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.
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Signs, bar tops, sinks, stair treads, concrete pads, tables, shelving, sign backers, FRP panels, and a slew of other pieces that I can't even remember.
No staff, just 2 guys furiously building.
Do I enjoy the pace? Fuck no I do not...I'm old. I'm feeling my years over these last 6 weeks.
We're in round 5 of a UFC title fight, battered and bloody, but we're ahead on the judges score cards.
Just when we're at that brink of collapse, we deliver more pieces and the owners are happy, and THAT is what fuels us for the next round.
The next blog post will include the final product, but at this point, we haven't even had time to snap photos.
A lot of things have happened over the last 6 weeks personally...my fathers failing health and my friends brain tumor took the front row, causing me to question my own mortality.
We are at the whim of the universe. What that bitch says...goes.
Instead of pondering life and death, I chose to just live.
By choosing to live, I mean really enjoying the moments that I have.
Reading in a hammock, night swims with the family, water balloon fights, ice cream on the stoop. Those little moments are the living part of life, you just have to see them for that.
It's so fuckin' easy to get caught up in your own bullshit, that you don't see these moments as significant, but here's a news flash...when they're gone...they're gone, and if you missed them because your head was elsewhere, the only one that loses, is you.
I don't need a lot to make me happy. I'm a really simple man.
I catch a lot of shit because people assume that I don't give a fuck about anything, when the reality is that I do give a fuck, I just don't give a fuck about YOUR bullshit.
Your boss is stupid...I don't give a fuck...you feel fat...I don't give a fuck...you're tired...I don't give a fuck.
If you don't give a fuck about all your shitty situations enough to do something about them, then how can you remotely expect me to join your pity party.
I'm 110% behind anyone trying to change something that they're not happy about. I'm 0% interested in anyone looking to just vent.
Get a fuckin kitten, tell that pussy about all your problems.
The other day I was in the backyard and somebody decided to go on a rant for an hour plus about their work situation. I was sitting on a bench and literally fell asleep sitting up. Everyone noticed me sleeping except the person rambling on about their job. I didn't need to be part of that conversation, no one did.
They'll go back to work Monday and guess what...it's still gonna suck. Nobody privy to all the information vomited out during that conversation is able to do anything about it.
Am I an asshole?
No...I'm a realist.
I believe that everyone is in control of their own lives and situations. I'm not capable of feigning interest. It's all empty.
Someone backed into your car? That sucks, get it fixed...conversation over. We could spend the next hour talking about how you've been horribly wronged in such a situation, but l just don't care to.
There's a very powerful photo I saw of a missionary pouring water into a starving African childs mouth...I want to print that photo, laminate it, and carry it with me, so when someone starts to tell me about their dining experience where the chicken was so fuckin' dry, I can pull it out and hold it to their face and say "real problems".
You can very easily say "Brian...all you ever do is bitch on your blog"...yeah, yeah I do, but I don't make the 53,400 people read it every Monday, feel free to jump over to youtube and watch videos of monkeys jagging off.
The real asshole isn't me. It's the ones that entertain the conversation and egg it on, but most likely give less of a fuck than I do. They're just waiting for their chance to chime in about their misery, and I personally don't care to exchange useless information about shitty situations.
I've given enough advice that goes completely ignored to know better than to make suggestions.
In removing myself from these situations, I've discovered that it's much easier to deal with my problems and enjoy more of my life.
If that makes me an asshole....Then I'm an asshole.
Sunday, July 2, 2017
Our bullshit threshold is very small and the ability to weed out those who are true and those who are not becomes very sharp.
Dr. Andrew Carr is my friend.
He's a father, a husband, and a Chiropractor who despite the "herd" requirements of insurance companies and insurance networks who want you to spend 5 minutes with a patient, Andrew will spend as long as it takes to actually help a patient.
What does that say about a man? It says a lot.
Andrew was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Not a slipped disc, or some old knee injury...a fucking brain tumor.
Andrew, like myself and so many others, does not have health insurance.
Andrew, like myself, would rather sell his own fucking kidney on the black market, than ask for a dime from anyone.
That is why one of his friends set up a GO FUND ME page.
You don't know Andrew. You don't have to know him. All you have to do is be a part of the human race. We HAVE to look out for each other. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY in politics remotely gives a flying fuck if you live or you die.
You know what Obama care would've cost me for my family? $1460 per month. I can't imagine what Trumps will cost, and in all honesty, I can't possibly afford it. I do have life insurance for $500k for $53 a month, so it's cheaper for me to fucking die.
Because Andrew won't beg, I'm going to beg for him because he needs to live. He needs to raise his kids, he needs to help those people in pain that he treats, he is essential to the human race.
There's a lot of human pieces of shit out there that I couldn't care less if they live or die, but there are those that bring something to the plate of humanity, and Andrew is bringing the fucking salad and we all want some fucking salad with our meal!
$1 $5 $10...it's nothing to you. I just paid $7 for a fucking milkshake. It's not going to end your lavish lifestyle, but it's gonna help a good man stay on this fucking rock that we all inhabit.
You pay tax on everything you buy, in fact, you pay tax on shit you don't buy, and you don't even think about it. You bitch about it now and then, but you go along with the hustle.
Throw a couple bucks at something that can help save a mans life.
I can't even come up with words to talk about the stuff we made this week.
It's stuff...we made it...in the grand scheme of life it doesn't fucking matter.
I'm really sorry. My friends situation, as horrible as it is, does deliver some perspective.
Love those around you as hard as you fucking can.
It can all be snatched away in the blink of an eye.
It sucks a bag of dicks and it's not fair, but that's what life does, or at least what it tries to do.
It threatens to steal hope.
It sneaks up on you and smashes you in the balls when you least expect it.
Life is the equivalent of Bam Margera, that guy from Jackass that used to light fire crackers and throw em' on his dad while he was sleeping and shit.
Hug your kids, disregard your enemies, and help those that you can along your journey through life.
If you blow all your fingers off this fourth of July, and you start a "GOFUNDME"...go fuck yourself dummy.
Monday, June 26, 2017
It's a motorcycle show with bands, booze, bikes and everything that you would imagine a motorcycle show to be.
Our presence there was par for the course in terms of who we are and what we represent.
Among vendors carrying t-shirts that say shit like "if you can read this, then the bitch fell off", and patches that say "certified asshole", along with the ones carrying made in China bolt on parts for your 30% made in America motorcycles...we definitely stuck out.
"Cool shit man" was the phrase of the day, which was good for the ol' ego, but another common phrase was "so....what do you guys DO?"
So, let me get this straight...you're standing in our booth, surrounded by all this cool handmade shit, and you're asking me what it is that we do?
"We sell insurance fucko...the stupid phrase t-shirt vendor is across the street"
As much as I would stare blankly at these people while thinking "how are you so fucking dumb?", I also realized that maybe it wasn't such a dumb question.
We're a Walmart society.
We're conditioned to accept the nicely packaged products that some blonde bitch on TV is telling us to buy.
We're taught to go buy disposable shit that we don't need.
We're bred to not remotely give a fuck about quality, but be concerned with price.
We're programmed to not acknowledge the hand that built the house.
So, you walk into our booth which smashes every one of those talking points, and you're left scratching your mullet, thinking to yourself "what the fuck is this", until it's actually vomited out of your mouth, to which I then have to come up with a smart ass response.
It made me realize that the deck is stacked against us, which is fine because I don't play cards anyway.
All in All, the response was great and the people enjoyed something different.
All right...picture explanation time...
Chain lamp...I've posted many before, but this is the first one made using a jig.
We made a jig to keep the chain straight which made the product to be cleaner and much faster to make.
Devils tail wall hanger....because I felt like making one.
Concrete top sink...This is for our bar build out at what will be called "Tavern 57" in Chicago.
It's one of 3 sinks and one giant bar top all made from concrete.
Concrete is a really cool medium to work with, and we don't work with it as much as I'd like to because it's stupid heavy and I'm old. Truth.
New website, more retail work, doing outdoor street fests...we're finding our way.
We're trying new things to see what works, to see where we fit in and it's all essential in order to grow.
Somewhere there's a dude playing guitar in his moms basement, and he is the best guitar player in the world, but until he get's out of his moms basement and plays for an audience...no one will ever know and his talent dies with him and everyone misses out.
Get yer dick (or vagina) wet. Go outside your comfort zone. Try new things. Take the plunge, otherwise you'll never know.
Could have or should have, just doesn't cut it.
This show was exhausting. Me and Zach both missed out on time with our family this weekend, but it's those sacrifices that dictate our future and the future of our families.
This is real life. You pay to play.
There is no such thing as luck. Either you put in the work or you didn't.
Anyway...now that the weekend is over, it's back to building. I swear to god that my face hurts from 30 hours of fake salesman smiling.
Have a good Monday my friends.
Monday, June 12, 2017
The bowling alley top bar is a custom order.
We were given "inspiration" photos, and tried to comply with all the little details as well as added a few of our own.
The coffee table is just us fucking around with color.
I mean...why not?
Shit is just bland-blah-boring sometimes, so why not fucking blue? Add blue...see what happens.
2 of the 3 lamps are for Jaunt. The 3rd lamp is for Motoblot.
As much as we'd like to sell as much stuff as possible at Motoblot, it's also a way to showcase and network.
It's a motorcycle show. Maybe someone will wanna walk around with a fucking lamp all day, and maybe not, but what they will know, is where to get it if they like it.
We've made enough cash and carry items so that we don't totally eat shit, but we want to showcase some bigger items as well.
We're also going to have t shirts and shop rags for sale and once the show is over, those items will be available at www.makerschicago.com , in case you live in fucking Idaho and don't wanna make a 23 hour drive to look at motorcycles and buy a couple of dirtbags t-shirts.
I've been thinking lately (you all know what that means) about "moments".
If you dissect an average day, you realize that most of that time is filler bullshit, and the things that define what will soon be your past, are "moments".
How do you have more moments and less filler time?
I don't fucking know, but if I did, I'd be able to make Tim Robbins bank account look like my daily deposit.
One thing I do know is that we need to spend less time focusing on what we need to do later and be present in what is happening right now.
Here's an example...Saturday night, my son wanted to ride his bike. He just grasped the whole bike riding thing the day before and he wants to get better at it. Although it was already 9pm and the house was a disaster from a sleep over the night before, I am in no way going to hinder his progress in the fine art of bicycle riding.
We went to a school across the street that has a big empty parking lot. Off he goes exploring every inch of that parking lot on 2 wheels, and I'm sitting on the curb freaking the fuck out over everything I need to do when we get home.
I caught myself.
Here I sit, a gorgeous night, cool breeze, clear sky, bright moon, and I'm sitting on a curb consumed by dishes and putting shoes away?
It took me a minute, but I was able to clear my mind and put myself in the moment.
The result was staggering.
Not only did I enjoy the moment more, but I can tell that my son was happier because I was really present in what was going on.
Yeah, we went to bed hella late, and no, I didn't finish all the stuff that I wanted to finish, but so the fuck what?
What I gained from being present in a moment, totally trumped all the bullshit that I didn't finish in my self allotted time frame.
Did anyone die because I didn't put his flip flops away, or because I only did half of the dishes? I don't think so, but I do think that both he and I will remember that moment for quite possibly a lifetime.
Don't let shit slip past you because you're busy creating laundry lists in your head.
Immerse yourself in the real, the present.
Time fucking sucks. There's never enough of it, so the ticks of the clock that you get...ya gotta make that shit count.
As a parent, we love to pat ourselves on the back for all the wonderful shit we teach our kids, when in reality, it's them teaching us.
Play with me...read to me...watch a movie with me...this is their way of saying "hey asshole...forget about laundry, and be present with me because I'm only going to be young for a little while and when you're the one shitting in a diaper again, and I'm off doing adult shit, you're going to beg god to have all of those moments that you missed...back, and you don't get them back, you just sit there being sad in a shit filled diaper."
I'm not gonna be the sad old man in a shitty diaper.
If I do end up shitting in a diaper, that'll be sad enough as is, so by no means do I wanna add to it.
We convince ourselves that all the tasks that we do, are for them.
They don't give a fuck.
They want you.
They want you to be present in all their new found experiences.
You owe it to them.
And ya know what?
The world would probably be a much better place if you did.
If you gave them the time they needed, then they wouldn't spend the rest of their lives seeking outside approval.
What the fuck do I know?
I'm a glorified carpenter.
I have no psychology degree. In fact the only degree I have is deodorant.
I am aware, and I am damn good at reading my kid.
When I'm over occupied with distractions, his demeanor changes. My goal is too at the very least be aware when that shift takes place, and adjust accordingly.
It's not just about children, it can easily be applied to every other life situation.
I'm at a stop light, and to my right is a outdoor cafe. Every mother fucker there is staring at their phone. Why bother? Why go out? Is it that painful to engage each other now?
It's Monday. It's gonna be a long, hot and dirty week for us.
Enjoy your moments.
Monday, June 5, 2017
That is extremely rare because most questions I get asked are different renditions of the same questions, but this time...I had to do some head scratching.
The question was an honest inquiry, and nothing offensive, just momentarily perplexing.
"What's with all the skulls?"
Fuck. I don't know. I've never given it a whole lot of thought until that particular moment.
Was is my punk/hardcore/metal roots? nah.
Am I obsessed with death or dying? nah.
I had to dig deep.
Deeper than I thought I would, and I had to sort through some baggage and personality traits.
Then...the light bulb went on.
You know how rat poison or other shit that can kill you, usually have a skull and crossbones on the label?
Well, it's sort of the same warning.
I'm not concerned with being ingested, but I believe my affinity for skulls is basically a warning label.
You want to know me? You want to get close to me? Proceed with caution then.
It's my way of saying "I'm not looking for friends, or business ventures, nor am I willing to accept anyones bullshit or baggage. Tread lightly...you've been warned."
Why am I so guarded and introverted?
None of your fucking business...that's why.
Those who know my demons have gone through a screening process. They have EARNED a spot in the ranks.
These people have paid their dues, gone to battle with and for me. They've seen me rise and fall and been there every step of the way.
You don't just walk into my soul like you own the fuckin place.
Knock first mother fucker, and I decide if and when I'm opening the door.
So the answer to the "what's up with all the skulls" question, is exactly that.
I'm actually more of an ocean than I am a skull.
I'm vast and beautiful, intriguing and interesting, but also dangerous and violent, and if not respected, I will swallow your ass up in an instant and you'll never be found again.
But ocean rings, or patches, or t shirts would be pretty fuckin gay, and not nearly as spooky and cool as skull stuff.
So there ya have it.
Stuff we built...
Another coffee table and side table set going to the fine gentleman who just got a coffee table and side table set..his name is Mike, but I'm gonna call him Noah cause the fuckin guy is getting stuff in deuces!
Rolling table just slammed out for those wacky marketing genius's at Limitless Creative.
They needed a rolling table for a NIKE event in 24 hours and we delivered that shit in 4 hours.
Go above and beyond for your customers, crush their deadlines, make it a pleasure to work with you.
These people are our bread and butter. They deserve our best and they get our best.
We have so much stuff coming, and I actually just looked around the shop the other day and had to catch my breath. It's a creative hurricane, and me and Zach are finding a sweet spot in our working cohesiveness.
We've always been able to feed off each other, hence being in business together, but we're reaching a new level of that.
It's fluidity...like water...like the ocean (HAH!)
Fuck the ocean. I'm actually terrified of it.
Had a run in with a Bull Shark, well, almost a run in, had the shark been paying attention, and I've never stuck a toe in salty waters again.
Maybe that's where my occasional "God complex" comes from?
While Jesus may have walked on water...I ran on water like a Nigerian during the last 100 yards of a fuckin' marathon.
All righty...lot's of cool shit built this week and apparently, lot's of new self discoveries to boot.
Head on over to www.makerschicago.com where you can buy our goods and while you're doing some good ol' healthy internet shopping, shoot over to www.witnesscompany.com and get some skull rings, so that people will stay away from you...works like a charm.
Monday, May 29, 2017
I was going to skip a blog this week.
I do that that sometimes just to let my thoughts back up like Friday traffic in Chicago.
Since I'm up at this ungodly hour, I figured "fuck it", it's Memorial Day, and from my observations of society lately, at some point today, everyone will have their faces jammed in a phone while life is passing by, so maybe I'll contribute and give folks something to read.
All this stuff here is going to our retailer Jaunt in Arlington Heights.
1. console table made from old bowling alley lanes
2. live edge bar cart
3.cafe chair with swivel table top
4. stitched steel desk lamp
The way a retailer usually works is...you make and piece and they consign it, and once it sells, you get some money in 30 days, or the have specific requests and you wholesale it to them.
They gave us a bunch of money and said "make us cool stuff".
Trust and belief.
The two ingredients in any successful relationship.
By Jaunt doing that, they were saying "I trust that you won't blow this money at a shady titty bar, and I believe that you guys will make us items that we will be able to sell".
It's the equivalent of letting a chick leave her tooth brush at your house.
I'm loyal to a fault.
"Do me good and I'll do you better"..."do me wrong, and I'll super glue the locks on your house and set that bitch on fire while you're sleeping"-That's basically my life mantra.
When someone goes out of their way for me and especially my son....there's nothing I won't do for that person.
That's more so on a personal level. In business, the extremes are toned down a little.
We've been pretty lucky to have good customers and we've built some really solid relationships.
We've also had our share of shit birds.
There are people who look at me and see the tattoo's, the dirt and sawdust ridden clothes, and take me for one who is easily manipulated.
Bitch, I read "The Art of War" when I was 15, so trust me...I see right through the tactics.
Here's a couple tell tale signs of when a customer is going to be a piece of shit...
1. the promise of a lifetime of future work before you've even started on their current project.
This is done in order to get you to make this customer a priority above all else, and as leverage to slip in a bunch of free shit, because they have soooooo much FUTURE work for you.
It's the dangling carrot tactic and believe me when I say I will snatch that fucking carrot and beat you with the stick it was tied to.
2. Promise of payment.
This is when a customer goes above and beyond to express how money isn't an issue and how they have no problem paying. This is usually done before you've even given them a price on anything.
When I hear that speak, I automatically shut down.
I shut down because what they're really saying is "I don't really have any money at the moment and I'm desperately hoping to string you along until I can either get some money of flat out ditch your ass".
Good customers go about things in a very sensible, cut and dry manner.
Shitty customers have a tendency to whip their dick out before even buying me a drink.
It's business though. There's gonna be good and bad.
If you get a bad vibe and you proceed because you're hungry, well...be prepared to eat shit.
The good eggs...give em' your best and never take them for granted because they are your foundation.
I'm off to the gym, then to the shop to hopefully knock out what I need to so I can get home and get some yard time with the fam.
Now, put your phone away and engage those around you.