Hi Observations friends,

(I’m Spencer Tweedy and this is the May edition of Observations. If you’d like to unsubscribe, no problem — you can do that here.)

It feels to me, as I bet it does to lots of you, like there’s a new feeling of normalization setting in. It would have been unreasonable to expect the initial fever pitch of new ideas and fundraisers and collective action to sustain itself as the weeks wore on. But it still feels weird to move into this next phase, where we still care about what’s going but where some of us aren’t as sure how to spend our energy, what to hope for, or to what degree we can hunker down and just maintain until the big guns (scientists in laboratories) develop large-scale solutions. It reminds me of the feelings in early 2017, when the shock of the Election was still fresh but when we were struggling to hold on to that initial urgency, to keep our energy buoyed. A certain amount of “normalization” is probably OK — adapting to uncomfortable situations is kinda what we do, as people — but it’s hard to find a balance between it and urgency. And it’s a little sad when the clarity and camaraderie of the beginning of a crisis subsides, and we’re left with: “This sucks. I don’t know what to do. I can livestream all day, but we need to do so much more. And I don’t know how to do it.”

Writing Observations and improving the site has been relieving for me. A “worry stone,” in Ethan Marcotte’s terms. Thanks for allowing me to share it!


The album art for Loose Fur’s self-titled album.

Liquidation Totale

  • Liquidation Totale” by Loose Fur — perfect driving (for essential business) music. [4-11]
  • Bikini Bottom” by Electrocute from the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie soundtrack — still a great arrangement. [4-11]
  • Contributing a mix to Maison Dufrene’s Radio L’envie series — 30 minutes of some of my favorite ’60s and ’70s songs. [4-24]

A water bottle with tulips in it on the ground in a grocery store parking lot.

Botched Bus Hi

  • Singing John Prine songs, mourning him with strangers on our family’s livestream show. [4-7]
  • Putting leftover lettuce from our Passover seder in the backyard for interloping rabbits to claim. [4-10]
  • The vacant Chicago Public School storefront with nothing inside except a nearly ceiling-height wooden playhouse. [4-15]
  • The CTA bus driver waving “hi” to a fellow bus driver across the street, who didn’t see it and so couldn’t reciprocate. [4-26]
  • In the grocery store parking lot, a mini Ice Mountain water bottle — a vase — with tulips in it, on the ground in the cart return area. [4-28]
  • The spring-blooming tree in our front yard. [4-28]
  • The return of summer smells. [4-7]
  • Steve Albini’s rice pudding. [4-20]
  • The wooden pallet on top of a baby stroller repurposed by a person reselling pallets. [4-28]
  • How some particular event might be unprecedented, but that doesn’t mean unprecedented events, as a category, are unprecedented. Trying to remember that while we cope with a bunch of unprecedented things. [4-4]

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Thanks again,
Spencer