“It’s all about pride of ownership, kid.”  Duke Truesbilt reached forward and offered me a joint.  “No thanks, I politely refused, I have a few honey-do’s to do.  Gotta drive an errand, too.”  Duke nodded.  “This place,” he looked around, “is nice.  You all make a guest feel real comfortable, but not just that,” he paused, “Stimulated. Visually.”  I leaned back and accepted the compliment on behalf of all of our team. “When I develop,” he began, “I lay out the plans on the dirt and close my eyes.  I see the floor, the layout, the flow, the elevation.  I see the wood, the granite, the decorative architecture.  And I imagine walking through it.  That’s when I see the colors, then the transitions from one part of the building to the next.  It’s when I know if they are right. It’s when I add and subtract. The building becomes my fantasy, a constant stimulus that attacks my senses in whatever part I’m in.  It soothes in one part of the lobby, excites in another, pacifies on one floor, challenges on another, and encourages in parts along the way.  You do it with a mix of colors and art and materials.  You can’t be cheap.”  He sat silent for a moment. “And what of your budget?”  I had to ask, Duke was well known for extending his company on project after project.  He had faced bankruptcy many times.   I think he even went bankrupt a few times.  But he always came back and put some cool deal together.  His buildings were, to say the least, perfect.  They were more than just places to beat the heat or cold or rain or snow.  They were havens to connect with the intellect and creativity of humanity. They were reverences to Mother Earth, like he was saying, we are here, and we need to live on you, but we are going to harvest your materials and create beauty out of them, and we thank you for it. 

“To hell with budgets.”  Duke took a long drag from his joint. “You get one chance every fifty to a hundred plus years to bless the landscape. You don’t do it on the cheap.  My buildings are going to be in front of some people for their entire lives. And in front of generations to come, long after I am gone.  People don’t deserve anything less than the best.  Do it that way kid and the money will always flow.  You’ll never run out.  Someone will always give you more. There is always someone with money who wants to leave a mark.” 

“Someone who would rather leave a mark on the landscape than money in an account?”  That question perked him up. “Hell yeah.  Money is just a blunt instrument, meant to be traded in return for products of life.  Money doesn’t give life, what it buys does.  Spend it all, but do something bitchen’ with it.” 

We floated off in our own worlds after that. The fountains were doing their thing, making the air vibrate with the sound of trickling water.  The flowers danced to the breeze let in through the mahogany French doors that opened to the lanai.  And the aroma of Duke’s joint was sucked up by strategically placed slow moving big bladed ceiling fans.  Duke just blew smoke at them and watched them go round and round. He was lost in the moment.  But I could see something brewing behind those alert eyes of his. He was feeling a flow, taking in all that was feeding his senses. He was putting it all together, filing it for his next project.  It was time for me to go back to my reality.  Still watching the blades turn he imparted one last word of advise.  “Build the feeling, man, build the feeling.” 

if you like Duke, you will like Leslie Bianaford.