Observations 2019-07-01

  • The citizen historians who discovered the office of former Chicago city clerk and alderperson John Marcin, virtually untouched since 1984. They donated all the contents to UIC.

Observations 2019-07-02

  • The tiny, cracked egg that had fallen from a nest on our back porch. :(

Observations 2019-07-03

  • The idea of describing a house as “haunted-curious.”

Observations 2019-07-04

  • Casey apologizing to flowers before cutting their stems.
  • Complimenting two separate guitar pick guards.
  • The sound of multiple window AC units on an Elston Avenue apartment building.
  • Watching a woman walk into a red-light crosswalk with a kid in a stroller.
  • The blue CPAP-looking hose in the alley by Casey’s.
  • The huge line of firecrackers inching along the park sidewalk.
  • Yet more confirmation that I look like the Report of the Week guy, this time from a stranger’s tweet.

Observations 2019-07-05

  • Playing my first solo full-band show ever at Sleeping Village, with Justin Vittori, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and Alex Heaney, opening for Chris Cohen. The band was so sweet and the audience was so sweet and Chris was so nice to ask me to play.

Observations 2019-07-06

  • The husky with an injured leg, its owner helping it walk by pulling it upward with a wide cloth sash.
  • The reassuring if not a little over-optimistic report that planting billions of trees could get us 37% of the way there to our greenhouse gas mitigation goals.
  • The pregnancy test sitting on top of a pet snake’s tank in the community AM radio station.
  • The musician with head tattoos in the shape of a widow’s peak.

Observations 2019-07-07

  • Playing drums with Liam, Sully, Dorian, and more friends in a Cosmic Country Cookout.
  • Reading about the WD-40 Company and trade secrets on Wikipedia.

Observations 2019-07-08

  • Remembering the cute, kinda ambitious CSS3-animated website I made for dBpm Records in 2011 (archived on Archive.org).
  • Sweeping up dried rat turds like hockey pucks in a basement storage space.
  • Hearing kids singing through the walls of a mosque.
  • Rebecca Solnit writing about the “tyranny of the quantifiable” in Men Explain Things to Me: how quantifiable are easy to express and deal in, so they get outsize weight, while “slipperier things” get ignored. A first step of lots of world-bettering is naming and describing what we want to value.
  • Amazing insights about Prince’s recording process from the engineer Susan Rogers’s Red Bull Academy interview:
    • “He lived on Doritos and cake.”
    • “16 [hours] would be a fairly short session, but we frequently did 24 hours. That was fairly common. That was how long it took, because he never wanted to come back to a song. If he started it, he wanted to do all the overdubs and mixing as we went, and then print it and then it would be done. […] I’d make his cassette copy. I’d sleep my customary three hours. The phone would ring, I’d pick up the phone and his voice would go, ‘Ready?’ ‘Yeah.’ Then it would go all over again.”

Observations 2019-07-09

  • Feeling temporarily soothed by an appeals court’s ruling that Trump’s Twitter bans are unconstitutional.
  • How Arthur Russell used to steal electricity via extension cord from his friend Alan Ginsberg’s apartment (via Tom Lee’s beautiful liner notes for Love Is Overtaking Me, via Austin Kleon’s newsletter).
  • Days after it aired, still thinking about Hannah B.’s intense reaction to the art in the Mauritshuis museum.

Observations 2019-07-10

  • Feeling a special sort of camaraderie with other people who like circus peanuts.

Observations 2019-07-11

  • Eating a Psychedelic Salad from Leona’s (Chicago restaurant chain) for the first time since I was a preteen. (I’ve been chasing their peppery ranch ever since then.)
  • This Jonas Mekas quote from The Creative Independent: “I never needed a creative practice. I don’t believe in creativity. I just do things. I grew up on a farm where we made things, grew things. You plant the seeds and then they grow. I just keep making things, doing things. It has nothing to do with creativity. I don’t need creativity.”

Observations 2019-07-12

  • Watching James Swanberg play his great songs along to cassette tape samples played off a Walkman.

Observations 2019-07-13

  • The awkward, white bar patron mouthing the lyrics along to “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown.
  • The inspiring Guardian story about musicians with disabilities designing new, accessible instruments.

Observations 2019-07-14

  • The degree by which my life improved when I separated my sock and underwear drawers.
  • How cool it is, still, that Neil Finn is in Fleetwood Mac.
  • I think we ought to stop conflating recognition of fallibility with lack of conviction. It’s a problem in politics: we think politicians are weak or mealy-mouthed when they qualify their statements. But our political convictions usually depend upon how we understand facts about the world, and it’s totally appropriate to recognize that our understanding of those facts may be wrong. There are mealy-mouthed politicians for sure, but it’s a shame that our vigilance against them squelches the space for humility.

Observations 2019-07-15

  • The metal dust on the street reflecting a rainbow.
  • The joy of a public drinking fountain with high water pressure.
  • The relatively unused latex glove on the ground.

Observations 2019-07-16

  • The huge, metallic sounds reverberating inside of a Waste Management storage container.
  • The latex glove on the floor of the storage container.
  • My coworkers’ conversation about a “black bean paste lifehack.”

Observations 2019-07-17

  • Accidentally making cinnamon peanut butter toast on potato rosemary sourdough bread which, in addition to being an inappropriate host to those fixings, I later found out was moldy.
  • The man reading National Geographic in Braille on the bus.
  • The latex glove on the ground full of orange peels.
  • The superpower-esque magic of a pallet jack.

Observations 2019-07-18

  • Driving into the Menards lumber yard in a caravan of four fifteen-passenger vans and one box truck; buying all the mulch bags they had in stock; loading them by hand into the vans; dropping them in a nighttime operation into the mud of Union Park.
  • How the abandoned-looking house in my neighborhood has stacks of empty jars in its windows, but none full of pee.
  • A coworker’s cigarette ash flying onto my upper lip, and me, thinking it was a warm bug.
  • Hearing phantom radio chatter from the day’s walkie-talkie use as I fell asleep.

Observations 2019-07-19

  • The rapper with a red chihuahua.
  • Farting in a refrigerated truck [again: 7-20-18].
  • It is amazing and kinda frustrating that anyone still uses automatic gunfire samples in festival sets.

Observations 2019-07-20

  • The sweet and immediate relief of aloe vera.
  • The Chase “Sapphire Lounge” contractor painting a tiny registration symbol onto their tent facade.
  • Sucking up puddles of rain with a shop vac.
  • Watching a barback hoverboard across the empty field during the festival’s emergency wind/lightning evacuation.

Observations 2019-07-21

  • The rave-punk, skeletal festival-goer helping us distribute mulch onto the rain-soaked field.
  • Hammered barbacks on a swing set [7-22-18].

Observations 2019-07-22

  • The pink latex glove in the glove compartment of a work/golf cart.
  • The troupe of pre-schoolers walking through the park while Teamster forklifts transported lighting rigs.
  • The work truck with traffic cones tied to its bumper like “just married” cans.

Observations 2019-07-23

  • Spotting hawks in the alley behind our house. Mom and Dad coming outside to watch them with binoculars.

Observations 2019-07-24

  • The inescapable feeling of the heat last weekend (~115º index). When you’re comfortable, it’s easy to think you could “think your way out” of discomfort like that (similarly to how a person without depression might wish a person with depression could snap out of it). But it’s amazing how quickly comfort can come to feel impossibly far away.

Observations 2019-07-25

  • The spooky Get Out-esque moment where you realize there are Sofar Sounds posters all over the walls in the DIY venue you’re about to play.

Observations 2019-07-26

  • The little red slipper sitting on a bush.
  • The surprisingly fast-moving caterpillars on our back porch.
    • One of them falling, seemingly from the sky, onto my arm.
  • WARMER finally available to buy and stream!

Observations 2019-07-27

  • The shirt at a thrift store that read, “No… what I said was I’m a Thespian!

Observations 2019-07-28

  • Learning that “bar chords” can also be called “barre chords,” from Our Band Could Be Your Life.

Observations 2019-07-29

  • The bartenders at Cafe Mustache serving Casey and me Mountain Dew: Code Red, wine-service-style.

Observations 2019-07-30

  • Tripping over a guitar and getting a rug burn on my knee for the first time since I was a little kid.

Observations 2019-07-31

  • Lonely Trailer by Lonely Trailer.