Being moved by the simplicity and far-ahead-of-their-timeness of Brâncuși’s sculptures during my professor’s sculpture history lecture.
Thinking, as I’m sure a lot of other people have, that sculpture and painting and studio art should have a crediting system for helpers and assistants the way that recorded music does, but not being sure about how that would work or whether it would ruin some sanctity or freeness of those media. Artists should be able to present their work with whatever degree of mystery as they want, and I can see how a crediting system could impose a certain way of thinking about ownership (whose is this?), causality (who did this?), identity (what is this?), and whatever else on them. (It gets even more complicated with dynamic works, interactive works, performance works…) But on the other hand I feel like if recording musicians accept that they need to document others’ contributions, artists of other forms should, too.
Another sculpture class thought: wondering how works are affected by our using the imperial system. We round up or down so often in measuring and cutting materials. How would works (or the canon, ooh) be different if we used a metric guide instead, or none at all?
Googling polygon angles and re-learning about elementary math for a new sculpture assignment. Using my phone calculator for arithmetic.
The “wow! wow! wow!” sound our sink makes every time you turn it on.
The mind-melting, newly released footage of Lennon and Harrison recording “How Do You Sleep?” (with a comatose Klaus Voorman on bass). It sounds so fucking good.
Feeling relieved at John’s saying about the song, during an interview later, ”If I can’t have a fight with my best friend I don’t know who I can have a fight with.”
How, although the leaves started falling as long ago as 8-27-18, most of them are still on the trees.
The big, rubber wheels on the new marimba in the school percussion studio.
The dean’s office door bulletin board with Wendell Berry and Richard Brautigan poems on it. Wondering whether the duplicate copy of Brautigan’s “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” was an accident or for emphasis.
How it is hard to divorce the word “fecund” from its similarity to “fecal.”
The 1976 General Foods ad explaining why scary-sounding ingredient lists aren’t so scary with a mix of defensiveness, condescension, and admirable directness (found in that Facebook “mid-century ad” page).
Going to an art opening with a “scent curator.”
Watching two patrons walk in and almost immediately touch the paintings. Feeling simultaneously (1) indignant that anyone assumes that’s okay and (2) down with the cause of making art accessible, touchable, personal.
Four years in, going to a tailgate for my college’s D-III football team for the first time.
Feeling a little bit sorry for the players on our team, who pour a lot of energy and care into it without much prospect of winning, let alone professional play. But mostly feeling indifferent because there are other emotional fish to fry. And we play in bands even when there’s not much money to be made from them—they must just like to play ball.
The number of players on the sidelines with crutches.
The near-complete lack of diversity on the opposing team.
Eating a vegan hot dog.
David Sedaris’s badass Guardian essay about walking (via Austin Kleon).
Overhearing students talk positively about a hypnotist who had performed on campus earlier.
Going for a run at night with Elijah, and the TV glow peeking through the window blinds of houses, a well-documented melancholism of life but still poignant to see for yourself.
NewModels.io making me feel so excited about internet publishing, and even a little envious because I’ve wanted to make something like it for a long time but I didn’t think to put the academic, political, and aesthetic pieces together in the way they did.
How there’s reading for reading’s sake and reading for clearing-your-Instapaper’s sake, and the former seems way more valuable than the latter.
Combing through the Lindsey Buckingham solo anthology (deluxe).
Singing “Your Man” (the Scotty McCreery “Baby Lock Them Doors” song) during YouTube karaoke at the house.
Dreaming about doing push-ups and waking up with sore arms.
The t-shirt with a photorealistic illustration of a buff, flexing panda on it.
“Hips Don’t Lie” playing over the gas station radio.
The old-school, automatic shoe shine machine in the bathroom. Making a note to visit its manufacturer’s website, which was engraved in big letters on the machine’s instruction plate. The website being exactly what you hope it would be. It even has a hit counter, which read 365 on 10-9-18, 374 on 10-11, 377 on 10-14, and 389 on 10-17. [574 on 1-15-19.]
The semi-truck sleeper cab with a “Happy Hour” neon sign in its window.
My version of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” theory: it takes me at least ten hours (spread out) to get any project close to where I want it to be.
Learning about my dad’s altercation with a Brett Kavanaugh supporter in San Francisco, at first, from my elementary school drum teacher/friend Jeff Fortin’s tweet of the JamBase article about it.
Stopping myself from watching the video because I knew it would make me too mad [I watched it since then].
Wanting to say these things to the fan, but getting them out of my body here instead:
I understand that the crowd’s reaction and my dad’s response felt like “mob rule” (in your tweets), but what is mob rule in this case if not a bunch of people civilly (albeit a little rudely, with laughter) disagreeing with you? Is everyone else a mindless sheep just because they’re on the same page, and that page is different from yours? Isn’t that selling them short?
I understand that performers have a bully pulpit, and that when they direct attention to you it can feel unfair. But I don’t think that my dad abused the power of being on stage. I think he took you seriously. And I think he gave you space to express yourself.
I understand that, as a fan, it’s disturbing when people we admire disagree with us. And it’s even more disturbing when they disagree with us in a public, fraught way. I felt empathy for you when you said you were a fan and that you love my dad. But more than anything I feel mad that you care so little about making life better for victims of sexual assault (Kavanaugh’s or otherwise). And that you see my dad as an aggressor, and yourself as a victim.
Watching a cook at a Japanese restaurant prepare orders with a Hello Kitty apron on and with seemingly no stress.
Getting fully soaked from walking just a half of a block in the rain (it was kinda fun).
How the mini-tacos in 7-Eleven look like they were scaled down on a computer and then 3D-printed.
The semi truck straps flapping in the wind like a Steve Reich instrument.
Listening to The Faust Tapes on the highway.
Listening to Preet Bharara explain, on his podcast, the difference between an FBI criminal investigation and an FBI background investigation, and why it was so silly for anyone to argue that Brett Kavanaugh had a right to be a Supreme Court justice.
The Cha Cha Jimenez NPR interview about turning the Young Lords gang into a human rights movement.
Ordering a Stabilo highlighter after seeing Casey’s.
The new version of Cargo Collective’s web hosting service. So cool and there’s nothing else like it. (I don’t use it but I’ve admired them for years. It’s the same people who run butdoesitfloat.com I think.)
Finding an empty mayonnaise packet and a caterpillar on the street. Moving the caterpillar to beneath a tree. Leaving the mayo packet.
How quiet the outside world is after spending the morning in a wood shop.
The YouTube channel where these guys just cut stuff in half with a super high-power waterjet.
Meeting a dachshund named Sinatra.
My mom “ragecrafting” political buttons (e.g. “Fuck Trump,” “Fuck Lindsey Graham”) in cute ‘70s pastel colors.
The hipness of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, whose website links not only to its SoundCloud but also to its public GitHub repositories and a Medium publication.
My friend telling me that I look like a turtle, but a hot turtle, not like Mitch McConnell.
How Field Notes donated $10 for each of the first 500 notebooks sold in their Puerto Rico edition.
Low-tech Magazine’s new solar-powered website inspiring me so much my chest hurt (via Coudal).
Wondering whether their solar-powered server design, which they explained in a guide, could be packaged into a turnkey product so more people can have solar-powered (and decentralized!) websites, or if that would defeat the DIY and recycled-parts nature of it.
How being aware of my draw on the website’s solar energy store caused me to avoid opening pages redundantly (e.g. navigating back and forth from the homepage to subpages), a cool but not necessarily positive effect of the experiment. I wouldn’t want users of a solar-powered website of my own to feel restricted in any way.
The student with a full-head, bee-suit-looking face mask.
The marks the leaves leave on the ground from their seepage after rain, which are kind of impressively dark and long-lasting imprints for little leaves to leave.
The video of Brett Kavanaugh gripping his wife’s shoulder the way someone might manhandle a child, and how it would be gross and disrespectful even in that case.
My gamelan teacher being a sweet, great parent to his five-year-old kid whom he brought to class, and telling us about his childhood in Bali, where he would practice gamelan so late into the night that he would fall asleep next to it on the temple floor. Apparently it’s normal to keep a pillow and blanket near the instrument there for that reason.
Watching an English-speaking bartender and a Spanish-speaking regular use Google Translate to communicate with each other.
The student who raised his hand to bring up Nazi Germany in a philosophy class (a heavy no-no, if not for insensitivity then for intellectual laziness) inadvertently in the shape of a Nazi salute.
Recording without a tea towel on my snare drum for the first time in, like, forever.
Stumbling upon an eBay listing for an anti-Kaepernick, anti-Nike, anti-Black-Lives-Matter “art print” that looks like it was designed in Microsoft Paint, with a 1,463-word, racist screed in its product description.
“The image will be printed on a glossy paper in high definition. All sales are final. I’m not thinking about myself. What? All you Facebooger diks can’t figure that out?”
“A.I. is going to destroy your lives! 5G is the baby step. Then comes Skynet.”
“[The globalist elites] think about $Green, not N*gga, Black, Whatever.”
Its weird combination of anticapitalist rage, which would sound at-home in a punk zine, and racist nationalism.
How it becomes like a diary toward the end, with dated updates on seemingly irrelevant current events, like Dr. Ford’s testimony at the Kavanaugh hearings.
Its idiosyncratic use of question marks.
Walking outside to find a woodpecker-looking bird on our porch.
Baking pies with Casey.
Finding a jar of McCormick whole clove spice from 1988 in our cabinet. Considering using it in our pumpkin pie, but deciding against it.
Casey and I watching a toddler discover himself in the mirror of a booth at Golden Nugget.
He kissed his own reflection.
Finding a dead mouse in the trash can at home :( Possibly a relative of those who took part in the Smarties Incident [9-7-18 and 9-10-18].
Trying to protect my mom from knowing about it, because it would have made her so sad. [I reluctantly spilled the beans a few days later.]
The Toys “R” Us / Kids “R” Us semi trailer marshaled in a truck yard, the graphics on its side fading from sun exposure.
The coffee machine screeching over classical music on the radio in the cafe, making it sound like a triumphant live recording with raucous audience noises.
Learning about the School of Names philosophers of ancient China (479-221 BCE) who inspired a “crisis in Chinese philosophy because their paradoxical arguments undermined confidence in the reliability of argumentation and even language itself” (Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy, Brian W. Van Norden). Feeling kind of reassured by that, because ancient Chinese people survived and figured out how to have faith in language again, and we’re figuring out how to do that in the US right now.
Listening to the Reply All episode about Jack Maple, the cop who invented CompStat, and feeling optimistic about the possibility of changing situations that had previously seemed impossible to change—even ones with massive bureaucracies and complex networks of human behavior behind them, like police dysfunction in New York—but also wary of the ways awful turds like Rudy Giuliani can abuse those solutions.
How you can feel a sense of futility or pessimism at there being no point to your work but also an encompassing optimism that you’re still looking for the point. Doy. It’s like feeling (second-order) optimistic about your (first-order) pessimism. I’ve wondered how I could feel so dejected and hopeful at the same time and this distinction explains it for me.
Learning how to spell “eczema” from Casey. (I had never written it down, but for years I thought “egg” or “suhma” were in there somewhere.)
Kicking a half-eaten churro on the ground.
The tiny kickstand on a Razor scooter.
Stumbling upon the beautiful, old-school website for Jena Labs audio equipment.
Installing AutoCAD (before my student discount expires).
How it’s hard not to feel like anyone with a Custom Ink shirt on is a putz (or at least friends with a putz) for not using a cheaper, local print shop.
How when I was a preteen the prospect of using real outboard recording gear, with a patchbay and all, seemed impossibly complicated but now it feels normal. And how building stuff with metal-/woodworking machines feels impossibly complicated now but how I hope it will feel normal at some point.
The rose that someone had made out of folded napkins and left on a table in the dining hall.
The roll-up blinds in my room flying up during the night and scaring the crap out of me. Turning off all the lights to inspect the darkness outside my window. Concluding my investigation and rolling the blinds back down.
The funny way Princeton Architectural Press processes orders, with a custom-seeming barebones cart interface and plaintext confirmation emails.
The discovery that Facebook knowingly inflated video engagement statistics, which likely contributed to the trend over the past few years of major publications firing writing staff in favor of building video departments (“pivoting to video”).
How sometimes the conversations that surround those firings don’t acknowledge the benefit they pose to videographers, script writers, production assistants, and whoever else works on videos. But how I wouldn’t demand that a freshly (and dubiously) fired writer talks about that.
Appreciating flushless urinals (the ones that work at least).
Hayden’s amazing cordless-drill-powered leaf harvester and how it was invented six or so years ago.
The excitement I feel that farming has been around for over 10,000 years and people are still finding simple but huge ways to make it better (Avrom Farm can harvest hundreds of pounds of vegetables in way less time now without having to use a vehicle or completely change their farming practice). The futuristic urban greenhouses with hyper-engineered lighting and irrigation are one thing; a sack made out of canvas with some spinny ropes and a cordless drill are another, more inspiring thing to me.
Enduring, but also kind of appreciating, the choreography and sales script of an oil change at a franchise shop, which was more intense and enthusiastic than they usually are.
“I hope you didn’t feel pressured to buy anything. I just really care about your car.”
The roadside marquee that said “SICK OF WINNING YET?” Me, not being able to tell whether it was for or against Trump.
How Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) is an underrated singer.
Watching a driver tweeze her neck while stopped at a red light.
Walking past a guy cutting his toe nails on his front porch.
How the Virgin Mary candles are next to the cleaning supplies at the corner store.
Breaking out my full-blown winter coat.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society “Light the Night” walk being canceled because of high winds (porta-potties were blowing over). Mom feeling disappointed, but still happy that we raised so much money (Team Susan Miller Tweedy is in the top three teams of the state!).
Playing a great, nice-feeling show with Henry for his album release, in the basement of a DIY house, with two other really weird, inspiring bands (one sounded like Tropicália mixed with English folk, the other was a punk/noise band with improvised coffee-can drums).
The Wilco fans who very kindly came and tolerated the uncomfortable basement. (They’re rock show veterans so it didn’t faze them.)
Letting myself have bad posture while drumming again, and realizing that trying to sit up straight had been hurting my focus. So now, I would like to announce that bad posture is part of my playing technique (again).
The Xfinity billboard referencing the Morton Salt factory the sits right next to it (“Streaming worth its salt”). Yuck but also kind of creative.
The library bathroom sink with a thick streak of blood down the middle, heading toward the drain.
Attending a convocation lecture by Kathy Cramer, author of The Politics of Resentment.
Agreeing with and feeling grateful for her message that we ought to be more patient with one another.
Wishing that she had more explicitly addressed whether listening to (without challenging) misguided or even dangerous people makes us complicit in whatever they do as a result of their being misguided.
The professor of government who, while introducing Cramer, offered to walk anyone who wanted to vote early to the city hall after the talk.
The comparison of Daoist ethics, which say righteous behavior ought to be an automatic, intuitive, unconscious response to life, to Kantian ethics, which say righteous behavior can only be an intentional, reflective, conscious response to life, in Bryan Van Norden’s Introduction to Chinese Philosophy.
Finding a huge beetle partly crushed and struggling to move on the sidewalk.
Always doubting my spelling of “beetle” because of The Beatles.
Mustering up enough confidence to put my pencil behind my ear, carpenter-style, while measuring and cutting wood in sculpture class.
My classmate bringing up Captain Beefheart in a class discussion about art created via abuse.
Seeing (and hearing) a working wax cylinder phonograph for the first time.
Watching my friend talk to strangers on the street and at a bar in a way that felt foreign (but heartwarming) to me. I guess as a (Midwestern) city person, I feel like you ought to be sincerely friendly to strangers but keep contact to a minimum—especially if they’re busy, the way most bartenders are. But my friend talked a lot, and no one seemed bothered at all by it.
My gamelan teacher stopping in the middle of a song to point out that a little bat was sleeping (or dead) on the ledge of an acoustic panel on the wall.
The house painters’ plastic enclosures making a dorm building look like E.T.’s quarantine.
The professor drinking Soylent.
Pulling splinters out of my hands for hours after sculpture class.
Trying to donate blood, but the needle going in wrong? I’m not sure what happened, but the phlebotomist was freaked out by it and had to call for backup. They told me it would bruise but my arm’s been mostly fine.
The attendant at the registration table, matter-of-factly: “I don’t eat on Blood Drive Day.”
The phlebotomists having a blast in the donation bus.
The donation bus smelling exactly like a tour bus.
Seeing one of the blood bags again, after years of avoiding seeing them.
Feeling let down that the Pitchfork site barely loads on my phone because of all the ads and video web bloat. I know that publications have to make money and that advertising in 2018 generally requires lots of tracking scripts and video engagement. But there has to be a way to please advertisers, make money, and still serve a usable website. Of all big online publications, I would expect Pitchfork to be the one that cares about that and leads the pack on a return to static-ish websites. Because they care about what young people care about, and I’m pretty sure every young person is clamoring for performant, user-respectful, lightweight websites right now.
Noticing two face hairs that I missed while shaving and leaving them there, defiantly.
My classmate who uses an unoccupied desk as an ottoman for his legs, and how it doesn’t bother me because he makes really thoughtful comments.
Thinko’s drawonthiswebsite.com project. People have done similar things before but theirs looks better-executed. I like the idea of drawing on the website itself, as if it’s a spatial surface.
Watching a man dig a hole on campus that he had started at the direction of a metal detector. Wondering whether he was a maintenance faculty person or an audacious neighbor.
The Essential Peggy March retrospective compilation.
The first eleven seconds of “He Couldn’t Care Less.”
The crazy, Motown-emulating bass on “Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In the Mirror).”
Imagining a phone case with a screen on the back so it could show the world what book you’re reading—so you wouldn’t have to feel guilty about reading on your phone anymore. One way not to feel guilty.
The copy of The 36-Hour Day on the student retreat center manager’s desk.
The international students singing “We Are Young” around a campfire.
Cold Lake Michigan from the Wisconsin side at night.
The moonlight peeking out from underneath the retreat center curtains.
The student earnestly learning how to play “Don’t Stop Believin’,” from YouTube, on a piano in the retreat center great room.
Stepping on a sticky spot of the floor three times before deciding to take matters into my own hands and clean it up.
The endearing retreat center chef telling us about his prior life as the (adult, professional) chef for a frat house, his 1960s Chris-Craft boat, and how grateful he feels to live in his new, old house and to see the lake every day.
His periodic announcements during meals to explain that the dishes were cooked from scratch and that the cheese is “real Wisconsin cheese.”
How someone spelled dessert “dissert” on the daily whiteboard menu.
Hiking through the little streams and shoreline woods of Door County.
Learning about the distinction between doctrinal and therapeutic philosophy (from Van Norden’s Introduction to Chinese Philosophy), four years in and three weeks away from a degree in philosophy.
Adding text shortcuts for “i.e.” and “e.g.” to my iPhone settings.
Finally making progress on an essay I’ve tried to write in different academic contexts for the past four years. I started it as a personal essay in high school and since then I’ve turned it into a presentation in a class about American Pragmatism and a full-blown independent study project, but it didn’t really click until I pared it down this weekend. [Update 11-1-18: The celebration was maybe premature, because it feels murky again. But I’m still workin’ on it.]
Learning the word “melliferous” (“yielding or producing honey”) by looking up whether a typo word was real (it wasn’t).
The percussion professor demonstrating a rhythm on my arms, accidentally slapping my flu shot site [10-29-18].
Finding hero material in Maciej Ceglowski, who runs Pinboard as a lightweight, one-person company (whereas Delicious and similar sites of the past were multi-million-dollar, Yahoo-acquired behemoths) and Tech Solidarity, which is changing the way progressive candidates fund campaigns. Their Great Slate project will hopefully win two to thirteen “free” House seats for Democrats on Tuesday, just by funneling small donations from internet nerds to overlooked races. It’s a “why didn’t someone do this sooner?” idea. And he writes about it really well on idlewords.com.