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

 

I love animals.

I love having pets.  I love sharing my life with small creatures.

 

I have since my father had a great dog, (who loved him but loved us kids more than him, and if he raised his voice to us King would snarl), and my parents allowed me to have (2!) guinea pigs who did what they do (believe me, infant guinea pigs are the most adorable things) and one of the pigs I named Pink Floyd which was weird when he(she) had babbies.  I took one of the pigs to college, and my roommates were insane because that pig would squeak terribly whenever anyone opened the fridge, two rooms away, until someone would bring some produce.  Amazing how loud those little fuckers can be…

but I buried one of them in my parents backyard.

In College, I was living in a basement apartment, and a friendly had to find a new home for her dorm kitteh, so I took him in.  He was named Nermal, and as someone raised in 200 square feet, he was physically inept, and watching him try to climb the cat pole we had was hilarious and we dubbed him “Numb-nuts Nermal”.  Later, I had to re-home him elsewhere, where they had to brace the refrigerator door because he learned he could brace his back against the alcove and use all four legs to open the door and then he could just climb in and graze.  He became a huge, hilariously clumsy cat.

Other than that, in college there was really no place for a good boy, which seem reasonable. I shared good boys from friends. But when we bought our shitty old barn of a historic house, we needed a dog and we got one, one of the most bestest good girls of forever. A mix of Shepherd and Springer Spaniel; everybody loved her, she loved everybody.  She was the Best Girl until something failed and her entire hindquarters became inoperative.  When she could no longer walk, I carried her out for her needs and then I carried her to the car and carried her into the vet’s office and I held her while she passed.  I wept.  We let the vet dispose of the remains.

IMG_3422

After that, we did a rescue with Lucy the Orange, an abandoned puppy mill semi-purebred, which was likely abandoned because the Black Nose that was notable for a Black Nose Cur, was marred by a bit of white.  She was an intense dog that took training, on all of our parts, to accommodate.  but we all made do; she was Wife Sublime’s dog more than mine, but when I had medical issues, we became friends, at least, while walking and walking….

So now things are becoming a bit weak for the orange girl.  Lucy is no longer good at stairs.  she sometimes has tremors in her limbs.  She looks at me, sometimes, with some kind of request.  Lucy has always been my wife’s dog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like her; fuck, she is the only subject that showed up in two of my portraits.

Lucy is, as are all of them, a Good Dog.

IMG_0088

And somehow it is also the time our kittehs are on the down side. one of them is dropping pounds with no real explanation and the other has continual hot spots.  Merle the White Cat is weirdly attached to Lucy, and I am not sure how that will go if the orange is lost.

so it seems that we are likely to watch all of our House Animals that will likely pass at one time, which never happened.  And also, that we never had fuzzbuckets in our household…..

 

We are going to bless Lucy, in the near future, with The Sleep.  I will miss her.  She has always been a Good Dog.

I sit here and write and think, and I watch Princess Monster Truck walk around just because they all like to look out the patio door, and watching her stroll around, I realize how much I think we always need animules in our lives.  I really think  need to have some fuzzbuckets that do their own thing in and around us. Independent and still cuddly. And we still recognize that their lives are not as long as ours, and we will have to bid them goodbye in ways that are almost always painful.  But that is the price we pay for having them in our lives, you know?

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In the documentary “The Future Is Unwritten”, an (extremely young) Joe Strummer tried to get himself renamed Woody in homage to Guthrie, which thankfully nobody really took him up on, which was good, because the name Joe Strummer is now part of the pantheon of legendary songwriters like Guthrie is.

But Gaslight Anthem once wrote a great response/ tribute song (this is going to make sense, trust me):

So tonight, I went to see a show from a wide range of musicians, but anchored by the Mekons stalwarts Jon Langford and Sally Timms. And the whole show was augmented by the great musician John Szymanski, who also plays with Langford on Four Lost Souls (who recorded their ABSOLUTELY AMAZING album Four Lost Souls at Muscle Shoals).  Also joining in for a few songs from that Four Lost Souls album was Bethany Thomas, who ripped the roof off the place.  Discovered that later this year, we would be seeing her appear on a different Milwaukee stage performing Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Here’s one of the Four Lost Souls songs they played:

I talked about this with my concert buddy, but how it amazes me that all of these masses of music all come together.  Many of my friends express surprise at how much music I love and want to experience.  But music is not a style, it is not a preference.  Music is how we express ourselves.  Like paintings. or sculpture..

But here’s the thing.  In that Gaslight Anthem song, where he sings about “I heard it like a shot from my skull to my brain
I felt my fingertips tingle and it started to rain
When the walls of my bedroom were tremblin’ around me
This ramshackle voice over attack of a blues beat”

And in a similar way, the first time I saw the Mekons did the same thing to me.

And in the early 90’s I took the strong review in the Rolling Stone for a Mekons album, “Rock ‘n’ Roll” inspired me to go see them, probably paid what, 15 bucks? at a local 300 person music club.  And they fucking killed me.  They were SO FUCKING GOOD.  They were sloppy drunks who also were amazingly on point.  They got drunk on stage and took their clothes off.  And they destroyed my brain.  AND they were immortalized by Too Much Joy in one of their songs. And the next time they visited, I told my wife she had to see them.  So we went, but unknown to us they got tossed from their label, without releasing their followup album, and in the middle of their American tour.  So when we saw them, I think they were basically abandoned in the middle of America, and I figure they had pregamed beyond the best amount, and we saw a shambolic, incoherent loss of control by a band that became repellent and they argued more than they played.  We left, and if you know me, that is rare.  So….the next time they came through, on an independent label, I said to myself I says “self, they were so good that first time, I will give them another chance” but I didn’t bring my wife because of how bad they had been the time before.  AND THEY WERE AGAIN SIMPLY AMAZING. I went the next time, and they were even better.  They got better and better every time, and now they are the most consistently amazing band I know.  I went to see them in the middle of fuck-all Wisconsin and I survived a heart attack to get there.

I used to make tapes and  put London Calling on one side, with Rock ‘n’ Roll on the other.

This was a performance from musicians I love and revere.  And they played some of my favorite songs, including “Memphis,Egypt” and “Drunk by Noon”

Opening the night was Milwaukeean and raging protest folk-rocker Deano Schlabowski, who also joins Jon Langford in the country punk outfit The Waco Brothers.  Deano was funny as hell, and he also debuted a theme song inspired by the newly revealed camouflage uniforms of the SPACE FORCE! But he opened with this:

At the end of the show, we spent much time chatting with the musicians, and sharing some absolutely incredible home made brandy sour gummies.  And I am pretty sure I arranged for Deano to play at a party this summer.  And Langford came over to say HI! before I could walk up to him; remembering my name and the last time we talked.  Got pics with him and with Deano.  Spent a LOT of time talking/flirting with Bethany Thomas.

On the merch table, in addition to the typical vinyl and CDs (all of which I already had), Jon Langford had brought along some of his art-prints, on 7″ square plywood.  They were of various artists – Patti Smith, Woody Guthrie, some more bizarre scenes.   He works with nearly-photorealistic portraits, but overlaid onto fatigued and distressed backgrounds. As the T-shirt says, “my favorite color is patina”.  But the one that caught my eye in particular was a portrait of Joe Strummer.  It was gorgeous.

I got another beer and mulled an unanticipated art purchase, discussing with my buddy the likelihood of using my acquaintance with the artist to obtain a discount.  I have a fair number of Langford/Mekons art prints and concert posters already, but only 4 of the plywood treatment, which I bought at an art gallery in town when they had a show that coincided with a Mekons concert. But when I looked again, apparently someone else jumped before I got my nerve up. So it goes.  I was philosophical.  I had just enjoyed a sublime evening of music and humor and friendship and alcoholic gummy candy; what more could I want?

My friend, who was entirely unfamiliar with almost every song played, was still very much impressed – especially with the singing of Bethany Thomas.

So when my friend dropped me at home, and he thanked me for our first show of 2020, I discovered who had purchased the Strummer portrait.  It was a thank you/holiday gift for me.

Of course I’m going to show it to you, and isn’t that gorgeous:

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number 11 of 25.

 

 

Afterimage

Posted: January 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

Rush wrote the song for their loss of their compatriot, whoever it may be.

I have never concealed my love for Rush.  They were one of my first all-encompassing concerts, when laser shows were still allowed, on the Permanent Waves tour.  I took my date to see the Moving Pictures tour, and it twisted her brain enough to actually agree to marry me.  On a subsequent tour, she wore the Signals shirt for years.  We went to see the reunion Vapor Trails tour, and they had fire explosions – and a string section that had to endure them – that we could feel in our not-so-bad seats.  And the year after that, we took our son who got bored and went on his phone but then after that admitted it was a fine fine show.

I have had mild disagreements with members of the Bloggerhood on this.  But hardly significant….

I have never loved drummers, nor drum solos (exception Erik the drummer for Die Kreuzen).  Always felt they were a simplistic way to allow the rest of the band to take a break and do more do drugs.

But I have always said that Neil Peart’s drum solos never bore me like almost every other drum solos.

It’s not just the amount of hardware he is able to use.  But he is also a very gifted rhythmic artist, and he uses that to be musical and venture into the jazz realm.  If you ever watch and listen to his solos, he is as inventive a percussionist as you might imagine.  He is/was sublime.  He spent his entire life making his skill better, including studying under Buddy Rich’s teacher to understand how the movement is part of the rhythm.

He had a hard life, with the death of his daughter and then his wife in short order and most people, including his bandmates, figured that was the end of the band, and not one single person blamed him if that was the way.  But…

He took the Australian ‘walkabout’ tradition, and fired up his motorcycle and rode until he felt like things were better.  He rode over almost every place he could visit by road on this hemisphere.  This was chronicled in the book “Ghost Rider”  And that was one of the most powerful songs when Rush returned to the stage.

Neil Peart died this week, and like most musicians, he shouldn’t have.  But that is what we have, and we have no choice but to give him a respectful ‘go on, and meet your ghosts and people’….

But the band are a band of brothers who have loved each other for all these years, and that is so fucking special:

 

One of my favorite bands, one that I have seen more times than I deserved and not as many time as I wanted, and now that one of them has departed, I need to mourn.  Legendary, indeed.

 

Made very famous by REM’s use of it in one of their great, great,  songs from Monster – an album that I waited in line at midnight to buy as soon as possible-  But also not noted is that one of my other favorite bands, Game Theory, used it in the proper phrasing “Kenneth, What’s the frequency?”

It was a slight amazing bit of sound and intro to one of the best of the albums from the 80s, and one of the best bands I had ever seen.  Saw them in a dive on the south side of Milwaukee, in the middle of winter, which seemed to shock the women in the band, because they wore completely inappropriate skimpy tops.

I saw Dan Rather interview the Two Mikes from REM the other night, and of course the phrase came up.  They had a clip of Dan Rather trying to sing the song during a sound check which was not amusing, it was painful.

So, let’s talk about the frequency of eye lengths.

Do you guys remember being in grade school?  Do you remember being asked to read the text on film strips?

Well, it was Second grade, I was seven, you know?  And when the teacher was going through the class asking for students to read the film strip, and got to me, I was not able to respond.  Not because I couldn’t read, but because I couldn’t SEE. After she spent a little time trying to help me because she thought I couldn’t read, she eventually understood it was an eyeball thing….How would I know?  My eyes were what I had, and what I could see was the way things were.  Had no idea I should be seeing better, because I had no comparison.

So after my teacher stopped embarrassing me, she told my parents that it was time to get an eye test.  And after that, I got some glasses for the first time in my life.  And I saw things I had never seen before.  IN fact, when I had glasses, I was weirded out by the depth perceptions.  It made walking weird, at best for a short tome of acclimatization, until i got used to the way everything seemed a bit….closer.

I have worn glasses since then.  Or contacts. For a few years, as a kid, I needed new glasses pretty much every year, because my eyes kept going south. I much prefer contacts, but it is hard because I have a weird diagonal astigmatism.  I haven’t seen my eye doctor in some time, And I need new contacts and new glasses.

I had my glasses fall apart tonight, one of the lenses fell right the hell out, and I was forced to use a bent paper clip to put them back together.  Believe me, as a guy who has worn glasses for WAY more than half my life, I have worked out any number of ways to do emergency and field repair.

And it was curious, in that I was forced to use my backup last version glasses, and that those glasses seem to serve better than the ones that lost the screw.

See now here.  As a diabetic, I am supposed to expect my eyes to go weird and degrade.  Which, I guess, is not going to be any weirder than any year before; my eyes have degraded all  my life.

Since I have been wearing glasses all my life, and my prescription is weird and changing and I have the diabetic multiplier, I have long been sensitive to the quality of the eye care I seek out, and I have a very clear preference for a for-real Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist versus an optician, and when providing lenses, I have never had a satisfactory experience from the mall shops or places like Mall-Wart.  Fortunately, one of my neighbors is an Optometrist, and a good one; and in a fine example of work going both ways, I designed his new office on the south side:

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What we found is that my right eye has decided to make a run for it, getting much worse over the past couple of years.  So I need new contacts, and we’ll be trying a couple of different treatment options, and my existing frames get new lenses.  There doesn’t seem to be any other degradation of my eyeballs, so other than just getting older and worser,  we seem to be in good shape.

Over the Cliff

Posted: October 8, 2019 in Uncategorized

well, before I get off into the Tall Grass,  a bit of followup.  R came back to the living after a short detox.  I am keeping in touch, trying to be more in contact for support availability.  It’s a tough road;  he has relapsed several times.

And sometimes, I have to confess I might not be the best person to rely on, especially in October. I already did not answer a couple of his calls in the lead up, and that was before October set in.

(play this loud while you listen)

yesterday started poorly, by any standard but for October?  Well, no, not typical, it still fucking sucked.  Checks had been promised last week and did not show, and then the furnace in my office was AWOL.  Admittedly, this is not the absolute worst time for it, as the weather is kind of pleasant for fall.  but the Office is a big thermal mass of air, and when it gets cold, it takes a while to reverse that. But I had promised certain things, so I had to get those accomplished, and I did.  By mid-afternoon, heat repair nor checks still had not been delivered, and while it was not terribly cold, it still had me chilled and the combination of cold and disappointment had me in a state where I couldn’t work.  So I bailed, looking for one of the two doors hinged in opposition….

and when I got home, and tried to warm up a bit, I was met by someone playing a chiding message on a phone about car insurance and demanding answers I did not have about the car (another story, maybe when I am stronger).  And the cat was demanding to be scratched, and the dog wanted walks and I still couldn’t warm up and bailed yet again and went to bed to get some quiet time and maybe a nap.  Fortunately, the bedroom was very sun-warmed and helped; was not aware how deeply the chill had penetrated over the day.

I think that might be the part that makes October the most difficult for me; that relatively mild weather still creates a chill that permeates so thoroughly.  Especially when I have all kinds of lovely pharmaceuticals making my blood thin and such as.  I miss the hotter climes at these times, and dammit if getting old makes me want to retire to hot places…

I spent the rest of the day in bed, watching the light wane.  I think I slept.  I peed a couple of times.  And I stayed there and watched some horror movies on the iPad, and then watched a couple of Star Wars movies to try and jumpstart something internal.  the Bed Time even made me miss my evening meds, which I rarely do.

I wanted to sleep late, I really did; and I had no reason to get up.  But I couldn’t get back to sleep so I still got up, there was coffee to be had.  So I split the difference and didn’t bother with a shower.  THAT’LL show ’em!  Too bad that cup of coffee was so watery….

should be noted that young Zombie gave me a subscription to a coffee roaster for Christmas, and every month I get a pound of beans.  I like strong black coffee, but the ones so far have been from Zambia, Congo and Honduras, and these are some straight up ninja coffees.  I found it best to cut them with some beans from a Chicago roaster, called Over The Cliff (name after a Jon Lsngford song). (this is also probably the best time to reveal that my wife gets wilty when she watches Rhett Miller, and I don’t think I can blame her)

 

I have said, on more than one occasion, that October is difficult for me.  Stephen King once tried to describe how it feels in a passage from the Dead Zone, and if anyone knows how it feels to watch the everything become closed and shut down for the oncoming storm, it has to be a horror writer that lives in Maine.  But it feels cold, and since my medical events,  the cold seems colder, and it penetrates deeper.

In the second season of American Horror Story, Frances Conroy did a stellar turn as the Angel of Death (augmented by the SFX of the wings at the moment of passing) and she never tried to be scary, but was always comforting and the people who she was touching welcomed the grace.

Mostly I approach October by going full gonzo on horror movies and such, and embracing the month of Samhain, because, zombie here.  But there aren’t that many stomp down good horror movies anymore (Get Out, It Follows, Let the Right One in) and the you kind of say, give me some splatter…

October has always been very difficult for me, and I am not sure why.  It was way before I had blood thinners and that crap.  But it sure does seem to happen every damn year, and it does fuck down like rain on my people.  i wish it didn’t.  But I have to do it myself first, and then it can be more soft….

But at least it’s not November.