Monthly Archives: December 2013


Old Man John Brown, subject of “The Fighting Farmer,” Steve Davis’s history of Iowa abolitionists coming in 2014.


JB Iowa_WeeklyGazette

Portrait of Brown on horseback, 1877, published in the Davenport (Iowa) Weekly Gazette.



Detail of the outraged actress from Raymond Pettibon’s illustration for the Minutemen’s Paranoid Time 7″.



A much-parodied bumper sticker.



CBGB in NYC, known as the spawning ground of punk, New Wave and vintage cowboy type.

equal JB_JNdrawing_ForLetterpress_WWJBD

An illustration for the Fighting Farmer book, Boxcar letterpress experiments by MakeSh!t, and possibly a T-shirt.

WWJBD? I’d venture he would free Bradley Manning, demand amnesty for Edward Snowden, clean up our criminal “justice” system, open the borders, and otherwise slap us silly with his Stick of Righteousness. Truly a hero for our time.

UBM7RENOVATION IS CRAZYTOWN. Chasms open and close without warning. There is constant noise and the ground shakes. As spatial realities dissolve, so do domestic comforts and norms. You struggle to do the bare minimum, a limbo bar that keeps lowering.

I was frustrated at first. Why is it so cold/hot/cold again? Did that light switch move? Do they have to listen to 93X FM? But this week something changed. I decided to loosen up and roll with it.

Right now that means exercise more, drink more and eat whatever I can find, be it raw, bagged or boxed. Give leftovers an über-generous grace period. Accept my family’s half-done projects and destroyed rooms; they’re coping with chaos their own way.

I cling to domestic chores like the last shreds of civilization. Recycling gets relentless attention, as do closets and beds. Twice a day I sweep the area for rubbish and material backups. There’s a continuous bucket brigade for dishes: dirty tubs go up to the bathroom and tubs of clean come down. No trip between floors is wasted. I work every angle. Could I shower and clean our cutlery at the same time? I contemplated it.

My mission: refine all systems, however trivial. Outside I locked down the compost bin using heavy bungies and bricks from an old chimney. It looks medieval. Whatever it is was ransacking our rotted cabbage and coffee filters has been vanquished. Be gone, wolverines and badgers! You will not sully my dirt pile.

Inside, the void is gradually becoming a room. Little imagination is needed to picture free-flowing spaces and roomy, accessible cupboards, me sashaying from sink to pantry to counter, imposing rigid and permanent order in the kingdom.

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I still have mixed feelings. About the privilege we’re flaunting and how cavalier we are getting about costly decisions. It’s only money! As long as you have enough of it! We are eating major cake and not sharing at all. Is our ability to do this what’s wrong with the world? How much does an already stupifyingly happy family deserve? Remodeling might be the least punk thing ever.