Observations 6-25-19

  • The tiny, circular patch of moss growing on our driveway wall.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with happiness playing Liam’s second full-band solo show, at the Hideout.

Observations 6-24-19

  • Feeling shocked, disturbed, and angry that Hannah B. gave Luke P. a rose on The Bachelorette.

Observations 6-23-19

  • Just one leaf at the end of a branch getting pummeled by rainwater from the gutter.

Observations 6-22-19

  • The oboe-player busking in Logan Square.

Observations 6-21-19

  • Steffen M. Olsen’s photograph of a research team riding with sled dogs through melting sea ice, appearing like they’re standing on water (The Guardian).
  • The great bass-playing on Hot Chocolate’s songs from I Travel Alone.

Observations 6-20-19

  • Two drummers talking about the “Diamond Light” drum beat today, one on Instagram and one in person—made me happy.

Observations 6-19-19

  • The singed-black (or just dirty?) latex glove on the ground [2-28-19 et al.].
  • Going through computer game CD-ROMS from my childhood with Mom (Freddie Fish, Pajama Sam, Monster Maker).
  • Feeling lucky that I grew up in an anti-prank household, and with more or less anti-prank friends.

Observations 6-18-19

  • The traffic cone placeholders sitting where the City will soon plant sidewalk trees.
  • The beautiful, colorful album cover of Soul Messages from Dimona, a Numero Group compilation.
  • The blood red, tiny spider (mite?) crawling on my plate of eggs.
  • Rewarding myself with a carrot (behummused) after every page reviewed in a writing project.

Observations 6-17-19

  • CSS-Tricks’ mind-blowing code-painting of clouds using only SVG and CSS.

Observations 6-16-19

  • The disgustingly under-acknowledged, life-changing magic of interlibrary loan.
  • The movie Yesterday but with the Kinks.
  • The bar patron explaining to me that “people get really confused when they’re enslaved [by capitalism].”
  • Another bar patron exclaiming, “That job is part-time as hell!” about teaching saxophone lessons.
  • Being surprised by how well Ozzy Osbourne can sing—based on “Changes.”
  • The ATM machine’s little antenna.
  • The drummer drumming with an electric toothbrush.

Observations 6-15-19

  • The man in a Slipknot shirt licking the back of his girlfriend’s neck in a bar.
  • The bar bathroom poster, “How can a MAN who can hit a DEER at 250 yards keep missing the TOILET?” and the label-maker printed addendum beneath it: “Our penis [sic] doesn’t come with a scope.”

Observations 6-14-19

  • Almost getting caught in an ingenious Shopify scam: emails from alleged customers asking whether a (fake) exorbitant price on your website is a typo (with a link to spam).
  • Still thinking about the step-by-step example of product design thinking that Paul Ford gave in “Going Deep on a Checkbox,” an essay from his Track Changes newsletter (published in 2016 but read by me the other day).

Observations 6-13-19

  • The sickly sweet cherry smell outside—like Bottle Caps candy.
  • Laura Snapes’s interview with Bill Callahan.
  • How John McPhee (still) writes with a command line program that was custom-made for him by a fellow professor in the 1980s (New York Times Magazine).
    • McPhee describing how he puts all the pieces of a text into order before he even sits down to write, so that when he does start, he just has to connect them into prose: “Every organizational aspect was behind me. The procedure eliminated nearly all distraction and concentrated just the material I had to deal with in a given day or week. It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.”
  • This tweet by @dontsave: “there should be a way to convey warmth in emails without using the exclamation mark. my proposal is U263C, unicode sun with rays / thanks ☼ / dave”

Observations 6-12-19

  • The tiny chihuahua that lives (and works?) in the auto shop by my house.
  • Finding an ID badge of a private detective agency employee (marked “CIVILIAN”) on the ground.
  • The fire hydrant with a makeshift drinking fountain attached to it.
  • The parent and child biking and rollerblading, respectively, in the street, bike-parent pulling the rollerblade-child.

Observations 6-11-19

  • The sparkly stickers on an older man’s cane.

Observations 6-10-19

  • Ellsworth Kelly’s paintings, which I had never seen before (thanks Oona).
  • Contestants in the Solid Sound Wilco Karaoke contest supporting each other with nice comments on their Instagram posts.
  • Van Dyke Parks’s song “High Coin,” recorded by The Charlatans (thanks Sammy).
  • Ordering kimchi soup at King Spa and receiving it literally still boiling (bubbling) hot, not sure what to do with it.

Observations 6-9-19

  • Going back to college to walk in our commencement ceremony.
    • The plastic ponchos administrators distributed to grads for the rain, and the dissident students who refused them.
    • The professor riding her bike in full academic regalia, sidesaddle, to meet up with the faculty procession.
    • The mom who ran ahead of the grads to wipe rainwater off our plastic folding chairs with a handkerchief.
    • Lee Shallat-Chemel’s awesome commencement address.
      • Describing her life as a “squiggly line,” giving us permission to be inefficient.
      • Telling the “don’t be afraid of failure” story in the least clichéd terms I’ve ever heard it, illustrating her life as an excessively careful, anxious twentysomething, and how hyper-vigilance can extinguish creativity.

Observations 6-8-19

  • The Flag Day parade in Appleton, Wisconsin, which a resident told me is the biggest Flag Day parade in the country.
    • The older people and families lining up early—with folding chairs—to watch.
    • The marching band marshal spritzing her high-school-aged musicians with cooling water.
    • Accepting a miniature American flag from a volunteer, carrying it a safe distance down the street, and then offering it to an older man, who interpreted it as a gift, whereas it was mostly a gift to me that he agreed to take it.
    • The U.S. Army missile truck, wowing spectators by lifting the missile on its hydraulic lift bed.

Observations 6-7-19

  • How empathy is not always other-oriented; it’s also often a part of self-oriented things like avoiding embarrassment or influencing people. Imagining how other people feel doesn’t entail putting their interests first.
  • How the emoji clapping trope 👏fails to a👏ccount for 👏ghosted 👏syllables.
  • Mike Watt in Our Band Could Be Your Life: “We were music punk; they were social punk. […] We throw all this soft music, folk music, jazz, et cetera, not only to avoid getting caught in just one style, but also to show [social punks] that ‘See, you didn’t want any rules … this is what you wanted. You didn’t want to be told what to listen to’” (76).

Observations 6-6-19

  • “Bielzinho / Bielzinho” by O Terno, new tropicalia from Brazil.

Observations 6-5-19

  • In the span of thirty minutes, two separate bicyclists riding by, singing loudly and unabashedly.

Observations 6-4-19

  • Proposing “overwhelmth” (noun) as an addition to the English language.
  • Getting flirtatiously close to Inbox Zero.
  • Great Arthur Russell songs that I hadn’t heard: “Tell You Today,” “Instrumentals Volume 2,” “A Little Lost.” Like a dream.
  • From Our Band Could Be Your Life: “Mr. Ginn … was so proud of his son [Greg Ginn of Black Flag] that when he’d teach classes at Harbor College, he’d often have the Black Flag insignia painted on the pocket of his button-down shirts” (41).

Observations 6-3-19

  • Rebecca Solnit’s great essay about abortion in the Guardian.

Observations 6-2-19

  • “Is There Any Love?” by Trevor Dandy (via Numero Group).
  • The family in matching denim getting their portraits taken on Logan Boulevard.

Observations 6-1-19

  • Groove Denied by Stephen Malkmus (via Sammy)!
  • Jon Langford soloing on top of a folding chair while the Waco Brothers played in the Michigan City Municipal Band’s rehearsal and storage space.

Observations 5-31-19

  • Basil sitting in my childhood miniature recliner chair.
  • Drumming with Basil on my lap.
  • Wanting to learn more about communist/socialist standard exercise programs and the motivations behind them.

Observations 5-30-19

  • Helping Zaid make phone calls on both of his household landlines, and hearing hold music in both of my ears at the same time. Binaural hold music.
  • The insanely badass rhythm section (including Kenny Buttrey) on Kris Kristofferson’s “Josie” (via Dad).

Observations 5-29-19

  • Mom entertaining herself by calling me “Spenis.”

Observations 5-28-19

  • Basil attentively watching The Bachelorette.

Observations 5-27-19

  • Faye Webster sorta sounding like an Atlantan Andy Shauf on her new record, Atlanta Millionaires Club.
  • “Love 2 Fast” by Steve Lacy.
  • “Angelic Weirdness” by Guided By Voices.
  • While listening to Bowie’s Blackstar: The joy of Bowie being his old, recognizable self while also making something modern-sounding and new for him.