Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have sacrificed for our country, the swords that protect us. My mind drifts to my Grandfather Edward Gibeau. Too young to fight in World War II he signed up anyway. The times spent before battle, before the actual war, he used to tell us about the joy he brought to the misery, a deft trick for a young boy. He loved New Zealand, he loved the people, he loved the hunting, and he loved all the horrible chickens he was forced to “borrow” from the locals. Wild tales of latrine duty, tire theft, rooster theft, and smuggling drunken companion both in and out of camp. Camaraderie was the meat behind all the stories, he loved these men, and he loved the time he had with them before the actual war. Pictures of him then shock me, this great towering powerful man was just a boy, skinny fair skinned, almost a child. I never knew the kid that went off to fight for his country; I met the man returned after he had lived much of his life. Calling in an airstrike (mortar?) on a heard of wild goats that he had noticed while learning the lay of the land – that was my Grandfather. Edward Gibeau, this skinny little kid off in a foreign country hunting wildlife via superior firepower. He said once he tracked down what was left of the carcasses he realized his folly, there was nothing left to eat, the animals had been obliterated. Then he left to fight the island war; he was lucky enough to return while most of his friends did not. Today I am thinking about them.
Colin Germaine the owner of STAHLWERKE, LLC. is the creative genius behind some of the most magnificent functional pieces of art you will ever allow your eyes the delight of seeing. Visual food – you will savor every morsel, salivate at each “dish”, you will feast with gluttonous fervor on the entire buffet of his hand made arsenal. Colin is both an artistic genius and master craftsman (two things I have found never occur in the same body.) As I am writing this I keep picturing a certain end table that I adore that really should be right next to me this instant!
I have both the delight (and the curse) of being able to help put Colin Germaine’s art in viewable form via a website (http://stahlwerkellc.com/) and his company Facebook page STAHLWERKE, LLC, after fiddling around with possible “displays” off and on over the years (as I stumble my way through remedial Dreamweaver) it has dawned on me that my “gift” with computers does not translate to graphic/design wizardry, and to add to that misery there is nothing worse than creating a bad back drop to showcase brilliant artwork. My MSU/GSD/TIP/DGC (make shit up/get shit done/test in prod/don’t get caught) abilities are highly useful in a corporate environment that is a bit chaotic, but that same skill set is less tuned for this particular work. So my task at hand is to use my tepid skills in this arena to create useful vehicles to showcase Colin’s work without the vehicle detracting from the content… Easier written than manifested.
The first step is to suck up my pride, Colin has a skill set that I delight in, he manifests physical representations of his thoughts at will and then people can buy them and use them – there is a lot to be said for functional art work! As a smaller person (a.k.a. jealous little brother) I was perturbed at the ridiculous disparity between things I made, and things my brother created. These days I am just happy that I get first dibs on many pieces and am lucky enough to have a few of his pieces in my home. To have direct access to genius is beyond cool.
I am driven by the fact that more people need work from STAHLWERKE, LLC in their homes. I am a big fan of IKEA, and DWR as well, but the chasm between those mass-produced pieces and what Colin creates is large enough that more people need to see and own his work. So cart before the horse, I am writing about web pages that are not done instead of pointing to evolving displays of his work that will do the pieces justice. All too often it is easier to write about the task than it is to complete the work… This will be a labor of love though, and both vehicles will at some point be palatable ways to see what Colin Germaine is creating and selling via STAHLWERKE, LLC., more importantly they will provide people another avenue to procure his art. More on this as I stumble my way through bringing this project online.
Edward Gibeau, titan of industry, experimental materials “tester”, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, Marine, gambler, throughout his life my Grandfather donned many a hat. Young children often look at their parents or grandparents with a sense of black and white devotion that usually fades as they age. Your parents are the most amazing people you know when you are small and they keep answering all of your questions. That relationship seldom survives the transition from child (sponge) to adult (combative/self thinking). It is usually a healthy transition; I still consult my mother on many planned (and during the turmoil of unplanned) changes in my life and hold her wisdom and values in the highest esteem. That said I wouldn’t hit her up for advice on a stock purchase or a system upgrade, at 35 she is not the ultimate authority I look to for black and white resolution to all questions. Age has taught me to look elsewhere for some things that fall out of her wheelhouse (and that there are many questions that have no black and white answer). Edward (Grandpa) Gibeau is an odd duck in that regard, as a child I looked at him and saw power. When I was very little he was wildly successful in business, and that success was reflected in the power and authority of the man. As a little person there is immense comfort in knowing that someone close to you is powerful, and my grandfather was. Ed Gibeau had all the trappings of success, cars, an extravagant house, a gigantic boat, HBO, and all the beef jerky a young lad could consume. He usually wore suits and drove a Mercedes, and his property stretched from the bay at one end all the way back to the lake at the other. Jeanne (Grandma) Gibeau had decorated the exterior grounds with what must have been hundreds of gnomes all throughout the woods, and traipsing around as a wee lad the whole damn place felt magical. They were magical, but I am losing my place here. Ed Gibeau took simple things like Easter egg hunts, and added a little magic to them as well. The “Easter bunny didn’t hide hard boiled eggs around his house (who the hell really wants 20+ hard boiled eggs, I never understood that reward system…), the Gibeau Easter involved searching the house inside and out for hidden silver dollars. Colin and I would do the normal egg painting with Grandma and Mom, but the “hunt” involved prey of a different nature. I still have some of those silver dollars, (my father owns the vast majority since I used to turn around and sell them to him when funds were short, but I digress). Magic though, Edward Gibeau created a sense of calm for me as a child, he was power and stability and magic. Many family members gag a bit when I roll out my memories of the man, he excelled at being a Grandfather I have to remind them, and my memories are remarkably sweet. Edward Gibeau jumping into the pool, ruining a perfectly good suit, and a rather expensive watch as his grandson watched from the bottom of the pool doe eyed. He thought I was drowning, I think I was just holding my breath, but for that little child in the pool it was enough to know I had a champion. An unshakable bull of a man, strong, powerful, no nonsense, yet sweet; I had that in my corner, and that was a powerful thing. Ed Gibeau, even after he lost some of that power and shine of success, even after the big business was transmuted into a smaller entity, even after age diminished his gargantuan physical strength, he still represented the same sense of calm for me. He still would have jumped into a pool to pull my arse out at 85. If he popped out of the grave today I would still defer to his business acumen with the same reverence I had as a tot. It takes a remarkable man to imprint you in such a way, and Edward Gibeau was a remarkable man.
Fun with Ed Gibeau (Grandpa Gibeau), or in this case Edward Gibeau. Grandpa used to delight in a story about a cop who had pulled him over for driving too fast for conditions, it was a blowing snowstorm of the like people who grow up in northern Michigan are quite used to. You can’t see a damn thing in front of you, the whole world seems to be swirling around, and the mask of white that envelopes your vehicle makes you (and every other driver/pedestrian/etc) completely blind. Ed Gibeau, was cruising down the highway in his Mercedes at a rate exceeding the “you should really be walking” pace these storms dictate, when a cruiser somehow spotted him, and flagged him down with lights a blazing. Grandpa was known at that point to be a friend of the sheriff department, the local judges, and donated time and money to enough of the local business groups that speeding tickets were not something he normally dealt with. This policeman was pissed however, and gave him one anyway. Grandpa would have been out of the car, storm be damned, arguing with the officer. Pleading his case, mentioning his charitable nature and damning the man for pulling him over in the first place (I believe he was late if memory serves.) At some point the officer finally got him to take the ticket and returned to his car. This is where my memory grows hazy, and Edward Gibeau would have shown his talents. The story would flare at this point as Grandpa savored the moment. The policeman had either gotten his car stuck on that highway in the middle of a storm, or his battery had died (I believe it was the latter.) As Grandpa was pulling away the officer came running up asking for a charge (or a ride). Edward Gibeau, business man, entrepreneur, negotiator of favorable deals – this turnabout, he must have been salivating. What powerful friends had not delivered mother nature had. I believe Grandpa laughed at the man and started to pull away. Finally, he stopped and mentioned that there was still the matter of a ticket to deal with. Like most of Grandpa’s stories they were best heard from him, the sheer audacity of a policeman giving him a ticket! God had to intervene to correct the matter. Edward Gibeau had the local police in his pocket, so I was shocked when I located a notice that some officer had actually given him a ticket, and the notice had hit the paper. Anyway, a blip on my Grandfather, as I have a little fun with the Google and search for tiny bits of the past that key delightful memories of my favorite storyteller.
3:30 in the morning and I am thinking about the people who helped form me that are no longer with me. Jim is ever present on my mind, my dead mentor/conscience/friend still whispering advice in my ear. I still catch myself playing with different tacts to use in arguments that haven’t been voiced in 7+ years now and only live on in my head. Jim makes me laugh, it is a remarkable comfort after the pain and horror of death to realize someone had such an impact on you that they still carry on in both your head and your heart. Jim will be giving me advice for the foreseeable future. Tonight and many nights lately my thoughts have been on my Grandfather though. I have been having fun searching for Grandpa Gibeau. Edward B. Gibeau, or Edward Gibeau or just Ed (he wasn’t fussy about his name, though he was a giant of a man so often he was called Mr. Gibeau…) Finding Edward Gibeau’s gravestone was a bit of a shock, but then a pleasure to look at it again and have a positive thought about Grandpa and Grandma immediately eclipse the negative feeling a grave tends to bust your lip with. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=57483504&PIpi=32160541
Grandpa and Grandma online in a macabre fashion, I suppose I need to scan in some pictures of lighter times and less finality. Edward B. Gibeau (Grandpa), was a fascinating man for a multitude of reasons, of his many facets the most engaging was his artful storytelling. Hands down the best oral storyteller I have ever encountered (though certainly I am a tad biased since the man used to let me eat beef jerky and stay up late watching HBO.) There was a time when I was set to record Edward Gibeau with my digital camera and capture video of his stories as a personal keepsake, and to pass on to the younger folks on the family. I missed my opportunity for that, but am going to take a shot at laying down some of the fragments I remember. The treat is that the internet is filled with odd little points of interest on this journey (Edward Gibeau was the MRCA President from 1971-1972 for instance), the trail of his roofing history (and exploits) is going to be one of the personal delights as I take a wander down this path. I can’t speak in his voice, but I am delighted to have a little fun attempting to put together some of the pieces of the stories he used to enthrall me with. So more to come on Mr. Edward Gibeau!
Its 12:00 in the midnight, and I have a hangnail that is causing throbbing pain to resonate through my finger every time my right “hunt and peck” striker plods into the key. This however does not stop me from bashing said finger into the keyboard repeatedly as my mind wanders about the room.
It has occurred to me that I have become sort of a room vagabond, strewing clutter about the house at the expense of enjoying the recent progress in home improvement. The office for example has a distinct garage sale atmosphere; horded mismatched glasses cover the floor in an erratic pattern that seems to suggest a break in. My desk was donated to a neighbor, and the “wiring closet” has been moved into the bedroom along with my Christmas PC that hasn’t been used for anything it was built for – all jumbled into an expensive pile of the grotesque that is both inefficient and unattractive. The office is a freshly painted bit of slovenly disaster that has forced me to migrate into either my bed or the living room when working or wasting time yelling at people online. The mess is incongruent, housing upgrades have forced nonstandard debris. The kitchen mess is not in the sink, it is in the office, the living room is full of my yet to be built random LED light collection. Ikea boxes and mounting hardware are strewn throughout every room. I have developed “collections” of things like Spackle, glass block, different grades and types of resins/epoxy/polyurethane/”sticky stuff in a tube”, collections that no one in their right mind highlights by storing openly and celebrating in their living room. Random metal, glass, and plastic are strewn not just in the front and back yard, but also the kitchen, dining and living room. I must admit, I am not used to projects ever getting complete in the arena of homes, most things I start have indefinite time horizons; some projects have been ongoing for 7+ years. It would seem I cling to the vestige of the incomplete even in the face of “done”, like the anti-zen, I leave the materials that are no longer needed in place in preparation for a project that no longer needs them. I continue to celebrate the process that is already complete by paying homage with random deleterious items that really should be returned for some sort of refund so I can afford to purchase a desk. Instead I sit in the living room gazing at sheets of hardibacker and random tile lovingly, nay, artfully hiding my cherished items in a camouflage of disorder. The microwave is still in the garage because I don’t want its lack of look and unkempt pedigree to dissuade the eye from the delight that is now the kitchen, yet I have the new floor strewn with cubic yards of building materials. Chaos in flux hiding the progress made, maniacally scrubbing water spots off the new backsplash while cutting my foot on the sawzall… Christy must really love me to put up with this “eccentricity”.
Then there is the irrational angry part; it pops out on a Friday after a respectable week of work. Arriving home I find myself keyed up, pumped a bit, ready for action. Ever since I quit drinking “ready for action” means I need to find a project or spend part of the night trying to sleep when I am not tired. Rolling around on the bed while picturing the taste of an icy beer wasn’t going to cut it tonight. The kitchen was missing a sink, there was no cabinet, the counter was lying across the dishwasher and a half assembled turnstile. Tonight was to be one of those epic evenings when dreams, actionable items and motivation all meet in one manic tornado of progress. Two hours later I am ready to strangle my girlfriend. The irrational thought crosses my mind multiple times that she has purposely hidden pieces of the many parts of this intricate project. The legs for the cabinet are missing, I find the power cord for the insinkerator, but the cover, drain sleeve and hardware are nowhere to be found. My level is buried somewhere under the clothes and kitchen utensils that have been moved into the garage to make room for the renovation that brought us to this point. Everything is almost ready for my needed project, but the fucking pieces are missing. I know she didn’t hide them, there is no reason rational or irrational for that, but the thought is cloying. In a simmering rage I decide against my better judgment to trudge forth into the night to the only available place to get tack nails, TSP, PVC etc. Pieces parts and minutia necessary to salvage this moment of tappable energy. I hate Walmart, it is both depressing and as a tangent debilitating. Being there makes me feel judgmental and despising of consumption. The idea of churning through mountains of disposable Chinese crap dances with the food displays being stalked by engorged Americans hell bent on food induced suicide. The electric carts are out in force propelling the engorged mechanically down the aisles as they rapidly pick off the herd of calorie caked food. A panic attack strikes me with force; the wave of building fear hitting a crescendo before I realize it is upon me. I feel a tremor in my body; I am both sick and despising, judging myself for judging those around me. This place makes me feel vile. $30 later and I have managed to live through the experience. My ghetto Walmart, a place to go when I want to be drenched in what I hate about America.
I find the legs to the cabinet when I place my keys on them upon walking back into the house. The stench of Walmart like that of a diseased whore is still on me and I feel a tad remorseful for spending even a moment in such a discouraging place. The lady that checked me out could have been my Mother – that is not the retirement I want for anyone, the ticking of the clock setting the cadence of the day as you bag others groceries and wait to die.
I don’t get past putting the legs on the table before a thirst rises and I jump back in the car for a quick trip to speedway for some pop. It seems like hours pass before I finally return. The place was madness. 10 customers turned into 30 minutes as a rush overwhelmed the elderly gentleman trying to eek out his nightly living. Everyone looks wasted, the 2 drunken bikers abusing formalities in demeaning ways – behind their eyes the story of speed and booze. Their voices add an exclamation point to their excess. The foursome that walk in, a bedraggled mop of upper middle class teens trying to look cool in that “I paid to look like a bum” way only teens celebrate. The heroin chic chick leading that band of rheumy-eyed stoners has a tear in her textured nylons. Her body and legs are too skinny, her voice too sharp, her boyfriend too stoned. I smile; this place in all its raw dank is comforting. I like the unruly kids, the wasted bikers, the loud-mouthed line. Leaving the parking lot I am blocked in – the parking lot is a hot mess of dumb people herded into the worst parking lot in downtown Phoenix. They jam ever more cars into a confined space for no reason other than to block each other in and make angry noises. God everyone looks and acts wasted. It takes sobriety to finally see the vulgar reality of a Friday night at the local gas station. Mess of humanity upon mess of humanity trying to make messes upon each other. No time for that, I have my own mess back at home to wreak havoc on.