Observations 2019-05-01

  • Accidentally throwing out gum in a trash can with no bag and feeling bad about it. (The can was slightly too deep, and the social situation slightly too weird, to dig it out, Father.)
  • The sound of the rotary phone ringing at Fireside Bowl.
  • Getting turned down by U.S. Bank for a free checking account because Hayden’s and my business, Avrom Farm Party, has only seasonal revenue (?!). [Update 5-18-19: Hayden was able to open the account at another location.]

Observations 2019-05-02

  • Eric Bachmann’s photos of residents at a retirement home for “penniless” musicians founded by Verdi (via Austin Kleon’s newsletter).
  • Nate Smith’s drumming in the new Fearless Flyers music videos (!).
  • How quaint it is to me that, in 2019, newspapers still try to write clever, alliterative headlines.
  • The deer in the Northeastern Illinois University parking lot.

Observations 2019-05-03

  • Michael Slote on the relationship between caring/empathy and thinking/rationality: “[…] Even if morality isn’t based on reason, there is no reason to suppose that moral individuals, as conceived by care ethics, have no need for their rational, or reasoning, powers. A mother who cares about her child wants to know how to do what is good for her child, and this involves knowing and initially learning all sorts of nutritional and medical facts, just for starters” (The Ethics of Care and Empathy 120).

Observations 2019-05-04

  • How it seems like Democratic politicians have less restraint in launching presidential campaigns than I do in releasing Bandcamp albums.

Observations 2019-05-05

  • Basil’s every-morning routine of leaving a turd on the floor for Casey and me. (Thankfully usually on a pee/poop pad.)

Observations 2019-05-06

  • Thanking the Brands (somewhat sincerely) for reminding me to buy timely gifts for my loved ones.
  • Feeling surprised, nearly every time, by the satisfactoriness of fruit as a dessert.
  • “Ahtcstbyelw 1” by Angelo Harmsworth & Theodore Cale Schafer crossfaded into “3” by Pita, as heard on an n10.as radio re-run.

Observations 2019-05-07

  • Al Green at the Chicago Theatre with Mom, Dad, and Casey.
    • His voice, sounding just as wide-ranged as it ever was.
    • His band, sounding great and energetic and supportive.
    • His back-up dancers (two, men), coming out only for the big hits, with a subtle costume change each time.
    • The well-stocked, many-flavored table of Gatorade not quite on the side stage, more so on the stage stage.

Observations 2019-05-08

  • Driving past Superdawg, seeing our old friends behind the counter there. (We don’t go as often now that we don’t eat meat.)

Observations 2019-05-09

  • The Vox article about Dr. Gary Bloch, who “prescribes income” to his patients (helps them apply for social benefit programs):
    • “[Studies since the 1960s] looked across every geographic location, across every disease, across accidents and trauma and growing up in poverty. Then they drilled down further into the biological markers and epigenetics — changes in the way genes are expressed as a result of people living in adverse social situations. […] There’s an incredibly strong body of evidence that proves the link between poverty and poor health outcomes.”
    • “We have two full-time people, permanent salaried staff funded by the government, who are focused only on improving our patients’ income security. They’ll sit with patients individually and work on financial literacy and getting bank accounts and getting them to file their taxes.”
    • “The challenge is getting governments to think long-term — to convince people who are elected for four years to be willing to take a chance on something that won’t see outcomes until probably long after they’re out of power.”
    • Paraphrasing Rudolf Virchow: “Politics is just medicine writ large.”

Observations 2019-05-10

  • Tim Kreider’s NYTimes Opinion column from 2012 in which he argues that people ought to remember to play, to avoid seeking comfort in excessive busyness (where privilege allows): “If your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary” (via Austin Kleon’s newsletter).

Observations 2019-05-11

  • Stumbling upon one of the garages where rickshaw drivers park their rickshaws.
    • Their LED strips lighting up the night.
  • This badass micro-nonfiction tweet from Pam Grier, Ph.D.: “In 1976, I placed Richard Pryor’s injured horse in the back seat of my 4 door Jaguar to take to the Vet. I drive down the 405 with Richard in the passenger seat wearing his bathrobe, Ginger his horse thinking I’m crazy, drivers following us, we saved her life that day.”

Observations 2019-05-12

  • On one walk, finding a bat smooshed on the ground and a baby bird smooshed on the ground. :(
  • Taking Zaid to Superdawg [5-8-19] with Dad, and talking to owner Lisa, a daughter of founders Maurie and Flaurie.
    • They still have Wilco’s SPIN Superdawg photo shoot spreads up in the dining room.
  • The older bar patrons (one of whom was in a wheelchair) craning their bodies, reaching over a table, to hold each other’s hands during a whole performance.
  • The free jazz musicians crowded around an iPhone to watch an NBA highlight.

Observations 2019-05-13

  • Playing with Liam for his super fun, super energizing debut full-band solo show at the Empty Bottle, opening for Woongi.

Observations 2019-05-14

  • Sammy referring to an inconvenience as a “big-time trag [pronounced “trajj”].”
  • With Casey, realizing that dog butts are “all hole, no crack.”
  • Learning that Gil Scott-Heron covered Bill Callahan’s “I’m New Here” (via Austin Kleon’s newsletter).

Observations 2019-05-15

  • Thinking more about my late Grandpa Tweedy as the weather gets warmer, because a memorable part of my childhood was riding around in his hot car in Belleville (sticky leather, all that stuff), the smell of gasoline in his and Grandma’s dank garage, just generally sweating on visits to Southern Illinois.
  • The guards of the Muslim community center playing with traffic safety batons like lightsabers.
  • The blasphemy of using a sheet of Apple logo stickers as a bookmark while reading Our Band Could Be Your Life.
  • Reaching the last dregs of the body wash and toothpaste I bought last fall—when I was starting my last year of college.
  • Rodney A. Brooks explaining a feature of jellyfish neurons, which I took to be a cute, if not scientifically inapplicable, illustration of why drumming softly can be a good idea (via Edge.org; emphasis mine): “[Jellyfish] have a central clock generator, the signal gets distributed on the neurons, but there are different transmission times from the central clock to the different parts of the creature. So, how do they handle that? Well, different species handle it in different ways. Some use amazingly fast propagation. Others, because the spikes attenuate as they go a certain distance, there is a latency, which is inversely proportional to the signal strength. So, the weaker the signal strength, the quicker you operate, and that’s how the whole thing synchronizes.”

Observations 2019-05-16

  • Mom and me seething at a picture of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey.
  • Watching La Tosca, an awesome, real-deal old-school Italian band.
    • Their fans, who came dressed like characters in Midnight in Paris.
    • The bar patron who brought his own didgeridoo sitting in with them.

Observations 2019-05-17

  • The concept of “thingeries”—public libraries for borrowing objects, not books (via Alan Jacobs’s newsletter).
  • New Zealand becoming “the first western country to design its entire budget around wellbeing priorities and instruct its ministries to design policies to improve wellbeing” (via The Guardian).
  • Simon Jenkins’s Guardian op-ed about crowds and Venezuela’s confusing, disintegrating revolution: “The greatest of historical fallacies is to confuse crowds with power. Venezuela has disappeared from the headlines, because its headlines were about crowds, not about the realities of power. The trouble with crowds is that, sooner or later, they go home.”
    • “I believe that where the crowd can be most effective is when deployed tactically against a specific, winnable goal. In the climate change argument, local crowds in the north of England have all but stopped fracking. Anti-GM food campaigners won their war in Europe. Demonstrators against the Sackler family in New York are wrecking its reputation and cutting arts funding. Where power is shamed by publicity, it can concede ground without too much inconvenience.”
    • I still think, maybe naively, that the ultimate power in a state lies with the people (or with “crowds”) and that even the specter of the crowd’s power sometimes, partly helps to keep our government in line.

Observations 2019-05-18

  • Going on a nice morning walk with Mom and Sammy.
    • Getting home just in time to watch the rain from the porch.
  • Watching and loving Y Tu Mamá También with Sammy.
  • Learning that Facebook recently hired a co-writer of the Patriot Act to be its general counsel.
    • The rating of the bound version of the Patriot Act on Google: 35%.
    • The lone review of the Patriot Act on Google Books: “stupid ass law.”
  • A tentatively heartening stat from a Fast Company story about plant-based meat: “Around 30% of American consumers now say that they’re reducing their meat consumption, and 32% consider themselves flexitarian.”
    • A venture capitalist in the article: “Historically, making the decision to bring on a plant-based burger in McDonald’s would have been a very risky decision to make. […] Why would you put your job at risk and your reputation at risk to take on a veggie burger? [Now] if you’re in that position of influence, and you don’t take that risk, you’ll actually miss out, and you’ll be the one who kind of came in behind competition.”
      • I like how he describes the change in terms of individuals’ concrete actions. I don’t like how it potentially supports anarcho-capitalists’ idea that there is a free market solution for any crisis, including excessive meat consumption.
  • The amazing 1874 specimen book of chromatic wood type from Wm. H. Page & Co., viewable for free on Archive.org (via “Meanwhile” by Daniel Gray).
  • Getting home late enough to see (and be momentarily freaked out by) the newspaper delivery.

Observations 2019-05-19

  • Imagining an animation where humans bathe the way other things do (e.g. cars in a car wash, dishes in a bar sink).

Observations 2019-05-20

  • The student athlete walking around with ice bags strapped to her knees.
  • The two people in full hazmat-style dust suits in the Chase bank at ~11PM.
  • Rachel Kolb’s amazing essay about getting a cochlear implant, in the NYTimes: “Once I got the cochlear implant, a transmitter of rough-hewn sound that set my skull rattling and my nerves screeching, I found that music jolted my core in ways I could not explain. Deep percussion rhythms burrowed into my brain and pulsed outward. A violin’s melody pierced and vibrated in my chest, where it lingered long after the song had ended. Other tunes sounded overburdened, harsh and cacophonic, and I longed to shut them off and return to silence — as I still do.”

Observations 2019-05-21

  • At a pro-choice rally, a priest holding a “Jesus Trusts Women” sign.

Observations 2019-05-22

  • Erica Chenoweth’s research about social movements (via the BBC):
    • “Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change 53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests.”
    • “’There weren’t any campaigns that had failed after they had achieved 3.5% participation during a peak event.’”
  • The troll doll lying in the middle of the street.
  • Panic’s new Playdate game console (co-designed with Teenage Engineering, makers of the OP-1 and Pocket Operator synths). Sooo inspiring (design-wise).

Observations 2019-05-23

  • The documentary about the end of Farrah Fawcett’s life playing on a TV over the bar at Henry’s show.

Observations 2019-05-24

  • Learning that Ronald Reagan helped Dennis Wilson’s family bury him at sea when he died in 1983 (via the Guardian).
  • My first garden hose use of the summer.
  • Reagan Ray’s huge online collections of old record label logos, VHS tape logos, and (maybe best of all) railway logos.

Observations 2019-05-25

  • Returning to my college campus to watch Ohmme, Lala Lala, Dehd, and a bunch more bands play at its annual music festival.

Observations 2019-05-26

  • The band playing a soulful-ish rendition of “Wonderwall.”

Observations 2019-05-27

  • 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.

Observations 2019-05-28

  • Basil attentively watching The Bachelorette.

Observations 2019-05-29

  • Mom entertaining herself by calling me “Spenis.”

Observations 2019-05-30

  • 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 2019-05-31

  • 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.