Monday, December 26, 2016

TWAS' THE SHITSTORM BEFORE CHRISTMAS




I thought I wasn't gonna blog until the new year, but, with a lot of people off of work, and me being awake at an ungodly hour, I figured I'd kill some time while I wait for the gym to open.
 Christmas....I thought it was going to be disastrous, but ended up being probably one of the best.
All the shit that leads up to it...the elf on the shelf bullshit, my sons obsessive compulsiveness over toys, the shopping, the god awful traffic, the sheer disgusting consumerism that we have been programmed to put ourselves in debt to buy people shit they don't need, the cooking, the cooking gone wrong, the multiple family visits, the constant barrage of Christmas music, the same 4 Christmas movies played over and over, etc. When the smoke cleared...it was really a wonderful time spent with wonderful people, and nothing makes about 40 days of bullshit better, than the joy of children. That shit is  priceless.
 Maybe it's age, maybe it's hectic life schedules, but for me, being able to spend good quality time with people I love, if only for a few hours over a couple of days, holds a value beyond anything else. It should be something practiced well over the once a year Holiday debacle.
 The clock starts ticking the minute we pop out of the vagina. We never know how long we have. Some people's time is cut shorter than others, so it would be in our best interest to make these minutes count. The fucked up thing is that, for me, I didn't take my time limit into consideration until about middle age. I was pretty sure I was gonna live forever when I was a younger asshole. The reality, as painful as it is, is that your days are numbered, and you have been left out of the loop on just how many days you get.
 So...live it up. Make shit count. Chuck your grudges. Be kind. Enjoy life.
Ah, well, that was kind of depressing.
 Hey...we made some cool shit.
First one up...the Cafe Camp out chair.
 Hand painted steel base, wood seat and back, attached table and coat hook.
Made for a cafe where your fat ass is planted drinking over priced bean water, staring at a laptop trying to look busy, independent, and oh so important....this ones for you douche' bag.
 Next up...Hand painted steel arrow hanger.
Made as a Christmas present for Zack, cause I'm broke as fuck.
 Third...
Hand painted rebar and old growth coffee cup tree.
 Made as a gift for the person in my Secret Santa.
Kinda gay, but totally useful.
 No I didn't make the cups, bought that shit on sale at Target, in fact, there were only 3, and I lifted the 4th out of an old lady's shopping cart (what was she gonna do with one coffee cup anyway?)
 Lastly...
Friday, Zack was tucked in the corner of the shop doing some secret type of shit. I sauntered over and caught a glimpse of him carving and Old English "B" into a slab of leather. I carried on with my work and at the end of the day, he hands me a hand made, hand carved, veg tan leather belt, he mutters something which I translated as "Merry Christmas", and then adjourned back to his work bench.
 On my drive home that night, I had a moment to take in just how lucky I am.
When I got home on the eve of Christmas Eve, the house was full of kids, Laura and her niece were running out for last minute Christmas shopping, and when they returned we went out for pizza, and the stage was set for what ended up being a beautiful Christmas.
 I'm lucky...you're probably lucky too...don't take it for granted.

Monday, December 12, 2016

BLOWING MY PROVERBIAL LOAD






This will most likely be the last post of 2016.
 There are a few weeks left before the new year, but quite frankly, I have a ton of shit to do. I haven't even thought about Christmas shopping, my son is about to be on Christmas break and "blogging", believe it or not, has always been somewhat taxing.
 Usually when we build stuff, I space the pieces out for the blog so that I'll always have some content, but since I'm gonna close out the year, I'm going to blow my proverbial load.
 Zack put in hella work on the vintage trunk "mandrobe" cabinet.
There was an awkward moment in the shop as I was standing there in a t shirt and socks because we needing clothing to stage the photo.
 The next piece is a live edge side table where we utilized the pedals from a piano as the back supporting leg.
The following photo is a steel desk where the front legs were used from a grand piano. Shit gets tricky because a piano only has 3 legs, and those legs are only 24" tall, so you really need to think outside the box when you're repurposing.
 The next 3 are Whiskey carafe's or whiskey holders, or pourers, or displays, or whatever you want to use them for.
 We never really build around a specific object. We usually build off a measurement and materials available.
With these whiskey carafe's we built specifically around the particular brand bottle.
 Take a stroll down any liquor aisle and you'll see that all of these bottles are autonomous. They vary in shape, and for us, THAT is the fun part. Molding steel around a piece of glass is a very rewarding experience.
 If you scroll back to the blog about the "Custer's last stand" coat rack, I'd like to report that it worked out great. All of our coats are now well organized and easily accessible, but in terms of the rack itself, which I consider a piece of functional art, is GONE. I mean it's there...just covered in coats...behind a door.
 You don't put an original Keith Haring painting in a vault, you display that shit.
That's the problem with functional art...it needs to function, and in this case, it's "function" happens to mean being covered up with coats.
 Which brings me to the last photo, which is a mini version of "Custers last stand" and meant to be used in a bathroom where you can hang 2 towels and you have a robe hook available if you're the robe wearing type.
 Yeah it's a little dangerous, I mean if you don't hang it in the right spot, you could end up losing an eye or needing a few stitches, but I can safely say that I've been walking in and out of various bathrooms for the last 40 plus years, and every last one of them had something hung on a wall and I've escaped each and every visit without injury.
 Quick little peek into what 2017 will bring from the MAKERS...I promise that at some point in 2017 we will have a website. People will be able to not only view our work, but purchasing and having custom pieces built will be wayyyy fuckin' easier.
 We are going to have Merch (t shirts, thermals, hats...all types of shit). I've always been a fan of fashion and design (who knew?) and if fashion and design can piggy back something I already love, and actually work, well...I'm just gonna have to give it a go and see what happens.
 Hugs and kisses till next year my friends!
Thank you for reading and in the meantime you can follow Breclaimed and Makerschicago on instagram, where shit that you don't find on here is posted almost daily.
 Have a great Holiday.

Monday, December 5, 2016

HOLIDAY TIRADE



Apparently your environment stimulates your creativity.
 We have been bulldozing through new pieces lately, and it's been done in such a way that you would think we were mad at art.
 Next week I'm going to focus on the brilliance that Zack has been churning out in the blog.
We've been on this creative high, and just feeding off each others energy, and when you're in that mode, you have to embrace it and exhaust it.
 "Custers Last Stand" which was named by my friend Dr. Andrew Carr, was created because we have some coat issues going on on at my house. 3 humans live in my home and there are 17 jackets for some reason. I have coat hangers behind every door and we're still coming up short on space.
 Standing coat racks are gay ( and I don't mean gay in the sense that they have sex with other coat racks, and I refuse to NOT use a term that I've been using since before I even knew or cared if people of the same gender  were getting it on, and I still don't care). So, I decided to go off  the reservation (no pun intended) and make a "functional art" piece that can be used as a coat rack.
 Due to the current situation at Standing Rock, it would not be appropriate to call it the "Standing Rack", hence the good Dr. Carr renaming it.
 So to the people who think that I'm disrespecting the current situation at Standing Rock can go fart in a bottle because art has always been dictated by political or social situations.
 I hate the fact that I have to throw disclaimers out left and right because people are so fuckin' thin skinned these days.
 I just saw some shit that said "words hurt"....words hurt when you're a child, but no children read my blog and if they are old enough to read, then they're old enough to execute the "sticks and stones" principals.
 Stop raising pussies. Thank you.
 The next piece is a glass and steel coffee table.
This piece also involves Dr. Carr. We were talking about a coffee table for his waiting room. It's a bent sheet metal 2 tier coffee table with a steel mesh shelf that sits under the glass for displaying magazines, because after all, what doctors office doesn't have a hefty selection of magazines. It's sitting in the MAKERS lounge because I'm not done fucking with it.
 Sometimes you just gotta live with a piece for a minute, and one day you'll add a detail that will let you know that it is officially complete.
 My son is obsessed with Christmas. Last week, we went to a mall with my mom. We never go to malls, but I know they usually decorate the shit out of those places and I thought the kid would get a kick out of it, not to mention that his grandma is in her glory when there is a potential for a sale.
 My boy and his grandmother definitely enjoyed the experience, me...I had to hold back my vomit.
BUY-BUY-BUY, sift through these mountains of poorly made, outsourced, over priced heaps of shit.
 How in the holy fuck does buying someone some bullshit sweater say "hey man...thanks for you just being you, Merry Christmas"
 Kids and toys...I get it it, but adults exchanging boxes of garbage...I just don't get it.
Me and my girl have busted our asses all year raising our son and trying to just live a peaceful happy life, and when Christmas rolls around I'll be damned if I'm gonna get her a pair of boots and say "Merry Christmas bitch, go play in the snow.",  I mean what the fuck is THAT?!
 I'm better than that, you're better than that, you're loved ones are better than that.
Your shithead co-worker, or that weird cousin...go ahead and get those fuckers some gloves, but people you love...people that have impacted your year, people that deserve more from you...be creative.
 Give those people some shit from your heart and not from the sale rack.
What the fuck can anyone get me that I can't or won't get myself?
 Give me an experience. Give me a moment, a memory. If it has to be something tangible, make it something that says you listen to me, that you know my interests, that you... at the very least... paid attention.
 All that shit takes way more effort then you may be willing to invest, so if you're gonna go with a boxable gift, please shop small, or buy art. The money you spend with small business or artists has the ability to change people lives.
 That concludes my Holiday tirade.


Monday, November 21, 2016

BE KIND...JUST BECAUSE



We have a client, that had a client, who wanted to purchase a coffee table from our clients store (follow me?)
 Problem being, the table from our clients store was too small. So our clients client asked if she could get one bigger. Our client contacted us to see if we could replicate her table, only bigger, for her client.
 The budget for her clients replica table was laughable, but our client is a good client, and happened to be in a bind, so we did it.
 Not for the money either, because when it was all said and done, there wasn't much to be had. We did it for 2 reasons...1. our client is a good client, and 2. we were down for a challenge.
 Each leg has 30 welds. All 30 welds need to be ground and honed. Most of you have no idea what that translates to, and it basically translates to Zack being blind and me being deaf.
 Zack drove out to Monee Illinois to select wood to resemble the original tables top. I couldn't go because we had a sleep over for the kids the night before. Monee is fucking far, and the ironic thing is that Monday morning after Zack drove to the moon, we found out that there is a guy on the 5th floor of our building who sells barn wood.
 Anyway...we knocked it out and nailed it with little to show except a mediocre photo and a little more confidence.
 Next up are a couple little things that fall into the "gift" category.
I have a secret love for making little trinkets, especially this time of year.
 The first one is just a little bent hook jacket hanger.
The second is a railroad spike bottle opener.
 I got a message from my buddy Kotton, who I met a few years back while he was Screeching Weasel's tour manager. Kotton manages a lot of bands and is always on tour with somebody. Whenever Kotton is in Chicago, he'll hit me up and say "hey, I'm here with KORN, come to the show", or whoever he happens to be on the road with. Well, Friday he hit me up and said he was in town with Sully Erna from GODSMACK and asked if I wanted to bring my family out. I love nothing more than exposing my son to live music, so I checked with Laura, and we were all going to the show Friday night.
 I wanted to make something for Kotton, so I figured I'd try my hand at a railroad spike bottle opener.
Lemme tell you...for something so small and seemingly simple....shit ain't so simple.
 I spent a couple hours cutting and grinding and shaping and ruining railroad spikes before I finally got it to work.
 Zack picked up a 6 pack so we could see if she'd work, and work she did.
The thing about these music venues is that you damn near have to get a body cavity search to get in, and I knew my railroad spike bottle opener would never make it past security. I gave it to Zack because I haven't had to open a bottle in several years.
 Kotton...if you're reading this, I'll make ya one and send it to ya brother.
I suck at getting gifts or getting shit for free. It makes me feel weird.
 Whenever someone extends kindness to me in that manner, I feel compelled to gift back.
Maybe it's how I was raised? Maybe I should learn to accept kindness? I don't know, but I know that I have to give back in order to feel good. Everyone wins in the end.
 It's the fuckers that expect shit for free that I enjoy crossing off of my humanity list.
We get THOSE type of people by the dozen.
 Before we moved in our new shop we had to scrub the floors because the former occupant made soap there.
 While we were scrubbing the floor, a man named Gabriel walked past and offered us his floor scrubbing machine. That machine and his kindness saved us hours of intense labor. Gabriel works for Catholic Charities who happen to be right above us. Gabriel has spent the last 20 years feeding senior citizens that cannot afford food.
 Gabriel asked if we could do a little welding job for him. We immediately took care of his repair and when we finished he said "just send me the bill and I'll get you paid."
 Our response was "there is no bill."
Money isn't everything.
 You can never put a dollar amount on an act of kindness.

Monday, November 14, 2016

STOP BEING A PUSSY



We're finally settled in our new shop.
 The move was brutal.
2 guys, 2 pick up trucks, a broken elevator, and a ton of shit...but we did it.
 The new shop is set up to be very efficient and everything has it's place, and I gotta tell ya, it's probably the cleanest shop aside from that guy on TV (Norm Abhrams?).
 We worked our asses off and I think it shows in our space.
Monday morning, everything was set up and the machines were fired up. We knocked out 10 railroad spike hooks and this really cool poster display cart for an art dealer.
 A lot of change has been taken place. Cubs won the World Series, Trump became the 45th President, I mean those are 2 monumental things even to a guy who hates politics and baseball.
 I've talked about "change" many times, and it's not so much that I don't like change, it's just that I don't care for that awkwardness in the beginnings of change.
 It's kind of like a first date where you're thinking "do I touch her butt, do I not touch her butt, fuck...I don't know...", or that tense moment when you think you might have to fight some asshole, where you're exchanging "fuck you's" with someone and you're not sure if it's going to escalate , or it's gonna stay in name calling mode.
 It's just a weird feeling in your belly at first, but it passes, and if the change isn't necessarily GOOD...well, we were designed to acclimate
 A lot of you are going "oh shit...Brian is referring to the new President...here we go"
No, no Brian is not referring to the new President.
 The day a President ties my boots in the morning, or gets my kid ready for school, or grabs my stack of bills and say "hey bro, I'll take care of those", maybe then and only then would I really care to talk about a president.
 I understand my role in the world, and I think people would be much happier if they stopped thinking that anybody on a global level remotely gives a fuck about what you think or how you feel.
 The people around you or directly attached to your life might care, and that's where you belong, that should be your focus. Nurture that circle. Make that circle the best fucking circle in the world. That circle has the potential to be a collective voice that can be heard globally..
 We had a sleep over on Friday.
I had the kids do a little spelling/writing contest (which they oddly LOVED). There were very specific rules to this contest, and you had to follow them exactly in order to win.
 When I proclaimed Sofia as the winner of round 1, my better half came in to let them know they were all winners, to which I replied, "no...SOFIA is the winner because she paid attention to the rules and these other 2 did not."
 The 2 boys that didn't win worked very hard in the next rounds and we had quite a few 3 way ties and a whole lot of fun.
 Ya gotta teach em young in the ways of NOT being a pussy.
Even when the Cubs won the World Series, I heard grown ass men display disdain for other peoples celebrations because they weren't "real fans".
 I mean when did these people become an authority on other peoples sport watching habits, and who gives a fuck???? And what's worse was watching the accused try to justify their celebration!
 Do these self centered pricks really think that their dedication to "watching" a baseball game propelled the team to the World fuckin' Series??!!
 I've gotten so off track in this blog post and it's way too late to go back, so here's my new points
1. Change is cool even if it's awkward at first
2. Don't raise another generation of pussies
3. The world doesn't revolve around you, and you're not nearly as important nor significant as you think.
    Being humble and gracious will work wonders for you.
Sorry for the erratic post, but a lot of shit has gone down since my last post.
 It's Monday. Start your week off by not being a self centered pussy.


Monday, October 31, 2016

LAST CARESS

It's not often that I get melancholy.
 I'm a person who usually stays focused on moving forward, I don't like to dwell on the past. My past is filled with wonderful accomplishments and more learning experiences than money could buy, as well as it's share of heart breaks, dumb shit, and a long list of really shitty decisions.
 I don't mind visiting my past from time to time, but my visit is short, my focus, is the future.
That disclaimer being thrown out there, I have to admit, in the midst of moving the shop, I looked back.
 I looked back at what me and Zack had created from thin air. We had no money, no customers, just a really strong work ethic, a shared love for creating, and the will to make something...from nothing.
 The next morning I walked into the shop determined to do one last build.
I had no idea what I was going to make, the shop was in disarray, we had more important things to do besides me getting my creative dick off, but I went in head first because I had to do one last build in that space.
 The weeks leading up to our move were polluted with finishing up a few jobs to clear the path for moving, there was no time to make some shit just for the hell of it.
 Business is business, and you don't always get to do what you want to do when you're busy doing what you have to do.
 Sometimes...you have to just say "fuck it all" and do whatever it is you feel in your heart that you NEED to do.
 I needed to go off the reservation and get loose. Just make something for the sake of being creative.
My motive wasn't just to be creative. I couldn't live with the fact that the last thing that was built in the shop that me and Zack called "home", would be 5 folding bars. My movie wasn't going to end like that.
 Zack pulled out a bunch of these small slabs while we were getting ready to move. I grabbed one just because it had a cool shape, but when I flipped it over, that's when I saw the live edge crotch. I had put it to the side for no reason in particular prior to my "must build" epiphany.
 The next morning, I stared at it for a minute, then just started welding.
It found it's way to just being a cool little side table, and that was enough for me. It was enough for me to end my stay and move towards what's ahead of us.
 I'm kind of a weirdo like that. Things need to mean something to me.
I can do a bunch of shit that is just work, but I get to a point where I need to do something that validates my work to myself.
 That's what this piece was.
It was validation of the work me and Zack had done over the last 2 years in that shop, as well as a sort of farewell.
 The one thing I learned from playing in bands was to always leave on a high note.
Have you ever seen a band that has played just a little too long?
 George Clinton told me backstage when we opened for a band called Naked Raygun, he said "lemme give you 2 pieces of advice...always leave the crowd wanting more, and never piss in the same bathroom that your fans piss in." he also told me a story about how he blew up his kitchen freebasing cocaine off of his stove.
 That's it.
By tomorrow, everything will have been moved out, and we'll spend a couple of days putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, and then the machine gets fired up once again.
 I took a moment to look back, created a little "time stamp", and now it's time to focus on the future once again.

Monday, October 24, 2016

TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

After 2 years in a basement shop at Lacuna Artist Lofts, the MAKERS are leaving the nest and spreading their wings.
 It's been a long and bittersweet road.
We've made a lot of friends and a lot of connections. We've had an extremely bi-polar run of very high highs, and really fuckin' scary lows.
 Me and Zack have spent damn near everyday, laughing, creating, struggling, consoling, cheering each other on, catching on fire, searching for the right music to fuel our day, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and started chasing our dream in this space.
 Nothing lasts forever.
That space was home...and not just to us.
 Most of you  never got a chance to come to the shop, but for many of the other tenants in the building, it was a place to escape for a moment, get inspired, steal some coffee, have cool shit made, or get a quick handmade gift.
 It was the place my son burned his first weld, learned how to drill, learned how to drive a nail. His mom would drop him off from time to time on her way to work, and Zack stocked Max's desk up with comic books and art supplies, and always had the best snacks handy for my little guy. I watched Zack and my son form a bond not like a uncle/nephew or "the guy my dad works with", but more like old friends that are always excited to see each other.
 We started our journey, not on a quest for fame and fortune, but to be independent. Free from a boss or a cubicle. Free to create, free to excel, free to grow.
 There are perks to our new space.
Ground floor, loading dock right at our door, 25' ceilings, a window, and about 200 new tenants and business's that we've yet to meet.
 But home is home.
You'll never forget the house that you grew up in, and we both did a whole lot of fuckin' growin' up in that shop.
 There's some asshole out there that said "change is good.", but that jerk off never had to move a 300lb. table saw, or 3-100lb. drill presses, or a slew of massive work tables, from one place to another in order to get some of that good change.
 Change is only good if you make it good.
The politics and financial burden of moving has been a real drag, and we're eager to get set up and functioning within the next week. We just wanna build. We don't wanna spend hours on the phone with Suzy Wongs cut rate insurance, or parade electricians through the new space, or comb over a lease, or any of that adult shit that goes along with being a business...just wanna build...that's it.
  So...here is where I give a big warm verbal hug (cause I'm not a touchy feelie kinda guy) to all those people that touched our daily lives at Lacuna...Joey Cacciatorie, the GERTRUDE INC. crew, Limitless, Black Ink Crew, LM Catering, Alonzo, Fern, Fernando, the Polish plumbers, that Albert Einstein looking electrician and his band of gypsy sparkies, the DJ firm, the gay dude that's always singing in the hallways, Lilly, Charlie the barber (even though I have no idea what you're saying 90% of the time), Cheppe' and Ronaldo, RNG Engineering, Duro and that fat bastard Soreen, and all the nameless people that I've been saying "good morning" to for the last 2 years.
 No longer will you be subjected to the smell of burning metal, or hear TOOL or NWA blaring from the basement, you'll no longer be in danger of having your head smashed in as we try to cram 20' lengths of steel down the stairs, you'll be safe from the 2 dirty bastards riding bicycles through the halls...and you'll all miss every second of it.
peace out.

Monday, October 10, 2016

BLOWING DUDES UNDER A VIADUCT

Steel.
One thing I can tell you about steel is that it's heavy...and usually really dirty.
 This wood and steel desk with a steel side table that has a railroad tie steel plate base was one of the most fulfilling builds.
 When you get steel in a raw form, it's very unlike wood in the sense that with wood, you can see the potential it has by just looking at it. Steel on the other hand is very cold, very dirty/oily and your ability to manipulate it into something warm and strong isn't apparent upon first sight.
 Steel puts up a fight where wood almost wants you to mold and shape it.
We like a good fight.
 The desk was moved into the office of our client from GERTRUDE INC. on Thursday, on by Saturday the owner had already had the front panel graphic applied, which brought a whole new element to this piece.
 We have always played with steel.
As our comfort and command of it has grown, so has our implementation of it to where it becomes the dominating element.
 Zack attends a lot of these street fairs and art fairs, and always returns to the shop with stories about dudes selling gas pipe lamps, and wood slab tables, and shit made from gym floors and all kinds of wacky material. He says it's the same guys, selling the same shit, show after show, street fair after street fair.
 We don't do the street fair circuit, so my first thought is usually "who cares", when in reality...I care.
I'm glad Zack and his wife hit those things up, because I don't get out enough to see what's out there. It's important to know what everyone is doing because if everyone is making a right turn...we're going left.
 Nobody makes it out of our shop alive when they mention "gas pipe" or "live edge" these days.
If someone wants a gas pipe table base, I'll gladly direct you to some arts and crafts website, or you can just go to Home Depot buy a shit ton of pipe and fittings, and once you've screwed all the pieces together and created your "piece", be sure you show me a photo on your phone of your creation so I can congratulate you on mastering the equivalent of fucking Tinker-Toys.
 It happens all the time. You meet someone, they ask what you "do" (like my answer is going to dictate if this asshole accepts me or not) I tell them I make furniture, and they whip out their phone and show me the gas pipe shelf they made..."wow bro,,,looks like you screwed those pieces of pipe together pretty well".
 Please don't do that shit.
That would be like me asking someone what they do, and when they say "I'm an accountant", I bust out my 2013 tax return and I'm like "duuuude....check THIS out! Fuckin' Turbo Tax...did that shit MYSELF! BAM! $163 refund". Pretty dicky, right?
 We live this shit.
Me and Zack have dedicated our lives to this.
 This is how we feed our families.
Show those photo's of your art project to your momma, cause she'll be real proud.
 Show it to us? Things will get really uncomfortable.
You see, we've spent thousands of hours, spent thousands of dollars, lost sleep, missed family gatherings, missed my sons swim classes, been caught on fire, bled...repeatedly, been so fucking broke that the prospect of blowing dudes under a viaduct in order to purchase polyurethane and welding wire just might not be such a bad idea....well you get the point.
 Sticking feathers in your ass doesn't make you a chicken.
I encourage people to create. Just execute a little respect to those that do it for a living.





Monday, October 3, 2016

DEBBIE FUCKIN" DOWNER


So, about a year ago, I had started work on the worlds heaviest Pop-Tart holder.
 Zack had gone home for the holidays and I was messin' around at the shop working on a steel rolling bar.
Zack came back, and work pretty much ceased on this piece.
 For a about a year, it was a piece that separated our office from our shop, and with a piece of scrap plywood used as a shelf, it pretty much collected dust and housed the breakfast favorite with absolutely no nutritional value known as...Pop-Tarts.
 A client came in and wanted to purchase said Pop-Tart holder, but wanted to add real shelves and some locking doors.
 By weeks end, what was a big dumb heavy steel box, was transformed into a real piece.
Friday night my brother-in-law was having a gallery opening that was to celebrate 25 years of his hardcore band called Los Crudos and their influence on the Pilsen and Little Village community.
 Me and my son went to the event which was held at a great space in Bridgeport. Zack and his wife were going to come and support and aside from seeing a lot of old friends and hanging out with a bunch of family, it was a great opportunity to just get out of the house for a change.
 Zack had sent me a text to tell me he was almost there, so me and Max had gone outside to wait for them.
There was a slight misting of rain, and there was a group of people hanging out, when an unmarked police car stops at the corner, the officer leans out the window and tells me to take my son inside because someone around the corner had just been shot...in the face.
 As I ushered my son back inside the gallery, he began to shake, and then burst into tears, fearing for his life.
He was convinced that we were going to be shot.
 It didn't take too long to assure him that we were safe, and I wouldn't let anything ever happen to him.
He calmed down and proceeded to play Foosball with his cousins.
 Zack and his wife arrived shortly after and had barley missed being in the middle of the shooting.
What started as a really nice night, ended with my head being all kinds of fucked up.
 Where am I? Where do I live? What fucking world did I end up in?
In Chicago, our murder rate is almost an inside joke.
 We get these ridiculous statistics of shootings reported to us daily with usually grizzly details accompanying those statistics, and we go on with our regularly scheduled lives. It's business as usual here.
Sometimes the bullets are really close...too close.
 What if I showed up later? What if I parked around the corner where the man was shot in the face? What if me and my 6 year old were caught in the middle of cross fire? What if a bullet found it's way into my son.
 Would there be a 5 second news clip of a father clutching a small childs Paul Frank beanie splattered with blood? Would the incident just be another statistic to add to the rising murder number for the weekend?  Would that father be me?
The thought cripples me.
 It's painful to even write about the "what if" that I just described.
What's worse is I have no answers and no solutions to an epidemic.
 People love to chime in with the expected response of "you should move."
It's not that simple, so save your suggestion.
 Something like this can, does, and will happen....anywhere...anytime.
There are professors and think tanks that dissect this social issue, and it's very complicated, and very confusing, and equally frustrating.
 I'm not a professor, nor do I subscribe to any think-tanks, but I have more of a suggestion than a solution.
Please, if you are a parent....and not if you're a black parent, or a white parent, or a Puerto Rican parent, or a right wing parent, or a left wing parent, or a gay parent, a Jew or Muslim or Christian parent....if you are a PARENT, please...can you stop worrying about keeping up with the Jones's, put your fucking phone down, and teach your children the VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE.
 You have your work cut out for you because death and murder and killing is woven into every thread of our existence.
 Movies=murder, video games=murder, the news=murder, music=murder, every religious book=murder, cartoons (old and new)=murder...murder-murder-murdery fucking murder.
 But you're responsibility to not only your children, but humanity as a whole is to teach them that life....life is special.
 Even that asshole that stole your parking space...his life has a value. The person that disagrees with you...their life has value, The person that doesn't share your religious or political beliefs...their life has value.
 You HAVE to teach them to respect life because the deck is stacked against them.
Everyone loves to say "we have to ban guns!!!!!" Listen....people have found very creative ways to kill each other before guns were even invented, so save that circular argument for someone that has nothing better to do than to phonetically spin their wheels.
 Teach your fucking kids....that's the start. It's not the answer, but it's a step in the right direction.
I don't mean to be a Debbie fuckin' Downer, but it seems like we as humans have clearly lost our way and we've lost any sense of tolerance.
 If I shot everyone that ever called me an asshole, or stole my parking space, or fucked my girlfriend, or didn't pay me....There wouldn't be anyone left.

Monday, September 26, 2016

YER GONNA SHOOT YER EYE OUT!


Right now, we have 3 really cool pieces that are coming into the final stages of completion.
 None are at a photo worthy stage just yet, so I figured that I would throw out what has been completed.
First is a bench that was done as a last minute birthday gift.
 Her friend came down to the shop to see if we had any pieces for sale, which we did have a few pieces, just that they were all too big, or too heavy, or just not accommodating to ones space.
 So within 24 hours, we had whipped up a bench to match a dining table that we had made a couple of months ago for the birthday recipient.
 Next was supposed to be a rack to hold our welding helmets, but my brother-in-law was asking me where he could find something to hang his cameras. Truth be told, our welding helmets would never get hung up. When we're done welding, we rip our helmets off and set em' down where ever we happen to be standing, and that's where they stay until we weld again. So, I figured it would do him more good than us.
 This weekend, we took a short drive out to Indiana.
It was a nice day, and we thought it would break up the usual routine.
 We hit up Whole Foods and Meijer's and knocked out grocery shopping for the week, had a nice lunch outside and on our way back, Laura wanted to stop at Wal-mart, and luckily for me, there was a Cabela's right next door.
 I've only been inside a Cabela's once before, maybe 10 years ago, and I thought my son would get a kick out of the aquarium that they have inside.
 The store was packed and Max asked me what was going on, to which I replied "deer season just started".
He couldn't wrap his brain around why people would want to blow Bambi's fucking brains out, and to be completely honest...neither can I.
 I fumbled through sugar coating an explanation, and we proceeded to look at all the cool shit the store has.
We made our way upstairs and into the gun section.
 This isn't going to be an open forum  about gun pro's and cons, I just wanted to put that disclaimer out there before anyone reads any further. I honestly give zero fucks about ones opinion on the subject either for or against. I have my opinion on it and I like to keep it to myself, because I believe it is a very personal preference.
 To make a long story short...I ended up buying a pellet gun for me and the boy.
I had grand plans of bonding with my son over gun safety lessons and shooting cans in the yard, until momma picked us up in front of Cabela's, and she asked "what's in the bag?".
 Her tone made ME a 6 year old standing along side MY 6 year old, as I shuffled my feet and stuttered out "uh,uh,uh, a PLASTIC pellet, eh,uh...gun".
  Let's just say that it was a long ride home.
I pleaded my case by stating that me, my brother and sister spent our summers shooting cans with a bb gun up in Wisconsin. How we learned to respect the gun, and each other all while having the time of our young lives. How responsible gun owners aren't the ones in the headlines, and blah-blah-blah.
 It all fell on deaf ears, because when momma puts her foot down...that shit is down.
I....against all my good intentions, have to honor momma's wish's.
 The good thing about getting older is that I know when to just shut the fuck up and move along.
We got to the house, and as me and Max were carrying the groceries in, my 6 year old looks me dead in the eye and says "how did you NOT see that coming?"
 I just shrugged, and thought to myself "that is precisely WHY I think this boy could handle the responsibility of a pellet gun."
 I was putting the pellet gun in a high cabinet when my boy came to console me. He put his little hand on the small of my back and said "maybe when I'm older." then got down to his underwear, grabbed his ninja turtles, and proceeded to orchestrate an epic battle of good vs. evil.

Monday, September 12, 2016

WHO THE HELL HAS "FREE TIME"?



To say we've been busy is a gigantic understatement.
 It seems like at least one day out of the week, we hop in the 73' mighty whitey and hunt and gather as much of our materials as we can for the week.
 A day dedicated to nothing but loading and unloading materials makes you think that a life spent asking "would you like fries with that?" wouldn't be all that bad.
 The up side is that once you have everything you need, you spend the rest of the week guzzling coffee, listening to bad 80's metal, and getting shit done.
 The first photo is...well, honestly I don't know what the fuck it is. It's a "thing".
This "thing" is meant to hold foliage around an existing light fixture.
 When we were first approached by the wonderful woman who requested it, we weren't so much concerned with what it would do, we were concerned with HOW to do it.
 We made  a form, bent some 2"X3/16" steel around the form, drilled 55 holes in it and bolted 55 blocks to it. The client...LOVED it...and then requested 12 more. 12 more translates to to cutting over 600 blocks, drilling over 600 holes in the blocks, then drilling over 600 holes in 3/16" thick steel, and then applying over 600 nuts and bolts to attach the over 600 blocks.
 It's a lot....we've become masters at having fun doing the most mundane shit a human could do. It's really a self defense mechanism, because I truly believe that it is possible to be bored to literal...death.
 They're going to be rad for her event, and she is a very creative client, so I look forward to more interesting projects in the future.
 Next up is a solid steel and reclaimed wood kitchen island/work table for our favorite catering client.
It's kinda cut and dry, but one of the cool things about it is that we made an 1/8" thick steel top appear to be a 5/8" thick steel slab.
 That being said, it looks a lot beefier than it actually is, and not that it isn't beefy, because we don't have a reputation for making pieces that are easily transportable.
 Lastly is a wine display.
There are a lot of people out there doing stuff like us, and not to go tootin' our own horn, but we just happen to do it fuckin' better.
 A lot of the "reclaimed" or "industrial" stuff you see in the big box stores is made in Indonesia.
It's made by children, making barley a wage, with the shittiest deforestation materials that can be found, and done so under subhuman working conditions.
 The retail mark up on said "shit" is around 300%.
So, that explains to you exactly why that really cool "reclaimed" dining table that you and 250000 other people bought, was only $149.00.
 I had to go there because on more than one occasion people have commented on our pricing.
I'm going to set the fucking record straight once and for all, because I've addressed this in the past, and it's just getting old.
 We're not expensive..for what we do and what you get. In fact, we're under priced compared to just about any and every custom builder.
 Not only are we less expensive, in 99.9% of lead times for completion of a project given by other builders, our lead times are 50% if not more...less.
 I don't want to sound like a fucking commercial, but it's gotten to the point where it's offensive when people kick us in the balls over price.
 You think we're too expensive? Well we think you have Champagne taste with a 40oz. budget, so go on now...run along.
 We spent the first part of our career eating shit because when you first start out in anything, be prepared for that big ol' shit sandwich, cause that's breakfast, lunch and dinner for you for awhile.
 There comes a time, when your dues have been paid, and as you grow, your overhead grows, and when your overhead grows, your prices compensate.
 It's not about our prices, it's about people...some people, not everyone.
We recently had a person request something with a laughable budget. It was totally fine and NOT insulting, because they were going to ALLOW us to build it with our SCRAP material, and we could do it in our FREE time.
 Bitch allow me to explain...
1. there is no "scrap" material in our shop. At some point we use every piece of material in our shop for something.
2. I can't speak for Zack, but I haven't had "free time" since 2009. I can't take a shit without some kid kicking in the bathroom door like a fuckin' cop on a drug bust, demanding grape juice.
3. There is nothing "FREE" especially our time.
 Our "FREE TIME" to you, is actually "FUCK YOU PAY ME TIME" for us.
What people don't understand is...our time is what we fucking sell.
Yeah, we make tangible things, and these things have a value, and that value is determined by TIME and material. The material costs what it costs, but our TIME...THAT is where your real cost comes in.
 Well I know a lot of you look forward to my tirades., and some people are probably offended by my use of the English language, but I'm very passionate about my work. When I get worked up and start cursing like crazy, it's because I'm not only stating MY convictions, I'm trying to hammer shit into your head as well.
 There are 3 reoccurring points that I'm usually trying to embed in your head...
1.Be fearless
2. Take pride in your craft
3. know your worth
Now go kick ass.

Monday, August 29, 2016

GET IN THE PIT!


After the first round of suitcase bottle service trays were done, me and Zack were shootin' the shit and talking about doing wood LED light bulbs.
 We often converse about all the things we WANT to do or try, but sometimes the business of being in business has other plans for us.
 Many ideas get shelved all with the intention of getting around to them when time permits.
I needed a gift.
 I hate buying gifts, when I can make a gift.
There was a chain lamp that I had stolen the lamp parts off to make another lamp. That bare chain lamp base had been sitting around the shop for months, so I thought it was time to put Humpty Dumpty back together and bestow my wonderful gift.
 I cleaned it up, welded some new pieces to the base, and gave it a finish coat.
It sat by the coffee pot waiting to receive the parts that actually make it a lamp. I left work on Friday, jumped in the shower, and Zack had sent me photos of the wooden light bulb that he created.
I had built that wood light bulb in my head a thousand different ways since our conversation, and was so blown away by how Zack knocked it out.
 It's just the beginning.
When ideas get executed, it's kind of like a first date. Everything is as exciting as it is awkward, but through repetition, and modifying, it just keeps getting better, more refined, more streamlined.
 The fact that we can create cool lighting without the need for an outlet is an exciting prospect.
We spend our summers in our yard, and when night falls, the ability to just plop a lamp on the table and be able to see those seated around while the kids chase lightning bugs is exciting.
 We are refinishing table tops for a restaurant in Chicago.
We were about to load up a finished batch and install them. Zack was pulling up the truck and I stupidly swung one up on my shoulder to carry out and in the process managed to rip my lower back muscle from my pelvis.
 It's not the first time that I've managed to fuck myself up, and surely won't be the last.
The thing that got into my head was a lot responses to my injury we're "ya gotta be careful...you're getting old" or "the old gray mare she ain't what she used to be" and many other age related digs.
 Fuck that,
I'm 44. I'm probably the healthiest I've ever been, I'm probably in the best physical shape I've ever been in.
 I didn't hurt my back because I'm old, I hurt it because I was stupid.
I used the "Family Guy" method of lifting that table top by doing so with a "sharp jerking motion".
 I know a lot of people who use their age as an excuse to not do this or that.
My father-in-law is 83 and STILL slinging sheets of 3/4 plywood. My brother-in-law is chasing 50 and is still jumping around stage in a hardcore band. My 72 year old mother climbed a rock climbing wall at my kids birthday party.
 I still went to the shop Saturday morning, I still threw over 200 pitches to my son and my nephew...Now granted everything I did was done a bit slower, and let's not overlook the fact that I've been eating Advil like a kid eats fuckin' Skittles, but I didn't, not for one second, lay around feeling sorry for myself.
 The thing about aging isn't so much about what you "CAN'T" do, it's about what you shouldn't do.
I shouldn't go to a RAVE (cause then you're the creepy old guy), I shouldn't go into a SlipKnot mosh pit (not because I can't mosh, but because the younger generation doesn't know how to act in a pit). To be honest, I can't think of a whole lot of things that I did when I was younger, that I shouldn't do now, and things that are a little sketchy...now I just do em' with way more style and grace.
 We're all gonna age. It's inevitable.
How you choose to age is entirely up to you.
 Do you wanna sit around and complain about your ailments? Do you wanna watch your kids go flying down a water slide while you stand there rubbing your belly? Do you think you're too old to dream? Do you think you're too old to chase your dream?
 That shit is on you.
I simply choose differently.




Monday, August 22, 2016

TAKE NO SHIT



I can honestly say that it feels like it's been a little while since I felt really fulfilled by a build.
 We constantly are building, but from time to time you work on a piece that makes you feel good.
The bed build was great because we have always wanted to build a bed. Shit, I need a bed, Zack needs a bed, everyone seems to NEED a bed, but finally, someone put some cash in our hand and said "build me  fuckin' bed!".
While our minds were building some of the craziest beds one would ever lay their big fat asses on, our client gave us some photos of what they desired. Even though we had a creative leash on, because the customer should get something in the realm of what THEY want as opposed to what WE dream up, it was fun as hell to make.
 Now that our bed making cherry has been officially popped, hopefully there will be a long line of funky beds going out the door.
 It's funny because as you watch the stain dry, you stare at this monster in the middle of the shop thinking of all the things you want to do on the next one.
 The last photo are vintage suitcases turned into bottle service caddy's  for a bar/night club in Chicago.
They first came to us about a year ago and had us turn a vintage piano into a DJ booth.
 God bless Zack's fuckin' soul for having some magical gene in his DNA that enables him to master all things electrical and mechanical.
 He spent countless hours soldering tiny wires to these LED strips and battery packs in order to make these things light up like the Ark of the Covenant in that Indiana Jones movie.
 The customer had picked them up on Friday, and on Sunday morning I got a text from the owner saying that they needed 5 more.
 My not so little guy starts first grade tomorrow.
First grade for kids is a pretty big milestone, for us parents, it's just another level of heart break.
 When my son was a baby, all he did is cry and shit for the first year and a half of his existence.
Seasoned parents would always tell me "hold on to those moments when their babies, they grow up so fast."
 Um, I never figured out which moments they were talking about. Was it the 12 hours of "moments" at a time where he'd basically scream in my face? Was it the moments of projectile vomit that would decorate my shirts? Was it the alarming amount of fecal matter that I would have to handle in any given 24 hour period?
 The only reason I don't suppress those memories, is so that I can use them as a weapon. I often remind him how the day HIS hands are covered in MY shit, THEN and only then, does he get to call the shots.
 I'll start my moment cherishing at the age of 2 and beyond.
At 2 he's walking and talking and discovering everything, and not to mention that at that age, I am a fucking GOD in his little eyes.
 What I have done over the last 6 years is created another "ME".
Not so much the shitty parts of "me", but a more handsome, loving, caring and funny version of me.
 The other day Max is sitting in his underwear playing a game and his mom is going on about how we didn't stay to see his cousin get his trophy for soccer, and how no one told us he was getting his trophy and how she felt horrible and so on and so on, and Max looks up from his game and says "a closed mouth doesn't get fed" and went right back to his crossy road game and completely shut down the tirade...just like his old man would.
 Now...first grade. Shit gets real in first grade. He has a uniform now, no naps, a more diverse classroom. I'm going to be spending more time de-programming him from the things our society deems as an educational system.
 There are many nights when Max will fall asleep in my arms and I will beg the gods and the universe to let my son stay 4 forever. The gods and the universe gently whisper in my ear "go fuck yourself...time waits for no one."
 Leave it to the gods and the universe to state the obvious.
The last few years I have made an extremely conscious effort to REALLY enjoy my son. By doing so, it seems to have lightened the heart ache of a child, my child, my baby...growing up.
 Off to school you go young man. Take no shit, question everything, and remember...yer old man has ALWAYS got yer back.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

GETTING RIGHT



I really had no intention of posting this week.
 With this whole blogging thing it's been a little more enjoyable for me to post every other week as opposed to my previous weekly tirades.
 To bitch about the wrongs of the world on a weekly basis while trying to showcase cool shit me and my partner make, has never been a simple task.
 Every now and then, something compels me. When that happens, I have to get it off my chest in order to proceed with my life.
 In this instance, I have been compelled.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, I'll skim over a few furniture happenings.
 A couple of my girls relatives came from Uruguay to visit. In case you don't know where Uruguay is, it's at the southern tip of South America, which explains why they only come once every 10 years.
 While her cousin was at our house, she fell in love with a wall vase I had made for the back of our door. I gave it to her so she could have a piece of our life, and it's way better than bringing back a t-shirt that says "Chicago" on it.
I was so used to that wall vase being there so I made a new one to replace it.
 The next photo was a coffee table we had made for a friend about a year ago.
I never got a photo before it went out the door and to be honest, completely forgot about it.
 They wanted a bed made, so we went to go measure for it, and saw it in their living room. It was weird. It was like seeing an old friend. Sometimes shit goes out the door and you never see where it was meant to be.
 A couple years ago, I made some Breclaimed t-shirts.
A bunch of people ordered them, but I got a message from a woman who's husbands birthday was coming up and she wanted to get him one because in some way, shape, or form my blogs inspired or motivated him.
 This couple was going through some serious life shit and she honestly could not afford to get it for him.
I sent it anyway.
 She had promised to pay me when they got back on their feet, and to be honest, I didn't care about getting paid, nor did I ever expect to get the message I received...2 years later.
I copied and pasted the message as well as my response.


Hi Brian, it's been a very long time since one of us has written!  To get right to the point, Rich and I are finally in a point in our lives where we are able to "make good" on previous debts. I know it may not sound like much to you and hey.... You may have even forgotten, but we didn't.   Every single time Rich wears the shirt you sent him number one it reminds ME of how you were there for him years ago when he needed a friend to talk to desperately and number 2-I think.. (This is just how I'm wired)...."oh shit...I owe Brian money for that shirt still"!!!  I saw your PayPal address above and wanted to make sure you still use it before I make the transaction. I know a lot of people after a couple of years would say "fuck it... water under the bridge".. but it me/us, it's really really important to pay back those I owe.... (And I can finally look at him wearing the shirt and think "wow!! That's a mighty fine t shirt you have on there, Rich"!! 😉. So please... Without trying to talk me out of it, let me know if that is still the address you are using on PayPal!  Thank you!! And BTW.... your little guy isn't so little anymore!!! He's getting so big and is absolutely adorable!!! Take care!

My response:

THU 3:10PM
That shirt was a gift to good people on the road to getting right. Buy your kids an ice cream and tell em there's still good in the world.

By stating "there's still good in the world", I wasn't referring to what I did by sending a free t-shirt, I was referring to what this couple had done.
 They had gotten themselves into a hole. They fought to claw their way out. Once they climbed out of that dark hole, they went on a mission to make right with anyone who they may have dragged down with them.
 THAT, in my book, is some stand up shit.
They took responsibility for what they realize they got themselves into, made the changes to get right, and then went to great lengths to make amends to the people in and not so in their lives.
While the majority of the time humanity makes me want to projectile vomit, every now and then it makes me smile.
 I come from Chicago. A place where the murder rate on a daily basis is starting to rival an episode of the Walking Dead.
My view of the world is askew.
 I've been all over the world, I've lived in a couple of different states, I know my present location isn't a catalyst for the rest of the world.
 It's situations like this that give me hope though.
Kindness goes a long way. Even the smallest act can change someones situation.
 Throw some kindness around, it doesn't cost you anything.

Monday, August 8, 2016

COOLSHITOLOGIST




The top photo appears to depict a cluttered shop, but what I was trying to capture was the 5 farm tables in various stages of completion.
 It's kind of a bummer on production pieces, because the first one...you feel pretty good about. Everything fits, everything is good, you did a really good job...now do exactly what you did four more times.
 Next up was a dining table for a friend of ours.
Building stuff for friends and family is a little different.
 Our heart goes into everything we make, but when a piece is for friends and family, the build comes from a different neighborhood in our heart. There's also a little more freedom to the build, we can let loose a bit, and enjoy a build with no concrete deadline or pressure.
 The shelving unit is for the same friend.
It was fun delivering these 2 pieces because after a few short minutes of bringing these pieces into their space, you got to see what was ones "space" become ones "home".
 The last photo is a vintage suitcase circa 1930, transformed into a bottle service display.
The client and their "mixologist" came up with the idea as a selling point for their bottle service.
 I have to stop right there because the term "mixologist" was tossed around in every conversation we had with the client. Every time he said "mixologist" I wanted to say "bartender?".
 Man I get it. I, of all people, understand being fully immersed in your craft. I eat, sleep, shit, fuck, breathe my craft, but I am by no means a "woodologist" or a "steelologist".
 I don't think any more or less of someone the gives themselves a special title for a job that they execute well, in fact my "sandwichologist' made a wonderful comparison with "Barista" and "coffee maker".
 I'm convinced that the birth of the term "mixologist" went down something like this...
There was a bartender hitting on a pretty woman sitting at his bar. He's loading her up with free fancy drinks, and putting on a Broadway worthy show, in the hopes of getting in her pants. As closing time approaches the bartender asks the woman to come home with him and the woman says "I'm not going to fuck a bartender" and just like that,,,,the term "mixologist" was born.
 Are you defined by your job? Should you be?
I wouldn't say I'm defined by my job as much as I would say that I'm consumed by my job.
Consumed in the sense that I'm always thinking about how I can do better, be better, build better. I constantly think about how to reel in my emotions when building. That last statement is the most difficult because when I'm excited about a piece, I tend to rush because I want to see it completed. When I do a job I don't like, I tend to cut corners or slop my way through something only to have it bite me in the ass later.
 I've only discovered my emotional pitfalls because I'm consumed by my work. That's the shit I think about when I'm laying in bed staring at the ceiling.
 A title can't encompass me. I'm much more than a "coolshitologist". I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a friend, I'm a lover, I'm a sherpa, I'm an artist, I'm a musician, I'm a writer, but all these facets of me lead back to my work.
 Maybe I am defined by my work. Maybe I should be.

Monday, July 25, 2016

HANDLE YOUR SHIT



Before I left on my camping trip, we had a project to wrap up.
 It was a fairly easy project consisting of a bar height long table and some stage/seating.
The steel arrow towel rack was a result from me sitting on my toilet looking at the back of my bathroom door and realizing that we have a rack that holds 2 towels while there are 3 of us living here.
 Truth be told, I don't want my son drying his face with a towel that I dry my balls with.
I send him to private school, feed him organic food, keep him dressed well, and ensure his toy collection is on point, yet allow him to use a towel that has visited my ass crack? Well, that doesn't make any sense.
 I had no idea what I was going to make when I got to the shop, but I had to make something interesting to a 6 year old so that he would actually use it, otherwise the 3rd towel would live on the floor.
 Sometimes you need to step back, take a moment, and just make shit right.
The front brakes on my truck were wonky....for almost a year. Every time I got in my truck I cringed when I had to apply the brakes...for a year. What a dumb ass way to start my day. I made every excuse in the world to not get them fixed up until the week before I was going to drive across state lines to go camping.
It took a total of 2.5 hours to get them fixed and free my mind.
 These 2 little scenarios prompted a massive change in my life.
Handle your shit. Don't talk about it, don't bitch about it, don't avoid it, just handle YOUR shit.
 It's a rewarding experience, and your life becomes less cluttered.
For me, less brain clutter means more room for creativity and a better opportunity to be in your moments.
 It's kind of like the way we build at the shop. We usually start with the hard shit just to get it out of the way so that the journey to completion is a pleasant one.
 In my earlier blog posts I had talked about overcoming fears. I can attest that winning my battle over fear has changed my life. I see the potential for positive change in this new battle of handling shit as it comes up instead of running from it.
 We're all damaged goods, some more than others, but in my opinion, if I can acknowledge problems within myself, then I can damn sure fix those problems.
 If you came to me and said "damn, this heroin addiction is causing me some real problems", well, we can now cross off all the things that you blame your woes on regularly, such as, my wife, my job, my kids, my car, property taxes, the weather etc. We can ascertain that all the things that you feel are dragging you down most likely aren't the problem because you were able to recognize that heroin was your problem...so you should probably start by fixing that.
 Probably not the greatest of analogies, but you get my point.
I will now present a analogy to you on how by changing your perspective, this new battle becomes easier...
Every day I come home from the shop, go in the fridge, grab a bottle of Virgils orange dreamsickle soda, go out on the back porch, kick off my boots, and stare at a bag of garbage that needs to be taken to the trash can. I have spent years cursing that bag of garbage, asking the universe "why do I have to take this bag of garbage to the can every goddamn day of my life?!" Until it dawned on me....that's just what the fuck you have to do. It's a part of your day like wiping your ass or drinking water. You are a family of 3, you are going to produce at least a bag of garbage a day, and you will take that bag and place it in the receptacle until the day you fuckin die. And just like that, it's no longer a big deal, or a subject to bitch about.
 Recognize it, accept it, fix it, and move on.
The formula works.

Monday, July 11, 2016

CLIMBING OUT OF THE SHIT HOLE



We recently had a company contract us to build them a rolling rustic bar.
 We knocked one out for them and they loved it. The day after it was delivered, I got an email from them asking if we could make another one, but they would like it to fold up. Um...sure we can...I think.
 A lot of you that read my blog or follow our work are pretty versed in the fact that we mostly make big, ridiculously heavy pieces. That's what we like, that's what we do, it's kind of a take it or leave it mentality on our part.
 Why the fuck not try to go off the reservation? Lighter, mobile, efficient...those are 3 words that never appear in our mission statement, so yeah...let's do it.
 Zack murdered the engineering of the hinges.
We spent a good amount of time asking GOOGLE to figure it out for us, instead GOOGLE failed us.
You couldn't use a regular old hinge because the middle shelf folds down, so the sides need to pop out a bit when folding in.
 Zack modified some regular hinges to accommodate our clearance requirement.
It was refreshing to work on a piece that was going to be trial and error. Even more refreshing is the fact that it worked, and worked well.
 Travel into the unknown, get out of your comfort zone, and it's easy to discover that you're bigger than you thought you were.
 We don't get to work outside of the box as much as we used to or as much as we'd like to. We do the work presented to us.
 My high from this folding bar was cut short after watching a video on my phone, of a police officer murdering a restrained man.
 I can't speculate on the reason, or the cause, or any justifications for that murder. All I know is what I saw and what I saw was a murder.
 I was disturbed that I could watch a snuff film on my phone.
We have become so desensitized to murder, that I can watch a video of a man take a barrage of bullets in his chest at point blank range, and then proceed to eat my sandwich and banana.
 We are a nation in constant division that has been crippled by greed.
If you look at our entire society, it's just one big constant argument.
 Here's an example...let's say a video surfaces of a child getting eaten by an alligator.
That would be a horrible, tragic event to take place. The loss of a young life. We can all agree on that right?
 Instead of it being a horrible tragic event, we're gonna go into all the facts that take away from a young childs life being cut short. We're gonna ask....where were the parents? Did the alligator have a history of eating children? Did you know the father recently farted on a bus? We should ban all alligators from the water. Alligator proof swim suits are now mandated for children under 4.
 All that bullshit and not one of us, myself included, can tell you that childs name.
I know that Alton guys name though, ya know why????
 He's no longer a man that got murdered...he's a fucking Hashtag.
How sick of a society have we become?
 How easily distracted have we become?
 How utterly calloused have we become to the loss of human life.
We LOVE and LONG to be divided.
 Black-white, gay-straight, legal-illegal, right wing-left wing, we beg to be divided like a little bird that begs it's mother to vomit food into it's mouth
 While we're all so busy justifying our race, or sexual orientation, or trying to figure out which bathroom to take a shit in, we have 2 diabolical people neck and neck to run our failing country, our water supply is being poisoned, our food supply is being poisoned, people are being taxed out of their homes, mayors are covering up murders to get elected, schools are being closed in shitty neighborhoods while new ones are being built in wealthy areas and the list goes on.
 While we're being divided and distracted, THEY are disassembling our humanity.
Friday night Max plays soccer.
 The soccer games are held in a beautiful park that is back dropped by the Chicago skyline.
We were sitting on a blanket in the grass, Max's game was over and we were staying to watch his cousins game.
 We had a pizza delivered to the park, and the scene was the most beautiful thing I've seen, Children playing, a cool breeze, beautiful sun setting, parents chatting, vendors selling happiness on a stick, and the soundtrack was the laughter of children.
 For a brief moment, I had hope for humanity.
The scene at this park was out of a movie but it was very fucking real.
 Right here, right now everyone in this park is fucking happy (except for that little girl who just ate shit on her bike, but she's gonna be allright).
 So, it is possible, there is hope.
  The truth is...Max kinda sucks at soccer, but on Tuesday and Friday's, everything is RIGHT with the world...for a few hours.
 I want RIGHT with the world. I want it for me, for my kid, for you.
I want it for cops, for blacks, for whites, for gay people, for alligators, for illegals, for Muslims.
 It all stems from us.
How are we going to navigate a conversation, how are we going to accept and embrace our differences, how are we going to stand united in the face of evil, how are we going to help our fellow man even when we don't profit from it, how are we going to agree to disagree, how are we going to refuse to be distracted and focus on what's real and what's right, and the big question is...how are we going to re discover exactly what RIGHT is?
 My answer is...baby steps.
Make little changes in yourself, and pray those changes spread like wildfire.
 Embrace what makes you happy and share it.
If we haven't bottomed out yet, let's put the brakes on and begin our ascent out of this shit hole that we've all had a hand in digging.

Monday, June 27, 2016

RIDING SHOTGUN IN THE CRAZY CAR


 We banged out another piece for what we should call our "NINE INCH NAILS" line.
These pieces are a lot of fun to play with.
 Not many homes yield any all steel furniture. It would definitely call for a certain kind of living space, but that's kinda the point. We'll switch it up once West Elm or Restoration Hardware start doing it, but until then, we'll keep perfecting these pieces.
We spent the week doing a bunch of bullshit work. Refinishing/repairing 25 event tables offsite.
 It was pretty miserable. Not a lot of fun to be had, but rent is due, so we DO.
We wrapped it up early Saturday morning and Zack had mentioned a street fair/art fair by his house in Logan Square.
 For those of you that don't know about Chicago. Logan Square, not so long ago, was a shit hole.
Gang/junkie ridden area of Chicago that if you weren't in a gang, or going to buy drugs, you pretty much avoided.
 Well thanks to the beauty of gentrification, Logan Square is now the beard, tattoo'd woman, hipster mom, indy rock asshole capital of Chicago.
 I hadn't been to Logan Square for any length of time since the early 90's.
The last time I was there, I was walking back to the train station after going to some punk rock show one night and I was surrounded by about 8 to 10 Spanish Disciples (one of Chicago's wonderful gang offerings).
 I was a kid. A white kid. A white kid with a mohawk who was on the brink of most likely getting beaten to death on a poorly lit residential street.
 I was doing a really shitty job of talking my way out of that ass beating, when this guy pulls up in a car.
I knew this guy was pretty high ranking amongst them by the way that they parted like the red sea when he exited the car to most likely...kill me.
 I think I had my eyes closed, awaiting the impact, when the big dog says "what you doin' here bitch?"
I opened my eyes, and said "holy shit...Eddy? Eddy Munoz???"
 I went to school with Eddy. Eddy hugged me and said "B! what cho' been up to fool?!"
The shit that was about to end up in my pants had made it's way back into my lower intestine at that moment.
 We chatted a bit as the Spanish Disciples escorted me to the train station. I received an escort because according to them, Latin Kings had been shooting up the block earlier.
 Came to find out that not long after my reunion with Eddy, he was shot and killed.
Me and Max were taking the train to Logan Square to meet up with Zack and his wife, to check out the art fair.
 Max loves taking the train places, and I love that he's learning how to navigate the city.
While on the train, and pretty much the whole evening I couldn't stop thinking about how I can't save my son from a world gone apparently mad.
 Every person on the train had their faces buried in their phones, except the crazy guy who kept waving and making faces at my son. We get off one train to switch to another and are accosted by homeless people begging for change. We change trains downtown and there are quite a few obvious tourists and I don't even see them as "people" I see them as soon to be "victims".
 You can actually SEE the shit birds downtown stalking these tourists like a vulture would a dying calf.
I want to enjoy the evening with my son, but I can't suppress the overwhelming feeling of wanting to get home, pack up, and move him some place SAFE.
 Some place he can be a kid. A place where he doesn't have to navigate homeless beggars, or junkies, or self absorbed assholes. A place where we don't have to be able to differentiate gun shots from fireworks and their proximity to us.
 Crazy, self absorbed, rude, and just plain mean have become acceptable behavior.
I made a disturbing discovery about myself on our urban journey.
 As much as the world has seemingly gone animalistic, I too have become an animal.
I travel the city with my son prepared to KILL anyone that threatens us.
 I carry no thoughts of repercussions or consequences. I exit our home prepared for battle.
When the fuck did THAT happen?
 Why is that even a thought?
I'm just going to a stupid art fair and I'm prepared to kill for my son.
 I have gone mad along with the rest of the world.
Maybe it's not the rest of the world. Maybe it's just the city.
 If that's the case, then maybe it's time to leave the city.
I've lived in other places and other places aren't like it is here. Sure they had their issues, but nothing like here.
 I remember a time when I would have read a news report in disbelief, that spoke of a woman being stabbed and her throat slit at a train station. Now? I read the headline and think to myself "that sucks" and proceed to check AIR BNB for a Michigan rental.
 Not so long ago, maybe just a couple of years ago, I wasn't so calloused.
I remember reading a story of a little Jewish boy who was abducted and chopped up in tiny pieces in Brooklyn.
 I sat at my laptop and wept.
I cried for that little boy as if my tears would have put him back together.
 Now? I probably would not have the same reaction, and I think that's fucked up.
As much as I speak of humanity and the lack thereof...I too have lost mine.
 Happy Monday!