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September 10, 2017


Gold Model

Getting Done in Westchester




Sherman Stokes Entry

Getting Done in San Francisco




 The outdoor chapel at Incarnation Camp in Ivoryton, CT

Click here to read about the project.



CEPHAS Housing 25 Years Ago in Yonkers NY

Click here to read about the project.



In Common Edge: Christopher Alexander’s New Architecture Program Offers an Alternative to Style and Orthodoxy

In Saved By Design: BUILDING HOME

In Saved By Design: Choices

In Saved By Design: the Other Home – a Podcast

In Building Beauty: Ecologic Design and Construction Process

In Common Edge: Architecture and the Illusive, Maddening and Thrilling Quest for Beauty

In Unorthodox Podcast: Birthright for WASPs?

In The New Haven Register: For Union Station garage, why not better and bigger?

In Common Edge: Swipe Left: How Technology Has Skewed Architectural Competitions

In Mockingbird: Football At Last: A Preseason Preview

In Mockingbird: Suburbia at the Mid-Century: Church

In Common Edge: Does the New Traditionalism Have A Point?

In Mockingbird: Giddy Godless Weddings

In Common Edge: What’s Happened to Architectural Record’s Record Houses issue?

In Mockingbird: On Being Fat (and Life’s Other Unavoidable Criteria)

In Mockingbird: The Girls of Whitehaven: Love and Friend Requests in Cyber Space

In Mockingbird: Taking a Dip in the Dark Side

In Common Edge: Building Madness: How the Boom and Bust Mentality Distorts Architecture

In Mockingbird: An Irrational Lack of Fear…

In Mockingbird: Designing Justification: A Conference Talk Preview

In Common Edge: Confessions of a New AIA Fellow, or “Getting the “F”

In Mockingbird: Something Missing (In Recovery Services)

In Common Edge: Imitation, Innovation, and the 700th Cantilever

In Mockingbird: April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

In Mockingbird: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

In New Haven Register: New Haven Is Putting Its Money Where Its Modernism Is

In Common Edge: Separating Architecture From The Building Arts Produces Soulless Structures

In Mockingbird: Alternative Faith: Click Crack, Fakes News, and Good News

In Common Edge: The Uneasy Relationship between Architect’s and Money

In Mockingbird: Pray for Voldemort?

In Issuu: Masonry Design JanFeb2017

In Mockingbird: Rite One – Law & Order

In Mockingbird: The Academic Terror Dream

In Common Edge: Is Architecture as Fractured as our Politics?

In Hartford Courant: New Interest in Iconic Pirelli Building

In Hartford Courant: Final Touchdown: Hand HS Coach Steve Filippone Passes The Ball After 37 Years

In Mockingbird’s Mockingcast Podcast: Special Episode: The Holiday Survival Guide

In Common Edge: Is Cost Architecture’s Weakest Link To Reality?

In Common Edge: The AIA’s Tone-Deaf Response to the Election of Donald Trump

In Common Edge: The BIM Moment: What We’re Losing in the Robot-Age of Architecture

In Mockingbird: The Big Mo: Feeling and Rationalizing ‘Momentum’

In New Haven Register: Why spend $60 million on an ugly building

In Common Edge: What Architecture Has in Common with Organized Religion

In Mockingbird: What is Faith? A Look at the Religiosity of Football Fans

In U.S. News Real Estate: How to Design and Build Your Own Custom Home

In Common Edge: What Do Architects and Commercial Fishermen Have in Common?

In Common Edge: In Architects We Trust? 10 Trusts Worth Busting

In Common Edge: Donald Trump as Architectures Nightmare Client

In Unorthodox: Just the Two Of Us

In Hartford Currant: Yale’s Edifice Complex: University is Building a Modern History for its Future

In Common Edge: Modern Restoration and the Veneration of Its Hero Architects

In Common Edge: When Intellectual Diversity Mattered

In Common Edge: Why Architecture Doesn’t Do More Pro-Bono Work

In Common Edge: The AIA’s Response to Crisis Call In the Stars

In Common Edge: Will Architecture Have Its Donald Trump Moment?

In New Haven Independent: Visionary Bromances

In New Haven Independent: Architecture Becomes a Lifestyle

In New Haven Independent: That’s It?

In New Haven Register: Battered Homeowner Syndrome in New Haven

In New Haven Register: New Haven Knights of Columbus building – an icon reclad

In Common Edge: Why Architecture Needs More Building Architect Critiques

In Common Edge: Architects Design Just 2% of All Houses – Why?

In Common Edge: Death & Architecture

In Common Edge: Sprinting to the Past

In Hartford Courant: Deborah Berke, First Woman To Lead Yale’s School of Architecture

In Common Edge: Architecture Has Become a Lifestyle Choice

In Daily Nutmeg: Creation Story

In Next Avenue: Aging and Your Home: The Coping Quotient

In New Haven Register: When Things Go South – Design Can’t Save Bad Building

In Hartford Courant (login required): The Classroom of the Future

In New Haven Register: When Branding Becomes Blanding in New Haven

In Home Living Magazine: City Living: An Award Winning Renovation

In Hartford Courant: What CT Has Is History- Don’t Neglect It

In New Haven Independant: Architect Couple, Institute Library Snag Awards

In Hartford Courant: History is Precious

In New Haven Register: New Haven’s Court Street is ‘like its own little town’

In Hartford Courant (login required): Smart Home Design In A City That’s Neighborly

In New Haven Register: Villas on a ridge, New Haven’s Hillhouse Avenue

In Townvibe: Simple Pleasures, an Artful Blend of Modern and Traditional

In Hartford Courant (login required): A Classic Street Ages, But Retains its Beautiful Bones

In New Haven Register: Forum: Yale, Pearl Harbor bridge projects show branding matters, money follows

In New York Times: Everything and the Kitchen Sink

In New Haven Register: Millennial Meme Housing Sprouts in New Haven

In Hartford Courant (login required): “Christmas in Connecticut” was Perfect for War-Weary 1945 American Moviegoers

In Room One Thousand: Sixty Panes of Faith

In Behind the Walls: The Not So Tiny House Movement (Part 1)

In AIA: It’s not the Media: It’s the Work

In New Haven Register: Quarantining Architecture

In New Haven Register: Weeds on New Haven’s Oak Street Lawn

In New Haven Magazine: Back Yard Forward

In New Haven Register: Ultimate Gesture of Architectural Modesty is a Buried Building

In New Haven Register: Tulips, Architecture Students & Bubbles that Burst

In New Haven Register: Flood tide of rental housing could change New Haven’s landscape

In New Haven Magazine: Still by the Sea

In New Haven Magazine: Preserving the Past for the Future

In River & Shore’s Coastal Homes: Boy Was It Worth It

In New Haven Magazine: From Family to Farm

In The New Haven Register: Ultimate Gesture of Architectural Modesty Is Buried Building

In The New Haven Register: Yale’s Evans Hall: Overdressed for Success

In New Haven Magazine: Cubed

In New Haven Magazine: Finding Design

In The New Haven Register:  Pearl Harbor Bridge in New Haven Extension of Greatest Generation’s Legacy

In Hartford Faith & Values:  An Elevator on Orchard Street

In The New Haven Register:  Are Neighbors More Neighborly when there is Greater Density?

In New Haven Magazine: Lawyers In Love

In Ink Magazine:  Architect Duo Dickinson: Celebrating 35 Years of Good Design for Everyone

In New Haven Magazine: A House of Homes

In The Source:  Duo Dickinson, Architect at Large

In River & Shore’s Coastal Homes:  On the Indian River

In The New Haven Register:  Aesthetically inconvenient Mudd Library faces death sentence

In Connecticut Magazine: Elements of Surprise

In The New Haven Register: Real Icons Aplenty in New Haven

In The Mercurial: Erosion Revelation

In Architecture Boston: Post-Modernism and Intelligent Design

In Design Bureau: Steve & Frank

Archive: Real Life Survival Guide



On WTNH News:  Madison Architect Sheds Light on Solar Solution for Homeowners

On Common Ground with Annette Ross:  She asked “Where is Architecture?”, I answered

On HGTV:  Mercedes Home Diaries       Password: mercedes


Eye of Irma

September 9, 2017


I once had a client here in Connecticut that could live anywhere in North America and chose to live in New England.

“It’s the only place I have warning.” She had been through the big San Francisco earthquake of the 1990’s and fled to a place that had few, if any, instant disasters. In Connecticut earthquakes, tornadoes, mudslides, even brush fires are incredibly rare and the hurricanes we face have a long warning week as we track “The Cone”.

This few weeks everyone is looking at cones. Harvey is a nightmare, and Irma is a bookend Super Storm: it makes for compelling attention. And because we do get hurricanes – the last one was a few years ago – we in New England have a special perspective: we are often The Event’s Big Finish so gallows humor, Swamp Yankee resolve, even Karma Talk enter in.

But this year there is an added mind warp: our political situation. President Trump is largely loathed up here, so the InterNetWebs churn out a constant hate spew. And any pretext – heels, golf, weight – creates new schadenfreude sarcasm and mocking.

But those hate focii are human foibles, there is some culpability for having orange skin and a ferret on your head. Acts of God are just that: mindful of no human, even a president.

Until this administration.

It was announced that Irma may devastate the Trump White House, Mar-a-Lago. Just one of millions of places to be wrecked by our climate. Even if you blame climate deniers for extreme weather, they did not cause Irma, and Donald Trump has been in office for less than a year. But still some see God’s Vengeance in the potential destruction of his home. Not surprising.

Of course, a local Facebook hub of Resistance seized on the news, comments glared and grew in response to Mar-a-Lago’s bad prognosis:

“While I wish no ill for the people of Florida… wouldn’t that be well deserved KARMA for the ILLEGITIMATE POTUS who said: “I moved on her like a BITCH”? Sorry, NOT SORRY”

“Karma” may not be a Christian Canon, but it manifests a Cosmic Higher Order. But others are not so shy about bringing God into the path of the hurricane:

“I believe it may be God’s will, for the transgender ban, the Muslim ban, and the general fuckwittery.”

Others are completely certain that the transgressions of a baffling president literally caused a cataclysmic destruction of his place:

“If Mar-A-Lago is hit, it will be God’s way of telling the United States how effed up they are, “electing: Trumpkin. I am sure of it. 😉
Sent from my iPhone”

And others are giddy at the thought of discovering a grand inconsistency in Faith and Political Consequences as found in a secular world co-opted by fundamentalist demons:

“I just can’t wait to hear the Right Wing Conservative Fundamentalist Christian preachers explain why God would punish tRump like this!”

We want to know why. Why Trump is here. Why Harvey drowned Texas and beyond. We want to know, predict, even control what happens – despite all facts that pre-empt knowing. Some want to know so badly they revile the faith that let’s unanswered questions maintain less ultimate power over us because we believe in the ultimate good of God. Somehow rage follows for those who feel threatened by their impotence: whether it’s against those in power they hate or weather they wish they could understand.

The transition to hate fosters a Magical Emnity that warps any inconvenient evidence into a weapon. Ignorance is sculpted in conspiracy simply because there is no Faith beyond what is knowable.

In truth, for me, Fear is the Devil. Fear simply causes Hate. Jesus got wrecked because humans feared. What? Often incoherent fear has the supreme power to make the love and goodness of every one of those Face Book posters convert their humanity into revenge in devining a design in Irma’s destruction of Mar-a-Lago.

Tragedy often involves hate – pretty much every war. But hurricanes do not hate. They wreck what we build, often the fruits of our beliefs, and they kill some of us: but I do not see a cockpit in the eye where a vengeful Entity metes out Karma. Or Justice.

Sometimes our worst can reveal our best: the extreme destruction of a hurricane allows love to flow. I just hope the flow of hate we have all experienced in the last year or two can Ju-Jitzu into a perspective that reveals that anger hurts more than heals.


September 5, 2017


Humans know they are going to die, so they want meaning in their lives. Beyond just being grateful for the gift of existence, some of us believe that being given anything is a given – there is a Reason for our being here. If you are ending, you want to count while you are here you have several options:

You can choose to live for you. You can be grateful for the things you have been given, especially life itself, and assume they are an unmerited gift and love, well, a lot. Or you think there is a much greater Truth, you are part of it, and there is a transaction it offers – more than just a gift. For some of those that means judging, converting and defining the rules of what you know and applying them and saving others.

There are many implications of this last mindset. They are different from each other, but equally fervent. Some believe that we all must have a “Safe Space” – or now, a “Brave Space”. Or we must follow Trump. We must end Trump. We must not eat anything that breathes. We must not eat anything that’s made by things that breathe. We must take Communion.

Well, think about life 400 years ago. The extreme hypocrisy of Papal oligarchy made life a raging anger by those who could see the dishonesty of humans using God for themselves.

So there was Martin Luther. Then there was the Church of England. And then there were those who saw that even a break from a break from the crushing corruption of the dominant church was simply not enough.

There were Puritans.

They wanted their rules, completely. At least in their lives. They were so convinced even the presence of their lives in the space of fellow rule breakers was a huge buzz-kill.

So they left. They went, effectively, to Mars.

And New England was born. And my co-author Steve Culpepper and I made a book. The last 400 years have seen this radical, rejectionist, my-way-or-the-highway, group landed on Mars and then felt the crush of God’s Gift so much that that devoted the best land in their places to Him (The Green), controlled their families, governed their communities, spent 1 day a week in a full fugue of worship.that radical rejection changed everything since, here in the social place they created.

It was not passive. Those who are not passive find ways to extend their insight beyond themselves, The Masters (or whatever they are called now) of a Yale college were effectively fired, because they poo-poo-ed Halloween costumes. This year.

In the book we posit that you think about the fictional scenario that Scientologists are so alienated by the reaction to their unconventional beliefs that they pay Elon Musk to take them to Mars. Just like the Puritans going to an equally distant New World.

Then think about the American Revolution, the Abolitionist Movement, Transcendentalism, the Suffrage Movement, the Prohibition Movement and realize nothing has changed: what we believe motivates. Starting in New England. If it really was “All Good” we would be drunk or stoned and in the sack 24/7. We are not.

Today for some “privilege” is disdained to the point where any “entitlement” Should be pre-empted by action or law. Alternatively anything that ended the time when America was great must be ended. Or, for others, If you do not worship my God you are living in soulless Hell – no matter how you feel.

Life has moments of connection. We connect to others, to a place, even to ideas. But in this book we seek to connect to history in a place. I think you might like it

Disease & Devotion

September 1, 2017


In the middle on my annual week off (needed or not) I spent a full hour of brown alcohol assisted dialogue with a psychologist after dinner the other night. The topic was, not surprisingly, God. More accurately religion. What follows is as accurate as 4 or 5 ounces of bourbon after dinner allows (Best Hits version):

>(my friend) “How can you even begin to believe in the draw of mystic hypocrisy that enslaves so many with base fear?”
>(me) “I don’t.”
> “But religion does!”
> “I am not religion and neither is Faith.”
> “But all the humans killed, lives wrecked in the name of all this bullshit!”
> “All true.”
> “But they all hate each other, whether Allah, Buddha, Christ – it’s all about fear and hate!”
> “Not for me: it would really be easier just to believe in me.”
> “EASIER?!? Are you crazy? Religion takes you off the hook – you are certain about the right things, the salvation, heaven – hell!”
> “I am completely unsure of any of those things, but I know, without the ability to disprove, any of it, that I am compelled to be better than I am.”
> “C’mon, you believe in Christ, you buy into the whole Bible thing, you are convinced! If he even existed…”
> “As much as anyone knows anything 2,000 years ago, we know he was there and got killed.”
> “OK, yeah, but those words, the judgment, condemnation, prescription, dehumanizations – and created 300 years after he died! If Constantine was not alive, there would be no Christianity!”
> “Umm the stuff was written down a hundred years after The Event, and a lotta people saw all that stuff in real time and were into it, so much so that they got dead because of it – and, unlike some of my friends, I know that the words themselves are written by humans, and those words are applied by humans, used by humans.”
> “So you agree with the rejection of fundamentalist hate and stupidity,”
> “I am not down with dumb and angry.”
> “Then how can you believe this crap? It’s all about power and fear!”
> “Religion, any religion, is the best guess by flawed humans at interpreting a Faith to everyone else – I have dedicated my life to help build things, but people look at my drawings and words and still make crap out of them – shit happens – but truth is unavoidable. But stuff ends up right”
> “But it kills, it lies, it uses people – religion is the worst of what we are – religion is evil!”
> “Well, Stalin, Mao, Hitler were not into religion. Humans can be pretty evil, without any help.”
> “Yeah, but this faith thing is all a lie – it helps no one, they just think they are better than those around them, they don’t have to think, they don’t need doubt or reason or science.”
> “I believe in God, and I know no one, no one, is worse than me. I have deep, abiding, hard questions. And Faith, regardless of religion, has helped billions.”
> “That’s all bullshit: Faith helps no one -”
> “All those studies of Faith and the sick -”
> “ALL LIES! I know, I am a doctor, faith helps no one, it’s all marketing, crap to get more people into hospitals! It’s designed to make faith stronger!”
> “Then it does not work: people are leaving God – ”
> “No they’re not! Those evangelicals are growing faster than anything – ”
> “No – those disclaiming any religion have tripled in less than a generation..”
> “Oh – but it’s a small number”
> “The numbers professing a religion are shrinking – hard. And that proves your argument on the problem with religion. Canon, for me, totally sucks – one size does not fit all, growing churches is not a goal, but it should be a result -”
> “But they lie, all the time. They are intolerant! They hate science! Science is truth and they hate truth!”
> “I love science. I do not care what adult has sex with what adult – I have enough problems – and, Faith is not religion BTW.”
> “Yes it is! Without religion how can there be any God?”
> “He is there no matter what we, no matter what I, do – God is there, in me, not out there.”
> “How do you know?”
> “I know”
> “Look, I am an MD, I know disease, I know how religion hurts people, it infects them, it kills them – ”
> “Like drugs or football?”
> “Yeah! They are forced into all that by their parents, their culture, they go to church or they go to hell, they kill the infidel and they go to heaven!”
> “No one made me believe in God, or play football. -I went to church with my family, then didn’t for 10 years. I went to a school that had football – I was terrible, really bad, but loved it, deeply – I came to listen to God too, despite all the rest..,”
> “What?”
> “Most everything – living in New England, an Ivy guy in a smart neighborhood, people like you, there are arguments that take over – architecture, politics, kids – none of it accepts ultimate faith in God – it all screams to me to have faith in acts, and in truth I have extreme faith in kicking ass”
> “So, what, religion excuses all the hard stuff? You believe in this stuff you know what’s right and wrong, you know that you are going to heaven -”
> “No, stop, I know nothing – I have no idea what is going on out there, I know that the more is known the less we realize is known, – and religion is tanking, big time, people are running away from religion because it’s way lame in many ways for many people – I just do what loves others with what I have been given – no excuses.., the rest is connection, fitting that truth to the culture – mostly badly…”
> “Well, but religion still is an abomination, it’s a terrible thing…”
> “Yeah, I guess it often is for many people.”

the Other Home – a Podcast

August 29, 2017



We all live somewhere. It’s often our refuge, or a point of pride – but for many it’s just a bed to rest our head: For some home is a binary: it involves an alternative universe – the “second home”. Some people have both a workaday dwelling and a separate idyll. Thoreau had a tiny place on Walden Pond, but had a larger home elsewhere. I have a barn 60 feet from my house.

Sometimes we just need a break: an unessential place to be, the “B” side to our life album – a distinct place where we can live out a complete life. Whether it’s a pied a terre in the city, a cabin in the woods, or a place on the lake: its different. Its usually created without a hard schedule, its “unnecessary”, we often handcraft it ourselves. It may be a luxury, but it’s most often not luxurious. What do our second homes say about us?

Joining us is Minnesota architect and best-selling author Dale Mulfinger. He founded SALA Architects and has written numerous books about architecture, architects and homes: but his most publically successful series of books is dedicated to the cabin He has a new book by Taunton Press coming out, but more, his experience and insights on the human need to find relief and expression in a second place to live will be uniquely valuable to hear.

But we also hear from two people who have very different second homes they share their lives with. Alison Clarkson is a Vermont State Senator from Woodstock, representing the Windsor District, who not only grew up spending summers at her mother’s family’s Adirondack retreat, Windover, but watched as her immediate family built a home of their own there – on the lake where scores of other family members for almost a century have created a community – and she and her own family bought a place in this special place where a multigenerational, far flung family comes together.

But its not always a family compound, second homes are most often centered on the immediate family. Michel de Konkoly Thege’s family are another second home story. Building a life in New York City also meant the creation of their own family meant creating a place where Michel’s family can get away from the hubbub and actually dig in the dirt, swim in salt water and have the kind of space and light that simply cannot be had in almost any urban location – and then theu have reinvented that place several times as their family evolved. A few hours away from Manhattan is a different world, and has been for almost 30 years.

Come explore with HOME PAGE the “other” place to live!








August 28, 2017

It is a luxury to have choices. The vast majority of humans for the vast majority of years had go along to get along. They farmed to eat. They worked where they had to. They lived where their family had lived. They had education as was necessary.

We did what we had to, and “want” was off the radar as “need” had to be served.

But medicine extended lives and made a dozen babies for a few survivors a thing of the past. Technology made food available to the non-farmer. Information began to make money, so education began to get money – and people began to get educated. We look for a mate rather than combine as necessary. And the way we governed ourselves changed from Alpha Dog tribal genetic absolutism to ideas and support.

A hundred years ago “Want” became a viable life focus for most in my part of the world rather than “Need” being preemptive of many options. It’s why my grandfather immigrated here in 1903, why my father was the first in his family to gave graduated from high school, then college, then law school.

But that meant we have choices to make. My father’s choice to go to law school got him kicked out of the house because his father expected him to take a job where he worked. Being “too good” to simply survive forces choices beyond survival, and that means some options are rejected, and things get complicated.

How do we make choices? In my era schools were not geared to help, the “Counselors” went along to go along, too. Children often ask parents. When your children are in the crosshairs of potential, you scramble to devine what makes sense – and they scramble too. In theory your advanced years gives you a better outlook than theirs, but there are dozens of thousands of kids that matriculate into colleges this week at places their parents are not so sure of.

But when your parents are dealing with their needs rather than your wants, you take what’s available and you riff. Absent experience you dance with the options of life with no choreography. As a feral kid I made a lot of choices.

But sometimes “it’s all good” has consequences you cannot understand until decades later.

I did good things – I did not marry wonderful families and waited for the right person. I found a place to work where I learned more than where to get cheap dry-cleaning for the mandated uniform. But other choices are not obvious.

Never having talked to my parents, an architect, anyone really, after my junior year in high school I decided that if I was not going to be an academic, I should be an architect. O.K.

My 16 year old brain, knowing nothing, made the logical leap that if I was to help create buildings, and the books all said that i needed to become a licensed architect to do that, I only applied to the quickest way to do that – the 5 year degree program – Bachelor of Architecture .

Once in college embedding in the small architecture school design studio and basing my life in that school, and architecture, seemed like eating where you pooped to me. So I dove into an arts dorm, visiting studio and school, knowing less about it, but fully expressing an arts life with non-architecture students.

I had rejected the normal beginning of the life of a student in the academic arts life as a liberal arts or fine arts major who would go on to architecture school for professional training – 3 years in grad school, delaying things by 2 whole years…

So I was licensed at 26.

After school I was in a hands-on, shorts and sneakers internship before getting licensed. House-sitting, almost no money, and grazing at everything, detached from my family, and simply doing as needed to make things work. I did freelance work, kept up the house I was protecting and put in 50 hours a week doing woodwork help and drawing on my day job.

I was not bored.

But there was an ad in the paper when I was 23 for a part time coaching job. In my wild high school dance, no one told me that football could extend to college. And no architecture program allowed that to happen anyway. I had no clue that Division 3 schools existed where O.K. players in high school could at least wear a uniform. What was central to a young feral life simply evaporated in college, despite my being the captain of our dorm’s touch football team in the university’s intramural “league”.

So the ad grabbed me.

I applied and was accepted. It was a B-Roll to a 20-something life.

This position was an additional 30 hour a week, 5 month a year devotion for the first few years – a commitment that somehow reinforced the notion that grad school was not an option. The head coach was 27, and the oldest. None of us had a girlfriend, let alone were married. It was a sublime immersion. I finally grew to know football as a craft, and emotional well of support and expression.

I see 55 year old men who call-out “COACH” and give a bro-hug at Starbucks. It is a unique relationship, that has morphed into knowing any number of players and coaches in a way I could not, unless I have devoted part of my life to the Delaware Wing T Offense in the late ’70’s.

I did not know it at the time, but I had made a choice. Why go to grad school? I could design stuff, I even taught for a while after coaching. But no one told me, and I was not interested in thinking about it, that getting a Masters, even the 1 year masters from some institutions, would have made my life different for the last 30 years.It turns out that a Masters or Phd in architecture is a ticket, an entry, a rationale – cred for admittance and belonging at a certain level.

If I had a Masters Degree I could have taught some (more). I could have been part of things in the academic world. That was simply precluded by coaching tight ends and nose tackles for the Branford High School Fighting Football Hornets rather than get an MArch..

Was it a good thing?

I am not part of the academic club in an academic city. I give some talks, go to some crits at Yale, write books, articles, but I am not in the club.

But this world of football fully lived itself out in my 11 years of playing and coaching. If it hadn’t I would not have a channel of my mind tuned into a place where being a casual fan is not an option, as coaches tend to look into things as they watch. Like being enmeshed in academia, we are what we live.

I know and love football. We have a son who does too. I did not ask him to play, but I knew what he needed, and helped his desire, unlike my parents. My coaching 35 years ago meant the other son who was immersed in music performance for decade at a high level had my perspective as an old coach in a tough place. Unlike my parents.

Would my life be different if I had found a firm to wear dry-cleanable clothing in, gone to grad school and buy better eyeglasses? Yes, by most professional standards I would have had a different life in architecture.

I would be a different human.

So would our sons.image004

I wish I knew what it meant…

August 21, 2017


This portrait was painted by Jonathan Weinberg 30 hours after I spent 100 hours in Yale Hospital. I was the 1 in 10 who had no permanent damage from a breeched vein – one (and only) compromised in utero by some faulty DNA. I have no idea what it meant.

Everyone willing to scream on media knows that America is in trouble. Either we have lost the magic stew of cultural greatness, or we are led by a freak. Both just may be truth. I am clueless as to how we got here.

My mother, like all other 1950’s moms, felt no need to stop smoking, drinking, or to breast feed when that vein’s middle layer was made incorrectly. I never made 6ft., but I am the tallest in my immediate family. I have no idea why.

Today I become 62. A singularly meaningless age. Except I am 1 in 10. Except all culture is being rewritten by technology – but there is no author: the words that define meaning and describe values are processed, not composed. We feel in a flow, not swimming.

The tide has won, for now. We can swim against it, but it is controlling the present outcome. I will not be 61 again. That vein’s blow out has a scar no one sees, and I cannot sense – except in perspective.

Technology has told me that even though I could have fetal-balled myself in a cave for 10 days and my verticality would be the same as it is now. But I would not have been told to take 4 pills a day. I would not have killed a couple stone with at least another to go. I would not know that my blood pressure was 119/70 yesterday.

But do I know what it means? Not really.

I want to believe that crushing it for 90 minutes for about 500 calories a day, every day, makes me “better” because the measurables say so. I work to them. The screamers vent at outcomes with a social vehemence that comes from surety – they know that their anger is justified – and it’s expression is somehow saving us. Or at least them.

It does not matter what the desired result is: our belief that what we believe has consequence gives purpose to billions of lives that are floating on a tide that right now has no discernible lunar or geocentric causalities.

Whether I am 5 or 90 it has no impact on those tides. But I might have played college football had my mother not smoked when I was being formed in her. Or if my parents had any sense of what they were doing when they created and raised kids.

Or I could been a spoiled, clueless, coddled jackass.

The crest of the moment – the vein exploding, my parents’ egg and sperm connecting, that first hit in Buffalo in 1969 – those moments – measure the unknowable force of flow I feel compelled to engage in. I wish I could learn from them, but I seem only able to act based on their motivation.

I did not achieve being 1 in 10, being born, or saving something by writing this or the next book. But I am alive, and I do things.

I miss tackles every day. I did before I knew what football is – others do, too, who have no idea what a tackle is. But as I watch flailing hopefuls in NFL preseason games miss their future by failing to make the tackle that reveals a football outcome for their lives, I see what happens every day to me.

Being 1 in 10, crushing my body on machines, diving into building things could only happen if I was in the position to make the tackle. Those failing NFL-never-happens men get to a place by 15 years of devotion: they are in a stadium, on a place on the Turf, where they can try. If they binge watched, hung out at the mall, had to get a job they would not be in bright colors of plastic launching into another human.

They got there. But they, I, often miss. After 62 years I miss the meaning beyond Faith. If I knew what it meant, I would tell you. Unlike the Talking Heads on screaming media, I know that I don’t know.

I have to be in a position to make the tackle too – in the isolated moments I can do what I hope to do with the time I have been given. But I know there is no clue that the arithmetic of effort + ability = results has any reliability. But effort + ability means you are in a position where the results you are compelled to create can happen.

I wish I knew the why’s. I don’t.