tumblr_nmcpwgTSiR1qzk2apo1_500WE’RE HITTING A RHYTHM these swampy, swamped summer weeks.

Sarah is aggressively organizing neighbors against the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, which lobbied to tear down the perfectly functional public housing project in our backyard (one of the country’s oldest) and sell it to private developers. Her alliance of tenants and homeowners is winning for the moment. Though now MPHA is like, “Okay, YOU find a solution for long-term maintenance” and none of us know what that looks like. Sarah is two-for-two in preventing local government from demolishing community assets (glad she’s on my team). Meanwhile, I’m flogging grain-free bread, guilt-free education training and debt-free business financing. It’s the kind of variety and volume I thrive on (leaving me too busy to wonder what the hell it all means). I’m dotting i’s and crossing t’s right up ’til 5pm today, when we drop everything and head for Iceland, Holland and Germany for 21 days.

Having signed my own Will this week, I feel ready for anything.


Love & Mercy (a story of two lovable, troubled Brian Wilsons)

Page One: Inside the New York Times (featuring David Carr, “that most human of humans”)

What Happened, Miss Simone? (come for the music, stay for her dancing)

Dinkytown Uprising (Not yet released, but Lucas got a copy from the filmmaker — about the 1969 local protest movement to prevent a corporate burger chain from opening on 4th Street. It was shot mostly by the documentary filmmaker himself, now in his 90s; we enjoyed it at double speed, Chipmunks-style.)

Mad Max: Fury Road (At Jenney’s urging, I caught this in a suburban theater in a recliner with a cocktail; the best-most-boneheaded thing I never knew I needed)


Ta-Nehisi Coates — The Case for Reparations (Atlantic)

Paul Ford — What Is Code? (Bloomberg News)


The Raincoats — No One’s Little Girl

Beach Boys – I’m Waiting for the Day

Pavement – Give It A Day

Camper Van Beethoven — Jack Ruby

Dusty Springfield – Warten and Hoffen

Wir sehen uns im nächsten Monat!

NIGHTGYMSOMETIMES YOU WANT TO GO WHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME. To flex before a wall of mirrors unjudged and unjudging. You will not be checked in or asked out or told to Spot me, Bro. It’s just you and CSI reruns on silent mode, your ears filled with grunts and longing. Each triumph or shame is private. In fluorescent isolation, selfness evaporates. All is material, mechanical… A rank duffle. A lone free weight. You are wet meat strung taut over last year’s machines.

Download NIGHT GYM (Mp3).

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01 Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Ain’t No Sunshine
02 Shannon & The Clams – Gremlins Crawl
03 Ex Hex – Don’t Want to Lose
04 The Raincoats – Running Away
05 Donny Hathaway – Jealous Guy (Live)
06 Them – My Little Baby
07 Foxygen – Mattress Warehouse
08 Young Fathers – Rain or Shine
09 Jonwayne – Time Trial
10 Son Lux – Let Go
11 The Raveonettes – Sisters
12 Teddy Robin & The Playboys – Fever
13 The Soft Boys – Only the Stone Remain
14 The Red Crayola – Hurricane Fighter Plane
15 The Slits – So Tough
16 Shabazz Palaces – Gunbeat Falls
17 Lizzo – Bus Passes and Happy Meals
18 Kate Tempest – The Truth
19 Frank Black – You Ain’t Me
20 The Dave Clark Five – Good Love Is Hard to Find
21 Fugazi – Life and Limb
22 Parkay Quarts – Pretty Machines
23 Trans Am – Night Shift


Read this now or hate yourself later
If I told you what this was you’d never click it
Early signs of your death

My little man never rising to the occasion
Is it too late to save your memories?

Perfect for all activities and seasons
Unload groceries in one or two trips
Protect and beautify your garage floor
You will not believe why his dad shot him

Eat this
magic is one click away
get erect, get correct, get respect
Where do we send your bottle of Brain Storm?

Glasses destroy your vision
Potatoes will kill you
This made hitler cry

You look terrible Jake
Don’t ignore this

Translated directly from the junk email filter of Jake Nassif

IMG_7493OUR BIANNUAL CAROUSEL OF FAMILY VISITS in the Pacific Northwest starts tomorrow. It’s bound to be bittersweet. Sarah’s father and mine have illnesses that won’t get better (hers Parkinson’s, mine Alzheimer’s) and in getting worse, they create unpredictable turbulence in the lives around them. Seeing our families only sporadically makes each encounter unbearably expectant, as if bracing ourselves for something we’ve never seen or heard and trying to hold on to everything like it’s the last best memory we’ll get.

Adulthood is unstable. Just when you think you have a handle on it—family dynamics, independence, duty—tragedy scuttles the order and you have to renegotiate. It will take all my focus and compassion; can’t waste it being bummed.

My parents’ mortality is a test I don’t know how to prep for. Is it enough to just show up?

I’ll get back to you on that.

tumblr_m5psl1fORI1rxlmf0o1_400This is an excerpt of an interview soon to be included in a little zine I’m helping with. If all I got to do in life was pick the brains of scientists, it would be enough. –Jake


Rivers are ephemeral. Their unique shapes are works in progress, lines continually redrawn by factors large and small. What’s the source of their peculiar behavior and beauty? We sat down with John, a graduate research assistant at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering, to talk about water, people and the dynamics (physical and historical) that bind them together.

What got you hooked on rivers?
As a kid growing up on a farm in Tennessee, streams are all over the place. Romping in rivers has always been part of my life. My “watershed” moment came hiking the Appalachian Trail. On those river crossings, you step through what seem like little creeks, but go up to your waist. You can feel the force, even if it doesn’t look that deep. When you’re IN it, when you feel it, you realize how powerful even small rivers can be. That trip connected me to rivers and flowing water.

What’s your focus these days?
My dissertation is on meandering river dynamics, how rivers move about their flood plains and rework the surface of the earth. You see the effects of winding rivers in very diverse environments: on the Mississippi, on glaciers, on Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, even underwater when fresh water flows into saltwater before they mix. 

So why do rivers wind like that?
All kinds of factors cause rivers to move: landscape, soil, rock, precipitation, human impact. Once you change anything in a system, nature adapts. An interesting study was done in Yellowstone National Park, where the streams were considered wildly meandering. After wolves were reintroduced to the park, the meandering stopped. Turns out that when the animals hunted by wolves were chased off, the vegetation they were eating grew again and strengthened the banks.

Up until the 1980s, people explained the meandering pattern by invoking the river as a conscious entity—“the water wants to move”—without a physical basis. Now there are many good theories. I think the best one is that turbulence in the fluid causes the patterns. But we’re still looking for a unified theory of river meandering.

Tell us about your river.
I study the Ucayali River in Peru. It has very high sinuosity, which is a measure of how winding it is (higher number = more winding). This river has moved 100m per year laterally. That’s comparable to the rate of movement on the Mississippi River pre-settlement. But the watershed of the Mississippi is 10,000-times larger than the Ucayali. This wild migration is a result of lots of eroded sediment from the Andes Mountains to the west and rains from the Amazon to the east.

How are people part of the dynamic?
Rivers are very active. Every time you build a bridge or a dam, you cut off some of the hydrodynamic processes that would affect the channel. When we somehow lock the system into place, we drastically reduce the changes. How does human impact affect meandering dynamics? When we do an activity, how far does it propagate? I want to better understand the dynamics. It’s what the stream restoration industry is all about.

Can we build a better stream?
In the industry now, if you put in a stream and it moves, they say your design has failed. But we need to remember if we want a stream in anything like a natural state, it needs a framework so it can move. We need to learn to design for migration.

Ecologically, it’s very important. Water in a stream will seep into the ground water and then pop up later, and winding its own way encourages that process. They say, “a river is the author of its own geometry”—its own engineer, in a sense. And meandering is the mechanism.


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