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How do you build a clientele from the ground up?

You start by getting your information into the hands of everyone possible.

Coffeeshops, Home Improvement Stores, Black Tie Functions: you too can print this out and pin it up.

[Hint: click on the image for the full sized flyer to print. Cut along the black lines for the hang tags. And when you pin it up, don’t forget to remove one.]


Happy Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah from Damn These Metal Hands!

Two new “Welcome” mats from my Los Angeles based design studio, Damn These Metal Hands!

Damn These Metal Hands!

The Curmudgeon Model

Damn These Metal Hands!

The Realist Model

It is the eternal stance of the “progressive” or “reformer” that there are always conditions to be improved. I believe this. There is always criticism to be levied of our shortcomings on all levels. All critics are optimistic – even if only secretly. And the object of critique is the object of a sober and guarded love: critique is in the name of raising standards and improving the object of critique.

But there is a danger lurking in this stridency, and within all realms of critique. The danger is that in our eagerness to improve the quality of the things around us – from the broadest geopolitics to the smallest details of everyday life – that we become mired in negativism.

Sarcasm, facetiousness, cynicism, curmudgeonry, misanthropy, acerbity, biliousness, and mocking are all great in my book. There’s nothing like some piss-taking to help you through the tough times and temper your mania in the high times. But excepting the British Isles, where it is the basis of all social interaction, most people simply don’t even get irony.

To level things out and to start a general discussion, today I set aside the negative side of critique and focus on the other side of qualitative study: positivity. Here is an examination of some things that I love. This love is not necessarily untempered or unbounded, but it is certainly without irony.

Art Music:

This amalgam of genres from the late 19th Century to today test all the processes of musical production and performance: the limits of the notation of music, the role of beauty, what constitutes an instrument, the role of the performer and the listener, etc. From pushing the envelope of convention with Stravinsky to the musical studies of bird-calls by Messiaen, I love art music. From the extended technique of Crumb to the mathematical notations of Xenakis, I love art music. From the stochastics of Eno to the minimalism of Glass, I love art music.

Once I had gone down the rabbit hole of this music, once I had braved its inverse siren’s call and found the awe-inspiring nuance, variation, and reward of listening to it, I could never hear popular music the same way again. The rivalries that rage around pop-rock bands and the idiomatic limitations of every genre of popular music are embarrassing in their lack of dignity. But inversely, the hidden genius of even the least self-aware and idiomatically narrow music – Bluegrass or English Liturgical music for example – can be breathtaking.

USC Football:

For all its flaws, I loved the architecture school at the University of Southern California. But I didn’t think much of the university, and am not one who goes in for “School Spirit.” When I was there, I couldn’t care less about the college’s sports. The gap between the “jocks” and the “geeks” was just too large. Football games were what caused the boos and cheers I could hear from a couple blocks away at my customary Saturday afternoon shift at the School of Fine Arts Photography Lab.

After school, I went back to my hometown of Cincinnati for a few years. Cincinnati produces far more architecture graduates than it needs, and is an export market for architectural talent, so for a long time I couldn’t find a job in an architecture office.

But a strange thing happened. Even after I ran from LA as fast as I could, I was suffering a reverse culture-shock. I missed the damn place.

Well, the USC School of Architecture may not have been on television every Saturday evening, but the resurgent USC Trojans Football Team sure was. So, as a tether back to all the things I missed about Los Angeles, USC Football became my wire mother.

From 2003-2005, I watched Misters Carroll, Leinart, Tatupu, Jackson, White (another who shall remain nameless), et al put together an historic era in college football history. All from 2,100 miles away. It inspired pride, awe, and a previously lacking competitiveness in me.

I have no interest in professional sports. And all the corruption, cheating, and appallingly poor behavior that has always been part of college football at every level from my beloved Trojans downward – which seemed to be backburnered there for a few halcyon years that exactly coincided with USC’s dominance – is being aired as I write. But come what may, I now respect the part that college athletics – yes, even football – play in the healthy life of a serious and respectable academic university. The football team was talismanic to me in a pivotal time in my life. I doubt I’m the only person for whom this is true. And because of this, come what may I am loyal to the USC Trojans.

Next Up: Things A Critic Actually Likes – 2 of 2: Bicycles, The BBC, and Early Modernist and Constructivist Architecture.

[The multi-part article on Steampunk and Salvagepunk will continue soon after it gets beaten into submission and held at bay from turning manic and book length.]

[originally posted here]

Maggie Gallagher, the chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage, said court challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act showed that gay rights advocates “continue to push a primarily court-based strategy of, in our view, inventing rights that neither the founders nor the majority of Americans can recognize in our Constitution.”


I don’t see a specification of rights by gender anywhere in the whole constitution. Where does the government gain the right to bar persons of any gender from entering into a contract with a person of the same – or any other – gender?

[In which I define nor refer to neither Steampunk nor Salvagepunk, but rather only build a universe in which these things can exist, let alone have significance.]

I am not trained in philosophy. So I apologize in advance for any leaps, inconsistencies, or imprecisions which follow. On to the drivel.

The past occupies a central space in the formulation of identity. This is true of every single individual’s psyche. But let’s look at the portion of this phenomenon called “history.”

All of the mental projections which form identity require extension. That which is must have been. And that which is will “be.” Via perception of interior and exterior, we extend perception itself into sentience. Perception of the passage of time over this newly formed individual is extended into coherence. Only through their perception of time can the individual be said to exist in time.

Then given time to look around, perception of the individual’s own constituent parts, and of other figures constructed of those same parts leads to the assumption of the existence of other individuals. The assumption that our experience of individuality and the passage of time have commonality with those of the others establishes a “normal” state. And thus we identify ourselves as individuals within a collective whole.

Thus “history” is the very recent mental tool that allows us to formulate patterns from our perception of disparate events. These provide what satisfies us as coherence, providing to chronology and causality a stability of extension that allows us to contextualize ourselves – individually and collectively – within chronology.

This is all foundation to consider the formulation of a cultural identity as pertains to technology. Let me paraphrase McLuhan’s view that the entire history of human development is the shaping of tools, which then shape us. History itself is merely a “tool.” And after inventing it, we are shaped by it. The forthcoming installments of this article should be read with the grain of salt to be wary of historical narratives of technology.

Here we are in what we call the “present,” looking into the “past” and thus to the “future.” Since the past has been cohered into a narrative, it is generally considered factual. The events upon which this history is founded may distinguish themselves from fancy or lies by having actually happened. So any alternate narratives are considered “fictional,” due to the unfortunate feature not-actually-having-happened. But what is acknowledged as history is in fact as much of a posterior fictional construction as any set of lies or fancy.

Short story long – history is that against which we construct what we call the present, even though history itself is only composed of our perception of the present. So it’s a “lie.” If such a thing could be said to exist. OK – THAT LAST LINE WAS A JOKE.

Next week – the apple pie.


[Cross-posted from The Satellite Show]

Hello everyone,

I’d like to inform everyone that my website is now up to date. Click on the image to go there.


Final PortfolioClick the image to view my the Final Portfolio for the Master’s of Architecture in Architectural Design I completed in 2009-2010 at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London.

You can’t make up Norman Foster‘s story. It is almost unbelievable that someone so powerful and talented is so likable, erudite, and circumspect.

Here he is, charming the world as always, this time on Charlie Rose. Like Peter Eisenman, his reputation is complex, and still should be VERY open to debate, but his work and his legacy is always worth discussion.

There are many standard post-industrial/post-apocalyptic narratives regarding Detroit’s rise, fall, and possible reemergence as something new.

But in his newest journal post, David Byrne talks about Detroit and its failure, which was written into it’s DNA: the more successful the car companies became at forcing their will, politically and in terms of the market, the more possible it was to abandon the city they had built. Logical.

He then posits something I’ve never heard before at all that would have – and still could be – the way forward for rebuilding America’s industrial production…

One wonders, if the federal government mandated that the car companies must build planes and tanks and all sorts of other stuff during the war, why these same companies couldn’t have been similarly diverted from building Hummers and SUVs to building trolleys, urban transport, high-speed trains and other bits of infrastructure we all could all use.”

David Byrne from Don’t Forget The Motor City.”

We could still do it. It would take a lot of bravery from corporations known for their incredible tunnel vision. But now that the model upon which the American automotive industry was built has proven unsustainable, what do they have left? A new generation of SUV’s, with the accompanying wars to keep gas prices low? A new Manifest Destiny – not for territory, but the spoils hidden beneath? The failure of our latest military ambitions have already proven that we’re on serious decline as a superpower: are we just going to keep missing the forest for the trees we’re cutting down to feed the bonfire consuming our influence in the world?

It was surprising and pleasant while in Barcelona to look down as one enters a metro train and see the Bombardier marque on the sill plate. I didn’t know the company until I spent some time as a baggage handler for a large regional airline, which flew exclusively Bombardier regional jets (CRJ). I heard stories of reliability and simplicity – purely anecdotally – from the airline’s mechanics, and they’ve always products with a certain aesthetic pleasantness, so I was quite excited to know that I was on a Bombardier train.

They were not pressed into this by government action – their entry into transportation was a free market decision.

General Electric, who incidentally makes the engines for most if not all of Bombardier’s aircraft, has been in the locomotive industry for a century. In the last couple decades, have repurposed their advanced jet engine turbine knowledge into turbine driven locomotives that are ridiculously efficient.

These are two companies exercising in the free market – so much so that both had financial wings that failed, or all-but, in the credit crunch. LIKE GM HAD.

So the idea of GM following their lead and diversifying their manufactured products is not earth-shattering. They would just be doing similarly to what they did in World War Two and turning car production lines into tank production lines; but only rather than tanks they build commuter rail coaches, and rather than functioning car lines, the one’s that they would be closing instead.

And considering that this is all government work, it would be far more recession proof than the car market. It’s time to consider all options, because the ones we’ve had for the last fifty years are obsolete. And through questioning the nature of policies and industries, we could take our strengths repurpose them in systems and infrastructures that have been sorely neglected.

Maybe the way forward for the whole American “free market” is a new deal with industry, where with systems like this, we make it lucrative to serve the common good.

And speaking as a free market scoundrel, what kind of great business plan would it be for the auto companies to build the newer and better transit systems (public systems, publicly funded) to replace the unsustainable old ones (private transport, privately funded) that they flogged for a hundred years?

They made a mint selling the poison for generations, now they could make another mint selling the antidote.