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.