Observations 2020-07-01

  • At the bar, dumping out dozens of years-old Coke and Sprite cans, most of which had, by some bizarre alchemy, emptied themselves. Pouring the brown, Chicago River foam-esque sludge of whatever remained down the sewer drain.

Observations 2020-07-02

  • Imagining that everyone to whom you owe an email forms a union, issues sanctions against you.

Observations 2020-07-03

  • Basil coping with Fourth of July fireworks like a champ.

Observations 2020-07-04

  • The beautiful essay about “crip time” by Ellen Samuels (via my friend Jason): “When disabled folks talk about crip time, sometimes we just mean that we’re late all the time.… Other times … we mean, as my friend Margaret Price explains, we live our lives with a ‘flexible approach to normative time frames’ like work schedules, deadlines, or even just waking and sleeping. … I have embraced this beautiful notion for many years, living within the embrace of a crip time that lets me define my own ‘normal.’ And yet recently I have found myself thinking about the less appealing aspects of crip time, that are harder to see as liberatory, more challenging to find a way to celebrate.”

Observations 2020-07-05

  • Driving into Chicago from the Skyway tollroad at dusk and from that high vantage point, watching fireworks spring up from different parts of the city like brief, glowing flowers.

Observations 2020-07-06

  • Recording drums in my bedroom again for the first time in a long time.

Observations 2020-07-07

  • The Chicago bus whose broken LED sign said nothing but “RAGE.”

Observations 2020-07-08

  • R.A.P. Ferreira in his zine imagine thinking this was that: “it occurred to me around 2013 that Black philosophers in America, by and large, are referred to as rappers. that was when i quit college.”

Observations 2020-07-09

  • Embarking on a last-minute road trip to New York to get Sammy’s stuff out of his COVID-closed dorm room.
    • How Mom’s minivan automatically turns down the air conditioning fan speed when you’re on a speaker phone call. Neat!
    • The dump truck driver eating ice cream out of the bucket.
    • The railroad service cars with axles mounted on them, so they can drive on the tracks (I think?).
    • The littlest deer, donkey, and calf grazing at highway-side farms.

Observations 2020-07-10

  • Driving home from New York City just hours after arriving at it.
    • Passing through the Pennsylvania towns of Butler, Sugarloaf, and Drums on the way.
    • And a duo kayaking in rain on the Delaware River.
    • The plastic-wrapped bread roll and a clove of garlic — new roots sprouting — left behind in Sammy’s dorm kitchen cabinets.
    • Listening to all of Sandinista! (my first time), mostly in Ohio while the sun came up.
    • Arriving at home almost exactly 36 hours after leaving, lying in bed with this weird floating sensation from sleep deprivation and Red Bull afterglow.

Observations 2020-07-11

  • Waking up at 3 PM…!
  • “Blue Summer” by James Swanberg.

Observations 2020-07-12

  • Eating delicious kimchi.
  • Antkind, a novel by Charlie Kaufman I am loving.

Observations 2020-07-13

  • The white garbage technician with a bleached blond broccoli-esque flattop.
  • Listening to the Near North Montessori Jazz Band recording from 2010, on which I drummed for “Bayside Groovin’” and some others…

Observations 2020-07-14

  • The haunting video of an anti-masker celebrating a legislative victory in Orange County, CA.

Observations 2020-07-15

  • Recording drums in Native Shoes slippers.
  • “Irregular heart rhythm notifications now available in Bahrain, Brazil, and South Africa” — the release notes for an Apple Watch software update.

Observations 2020-07-16

  • Stopping at a red light on Mom’s Lemonhead candy-themed Buddy scooter behind a real motorcycle, feeling emasculated but unashamed.

Observations 2020-07-17

  • A stance: pro-tidy but anti-lawn-mowing.
  • The person walking down the sidewalk with a 24-pack of water bottles on their head.

Observations 2020-07-18

  • Tamar Manasseh’s excellent essays about being a Jew of African descent.
  • Near Casey’s family’s vacation rental house, a guy mowing his lawn looking exactly like Dale Gribble, beer in-hand, riding mower, American flag draped on garage.

Observations 2020-07-19

  • Basil munching bugs out of the air with the precision of a frog.
  • How Casey’s mom and aunt can send photos to their dad’s home via a wifi-enabled digital picture frame. Imagining the sweet Black Mirror-esqueness of that: your children are on vacation, and their vacation photos magically show up on your mantle every day.

Observations 2020-07-20

  • Opening the 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die book and immediately wanting to cry from the beauty and the scale and the widespreadness of the beauty.
  • Running into Lake Michigan with Casey, and Basil valiantly running in after us, so heartbreaking.
  • The bumblebee hanging out on Casey’s toothbrush.

Observations 2020-07-21

Observations 2020-07-22

  • Paddleboarding on Lake Michigan.
    • How looking into any body of water — even a Great Lake — is freaky, evokes Jaws-style fears, because every shadow of every wave seems like the silhouette of a just-about-to-breach creature.
    • From far away on the water, watching a kid run down a large dune, like an ant on a sand pile.
    • The clouds moving slowly behind the dunes, at their same level, giving the impression they were a great white glacier moving along.
    • How I’ve always wanted a small boat, but after this great inflatable paddleboard excursion, maybe a paddleboard would be enough?
    • How being at the beach, more than any other physical activity, makes me feel grateful for my health. It’s the sunny, lake-soaked, totally active feeling of being on the beach that I remember when I’m sick or freezing…
  • E. B. White in his essay “My Day”: “A man sometimes gets homesick for the loneliness that he has at one time or another experienced in his life and that is a part of all life in some degree, and sometimes a secluded and half-mournful yet beautiful place will suddenly revive the sensation of pain and melancholy and unfulfillment that are associated with that loneliness, and will make him want to seize it and recapture it; but I know with me it is a passing want and not to be compared with my taste for domesticity, which is most of the time so strong as to be overpowering.”
  • In another essay, E. B. White accounting for the true cost of an egg produced on his farm, just as Noah Kalina did for his own chickens in his newsletter a few months ago.

Observations 2020-07-23

  • Two kites: one stuck in a tree, another (a red squid) tied to a beach info sign, flying there in the sky all day with no one tending to it.
  • E. B. White in “Freedom,” an essay about the gross, allegedly good-natured acceptance of Fascism he heard brewing on the street in New York in 1940: “I just want to tell, before I get slowed down, that I am in love with freedom … and that I am deeply suspicious of people who are beginning to adjust to fascism and dictators merely because they are succeeding in war. From such adaptable natures a smell rises. I pinch my nose.”

Observations 2020-07-24

  • The firefly/lightning bugs blinking in sync.
  • Being reminded that there is a name for “stargazing,” and not “asphalt watching” or “paint gawking,” for a reason. It’s enthralling.

Observations 2020-07-25

  • The childhood photos of Emitt Rhodes with some of his first drum sets, posted on Facebook by a fan after Emitt’s death last week. ❤️

Observations 2020-07-26

  • Eating the best plant-based burger I’ve ever had, cooked by Liam in his backyard. It’s all in the aioli.

Observations 2020-07-27

  • The ground-level apartment window being propped open by a wooden tenderizer mallet.

Observations 2020-07-28

  • The species of caterpillar that makes a little log cabin for itself by stacking twigs on its own back (via Dad).
  • Rescuing/removing a ladybug from Casey’s bedroom ceiling only for it to fly into my hair on my way to the door, and I never saw it again…

Observations 2020-07-29

  • How David Lee Roth trained to be a New York City EMT in 2004. Speaking of his devotion to the job, his trainer Linda Reissman said, “You would never know you were dealing with a rock-’n’-roll guy. His commitment really is touching. He wants to help people” (EMS World).

Observations 2020-07-30

  • An especially fun music night on the Tweedy Show: “Glow Worms,” “Common Sense,” “Two of Us.” :)
  • Tim Kreider in “The Last Essay”: “Periodic, survivable doses of despair are medicinal, like inoculations.”

Observations 2020-07-31

  • Accidentally grazing my hand on the handlebar of my tiny childhood bike, immediately remembering the feeling of riding it.