Saturday, July 11, 2015



            What happened was that  Nina Simone was in the middle of the Black Revolution, writing songs that reflected the terrible times around her. “Strange Fruit” (black boys hanging on trees), four little girls killed in a church,” Mississippi, Goddamn !!” etc. In those days, they couldn’t sell her record because you couldn’t swear on a record cover.  Her early days of classical piano segued into a most interesting Jazz vocalist/Musician. She always wanted to play in Carnegie Hall (Bach/Mozart) but finally played there as a foremost Jazz Lady. I had always loved her work but didn’t know until the movie that most of  her songs were drawn from her actual life.  She did some wonderful songs in French later as she lived there for many years after a few years in Liberia, the small country in West Africa that was established for the blacks ‘to come home to’. That didn’t work.
I’ve been studying the history of the toilet (to be more specific, the Water Closet) which led me to the Japanese company that is the leader of innovation in such matters, Toto.
As an architect we have to research all aspects of our work. And also, I am a consultant to the Graton Sewer Plant, my building, Atelier One, being one of the larger depositors of the system.  I’ve always noticed that women seem to use too much TP. Also, Japanese females flush about three times while taking a leak. (Or leaving one). (Sqeemish readers can skip the rest of this paragraph). And why do they do this? They want to cover up the noise they are making!  Now on the other end of these things, that is 3 times the amount of water we have to process in order to make it drinkable, which is called Tertiary Treatment, the current California standard for Sewage Treatment Plants, although it’s against the law to drink it. But let’s not go there. When Toto found that out (It took years of research!) the added an audio to the toilet that is a sound of water running , I  never did find out what. Also, some public restrooms now have a noisy water fountain in them as an Art Object. My next question is: Do American women do “cover up flushes” also? Those of us on the other end of this flow need to know these things in order to get up a campaign of education to alleviate the high cost of processing  this water.
     UNALASKA                                      In the hey-day of my Modular building days, (1970),  I traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska to talk to a group  of Eskimos who were interested in buying my modulars for housing in Kodiak, on the Island of Unalaska, about 1500 miles East of Alaska. In those days, a huge ship would tie up at the quai, hire hundreds of Esquimos to process the fish that was brought there. I met the group at a dinner at one of the better  restaurants in Fairbanks. One of their group was a young woman, very beautiful, except she was had a deformed finger, probably from an accident that didn’t get her to a doctor in order to get it straightened.  I was unable to find out why it happened. I didn’t know they made them that beautiful, though.  I had investigated shipping to them  by sea before the meeting,  and had revised my system from a 3 D  to a panel type in order to fit into a container, which were just beginning to become in use.  They needed some decent housing as there were a lot of jobs for workers on the large ships that were used as floating factories., tied up more or less permanently.  Before I got too far in the negotiations, though, our partner, Ford Motor Co. opted to get out of the modular housing industry.

After a frustrating search in Belgium,  we finally found Waterloo, where Napoleon final met it. Across from our hotel we spied a Greek looking store called “Leonidas” and found it to be a Chocolate Shop. We bought a few pieces and afterward, always looked for the same name. We did find one near Harry’s Bar in Paris, Medina bought a full box of one of each type of candy. I was too embarrassed by that and bought at least two pieces of each type.   Chocolate didn’t appear in Europe until about 1500 (Let’s give Columbus credit for something, for God’s sake!).  It was a far cry from what you  & I eat but in 1815, a Dutch chemist Van Houten introduced Alkaline salts into the mix which made it cheaper to make. Later, in1879, Rudolphe Lindt (Swiss) invented a Conching machine, this made the chocolate finer and able to cast into bars. It was used as a drink prior to that.  Interestingly, animals can’t eat it ( as it contains Theobromine) and is toxic to them. So that’s why you look for Belgian or Swiss chocolateers.
   Meanwhile, Leonidas Kestekides, a Greek-American,  founded the largest chocolate company in Europe in 1916. Beginning in Brussels, there are hundreds of shops all over now.  His logo is a Sparten Greek God. (He should have used the dollar symbol $$$).

Whenever this comes up, someone says , “Well, Coca Cola got it’s name from the Cocaine that was in it.”.  In a way, true.  In 1884 the original recipe for it did contain some of the drug, but by 1906 the Food & Drug folks managed to get that out of the hands of little old ladies who were consuming it by the case, Joy’s aunt, for one. However, that kind of put the brakes on Pope Leo 13, who carried a hip-flask of Mariani Wine , awarded a Gold Medal to Angelo Mariani, the owner of Mariani Wines, which contained enough cocaine to be commendable and award winning, and make Catholic dogma palatable to the brother. (And to think drinkers now-a-days complain about a little sulfates!).


Ever since I found the plethora of padlocks on the ARTISTS’ BRIDGE in Paris, I have been ranting to you about the mindless effort the hordes of thousands or misguided lovers who believe that if they buy a padlock and throw away the key (Into the Seine, can you imagine the thousands of keys under the bridge?), your love will be everlasting. Listen up, idiots! Love is not connected in any way with your overloading  the most beautiful bridge in Paris with a heavy padlock that has gotten to be  such a big problem that the guardrails were collapsing, even endangering the whole bridge, as you can imagine( only if you have a functioning brain) the huge weight that is endangering the structure.  Fortunately, someone in the gigantic beaurocracy of Paris ordered all this hardware cut off before the entire bridge collapsed. This malignancy of Love has spread to other venues of tourist areas , for example , to the balcony mentioned in Shakespeares’ Romeo & Juliet.  We visited (under duress, mind you) the site last year and found every possible place around this had been maligned with a Love Lock. Aaaagh! Naturally, this disease was conceived by some simple minded American Tourist in Paris a few years ago. We’re at a point where we tell folks we are Canadians if they ask if we are American.  It’s sooo embarrassing.

“Talk about things I hate”! Look, as I tell the operator whenever I hear this phrase,” I don’t give a rats’ ass if this call is monitored. By who, the NSA? It means I am wasting a few precious seconds, trying to struggle through this fucking maze to find someone to talk to because I have a problem.