Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Do I have a problem?  Let me know.  I am in the middle of a hectic time right now.  My wife has a brutal cold and it is spring break so I have the kids to keep happy during this particularly rainy week here in Portland.  Suffice it to say, I am on my toes keeping things in order.  I'm no Nadya Suleman, that's for sure.

There were a few minutes when my angelic neighbor took both of my kids for a play date (Hate that term) to give me a chance to take care of some of the things on my long long list.  There are dishes to do, laundry in every stage, food to cook, stuff to put away, a HUGE yard mess, etc...(not to mention paying work) with about an hour to do it.  I had to choose my task with my poor, sick wife's needs in mind.  To instill confidence in her that the house is in order, is to expediate her healing process by giving her peace of mind.  What is the first thing I do?  I slither like an eel through a keg of oysters down to my basement and draw this picture.  

Is that really the best way to use my time?  I mean, what is that?  It isn't even a real cartoon, it is a plan for a cartoon.   As if someday I am going to go back and do the real cartoon of the guy walking out of the store with the toilet paper.  I am not even sure if anyone thinks it is funny seeing someone walk out of a store with just toilet paper.   Can I garnish this indulgent act with some valuable verbal vegetable?  Is justification attainable?  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

some people have crazy noses

I was in a grocery store with my kids yesterday and Leo said to me:  "Did you see that guy's nose? It went up at the end!"

I was immediately taken by the opportunity to teach a lesson to my 4 year old.  I said, "yes, everybody's nose is different."  trying to downplay any exceptional characteristics this guy's nose might have boasted.  I guess it has been drilled into me by a culture that seems to strive towards becoming a land of grey hermaphrodites, denying any acknowledgement of uniqueness for fear of offending a single individual.  It would make the designer's job a lot easier.  
Anyways, Leo said, "yeah but some people have really crazy noses."

I can't agree more. There are indeed some very crazy noses out there.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brian Paul Beidelman R.I.P

I found out that a childhood friend died today.  He didn't die today, I found out he died, today. He actually died in July.  That is me and he on Santa's lap in NYC Circa 1976.  I am on the right. Our moms were buddies back in '69 in Boulder, Colorado.  That was back when there was only one street light in Boulder at Baseline and Broadway.  At least, that is what I think.  We were kids at the time.  We thought Flagstaff was our mountain and as much as it mattered, it was.

My mom decided to move to NYC in about '75 and her friend from Boulder, Margaret decided to move too.  They were both single moms with a boy each.  Brian and me.  We lived on the same block in Boulder, 6th and Marine.  Anyway, my mom and I moved to the West Village into a little one bedroom rent controlled apartment on w12th and w4th st.  My mom's sister snuck out and we snuck in.  Brian and Margaret moved somewhere  like... East 10th and 1st ave or something like that.  Brian and I were best, if not only, friends.  We got into all kinds of innocent trouble together and I want to let you know that the Violent Femmes and the Talking Heads weren't the only ones tearing up the east Village under Ed Koch's nose.

Brian was diabetic.  I think that is what eventually killed him.  Being diabetic, he was always flush with hypodermics.  I used to get syringes from him to play with.  I know, it sounds weird, but don't let the stigma of the syringe dilute the joys of squirting.   Anyway, I enjoyed playing with the syringes.  Shooting lighter fluid and setting it on fire, squirting invisible streams of water at kids across the classroom...regular stuff.  But I have to say that one of the craziest jokes I have ever played was with my old dead pal Brian Paul Beidelman.  We filled up a few syringes with Tobasco sauce and  injected oranges that were outside the Korean deli. We thought it would be so funny when someone took a big slice of orange and burned their face off with Tobasco sauce.  We prolly injected 20 oranges and went home and laughed.  

I remember one time when I was coming home from his apartment in my Grace Church School uniform (blue Oxford, blue and red striped tie, Penny loafers or maybe Wallabees)).  I got on the 14th st bus heading west from 1st Ave.  I was trying to pull my bus pass out of my pocket when all of the sudden 3 or 4 syringes fell on the floor right in front of these little old ladies in the front few seats.  They were horrified.  I remember picking them up and thinking to myself, "if they only knew that I was only using them to inject Tobasco into oranges and not to do heroin..."

And the fire crackers we used to be able to get!  Holy Shite!  Brian and I managed to find our twelve year old,  green-down-vest wearing ways into these funky mafia back rooms in Little Italy around the 4th of July, where we could buy Pineapples (1/2 stick of dynamite) for $4.00! One thing we did was to take a cigarette, break off the butt, stick the fuse of a M80 or a blockbuster into it and light it.  We would put it in a garbage can or something and sit across the street on a stoop and wait.  I remember shitting bricks one time when a little old lady came crawling by.  I was so scared that it was going to blow and she would have a heart attack.  Fortunately she made it down the block before the top of the garbage can blew 15 ft up in the air and crashed down on the sidewalk.

Memories of my relationship with Brian Paul are perfect Jim Carol and Mark Twain.  We were a real team.  Two 11 year olds fresh from Boulder, both with single moms, living in NYC feeling it out, getting in trouble, having fun.  

Not that anyone reads this but the Boulder paper's obituary said any donations to the American Diabetes Association would be nice.  (I paraphrase) 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pneumo, the table

Here are a few sketches of a table I am working on.  The client lives in a little apartment and wants a round coffee table that can be raised up to the height of a dining table.  I am working with the idea of going from 18"-30" or so.  I thought of a few ways to actuate the movement but the winner is the gas hinge hidden inside a telescoping pedestal.  Like a task chair.  
I think I am going to buy an existing base and build it out.  I'm going with a carbonized bamboo plywood countertop material for the top.  Maybe powder coat the base white.  I need to have a really sexy solution for the action.  The act of raising and lowering the table is kind of intimate.  I need a mechanism that engages and disengages with sufficient tactile sensitivity... if you know what I mean.  What do I mean?  I mean it is an opportunity to make an impression.  The feel and the ease of the motion and the sound and the whole experience should be in tune with the other  design elements.  

That reminds me of a table I spent some quality time with back in '97 when I worked at Carlton House Restoration.  I actually drew it with the hopes of someday making one with a Lexan top and leaves.  I wanted to show the awesome gears that opened the table up when you spun the top.  I always thought that it was a shame that the coolest aspect of the whole table was only enjoyed by the maid  or whomever is the fortunate one with the task of changing the table diameter.  I have posted a drawing of the table top with and without it's leaves.  I hope I can find the ones I made.  Shite.  Where are they?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Peas 'n Carrots 'n subversive activities

Being 41 with a family and a lawn to mow, my rebellious acts are not as obvious as they were back in the day. Besides the infrequent Vesuvian outbursts, I have to mine my daily activities for acts that might be explained as rebellious.  The raised beds idea got me a few emails but nobody actually went for it. I did manage to put in some beds in our back yard. I am looking forward to stickin' it to the man by growing my own beans. 

It may well appear to the passer by that I am a balding dad raking some soil but what is really happening is much different.  I am pioneering a movement towards off the grid urban existence.  There will be networks of urban CSA gardens providing greens to the neighborhood, pulling the rug out from under the system  that brings our garlic from China and our apples from New Zealand.  Crazy.
We had some lavender in a big planter that died so I dumper it out.  I figured out why it died.  The root ball took on the exact shape of the inside of the planter.  There was no soil, just a serious  spaghetti of roots.  

Meanwhile, my daughter has discovered her favorite place to sit in the morning when the heat comes on.