The Bricklayer’s Artist Statement

I build walls. Walls that keep the world at bay. Walls that protect. Walls that ward off invaders. Walls that create safe sanctuaries for human connection. Walls that prevent the leering eyes of a pervy neighbor off my sunbathing daughter.

Symmetry is my muse. Level is my supreme guide. Brick my medium. Sometimes terrazzo or mosaic cuz I am good with the tilesetting too. Mortar my connection. Trowel my instrument. Budweiser my punctuation point.

Budweiser is also my escape. That should be made clear.

The repetitive nature of this work frees my imagination to think about curves and escape from my straight angled prison. I think about the curves of the body of the womanly stranger passing by. I think about the fire in my round belly caused by a Frito pie from the canteen truck. I think about the curves of my wife’s sister’s body in particular. And of my daughter’s friend Ashley.

My work takes less of a critical view of sweeping social, emotional, political or cultural issues, and keeps it simple- to one brotherhood’s world view. This band of brothers (and sisters, but shit the gals are usually totally weak on a work crew), united in a union of craftworkers. We build the world from the terra up. Sir Winston Churchill was one of us on the weekends when he was sober enough and not keeping Nazis hordes at bay. Speaking of, Germans are kick as bricklayers. Always have been. Maurer means “bricklayer” in German, fyi Twins fans.

From Apprentice to Master. From one tax bracket to another. From a job site to the unemployment office. From the ground floor to the penthouse. These calluses are a part of my handshake deal with humanity.

The Art of Laying Brick

I found this to be impressive and mesmerizing. Also, this guy totally looks like a bricklayer in type casting.

Food Prep Honey Badgers in the Staff Kitchen

The note below, was posted this afternoon, Friday, in the kitchen of my office. It was my time for kitchen duty this week, which brought into greater focus that I have some colleagues who are housekeeping deficient. It was high time for a teachable moment up in there.

This note was done in Comic Sans font. On purpose.

I will like be fired come Monday.


The miraculous, immaculate toasting of a food item is an elusive goal. Getting food from appliance to plate and getting it buttered/jellied/schmeared/sliced cleanly, without leaving trace evidence is quite a feat.

Crumbs are oft left scattered across the countertop like autumn leaves on a lawn. Dollops of tasty spread oft splats on impact like Jackson Pollocks’ acrylics. Both can be easily, obviously detected with the naked eye. No CSI equipment is needed to illuminate the evidence.

Many-o-messes are promptly cleaned up by conscientious chefs. Hurray. Their colleagues are nary the wiser that a delectable Toaster Strudel or pumpernickel bagel this way cometh. But a brazen minority does abandon their messes. They shamelessly commit jelly-felonies and crumb bombings without regard for the burden of clean-up they’ve placed on others. They don’t care about the chaos of comestibles left in their wake. They are, simple put, FOOD PREP HONEY BADGERS, because they just don’t give a…

What makes these FPHBs tick? Is the allure of piping hot carbs too strong to delay instant gratification in order to tidy up? Do yummies in their tummies trump an amiable co-op kitchen environment? Could an all-in-good-fun social shame via passive-aggressive note prompt a more congenial approach to food toasting? Here’s hoping.


The Comic Sans Staff Comic

P.S. This note will be submitted to for consideration. Also, all passive-aggressive notes should be done in Comic Sans. Natch.

The ROI of a Single Donation

Here is an article I wrote for Minnesota Business magazine that tells of how a young girl from Wayzata, Minn., who was dying of cancer, decided to donate the money she’d been saving for a bicycle to a small fund at the University of Minnesota called “Children’s Cancer Research Fund”. This token donation would become the catalyst for a movement that would change the practice of medicine, and save countless young lives.

The Pile Driver

When I was young, my dad (Butch) and I had a ritual to watch All-Star Wrestling every Sunday. Butch reveled in Mean Gene Okerlund’s faux concern while interviewing villains named The Claw, The Sheik , Sgt. Slaughter, The Giant, Jake the Snake, The Body and his smarmy manager The Brain/Weasel. It was a daddy/daughter bonding experience.

We knew all the pro wrestlers’ signature moves, and depending on whose match was up, we’d anticipate seeing one of our favorite moves – the Pile Driver. You see, Butch was a pile driver, a construction specialty made infamous by this ‘neck-breaking’ move meant to cripple opponents, and lead to an immediate pin. This move was lights out. Seeing one, the crowd would let out a loud ‘oooh’, in a ‘that’s-gonna-hurt’ way. Butch would nod in self-satisfied approval.

My first impressions of his vocation were formed from watching the brutalizing of poor chumps from Omaha, Des Moines or Fargo. The spectacle instilled a healthy respect for my dad’s tough job, bad-ass enough to disable a man, at least in the make-believe sense.

At least that’s what I naively thought. Later, I’d come to find out that the fearsome Pile Driver can be disabling outside of the entertainment ring. On the real job site, a novice crew member can accidentally dropped a steel beam on your dad’s back. It can lead to lights out. It can disable a man from St. Paul.


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