End Of The Line

trump_reagan_500

Vote enough incompetent dingbats into office and eventually you’ll get an incompetent dingbat response to a genuine crisis. And so it’s proving to be with DJT, who follows a long line of not-ready-for-prime-time GOP executives…or candidates for executive. Reagan was their darling, but Robert Taft and even Alf Landon did their best to deny reality and insist 19th Century governing styles were…plenty good enough.

Nope. Not in the 20th Century and sure as hell not now.

The era of big government being over was always bullshit triangulation, and the trope about it being the problem was always a mask for bigotry. People were never really upset about the size/spending of the feds…it was always a matter of who it allegedly went to (as we all recall, the Gipper insisted it went to “strapping young bucks” and “welfare queens.”)

So…the GOP has discovered their inner Keynes, and lord knows there are a ton of people who could use a few extra dollars — or simply a few dollars — now that their income’s been slashed or eliminated (not to mention squeezed over the course of decades). But the national leadership to guide us through this crisis, at least from the GOP, simply doesn’t exist.

We’ll have to ride it out as best as we can, and hope that once it’s over, there are enough pieces left to pick up and put back together…

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Plague

I can’t remember if I first read The Plague in high school or college.But I recall the profound impact it had it on me. It’s a powerful book that, according to a French speaking friend, is one of the best French to English translations ever. It’s certainly timely in the age of COVID-19.

There are many swell covers to choose from. We begin with the original hardback dust jackets.

I had to include the paperback cover on the left. It was the edition I read. It may be time to revisit it.

My Brave Face

Mask by Jackson Pollock.

March 2020 has been the month from hell. It’s as if the Ides of March came and never left. I’ve already admitted how hard it is for this lifelong news junkie to follow the news. The bad news has been relentless. COVID-19 has gotten so bad that even the Impeached Insult Comedian finally admits that it’s not “fake news” cooked up to deny him a second term. But there will be backsliding. He cannot help himself.

On a personal level, things feel equally bleak. I usually try not to let things that I cannot control bother me. The pandemic has me jittery and rattled. I try to put a brave face on things but it’s hard not to feel numb and empty.

Here’s why I feel empty: My favorite cousin died at a hospice in Flower Mound, Texas on Monday. I’m glad we got to see her earlier this month. It was a whirlwind trip during which I caught the stomach bug I mentioned here. I did not mention my worry that it was COVID-19 caused from hanging out in a nursing home for the better part of two days.  It was not. But I had more than a few sleepless nights and remain jittery about exposing my immune system to any risks. Additionally, I have a normal body temperature that ranges from  99.5 to 100 on a hot day. That’s why I’m not going anywhere they might stick a thermometer in my mouth.

A few words about my late first cousin. She was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. She was more like a sister than a cousin. My parents are dead, and I’m estranged from my sisters so losing my cousin is like losing the last link to my nuclear family.

I’m one of the younger members of my generation of my extended Greek family. My cousin was 75 and finally lost a 25 year battle with cancer. Her son moved her to a facility closer to his home to make it easier to visit. Then came the nursing home lockdown. In her bleaker moments, my cousin said the only reason she wanted to live was to see her family. I believe she gave up because of the lockdown. Many elderly New Orleanians died in the first year after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Like my cousin, they lost the will to live.

If you have elderly loved ones in assisted living or a nursing home, remember to stay in close touch even though you can’t visit. Human contact is important, if you can’t physically touch one another, you can talk on the phone. And I say that as someone who dislikes talking on the phone. My late cousin was okay with that, I’d speak briefly to her, then hand the phone to Dr. A. My cousin always said, “He’s just like Uncle Lou.” In that regard, I suppose I am.

I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip and put the best possible face on things without being in denial. It’s not an easy balancing act.  I’m lucky because I’m married to a wonderful woman whose family nickname is “the representative of the world of science.” She’s good at keeping a cool head while the rest of the world is freaking out.

Finally, I try to maintain what Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello called My Brave Face.

Now that I’m alone again
I can’t stop breaking down again
The simplest things set me off again
And take me to that place
Where I can’t find my brave face.

It’s a breakup song but it works by analogy.

The last word goes to Macca:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: GRRR

I thought that Charlie Brown and I were the only ones who said GRRR. I had no idea that there was a 1966 Hugh Masekela album called that. Go figure.

Here are a couple of tracks from the album:

You Already Know Where It Goes

So here’s what’s gonna happen.

A lot of people are going to get sick. They won’t know for sure if they’re sick, because there aren’t enough tests, and nobody can afford the ones that we do have.

Because nobody will know anything for sure, and a lot of people will be sick, most businesses will stay closed. Most will be unable to pay their employees, so a lot of people are going to be sick and broke.

Sick broke people make decisions aimed at not being sick or broke no more. Not all of those decisions will be harmless to themselves or others.

The prospect of sick broke people making bad decisions will freak a lot of upper class people out.

Those people will call their suburban police departments, which in case you haven’t noticed are strapped for war every second of the day even though their biggest call in a month is barely a moving violation. Those police departments will respond to every shoplifter like they’re John Dillinger and things will start getting out of hand.

A crime that would barely make a blip in a weekly newspaper’s police blotter will get blown up by the Rush/Fox/morning news industrial complex until I start getting texts from out-of-town relatives who already think living anywhere with two stoplights is asking to be robbed and murdered. Like six guys will knock over a liquor store and ordinarily that’s Thursday, but before the week is out your dad will have sixteen emails from the NRA all saying some variation on “DO YOU WANT YOUR WHITE WOMEN RAPED? CLICK HERE TO ANSWER NO AND GET A FREE T-SHIRT AND A GRENADE LAUNCHER.”

The same types of guys who were dragging their guns around the Virginia statehouse a month ago will be spray-painting LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT on their garages and then the politicians will start in with JUST ASKING QUESTIONS or some such. Those questions will not be about why people are sick and broke, by the way. The questions will be about how violent white people should get right now, and how few consequences they can possibly face for said violence.

I don’t know where we go after that.

A.

Every Genocide Needs a Soundtrack

A few years back I got irrationally obsessed with reading books about the Rwandan genocide including this excellent, harrowing one, and one thing that stuck with me from it was the role talk radio played in stoking violence and encouraging people to turn on their neighbors.

This is a transcript from one of those stations, assuring its listeners that no matter what they see and hear on other channels, THIS is the real story:

.. When talking, we should be aware that we are talking to other people, and to intelligent people. Because what will cause harm to the Rwandans, what will harm the politics of this country is that a person thinks that he is the only one who can play politics, he thinks that he is the only one who can speak, he thinks that he is the only one who holds the truth, that members of other political parties are not intelligent, that they are stupid, that they do not understand, that he should con them because he has the opportunity to talk, that he should say whatever he wants… Here, on RTLM, on your independent radio, we will hOt stand that. You will tell lies people, and we will tell them the truth.”

Does that sound familiar to you? It should: 

  • In a fearmongering, over-the-top opening monologue, Fox Business host Trish Regan claimed coronavirus is “yet another attempt to impeach the president” as “the chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo.”

  • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs reported that coronavirus “has now infected 113,000 people … in 111 countries and territories around the world” and, in nearly the same breath, claimed that “the national left-wing media [are] playing up fears of the coronavirus.”

  • On Lou Dobbs TonightSiegel dismissed the World Health Organization as “overly political” and “incompetent,” arguing that coronavirus is being politicized to attack Trump.

We’re not yet at the stage where Fox is advocating that Trump nuke Wuhan but their listeners are already there and have been for a week or so. We’ve been talking since mid-2016 about how this stuff doesn’t start with the ovens. It starts with people whispering that there’s a secret only the worthy know, and Rush and his imitators have been saying that shit since the moment they went on the air.

A sane country would have shut down any broadcast knowingly disseminating false information in the name of public safety. This whole country is a crowded theater and they’re screaming fire.

BUH BUH BUH says you, a person who thinks reality is a simulation, BUH WHO DECIDES WHAT IS FALSE? Isn’t this always the pretext governments use to shut down dissent, that it’s unsafe? Well, this isn’t “dissent.” What Fox is doing is not opining on how the president should handle the crisis. They’re saying there IS NO CRISIS and then telling people to go out and make the nonexistent crisis worse.

There aren’t any equivalents to this. This isn’t a free speech issue. This isn’t an issue of civil rights. Before you throw internet conspiracies on the left in my face, consider the difference between six people on a blog saying “something seems dodgy here” and a NATIONAL BROADCAST NETWORK THAT’S ON EVERY TV IN THE AIRPORT, from which everyone takes their cues including THE PRESIDENT.

GO TO A RESTAURANT THE GUBMINT CAN’T CONTROL YOU, says the government, and had we the Republican party of even 20 years ago, much less the glory days, we’d have at least one or two people on ACTUAL BOTH SIDES saying look, this is insane, but no, the entire Senate and GOP House contingent has to take their cues from these people. Mike DeWine is a cock, okay, but I give him credit for acting like he’s in charge of people’s safety, unlike most of his colleagues. Look at this fucking prick. Great job, Kansas Republicans.

Lots and lots of people are going to get sick and die in the coming weeks. Fox News is encouraging this, if not actually making it happen. Once it does, and/or there’s violence or looting or reasonable responses like, say, a bunch of people getting really pissed and throwing things, then it will be time for law and order and suppressing the unruly masses, none of which, conveniently, will be white.

But god forbid someone suggest you forgo green beer and Buffalo Wild Wings and stop pouring hate into your ears like poison. I’ve read way too much about how this ends.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

It’s easy to imagine that in places where life is already hard, our current circumstances would make life harder. And they have, and they’ve made people braver, as well: 

Before long, word of the project had spread, and about two dozen people came together to help, working 13-hour days to turn the abandoned house into a welcoming checkpoint. “The house was full of 3-4 feet of snow,” said Bekoalok, who has limited mobility and volunteered from home as a coordinator. “They had to shovel the house out, and they put Visqueen on the windows, so that light comes in but the cold doesn’t.”

People donated hot plates, a generator, lights and a wood stove. They drilled a hole in the river for water, chopped firewood so that mushers would have a ready supply, and hung up a banner to welcome them. They put encouraging signs along the trail to tell teams they were almost there. “We had our youngest elders to babies hauling wood and water,” said Sookiayak, estimating that the youngest helpers were 4 years old.

A.

Half Pagan: Coronavirus In New Orleans

The press of events, both personal and global, made me forget to include something in today’s NOLA-centric post.  Some of my more eccentric friends have an eccentric band called Half Pagan. Their performance schedule is equally eccentric; it’s Solstice oriented. I am not making this up. I told you they were eccentric, y’all.

Half Pagan have a new tune with timely lyrics. It’s called Coronavirus In New Orleans:

“It started in Wuhan with some bat bitten meat,
Traveled to Korea and down to Italy
So now it’s mutating and we’re all getting sneezy
COVID 19’s rollin’ to the Big Easy

Chorus
Stock up on bourbon, boil red beans
The coronavirus’s coming to New Orleans
Soap up your hands, and cover your sneeze
The coronavirus coming down to New Orleans

The shops are all out of health care supplies
If you can’t find a mask tape on a Hubig’s pie
Instead of hand sanitizer use some Zatarain’s
Wash out your mouth in Lake Pontchartrain

Chorus
Stock up on bourbon, vodka and Dixie
The coronavirus’s coming to the Big Easy
Cover your mouth and don’t touch your face
Best to not put your tongue on any surface

Seems like our city is going to hell
Got two bodies stuck in the Hard Rock Hotel
Broken pumps and beads are flooding our streets
Here comes another boil water advisory

Chorus
Gotta get on the phone and call Mayor Cantrell
Human feces is exploding French Quarter manholes
Our neighbors don’t live here, they’re Air B and B’s
Record high profits for da Entergy

Stock up on bourbon, hunker down with some pralines
Put a lime in your Corona to toast New Orleans
Soap up your hands, and cover your sneeze
The coronavirus coming down to our city, to the Big Easy, down the Mississippi, way down in New Orleans”

I’ve known the members of Half Pagan since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. Back then, it was us against the world. It’s time for us to recapture the Spirit of ’05 as we hunker down and try to get through the COVID-19 clusterfuck.

Without further adieu, I give you Editor B, Dr. Homan, Kalypso Homan, and Mike Hogan collectively known as Half Pagan:

Let’s See Inaction

The New Orleans Toilet Paper Apocalypse is in its second week. Make that the national Toilet Paper Apocalypse (hereinafter TPA) as hoarding is in fashion. The TPA is also an indication that people remain poorly informed about the nature of COVID-19. Nobody’s going to shit themselves to death because of this virus. Scout’s honor. Scout Prime’s honor too.

NOLA Notes: There was some serious idiocy here last Saturday. Can idiocy ever be serious? That’s an existential question for another day.

Anyway, it was supposed to be the day of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade so there was a de facto block party on the Magazine Street route despite the obvious health hazards involved.  Even a normal St. Paddy’s Day seems to lower IQs by at least 50 points, and normal came to a screeching halt last week.  NOPD were dispatched both there and to Bourbon Street where drunken idiocy reigned as well. Now’s the time to drink at home, y’all.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a presser yesterday. While she ranted about “irresponsible journalism,” she did not impose a curfew. It’s unclear as of this writing exactly what the Mayor was on about, but it seems to involve a reporter calling City Hall to ask about a rumor spreading on social media. The Mayor did not handle it well. The rumor mill will be working overtime as this crisis unfolds, and the best way to swat down rumors is by answering questions however ridiculous. We’re all a bit testy but it’s best for our elected leaders to keep their crankiness to themselves. Otherwise, the Mayor is doing all the right things thus far.

A note about language. The word irresponsible is in right now. In fact, it’s being overused. The word is inherently pedantic, patronizing, and other P words that will come to me later. I prefer to call the foolish white people who partied at an Irish bar, reckless and stupid. I know stupid is judgy, but it doesn’t sound as judgy as irresponsible, which reminds me of an old song:

If the Chairman of the Board were still with us, he’d call the Irish Channel revelers, “stupid bums” or something equally colorful. The man knew how to call a bum a bum.

Movie Notes: I’m watching too much teevee during this crisis so I’m putting on my film critic hat to recommend some movies to help you wile away the hours. Since old movies, especially in glorious black and white, are one of my passions, I’ll focus on movies released before 1970 except when I don’t. I am consistently inconsistent, after all. It’s part of my charm, such as it is.

Last night, Dr. A and I watched this 1950 movie:

We watched the TCM Noir Alley version. The host of Noir Alley, Eddie Mueller, essentially resurrected this undeservedly obscure 1950 movie. It’s a winner; filmed on the streets of San Francisco, featuring great lead performances by Anne Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe and a stellar supporting turn by Robert Keith (father of Brian) as a quirky police inspector. Rembrandt the dog is doggone good as well. Arf.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details other than to say there’s a helluva twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. And I’m good at figuring out twists.

Woman On The Run is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and an exuberant thumbs up. Check it out while it’s still “free” to prime customers.

I’m going to try and not just write about the COVID-19 crisis as it unwinds. But it’s all-consuming right now since it’s early days. I also need to stop calling all segments “notes.” That’s notably boring but so, too, is this crisis. I’m so bored that I have a motto for this pandemic:

BETTER BORED THAN DEAD.

It’s almost as good as STAY THE FUCK HOME.

A quick note about the post title; there’s that word again. It’s a play on the title of a Pete Townshend song, which was originally titled Nothing Is Everything (Let’s See Action). It contains this cool lyrical couplet: “Rumor has it, minds are open. Then rumors fill them up with lies.” Perhaps Mayor Cantrell should quote it the next time rumors are mentioned…

The Who’s version has always been called Let’s See Action, the Adrastos version is Let’s See Inaction. Inactive is the new in word for those of us who are hunkering down until the crisis eases. Beats the hell outta irresponsible…

Inaction is just for the citizenry: we want all levels of government to be active and responsible.

The last word goes to The Who live in 2000 with a sloppy but spirited rendition of Let’s See Action with guest rock star Eddie Vedder:

Let’s clean up that mess with the original studio version:

That is all.

Laborare Est Orare, Motherfuckers

This National Day of Prayer.

I just.

You want to pray? Give money to a food pantry.

You want to pray? Call your parents, your siblings, anyone you’re lucky enough to love.

You want to pray? Put a note on your window, as one of my neighbors did yesterday, with your phone number: LOW RISK PERSON WILLING TO PICK UP MEDICINE OR GROCERIES, PLEASE TEXT.

You want to pray? Vote early or by mail.

You want to pray? My church cancelled communion LAST WEEK. They cancelled mass on Wednesday. That was prayer.

You want to pray? Drive someone to work so they don’t have to take the bus or the train. Drive yourself to work so you’re not on the bus or the train.

You want to pray? Give your fucking employees as many days off as you can. Bow your fucking head that way, you fucking fucks. God, I am so angry at everybody who’s got to barista right now. I am so angry on behalf of the gas station attendants whose workplaces never close, never ever, no matter what.

I am so fucking angry at everybody who wants to tongue-fondle Jesus on TV but won’t lift a finger to pay for free testing, and that includes politicians and the pastors who support them and the voters who fall in line while their parents and grandparents get sick. Joel Fucking Osteen could take what he spends on lunch and test everyone in this country. Jeff Bezos could do that AND pay everybody’s sick leave. But Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, amirite?

Our Father says Get Off Your Ass and bake a pie or something, in His holy name. This is such crap. Yes, in absence of everything else useful send some good thoughts skyward but there is so much to do and no one in any position of power deserves to be kneeling right now unless it’s to tie someone else’s shoes.

A.

 

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the moronovirus

The Darnold got asked a rather uncomfortable question the other day:

A month ago?  He was bragging on the shutdown.
Bragging.

Last month, responding to a question from a reporter about why he has consistently called for “enormous cuts to the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO,” Trump responded: “I’m a businessperson. I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them.

Oh? Does that go for the armed forces as well?  After all, for the most part, there are hundreds of thousands of people around when we don’t need them. Until, of course, we do.

Maybe you should disband the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines as well? And the fire departments? Lazing around playing cards and waiting for something to catch fire?

And the stock market? He’s loving it!

TrumpStockMarketGoodToMe

The other part of his smarmy evasion?

Screenshot_2020-03-14 Yamiche Alcindor on Twitter My Q You said you don’t take responsibility for slow response to coronavi[...]

“I didn’t do it.”

Yes you did, Traitor Tot.

It was news everywhere.

TrumpShutdown

And Past You has something to say to Present You.

TrumpLeadershipResponsible

Not that you’d ever listen to a bugfuck crazy idiot like that ….
.
Surgery recovery’s taking longer then expected – a month more until I can bend over, pick up anything over five pounds, sit for more then 30 minutes, drive etc.

Hopefully I’ll be back embarrassing Freepers within four more weeks or so.

My night nurse, a wonderful Nigerian med student, was watching news with me while I was still in the hospital the day after my surgery. (He of course, is going to be at ground zero when the hospital starts filling up)

He asked me if I was worried about the COVID-19 epidemic. I replied not for myself so much as for others. He looked at The Darnold sputtering his lies and said “He’s insane”.

 

NoShitSherlock

.

See you all in a few more weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

The featured image is of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow had a long acting career in America; often playing in horror movies. He died earlier this week at the age of 90. This is the first time I’ve ever started a Saturday post with an obit. I like to change things up.

The Seventh Seal is set during the Black Plague. It was an era with clueless and ignorant leaders; much like the US&A in 2020. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

This week’s theme song continues our board game theme. The Game Pieces was written by Chris Leslie and Nigel Stonier for Fairport Convention’s 1999 album, The Wood and the Wire. Here’s a woody and wiry live version:

I’m a lousy chess player but I know a good song about chess when I hear one. Just say Yes:

Now that we’ve established that we’re all good people, let’s take a straight and stronger course to the break.

Continue reading

Bayou Brief: Ode To Elizabeth Warren & Other Strong Women

Warning: No COVID-19 content. Promise.  Instead, I write about Elizabeth Warren, Mary Landrieu, Lindy Boggs, and my late mother.

Ode is one of my favorite words. I’m quite partial to this song as well:

Keep Your (Safe) Distance

Last night, Dr. A and I made groceries for the first time store since the first New Orleans COVID-19 cases were announced. It’s been a week of firsts as well as worsts. It was like a preview of hurricane season but twice as frantic. One could even call it the TOILET PAPER APOCALYPSE. For some reason, people are convinced that if the world ends, there will be no TP. Locally, there’s always this:

Krewe of Tucks riders also throw plungers in case you overuse their terlet paper. Glug.

Okay, no more toilet humor. Promise. I’m not Mike Myers, after all. Or Friday the 13th’s Michael Myers for that matter. I seem to have misplaced my hockey mask…

In addition to Pulp Fiction Thursday, it was cancellation Thursday yesterday as most major sports leagues and events pulled the plug on 2020. I have some friends who are going to have withdrawal symptoms any time now. My suggestion: read a book or watch a sports movie. Bull Durham has been known to lift one’s spirits.

It’s time to slice this post into segments like an orange. Hopefully, nothing is overripe. It’s hard to keep up with events, y’all.

The Politics Of COVID-19: President* Pennywise’s Oval Office address laid an egg, bombed, and flopped. It led to mass confusion and the stock market tanking. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

One of my friends insists that Trump snorted coke before the speech. I don’t think so. He was too low energy for that; much like Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primary race. My hunch is that the Impeached Insult Comedian would test positive for the super crud. He’s been exposed to carriers at least twice. He should be tested and quarantined in a rubber room for his own safety and that of the country.

The COVID-19 clusterfuck is the most graphic illustration yet of the OTT incompetence of the Trump regime. They had no pandemic plan and were caught with their pants down. This criminal negligence is in stark contrast to the way Team Obama handled the Ebola Virus. It was contained in Africa and we helped impacted areas with our dollars and medical expertise. We still have the latter if only the White House would get out the way. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Repeat after me: Incompetence Kills.

A Coronavirus Primer: A piece by Tomas Pueyo at Medium has been making the rounds on social media. It’s one of the things that convinced me to practice social distancing. If you haven’t read it, there’s no time like the present:

View at Medium.com

The image/link thing showed up when I previewed this post. If it doesn’t on your device, this link works.

Tweets Of The Day:  First, some historical perspective:

Boo to Philly in 1918. Hurrah to St. Louis in 1918.

Our second tweet comes from a beloved member of the First Draft family:

They must be people who have never lost anyone close to them. I watched someone die when I was 28 years old. I have a dark sense of humor, but I don’t make jokes about randos dying. Talk about bad karma.

I’m already on the record about this generational strife shit:

People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.

Another day, another self-quote.

Finally, the featured image with Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas comes from Elia Kazan’s classic contagion movie, Panic In The Streets, which was set in New Orleans. I have another one in the hopper but it’s for when things get even worse:

I have it on DVD, but this stone cold 4 star classic can be rented from Amazon Prime. Besides, we’re all going to have time on our hands as we try to get through this crisis.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

Friday Throwback Catblogging: Friday The 13th Edition

This is my favorite picture of the late great Della Street:

First Draft Community Help Thread

On my way to work this morning I got on my usual bus, which was carrying its customary assortment of metropolitan itinerants in varying stages of consciousness and togetherness. At the next stop a young woman got on with a baby, maybe a little less than a year, and sat down, baby on lap. It was 8 a.m. and she had a look I’ve seen so many times in the mirror since I became a parent: The day has barely started and I am already so completely done.

The baby gummed fingers and pacifier and waved tiny hands in the air, and the homeless fellow across the bus took notice. Started talking to the baby. Leaning into the baby’s face, making silly noises, praising the baby. “Ooh, you’re a beauty. So pretty, so pretty!” The baby babbled happily back, and he started singing. The mother leaned back, head against the window, and closed her eyes. A moment’s peace. We can give that to each other.

Lots of us are going to be worn out by this, and not just emotionally, not just mentally. Lots of us are going to be, or already are, on the edge financially. On unpaid leave from jobs we can’t afford to stay away from, laid off because a conference or festival or expected customer doesn’t appear. I’d like to give us this thread as a way to help.

Are you in need? Can you help someone who is? Can we talk to each other, here, reply to a comment, post someone’s Venmo or CashApp or Paypal from another site, draw attention to a GoFundMe, ask if anyone knows anyone at such-and-such to help smooth the way?

Post it below. Don’t worry about asking, or if you can’t reply, but I thought it might be useful, while we’re all on this bus together, to offer a few words of encouragement to each other and maybe sing a song.

Does He Really Look Like A Guy With A Plan?

trump_joker_television

Wow, what a flop, though as usual, major media is doing their best to downplay what had to be the weirdest address-from-the-Oval-Office-to-reassure-the-nation ever.

Looking and sounding like he was on strong medication or had just been awakened, DJT managed to stumblebum/blunder his way into falsely claiming a ban on European “cargo” — lotta good that would do — while oddly exempting the UK from travel restrictions because…well, not really sure why.

And he concluded — to be fair, after he thought the camera was off — with something that looked for all the world like an orange-stain-take-on-the-Looney- Toons-signoff.

That’s All, Folks.

And the political press is gearing up for a months long cycle of Biden-is-gaffe-prone stories?

Goddamn.

We’re still at the beginning of this, and who knows whether it will be a matter of worst fears being realized or not, but I can’t think of a more incompetent reaction than what we’ve seen from Team Trump. It’s stupid…on an epic level.

Think of what sort of reaction we’d see if the president was a Democrat. Fox Noise would literally be that, and I’m guessing the rest would, sheeplike, follow along (“the administration was caught off-guard and is scrambling to restore trust”)…yet for Trump, they’ve set the bar so goddamn low you need a backhoe to find it.

But…Burisma.

Fuck.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Epidemic

This 1961 novel continues this week’s theme; only without the exclamation point. Things are bad enough without using one.

Knowledge Isn’t Always Power

When I was younger, I was easily flustered and had a temper to match. In Star Trek terms, I was something of a Klingon; only without the bellicosity, bad food, and rotten opera. I spent years trying to Vulcanize my temperament and have largely succeeded. I pride myself on being calm, rational, and never panicking. Better a Vulcan than a Klingon: I’m just glad that my ears aren’t pointed.

My resolve to stay calm has been sorely tested by the COVID-19 crisis. And not just by the insane reaction of a president* who thinks that ignoring the problem will make it go away. After an extended bout with a more conventional bug, the news has me jittery and on edge. My Vulcan resolve is shaken but I refuse to let it slip away.

Being well-informed is usually my armor against the crazy. The viral virus news has left me jittery and uneasy.  And the reaction of people who should know better has shaken me to the core. Denial is in, realism is out. There’s a fine line between underreacting to a problem and freaking out. It’s called the happy medium and we’re not achieving it as a society.

The first cases of coronavirus in New Orleans were announced yesterday. The city had a big weekend planned; full of large public gatherings including the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That parade is known for riders throwing veggies from their floats and walking groups of drunken men kissing women along the route. Mayor Cantrell quite wisely pulled the plug on this parade and other events. We’ll just have to buy our own cabbages.

The reaction to the Mayor’s decision flooded social media with a noxious gas of self-righteousness and downright stupidity. I’m not a fan of this Mayor but I am a fan of rational public health measures intended to limit the spread of this contagion. If it can be limited early, we have a chance to avoid becoming the Seattle of the South; something that in another context would be a good thing.

Watching the people in Washington state struggle to contain the epidemic is, to be blunt, unnerving. It’s a wealthy state with more competent state and local governments than we’re accustomed to in New Orleans, Louisiana. If it can hit them this hard, it can happen here. We need to learn from the mistakes of others, not repeat them. The virus doesn’t care that we survived Katrina and the Federal Flood and the daily hardships of living in TFC: This Fucking City. In Star Trek terms, it’s the Borg; only without the crazy rubberized outfits.

The only rational fears expressed yesterday on social media were about the impact of this public health crisis on service industry workers and the poor. Something must be done to help them on a state, local, and national level. Bailing out the oil companies and hoteliers simply won’t do. The latter strikes me as another slush fund for the Trump clan. Nice work if you can get it.

In the short run, I’m planning to hunker down and limit my social contacts. This virus is highly contagious, and I have no desire to be either an infector or infectee.

In the end, the post title is ironic. I still believe that information is power, but a surfeit of information presented hysterically is not. Beware, take care.

The last word goes to my main man, Mr. Spock: