Love in a time of COVID-19

“I decided to wander around, keeping the flag in sight. These real rough looking dudes, Hells Angels-types, had an industrial-sized can of Chef Boyardee ravioli. They were doling it out with a big wooden spoon to a huge line of hippies, all waiting to eat from that same spoon. So I got some of that. I actually went back for seconds!” from How Chef Boyardee Helped Me Survive Woodstock’s Infamous Brown Acid by Mike Greenblatt

“It show the flexibility of the human organism that people who would willingly sit in the mud and chant, ‘No rain!’ between badly amplified rock groups turn out to run the economy.”
Frank Zappa

“Americans who now find themselves politically divided over seemingly everything are now forming two very different views of another major issue: the dangers of the new coronavirus. Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week. And more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans. Poll respondents who described themselves as Republicans and did not see the coronavirus as a threat said it still felt remote because cases had not been detected close to home and their friends and neighbors did not seem to be worried, either.’I haven’t changed a single thing,’ Cindi Hogue, who lives outside Little Rock, Arkansas, told Reuters. ‘It’s not a reality to me yet. It hasn’t become a threat enough yet in my world.’Many of the U.S. cases that have been reported so far have been in Washington state and California, more than 1,000 miles away from Arkansas. Politics was not a factor in her view of the seriousness of the virus, Hogue said. Other Republican respondents interviewed echoed that sentiment.” Reuters

“Verges is a good old man, sir, but he’s always babbling. Like they say, ‘When age comes, wit goes.’ God help us, what a world! You did well, Verges, honestly. Well, God’s a fair man. If two men are riding on one horse, one must naturally ride behind. Verges is as honest a man as any, but, God bless him, not all men are created equal. Am I right, my friend?” Constable Dogberry from Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 5

“There are perhaps very few conditions more to be pitied than that of an active and elevated mind, laboring under the weight of a distempered body.” Dr. Johnson

It’s 10am, do you know where your pants are?

You’ll have to pardon us if we’re not as sanguine about the bug as Ms. Hogue. As of this writing about 80% of all COVID-related deaths in the US have occurred in King County. Never mind that the week began with the county’s announcement of an emergency quarantine shelter being built within convenient driving distance of the house. While we have no real fear of immediate infection, the deaths and other actions people are taking have lead to no small amount of anxiety. If there is a rough equivalent of all this it would be the first few seeks that followed 9-11. Back then the attacks were compounded with the anthrax scares and a ban on all airline travel. After a sufficient number of weeks passed people tentatively returned to their routines. I expect something similar to happen here.

And what is it like living this close to Ground Zero?

Downtown is largely empty as the major employers have asked their workers to Work From Home. (WFM) So far all WFM has done is to clog the neighborhood streets. Traffic crawls as if there are multiple fender benders scattered along the major arterials. Toilet paper has been hoarded and – for reasons I cannot understand- bottled water is very difficult to come by.

Do people think the infrastructure will break down?

Who knows?

Not that Seattle has ever been a dress-up kind of place. The tech bro t-shirt and cargo-shorts look has been in vogue for almost 30 years which makes you wonder what constitutes not having to put on adequate work attire now that you work from the couch?

In summary – the bug is still going around but locally it was confined to one building in the suburbs. We’re OK … for now and we have food on hand and lots of hand sanitizer as I broke into Alaska Wolf Joe’s stash of hand sanitizer and Tide pods that he had on hand in case any of his friends dropped by over the holidays.

We hold these truths to be self evident that all men and women are created by, you know, you know, the thing

In the novel Infinite Jest David Foster Wallace describes a government so bereft of funds that it has no choice but to sell the naming rights of entire calendar years. He called it “subsidized time” which lead to a decade where instead of numbered years there were The Year of the Trial-Size Dove Bar, The Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland, and in what might be called a prescient moment that could very well have predicted the 2020 election, The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.

Super Tuesday has come and gone and it looks like our choices come November comes down to your doddering, inarticulate, old coot vs. our doddering, inarticulate old coot. Sure, Bernie’s still in this, but he’s pretty spry and adequately coherent to really get much further. Look what happened to Liz Warren and Mayor Petey Bourgeoisie – two people who had well organized thoughts, who spoke in complete sentences.

Last Tuesday America said, “Fuck that!”

Barely three months into the year and the overarching scenario for the November election is clear. The candidates who wanted to actively undo the results of the 1980 election are mostly gone. That leaves us with one man who wants to go back to an America that’s always been more myth than reality while the other man wants to go back to that couch in the White House Obama let him nap on.

The question that came up over and over prior to this bout of “social distancing” was always the same, “Why do the kids love Bernie Sanders?”

Simple – their reality differs from ours in one way – the single most important historical event in their lifetimes was The Great Recession. Boomers can point to the Kennedy assassination or the moon landing, but one you got past the public funeral and the ticket tape parades people went back to their mundane routines. The Recession lingered and was less of an abstract concept to the kids. Especially those kids who came home to an unemployed parent or came home to an apartment as the family had lost their home. Family gatherings included the woes of older cousins burdened by student loans. It’s little wonder than when us olds say capitalism works the kids look at us and ask, “Since when?”

And if you don’t believe me then have some fake news to blame.

This Owl of Minerva has arthritic wings

I don’t know about you, but I think this is where I came in on this movie.

The Dixie Chicks?

So first we’re trying to have a do-over on the 1980 election and we’re back to fighting the Culture Wars with the same weapons we used 20 years ago?

Pinch me.

Yeah, perspective’s a bitch and it only gets worse with time. A short time ago I got another year older (Trust me – it wasn’t my idea.) which means my perspective on what’s coming and going has gotten more than a little sharper.

For example?

Once you watched the people who ate industrial quality ravioli from the same filthy wooden spoon turn into avid Reaganauts it’s burned into your brain for good. You can call that one up as need be or shuffle it around with other observations. It would have been nice to have this perspective when I was 19.

oh well …

From a distance this birthday looked a bit inauspicious given its numerical value, but on closer examination it was a milestone. First, this means that the total number of years I’ve been out of high school adds up to a number which is divisible by five. That means, like the bug, there’s some relentlessly chipper individual from the alumni association lurking out there who will phone around dawn, begin the conversation with, “‘MEMBER ME?!?!?” and prattle on about yet another reunion. It should also be noted that I have finally crossed over the line into Murder She Wrote demographic as I am now eligible for the low-end check from The Social Security Administration. Now if I can figure out how to live up here in the Big Damp Woods on $1300/month I’ve got it made.

Mom believes that crossing over into being eligible for A GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENT I should ramp up my search for a jaunty old-guy hat. All well and good, but the only time I ever see a hat I like it’s usually on Turner Classic and William Powell is wearing it. OK – that’s somewhat unfair as I’ve also seen suitable hats being worn by Ronald Coleman, Humphrey Bogart and once, believe it or not, by Edgar Buchanan. Kinda make you wish that TCM would sell something besides wine and t-shirts. They should have a 800-number hat store. You’d call up and say, “Yeah, OK, see the hat Richard Widmark is wearing right now? Yeah, there, wait he moved, OK he’s back – see that hat? Do you have that in a seven-and-a-half?”

Lastly, there is one thing I haven’t had time to do yet. At this age you celebrate your birthday by watching and re-watching this video over and over while feeling really, really sorry for yourself.

It’s the Boomer way.

Now go wash your hands.