Although it took four months, we as a society understand Roddy Ricch’s obsession with not wearing shoes in his house. In many films by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, his camera will from a still point in the room watch a character as he or she removes his or her shoes at the doorway before entering. Beneath the offhand politeness and automatic amiability stir financial and personal anxieties. I see it in my neighbors’ smiles, the way in which the occasional pedestrian will go out of her way to nod hello as she realizes the twelve-foot gap between us is closing fast.
In my county I have seen septuagenarian women wearing bandannas as if they were about to rob a Deadwood bank. Teens in blue rubber gloves grip the wheels of their Porsches. I grip my mouse with a Clorox Ultra Clean disinfecting wipe. I write less often outside; the daily highs approximate what I’d expect in May or early June but without the rain. What socializing I do happens outdoors. Try it in Miami during high summer. Nevertheless, I plow through the Metternich biography I’ve mentioned and await Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. From the description it looks like a novel indebted to Mary McCarthy’s The Group or perhaps something by my beloved Dawn Powell.
On Tuesday’s walk my phone music player settled on Ghostface Killah’s “Wu Banga 101.” From “Winter Warz” to “9 Milli Bros” the most stirring tracks on Wu solo joints are often the ones when a reunited Clan try to impress the shit out of each other. The following verse demonstrates why Ghost’s flair for the surreal WTF image is unmatched:
Bottles goin’ off in the church, we broke the wine
Slapped the pastor, didn’t know Pop had asthma
He pulled out his blue bible, change fell out his coat
Three condoms, two dice, one bag of dope
Oooh! Rev. ain’t right, his church ain’t right
Deacon is a pimp, tell by his ice
Mrs. Parks said, “Brother Starks, meet you at the numbers spot
Heard you got red tops out, and I want a lot”
Shirley fainted dead on the spot
Two ushers slipped eighty dollars right out the pot
His church ain’t right!
Many of us last month watched the pandemic’s growing threat and wondered whether it would show mercy to those artists most at risk. The death of Adam Schlesinger answered that question. In a twenty-four-hour period John Prine and Hal Willner did too. Jody Rosen surveys his estimable career as curator and producer. At Patreon, Ned Raggett honored Willner by discussing COVID-19 victim Marianne Faithfull’s exquisite re-interpretation of her first hit “As Tears Go By” on 1987’s Willner-produced Strange Weather. And Schlesinger’s sad demise inspired Ryan Maffei to publish an appreciation in Rock & Roll Globe of the songwriter’s multifarious talents; his generous assessment of the oft-overlooked Chris Collingwood’s contributions is only one of its novelties. Maffei:
And, as has been the case with so many great pop bands from the Beatles on, his departure leaves a partner to pick up the pieces, even if the Fountains of Wayne hotline was already on hold. As obit after obit cites his name and key place in Schlesinger’s history, I can’t imagine what co-writer and lead singer Collingwood is going through right now – the complicated feels of a man who just a few years back was very publicly trying to make a break with the band that made him famous.
Meanwhile in Idaho, where Blaine County has more cases per capita than any other in the country, Donald Trump’s worldview has poisoned already addled minds. You’d think Barack Obama were still president:
Tim Remington, a Coeur d’Alene pastor who was appointed to the State House of Representatives in January, led a church service on March 29, four days after the stay-at-home order went into effect, that was open to the public.
And in Bonner County, Sheriff Daryl Wheeler posted an open letter saying that the public had been “misled” by public health officials’ dire predictions and called on the governor to convene an emergency session of the Legislature to debate his stay-at-home order.
“In the spirit of liberty and the Constitution, you can request those that are sick to stay home,” Sheriff Wheeler wrote. “But, at the same time, you must release the rest of us to go on with our normal business.”
And Ammon Bundy, the anti-Constitutionalist who postures about threats to liberty while leading armed rebellions, has a message: “I want the virus now.” From your lips to God’s, etc.
Because Republicans lose respect for law and order when Democrats live in the governor’s mansion, the Kansas legislature has revoked Laura Kelly’s order restricting churches from organizing services for more than ten people. Fortunately, it looks like local authorities and the denominations themselves will observe social distancing. But consider this chilling statistic:
House and Senate leaders — meeting as a body called the Legislative Coordinating Council — voted along party lines to throw out the directive. Their decision came as the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state climbed to more than 1,000 and the death count ticked up to 38
That’s the state as a whole. By contrast, Miami-Dade County has had fifty deaths since officials first detected coronoavirus.
Finally, we bachelors have seen our dating lives change. Grindr offers phone sex tips (here’s mine: read while talking dirty, preferably Anthony Trollope). Straight customers use Bumble to schedule video game matches. There are fictions, short and long, to be written about Love In a Time of COVID-19. I’m gonna give it a shot.
Take care of each other.