Observations 2-1-20

  • The glow sticks in the bottom of a trash can at the bar.

Observations 2-2-20

  • Entering Florida for the first time in my life — on Super Bowl Sunday.
    • The man in O’Hare Airport staring at a cocktail bar’s player piano.
    • Casey and I sleeping with our heads on adjacent airplane tray tables.
  • The photo of a pet rabbit on the Yelp page for a wings restaurant, Tasty Wings, in Mangonia Park, Florida.
  • Feeling like now, at 24, I’m finally smart enough to understand what’s going on in a football game 1% of the time.

Observations 2-3-20

  • Embarking on Cayamo Cruise, a music festival aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship.
    • The ship’s churning wake.
    • Obama once said steering the country was like steering a cruise ship. Now I’ve seen a cruise ship turn surprisingly quickly and it seems like the country must be like steering something even bigger.
  • Kurt Vonnegut’s amazingly beautiful and devastating essay about the bombing of Dresden (via Sammy).

Observations 2-4-20

  • Playing Cayamo Cruise while the ship pitched and rolled! Feeling like if it rolled any farther, our amps and drums would fall over.
    • Getting ready for our Cayamo show in a dressing room near the upper tip of the ship, one of the rolliest points.
    • Serendipitously farting the exact same note that a trumpeter had just played outside our dressing room door.

Observations 2-5-20

  • Playing basketball with Austin, who techs for Wilco, which would be unusual for me even if I weren’t on a cruise ship.

Observations 2-6-20

  • The sounds of the elevator on the cruise ship creaking.
  • The medical tool dispenser aboard the ship, like a gas station wiener pill machine, named “Li’l Medic II.”
  • Renting a jet ski with Casey, and the rental person fast-forwarding through the safety video.

Observations 2-7-20

  • Walking around St. John’s in Antigua while the cruise ship 2-3-20 docked.
    • The display of burned CD-R gospel records for sale on the street.
    • The pickup truck bed piled high with huge stuffed animals.
    • Walking into a dilapidated cricket stadium and finding a whole school of kids having recess in the bleachers, listening to “Stanky Legg” over the loudspeakers.
    • The people whose job it is to sit on the little concrete platforms in the middle of the port to attach and detach ships’ anchor ropes. The rowboats waiting next to them.
  • In the elevator on the cruise ship, watching a festival attendee give a handful of (unsolicited) mushrooms to an artist before the doors closed.

Observations 2-8-20

  • Playing a rented drum kit with the shiniest-looking and -sounding cymbals ever. :/

Observations 2-9-20

  • The huge windshield wipers on the ship bridge’s windows.
  • Liam trying to spit overboard, only for the spit glob to freeze midair and turn around back into his face.

Observations 2-10-20

  • Turning my phone service on again after seven days at sea.
  • Opening the airplane tray table to find a whole scene of kids’ stickers.

Observations 2-11-20

  • The man with a MacBook charger trailing behind his backpack like a lizard tail.
  • How talking about the past with a little condescension seems like a reasonable reward for being older, or compensation for missing the privileges of being young. (I try to accept whatever little condescension comes my way because I feel like if I were older, I would feel entitled to speak that way too.)
  • The pleading look from a jazz drummer to a horn player at the end of a drum solo, asking them to return to the song’s head.

Observations 2-12-20

  • Downloading the IRS’s corporate org chart, for fun.

Observations 2-13-20

  • Hearing, but not seeing, a kid’s bloody-murder tantrum at a Mariano’s grocery store.
  • My car’s turn signal illuminating the snow on the hood, turning it yellow.
  • Goran Ivanovic’s amazing guitar-playing.

Observations 2-14-20

  • Casey’s sweet Valentine’s gift of a hand-bejeweled jar of mixed nuts.

Observations 2-15-20

  • Getting doused in the face by my dentist using the little water gun, on accident.

Observations 2-16-20

  • Noticing that a building in my neighborhood, which had always been a dismal cube with no windows, is being renovated and they cut big windows into it.
  • Parneshia Jones’s beautiful poem “2020: The Day After.”
  • The phrase “morning trucksong” from a poem by Billy Lombardo.

Observations 2-17-20

  • “Drumming Is My Madness” by Ringo. Wow.

Observations 2-18-20

  • Reuniting with the signature young pickles at The Bagel in Chicago.
  • The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker, reading somewhere between beautiful, a joke, and punishment. I love it so far.
  • The musically and visually genius video of guitarist Mick Barr for the French magazine L’Officiel (via Dad).

Observations 2-19-20

  • IDLES’s endearing Tiny Desk concert.
    • The song title “Never Fight A Man With A Perm.”
    • Guitarist Mark “Bobo” Bowen channeling big Zoot Horn Rollo energy.
    • The unbelievably sweet nerdiness of the NPR staffers they drag onto the “stage” with them.
  • The best vegetable metaphor, from Captain Beefheart’s “10 Commandments of Guitar Playing”: “Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.”
  • Watching the Democratic debate with Zaid and thinking about how debates — or national elections in general — seem to filter out the personality traits I want most in a leader: humility and patience.

Observations 2-20-20

  • Performing at Pitchfork Music Festival’s 15th Anniversary announcement party at Chicago Athletic Club. :)

Observations 2-21-20

  • The incandescent light glowing and fading underneath industrial screen printing machines.
  • The last couple seconds of drums in Tom T. Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis.”
  • Playing at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana with Casey’s band, Case Oats.
    • The older bartender’s red apron.
    • The Midwestern crowd’s flannel shirts.
    • The sound engineer changing the color of the stage lights with a smart home light bulb Bluetooth app.
    • Drinking a Green River phosphate at the old school diner across the street.

Observations 2-22-20

  • Playing a Case Oats show in Casey’s hometown of St. Louis.

Observations 2-23-20

  • Driving home from St. Louis listening to Your Own Backyard, a podcast about the Kristin Smart disappearance, with the band.

Observations 2-24-20

  • Helping Urszula and Mitch, the owners of 20th Century TV & Stereo, a frozen-in-time electronics repair shop in Chicago, move equipment to their new storefront. After 50 years at one location, their landlord (and a host of other circumstances) is forcing them out.
    • The empty toilet paper cardboard rolls they use as cable organizers (a tip they picked up from a client).
    • The amazing design of old faceplates, vacuum tube boxes, and fuse tins (see also [1-29-20]).
    • The back work room covered in multicolored shag carpet (floor to ceiling).
    • Transporting a turntable needle sales display that I first saw, and admired, when I came into the store at sixteen to get a reel-to-reel tape machine repaired.
    • Shining a flashlight in the corner of the basement to find a life-size blow mold of Christmas Jesus.
    • The movie-worthy story they told me about a fraudulent check, a violent gangster, a stereo with a bullet graze on it, and a shop dog who saved the day. Prompted by picking up the aforementioned stereo.
    • Being confronted with the classic, much-written-about conflict between two totally different economies: the local, diffuse, mom-and-pop-based one and the global, largely consolidated, corporate-based one. I’m partial to the former but I admit that there are beautiful and ugly parts to each.

Observations 2-25-20

  • The older bar patron trying to text through a purple Mardi Gras mask, his phone an inch or so away from his face.

Observations 2-26-20

  • Visiting the Montessori School of Englewood to learn about how they’re making Montessori education more accessible.
  • Visiting my bandmate Tory at his bar to learn about how he makes delicious cocktails.

Observations 2-27-20

  • The patch of concrete with a shag carpet-looking texture.
  • Dirty Projectors’ beautiful video for “Overlord.”
  • Watching Floor Show with Casey at the Chopin Theater, “an art/rock/show inspired by the sound and vision of David Bowie” by Alex Grelle and Jesse Morgan Young and music-directed by Liam Kazar.
    • The poignance of seeing a packed room adapting, honoring, and keeping Bowie’s music alive.

Observations 2-28-20

  • Ron Padgett in “How to Be Perfect”: “Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.”

Observations 2-29-20

  • The Case Oats band opening for Ratboys’s album release show at the Hideout.
  • The occasional tension between the “do not postpone happiness” and the “do whatever you can do right now to maximize your future happiness” adages.