Observations 2022-12-01

  • First show of Liam Kazar on the West Coast. A lovely crowd at Sunset Tavern in Seattle. A lovely sound person, Ron. A lovely, Roxy Music-ish band on the bill, Fruit Juice. The bass player’s dog, Odin, ruling the roost from the stage as they played.
  • Mark Miodownik in The Prepared: “There’s a fundamental problem with self-repairing materials, which is that most of the incumbent industries don’t want them. They don’t want them for a very simple reason: they’re making a lot of money at the moment with things that fall apart. They are really worried about self-repair, and roads are no different — there are a lot of roads and that’s big money.”
  • I like the public bank and officer liability ideas put forward by Chicago mayoral candidate Jamal Green.

Observations 2022-12-02

  • The positively furry, green moss encasing the trees along I-5 in Castle Rock, Washington.
  • The innards of the video lottery machines at Bear Paw Pub, seen as the bartender emptied them of their cash and receipts.
  • Accidentally flinging a drum stick into the front row during the first song at our first show opening for New Pornographers.

Observations 2022-12-03

  • Band walk through beautiful Laurelhurst Park in Portland, Oregon.
  • Recording three songs with Scott McCaughey! Semi-impromptu.
  • Pizza with Gil and Nicole Divine of Divine Noise!
  • This harrowing report on the state of mental health crisis response in Seattle.
  • This thought-provoking, even beautiful report on alternative Alzheimer’s care in France.
  • The Xerox bug that replaced numbers in photocopies for years before being detected and patched. I file this under “something to remember when evaluating explanations for some unexpected result.” The super unlikely explanation isn’t always wrong!

Observations 2022-12-04

  • Spending the night in adorable Ashland, Oregon.

Observations 2022-12-05

  • Night 1 at the Fillmore SF with Liam Kazar opening for The New Pornographers!
  • How the phrase “I’ve thought about this a lot” often precedes a statement that could use, still, a lot more thought.

Observations 2022-12-06

  • A day of chance dog encounters: sitting on a bench in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, getting friendlily ambushed by three leashless, pajama’d chihuahuas. Later, sitting in a park, a small gray scruffy dog issuing out a few dribbles of pee on my backpack before I had time to shoo it away, as its older owner sat obliviously nearby. Still cute though!
  • Night 2 of The New Pornographers Liam Kazar at the Fillmore! Liam’s and my fifth show at the Fillmore this year.
  • “[World Trade Center architect Minoru] Yamasaki had originally thought the $280 million budget for the project was a typo with an extra zero.” — Construction Physics

Observations 2022-12-07

  • Reuniting with Casey and Basil in LA! And Uncle Danny, Sima, and Jackie!

Observations 2022-12-08

  • Instagram user @loomamusic’s oscilloscope visualizations of harmony and dissonance.
  • Night 2 of Liam Kazar with The New Pornographers in LA!

Observations 2022-12-09

  • The Xiaomi CyberOne humanoid drumming.
  • The dour LA punks who live in modern, bright-white-walled apartments.
  • My cousin Charles reciting various countries’ national anthems on piano while I accompanied him on miniature drums.

Observations 2022-12-10

  • The shooting star we witnessed while driving back to the hotel from the venue.

Observations 2022-12-11

  • Our last show with The New Pornographers, who treated us so sweetly and made the run a breeze. Now: on to Phoenix, Santa Fe, Austin, Dallas, and Oklahoma City for headlining Liam Kazar shows.

Observations 2022-12-12

  • The roosters crowing through the night in Phoenix, Arizona.

Observations 2022-12-13

  • The two coyotes we saw on a trail in Phoenix immediately after starting our hike.
  • The nativity scene someone had tucked into a mini grotto near the trail.
  • My cousin Tyler and me, pelting each other with fleece snowballs all morning.

Observations 2022-12-14

  • Watching the World Cup semifinal from a kitschy sports bar in Gallup, New Mexico.
  • The thermal photo of a beer that a Google user submitted in their review of a bar to show its perfect chill at 36.2°F.
  • Mirror Sound spotted on the shelves in the background of Tiny Desk Concerts! (Thanks for the tip, Molly! Thanks for the placement, Bob!)
  • Art by Ann-Marie Greenberg.
  • Eating vegetables and ranch lovingly packed by Aunt Debbie for our journey onward from Phoenix.

Observations 2022-12-15

  • A marathon driving day from Santa Fe to Austin.
    • The alien-themed murals and sculptures all around Roswell country.
    • The red clay-looking fields in West Texas.
    • The oil refinery flare stacks.
    • The beautiful, well-maintained Settles Hotel building in Big Spring, Texas.
    • The restaurant server with a blue star tattooed on her forehead.
    • The rural gas station bathroom with filing cabinets in it.
  • Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal of a Rose.”
  • My aunt Kendall’s new children’s book company, Read and Write Books.

Observations 2022-12-16

  • A wonderful, joyous birthday in Austin, Texas, led by Liam through a mini tour of a few great meals, aided by Lane, culminating in a fun show at The Mohawk.
    • Veracruz Tacos. Worth the hype. Perhaps the best I’ve ever had.
    • The bats squeaking beneath the famous bat bridge, heard but not seen.
    • The beautiful 1969 Fannie Davis Gazebo along the river.
    • Eating brisket — tasting smoke and fat — for the first time in many years, feeling so grateful and sated, savoring every bite.
  • Robin Sloan: “I want to insist on an amateur internet; a garage internet; a public library internet; a kitchen ta­ble internet. At last, in 2023, I want to tell the tech CEOs and venture capitalists: pipe down. Buzz off. Go fave each other’s tweets.”

Observations 2022-12-17

  • The delicious Indian dishes prepared by our friend’s mom in their home outside Dallas, Texas.
  • The audience member, Heather, with a Wilco owl arm tattoo at the show in Dallas.

Observations 2022-12-18

  • The last show of this Liam Kazar tour: at the Ponyboy in Oklahoma City. Ending on a high note with an ultra-sweet, skilled sound person, Ray.
  • The scribe marks on the ceiling around the concrete column in our converted-warehouse hotel room.
  • Robin Sloan’s experimental art form Amulet, “a kind of poem that depends on language, code, and luck.” One of the few cryptography-related projects I’ve seen that has soul and earnest art exploration behind it.

Observations 2022-12-19

  • Arriving pretty much straight off the road from Oklahoma City to the Letters to Santa 24 Hour Comedy and Music Marathon, where The Blisters played a set marking the TWENTIETH anniversary of our first appearance there, our first show ever.
  • Listening to some songs on Cured, The Blisters’ album from 2016, feeling proud of our effort!
  • The blue tubes containing gas lines visible in the un-poured foundation of a new gas station in Oklahoma City.
  • Ai Weiwei in Sixtysix: “Fortunately as an artist I can use a language that is vague and abstract.”

Observations 2022-12-20

  • Playing improvised drums-and-electronics music at 24 Hour with Sammy.

Observations 2022-12-21

  • Liam Kazar surprise-opening for Whitney at the first of their Thalia Hall holiday shows. A fun cap to the tour and prelude to our end-of-year show at the Hungry Brain on December 30!

Observations 2022-12-22

  • Sammy’s 23rd birthday!
  • Dad in Pitchfork: “There’s no way to overestimate the benefit that universal healthcare would have for everybody … This is an obscene stress to put on peoples’ lives: not just the worry of getting sick, but the worry of going bankrupt because you’re sick, and the denial of even taking care of yourself or getting checked if you’re sick, which grows out of that fear. It’s a totally dysfunctional way of living.”

Observations 2022-12-23

  • A day inside with Casey’s family, avoiding the cold.

Observations 2022-12-24

  • Stumbling upon, and feeling thankful all over again, for Marianne’s kind post about my 2011 photo book.
  • The Wilson Trailer logo.
  • The concept of Rip Medical Debt is interesting and to the extent it works, I admire the people organizing it, but we need the full cure (universal healthcare) in addition to the Band-Aid (debt relief).
  • Annie Rauwerda, AKA Depths of Wikipedia: “I’m all about cutting open the bean.”
  • Laurel Schwulst of Firefly Sanctuary: “I’ve had a dream to have some kind of ambient notification in both the physical and digital spaces [of Firefly Sanctuary] to allow for more cross-pollination of presence. For example, maybe a light shows up in the corner of the apartment to indicate that someone is on the website, or a light in the corner of the website to indicate that someone is physically in the apartment.” Cool!
    • Laurel’s notion of “find the others” adding to my motivation to write about my life again, to cut through the “this is narcissistic” barrier.

Observations 2022-12-25

  • Christmas Day with the Walkers, and lighting the menorah with Casey’s agnostic/secular family (with Karen’s beautiful homemade menorah).

Observations 2022-12-26

Observations 2022-12-27

  • The bruise on my right palm from wielding an audio pin crimper all day.
  • Ryan Pollie’s “Live at the Creek.”

Observations 2022-12-28

  • Darryl McDaniel’s (DMC’s) energetic, encouraging NPR interview about his recent children’s book, growing up, and therapy.
  • Indigenous Energy’s initiatives for Native American energy sovereignty.

Observations 2022-12-29

Observations 2022-12-30

Observations 2022-12-31

  • Popehat Report’s “Clarifying Some Common First Amendment Terminology.”
  • George Saunders: “We are making a series of playful gifts to send out into the world. (Playful but serious. We don’t just spit them out. We labor over them, to make them seem playful, playful in service of the deepest things.)”
  • Delicious anniversary dinner with Casey at Ørkenoy.
  • Ringing in the new year at Constellation as Natural Information Society reached an exuberant fever pitch.