not have a single disaster to work their way out of poverty.

Ben Carson, an educated idiot, is saying that anyone less fortunate than he is, should either have to live in shitty housing or a cardboard box.

I have worked in black communities more than Ben Carson.  I have worked with more Blacks that I respect far more than Ben Carson.  I have had more of an effect on black communities than Carson has (up till now).

And in conclusion:


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.