Freedom

Frank here for a bit of Angleisms. Thanks Marc, for sharing your space with me.

Depending on the perspective, there are many viewpoints around freedom: the right to act, speak and think – not being imprisoned, enslaved, or physically restricted – the absence of a government that is autocratic, tyrannical, or oppressive.

Human societies have varying degrees of freedom. They have much in common, including the foundation principle that freedom provides choices that carry responsibilities, benefits, and consequences associated with each choice. That’s freedom.

To some, freedom of speech means they can say anything they want about anything or anyone. In the USA, the Bill of Rights explicitly states the government shall not prohibit speech, but the courts support consequences such as slander and libel regarding speech about others. That’s freedom.

Functional free societies have rules to follow for a variety of reasons. Flyers know the rules during takeoff and landing: seats up, trays up, carry-on items under the seat in front of you, and seatbelts fastened. Rules that don’t restrict rights, and rulebreakers may encounter consequences. That’s freedom.

Roads and highways have speed limits to protect people from themselves. Those limits don’t stop anyone from choosing to exceed the limit, but consequences may accompany that choice. That’s freedom.

In today’s crazy times, yes – people have the choice whether they take one of the Covid-19 vaccines. I respect that – but attached to one’s choice are responsibilities, benefits, and consequences. That’s freedom.

Business owners have the right to decide health and safety decisions. If a restaurant owner wants to require proof of vaccinations for their employees and their patrons, they can. However, they must also accept the responsibilities, benefits, and consequences of that choice. That’s freedom.

Patrons with a vaccine have the right to decide on which restaurant they want to enter – one with restrictions or one without. Whatever their choice, they must accept the responsibilities, benefits, and consequences of that choice. That’s freedom.

Patrons without a vaccine have the right to decide on which restaurant without restrictions they want to enter. However, a restaurant owner refusing to seat and serve the unvaccinated is not a violation of your freedom. If anything, you are violating theirs. That’s freedom.

In conclusion, are vaccination restrictions violating personal freedoms? Not even close. Get over it people, so accept the responsibility, consequences, and benefits of the choice you were free to make. That’s freedom.

Readers, there are two songs below – a new one and an oldie. You have the freedom to watch one, the other, both, or neither. That’s freedom – and I hope you tell us your choice.

Just Sayin’ with Frank

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Greetings everyone. Frank here – once known as A Frank Angle – now the guy at Beach Walk Reflections.

After the past 18 months or so, COVID-19 remains major news – especially the information blitz about the vaccine. Even though the November USA election was 7 months ago, it is still embedded in the news. Imma, Marc’s Director of Strategic Applications of Rhetorical Communications Articulating Substantive Musings, asked me to do some good old investigative journalism. So, in the spirit of Sherriff John Thurston Howell XIV, I’m here to give 12 correlations between vaccine resistance and the November election that I discovered by listening to people.

12) I’m not getting the vaccine because more people died from the flu than COVID, and I know Trump won the election because the Democrats stole it. Keep America First!

11) I’m not getting the vaccine because the government funding was for implanting a tracking device into our body, and I know any person who won the election by a landslide cannot be declared the loser unless there is fraud. Break up Big Pharma! Oh wait! Where’s my phone?

10) I’m not getting the vaccine because the government has taken my freedom away. Besides, Americans did not start dying from the virus until masks were ordered, and there is no doubt Antifa caused the January 6th event at the Capitol that wasn’t an insurrection. I want my country back!

9) I’m not getting the vaccine because it will alter my DNA causing me to vote for a Democrat in the future, and I’ve always questioned election results but now Donald Trump confirmed my beliefs. Make America Great Again!

8) I’m not getting the vaccine because it will cause infertility and miscarriages, and I know Facebook used UFOs to disrupt the electrical grid so they could hack into election computers. Merry Christmas!

7) I’m not getting the vaccine because the mRNA technology is new and will lead to genetic engineering. Because of Charles Darwin, we know what Hitler tried to do, and President Trump’s advisor said he would win if he got 64 million votes, and he received over 70 million. Trump is a gift from God, so cheating is the only way he could lose!

6) I’m not getting the vaccine because they developed the vaccine too fast, so it can’t be safe, and I saw the video on YouTube of uncounted ballots going into dumpsters and through shredders before Google took down the video. Break up Big Tech!

5) I’m not getting the vaccine because it is new and we don’t know the long-term effects, and everyone knows that software can be programmed to flip votes, plus Rudi Guiliani always tells the truth. That’s why he’s America’s Mayor!

4) I’m not getting the vaccine because I had COVID-19 so I already have immunity, plus Joe Biden hid the fact that Osama bin Laden’s death was fake news, and that Osama is still alive living in a cave on the island of Borneo and protected by the CIA. Joe Biden is a disaster – a total loser!

3) I’m not getting the vaccine because I don’t trust the drug companies, plus Hunter Biden laundered money from Ukraine to his dad’s campaign so they could purchase voting machines from a company started by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez to ensure his election. Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock them up!

2) I’m not getting the vaccine because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is not releasing the real data, their process is flawed, and the organization is too political, and there is no proof that there wasn’t election fraud. Besides, Democrats are Socialists, so keep government out of my Medicare!

1) I’m not getting the vaccine because it’s not FDA approved, but once it is approved, I’ll have a new excuse for not getting it. Besides, all this mess about COVID, vaccines, and the 2020 election comes down to one explanation – it’s Obama’s fault.

Now you know, and Obama is not taking away my Dr. Seuss.

On a COVID Beach Walk

So Frank has decided to commandeer my blog for a beach walk, like in those cop shows when the dude waves his badge in the middle of the street and rides off with some poor schlep’s Mid-size?

Okay maybe not. Instead Imma call this a friendly visit from Frank “Beaches” Angle, who is going to try his damndest to class up the joint for a spell with one of his beach walks. I warned him that I’m beyond help, but he’s just not having it, so there’s that.

Anyways, enjoy the walk!

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today, I walk with a heavy heart. I think about one year ago – late February 2020 –  a time when we were entering our final week as snowbirds at the beach – doing things for the last time before returning to our northern home. COVID had entered the USA, but life for my relatives in Italy had already ground to a halt.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

A year ago was a time when some proclaimed the virus contained in the USA; passing through like the wind, therefore limiting cases to a handful of 20-25. A year ago was a time when some dismissed COVID cases compared to the flu.

A year ago, we saw reports of overwhelmed Italian hospitals and the beginning of the assault on New York City. We were preparing for our two-day journey home where my wife would have a few days to reorganize before departing on her annual cruise with her friends – leaving the husbands behind to fend for themselves.

During her week away when Ohio and other states went into lockdown – a time when people ravaged grocery stores and stocked up on paper and cleaning products. After seeing televised reports, my wife would call from a port to ask what was going on. Her ship made it back and hasn’t had passengers since she disembarked. She told me of the ship’s precautions and the crazed behaviors she observed at the airport.

As I draft this one year later, the death toll in the USA just passed 500,000. Yes, the USA – a country that is 4% of the world’s population having over 20% of the world’s pandemic deaths. 

I think about my time here at the beach one year later – fewer snowbird renters, restaurants are not busy, and fewer people in stores. The great music venue only 300 steps away is a regular place for us, but a place we never entered this year.

I think about my cousins in Italy who spent months in their apartment; and only allowed to leave for necessities. Only one of them going to a market where they may have to wait in line to enter; and then have a limited time to shop.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

I think about how a democracy can be messy. Too many Americans declaring a violation of rights based on Constitutional principles they misinterpret. People with countless reasons to justify a position – reasons that may be valid or invalid. Elected officials politicizing human health and general welfare – something that is still difficult for me to grasp.

I think about those who said they are living in a Communistic state. I wonder if the Czechs in the 1940s would agree when the Allies handled their democracy to the Nazis on a silver platter. What would the same Czechs say after the Soviet occupation took hold after the war – a control lasting over 40 years. 

I think about those who provided simple solutions as, “We have to learn to live with this virus.” Isn’t that what masking does? Is that the role of social distancing? Isn’t that getting a vaccine to everyone as quickly as possible? Isn’t that choosing to take the vaccine?

Over 500,000 Americans, gone in a year. Yes, a small percentage of our total population – but still, a half a million with tens of thousands more on the near horizon – and so many died alone.

I think about how the past year has ripped away something for everyone – yet, I laughed when American late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said at the beginning of Lent – (I paraphrase) – What is left to give up for Lent?

Over 500,000 people – gone – family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers to someone. Advocates, givers, and jokesters – the athletic, the artistic, the organizers, and the doers – the rich and the poor – the famous and the ordinary – the empathetic and the selfish – the nice and the mean – the positive and the negative – the young and the old – the humble and the egotistic – gone.

Photo by Laura James on Pexels.com

Over 500,000 people –  more than the cumulative USA battlefield casualties of major wars. People with quiet integrity and huge hearts. People whom we’ve never met. People that we would be proud to know.  Gone – and most with a limited funeral at best. 

I think about a higher number – those losing their job during the pandemic – some of those jobs never to return. Food banks, present to help the needy, but with new demands stressing their supply. Cheers to the many who stepped forward to help the supply – but the demand continues. 

In a conversation last summer, I asked this question: What have we learned? But, I wonder if people can answer that question beyond their political bias. One year later, after turning life in the world upside down – after a year of many losses – I occasionally still ask that one question, but seldom get a thoughtful answer.  

On the plus side, it’s been a year of celebrating health care workers, although we may not understand their stress. We celebrate that science works – although many still don’t understand it. We celebrate that kindness still works – even something as simple as checking on someone. 

I think about how every one of us lost numerous opportunities and precious time. Some of us have handled it better than others. Then again, the selfish are seldom happy.

Yes, my heart is heavy today. Like many others, I reminisce of better times and hope for better days ahead. On the other hand, I’m still standing on the upward side of the grass; healthy and walking on the beach – which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

2020: The Opener

Frank here. Today is the COVID-19 version of starting a season. But not in Cincinnati where Opening Day is more than a spot on the calendar – it’s an event. The circumstances make this year different here – no parade and the streets won’t be jammed with people dressed in red. Although my team must wait until tomorrow, the game is back today for a short season and an uncertain future.

To mark the return of the boys of summer, here’s a little bit about the grand ole game – the national pastime we call baseball.

 

The Place – A local cathedral dedicated to the game where people gather to worship with faith and allegiance for their team and yell praise to their cleated heroes. A place for relaxing, eating popcorn, getting excited, holding the breath, hoping, then moaning or screaming – back to relaxing, then something different will probably happen – and if you watch baseball long enough, something new. A place for popcorn, hotdogs, peanuts, Cracker Jacks, cold drinks, and standing to sing during the seventh-inning stretch. Let alone reunite with memories and make new ones.

The Field – A four-cornered diamond. Home at the bottom – and affectionately called the plate. Three bases counterclockwise from home: first, second, and third. All four corners are 90 feet apart. The field is defined by extending lines from home to first and home to third continuing to a wall.

The Game – Divided into nine segments called innings. Each with two halves, one for each team to bat. In the end, the team with the most runs wins the game.

The Ball – Nine inches in circumference, weighing five ounces. A piece of cork wound in yarn, covered with rawhide, then bound with 216 stitches.

The Pitcher – The one in charge of the ball. Standing on a mound of special dirt in the center of the diamond and known as the hill. Sixty feet, 6 inches from home, and ten inches higher than the rest. The pitcher is the one who can make the ball spin, curve, rise, fall, and even wobble to and fro. Sliders, sinkers, heat, and curves known as Uncle Charlie, but from Dwight Gooden, it’s Lord Charles.

The Defense – The other eight teammates of the pitcher. One catcher behind home to catch the ball from the pitcher is required. The other seven can be anywhere on the field – even at the hot corner. All nine players wear a  glove specialized by position, but chosen by players based on personal preferences. The objective is to prevent the batter from returning home by going from base to base.

The Opponents – a batter and eight others anxiously waiting to swing the bat at home against the pitcher. If they are lucky, they will be able to run the bases with hopes of returning home. Better yet, hit the ball over the wall for an opportunity to touch all the bases during a glorious trot without any threats.

The Batter – On the opposite team as the pitcher and holding a trimmed wooden stick made to specifications. The batter has fractions of a second to react to the ball thrown by the pitcher at varying speeds. Even the best batters fail 65-70% of the time.

Independent Arbiters – Dressed in black or dark blue, not members of either team to make decisions. The head cheese behind home, and three blind mice – one near each base.

The Game – Balls and strikes; fair and foul; single, double, triple, and home run; walk, hit by pitch, balk, and interference; sacrifice bunt, sacrifices fly, and suicide squeeze. Speed, stolen base, hit and run, clear the bases, grand slam. The batting team gets three chances for success before switching places to be the defense, which normally happens 16 or 17 times in a game – but it could be more.

Righties, southpaws, starters, relievers, and closers painting the black, delivering chin music, and throwing hooks, heat, backdoor sliders, brushbacks, changeups, nibbles, whiffs, out pitches, and striking out the side – all in hopes of a no-no.

Batters swinging lumber as leadoff hitters, cleanup hitters, power hitters, professional batsmen, and banjo hitters hoping for liners, ropes, grounders, gappers, seeing-eye singles, bloopers, Texas leaguers, frozen ropes, one-baggers, two-baggers, three-baggers, four-baggers, dingers, taters, and even accepting dying quails – especially with ducks on the pond or the bases loaded. Touch ‘em all! Curtain call … but don’t get caught in a pickle.

The defense with running, leaping, diving, circus, and shoestring catches. Turning tailor-made double plays are a pitcher’s best friend. Climbing the wall to make the catch allows the pitcher to breathe a sigh of relief after holding their breath.

The batter is up. The pitcher takes to the mound, and the windup to throw the ball. Swing at the ball, hit the ball, run, chase the ball, catch the ball, scoops and dives, touch the base, tag the runner, foot on the bag, bang-bang, out, and around the horn. Three up and three down, now let’s get some runs.

It’s the top of the ninth and the bases are jammed. No place to put the batter. Two down and the tying run is on first. The go-ahead run at the plate. The nervous crowd is standing and cheering for their heroes to hang on for a victory.

The pitcher is on the hill. Stares for the sign. From the stretch. A high hard one up and in. The crowd gasps. The batter goes down, then intensely stares at the pitcher. Back to his feet, then brushing off his pants, the batter digs in for the attack.

From the stretch, a pause, steps off, the stretch, and the pitch. A hanging breaking ball, a lined shot to the power alley that has a chance to leave the yard … off the wall. One run scores, two runs score, the tying run is rounding third and heading for home. A strong throw to the relay man, the throw, a play at the plate. Out! … and this one belongs to the Reds. The crowd goes wild, time to go home happy. Drive safely.

Yes – that’s baseball. The great American pastime. The game looks easy, but it is strategic and difficult.

For When The World Stops Standing Still

EVENTS — Creatively Lancaster

Let’s be real. We have no blessed idea what happens from here, I mean, once the lights go back on. Because to believe there will ever be a normal kind of normal, well . . that went away with September 11th. Everything and every day since has been a differently textured sense of normalcy, to which we held because there is something called the everyday to attend to, after all.

Now this, and now the world . . the whole entirety of it, holds its breath in anticipation of light at the end of a tunnel we never saw coming.

Things will change, because that’s how any kind of abrupt intermezzi works on the human psyche. We change, if only in miniature. But still, the things we hold to will have their aesthetic pulp to which we can still be quenched. Just this morning, I was thinking about certain of these items to which my pulse expands. And I knew that no matter what the world ends up looking like on the B side of things, these things will hold me to.

Always.

  • Walking into a baseball stadium and looking out over the field of play and just marveling at the heavenly construction. Wondering how it was possible that someone conceived this mystical design: the idea that fielders could master the vast expanse and pitchers would be able to make a small white pill speak foreign languages whilst hitters could turn on one in the time it takes to blink? And the dimensions of that diamond will seem the most fantastical endeavor of them all. As legendary columnist Red Smith once opined, “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection”.
  • The hush that comes over a movie theater when the crackle of the featured attraction starts to pop across the screen.
  • That buzz, the gloriously definable buzz that washes over a restaurant as dozens of loose conversations weave themselves together. Accompanied by mysterious noises from an unseen kitchen, the clink of glasses. And laughter, ransoming its way across the walls as if you could pick it up and take some for yourself.
  • Standing in front of a piece of art and letting time fall away, like so many leaves on a mysterious tree. Wondering what captured the imagination of the artist to figure out that kind of magic.
  • Running in the park on a spring morning as I pass by a fellow who’s having better luck with his smokes than with dinner. Dogs run across the emerald sweep as their owners toss them a ball. While kids and their parents negotiate the parameters of their afternoon and kites break the sky into small and wondrous pieces.
  • Hugging
  • The sound of a jet overhead as it navigates the muffled crease of a moonlit night. And for a moment, you wonder where that plane is going to and where it came from. And how the world is just this: A collection of fragmented stories, pieced into billions of pieces we will never get to know. And yet, we somehow understand.
  • High fives
  • Book stores, whose perimeters are lined with pilgrims of the written word and java junkies and festering brush fires of idle conversations.
  • City traffic that gets captured by a photographers lens and immortalized in a million different ways that we somehow take for granted.
  • A stranger’s smile
  • Holding hands

For now I lay my head on the pillow and think about a world that caught fire. And perchance there is a dream to be had, and if so I want to dream about some quiet, normal day when all of this will be relegated to hushed whispers.

And nothing more than that.

Heroes Of The Week

Protests erupt again over coronavirus shelter-in-place orders ...

The image stapled to this week’s homework assignment is a sign of the times. It’s where we currently find ourselves in a country that could not wait to politicize a dark moment in world history. We do not receive our grace period this time, nope. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling this post. But it still happens, because it’s Friday.

And thanks to Frank, I had a way in. So a big thank you goes out to the scientists and doctors and nurses and EMT’s and all medical personnel for showing us what humanity is supposed to look like.

The Browns' new uniforms are a sign they're making good decisions ...

Shout out to the Cleveland Browns, who might not do much winning on the field (Sorry Browns fans, but you know it’s true) but who are winning big off of it. The team unveiled some new uniforms last week, after which they announced that all net proceeds from  uniform sales will be donated to COVID-19 relief efforts in the Cleveland area. Lots of teams have gotten fat on their threads count, but these guys are making sure to give something back.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Kylie Jenner opens up to Khloe ...

What you’re about to read, well . . it doesn’t happen every day. The Kardashians have arrived at this Friday spot, and there’s not a whit of satire in the doing. And it’s thanks to Khloe K and the most fruitful shopping trip the reality family has had in quite some time. It seems that she has been frequenting groceries all over Los Angeles and paying the tabs of the elderly customers. She’s also provided gift cards for more than two hundred employees during her goodwill missions. And last month, little sister Kylie donated $1 million to the purchase of protective gear for first responders. These gals are putting their money where a lot of politicians mouths are, and good for them. Good for all of us, really.

nurse4-copy.jpg

One minute, Bevin Strickland of High Point, North Carolina was sitting on her sofa watching constantly changing news reports about the coronavirus and the next? She was right smack dab on the front lines. This forty seven year old nurse is working at Mt Sinai in Queens, New York; which just so happens to be ground zero for the state’s coronavirus outbreak. She is currently working with the sickest patients, and if that wasn’t enough, she’s planning on donating every penny she makes (after expenses) to the Mount Sinai support staff.

“Somebody’s gotta help,” Bevin said. “What if we all said we couldn’t handle it and we couldn’t do it? You know, what if everybody said that?”

This woman is what my Friday episodes are all about.

(And a big shout out to Frank for gifting me this story).

Jeanna Barbieri works as an ER nurse at Lowell General Hospital in Massachusetts, but she’s been moonlighting recently as a guardian angel. Barbieri figured her way around the no-visitor policy at Lowell when she began bringing in family photographs for the patients. And what started out as a simple idea, grew.

“Just to see how excited they were to have that piece of comfort with him, it made me realize I want to do more of that,” Barbieri said. “I never imagined in a million years it would turn into anything other than a small project.”

Well, grow it did. With a dedicated email address and a social media hashtag, #picturesforpatients, Jeanna has made twenty two photograph deliveries thus far. And this labor of love isn’t just helping the patients through this trying time, it’s been a Godsend for the medical staff as well. It’s like leaving a light on, to let them know the world is still there.

French lab scientists working on potentially infected patient samples at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in February.

This week’s wrap isn’t gonna focus on one particular individual, but rather, on the countless heroes around the world who are busy putting their knowledge, skills and passion to the ultimate test. Read this article from the New York Times if you can, because it focuses on the peeps who don’t get the pub they truly deserve. The scientists, from around the globe, who have forged an impenetrable alliance inside these tenuously political times.

“I never hear scientists — true scientists, good quality scientists — speak in terms of nationality,” said Dr. Francesco Perrone, who is leading a coronavirus clinical trial in Italy. “My nation, your nation. My language, your language. My geographic location, your geographic location. This is something that is really distant from true top-level scientists.”

That’s because patriotic ideals ain’t gonna save us now, or provide hope in the event another outbreak truly is on the horizon. But science will eventually find a way, because there are no walls or borders keeping it from its appointed task. See, these folks have a very different agenda. They’re not running for office or anointing themselves as patriots on some Op-Ed cable show and they don’t have a late night monologue with which they can introduce themselves. They answer not to one person, but to every person.

All of us.

 

All That Flitters Is Not Gold

I think it’s important to see the good in things. But it’s not a spiritual deal breaker if you can’t bring yourself to do so all the time. Because as with everything in life, there is context.

Take for instance, Trump’s daily press conferences, which feel as if they’re being underwritten by the WWE. COVID-19 has King Minus back at the podium after an extended break, because yanno . . the pandemic didn’t have enough polarity as it was. I call it Kerosene Theater, because to call it absurd would be a disservice to Samuel Beckett. Tuning in will kill your brain cells faster than a batch of OG Kush, unless Anthony Fauci happens to make the scene. I only wish word bubbles were a real thing, because Fauci’s thoughts must read like a George Carlin skit. 

If you’ve been in a coma since 2016, check out one of these pressers, because it will let you know what’s been going on in a nutshell (emphasis on nut). When I think about where we are as a country, the Janis Joplin song Me and Bobby McG gets to stepping through my brain . . .

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. 

No shit JJ.

Seriously, if the Declaration of Independence were signed in 2020, it would happen in a shopping mall. Such is the skewed variation of truth we’ve come to accept. Not to mention an indivisible pledge that once promised liberty and justice for all. Truth got sample sized in the Clintonian Era, Liberty became incorporated in the W years and Justice is currently getting bumper stickered into obsolescence by brand-mothers and freedom fighting fathers who are on a mission from God. No, not the God mentioned in The Blues Brothers- who was all about R&B, car chases and lying to your hot girlfriend. Nope, these new age defenders of the constitution believe in wearing their guns and developing a portal that delivers them back to 1955, tout de suite. Their plan is to bottle up all the great shit that was going on back there and bring it here, after which they’ll crop dust the fuck out of us.

So it’s no surprise, given the political climate change we’ve experienced over the last three and a half years, that we have groups like Ammon Bundy’s Liberty Rebellion rising up through the cracks, everywhere. From Idaho to Islip and the Twin Cities to Tampa Bay, these peeps are storming government buildings with the goal to take back their freedom of movement, coronavirus be damned. And so what if the US has three quarters of a million confirmed cases and more than forty two thousand casualties. Give us beaches and Applebee’s or give us death!

They vow to go all Rambo on COVID-19 with a game plan that’s simpler than Paris Hilton’s diary. They insist that we must get back to business as usual . . or the virus wins. Mind you, it ain’t gonna be easy to win this particular war on terror since the virus doesn’t have an accent or run a convenience store. Hell, we might actually have to depend on science to see us through.

The protesters are trying to high-jack common sense by insisting that our freedoms are in great peril as a result of the quarantine, whilst never minding the grim tote board. They’re a blight to the legacy of founding fathers who endeavored for the greater good and understood that democracy is not a win at all costs theorem. It’s actually much more advanced than that kind of box-score logic. Because it asks us to aim our differences in a general direction, so that we may arrive at an eventual consensus.

Instead, these peeps shout down the truth of the matter, which is that the quarantine works. They ignore the fact that when large groups have gathered together since the virus began to spread, bad things followed. And not for nothing, but quoting Jefferson in relation to the current pandemic is akin to slapping a number on the side of a team of oxen and thinking they could win the Daytona 500.

If you come across one of these Fox News patriots, ask them to double down on the six foot social distance rule. And then be sure to let them know the man who penned the Pledge of Allegiance- Francis Bellamy- was in fact, a socialist.

Marty McFly called. He wants his time machine back.

The World’s Largest Poker Game

Please Follow the Beatles' Example for Social Distancing During ...

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel sorry for the close talkers.

And the high fivers, them too. They were fringe players before COVID-19, so you can hand them their walking papers now. Just make sure you’re wearing gloves. Oh wait . . . maybe not.

I’m not taking this pandemic personally. I really don’t think it’s a matter of God smiting us or Ozzy Osbourne haunting us. I kinda see it more as a byproduct of eight billion tenants in a residence not built for such high volume usage. Bad shit starts happening when resources and personal choices camp together. The shit is combustible.

As a true introvert and not a poser who chooses to label themselves as such in order to make friends (a self defeating purpose for the true introvert), I’m okay with the rules. I am miffed at the peeps who rail on about their freedoms being usurped. And I am pissed at the clueless vagabonds who still go to Target to piss around on their phone for an hour and pick up Red Bull. And I would love to send the knuckleheads who want to party like it’s 2019 to a remote island, along with all those genius investors who think the one with the most toilet paper wins. We can send along the 2nd amendment impulse buyers so’s they can play referee.

10 COVID-19 Memes that will Bring a Smile to Your Face ...

As for the COVID-19 Dictionary, it’s chugging right along, and here are a few of my . . . umm . . favorites?

Self Isolation– Shut the front fucking door with this term, please. It’s redundant, and incorrect. If you live alone, then of course your self is isolating. And if you don’t, then you’re simply isolating from others.

Social Distancing– The term is downright Orwellian in its bold font gravitas. Because this is something that guy would’ve gotten drunk on. It’s a term I use, even though I find it incredibly creepy.

Flattening the Curve- It’s like laying down spike strips on a speeding virus in order to lessen the impact on hospitals and infrastructure. It sounds like a show you’d find on Bravo.

Shelter in place- Another redundant term, unless your ‘place’ happens to be a boat. In which case, congratulations. When you shelter in place, it means you’re keeping your ass at home excepting for essential trips such as liquor/grocery/liquor store shopping. If you abide by the two parts liquor store to one part grocery store, you’ll make it through just fine. Ask Ina, she knows.

Viral Shedding- Nope.

Essential Government Functions- That’s a meme . . . right?

Drive Through Testing- You don’t get fries with it.

As for predicting COVID-19, contrary to popular belief, the Simpsons did not call it. And neither did Dean Koontz. In the case of the latter, he got Wuhan and he got 2020 but everything else? Not so much. And sorry movie fans, but the Steven Soderbergh flick Contagion was based on the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009.

You want a prediction? I’ll give you a few . . .

  • Sports may not come back at all this year. Okay, this is more of a hedge/guess than a prediction. But that’s only because too many peeps still take sports too seriously. We should be concerned for all the working Joes and Janes whose jobs have been lost instead of whining about not having sports.
  • Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential choice? Barack Obama.
  • This adaptation of our everyday lives will have ripple effects. Many consumers will stop buying in to big league sports because it (finally) occurs to them that this stuff isn’t essential . . . and they’re getting fleeced. Masks will become a fashion staple for some. Streaming PPV concerts will become more popular. The Anti-Vaxers Movement has met its end. The Survivalists Guide to stockpiling is just getting started.
  • Health care will become more streamlined thanks to budget cuts. This will not be a good thing.

The system has been upended and the idea that our behaviors will not be influenced as a result is not just foolish, it’s dangerous. Our politics is already building cabins on the mountainous terrain of this time. Corporations will pimp their brands in caridad, but profits will become more important than ever. Which means sharper corners to cut in the form of more low wage jobs, an increased reliance on AI and the environment? Fuck that place!

It stands to reason the most important work force will involve humanistic enterprises. So if you’re one of those peeps who insists on being a brand? Stop. Go back to being a human being while there’s still time. Because if we keep whittling humanity down like this, pretty soon it’s going to turn into a spear.

I’m of the opinion that this time in our world’s history has been a warning. We either heed this clarion call or we suffer the consequences when the next strain of ungodly comes calling and decides it’s time to wipe the slate clean. And of course there are going to be plenty of peeps who snicker at such a thought, insisting it could never happen to us.

Uh . . . weren’t we just saying that a few months ago?

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

Yeah . . . I know.

That’s why we have heroes . . . .

Image result for Kevin Love and arena workers

Kevin Love has made our Friday list a time or two, so it’s no surprise to see him back for another win this week. He recently donated $100,000 through the Kevin Love Fund to arena and support staff employees of the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the NBA season on hold and the future uncertain, Love is doing his part to ease some of the burden on the folks who make game nights happen. His gesture has inspired some of his baller compadres as well as several team owners to do the same. K Love says it’s all about “paying it forward”. I say he’s a champion on and off the court.

Image result for Anthony Fauci

With the COVID-19 virus affecting the way all of us go about our daily lives, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a much needed voice of reason and calm. He’s a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and unlike Mr Trump, Fauci has had both of his boots on the ground since this virus came to light. Fauci has been making the rounds- from morning talk shows to blogger podcasts. Calm, informative and insightful, he’s been a genuine voice of reason inside these uncertain times and it’s nice to know we have the good doctor on our side.

Image result for Handoko Gunawan

Be afraid and be very afraid if you’re a person of a certain age, because COVID-19 is coming for you and (fill in the horrible blanks from there). Thing is, Handoko Gunawan has never been daunted by this virus, not for one minute. The eighty year old lung specialist remained on the front lines in West Jakarta, Indonesia; treating patients at risk as well as those affected. He recently became ill and reports coming out of West Jakarta are sketchy at best. But remember what I was saying this past week about saying a prayer for people who really need it right now? Let’s do that.

Right about now, Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus Ohio should be raising the roof thanks to a sports slate that was supposed to include March Madness, NFL free agency and the start of the baseball season. And then everything changed; sports went away and people were told to stay out of public venues, and Coaches had to close up shop for the foreseeable future as a result. But on their way out, a regular at the sports bar decided to leave the workers a tip to ease the financial crunch in the form of a $2,500 tip.

Patrick “Benny” Leonard is the owner of Coaches, and he said it would be nice if people stopped fighting over toilet paper and adopted the mindset of this anonymous tipper. In other words, let’s remember the biggest team sport of them all. Humanity.

The capper on my Heroes isn’t about a hero at all. It’s about where us humans go from here. The photograph you’re looking at is one of the many canals in Venice and the story grab is courtesy of the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life. And yeah, those are fish you see swimming it up inside waters you can actually see through. For now. Until the new normal goes back to the old way of doing things.

And I know what you’re saying . . . But Marc! Things will never go back to the way they were before! The world has changed! Forever!

Well, we’ve felt this kind of thing and said this kind of thing and believed this kind of thing before. And then the world returned itself to us and we behaved very much like the entitled stewards that had been playing up the A side as if it had infinite thread on its musical wheels.

The rules of nature are speaking to us through that canal in Venice. They’re reminding us that we are tenants to this place, and that all the high and mighty we can muster isn’t going to save our asses from losing the keys if we’re not careful. It’s up to us to not simply learn the lessons inside this time in our history, but to live them. It’s not asking for us to stop doing the things we did before, it’s simply asking us do the one thing we tend to get away from when times are good.

Listen.

 

 

 

In The Darkness Came A Light

Kim Kardashian called. She wants her first world problems back.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as dreadful or hopeless as Vladimir Putin was hoping it might turn out. Unless you hang out on the Twitter or Reddit sites, which I do not recommend you do unless dystopian soap opera plots are your jam. And just so you know, I’m not saying Vlad the Impaler of Hope had anything to do with this virus. His powers are limited to horse back riding without a shirt, eating cinnamon encrusted beef jerky without need for water and fucking with our elections.

Europe currently has a “Do Not Disturb” sign up as it has been hit especially hard. Tom Hanks and his lovely wife Rita are literally castaways as we speak. The Utah Jazz have gotten more pub than if they would have won the NBA title simply by having a couple of players test positive. Americans of all stations and status from coast to coast are providing an ever expanding face to this virus.

You know things have gotten serious when sports get shut down, because nothing gets in the way of our sports. Not two World Wars. Not the assassination of a President. Not even September 11th. But the dominoes which began with the cancellation of March Madness has crept into the NBA and NHL suspending play while the MLB has scrapped spring training and is moving back opening day.

Without benefit of games, ESPN has had to rely on journalism. Which is another way of saying that ratings have plummeted. Casinos are closing. Retailers are posting limits on toilet paper and hand sanitizer purchases. Web MD is currently a more popular site than Porn Hub.

If you’re young, consider this a vacation from the every day. Your immune systems are assembly line peach in comparison to us folks of a certain age. I’m in that notoriously provocative middle earth population of peeps who consider sneezing a four letter word. And if this tunnel doesn’t start giving us a little sunlight, we may have to resort to punching anyone who coughs inside our bubble. Nothing personal, of course.

And really, that’s the whole thing right there, isn’t it? This isn’t personal, unless we really want to make it so. Because right now, as a species, we still have the ability to stoke that fledgling spirit inside us that believes humanity is a pretty okay place to be. Even on its shittiest days, the world usually gives us something to latch onto. Hope really is riding shotgun, idiomatically speaking. And now more than ever, this is happening if we extricate ourselves from dark web searches for toilet paper and hand sanitizers. If we just let ourselves consider that human beings have been through a hell of a lot worse than this. Hell, we somehow survived the election of 2016, after all.

Let’s just sit back and take a deep breath, and let’s consider someone who has tested positive. Let’s think about what their families and friends are going through right now before we whine about not having picked up extra beer and chips in the event we’re holed up for a couple weeks time. Let’s just put ourselves in someone else’s head for a simple moment, and do something novel inside a time when looking out for yourself has become status. Let’s pray for them. That they make it through this thing with nothing more than a lousy t-shirt. Humanity is the only inventory we should be concerned with right now. Because to my way of thinking, the darkest of times is when the light is needed most. So it’s okay if our grocery list consists of a little humility, a little compassion and a whole lot of gratitude.

There’s a town called Siena, tucked inside a hilly region of Tuscany between the valleys and the clouds. Italy has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and so the residents of this charming little medieval arrangement of castles and cathedrals have been relegated to their homes as a result. But rather than bemoan this solitary existence fraught with ever more daunting scenarios, the people of Siena fixed themselves on a different approach. On the night of March 13th, one of the quarantined residents let loose with a song that floated from one window to another to another . . until the entire street was draped in music.

So this one little song from this one little town, I gotta think maybe it was telling us something. Maybe it was telling us that to dwell on the bold font headlines of gloom and doom is to miss the point. Maybe instead of focusing on what we are inside these moments, maybe we should focus on something much more powerful.

What we can be.