ME: I live in a house of cards held up by runaway borrowing, a fragile consumer-driven economy and a torrent of rapidly depleting non-renewable resources.

ALSO ME: But it’s a damn comfortable house, right? As good or better than your parents and grandparents lived in. What makes you think it’s so fragile?

ME: Climate change. Terrible leadership. Corporate looting. Pretty much everything.

ALSO ME: But the powers that be won’t just let it all go to hell. Their wealth is built on the same system.

ME: Don’t forget we were at the brink of collapse just a few years ago! We would have flown off the ledge if not for some lucky breaks and Hail Marys in the 11th-hour.

ALSO ME: Exactly. Somebody determined not to fail has their hand on the controls.

ME: Trump and his band of criminals? I wouldn’t bet on that. Anyhow, there’s evidence the rich are hedging against an economic meltdown, buying up land out west for When The Shit Goes Down. Like they know something we don’t.

ALSO ME: You know people out west. Go eke it out with them if there’s a collapse.

ME: Assuming the west isn’t completely burned down? It’s not like my urban, creative-class existence has prepared me to survive beyond rudimentary camping skills.

ALSO ME: Forage for mushrooms. Catch some fish. Build a fire. Shoot your dinner.

ME: Guns scare me. So do people with guns. My best bet would be to play the “artist card” and hope my more capable friends let us hang on with them. I mean, my wife’s pretty handy…

ALSO ME: There you go.

ME: But what about the thousands of people in my community who don’t have the option to flee? Should we just let them rot?

ALSO ME: To your point, you don’t really have the means to save yourself, let alone a bunch of strangers. Besides, when things get desperate, they’re as likely to see you as the enemy as an ally.

ME: Grim. But true.  

ALSO ME: That’s your White Savior Complex talking anyhow. How do you know those people aren’t more resilient than you? They might be bailing YOU out.

ME: I hope they like my shitty drawings.

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Volume X in a series of stuff I’m enjoying on Mp3 (streaming music is just too intangible, maaaan) floating somewhere in a 3-D space defined by Throwback, Dad and New axes. Earlier volumes here, here and here.

> Download WASP MILK <

01 White Magic – Hiding My Nightingale
02 Parables of Neptune – Bumblebee
03 Sneaks – Hair Slick Back
04 Josef K – Heart of Song
05 Pylon – Cool
06 Swizzymack – Deez Hands (f. Quinta B)
07 A Tribe Called Quest – Kids (f. Andre 3000)
08 Goodie Mob – Cell Therapy
09 The Flamin’ Groovies – Don’t Put Me On
10 The Kinks – Strangers
11 Arthur Lee – Everybody’s Gotta Live
12 Modest Mouse – All Night Diner
13 Wilco – King of You
14 Concrete Blonde – I Don’t Need a Hero
15 Sinéad O’Connor – Old Lady
16 Tacocat – Men Explain Things to Me
17 Great Grandpa – Cheeto Lust
18 Cass McCombs – Run Sister Run
19 The Who – La-La-La Lies
20 The Monkees – Cuddly Toy
21 Thee Oh Sees – At the End, On the Stairs
22 Art of Noise – A Time for Fear (Who’s Afraid)

Image-1.pngDID I TELL YOU ABOUT THE TIME I WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA for a wedding that didn’t happen? Within hours of touching down, the path of Category 5 Hurricane Matthew moved up from Florida to a direct hit on Tybee Island. As the only guests to arrive before the storm tacked, Sarah and I were left to scrap over rental cars and flee the city as it boarded up around us.

That was October. This week I return to Georgia for Island Wedding Round 2 (the chapel grants storm-related do-overs). There’s long-simmering excitement, but also sadness — the groom’s mom recently died after a long illness. No longer outlying tragedies, these events are a Phase of Life. Sarah’s dad, sick with Parkinson’s and cancer, has fewer than nine months to live. In January my own father moved to an Alzheimer’s care facility at the age of 68. I go to Seattle after the wedding to spend seven days with him, our longest visit since I was a kid. I’ll have ample time, between Bingo, field trips, and our fractional, Charades-like conversations, to contemplate my own mortality (and perhaps the inside of a pot dispensary).

Thankful for new beginnings to balance all the loss. My sister, newly married and nearly 40, is pregnant with TWINS, news that’s just now circulating widely. Feels like a miracle with a side order of curse, but if anyone can hack it she can. It’s a family tradition after all: I have twin (half-) siblings, my dad’s a twin, and my Grandma Fran had two sets.

When Grandma Fran died in January, at the visitation my sister whispered the secret news into her embalmed ear. We cry-smiled. 2017 is like that.

 

WHY SHOULDN’T URBAN PLANNING BE A PARTY? On two nights in November, Minneapolis planners hosted the public for free food, a live quiz show, and a series of art happenings to gather input on the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Public Acts of Drawing (me and Marx Studio in this iteration) traced historical maps of the city and asked attendees to layer on their visions of our future.

So what change do we want to see in the world? Parks, boulevards, bike freeways, sculpture gardens, several gargantuan monuments, and a Doll City, to name a few.

THE WORLD MAY LOOK BACK on the year 2016 as the best one we’ll get for awhile, the deaths of my idols and ruin of our republic notwithstanding. Ours was abundant, at least by the measure of how many photos I shot and shared. Here are a few of the blessings I’m counting in panoramic splendor (click for a big ole view).

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Sarah contemplates the Blue Ridge Mountains after narrowly escaping Hurricane Matthew

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Adventuring on the Superior Hiking Trail with Lucas

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Green Line LRT iPhone experiments on University Ave SE (an homage to Ed Ruscha)

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Downtown and South Minneapolis from atop the Witch’s Tower with Jo’s school in the foreground

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Waterfall at Temperance River State Park, a reward for a cold, wet slog in the woods

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Dangling above Minnesota’s “mountains” with ski buddies

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Drinks with Craig and Matt at Track’s Bar, St. Paul’s least-charming dive

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Next to zero visibility on the Appalachian Trail outside Hot Springs, North Carolina

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Ferrying to Washington’s San Juan Islands for a rare reunion of my dad’s five kids

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The late-night shuffle

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Porch view from our rustic Blue Ridge cabin (roving pit bulls and land yacht are cropped out)

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Exploring Peak DC on spring break with our hosts Marc and Viv

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Prospect Park Business Center in ruins before its 17-story redevelopment in 2017



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LIKE A LOT OF BUBBLE-DWELLERS, I’ve been caught in a dark emotional loop since November 9th: shock, sorrow, regret, shame, anger. These feelings color every conversation, cheapen every gesture. I am drowning in contradictory impulses fed by a flood of panicky opinion: Normalize, Don’t Normalize; Talk more, no Listen moreBlame Racism, no Blame Economic Anxiety, no Blame our Degraded Education System. Every conclusion sucks. My disgust is total. I never wanted to go to space, but it’s looking good about now.

There’s little that hasn’t already been said. But I have some things I want to get off my chest:

It’s our own fault. As much as I want to, I can’t disconnect myself from the causes here. You don’t need to vote for a more regressive, exclusionary system to prop it up. We participate at all levels. When we accept mass incarceration. When we gentrify and self-segregate. When we accept the narrative that immigrants and the poor are “takers.” When we look at gross inequality and say “that’s just the way things are.” Lies accumulate. Truth erodes. The dam breaks and now we’re swimming in shit.

The pain will be radically unequal. White people, especially men, will endure the least of the indignities in the coming years. Not that there won’t be serious consequences for us all — an acceleration of planetary warming among the most dire — but they are less acutely awful than being deported or being attacked in the street by thugs or militarized police. In the near term this will mostly harsh our mellow, not ruin our lives. I need to refocus from my own sense of desperation to those who have everything to lose.

We are not smart. I was caught up in the play by play of this election since 2014. I consumed a super-abundance of information and opinion from all corners, most of it revealed to be clueless garbage. Turns out that up is down, black is white, dumb is smart. This event has undermined my trust in polls, experts, Americans, the democratic process, and my own instincts and acumen. If there is a silver lining to this election, it’s the loss of so many illusions.

I have no words of reassurance this month. But here’s some responsible advice. And an analysis of our new normal that feels true.

I predict this will a golden age of survival guides.

I CREATED A SPIRAL CROSSWORD for a zine I make with Acre Design Co for Able Seedhouse + Brewery, my first foray into puzzle-making after a lifetime of solving. The new issue will hit the taproom in November for Able’s first anniversary (including a photo documentary I did of Frankenhouses in Minneapolis’s Longfellow neighborhood).

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Instructions: This spiral contains two series of words, one reading inward from 1 to 99, the other reading outward from 99 back to 1. Every space is used exactly twice. Work from both sets of clues to complete the puzzle.

INWARD

1-5: She was played by Madonna
6-11: There are several in every family
12-16: Alternative to Airbnb
17-22: It crowds many a café table
23-26: Last stop before the final
27-34: Dessert made with lady’s fingers
35-42: Curt instruction to a barber (3 wrds.)
43-47: Larger than large
48-53: House in Le Havre
54-59: Like trumpets on game day
60-63: Letters after lambda
64-69: Members of the Mille Lacs and Mississippi River Bands
70-77: C6H12O6
78-83: Home of the National Sports Center
84-88: Hanged, _______ and quartered
89-92: Spacious
93-99: 1973 Woody Allen film

OUTWARD

99-94: Strip again
93-85: Assad’s conflict (2 wrds.)
84-79: First stage of grief
78-74: Make foolish
73-68: Time to be home
67-63: Elegant trinket
62-56: 9 or IX
55-52: Loo in Quintana Roo
51-45: Kind of cat or twin
44-40: Smashingly successful
39-32: Incan ruler crowned in 1563 (2 wrds.)
31-24: Nautical
23-20: He has fun with Dick and Jane
19-14: No-frills place to flop
13-9: Windy City stopover
8-1: Tone of SuperPAC ads, often