Showing posts from 2020

Post #65: The Debut of Sal Smothers with his own topical comedy

 A special Notes From the Pandemic Presentation of the long lost third Smothers Brother, Sal, of whom his now middle brother said, "I understand why Mom liked him least," and whose oldest brother Tommy said upon meeting him, "I have to say, he is a real Dick."

Post #64: Can it Happen Here?

News item: In an interview with Time magazine, Jared Kushner said that he couldn't commit to keeping the elections going in November.  He was an ambitious Senator named Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. Promising every citizen $5,000 a year and a return to a strong economy and "traditional values" he ran for President and won. From there, everything changed. He drastically cut down the powers of Congress and set up kangaroo courts to enforce the laws he created. He built a paramilitary unit he called "The Minute Men" to stifle dissent. He eliminated minority rights and sent his political opponents and dissenters to concentration camps. He eliminated individual state governments, carving administrative "corpos" he could control more easily. It can't happen here. Right? Sinclair Lewis would disagree. That was the title of his 1936 book, which essentially predicted the rise of Donald Trump 90 years ago. Think about it. * Yesterday, with the

Post #63, a Northern Blues PSA from New York's own, Muddy Sewer

Here's a man so widely respected that with one riff he established his own genre, a riff that has since been imitated by virtually every blues artist around the world. Welcoming him back for one performance, the man about whom  BB King said backstage at the Regal, "I ain't following that motherfucker," the one, the only, the legendary Northern Bluesman, the pride of Astoria, Queens, Muddy Sewer doing his classic, "Still Got the Millennial Blues."

Post #62. Another musical PSA: "Fury and Rain"

From the man who brought you such hits as "Sour Baby James," "Don't Let Me Be Covid Tonight" and "You've Got A Temperature," let's have a big hand, ladies and gentlemen, for the third in our series of musical PSAs, "Fury and Rain," and as always, featuring the musical stylings of Mr. Sal Nunziato,

Post #61 - Into the World of COVID

I had been having chest pains and finding myself out of breath when walking up the slightest hill so the cardiologist suggested I come in to the hospital for a catheterization, a procedure where like a plumbing snake, they make a tiny cut inside your wrist and run a camera up your arm, through your shoulder and into your coronary arteries. It's terrifying — not the procedure, that's easy and I'm fine,  but just walking into a hospital. I'm 65, have had five stents, so I'm a high risk person, and you don't know what's floating around in the air over there or lurking around on the bannisters, but as the cardiologist said to me through my computer last week, "you have to weigh the risk against benefits," and based on my history he thought it was a risk, whatever it was, that was worth taking. So I drove the car for the first time in six weeks (it was just like riding a bike) with a worried wife next to me. Since it's an in-and-out procedure,

Post #60: Getting Sick With Something Other Than COVID During a Pandemic or A Stroke is a Stroke is a Stroke is a Stroke. Or is it?

A few years ago, Sue and I were watching "The Americans" (ever notice on that show that Felicity had a better record as a fighter than Muhammad Ali and more sex than Wilt Chamberlain?) when my right side went numb. I thought God was punishing me for rooting for the FBI, but doctors thought it was a TIA. I went to the hospital and recovered quickly with only some residual quiver in my hand, as if I needed another burden besides a lack of musical talent when trying to play the ukulele. Last year, I came closer than I wanted to to popping off when I found myself suffering from chest pains and shortness of breath while attempting to climb even the smallest of hills. The result was four coronary stents over two surgeries, adding to one that was put in some nine years ago. Tuesday, I go into the hospital again for another catheterization to see if my current symptoms are the result of more blockages. It's nerve wracking to be a high risk person and go to a place where the ICU

Post # 59 - Our second musical PSA. Please Welcome, Sal Nunziato and his Magical Ukulele

Post #58 - Trump's Lost Stimulus Video

News item: Trump signs his name on gushing stimulus check letter -- gushing about himself.

Along with a check, millions of Americans received this letter accompanying their government check: “My Fellow American,” begins the letter, on a copy of White House letterhead, arriving in an envelope from the Treasury Department and the IRS from Austin. “ Our top priority is your health and safety.” “As we wage total war on this invisible enemy,” Trump continues, “we are also working around the clock to protect hardworking Americans like you from the consequences of the economic shutdown.” “Just as we have before, America will triumph yet again — and rise to new heights of greatness.” Word is there is a video message he created but was scotched at the last minute. We got hold of it, however. This is what he said, in a speech behind his desk in the Oval Office. My Fellow Americans (except you minority people, immigrants, illegals — we know who you are. Stephen Miller is tracking each one of you

Post #57: Dispatch From Fairbanks

Rick Elson reports: I’m not sure if April truly is the cruelest month up here, but it’s certainly the ugliest: the pristine whiteness of a snow-covered winter deteriorates into mud and muck and cracked roads. The trees haven’t greened up yet, though the geese, sandhill cranes, swans, and ducks have returned. T-shirts and hoodies are already available that read ‘Alaska: Social Distancing since 1959’. And as remote as we are physically from the rest of the US (the lower 48, as it’s referred to here), we’re remote as well from the full intensity of the impact of the virus, though certainly not exempt from it. Here are a few statistics, just to put it in perspective: — the first covid-19 case was confirmed here on March 11; — schools closed here on March 16; non-essential services were closed and a stay-at-home order was issued on March 28; — since then, there have been 341 cases in the state (population around 750,00) with 217 of them now considered

Post #56 Dispatch From Saugerties — Parenting Your Parents

Sue Sanders Reports: I talked to my parents a few days ago. My dad said he’d just gotten a haircut. For a split second, I thought he’d gone into town. But he assured me it was at the “Barb-er-shop”, that's my mom — Barbara. She had cut his hair at home. Thankfully, my dad is still doing two things quite well these days: bad puns and social distancing. It hasn’t always been the case with social distancing. Not too long ago, my sister and I had to have a coronavirus intervention with our eighty-year old parents. Our folks are in great shape and probably healthier than many Americans half their age. They do yoga, hike vast distances and walk daily. They’re involved in more clubs than a high school overachiever buffing up his resume for college. But we were worried as they weren’t taking the coronavirus threat as seriously as they should have been. They live in an active retirement community in Arizona, surrounded by other retirees, many of whom believe the coronavirus is ov

Post #55: Trump: "We don't need no stinkin' doctors."

This is what we've come down to as a country. The makers of Lysol have felt the need to issue a statement telling people to please don't drink their fine product on account of Trump suggesting at a news conference last night that taking or mainlining disinfectant might be a cure for the virus (of course, it would also be a cure for living, and that *would* kill the virus). Among other things, he also thinks that shining an ultra violet light on the body might work. He then suggested that shining an ultra-violet light inside the body might work, too. Will GE feel the need now to send out an announcement, warning people against attempting to swallow their lightbulbs whole? Then there are the lamp-makers: "It has come to our attention that some people have taken apart their fixtures and are attempting to injest the cords that are attached to the lightbulbs. Please insure that the cord is not plugged into the wall while attempting to do this." The scary thing is that

Post #54: A Musical Dispatch From Queens (With apologies to Doc Pomus)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the dulcet tones of Astoria, New York's own, Sal Nunziato ,and his ukulele with a public service message:

Post # 53: Dispatch From Florida: Florida Lineman is Still on the Line

From Lee Weiner: Okay, some stupid weirdness happened earlier today, and I decided to take a real break and smoke my weed outside watching the sunset. There's a patio-like space, with a few small tables and chairs and several palm trees, wedged between the rental office and one of the pool entrances. No one is ever there, especially with the pool and recreational and work-out/gym areas closed.  I'm sitting, getting way more relaxed, and a young guy comes into the area on one of those little kid bikes that some bigger and close to grown young men ride to be cool or something. He's riding around in small circles, totally respecting 6+ feet around me. I'm stoned enough to say hello - he stops better than 6 feet away and we talk.  He's a 7-day a week emergency-on-call electrician for the power company down here, belongs of course to the same union my kid does (IBEW - long ago very red, they actually had to change their logo since the one they used until sometime

Post #52 — Dispatch From New York: Freed From Fear

Intro from me: Glynnis O'Connor, who has written in this space about socially distancing in Manhattan, suddenly came down with symptoms two weeks ago. Glynnis is one of my oldest friends and the news that she might be sick with covid was devastating. What follows are some of the notes she sent me over her last days in quarantine, all of them reflecting her warm heart and optimistic spirit. Jeff (4/13): Hey, been a few days, just wanted to check in to see how you two were doing. Hope you're ok. Glynnis: April 14: So I went to my doc this morning because I have experienced mild symptoms since last Sunday. He first tested for regular flu.That was negative. Then he tested for Covid-19. We will know those results in 5 days. Who knew it could be so simple to get a test? He gave me a prescription for Zithromax. Duane Reade was nearly empty. I went armed with two face masks. Felt like facial bullet proof vest. Fifth and 96th, normally really crowded was so quiet. So my oxygen is

Post #51. Dispatch From Florida

Lee Weiner writes: So, because this has made us a little crazy, I have kept on my desk a scrap of paper where I jotted down the Trump administration's beloved University of Washington's virus model's prediction on April 6th for the number of deaths they thought would occur on April 16th (which they thought would be a near-peak number). On April 6th they estimated a daily death count ten days later on April 16th of 3,130. The actual count yesterday (forgetting all the messiness that leads to under counts) was 4,591. That's a 46% undercount error in the model. But I'm sure they've adjusted the hell out of their algorithms and its all much better now. Last night I had a very nice dinner (anchovy/garlic butter pan seared salmon, then lightly and briefly in the oven to be less than raw but also less than cooked through, along with deeply roasted, slightly charred garlicky broccoli). All done as part of my recovery efforts from a bad couple of days when the vi

Post #50: Trump's Armed Militias Could End up Gunning for Him

Other than loving my wife even more every day and rediscovering the joy of finding a maraschino cherry in my del Monte fruit cup, there really isn’t a damn good thing to come out of this fucking pandemic. If I survive it, I’ll include myself in that statement. Even Trump’s political struggles give me no pleasure, mostly because I know the worse it gets for him, the worse he’s going to try to make it for us. Yesterday’s “liberate Virginia,” “liberate Minnesota”, “liberate Michigan” tweets, egging on all those armed nutjobs, were flat out dangerous. If flying bullets don’t kill someone, the virus will.  The major irony about these protests is that if Trump had done his job early and recognized the need for the federal government to get involved in testing, there would have been no cause for the protests (although Trump would have invented another excuse to push them). Anyway, there has been one odd positive development that probably I’d be the only one to appreciate. Up