Showing posts from April, 2020

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

Post #49 The Rising Threat of Covid-B: Steve Bannon

There were 782 deaths from covid-19 around New York State yesterday. That number has been steady all week. Total deaths in the state long ago exceeded 10,000. Around here, there is little evidence that there is a killer in the air. Oh, there are some packages of food in quarantine by door, and maybe our quiet country road is quieter than usual but other than that the neighborhood looks the same. Change here in the country happens at a snails pace.  Excitement on our walks is noticing that a neighbor has painted his mailbox a new color or that there's a squashed frog on the road in front of No. 37. Even in good times, we never see that many people, and now we see even fewer. Those we do pass will say a brief hello. It's the sadness in their faces or their willingness to step further to their side of the road that is a tacit acknowledgement that they recognize that despite the hardships — and this is no wealthy suburban street — we're all in this together. That's why it

Post #48 - Office closed for the day

as the bartender celebrates his 65th year of making the planet a crankier place.

Post #47 President of the Sandbox

I’m a few hours from turning 65, so my memory of life when I was six faded long ago. That’s why I’m so grateful to President Trump for reminding me of what life was like in the sandbox while I was in kindergarten. There was always one kid who was slightly bigger and more aggressive (and I later learned whose father was constantly beating the crap out of him even then) who would take your truck, declaring it was now his and daring you to take it back. I should probably apologize to kindergarteners everywhere for ascribing the president’s behavior to their own, but it’s that same level of maturity that I now recall which we see every night with the president’s briefings. It’s clear that the entire White House is just one big sandbox with Trump in the middle of it, stealing everyone’s trucks. What is amazing about it, is we see this behavior so often, it has almost lost its shock value. Last night, when the other kids decided to band together and ignore him, he had a tantrum and d

Post # 46 When One of Your Oldest Friends Becomes Sick....

You don't know what to say. And I don't.

Post # 45 - The Lucky Ones Get to Follow Stay At Home Orders

I'm about to turn 65 and the hill leading up to our house gets a little harder to climb every day. I had four coronary stents put in last year, and I should probably go to see a cardiologist again, but that's not happening any time soon. And yet I'm one of the fortunate ones. Fact is, if we're careful, we'll be safe and we'll survive on our feet. For so many of us when the governor tells us to go home, we can. We can order deliveries of food and medicine; we can put on masks and take walks during the day, telecommute in some cases, and if the paycheck aren't what they were, we can still get by. But what the pandemic has laid bare so clearly is that whole swaths of this country can't do that. When the governor says people have to do better, what are they supposed to do? There have been a series of illuminating stories about this. Last week, Pro Publica published an investigation of meat packing plants, showing that not only are they staffed by recent

Post #44. Trump's Holocaust.

It was a few weeks ago (see post# 25) that I realized I had cracked the code known as "Trump-speak." Basically, what it comes down to is this: whenever Trump says he likes either a particular person or, more likely a group, he is actually screwing them, i.e. "I love the people of New York," or "I love first responders." As soon as he says something like that, you know it's the kiss of death. 
I wasn't surprised the other day when the first concerns were raised about the disproportionate number of illness and death in minority communities and all Trump could say was "I don't like it.” Still, given the way Trump-speak works, it was extremely troubling. Why? Because it also coincides with him and his pet commentators and lawmakers lobbying to reopen the country again and soon. (There's also the canard they are pushing that death and disease totals are inflated, when in fact anyone who knows anything knows that they are seriously under

Post #43 - Processing (Relatively) Good News

For the past few nights, I've been going to sleep without the dreaded "dreads," and while my health still isn't great, I'm no longer shocked when I wake up. I've even come to expect it. When Andrew Cuomo comes on, he continues to announce horrendous death totals, and those who work in the hospitals and else where on the frontlines continue to work despite the threat of illness, if they haven't been sick already, and then there are financial consequences. Still. There are slivers of good news, at least here in New York. We are "flattening the curve," and because of social distancing we won't be facing the horrendous shortages that the models all predicted — if we didn't watch out for each other. This is all great, and if people continue to follow the rules, it will be even better. Whether they will, however, is an open question, even in New York, whose caseload is more than triple that of the next nearest state. So after

Post #42 - I got a million of 'em, ladies and germs

I finally got tested yesterday. The bad news? They people doing the tests had so little idea of what they were doing, they tried to give me a pap smear. The good news? It came back negative. ****** Hope Hicks runs breathlessly into the oval office. "Mr. President, I've got good news and bad news?" "What's the good news." "Nancy Pelosi just tested positive for the virus." "What's the bad news?" "She was just shaking hands with Dr. Fauci." "What's the bad news?" ******* I watch MSNBC so compulsively that I'm less worried about getting the virus than I am about constipation and Crohn's Disease. ******** Fauci and Birx walk into the oval office. "Mr. President, we have some great news for you." "We found two models we really like. Why don't we join you as you  go over them." "I didn't know you two were into that, but sure, bring them in." ----

Post #41, Spain, Wisconsin and Trump; the Canary is Singing Loudly

In the early 1930s, 90 years before Wisconsin, as the worldwide Depression ripped through Spain, a citizenry that already had been suffering under a dictatorship and a monarchist with little sympathy for the people, managed to overthrow their leaders. For the most part, they employed a novel way of doing so — the ballot box. By 1936, after years of electoral victories by Republican and Socialist parties, the king and dictator were long gone; a Republic had been declared, much to the alarm of the still powerful rightwing factions, loyal to the deposed ruling classes. The Falangists got most of their early support from Mussolini. After the Popular Front won a majority of seats in the parliament, military leaders led by Francisco Franco plotted their overthrow. Now, they were backed by Hitler, who sought to use Spain as a way of sharpening his newly strengthened military (aided by US corporations) while also testing to see how western democracies would respond to his aggression.