Like everyone else I am having trouble thinking about anything other than the coronavirus pandemic and the shockwaves it has sent, and will continue to send, through the system. As it began to unfold I found myself thinking, talking, and posting about it fairly constantly. In an effort to try to keep it confined to a given time and place, both physically and psychologically, I am keeping a diary of it all.
April 19: I have an acquaintance from a long time ago with whom I only interact with on Facebook. He is something of a public person due to his job and, as such, he never, ever, posts or talks about political things. I suspect he skews conservative for a few reasons, but he’s really not someone you’d ever expect to get anywhere near politics on his Facebook page. It’s usually all personal stuff, jokes, and funny memes. Because he’s a very amiable and positive person, his entire online vibe is amiability and positivity, even when bad things are happening. I actually like going to his page when things are bad because I can pretty reliably get a laugh.
He hasn’t exactly gone dark or political since this all started, but he has gone dark and political for him. He’s chafed, mildly, about closures like all of us have, but I suspect it’s starting to morph into something a bit sharper.
He recently started reading Orwell’s “1984” for the first time, posting a picture of the cover a couple of days ago, saying “feels like it’s time.” Which, hey, there’s never a bad time to read Orwell, so that’s cool. Today, though, he posted, without comment, a photo of the page in which Orwell talked about how it was “unwise to be seen on the streets unless you had definite business there . . . ‘May I see your papers, comrade? What are you doing here? What time did you leave work? Is this your usual way home?’ — and so forth.” It’s not hard to draw a line from his random comments about the closures to this. Him sharing something even remotely political like that would not be something he’d do lightly.
All of which makes me thank that Trump’s whole “Open the country up! . . Liberate Michigan! Liberate Minnesota!” stuff is striking a nerve. Sure, anything he says will go over great with his cult-like base — and for the moment there is still pretty solid support for staying on the attack against COVID-19, despite how much press the protests are getting — but I worry that it’s going to change the longer goes on. I feel like, if Trump and other leaders continue their efforts to undermine smart public health measures, that “open it up!” sentiment will expand beyond that cult and appeal to people more like my normally non-political friend.
And continue they will.
Trump’s entire rise was premised on grievance and resentment. On telling people that even the slightest of demands of them with respect to others are unreasonable. That they, actually, do not have any responsibility to anyone or anything other than themselves and their comfort and their prejudices. It made a lot of people — not just the mouth-breathers in MAGA hats — feel good to hear it. Building and maintaining a civilization is hard work and a great many people love to be given permission to take a smoke break.
I suspect that, the longer all of this goes on, more and more people, including otherwise non-political people like my friend, will be amenable to that message as it relates to the pandemic. It scares the living hell out of me.
As for those protests, a local photographer named Ralph Orr captured some fantastic images of a large protest at the Ohio Statehouse from over the weekend. As you can see, a great many of these people are already part of the degenerate right, with “Q” signs and “Proudboy” flags displayed. He notes in the brief narrative above the photos that, “. . . Nor did I hear any mention of an individual’s responsibilities to the community, to healthcare workers, to the poor, to the often-vital low-waged workers, to the homeless, to the incarcerated, or to the elderly. The focus was on “rights” not responsibilities. Calls for an end to lying were directed at Governor DeWine and healthcare leaders, not to President Trump.”
That, and the photos, kind of says it all.
I wrote this on March 24, which seems like 100 years ago, about how I was worried that we as a country would give short shrift to meaningful and substantive anti-pandemic measures such as pumping needed billions into medical and relief efforts while going heavy on empty symbolism:
I read this in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning:
Right on schedule then, I suppose. We’ll nail the symbolic gestures. We’ll likely totally whiff on anything that truly matters. It’s what we do.
Oh, and as we’re cheering those people at Busch Stadium and all of the other big league ballparks, know that Major League Baseball gave teams the green light to slash non-player salaries in cost-savings measures that will likely amount to rounding error. Because they can.
I took another long walk today. Longer than usual and faster than usual, in an effort to really test my limits. According to my fitness app I walked 7.72 miles at a 14-minute mile pace. It was a really good workout. The only moderate issue was that I did it in shoes that, at this point in their long and very well-lived life, are rated for probably six miles at about a 16-minute mile pace. My dogs are barking a bit.
Speaking of dogs, I passed by this as I often do on these walks:
Somewhere back there is the home Ohio’s richest man, Les Wexner, which I’ve written about in the past. It’s not far from where I’ve lived for the past 15 years. For the past 5-6 years or so, since I really took up hiking, I’ve taken many, many walks around the perimeter of his property. I can’t say I’ve ever seen or heard a dog. Not that I’m gonna check. Maybe next time I’ll throw a steak over the fence. It works in cartoons and heist movies and stuff.
I roasted our Sunday chicken for dinner once again. Afterwards Allison and a friend watched a show via their laptops so I decided to watch a movie.
I wasn’t sure what to watch, though. I spent a long time scrolling through possibilities on Netflix and Amazon. I kept going back and considering, over and over again, movies I’ve seen countless times and know I love already. “Zero Effect,” “The Long Goodbye,” “The Conversation,” and other Craig Classics. I was tweeting about it as I was trying to make a choice, sort of making fun of myself, but a bunch of people responded by saying that they too keep revisiting shows and movies they’ve already seen and know they love.
I guess it’s a comfort thing when everyone is inconvenienced. A certainty thing when everything is uncertain. Totems to remind us of what we are and what we were and that we’re not lost in a dream. Like in “Inception,” which was another one I considered watching again.
In the end, I settled on something I hadn’t seen: “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.” I figured laughs were just as good as the comfort of the familiar. And that it was a pretty safe bet that “Walk Hard” would not exactly be the sort of unfamiliar that would unsettle me too terribly much. I was right on both counts.
(Featured Image: FlickreviewR, Wikimedia Commons)