Observations 2-20-19

  • Finding mouse poop in the yarmulke drawer.

Observations 2-19-19

  • The City Hall hearing about the Lincoln Yards mega-development [11-29-18, 12-2-18, 12-28-18].
    • Beach Boys playing on the chamber speakers before the hearing began.
    • The young Lincoln Yards supporter wearing Doc Martens.
    • The persistent feeling that supporters of the developer (most of whom are clean-cut, businessy) think that we Chicago Independent Venue League people are naive, that we don’t understand job growth or capital (because we’re wearing Doc Martens?).
      • Fantasizing about wearing a suit to the next hearing to somehow prove a point, but recognizing that it would really be a pathetic, self-undermining acquiescence.
    • Getting a little taste of miscommunication and misunderstanding in politics: the hearing was about the proposed $900 million tax package for the developer, but citizens’ testimonies focused on the merits of the development (or on job creation and the march of civilization) itself, taking it for granted that the development could not happen without the tax package. It seems so important in these circumstances to have people who can contextualize all of our reasoning and our feelings, to show how they connect and what they’re predicated on.
    • On top of everything, feeling mind-boggled that the city would pay interest to Sterling Bay for their upfront infrastructure investments.
    • Appreciating the alderpeople who make eye contact with testifying citizens.
  • Walking around Bucktown with dilated eyeballs from my optometrist appointment.

Observations 2-18-19

  • The trophies in my neighbor’s trash.

Observations 2-17-19

  • How there is a mayoral election in Chicago in a week and it feels like virtually nobody knows about it.
  • John Dingell in The Atlantic: “I know there are those who genuinely believe in privatizing everything. They are called profiteers.”
  • spoonplanet[.]com (via Ridley).

Observations 2-16-19

  • Keeping the fireplace continuously stoked.

Observations 2-15-19

  • Pink Navel rapping over samples of Disney movie previews.

Observations 2-14-19

  • A Valentine’s Day photo shoot for Basil.
    • Cutting out pink paper hearts to lay around his feet.
    • Getting one non-blurry shot.
  • Cooking Avrom Farm bacon for Casey and me.
  • The sound of feet on the dance floor heard from the bar’s basement.
  • A video of the 1962 Grand Prix (via Justin Ouellette).
    • Afterward, watching highlights of the 2018 Grand Prix, and feeling surprised by the collaborative spirit of it. When one driver bumped another off the track (and made him flip a dozen times), the bumper radioed in to make sure the bumpee was okay. It seemed less like a competition and more like an experiment: what will these machines do?
    • Since the sport is so dangerous, they can’t afford to be hotheads. When their coaches (?) tell them to brake and exit immediately, they do.

Observations 2-13-19

  • Stephen Bradley’s great drumming on Bonnie Raitt’s self-titled album (via Vivi).
  • Still learning not to let my browser tabs or my email inbox dictate my daily agenda.

Observations 2-12-19

  • The snowblowers with those little canvas cabs on them.
  • The flare stacks on the paper factory across the river.
  • The deer standing just a few feet outside my studio window.
  • An upside of my recent three-day (and going) bout of diarrhea: I finally learned how to spell diarrhea consistently.
  • Using my Swiss army knife toothpick to get food out of my still-open wisdom tooth hole [1-6-19 et al.].

Observations 2-11-19

  • Feeling freaked out by the fact that there is no cure for lead poisoning.
  • The Ann Steel Album by Roberto Cacciapaglia (via Henry D).

Observations 2-10-19

  • Masochistically listening to mouth noises while editing vocal takes in Pro Tools, when I could have eliminated them by sight instead.

Observations 2-9-19

  • Watching hawks and eagles fly around outside the studio window.
  • Hayden getting cornered by a carpenter who, recognizing the chainsaw brand name on Hayden’s hat, talked to him about chainsaws for thirty minutes. (On machines in general: “I’m articulate about this shit.”)
  • How sometimes the kick drum lives below the bass guitar and sometimes the bass is below the kick. C’est la vie.
  • How a lot of what gets qualified as empathy might actually just be typical, intellectual learning—coming to know someone’s preferences and tendencies, but not necessarily feeling their feelings.

Observations 2-8-19

  • The imposingly large “monster burrito” that Henry ordered, which he made three meals out of.
  • The 3D diamond graphic on a TV in the window of a jewelry store.

Observations 2-7-19

  • An unspoken rule of recording: whoever tunes the 12-string gets to play the 12-string.
  • How there is very little you can do with a bongo that you can’t do with an empty can of peanuts (to a bongo-bastardizer like me, at least).

Observations 2-6-19

  • Wondering whether novelty Band-Aid companies (e.g. Lincoln Band-Aids, Pickle Band-Aids) follow the same sterility requirements as Big Band-Aid.
  • The little metal cages around the scent dispensers in the gas station bathroom.
  • Labi Siffre’s The Best Of (via Dad).
    • The string arrangements.
    • The bass-playing.

Observations 2-5-19

  • Lately while shaving, leaving the goatee region for last, just to get a taste of how bad that would be.

Observations 2-4-19

  • Eating tableside guacamole at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Cancun International, flying home to Chicago.

Observations 2-3-19

  • The glass case full of (functional? backup?) firefighting gear in the hotel. Do the firefighters show up gearless?
  • The American guests having their mugs from home filled with margaritas at the pool bar. Eco-friendly but somehow also imposing.
  • Finding a lizard with Casey and her naming it Roger.

Observations 2-2-19

  • The two hotel employees carrying a mattress, one end on each of their heads.
  • The iguanas.
  • Mavis telling her audience that my dad (“Tweedy”) had turned down sitting in for “You Are Not Alone” (a miscommunication!), her audience chanting “Tweedy! Tweedy!,” my dad running up to sing with her.
  • Susan Schneider’s interview with Edge[.]org:
    • “As we use neuroprosthetics or brain chips in parts of the brain that underlie conscious experience in humans, if those chips succeed and if we don’t notice deficits of consciousness, then we have reason to believe that that microchip made of a particular substrate, say, silicon, could underwrite consciousness when it’s in the right architectural environment.“
    • “I see many misunderstandings in current discussions about the nature of the mind, such as the assumption that if we create sophisticated AI, it will inevitably be conscious.”

Observations 2-1-19

  • Flying to Mexico for a festival, the line at customs being so long that airport employees were telling people to just squeeze into the line wherever they could.
    • Waiting our turn, and feeling good (but not superior!) about it.
    • [Please forgive this soapbox speech.] How it seems like one of the most basic, fundamental things you can do to make life better is to restrain yourself during tragedy-of-the-commons-ass situations like this one. The customs line became a chaotic glob because people saw others cutting and didn’t want to be the putz who got cut. Droughts worsen when people see their neighbors watering their lawns and think, “Why can’t I do that, too?” Even to an egalitarian person, it can seem like the only rational thing to do in these situations is to throw out your principles and fight for yourself. But it’s not. You can shrink the glob—make your life better, everyone’s life better—by joining the ad hoc line behind it (there was one), settling in for a long wait, moving up only when it’s fair to do so, showing other people it’s okay to choose line over glob. That’s not excessive self-sacrifice. It’s not sitting by while everyone else passes you. It’s using your one vote in what happens to the glob, which is still moving. Which, by its nature, is always moving.
  • On the highway, the wooden enclosure with an animal in it on the back of a pickup truck.
  • Reuniting with and hugging my grandma, Mavis.

Observations 1-31-19

  • Worrying that we’re already on the road to accidentally electing Howard Schultz because we seem to talk about him more than we talk about other, non-billionaire, non-dilettante candidates. i.e., we’re doing the 2016 thing.
  • Wondering what happened to the call for a Congressional Digital Service (like the Executive Branch’s U.S. Digital Service).
  • Another Evgeny Morozov Guardian article from 2018, emphasizing the importance of cities: “Our digital future [is] mostly an interplay of two conflicting dynamics: one of data extractivism – propelled primarily by big tech’s dependence on new sources of data; and one of data distributism – propelled by all those opposed to big tech’s rapid ascendance. […] To be credible and effective, the leftwing distributist agenda needs to overcome a great obstacle: citizens’ falling trust in the state as a vehicle of advancing their interests. […] The distributist left, thus, should not balk at proposing ambitious political reforms to go along with their new data ownership regime. These must openly acknowledge that the most meaningful scale at which a radical change in democratic political culture can occur today is not the nation state, as some on the left and the right are prone to believe, but, rather the city.”

Observations 1-30-19

  • The second coldest day in Chicago history.
  • Water seeping through trim on our ceiling.
    • Our contractor friend sawing off the leaky pipe, giving the resulting open end its own, dedicated bucket.
    • Emptying the stopgap bucket every six hours.

Observations 1-29-19

  • The frozen tree branches clinking.
  • How the books were installed in the new library on the North Side before the building was even finished. (It was heartening.)
    • Who picked the books?
  • Every few months, getting a message from a student in an Eastern European country whose textbook uses my face as an example of a teenaged American blogger. Sometimes these pictures come with no context.

Observations 1-28-19

  • The post office truck stuck in the snow (it got free).

Observations 1-27-19

  • Cooking a delicious, nutritious, vegetarian taco dinner with Casey.
  • The crystals and incense in the shops in Humboldt Park (a la 1-3-19).

Observations 1-26-19

  • The flock of balloons floating away (seen from a sixth floor).
  • government[.]github[.]com

Observations 1-25-19

  • The smell of the air from a fan inflating a blow-up planetarium.
  • The person wearing a yo-yo in a belt holster.

Observations 1-24-19

  • The Follow The Sun compilation of overlooked ‘70s Australian rock/folk on Anthology Records / Mexican Summer.
    • Mexican Summer’s pleasant, functional website.
  • Yuval Noah Harari’s Economist essay (“Moving Beyond Nationalism”; findable on Google cache) debunking some of the arguments against globalism and offering simple, concrete questions to ask politicians.
  • How Basil is startled by seemingly any noise except music.

Observations 1-23-19

  • The rectangular box of light on the wall coming from the back of the Pac-Man arcade machine.

Observations 1-22-19

  • Wilco & co. field trip day to the Blackhawks game.
    • The invisible ink stamp they use for re-entry at the United Center, classier than typical black ink.
    • In a fancy suite, the extra-tall mason jar full of ranch dressing for crudités.
    • Spending more time on the dessert cart than the game.