Observations 2020-05-01

  • The four orange latex gloves strewn along the middle of the street.

Observations 2020-05-02

  • The pickup truck with a custom-made hardwood bed.

Observations 2020-05-03

  • Becoming, over the past many weeks, quaranturnal (quarantine-nocturnal).

Observations 2020-05-04

  • The young person with army green pants, an army green sweatshirt, and an army green face mask.
  • The father and son, my neighbors, riding hoverboards down the street.

Observations 2020-05-05

  • Mom finding our robot vacuum after years of its missing (and our assuming it had deliberately gone AWOL). Under the couch.

Observations 2020-05-06

  • The man standing outside the back door of his car, drinking out of a gallon jug of milk.
  • No matter how many times it fools me, always getting fooled again by our soap dispenser that squirts soap across the room (or on to your pants).
  • Walking past a neighbor whose face is non-normative, thinking about how this period of wearing masks might be freeing for them, how it might be a relief from the usual stares and glares and reactions.

Observations 2020-05-07

  • The great drums on Mick Jagger’s “Memo from Turner,” which I’m pretty sure are played by Gene Parsons?
  • The tiny fiber on the edge of my lampshade, wiggling in the fan-wind.
  • The loose wooden slats in our living room air vent clacking against each other, making a cute autonomous instrument.

Observations 2020-05-08

  • Acid Rain by Amos Pitsch.

Observations 2020-05-09

  • Mourning Little Richard, the Architect.
    • The super brief, cool tape slowdown during one of the sax solos in “Keep a Knockin’.”
  • Surprising Mom with a Mother’s Day Cameo greeting from Peter Noone, her all-time favorite.
  • Wondering who is going around building those plexiglass shields for points of sale at local businesses. Or is everyone building their own?

Observations 2020-05-10

  • Learning that PETA recently bought shares in Tyson and two more of the world’s largest meatpacking companies to push them toward becoming 100% vegan meat producers (via Vox).

Observations 2020-05-11

  • The twofold nostalgia of hearing Tom Petty’s music now: the sadness for him and the sadness for the sound of arenas (which isn’t my venue size of choice, but which nonetheless sounds triumphant and fun now).

Observations 2020-05-12

  • Being pleasantly surprised by the supportive comments on a woodworking forum user’s obviously in-over-their-head post about a first project idea.

Observations 2020-05-13

  • Driving past downtown Chicago at night and thinking about how hard it must be to see even a single skyscraper project through from plans to the end, and how it’s been done over a hundred times in Chicago alone. It makes our record and book projects seem comically easy (but they’re hard in their own ways). People are nuts.

Observations 2020-05-14

  • Watching Aretha sing “Natural Woman” at Carole King’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, and Carole’s reaction, and crying (as a fam). It’s moving to watch someone own so wholly. You already know that, but you feel it when you see it.

Observations 2020-05-15

  • Reading, and trying to understand, philosopher Graham Harman’s paper “The Only Exit From Modern Philosophy.” [See also: 11-5-19.]

Observations 2020-05-16

  • The joy of eating a crumbly cookie outside, where you can let the crumbs fall, gifts to birds, no cleaning up.

Observations 2020-05-17

  • Paul Ford does it again: “I had a very normal childhood, in that I took private trombone lessons in the local offices of the Theosophical Society.” (His new newsletter, i absolutely am going to bail on this in a month, is so good.)

Observations 2020-05-18

  • The Gary, Indiana airport landing strobe lights lighting up the sky.
  • The tinsel streamers (geese deterrents) in a tree in a small town in Indiana, lit up by my headlights.
  • The pothole in a church parking lot filled to the rim not with rainwater, but with petals fallen from the blooming tree above it.

Observations 2020-05-19

  • The rain drizzling so lightly that it made the air look like TV static.

Observations 2020-05-20

  • The baby-sized, purple Croc nailed to a tree.

Observations 2020-05-21

  • From the Harper’s Index: “Estimated number of dead-end streets in the world: 17,680,000. Portion of those dead ends that are in the United States: 1/4.”
  • That David Bowie ran an internet service provider, BowieNet from 1998 to 2006 (via Paul Ford).
  • The deep earth ground rumbling of the cargo train passing by at 2AM.
  • The way the vibrations from an iPhone reverberate through mattress springs.

Observations 2020-05-22

  • Watching a groundhog (or some other similar-looking animal) run across the yard to… burrow beneath our deck.
  • Grilling Beyond Burgers outdoors on a real charcoal grill — summer.
  • Before bed, four drone sounds:
    • The nearby highway.
    • The fan in Sammy’s gaming laptop.
    • The water pipes on the way to Casey’s shower.
    • The rhythmically sloshing dishwasher.

Observations 2020-05-23

  • The little kid sisters on the beach capturing a fish with their dad’s baseball hat and a flip-flop, and depositing it into a micro-pond they had just dug into the sand.

Observations 2020-05-24

  • The hardwired fire alarms malfunctioning at our recently deceased neighbor’s house, sadly/scarily beeping all day and through the night.

Observations 2020-05-25

  • Saving a tiny, firm blueberry from the in-sink garbage disposal by putting it in the trash instead. (Victory?)

Observations 2020-05-26

  • Gerry Conway’s and Dave Mattacks’s drumming on Steeleye Span’s Hark! The Village Wait.
  • Sam Andersons’s great New York Times Magazine profile of Weird Al Yankovic, in which Weird Al describes his meticulous songwriting process: multiple documents, all versioned and organized, every word carefully considered.

Observations 2020-05-27

  • Wilko Johnson’s impossibly great-sounding finger-strumming guitar style.

Observations 2020-05-28

  • The watermelon resting beneath a pickup truck.
  • The sign at a local Salvation Army thrift store being removed by a crane — permanently closed after COVID.

Observations 2020-05-29

  • The Costco employee urgently running with a watermelon in his arms.

Observations 2020-05-30

  • Driving with Casey in a caravan of protesters, from the Cook County Jail to Daley Plaza.
  • Making eye contact with a maybe ten-year-old Black girl in another car, offering her water, smiling at each other.
  • The archaism of batons. Feeling wide-eyed and shocked anew that police still carry (and use) them when they have seemingly no purpose other than to harm.
  • The viral video of National Guard soldiers shooting paintballs at citizens on their own porch.
  • The “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd, who fantasize about fighting against government imposition, celebrating that moment, telling citizens who don’t want to get hurt to merely obey.
  • Honking the car horn till it got hoarse and then silent.
  • Hearing horns as I fell asleep at night.

Observations 2020-05-31

  • Hoping that the protests don’t die down, that they only grow larger as the weekend ends and the new week starts. While hoping even harder that no more are hurt, that no more are killed, that police somehow shift their response from aggression to contrition.
  • Deerhoof’s great new album, Future Teenage Cave Artists (and their righteous tweets).
  • Roxane Gay in the NYTimes, pointing our attention back to care ethics: “I write similar things about different black lives lost over and over and over. I tell myself I am done with this subject. Then something so horrific happens that I know I must say something, even though I know that the people who truly need to be moved are immovable. They don’t care about black lives. They don’t care about anyone’s lives. They won’t even wear masks to mitigate a virus for which there is no cure.”