Observations 9-1-20

  • Maintenance: oil change, COVID test, prospective new studio building inspection.

Observations 9-2-20

  • The light reflections bouncing and morphing in the plastic patio window panes.

Observations 9-3-20

  • The long-ago-fallen tree in the woods that looks like a twisted black licorice stick.

Observations 9-4-20

  • The surprisingly loud plop of the acorns falling on our wooden deck.

Observations 9-5-20

  • Stroking my face mask as one would stroke a beard.

Observations 9-6-20

  • Driving past a cross on which someone had written “Oy vey.”

Observations 9-7-20

  • The pool maintenance technician with a huge blackletter tattoo, “SPENCER,” across the full width of his shoulders.

Observations 9-8-20

  • Emergency audio interface troubleshooting session after a storm power outage knocked ours out last night.

Observations 9-9-20

  • Driving over a screw, which got stuck in my tire, which I immediately drove to a tire shop, in which a super kind possibly teenaged mechanic named Junior patched it for $15 in 15 minutes.

Observations 9-10-20

  • Cleaning out the wire scraps, exploded batteries, mini motor parts, and LEGO wheels from my childhood project toolbox.
  • Climbing on the prospective studio building’s roof by using a big, old-school TV antenna as a ladder.

Observations 9-11-20

  • Hoping that, if Neuralink-type thingies eventually help us think, we’ll still make decisions and even mistakes based on the rickety, semi-rational, ineffable way we think now. Art partly relies on it!
    • I wonder about all the Luddite movements of the past. Did old-school carpenters worry that electric saws would make carpentry inhumane? I think carpenters and woodworkers are making plenty beautiful things that bear the mark of human touch with electric saws, so if the analogy holds up, that could be cause not to fear AI hybridism. But it’s worth thinking about!
  • Basil projectile vomiting at the socially distanced hang.

Observations 9-12-20

  • The oxygen thingies (nasal cannulae) hanging from the rearview mirror of a Jeep idling in the auto shop parking lot.
  • Watching Parasite with Casey. Soo beautiful, sad, intense.
  • The misinformed comments on my post about supporting Illinois’ Fair Tax amendment, which will slightly cut taxes for everyone earning less than $250,000 and slightly raise them for everyone earning more than that, generating $3 billion per year for schools and healthcare. Ad campaigns funded by super-wealthy Illinoisans are so effective that even working people think an effort to make taxes fairer is somehow out to get them. It stinks.

Observations 9-13-20

  • The beautiful piano and electronics arrangements on Beavercore by Jockstrap (starting with “Beavercore 1”).

Observations 9-14-20

  • How well photos of loved ones do their job — they keep them on your mind. I have a photo of my friend’s mom, who died last year, on my bookshelf and I look at it almost every day. I used to think photos like that make you numb to their loss, turn them into static fixtures. But this photo doesn’t; it reminds me of her every time.

Observations 9-15-20

  • Recording a song with a beloved friend of my parents and now my friend, and enjoying his scatting in his scratch vocal takes.

Observations 9-16-20

  • Feeling grateful the leaves are still on the trees even though it feels like fall.
  • Cascada by Jorge Boussac, a haunting/endearing Uruguayan record slightly reminiscent of SpongeBob interstitial music (via my friend Isaac).

Observations 9-17-20

  • A special episode of the Tweedy Show for Zaid (my grandpa’s) 88th birthday.

Observations 9-18-20

  • Playing our first live show since the start of quarantine, at the drive-in theater in McHenry, Illinois!
    • Seeing so many people in the audience with Tweedy Show masks, shirts, even Costco pajamas.
    • Dad’s breath, visible in the cold.
    • The beautiful, shimmering projection on the massive movie screen behind us.
    • Starting the show “Mi Sheberach” for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and everyone.

Observations 9-19-20

  • Mom chasing Sammy around the kitchen with a decade-old can of Silly String she had just found while cleaning out a drawer.

Observations 9-20-20

  • Damsel In Distress” by Rufus Wainwright.
  • Oh, God! (1977) with Dad and Sammy — a movie that says it’s possible and necessary for us to make the world better, not to wait for divine action. George Burns plays God. John Denver plays neo-Moses. Worth watching!

Observations 9-21-20

  • Anand Giridharadas in The Ink:

    The fight to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg [is] a fight over what your days are like.

    You want your feet to hurt less at the end of the day. They want to crush the union fighting for your breaks…

    You want to wake up in the morning thinking about the business you’re going to start. They want you to wake up in the middle of the night sweating about the health benefits you’d lose…

    You want to learn what you need to be a good citizen and get ahead in a tough economy. They want you balled and chained with debt, paying them interest forever. That’s why they will do anything to steal this seat.

  • The beautiful screenprints by Sister Corita Kent (via Alan Jacobs’ newsletter, in which he points out the building in which she worked is at risk of demolition).

Observations 9-22-20

  • Episode 100 of the Tweedy Show. 😊
  • Discovering cool records from Ryley Walker’s Apple Music profile.
  • How the cricket in our basement stops chirping the moment you open the door.
  • Buying Sharpie’s new gel pens because I saw a viral tweet about them.
  • Reagan Ray’s incredible roundup of classic jazz record lettering.
  • Emily Ratajkowski’s essay about buying back art of herself, literally and figuratively.

Observations 9-23-20

  • The day sheets posted on the wall in the Hideout: from the last night before quarantine.

Observations 9-24-20

Observations 9-25-20

  • The 88.3FM WZRD DJ who played fusion metal into Django Reinhardt.
  • The jaw-dropping, beautiful, 32-part story Tattletales from Tanqueray on Humans of New York’s Instagram.

Observations 9-26-20

  • The potted ceiling plant in Casey’s bedroom that stares at a framed drawing of itself on the wall.
  • Ian Frazier’s 1999 Atlantic article “On the Rez.” A worthy read, at least for the story of SuAnne Big Crow near the end. (Via Alan Jacobs.)
    • Also: “A hundred years ago Oglala who continued to practice their traditional ceremonies despite the government’s ban did so in secret, for fear that white people would find out and shut them down; today the fear is that white people will find out and want to join.”

Observations 9-27-20

  • An Eclipse of Moths, a new exhibition by Gregory Crewdson set to music by Dad and played by him and me.

Observations 9-28-20

Observations 9-29-20

  • The little bit of deep blue sky poking through the otherwise totally gray dusk.
  • The Debate…

Observations 9-30-20

  • How, when I use my family’s new Dyson vacuum cleaner, it feels like the walls ratchet up into the sky, our roof slides off, lights and cameras repel in, and I’m on a soundstage shooting an ad for Dyson, where I play the incredulous young guy who can’t believe how well the vacuum works on every surface, every time, with hardly any noise, so much better than any other vacuum he’s seen in his twenty-four years of life, and Mom plays the mom who’s excited her son is finally enthusiastic about a vacuum.
  • Prince’s 2007 halftime show. 😢
  • NRBQ’s cameo on Simpsons episode 234.