Friday, March 17, 2017


The Vision Council, a non-profit trade association for the eyeglass industry, had hired us several years ago through a PR firm we had done work with and used as our PR firm when we first launched our furniture line. The PR firm and the Vision Council parted ways a couple of years ago and our relationship went with it.
So it was a total surprise when earlier this year TVC came calling saying they were in a desperate situation. They were going to sponsor a lounge at South by Southwest commonly referred to as SXSW for those like me who had no idea of the acronym and they needed someone to design their lounge. It was several weeks into the design phase before I realized what the event was since our communications were all through email and they always used the acronym when referring to the event. I was delighted and excited to work on the project and also to cross off my bucket list a trip to Austin. Living much of my life in Madison I had frequently heard Austin and Madison referred to as sister cities mostly for their liberal and unconventional outlook on life.
I took my daughter along as my co-pilot and we arranged to spend an additional two days to see what we could see of Austin. So here are some images of what we found, our lounge, SXSW and the fact that although the feel may be very similar certainly the weather and the size of each city are vastly different.





We loved our stay. We only touched an infinitesimal part of our Southern sister city, we're hoping to be invited back for next year. Fingers crossed, see y'all in 2018.

Monday, March 13, 2017


I'm an addict. I'm addicted to cable TV. I can't stop watching MSNBC. It's like a bad accident on the highway. I don't want to look. I want to speed on by but I know I'm going to slow down and look over. The warning is coursing through my head in a battle between good and evil, "Don't' look, don't look it's only going to be awful". I don't want to see it but I can't help myself. I'm an addict and Trump made me this way. From the moment he rode down that brassy escalator from his high tower I was hooked. The crown of golden hair spun from a mix master like a sundae topping of whipped cream. I knew I couldn't quit him. The statuesque Melania, a lollipop of eye candy, mysteriously quiet and simmering with a dizzying coating of sugar and salt always walking two steps behind. Who wasn't going to watch? A clown and a Barbie doll putting on a show.
There had been a prelude foreshadowing the main event: his Birther movement, the Apprentice, the massive ego, the arrogance. He had primed me even before the primaries began. He was Tom Brady in a suit and cable TV was his football field. I couldn't stand looking at him but he put on such a game I had to watch.
It didn't even start out slow. It was right from the beginning I stopped watching the normal primetime fare on the other networks. It was Morning Joe with Joe and  Mika and the cast of pundits at six in the morning when I was in New York but 5am when I was back in Madison. I'd set my alarm to make sure I didn't miss a single tweet or name-calling. Then Stephanie Ruhle, and Andrea Mitchell carried me through the afternoon until Chuck Todd took over followed by Greta Van Susteren who held sway until the nightly line-up of Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, my beloved Rachel Maddow and the soft-spoken Laurence O'Donnell and my weekends with Joy Reid. Then they had to add Brian Williams as a nightcap after which they do a repeat of the whole nightly line-up in case you missed something or like me had to watch it twice.
I go to sleep with the TV still on letting the voices of cable drift in and out of my dream life. Until Way Too Early comes on before the sun rises. This addiction is sick. I know it's bad for my health but like the lovers in Brokeback Mountain, "I just wish I could quit them."
But there's always a new tweet, an absurd new reversal of policy or another cabinet post being debated and voted on for someone so completely unqualified for the position. What do you do? Turn it off? I've tried but five minutes of "The Voice" and I'm back. What did I miss, and more often than not there's a new leak or development coming out of the White House or Mar-A-Logo pulling at my indignation and cementing me into my seat in front of the TV.
I pull out my Stairmaster at six-fifty-five in the morning in time to catch the opening, "Your World in Sixty Seconds" on CBS but then it's right back to MSNBC. Every once in a while I'll turn to CNN but my loyalty to my commentators is strong and hard to untether.
I keep thinking something will come along to break this cycle. The election is over. Hillary lost, well we all lost, so shouldn't the drama be over too? It only deepens.
The weekends are the worst. There are gaps in the coverage that ache with the pain of a missed lover. I channel surf with my fingers on the remote punching and punching looking for news, there must be something.
Clearly I need help but for the moment I don't see any way out.
Wait - they just released the data on Trumpcare and it's not great news for the Donald. I have to take my fingers off this computer keyboard and let them do their duty on the remote. I'll keep you posted on his up-coming tweet.
Donald Trump Speech
Nate Gowdy, photographer
From Time Magazine

Friday, March 3, 2017


When a day starts out good you end up testing fate because there's usually nowhere to go but down. I had transferred from the E train to the A train at Forty-second and Eighth. The last stop on the E is the World Trade stop or in my case the first stop if you're going in the opposite direction and I was heading back up town. I had gone down to the Financial District for a little treat, a little shopping trip to the new mall sprawling out under the Oculus and the Freedom tower. I mentioned it had been a good day. I had gone downtown looking for new shoes. I needed some comfortable shoes for the warmer weather. I'm extremely hard on shoes. They don't last for more than a season on my duck feet. I ended up at Century 21 where I found the perfect pair of Clarks drivers. Not too tight and priced with a nice Century 21 reduction. So nice I convinced myself to buy two of the same pairs: one brown and one black. The people packing up your shoe purchases at the sales counter always make you take your shoes in the box they came in so they don't have to figure out a way to dispose of the boxes. Two shoeboxes for size elevens necessitate a fairly good-sized bag.  It did make me look as if I was carrying a rather heavy load but it was a bit deceptive, Clarks drivers are fairly lite weight.
I didn't have to wait long for the A to show up. As it pulled in to the Forty-second street station I could see it was pretty full. When the doors opened I realized I wasn't going to get a seat. Fine. My shoe bag wasn't heavy and I'd have to change trains again once I got to 59th Street. Once the doors closed I grabbed an overhead sissy bar in front of a two-person seat next to the door. A middle-aged black woman sat nearest the door snoozing with her head bouncing off her chest with each raspy breath she let out. Next to her sat a young woman reading a romance novel, probably an assistant or receptionist at an accounting firm or small corporate office. Her hair was a bit messy and her clothes were just a bit above drab taking her out of the fashion or advertising fields but there was a sweet shyness about her. The shyness was what threw me when her eyes jerked up from her book. There was this sense of guilty as she caught my eye and asked me if I would like her seat. I was a little startled and a bit offended but I smiled back, shook my head and politely told her no, I was getting off in a few stops. She went back to her book as I started to obsess with my internal dialogue about not thinking of myself as being eligible for priority seating. You know the signs corroding off the back of the plastic seats telling the youth and able-bodied of America to get off their padded behinds and give up their seat to elderly and disabled. I wasn't about to suffer this ageism lightly, at least not in my head.
I know, I know I'm being over dramatic. I'm way too sensitive. She was only being polite but the fact that I'm now apparently wearing my age like a tattered suit has the power of turning my day from happy to mad. I'm sure that there are many people who are more gracious than I am and more able to embrace their badge of old age than I am.
Then just as I was about willing to succumb to my fate of senior citizenry I did a quick scan of the rest of the car. Standing next to me was a pregnant woman with a baby and holding on to the center pole with both hands was a lady in opaque stockings standing about four feet ten with more facial wrinkles than a Shar Pei.
I should be thankful that I've been given as many days as I have. I've circumvented having to serve in a war I didn't believe in. I've dodged an epidemic that swallowed up so many of my gay community. I've survived a financial beating that would have driven others to put a gun to their heads. I'm lucky and blessed in so many ways. For all of this I feel I deserve the right to stand without assistance and feel a little indignant at the thought that some guilty millennial thought I'm too old and feeble to tote my bag of, might I say, stylish Clarks drivers three more stops on the A train.

Golden Years: Wrestling no.2, 2014
Dean Bradshaw, photographer
Represented by Weiss Katz Gallery

Thursday, February 23, 2017


It was about halfway back on I94. It was late afternoon a week ago Wednesday when the sky began a slow burn into a show stopping extravaganza of light and color. The elements of the heavens have to align in a particular way to create a spectacular sunset. There has to be just the right kind of cloud cover with enough open space to let the light of a setting sun through. It can trick you at first seeming to only touch the cool end of the spectrum but soon the entire spectrum of color emerges and drives any photographer speechless. I wasn't handsfree on last Wednesday night but during the next week the gods of beauty gave me three more chances to snap away. Here's what I saw on those three amazing evenings.
Sometimes the world offers up a sunset so amazing it can wash away all the things that seem so unimaginable and it did it four times in one week in South-central Wisconsin