Doing Los Angeles, June 2017

Recently I went to Los Angeles with my youngest son. I have a tradition of going on a trip, just me and them, when each of my kids turn 16. CXO chose Las Vegas in 2015. Caleb choose Los Angeles. So we went.

Once we landed, we went downtown to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. A regal Place, doing business & absorbed with its own past, rightfully so. They deserve it.

Then we went to Soho House West Hollywood. Beautiful view.

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The Macon I Know

I enjoy business travel.

Each time I leave home, and I have it in my head that I have to make it productive, worthwhile, and fruitful. That means doing my wurk and documenting it all. I especially love to go to a new city– somewhere I haven’t been before. I try to take my good camera on trips like this.

At the end of last month I went to Macon Georgia. It aa glorious, And had everything I liked–architecture, poetry bookstores, good coffee, and natural features of landscape and cultural history.

I stayed at a real Bed & Breakfast, mainly because it was cheaper than the chain hotel. I know it was a Bed & Breakfast  because when I got there they said. “what do you want for breakfast?” and I was like “oh wow  really?” and they were like “this is a bed-and-breakfast”.

As is my custom, I immediately set out for a bookstore that sold poetry. I took pictures along the way. This is a shot of a malformed set of bricks pulling apart from a solid set of bricks. There is a metaphor here.

“Stately” is a good word for a lot of the buildings. The heaviness of the plantation though.

The library was glorious. Going to a public library in a new Place is sort of like going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting– you basically know the configuration but something is always different.

The Wi-Fi is sponsored by the Knight Foundation. Everywhere I go, there you are.

I like their street sign system— no matter which street sign you’re looking at, you know what corner you’re on.

This building is a part of an architectural restoration drive.

Macon’s Fading Five

The real glory of Macon was nearby, at the Ocmulgee National Monument of the U.S. National Park Service.

Here’s all photos I took there at the monument.

First off, the Visitor’s Center is an Art Moderne masterpiece:

And the mounds are maintained with care and respect.

And here’s the whole set I took of my trip to Georgia.

The Tampa Municipal Office Building and its Adjacent Brick Courtyard are Brutalist Masterpieces

I have always loved Boston City Hall and its brick-colored, multi-layer courtyard. I understand this is a minority opinion. So it goes.

Until today, however, I did not know that Florida sported a rival Brutalist civic structure with an adjacent courtyard made of brick.

I was walking in a light tropical rain through downtown Tampa.

Behold the Tampa Municipal Office Building, rising over the old Salvation Army site.

And towering over an empty but nifty brick plaza at mid-morning.

The fronds and green and waterfalls made for oasis, and the plaza pavers climb the rough surface up.

There was evidence of other, inexpensive modifications— colorful glass bird-type / wall-climb holds to break up the height.

The plaza and its many layers are straight outta Boston.

Except again the tropical plants and intimate lawn furniture makes for a human scale.

The rising, and the harsh indoor lighting.

Again, height is broken and softened with palms.

Smoker passages.

The municipal function of rat baiting sits like art.

A plaque for MIAs / POWs, embossed with bamboo.

Evidence of the Rough Riders, too.

Inexplicable steel art takes its place in front of the brick-paved street, which makes for yet another texture.

Leaves, Concrete, Bird Glass.

God bless America.

Detail of concrete. Artful pocks.

Smooth joints.

Skaters cannot be stopped.

The main corner entrance, with glass rising for stories. Transparency.

Hidden entrances like Frank Lloyd Wright.

Under eaves. Color added as another sop to the heavy mental affect of Brutalism.

No one can stop the tropical gardens.

Or the deliberate passageways.

All hail the Tampa Municipal Office Building and its adjacent brick courtyard, which are Brutalist masterpieces.

Holy Trinity Songs, May 2017

I am not the most adventurous or learned consumer of music. I like what I like.

I also get into grooves, and like particular songs and stick with them now and again.

I am also Catholic, so I’m into the Trinity. These three songs are currently holy to me. I play them again and again, in the same order. It’s like going to Church.


Archiving Schoolwork and Other Stuff from Your Kids

One thing about school kids in our culture is that they make a lot of stuff. I am a parent of two boys and I’m also an avowed archivist. Over the years, I’ve developed some practices for managing and storing the stuff kids make, collect, and earn over the course of childhood.

Since my oldest child is 18 and is graduating from high school next month, I’ve looked back at the archives for him and his brother (who is 16), and I thought I’d share the exact materials and methods I’ve used.

Let’s start with some basic learnings

  • Format is destiny. I’ve learned to use the smallest vessel possible. This also enforces a certain thematic cohesion. For example, you won’t see 9 x 12 art sheet projects coming home much past 6th grade. Grouping items of similar shape and size makes more sense through time than you’d think
  • Chronological order is best order. I just flow all objects through to the archive w/o regard to what grade they’re in, what class it is, and so on. This allows you to see it all at once, flip through fast, and see your own themes rather than something imposed by the archivist
  • Annotate everything. Everything seems obvious in the moment, but as time passes, you may wonder who made what, what grade it was, and so on. A simple notation on the back of every item— name, grade, month, year— eliminates all the guessing
  • Focus on the child. This means if you have more than one child, make sure you make their archive 100% about them, with separate and distinct portfolios/ boxes/ whatever for them. If also means that each object should relate to them rather than you & them, their teacher & them, their sibling & them— whatever. The idea is that this is a collection that will be theirs someday— something uniquely about and for them
  • Don’t bog down the child with the past. There is a danger here in glorifying the past and / or force-feeding a whole shelf-full of crap that they don’t want in their lives. I rarely talk about their archives and we don’t make a show about going through it— I just quietly build it. As they’ve gotten older, and I am less intrusive when it comes to digging through their schoolbags for material, they make sure to give me things they want to keep for them. Having said that, I couldn’t care less if one day they incinerated their entire collection. Nostalgia is death
  • Focus on output and documentation rather than achievement and excellence. Certainly there are way more “A” papers in the archive than “D” tests, but I don’t shy away from putting in things like artwork that cast me in a less-than-great light (“this is how dad swears when he’s mad” doodle in 2nd grade). It’s also easy to make judgements about their work— and I do plenty of that in the normal course of parenting, tryna get them to do their best. But it’s important not to use an archive as yet another way to mess up your child about the pending doom of high school or college acceptance. That stuff is whack
  • Decide what you care about and collect for that. This is where one has to decide what’s wheat and what’s chafe. For me, I focused on original expression— writing, drawing, essays. That means I throw away standardized tests and worksheets, no matter how well they did on them, and I optimize handwritten, hand-drawn items. I want them to look back and see themselves
  • Never stop collecting, never stop winnowing. In order for this to work, you can’t let there be huge gaps. The good thing is that it sort of fits in with the overall need, as a parent, to pay attention to what your kid is doing. Go through their bag and make your piles. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to the pile, as long as the pile is there. I’d say I would keep 10% of what comes home in the pile-making stage, and throw away maybe 50% of that in the winnowing stage

Here’s pictures of the entire end result

Basically one shelf-full for each kid and a sliver of a closest for the posterboard-sized stuff (the large portfolio at the top holds material for both kids— it’s the only vessel shared between them). It’s really not a whole lot of stuff, when you think about the enormous amount of material we generate.

Here’s a look at each type of vessel, and what I put in each:

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