Spencer Tweedy

  1. Observations 8-18-18

    • The otherwise cool boutique selling vintage-stylized 1984 shirts.
    • The Keith Haring art on luggage.
    • How every Lyft driver we met lived outside of the city, in Oakland, Sacramento, or the mountains.
    • The parade floats, sitting alone (but together) on the pier.
    • The tiny little micro-bar, a maybe twenty-square-foot hole in the Mission. Too crowded to enter.
    • The dismal, narrow thrift store, more cluttered than they usually are, like every donation just gets plopped on top of the stuff that came before it, and its owner, an older woman who derisively refused to haggle with a calm dude for a hat (~$20 down to $8), “[I’d] never do that. Never do that.”
    • Walking past and peering into the evening services of Catholic storefront churches. The fluorescent overhead lighting, the bars on the doors and windows, the unattended drums and conga sets.
    • Watching a second-floor house show from the street. Looking for a door and a friendly attendee on a smoke break to let us in, but finding no one.
    • Seeking out the most Chicago-esque bars in the Mission (ones with regulars, without a schtick, with naturally occurring grime).
    • The older couple in formalwear—a three-piece suit, a dress—sharing a chocolate sundae at 11PM in the diner.
    • Eating tater tots and ice cream, packing for our 5:30AM wake-up.
  2. Observations 8-17-18

    • Reading Craig Mod’s newsletter about his 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat and thinking, for the first time, that I might like to try something like that one day.
    • Staying indoors in beautiful, sunny San Francisco until 2PM and feeling bad about it.
    • The street-performing duo playing wooden flutes through belt-clip amplifiers, phasing against each other.
    • The sixtyish man with a European accent, waiting for the bus, helping a blind woman navigate past a cable run on the sidewalk.
    • The homelessness, way more apparent and concentrated than it is in Chicago’s downtown.
    • The custom-painted, tiger-stripe motor scooter.
    • The guy doing tricks with his hardshell suitcase like it’s a Tech Deck skateboard (e.g. bouncing off of tree, spinning around).
    • The guy wearing a head-to-toe, pink jumpsuit with matching pink shoes, who happened also to be in a wheelchair.
    • The local-cultural thing of playing music through big, battery-powered speakers on the street, something you virtually never see in Chicago.
    • The white-goateed guy at the bar, friendly-drunk, raving about Anchor Steam beer, telling me about his dream to make a shirt with an upside-down eye of the pyramid and the word “REVOLVE” on it. Me, correctly guessing that it was meant to represent the reversal of the world power structure.
  3. Observations 8-16-18

    • Flying to San Francisco.
      • Feeling naked without my backpack.
      • The airport employee who emerged from a rolling overhead door, driving one of those three-wheel, electric carts, eating a banana.
      • The announcement over the gate PA, “Looking for San Francisco flight passenger Morrissey.” (Not that Morrissey.)
      • The older passenger who accidentally started playing music (Indian pop) through his phone speakers instead of the headphones that he had requested from a flight attendant earlier.
      • Having drink-cart Diet Coke and feeling like a debauchee for it.
      • Reading Neil Strauss stories about Mötley Crüe and Ozzy Osbourne’s pee-licking and Jack Daniels-chugging at the same time as feeling like a debauchee for the Diet Coke.
      • At the end of the flight, trying to get out of my seat with my seatbelt still on.
    • The SF MUNI logo (I had forgotten about it!). Almost illegible but worth it for the fun.
    • The startup billboards.
      • LA has Emmys, SF has startups, Chicago has pizza and lizard-like injury lawyers.
    • How, even though it’s also summer (and warmer) in Chicago, it somehow feels even more like summer in California.
    • The sun-faded Shen-Yun 2017 poster in the donut shop.
      • The name, “Happy Donut.”
      • The owner, recognizing a man who stole a dollar from her tip jar two days ago, annoying him into giving it back. Him, limp-running away afterward.
      • The awning, “21 Varicties.”
    • The man wearing a suit and a six-inch-wide, red button: “It’s My Birthday!”
    • Entering a weed dispensary for the first time, for an acquaintance’s comedy show.
      • The headlining comedian, a kinda melancholy, young substitute teacher, calling me “half Michael Cera, half Ichabod Crane” and “heroin-chic.”
    • The contractors installing new strands of crystals in the Swarovski store ceiling after hours.
    • The psychedelic Dee Dee TV public access show re-runs.
      • The Pride footage of lots of naked wieners and even people touching them.
    • The Wired story about how Cloudflare uses a 24/7 video feed of shifting lava lamps to generate random cryptographic keys for its cybersecurity tools (thanks Uncle Bruce).
    • Jenn Pelly’s great piece in the Guardian about the final traveling Warped Tour.
      • Wondering whether bands on the lineup like being described by the head of the festival as part of a “nostalgia tour.”
      • The two clear proposals she presents: keep Warped alive but make it more inclusive (Pelly’s preference), or “burn it to the ground and start something new” (a fan’s punk AF preference).
    • Paul Ford talking about web/app development as a reliable, old-school craft on his podcast, Track Changes.
    • The Ray Kroc quote about paper cups in that Atlantic piece about disposable straws: “I don’t know what appealed to me so much about paper cups. Perhaps it was mostly because they were so innovative and upbeat.”
  4. Observations 8-15-18

    • Pulling one of my own eyelashes out of my mouth.
    • The guy walking two dogs with a graphic Band-Aid over the bridge of his nose.
    • The quasi-art of choosing Pro Tools track colors, making a palette out of a song.
    • The humidity.
    • The sunset, already an hour and a half earlier than the peak of the summer.
    • Staring up at Trump Tower.
    • The artist space in a former auto repair shop, its kind/cool owner, and eating a squillion-course, delicious meal together with a really generous, hard-working friend.
  5. Observations 8-14-18

    • The weathered pregnancy test packaging on the ground.
    • The sunflowers growing in the tiny strip of soil between apartment building and sidewalk.
    • The robin’s egg blue propane truck.
    • The joy of my cousin’s piano-playing (8-11-18) emanating from the basement.
    • Working on Sammy’s beautiful new music.
    • The photo portfolio of Whitten Sabbatini, timeless and tasteful and communicative.
    • Watching mind-boggling Aretha Franklin videos with Mom and relatives.
  6. Observations 8-13-18

    • Smashing my thumb in the car door.
    • The light scorn I felt toward the teenager with a valet key on his keychain in the case that he chose to carry it, adding needless weight and jingle to his keychain, or the pity I felt in the case that he never learned a valet key is removable.
    • Another truck notice, “NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OBJECTS COMING FROM ROAD.” Doubting again (8-10-18) whether that’s a legal rejection of responsibility and, in this case, whether it would be necessary even if it were one.
    • The shirtless punk (classical definition) with a barbed wire tattoo that wraps all the way around the chest.
    • The can design of Parson’s Beer (a Revolution beer for Parson’s Chicken & Fish).
    • Holding a friend of a friend’s six-week-old baby.
    • Listening to a relative talk about a song through the lens of a breakup (“this has to be about heartbreak”), remembering the way they talked about music at the beginning of a relationship (“I understand all the songs now”).
    • Considering that so much of the art-making we look up to as kids, especially in photography, is the product of an adult’s ability/privilege to travel and to stumble upon unusual situations and interesting people. The excitement of being an adult and getting to stumble upon your own unusual situations and interesting people.
    • How deciding to poop without a phone in-hand is a modern form of ascetic practice.
  7. Observations 8-12-18

    • Waking up with “Blue Sky” by Allman Brothers Band stuck in my head.
    • The WWE figurines at Walmart.
    • My heart pounding while I watched an older couple fall over on a stationary motorcycle. (They were okay.)
    • The 1921 book, How to Psycho-Analyze Yourself by Joseph Ralph, my uncle gave to my mom for her birthday.
      • The amazing gold lettering on its cover.
      • The Psychoanalytic Review review that criticized it for being too prude and celebrated it for “aid[ing] the great work of mental hygiene.”
    • The young relative announcing, at the perfect comedic moment, that he hated all of us. (It was a temporary, Mountain Dew-induced tantrum.)
    • Watching stars, and satellites, and meteors during the Perseids shower with family.
      • How it seems like most of the time spent watching a meteor shower is actually spent complaining about the meteors you missed while you looked away.
      • The wonder of spotting satellites, which seem somehow more distant and foreign than visible planets.
      • The campaign merch boondoggle of Trump’s Space Force.
  8. Observations 8-11-18

    • Recording more songs with my Skip Spence-y friend (8-9-18), getting blasted by a loud burp through the vocal mic into my headphones.
    • My nine-year-old cousin reciting “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and “Für Elise” on piano, playing guitar along with him.
    • Standing in a cardboard box and feeling surprisingly comforted by it.
    • Eating noodle kugel while driving.
    • The subtle, editorial taste that pokes through on Vine compilations.
  9. Observations 8-10-18

    • The businessman wheeling a whiteboard across the street.
    • The painted notice, “NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR BROKEN GLASS,” on the back of the plumbing company truck. Doubting whether that’s a legal rejection of responsibility.
    • Continuing my closet cleaning project (8-1-18).
      • Finding a strip of paper from middle school on which my best friend and I had written the calculation for conception: PENIS^(2^3) + ∠VAG(10!) = |SPERM|^(2+(7^0)) ± EGG^3(3/4) = BABY
      • Putting a box for a Western Digital external hard drive in the box for a Seagate external hard drive and feeling like I had made a turducken, a disrespectful, blasphemous dish.
    • The memory of pacing around the classroom, crying, after drop-off in preschool, stopping at the mirror of a toy kitchen set to watch myself cry.
  10. Observations 8-9-18

    • The two Canadian motorcycle couples (Ontario plates), riding together on 94, one with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth.
    • The catfish delivery truck. A truck just for delivering catfish.
    • Drumming for a friend’s beautiful, Skip Spence-esque outsider country songs.
    • The ghoulish wall painting, including pointy nips, of a dancing woman at the Mexican restaurant.
    • The dad jogging, doing jumping jacks on the corner while his infant lay in a stroller.
  11. Observations 8-8-18

    • The tiny little tree with a tiny little stabilizing brace on it.
    • The antique and junk metal store.
      • The 19th-century-lookin-ass wooden hut on its campus.
      • The lawn full of rusting industrial equipment.
      • The leather saddle, mossy from rain.
    • The RVs towing SUVs. Feeling like it’s both cute and excessive to do that.
    • Leaving the house in ripped jeans (from natural causes), having just showered, thinking it’s generally a good bet to look disheveled but smell nice, or at least a better bet than the opposite.
    • Playing at the Empty Bottle with Hue.
      • The friendly and competent soundperson, Shay/Shae. Soundpeople are so often jaded or bad (or both), it’s really nice when they’re nice.
      • Heading to a seemingly usual, bemuraled corner store for a snack, finding a portal into a Ukrainian super market instead, complete with produce and a seafood deli. Buying imported, peanut-flavored Cheetos called Flips, a sesame sugar cracker, and an apple.
      • The band that left three nearly untouched salads in the green room.
  12. Observations 8-7-18

    • The nerdiness of people who travel with, and set up, slacklines.
    • My earache, hopefully from a sinus infection and not from blasting monitors or naegleria fowleri in the creek (8-4-18).
    • The older couple on the beach, in non-beach clothes, listening to oldies on an iPhone, taking pictures of the water with an iPad.
    • The learner sailboats trailing the bigger, teacher sailboat, looking like ducklings following their mom (Casey’s aunt’s observation).
    • The eighteen-year-olds reminiscing about the blogging era.
    • The twenty-two- and -three-year-olds (Casey and me) reminiscing about Palm phones, especially the Palm Pre, whose UI was more modern-looking than iOS’s at the time.
    • The little kids carefully handling cash at the beach snack stand.
      • The kid who found $6 left on the counter and shouted to everyone, “Did anyone lose $6?”
    • How lisps and other, more subtle speech idiosyncrasies travel across generations in a family.
    • How some people, particularly older people, can sit and do nothing but think for hours at a time. I can sit-and-do-nothing-but-think pretty well but I’ve got a long way to go compared to 93-year-old pros.
    • Nile Rodgers talking about how Bernard Edwards died while on tour in Japan, and the gratitude he felt for the Japanese authorities who respected Edwards’ body and gave Rodgers time to be alone with him, in Strauss’s book (8-6-18).
      • “So midway through the concert, we were doing ‘Let’s Dance.’ And all of a sudden, the bass dropped out at the beginning of the verse. I thought, ‘Damn, that’s clever.’ I went, ‘Good job, ‘Nard!’ And I turned around and didn’t see him. He had passed out, and the roadies had picked him up and placed him behind the stage. And he was just sitting there playing.” The beauty of Rodgers assuming the best, and being excited by Edwards’ talent.
  13. Observations 8-6-18

    • The toy store with a security camera monitor over the display shelves.
    • The tidy workshop, with little spectacles and vintage stone grinders, in the jewelry store window.
    • The two older women with matching, laminated lanyards: “Celebrating 50 Years of Friendship!”
    • The electric wheelchair on its own, dedicated carrying trailer, brand name: “Jazzy Select.”
    • Singing “Immigrant Song” in a seductive, cabaret voice.
    • My pants cuffs, at their highest of the summer.
    • Johnny Cash, in Neil Strauss’s Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, affirming rap music: “I was working with Elvis when all these older people were saying that he’s leading our kids to hell. I thought that was the strangest thing I’d ever heard […] Then all the rock artists that came along, they said that about them, too. But it doesn’t bother me. Maybe gangsta rap does have some [bad] influence on young people, but damn, I think the six o’clock news is probably the most violent thing we hear today.”
    • Bruce Springsteen on therapy, in the same book: “I found [therapy] to be one of the most healthy experiences of my life. I grew up in a working-class family where that was very frowned upon. So it was very, very difficult for me to ever get to a place where I said I needed some help. […] But all I can say is the leap of consciousness that it takes to go from playing in your garage to playing in front of five thousand, six thousand, seven thousand people—or when you experience any kind of success at all—can be very, very demanding.”
    • How, sometimes, parents who are social workers end up with the most challenging kids of all.
  14. Observations 8-5-18

    • Fitting my sleeping bag into the carrying sleeve on the first try, a task that used to take two or more desperate attempts.
    • The bible study coffee shop advertising an “Everlasting Youth Initiative.”
    • Re-realizing that there is no perfect run through life, no perfect career, no maximum potential to meet, and how soothing that is. It discourages some people from trying (if I can’t “win,” what’s the point?) but it encourages me, because it means that work is still worthwhile even if we miss some opportunities or if others are impossible to meet.
  15. Observations 8-4-18

    • The refreshing, muddy water of the creek.
    • Riding in Hayden’s pickup truck bed.
      • The wind drying our hair.
    • The army of plastic snowmen lawn ornaments on a neighboring farm’s lawn.
    • The diversity of folding chairs at the festival.
      • Two with hydraulic rockers.
      • Two with headrests, reclinable.
    • The band members sluggishly carrying gear to the barn.
    • It’s possible that blues scales need to be banned, at least for white people.
    • Eating Avrom Farm chicken, my only allowed chicken.
    • The father-and-sons punk band.
      • The bassist son reminding me of Steve Albini and my friend Gabe.
      • The guitarist son reminding me of young Dad.
    • Al Scorch commanding the audience in a special way, singing new, sadder, slower songs.
  16. Observations 8-3-18

    • The Sysco restaurant supply truck that says “Follow me to your next great meal.” What if someone really did that?
    • The “Speed Monitored by Aircraft” signs, but never seeing a speed-monitoring aircraft.
    • The race for sheriff in Rock County, Wisconsin.
      • Judging by lawn signs, the race is pretty close.
      • The old, country church marquee: “GARY IS THE ONLY CHANCE 4 CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP.”
        • Gary may have an edge.
    • Getting lost in Albany, Wisconsin.
      • Stopping by the river and a tiny thrift store.
      • The comforting, mysterious marquee outside the fire station: “DON’T WORRY.”
      • The disappointment I felt when I saw the other side read “BE HAPPY.”
    • The badass vibraphone player, looking and acting like Will Forte if he became an experimental musician.
    • The danger of using the word “tight” to describe bands, since laypeople may hear the general definition (like “sick”).
    • The band Dehd, playing with matching green guitars, inspiring me and everyone else with their simple, energetic thing.
  17. Observations 8-2-18

    • Breaking my key off in the studio door.
    • The Geraldo Rivera lookalike, wearing a black button-up (chest visible), ribcage-height jeans, and Skechers-ass sneakers.
    • That crazy, new Holger Czukay retrospective box set (thanks Billy).
    • The fence painted with “fallen soldier” silhouette art, then the pickup truck with “fallen soldier” window art.
    • The parking garage door with a little pedestrian door in it, like an industrial version of a hobbit home.
    • Walking down a not-moving escalator.
    • The strobing building lights.
    • The strobing license plate light.
    • The automatic sprinklers watering the DMV lawn.
    • “Lake Shore Drive” by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah poking through the bagel shop radio.
  18. Observations 8-1-18

    • Rehearsing with two groups from ten to six.
    • Revisiting that viciously sad, beautiful Mary Lattimore record.
    • Moving my record player to a more convenient location, so I’ll actually use it.
      • Listening to Dusk’s and Buck Meek’s new LPs.
        • Buck’s record has one of the best covers ever.
    • Using my grandpa’s little, green, plastic pocket knife for the first time since I got it from his workshop after he died last summer. I watched him use it in that workshop when I was little.
    • Finding my cousin’s old, bedazzled Sidekick in my closet, worrying about unleashing a pent-up Sidekick spirit by flipping it open.
    • The New York Times article about Ryuichi Sakamoto asking a restaurant to let him curate their music playlist because he was so annoyed by what they had been playing (via Billy).
      • “Mr. Sakamoto objects to loud restaurant music, and often uses a decibel meter on his phone to measure the volume of the sound around him.”
    • How my perspective of food changes in light of pharmaceuticals’ outsize impact on our bodies. If such a tiny dose can affect us so profoundly, isn’t it scary to put many more times that amount, in the form of bread and cheese and sauce, in our bodies all the time? I understand that drugs are precision-focused to do certain things, and foods are made of basic parts whose impact we can generally predict. But the comparison still freaks me out.
  19. Observations 7-31-18

    • Waking up at eleven and staying in bed till two, a first for the summer.
    • Accidentally spelling “font” as “phont” more than once.
    • The impromptu Jackson 5 dance party with Mom.
    • The new Bernard Purdie record, so good and inspiring because it’s better than what one might expect from ‘60s veterans’ new records (thanks Billy).
    • The infant’s play gym strapped to the roof of a Forester.
    • The bank teller who acted like my request for change was some bizarre, new form of performance art.
    • The purpose-built, yellow Kodak photo-processing PCs at Target.
    • Recycling printer ink that had been sitting around, waiting, for years.
    • Getting a professional massage for the first time since past festival seasons’ fancy backstages.
      • The masseuse’s cigarette tar sniffles.
      • My Adam’s apple pressing so hard into the face hole I thought I might choke.
      • Smelling like a delicious, chemical version of cucumbers for twelve hours afterward.
    • Hoping Fig Newtons stay afloat in this new, fig-unfriendly world.
  20. Observations 7-30-18

    • The plainclothes cops on the street, who happened to be women, which seemed unusual to me. (It turns out only 13% of U.S. police are women, according to DOJ.)
    • The amazing archival folk footage on Dust-to-Digital’s Instagram (thanks Dad).
    • Vacuuming schmutz out of my car.
    • The Susan Alcorn pedal steel performance at Experimental Sound Studio.
      • Arriving late and watching via live projector feed on the gallery wall.
      • The daunting complexity of the pedal steel.
      • The Band-Aid on Alcorn’s left wrist.
      • The audience seemingly looking back at me and other viewers through the cameras in the live room.
      • The bathroom, in a tough spot (next to the projector wall, with a silent, attentively listening audience).
      • Afterward, the Q&A with Ken Vandermark.
        • Vandermark’s kind manner of speaking.
        • Alcorn’s comment about the “deceptive simplicity” of country music.
    • The laundry exhaust of neighboring homes reminding me of my childhood best friend’s house.
    • The apartment with stock travel photos taped on the windows, facing outward.
  21. Observations 7-29-18

    • Walking to the tiny cafe on the corner, running into two friends from Chicago along the way.
    • The massive, industrial, metal door, painted pink.
    • How, for years, one-touch automatic window buttons have been reserved for front seats. The renewal of faith I felt at being in a minivan with one-touch window buttons for the back seats.
    • The paintings of eggs on the wall of the breakfast restaurant.
    • The paintings-come-to-life in an egg and gouda cheese sandwich on a carrot cake waffle bun, one of the best things I’ve eaten in my entire freaking life.
    • Trying to read Asimov’s Foundations, struggling to get into it, falling asleep by the pool instead.
    • Dinner with family friends, music friends, neighbor friends, and girlfriend colliding.
    • Listening to Beatles the whole way home.
    • Sacha Baron Cohen getting bigots who would balk at men who wear dresses to wear dresses on Who Is America?
    • How the hell do you fold a fitted sheet?
    • The consistency of Kanye’s Twitter profile picture in the greater inconsistency of his life. Feeling surprised and confused that he hasn’t impulsively (or calculatingly) changed it over the years along with his music, clothes, and politics.
  22. Observations 7-28-18

    • The apartment building with an adorable little walkway straight through the brick.
    • Going to an estate sale on a purchase mission from Mom.
      • The cool-looking, middle-aged woman leaning against a tree, wearing aviator sunglasses, friendlily telling me I looked “too young to be into vintage.” Me, explaining my purchase mission from Mom, but also that I do like old stuff, mostly music instruments. Her, saying, “They don’t make ‘em the way they used to.” Me, saying, “Except microwaves.” (They’re made better now.) Her, agreeing. Admiring the house’s architecture together.
      • The white-haired guy who arrived on a bike, talking to himself about the house’s nice tuck-pointing. Structurally sound, great brick work…
      • The mom calling after her son, Orion.
      • The most Chicago-looking dad of all time, with a gray mustache, and his happy, shy, schlubby son, dollying away a piece of furniture they bought.
      • The house, frozen in 1900-1950.
        • So much wood, so much wicker.
      • The sadness of dismantling someone’s home, piece by piece.
      • The happiness of giving each little thing a new life, like scattering a bunch of seeds to maximize the chances of survival.
      • The racist “mammy” statues.
      • The model trains.
      • How, on the one hand, people buy junk that will get sold in their estate sales, later.
      • How, on the other hand, that doesn’t make the time they spend with the stuff they buy any less valuable.
      • The employees of the sale with stupid, toylike walkie-talkies.
      • The excited crowd of buyers in line CHEERING ME ON when I got out of the house with the stuff I bought. (The purchase mission: failed. Mom’s targets already sold.)
    • On the highway, the boxy, green Volvo station wagon with a massive dog in it.
    • The extra toll machine crossbars stacked in the tollbooth, like reinforcements in waiting.
    • The poor lighting in a video of Trump from the White House. How just about every creative asset his admin, campaign, or the RNC produce is tasteless or nonfunctioning (e.g. the Obama-joke 404 page). How it seems to show, in a trivial way, that creative, curious people don’t want to work for them. How, also in a trivial way, it’s a breakdown in the Trump-Fascist parallel, since Fascist iconography was disappointingly great.
    • The dozens of sunburned, white families tolerating a two-hour wait at the vacation food hotspot.
    • Falling asleep and stretching my skin on a blowup vinyl raft.
    • The possibly Mennonite women on the beach. The bearded man reading the Bible behind them.
    • The group of twenty-year-olds smoking cigars and drinking Fanta (glass bottles).
  23. Observations 7-27-18

    • Tracking drums with one of my favorite bass players.
    • Eating Indian food leftovers (7-26-18) outside under one of those gray summer skies.
    • Accidentally falling asleep while others were recording.
    • Re-watching the N.E.R.D NBA All Star game half-time show with Liam (an all-time great, but on a much smaller scale than Prince Super Bowl XLI).
    • Listening to part of Nathan Salsburg’s beautiful new record for the first time, on a run.
    • The young girl on a purple bike, giving me the stink eye every time she passed me on the track.
      • Wondering whether she was (justifiably) afraid of me because I’m white. Imagining how a Proud Boy-type might pervertedly see that as “reverse racism.”
    • Out of all the new-fangled things we have, HQ (the iOS game) feels like maybe the most movie-like one, like a benign Idiocracy.
    • The baby silverfish bug I found in the closed Q-tip container. Successfully completing a capture-and-release operation.
  24. Observations 7-26-18

    • The badass, tiny, older white lady, crossing the street and stopping traffic with her cart, wearing pink shorts and a big sun hat, enthusiastically waving thank you at the cars she stopped.
    • Her moon, the overweight, bearded white dude with stains on his shirt, wheeling a cart with three thirty-racks of Busch Lite and Little Debbie’s snacks in it.
    • The construction worker whose beard looked dyed black, repairing a sidewalk seemingly by himself, throwing two-by-fours off of a tilted dump truck and grimacing.
    • The dental surgeon’s office.
      • The moody lighting in the waiting room.
      • The nauseating, textured, brown vortex commercial painting in the x-ray room.
      • Accidentally insinuating that my mom might not want to call the administrator because she was black?
    • The shirtless biker wearing a bandana, looking exactly like David Foster Wallace.
    • The way digital highway signs emulate the physical ones.
    • My underwear, from the batch I bought at H&M in Canada when I forget mine at home on a Blisters tour, working in tandem with my pants to make it hard to play the drum beat I was playing.
    • The four-dollar Indian food from Devon, spicier than I bargained for, making me think I was gonna puke.
    • The guy at the bar, smiling all night, happening to use a wheelchair, ogling girls’ butts.
  25. Observations 7-25-18

    • The window curtains clichédly blowing in the wind, letting in a sliver of bloomy light every time they split apart.
    • Eating mashed potatoes right after brushing.
    • The ice cream distributor workers wearing winter parkas between walk-in freezers in 80-degree weather.
    • The professional mover with a bald head who looked like Furiosa from Mad Max.
    • The shrimpy, older Hispanic dude wheeling a library ladder down the street.
    • The deep, deep relief of shaving an itchy rat-beard off my face.
    • Mojitos and guacamole with Casey.
  26. Observations 7-24-18

    • Emailing, writing, watching baking shows with Casey.
    • The yummy eggs she cooked.
    • Switching to Siteleaf so I don’t have to git commit every new post like an NSA contractor.
      • The Siteleaf website being so clear and humane it makes me wanna cry.
    • Casey’s microwave with time preset buttons (1 second, 10 seconds, 1 minute?) instead of a number pad. Wondering which interface is more useful, tentatively siding with the presets.
    • The phone call with a friend who sounded somehow weary but still optimistic.
    • Shopping for pet cowboy hats, finding the world’s most important dog-in-wig portrait instead.
    • The summer smell, better than usual.
    • The Elevator Constructors Union Local 2 license plate frame. Learning that there’s an Elevator Constructors Union Local 2.
    • The Costco shrimp that Mom brought home.
    • The ‘80s plastic rocking horse that Mom brought home.
    • Having hardly moved at all after seven days of constant physical work.
    • Vacuuming the pieces of protein bar I left while frantically eating, post-festival-teardown, at 5:45AM on Monday (7-23-18) morning.
  27. Observations 7-23-18

    • Getting home from work at 5:30AM, being due to be back by 8AM, waking up for all my alarms but then falling right back asleep, waking up again at 10AM, heading directly from bed to car.
    • The temp worker afraid to get garbage juice on brand-new designery jeans, spilling garbage ketchup on them, being good-natured about it.
    • The temp worker who quit because our sleep-deprived boss didn’t respond to his request to borrow a dolly quickly enough.
    • The beautiful, old, hand-painted bathroom signs in the park district field house.
    • The directness of the Metra slogan, “Next time, take the train.”
    • Having been at a music festival for days colors your perception of music for a while. Lackluster music becomes more exciting imagining it outdoors, live, and heroic.
    • The fucking drum sounds and drumming on Howlin’ Wolf’s The Back Door Wolf. Badass no matter where you spent the last week.
    • Driving on Elston, watching a funeral home worker wheel a coffin through a narrow doorway, bump it into the door frame, disappear into a dark room.
    • The scary-looking white dude, wearing a track suit, staring at me while I walked up to the studio.
    • Trying to make an almond milk shake, making chocolate ice instead. Snowball-, not food-grade.
  28. Observations 7-22-18

    • How backup toilet paper holders are, mainly, a measure of defense against freeloading roommates, one or more get-out-of-jail-free cards from leaving others without toilet paper.
    • How every construction rental company has its own unique flavor of fence base type and sandbag shape.
    • The barometric pressure doing a number on my sinuses.
    • The hustle-obsessed coworker throwing ice bags off a truck onto carts, singing NSYNC, refusing a food vendor’s request for help in a really rude way, making her cry, making it up to her. Later, joking to other bro food vendors about it, talking about fucking her. Also later, telling me he still felt bad about making her cry.
    • The French-Bulldog-faced garbage removal man (7-20-18) telling me about his old life in the Caribbean islands, moving to the U.S. in the ‘60s (”for the pussy”), becoming a computer repairman, owning fifteen rental buildings in Chicago, selling them all to avoid dealing with “lazy” black tenants (he is black himself), retiring in 1999, working garbage removal part-time, quitting last September but coming back because his boss (7-20-18) needed him and, apparently, because he likes it. His in-laws who stole watches from him. Pointing to the gold watch on his wrist, shrugging, “I only need one.”
    • Feeling proud that a good chunk of the lineup here has performed before at shows I booked in Wisconsin.
    • My big, 40oz, stainless steel water bottle, the one I’ve had for two years, that rolled over in my car with me in May 2017, getting stolen from beneath a tree.
    • (Sandy) Alex G singing through closed teeth.
    • It is amazing how much heavier used porta-potties are than fresh ones.
    • The Lauryn Hill fan lingering in the park for hours after closing, stopping every staff member who happened to pass her, talking about meeting Ms. Hill like a disaster victim in shock. Me, politely trying to figure out how she happened to have an All Access pass around her neck. Her, responding, “I’m very well-connected.”
    • Hammered barbacks on a seesaw.
    • Delirious hugs and beers after festival teardown at 4AM, the familiar buildings off I-94 in pre-dawn.
  29. Observations 7-21-18

    • The former Ohio country GOP chairman breaking my brain by resigning in (seemingly sincere) protest of Trump’s Putin stance, then saying, right afterward, he might still vote for Trump in 2020.
    • The security guard wistfully recounting a story about a super skilled chainlink fence assembler: “The guy was a legend.”
    • The merch sellers preaching: “When you wear a beret, you want it to fit right.”
    • Seeing a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, being glad that he seemed happy and centered.
    • The high school interns shooting hoops with ice cubes (basketballs) and CO2 tanks (nets).
    • Being loudly and long-ly honked at by an ambulance because my work golf cart blocked its path, scrambling to start it up and move it, feeling startled and embarrassed, but also defensive, because I had parked it reasonably, had been focused on a task, had heard no siren, no onlookers had warned me.
    • Learning more about my coworkers, their marriages, solo projects, non-summer-festival day jobs. One works in ads and is fulfilled by it because copywriting is like poetry. One proposed at 21 without a ring. One dumpster dives, but I already knew that.
    • Stage strobe lights flashing in daylight.
  30. Observations 7-20-18

    • “Tourists” as a way to refer to touring musicians.
    • Being saved by a friendly dog-walker from parking in a street cleaning zone where there was no notice.
    • The highway sign that read “Posen / Harvey / Midlothian.” The sound of “Midlothian.” On the way back, a bonus: “Dixmoor.”
    • The warehouse attendant who says “have a good day please.” The forkliftist who treated me like I knew what I was doing.
    • The terror of driving a big box truck that I had backloaded with weight.
    • The garbage removal contractor who drives a tinted-window Cadillac with a vanity plate. His employee, whose face looks exactly like a French Bulldog, who speaks in an indecipherable Caribbean (?) accent.
    • The high-school-aged coworker, who had been a fan of my tight golf cart turn yesterday, getting fired for making a homophobic comment. Feeling disappointed that he said it. Feeling temporarily hopeless against the huge system of beliefs and norms that need to change in order for him to know better. Feeling uncertain about the degree to which he cared about the incident. Hoping it would be a lesson.
    • The big, uncomfortable-looking dude wearing a mall-type airbrushed hat. The questions it begged.
    • The mismatch of gruff, bald stagehand and old-school, satchel-on-head ice bag.
    • The way artists/art almost become secondary, an afterthought, from the perspective of people who really run an event.
    • The ornate, curly tattoo of a woman’s name on the arm of a super young coworker.
    • Farting in a freezer truck. On accident the first time. On purpose subsequent times.
    • The tight Q resonance of walkie-talkies. The fun of driving back into radio range.
    • Confetti in a puddle.
    • The streetcar rails paved over, but peeking through, on Lake Street.
  31. Observations 7-19-18

    • The badass, stark red type on the side of a box truck for a chemical company.
    • The neighborhood burger joint that announced itself, in neon letters, as “HOME OF THE BURGER.”
    • The bus ad for a gym that said “Man boobs are sad,” shaming (some) trans people and potential customers all at once.
      • The realization, later, that the ad might be better if it were, “Man, boobs are sad.”
    • Moving a pyramid of oversized Legos, losing bricks along the way, reattaching them, losing more, reattaching, losing… until, at some point, just playing with Legos.
    • Doing a tight turn on a golf cart, a high-school-aged coworker saying, impressed, “You nice for that.”
    • The temp worker complaining to a friend on the phone about making tacos for her boyfriend, who came over to eat them and then left.
    • The truck exhaling like a horse, but more so than a truck usually does. It was cute.
    • The work cart shaking the farts out of me.
    • Nothing makes fatigue surface like talking to a stranger.
    • The older black woman security guards who called me “Tweedy,” whom I brought leftover pizza for the night shift, who told me they’d write me into their wills (as a thanks for the pizza).
    • The Pace bus entirely full of middle-aged, white Cubs fans, brightly lit and blue against orange-gray Ashland.
    • The niceness of the “R” in some versions of Smirnoff Vodka’s logo.
  32. Observations 7-18-18

    • The park district employee who noticed me struggling to re-secure a fence that I had opened for him and came back to help me with it.
    • A red balloon!!!!
    • The stage assemblers grunting with every lift, feeling it but also almost certainly exaggerating. Sounding like (they want to be) a pirate crew.
    • The signage material that smells like really bad ramen and sweat. The truck full of porta-potties that went by and smelled better than the signage material.
  33. Observations 7-17-18

    • The round man with a white handlebar mustache, wearing all brown, walking through the park eating a sandwich and whole dill pickles out of a ziplock bag. He had three pickles.
    • The gang of daycare toddlers playing in the park, yelling “byeeee” at us and waving as my coworkers and I drove past them in a forklift and golf carts. Us, mimicking their shrill voices, shouting “byeeee” back.
    • The coworker mad, even disgusted, that managers had ordered a paper product in yellow instead of blue.
    • I’ve heard multiple groups of twenty-somethings talking about their favorite Spongebob episodes/moments in the past week.
      • Also, autocorrect error: SpongeBOD.
    • The team of kids’ entertainers (imagineers?) rehearsing as excitedly and sincerely as they would if kids were actually there, playing tag and talking to each other like toddlers. My coworkers and I working on a fence nearby, ogling them, feeling a mixture of wistfulness at a more playful kind of work, judgment at what seem like impossibly chipper demeanors, happiness at the reality that people dedicate their lives to helping others feel joy, and pride that all of us—them in their rainbow parachute, us with zipties and Leathermans—were adding value to life.
    • The young Buddhist monk (shaved head, robe, etc.) tending to the garden outside the Buddhist temple, crouched and slowly picking berries/vegetables, talking to an older woman standing on the other side of the fence, living an extraordinary life nestled in a mostly white, very Western neighborhood.
    • The massive, college-football-shirt-wearing dudes who moved out of the way when I walked past them on the sidewalk, reminding me that we’re lucky to have such an elaborate system of rewards and punishments that make it possible for me (or people with advantages like mine) not to feel scared, generally, when confronted with people who are bigger than me… Nietzsche hated that shit.
    • The same lesson, learned again, that excessive self-doubt doesn’t right wrongs, doesn’t protect you, doesn’t help others, doesn’t help anyone. It’s just a drag and it can actually put emotional pressure on the person you sought to protect.
  34. The Creative Independent

    Hannah Street Elliott interviewed me for The Creative Independent. We talked about school and music. (Always school and music.) I’ve been reading The Creative Independent since it launched so it was cool to get to be a part of it.

    The Creative Independent interview

  35. JHS drum demo

    JHS Pedals came to the Loft to make a video with me and their new 500 series modules (Colour Box preamp/EQ, SuperBolt distortion, and Emperor modulation). They sound great—the Colour Box can get really close to a 1073.

    Watch it on YouTube here.
    Check out JHS 500 here.