Monday, September 18, 2017
Andy picked up a new condo in Logan Square and chose us to make a couple statement pieces.
This is why I love my job.
Andy comes to the shop, gives us some insight on what he likes, and then is basically like "make me cool shit for my home"...Done and Done bro.
Sometimes you meet people, you see their space, and you just can not, for the life of you, read their style. With Andy, it was real easy.
The best part of it all is when you lug it in and put it in place, and their face is saying "fuck yeah, my space is becoming a home".
How much easier can it get?
No driving from store to store trying to find something that fits your space. You search and search, and eventually you just settle for some bullshit, then end up hating that bullshit a month later.
None of that.
Come by the shop, we'll swing by your place and make you what you want, and the kicker is....10000 people aren't going to have the same thing as you.
Doesn't it suck when someone comes to your house and is like "oh yeah, we have that dining table....we got it on sale." and in the back of your mind, you now wanna launch that dining table out of your window and tell those people to get the fuck out of your house.
We're here to prevent that.
We'll make you cool stuff, and you get to keep your friends and not smash the dog shitting in your front yard with the dining table you just hurled off of your balcony.
That's my sales pitch...enjoy.
Alright, so Saturday night we had a barbecue for my son's grandmothers birthday.
After the festivities, my son asked if he could spend the night at his cousins house.
This is most parents wet dream, but for me...not so much.
His mom was working, and I, for the first time in 7.5 years, was alone.
I'm used to my lil dude by my side, and found myself pacing the house for about 10 minutes before I started desperately searching NETFLIX for something not animated, or about superheros or talking dogs. I started and stopped about 4 different movies before I decided to stare out the window.
Is this what life would be without my son?
I guess If I had more notice I could've gone to Riot Fest, but I hate big crowds and I hate big festivals, so that wouldn't be an option. I don't drink, so I wouldn't be bar hopping.
What would I do on a Saturday night?
Go to the shop and work?
Really? Is that my option? Work.
I don't know man, but after 7.5 years of fixing Legos, getting kids a variety of juices, riding go karts, playing video games, reading scary stories, watching animated movies about fucking feelings and shit...THAT is the life for me.
That little son of a bitch was gone for a total of one hour and twenty minutes before I realized just how much I need that shit that I bitch about in my life.
So I'm staring out the window on a Saturday night having a fucking panic attack about what I'm gonna do when this boy becomes a man and bounces?
THAT is what I did on my Saturday night. Shit....Riot Fest wasn't sounding so bad after all.
I ended up eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in the dark, while listening to my dog snore...Brian McQuaid you are a party fucking animal.
Without my son, I'm about as fun as an adult circumcision procedure.
Even now, Sunday at 8:14am, I desperately await his arrival.
I've already done dishes, done laundry, went to the gym, cleaned a pair of boots and wrote a fucking blog, all while trying to just fill the time between consciousness and my lil dudes return home.
Don't take shit for granted, and don't eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's in the dark, cause both of those things will make you feel lousy.
Monday, September 11, 2017
I rarely check voicemails, but for some reason, I actually listened to it.
It was from the Chicago Police.
I called the number back, and the officer asked if I knew a certain person.
I did, and I asked the officer if everything was ok, to which he responded "he's dead", to which I responded "dead isn't in the neighborhood of ok...self inflicted?" The officer asked why I would imply that (which is brilliant work Columbo), I said "well, he's fairly young, in decent health to the best of my knowledge, and since you're calling me...I'm ruling out car accident and shark attack. The officer chuckled on the other end, and I believe accidentally mumbled "self inflicted..." as if almost a question to himself.
He was looking for family contacts, to which I had none, and it all kinda ended there.
I knew the deceased was troubled. To the extent that would cause a man with a new business and a 4 year old son to off himself...I had no idea.
Suicide...we hear that shit way too often these days.
There are depressed people. There are people that are chemically fucked up. There are people that off themselves due to the side effects of medication.
My theory on the leading cause of suicide is...LIFE.
Sometimes life becomes too much.
Sometimes we dig ourselves into such a deep hole that we can't even see a pinhole of light from the entry point of our proverbial hole.
There's no cure for LIFE.
I don't always mean to be the insensitive fuck that I usually am, but all the people that I know that were killed by LIFE, they made a metric shit ton of bad decisions.
Sometimes we all need a hand. Sometimes we lend a hand to friends in need. When these people just continue to make bad decision after bad decision...well, we start to not really give a fuck.
All of my friends and acquaintances are adults. I have on many occasions gave that helping hand, and I have turned my back on equally as many.
Cause I'm a fucking dick head?
No, because when I've gone above and beyond in 99% of those situations, my help was shat upon and I became a crutch.
The same life that is killing you, is trying to fuckin kill me too. So, while the axe wielding life is chasing us through the woods, and you're wildly running and flailing and screaming, I'm navigating the woods with the precision of some world champion Parkour kid.
To my friends that are clinically depressed, emotionally imbalanced, or the ones that will actually value my advice or appreciate my helping hand...I'm here for you 1000%.
To the ones that do the same dumb shit over and over...go fuck yourself, I'm not buying a new black suit for your outro party.
Everyday LIFE kicks me in the balls. I've learned to take it like a champ and move forward.
In moving forward we managed to knock out this cool little industrial light fixture for my buddy Dr. Andrew Carr (who has a fucking brain tumor and fights to live everyday and doesn't talk about painting the walls with his brains because some chick dumped him, or he's 2 car payments behind, or he blew his life savings on blow).
The other forward mention via photography, is a entry bench with a bunch of bullet casings mortised in.
I call shit like I see it. Always have, always will.
I know suicide is a real touchy subject, and I fully understand the medical side of depression and chemical imbalances. There's no treatment for a dumb mother fucker that can't help themselves from constantly doing dumb shit.
One of the many gifts I received from becoming a father was learning a very valuable lesson. The lesson I learned is that life isn't all about me.
Many people depend on me every day, and I simply can't afford to do dumb shit and make horrible decisions.
Yeah, it'd be a blast to blow all my money on cocaine and strippers and then possibly gamble away whatever money I can scam or steal, but that's really not conducive to what I've struggled to build.
Ok, that's nice and depressing for a Monday morning.
Try to make it through the day without killing yourself...somebody probably needs you around.
Monday, August 28, 2017
My kid went back to school, which signals the death of summer, and my father passed away.
My fathers passing wasn't unexpected. His health had been taking a nose dive since February, and while we all knew it was only a matter of time, his actual death still felt like a liver punch.
My family is a resilient bunch.
My father was tough as nails, and that trait was handed down to all of us.
While waiting for his body to be picked up, my sister went and got beer and sandwich's, and we raised our cups to our old man, and proceeded to comfort ourselves with laughter.
It felt good to all be together like that in my mothers living room. There will most likely be a lot more of those moments now, because It hit me that for the first time in 49 years, my mother is truly...alone.
Loneliness is a cancer, and right now, my mothers children are chemo.
I'd mostly only see my sister on holidays, my brother and mom, a little more frequently, but I think that is about to change. It's like in hockey, when a player gets sent to the penalty box, the team tightens it the fuck up.
Work continued. Work has always been comfort for me. Whenever the world has kicked me in the balls, work has been therapy.
The productive distraction.
New live edge rolling bar for Jaunt in Arlington Heights, and a butcher block breakfast table for a nice couple who are building their dream home.
My blog posts have always been their best when I'm pissed off about something.
I'm not pissed off about anything (for a change), I'm just...foggy.
Bear with me, the fog will clear, it always does.
Until I'm able to make you all chuckle a bit before your Monday morning commute, or give you something to ponder at your desk...I'm gonna take a little hiatus.
Until then...Hug your loved ones, piss in your enemy's coffee, make art, speak your mind, and embrace life.
Monday, August 21, 2017
We found out that our vendor application was accepted only 5 days before the event and these 2 lamps were the product of a time crunch in order to have some shit to actually sell at the fair.
We had a few things laying around, but you have to fill up a 10X10 tent in order to capture peoples attention.
These things are tough for guys like us because no one goes to these things expecting to drop $500 on a coffee table. They come there for shitty food and cheap sun glasses.
The first lamp is made from a gas pump that I found in the parking lot of our shop.
I have a new respect for the gas pump, because I had no idea how complicated the inner workings were. You would think you just wash out the fuel and feed your lamp cord through and VOILA...lamp. Yeah...there was no VOILA'.
I hoped in my heart of hearts that the lamp wouldn't sell because I really wanted to keep it.
It sold, and now every time I put $10 on pump 1, I think about chopping that handle off and making a run for another lamp.
The next lamp stemmed from an idea I had for a steel lamp shade, but the shade is where my idea ended. I made the shade, and then I was like "now what?".
That's when you just stare at a piece of steel and pace and stare some more, and you mock up all these sucky contraptions until you simplify your thoughts.
Simple can save a idea real quick.
It's so easy to over think. It's easy to get caught up in your own creative nuttiness and not be able to see the forest through the trees.
So for 30 hours over 2 days, me and Zach sat in our 10X10 tent shucking our wares.
If we were to play the "cool stuff" drinking game, in which we would have to take a shot every time someone walked in our tent and said "cool stuff man" then promptly walked the fuck out, both of our livers would have exploded in the first 20 minutes.
The general interest was overwhelmingly positive, but goddamn if you don't encounter some of the rudest most ignorant people that ever fell out of a vagina.
"So uh....what do you guys do?"....um...we're not selling corn dogs, so let's work on those process of elimination skills, or "are those railroad spikes?"...I assume you were born in captivity, so yes, those are indeed railroad spikes.
The absolute best is the jackass that says "yeah...I do this kind of stuff"...oh really fuck wad? Where's your booth, cause I'd love to check out your stuff, oh...you don't have a booth, ok, do you have any pictures on your phone? No? Oh, so you haven't actually MADE anything, but you got a Ryobi tool kit last Christmas, that's cute, but standing in a garage doesn't make you a car.
Then we get the jerkoff who just discovered the internet and proceeds to show you pictures of other peoples shit. Well hey man, feel free to snap some photos of our stuff so if you ever meet that guy from Portland who makes wine bottle holders from gas pipe, you can offend the shit outta him too by showing him pictures of OUR stuff.
Then, as day turns to night...you get the drunks.
There was this dude swaying in front of our bar cart for a good 45minutes. I told Zach that this guy is either gonna try to fuck it, or puke on it, but either way he's buying it.
What I did learn from this outing is that i t's always the people who you least expect to buy something, that buy the biggest ticket items.
There were several sales where someone would be like "I want that, I'll be back", and me and Zach would roll our eyes, and 20 minutes later, some young couple is carrying a table 3 blocks through a street fair to load up their new table on the roof of their Honda.
For a socially awkward guy like myself, these things are painful, but it forces me to engage strangers.
I had to talk to a lot of people that I would feel more comfortable choking out, but I also talked to a lot of really interesting people, one couple in particular told me their love story which almost brought me to tears, another couple reminded me of the people I hung out with growing up, so you just never know who you're gonna meet.
While sales and self promotion were the goal, I also learned to be a little more open and accepting of people. I'm a overly guarded, incredibly proud and protective individual who learned how to open up a little to people that weekend.
While taking home a pocket full of cash was nice, chipping away at my social awkwardness is something a little more permanent.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Why in the fuck are the news outlets throwing out the phrase "NUCLEAR WAR" like they're talking about a new APP that makes you look like a chicken or some other barnyard animal?
I don't know how any of you grew up, but "NUCLEAR WAR" wasn't a phrase that was thrown around lightly.
Here's the thing...I have a 7 year old boy. This 7 year old child of mine is convinced we're going to die from a tornado every time it fucking drizzles, so when he's flipping through channels and these news stations are spitting out "NUCLEAR WAR" left and fuckin' right, I get the pleasure of explaining what exactly nuclear war is.
"Well Max, you see, a lot of countries have these bombs. When these bombs fall from the sky and hit the earth...they vaporize, and by "vaporize", I mean they fucking kill every living thing within a 7 to 21 mile radius per bomb, fuckin' crazy shit, right?...Let's go get yogurt."
There are 2 subjects that a population should not be desensitized to.
1. NUCLEAR FUCKING WAR
I was at the gym this morning. They have Televisions everywhere (why? I don't know), 17 times on 17 different televisions I saw the phrase "nuclear war"...that number is only when I actually started to count.
Local or global annihilation isn't something that you just throw around.
Yes...Our president is getting his ass handed to him in the polls, and we all know that nothing brings those numbers up like a good ol' fucking war.
Mr. President, I don't know if anyone has informed you, but, you have job security for the next 3 plus years, unless you do something even more ridiculously fucked up then all the other ridiculously fucked up shit you do on a daily basis, you Twitter Critter.
So, don't mind the poll numbers, you're a one and done president anyway.
"Make America Great"....waiting....still waiting.
Americans...there are a lot of Americans that are great. You Mr. President...ya need some work.
Is Kim Jong a fucking cuckoo bird? You are goddamn right he is. Crazy people speak of nuclear war, not civilized rational political leaders.
"FIRE AND FURY"....Brilliant war slogan. I'm in "SHOCK AND AWE" over how great that slogan is.
I'm not Trump bashing cause people get so fucking sensitive. I'm nuclear war propaganda bashing.
Put me in a room with both of these assholes so I can break down nuclear war for them. I don't even need to do any fact checking, I'm just going to revert back to my 6th grade enlightenment.
"Mr.Preident...Fat weird Korean guy...In the event of nuclear war everything dies. Everything. See that fruit fly...dead. Babies...dead. Birds...dead. Anything that can be classified as "alive"...dead. Everything. Your momma...dead. The lady that fixes your wig...dead. Dead, dead, fucking dead.
So, you two mother fuckers might wanna figure some shit out.
Kim...you go on starving your people and pretending that you're globally relevant, and Mr. President, you go on making your rich friends richer, and we the people will go on navigating your bullshit and being content with teeny tiny bits of pleasure being sprinkled on us every now and then."
Watching this shit unfold is the equivalent of watching two drunk assholes arguing in a bar, except these 2 drunk assholes have nuclear weapons in their trunks out in the parking lot.
Ok, I'm done.
French Country...not out style, but it was damn sure fun building outside of our comfort zone.
When you become so accustomed to building the foundations of your pieces with steel, and then revert back to wood, it felt really weird.
Everything has it's place and position. When a piece calls for a particular style, you have to be able to answer the call.
The last piece, which called us back to our roots is a 9' long bar table.
I really hope we don't slip into a nuclear winter, because there are so many new and interesting projects coming in, and it's hard to hit deadlines when you've been vaporized.
Monday, July 31, 2017
First one is a stereo cabinet with speaker stands.
There was a very unique process used for the side panels. There is a deep texture to the wood created by sanding down the light grain to create a valley in the wood.
When I say sanding, I mean 3 to 4 hours per panel of sanding and shaping.
Did the customer request that??? No they did not. You do what the piece dictates sometimes, even if it's at an expense to us. In this case the expense was time, and time is more valuable than money.
The next piece is a bar cabinet for a really cool programmer who lives in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area in Chicago.
Sometimes you meet customers that make you want to blow their fuckin' minds. We walked away from our field measure saying "yeah, we're gonna kill it for this motherfucker".
That's the fun part of our job.
Giving people more than they expect.
Take our leash off, watch us run, you won't be disappointed.
Even though things have been hectic and stressful, you embrace the chaos and let the chaos lead you.
That's the trick.
It's like being caught in a rip current. If you fight it and try to swim straight in, you're gonna fuckin' die, but if you swim with it, and cheat your way towards shore, you're gonna have a kick ass story about how you almost fuckin died at sea.
It's never the piece or the work involved that creates the stress, it's peoples time frame.
Everyone is in a big fuckin hurry for a inanimate object.
Bars, Restaurants...I get it. The doors gotta open, ya gotta recoup that money, The schedules are break neck, for every trade involved.
We're adapting to the pace, we're learning to navigate the clock.
I blame Amazon for our society's "need it now" mentality.
I remember ordering something on Amazon, and if I ordered in the next 4 hours and 52 minutes...I could get it TODAY. What?
That's great and all, but it is grooming our society for instant gratification, and people are having a harder time coping with having to wait for something.
If you were searching for a "mate", do you really want to fuck on the first date, or do you wanna hold hands, revel in that first kiss goodnight, wait a couple days before you see them again, maybe spend a little more time making out, palm the booty, send em off anticipating 2nd. base....finally working up to that moment ya'll get it on.
Maybe it doesn't even work that way anymore, because now there are websites you can join where people can just fuck each other.
I'm a caveman. My mind is still blown that I can "track a package". I don't even track my packages anymore cause I get high off of the anticipation.
I recently had a killer wallet made from BWEISS LEATHER (check him out on etsy and instagram).
We communicated back and forth about my custom wallet. Once I got a feel for where his head and his heart was at, I chucked all my design ideas out the window and was like "bro, do your thang, have fun with it."
I didn't want to know anything about it, or the process, or how long it would take. I wanted the artist to take his time and create something HE was proud of.
An artist is most critical of their own work, so in my mind, if this motherfucker is happy with what he created, then I will not be disappointed...and I damn sure wasn't.
The moral of the story is...be patient.
Life moves fast enough as it is.
There's very little gratification in instant gratification.
No Amazon...I do NOT want it today.
Monday, July 17, 2017
I'm not a sports guy, but oddly enough, I'm a math guy.
While Tavern 57 isn't necessarily a sports bar, the owner explained to us that the 57 came from two of Chicago's greatest sports figures...Walter Payton and Michael Jordan, number 34 and 23...34+23=57.
That was explained to us after loading in a 300lb. solid steel DJ booth. That little tidbit of mathematical information helped take the edge off the fact that I was pretty sure I left my spinal cord on Wrightwood ave after squeezing that beast through the door.
The owners aesthetic, the location, the theme of the establishment, and our aesthetic, all formed a type of mathematical equation that equated into a very warm, slick tavern with just enough edge to lure in a diverse clientele.
It was some of the most brutally paced work that we have done to date, but a lot of fun in the fury of the build.
Walk into a custom shop to get a table made...your lead time is always 6 to 8 weeks, in high season you can jack that lead time to 12 to 14 weeks. In this case...32 line items in 45 days.
If you're in Chicago, check out Tavern 57.
To celebrate the completion of that project, I took Friday off and that evening took my 7 year old to see KISS.
He's loved KISS since he was about 2. I have fond memories of him performing "Back in the New York groove" in nothing but a diaper, and a little guitar, in the kitchen.
He's been to hardcore/punk shows before, but this was the first big budget rock show for him.
When we got to the venue, Megadeath had just started and he got as big of a yawn outta that as I did.
We headed to the food area and got some second rate dinner just as Mashuggah was going on.
We scarffed down our food, headed to stage, I threw him up on my shoulderes so he could see the band. While he was up on my shoulders, he's tiny hands were dangling at my face where I could see he was trying to adjust his fingers into a proper metal devil horns position. With a little guidance, the proper devil horns were positioned and that was the last I saw of those tiny hands.
All while this child was on my shoulders, sweaty metal heads where "high 5ing" my boy and giving me nods of metal approval.
As the sun went down, we made our way back to the main stage where Rob Zombie prepared my son for what was to come.
The lights, the rock cliche' banter, a giant robot on stage...I looked over at my boy and could literally see his little brain processing the performance.
After Zombie, we had some time to kill before KISS, so decided to walk around and hunt for snacks.
My son had a new swagger.
He wanted to walk ahead of me, and from behind he looked like a miniature Kirk Hammet from Metallica. As we navigated the crowd, he received more high 5ing, and devil horn exchanges.
Within this sea of misfits, my boy felt welcomed and accepted.
When we first walked in the gates, he clenched my hand like he was hanging off of a cliff, but with 55000 poorly tattoo'd, stinky metal fans embracing his attendance... that grip loosened, then became non-existent.
We made our way back to our seats and a massive KISS banner blocked the view of the entire stage.
The stadium lights went out. The announcement was about to come..."you wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world...KISS!
BOOM! Banner drops, lights blind the crowd, explosions, devil horns up in the air...fuckin' KISS.
This 7 year old boy sitting next to me was no longer a 7 year old boy. He changed.
As Kiss played on, a chill blew in, and this young man burrowed into me for warmth.
For a few hours we were 2 dudes at a rock show.
As it grew cold and late, he became my 7 year old son who relied on me for comfort...until KISS burst into Rock-n-roll all night, and he stood up in his seat to sing along with his 55000 new friends.
These little moments, they're woven together to create a thing called life.