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Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain - photo by Tony Hisgett, 2009

This article was originally written in 2007 but never published — nowhere to publish it back then–when Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was the hot new thing. Since then, I’ll confess I have little idea what impact artwork from a New York museum has had on a Spanish harbor town, but the building itself landed like sticks of dynamite in the architectural community. Since then, it even has a Jeff Koons funny ha-ha Puppy.

But the question remains valid: if all that can be said about architecture is that architects should build on the work that precedes them, is it sufficient? …


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Do my blank eyes make me look stupid? Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Ryan Holiday has it all wrong. Should We Cancel the Stoics? Probably.

Life is messy. Oh no! I didn’t say that.

If you believe in justice, freedom, righteousness, truth and the family way, all you need to do is (move to Portland, or South Dakota, join Proud Boys, or join Antifa, pin up your anti-war posters, buy AR-15s, march for–fill in the blank, vote for–fill in the blank, pick one). See? It’s actually straightforward.

We don’t need no stinking philosophers.

The Stoics were heathen atheists; I’m Catholic, and I know what the nuns taught me. …


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Chef’s Knife photo by Octavian Dan on Unsplash

“I never knew you” is the opening line from Patchwork Quilt, a poignant Gov’t Mule lyric that fit the mood, Warren Haynes’s song mourning Jerry Garcia. Though in my case, I was thinking about my old man.

Chopping veggies and realizing how dull the knives were told me it was time to break out the stone. It had been awhile.

I own very few things of my father’s. I wear his wedding ring mainly because I never knew him and I wasn’t going to stuff it back where I’d found it in the attic–never knew my mother neither when she lived with a man. But I do have my father’s carborundum stone. Complete with its box, tired and oil stained as you’d expect a cardboard box to be eighty years later. …


Manet: The Difference Between Nude and Naked by Steven Gambardella

I read the article —eye-catching title, not to mention the teasing cover image. So his thesis was: Manet was modern and Titian was what? Titian did have Manet beat by three centuries, but most times when you say ‘modern art’ there’s a different expectation. Perhaps modern because Manet came toward the exhausted end of the French academy? Perhaps.

I’ll grant it’s hard discussing painting, and Gambardella does yeoman’s work.

At one point before the Western world went crazy with futurism, one could go step at a time from ism to ism and art, if not life, seemed was moving in a clear direction. …


“There was the time she matter-of-factly mentioned, ‘If we weren’t family, we probably wouldn’t be friends.’ ” from a story by Anna Marin — Sept 17, 2019

Wow. If nothing else you could call the woman tactless, right? How about clueless? About all she would have needed to say to me. I’d just as soon not be around someone like that.

It’s not important that my attitude toward extended family probably doesn’t include an expectation we’d all be close. Not feeling uncomfortable in their presence is sufficient. …


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Photo by Filip Baotić on Unsplash

In this month’s newsletter, we, the Elysian Fields Association Board of Directors would like to direct your attention to our Association’s rules regarding yard signs. There’s been a noticeable uptick in signs recently, and we thought a review of the policy is in order.

First of all, please, just one sign per yard. This is so all the signs running up and down the block can be viewed independent of one another–and not be mistakenly spray painted along with your neighbor’s. In point of fact, vandals in the community are severely frowned upon.

“Black Lives Matter” are certainly the most popular signs these days, and they might in fact deter angry ‘other folk’ wandering into our lovely piece of heaven from the low income apartments down the street. Though black lives do indeed matter, good golly, yes! And I’m told having one of these signs in your yard provides security. Might be able to deduct it on your income taxes, like your doorbell camera and AR-15. …


One of my partners in our architectural firm was a racist. The real deal. I’ll call him Bubba. Exploding at him (being of an Irish temperament) made no dent in his armor, so I stopped trying — after a few years. Though it was hard walking by his office with Rush Limbaugh spewing from the radio.

Bubba hated Blacks, Browns, Middle Easterners, Asians, Women, educated people, and I could go on. But first and foremost, he hated Blacks. …


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Mt Vesuvius from Capri — 2019 Photo by William E. Evans

The weather was changing, Edwin could feel it. Getting chilly with the rising wind, and his arthritic knee was already aching–meaning weather to come. He tucked the afghan around his legs and under the seat of the wheelchair. Out on the sea, one moment sunlight was whitening the wave tops and the next veiling clouds turned the water to shades of silver to gray and back.

Should he stay where he was by the promontory or retreat? The thought of being soaked before he could get back to the villa was an irritant to an otherwise fine afternoon, particularly because he knew the rest of the week would hold no time to repeat it–he’d over-committed himself. …


God help the living; the dead have already gotten past him.

In the early months, our relationship was one of teacher and student. She was the former; I was definitely the latter. I’ll call her Dawn, though I wonder whether she disliked her first name, being too precious, too old school cute for her. And I rarely tried being that familiar–only when struggling to find words that might mean something, to let the child inside her know she was loved.

I was still a practicing architect in an ongoing business writing nights and on the weekend, and she was a few years into a new role as a development editor. She was careful, and skeptical–probably dubious, but from the beginning she challenged my commitment to the craft. “Let’s keep this professional,” she insisted was a good idea, though as the years went by, the relationship evolved, perhaps not intentionally on her part but inevitably on mine. …


When we get out of this corona virus shit, I’d like to hear stories written about a march — like the jazz funerals down south in New Orleans, only this one would be drumming the whole way to Maine, trombones leading and timpani coming behind. I’ll take Virginia with a kazoo and a guitar with old strings I can still strum.

There are people we need to remember.

We’ll need a lot of real musicians–those horn players especially. It’s a big country and going that far is going to take time. The whole damn country needs to march.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

About

Bill Evans

A practicing writer and architect, he is now squandering hours making a mess from writing.

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