Observations 2022-04-01

  • The frequency with which I see elevators with inspection certificates unrenewed since 2020.

Observations 2022-04-02

  • The gas station bathroom ceiling fan’s brand: Nut One.
  • The drunk woman walking down a busy Cincinnati street with friends: “I might’ve joined a cult in the bathroom.”
  • Taking big gulps of air to sing on stage, worrying that those are the breaths that could put covid in me.

Observations 2022-04-03

  • The kids learning how to skateboard outside the pharmacy. One elder sage teen patiently teaching a super frustrated younger teen to control his irritation, to hop back on the board.
  • The cook playing Nintendo Switch in the alley behind his restaurant.

Observations 2022-04-04

  • Rolling back into Chicago, finished with tour, stopping at the legendary Calumet Fisheries for smoked fish.

Observations 2022-04-05

  • Showing photos from the road to my family in an AirPlay slideshow as if I were a midcentury vacationer who just came home with Kodak slides.

Observations 2022-04-06

  • Holding my friends’ newborn baby for the first time.

Observations 2022-04-07

  • Recordin’.

Observations 2022-04-08

  • Milling the metal plates for our studio mic panels. (That is, watching Jason operate his CNC machine.)

Observations 2022-04-09

  • Being awoken by like six shots fired somewhere in the neighborhood.
  • Playing with my old schoolmates Madeleine Kelson and Alaina Stacey at our beloved Martyrs’ in Chicago.

Observations 2022-04-10

  • Chris Bear’s incredible drumming on the new Daniel Rossen album.
  • The machete my friend keeps tucked behind a bookshelf near his front door.

Observations 2022-04-11

  • The teeny tiny ant gorging on soap or something on the hospital room counter.
  • The dramatic way the hospital transport tech opened the room’s curtain.

Observations 2022-04-12

  • The way my Canadian friends say “fully” where Americans might say “totally.” Love it.

Observations 2022-04-13

  • The rainwater river that formed outside our studio.

Observations 2022-04-14

  • Powder coating our mic panels.

Observations 2022-04-15

  • Playing with Ripley at Gman Tavern.

Observations 2022-04-16

  • Opening for Elizabeth Moen with Lucky Cloud at Lincoln Hall. Elizabeth’s beautiful, strong voice, and great songs!

Observations 2022-04-17

  • The copy of Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste resting in the jet bridge operator’s window.

Observations 2022-04-18

  • Walking around Central Park with Sammy, finding the stone steps to the long-closed Ramble Cave.
  • Wilco playing “Poor Places” on Colbert!

Observations 2022-04-19

  • The woman “walking” her dog in a stroller at midnight in Manhattan.

Observations 2022-04-20

  • Touring two boats from 1885, the schooner Pioneer and the tall ship Wavertree, at the South Street Seaport Museum (thanks Gabe).
  • The last of five amazing Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 20th Anniversary shows in New York, during which Wilco played the album with its original arrangements, with help from Total Pro Horns and Aizuri Quartet. Me, basically crying through each of the three shows I saw.

Observations 2022-04-21

  • Standing, mesmerized by the new fountain at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Observations 2022-04-22

  • A Craigslist buyer, throwing in this poetic if not dour gem as we figured out a time for him to pick up lightbulbs we were giving away: “As I said, my day depends a lot on other people and things are getting exponentially flaky and unreliable lately, ironically to the point where I can’t even make serious plans of my own, or make the kind of promises I used and would like to.”
  • The curtain operator at The Auditorium furiously pulling the ropes to open the curtain on cue for “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”

Observations 2022-04-23

  • Making our way through the Wilco crowd with my eighty-nine-year-old grandpa (zaid) and his girlfriend, Ellen, with multiple security escorts.

Observations 2022-04-24

  • The last of Wilco’s three Yankee Hotel Foxtrot shows at the Auditorium in Chicago. 😍

Observations 2022-04-25

  • Putting a decently deep gash in my palm by holding a piece of wood as I tried to drill into a work piece on top of it. Kind of worrying, superstitiously, that the scar, a new palm reading line, would change my life in a freaky way.
  • Big Thief’s beautiful show at the Riviera Theatre, at which they felt around for the path in new material, letting everyone see their communication and trust in each other.

Observations 2022-04-26

  • The communication success of Elon Musk’s annoying potential Twitter purchase. Driving around town, listening to the radio, I heard mainstream hosts on pop and oldies stations recite the three main points of the deal more clearly than any Democratic campaign since Obama.

Observations 2022-04-28

  • Cutting holes in the studio walls, preparing to install our DIY mic panels.
  • I’ve been surprised too many times to think I know everything.

Observations 2022-04-29

  • Singing really does make work better. Having someone to sing with.
  • New York Times explaining some science behind the measurement of seconds (and weight and mass and just about every other unit): “We still tick through 1957-era seconds, even with our modern atomic clocks. That’s because the natural resonance frequency of cesium 133 was measured in 1957 and locked to the duration of the astronomical second in that year, a fact that will not change even when the second is redefined once more [by optical clocks].”
  • Crimping hundreds of microphone channel conductors.

Observations 2022-04-30

  • That “optical second” New York Times article from the other day, yet another mental tool that helps me tolerate imprecision (my own and others’).