Observations 2019-02-01

  • 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 2019-02-02

  • The two hotel employees carrying a mattress, one end on each of their heads.
  • The iguanas.
  • Mavis telling her audience that Dad had turned down her invitation to sit in on “You Are Not Alone” (a miscommunication!), her audience chanting “Tweedy! Tweedy!,” and Dad running up to the stage 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 2019-02-03

  • 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 2019-02-04

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

Observations 2019-02-05

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

Observations 2019-02-06

  • 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 2019-02-07

  • 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 2019-02-08

  • 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 2019-02-09

  • Watching hawks and an eagle (!) 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 2019-02-10

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

Observations 2019-02-11

  • 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 2019-02-12

  • 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 2019-02-13

  • 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 2019-02-14

  • 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 2019-02-15

  • Pink Navel rapping over samples of Disney movie previews.

Observations 2019-02-16

  • Keeping the fireplace continuously stoked.

Observations 2019-02-17

  • 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 2019-02-18

  • The trophies in my neighbor’s trash.

Observations 2019-02-19

  • 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 2019-02-20

  • Finding mouse poop in the yarmulke drawer.

Observations 2019-02-21

  • Eating Golden Nugget pancakes for breakfast and dinner (the same order).

Observations 2019-02-22

  • Receiving two more Instagram DMs from students whose textbook lists me as an American teen blogger (these ones seemed to come from Brazil) [1-29-19].
  • Paying a parking ticket that the Blisters got on tour in Toronto in 2017.
  • Meeting a dog named after Bell’s Oberon beer (“Obie”).
  • The Deborah Boardman retrospective at Hyde Park Art Center.
    • Her work Silent Auction: “god might not hear.”

Observations 2019-02-23

  • While checking IDs at the bar, two patrons asking if they could see my ID because I look too young to be checking theirs.
  • Getting into op-ed section newsletters.

Observations 2019-02-24

  • Watching a two-hour Bozo’s Circus retrospective with my parents.
    • The hellish footage of circus poodles wearing Victorian dresses, getting married, and marching to the Star-Spangled Banner.
    • Bozo and co. imitating The Beatles with a super rare National guitar.
  • Learning, maybe a little too late, that there’s a difference between “picturesque” and “picaresque.”

Observations 2019-02-25

  • Finding out that my prolonged bout of diarrhea a few weeks ago was, in fact, salmonella [2-12-19].
  • Skipping through an annoying section of an Art Ensemble of Chicago song (via Sammy) and feeling like I didn’t deserve the (more palatable) remainder of the song.
  • At Zaid’s hospital room [12-2-18 et al.], listening to his stories about running a used car lot at age eighteen; buying a gas station just for the repair garage and making the gas so expensive that no one would buy it (so that they wouldn’t have to operate the pumps); the saga of trying to sell his patent for the world’s first cellular-connected burglar alarm.
    • Some people bought their expensive gas anyway, since, as Zaid learned, “some people really don’t give a shit.”
    • Zaid’s disdain for the exploitative asshole who got him into the business.

Observations 2019-02-26

  • The New York Times story about Candice Payne, who bought thirty hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness in Chicago during the cold a few weeks ago.
    • How the thirty rooms snowballed into sixty, plus donated food and goods, as people found out about the story and sent money to Candice.
    • “I am a regular person. It all sounded like a rich person did this, but I’m just a little black girl from the South Side. I thought it was unattainable, but after seeing this and seeing people from all around the world, that just tells me that it’s not that unattainable. We can all do this together.”
  • How my family has always been disgusted (and confused) that I say words like “important” and “often” with a hard T.

Observations 2019-02-27

  • Listening to the Michael Cohen testimony with Zaid in his room at the post-hospital rehab center.
    • How you don’t need to think Cohen is a good guy or fully reformed in order to see that Republican representatives were protecting Trump and misconstruing how witness testimony works in the first place.
  • At a fundraiser for Poverty Alleviation Chicago:
    • a playlist of Top 40 hits but with violin solos superimposed on them;
    • the biggest table of meats and cheeses I’ve ever seen, sweating.
  • Liam’s last shift at the Hungry Brain.
    • Jeremy Cunningham’s delicious, tasteful drumming.

Observations 2019-02-28

  • Mavis’s interview in Rolling Stone.
    • [In response to the question “Your old friend Bob Dylan also boxes. Do you think you could knock him out?”:] “I’d knock him out with one swing. He’s so little. It would hurt me to hit Bobby like that, but, oh, yeah, I’d take him out.”
    • “I told a friend of mine I want him to show me how to ride a skateboard.”
    • “If I had to talk to [Trump], if he wanted to talk to me, I would look him straight in the eye. I think he would see what I’m feeling from the way that I would look at him, and he might say, ‘Oh, this is a different one here. I’ve got to straighten up and fly right.’”
    • “You will just take yourself under if you keep being angry. […] It hurts, but you can’t hold hate and anger in your heart. You have to let it go. I have to let it go so that I can be free.”
  • Yet another latex glove on the ground [8-22-18, 10-5-18, 11-7-18].