“Each of us has the plague within him; no one, no one on earth is free from it. And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in somebody’s face and fasten the infection on him. What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest—health, integrity, purity (if you like)—is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention. And it needs tremendous will-power, a never ending tension of the mind, to avoid such lapses. Yes, Rieux, it’s a wearying business, being plague-stricken. But it’s still more wearying to refuse to be it. That’s why everybody in the world today looks so tired; everyone is more or less sick of plague. But that is also why some of us, those who want to get the plague out of our systems, feel such desperate weariness, a weariness from which nothing remains to set us free except death.”
—-Albert Camus, The Plague
LONDON—While filming the next Mission Impossible movie, an actor who believes Xenu stacked frozen aliens around volcanoes and then flew Douglas DC-8s over them to drop hydrogen bombs and blow them all to smithereens some 75,000,000 years ago shouted at his crew for not wearing masks and not listening to the science.
“We must listen to the science, do you understand me!?” shouted the man who follows the idea that a space lord alien dude came to Earth, then known as Teegeeack, part of a sector called the Galactic Confederation, and blew up a bunch of his people, which transformed them into thetans. “I’m sick and tired of all the ignorant beliefs going around this set! Come on, man!”
Growing up in a working class provincial small town, I lusted after sophistication, the high end Outside World, and the perqs and privileges of adulthood.
The post-WWII collapse of the Anthracite Mining industry devastated the economy of my native region of Pennsylvania, and my father was forced to buy a membership in the Steamfitters Union and work far from home on construction projects, where work existed, paying 10% of his paycheck for a “Syracuse book,” i.e, permission to work in a different union local’s territory. He typically worked all week in Westchester County, NY and came home for weekends.
During high school, I joined him, and worked construction as a plumber’s helper. Outside work, I had in 9th Grade already adopted the habit of wearing a suit and tie every day. Part of it was simply an expression of my eagerness to be treated as an adult, but it was mostly to separate myself from the ordinary society of lunkheads and idiots my own age and to part company with my earlier reputation as a tough guy and street fighter. I was sick and tired of an endless series of strange kids showing up to challenge me to a fight in order to take over my reputation as top fighter, and one ridiculously dangerous incident woke me up and persuaded me that, sooner or later, somebody would get really hurt, that my current identity and life-style would get me arrested and sent to jail. I decided to make a clean break with all that and to devote my time instead to a reading program of self education.
You might think that a teenage kid going around in a suit-and-tie every day in a tough coal town would get a lot of crap, but my reputation, and in extremis, my ability to both take and to throw a punch were still there, and I only very rarely had any problems.
Apart from my personal reading program, I took advantage of access to NYC in summertime with cash from working in my pocket to make myself familiar with the big bright adult world. I attended jazz concerts at NYC clubs. I ate haute cuisine dinners, and drank French wine, at famous restaurants. I even stayed occasionally, with no actual necessity, overnight in grand hotels. Since I wore glasses and was wearing a suit and tie, my being an adult of drinking age was simply universally accepted, even when I was in early high school.
I did this kind of thing often enough that in a number of prominent NYC venues, the Oyster Bar, Toots Shor’s, and 21, I was recognized by bartenders and presented upon entry with my personal drink.
This kind of thing can backfire. I was just beginning to explore the world of cocktails and was commonly ordering new ones I’d read of by name for the first time. Upon visiting the Oyster Bar, the world’s most convenient watering hole for persons waiting for the next train, I ventured upon my first Pink Gin, made, you must understand, entirely of straight gin with a dash of Angostura bitters. Pink Gins are not a teenage kid’s drink by any means. By comparison, a Dry Martini is like a Shirley Temple. Nonetheless, I gamely choked it down, tipped the elderly Chinese barman and left. Well, he remembered me, and the next time I stopped in, a large Pink Gin was in front of me in the proverbial NY minute. Every time I came in, I got a big greeting, a wide smile, and a great big straight up Pink Gin double. I was flattered by the recognition and I simply didn’t have the heart to disappoint him by changing my drink. Over time, I got enough practice choking them down that I gradually acquired the taste.
All this reminiscing has been inspired by the very sad news that 21 is going to be closing down early next year. Like the long gone Toots Shor’s, 21 has always been one of all mankind’s little homes away from home, a Clean, Well-Lighted Place, where a warm welcome, a good meal, and a perfect Martini await.
As a teenage kid, I found 21 pretty darn expensive, but the management’s knowing my name, the hearty greeting, and the general atmosphere struck me as actually worth the price of admission. At 21, you were a member of the family. I really don’t know anywhere that made a better hamburger or mixed a better drink. NYC will just not be the same NYC without 21. What a sad, sad time we’ve lived to see!
Michael Kaplan, in the Post, writes:
With high-priced imbibing currently on hold at ‘21,’ (the current owners) have done the sensible thing.
“We’re suspending our lunch this year,” said the author. Then his voice turned hopeful as he echoed a Christmas wish of many a New Yorker: “Maybe ‘21’ will reopen in 2021 and we’ll be there next Christmas.”
Paul Krugman, in the New York Times (which has replaced Mad Magazine in the humor section these days), inquires loudly: “How Many Americans Will Ayn Rand Kill?”
Even as New York contained its pandemic, however, the coronavirus surged out of control in other parts of the country. There was a deadly summer spike in much of the Sunbelt. And right now the virus is running wild in much of the Midwest; in particular, the most dangerous places in America may be the Dakotas. …
[W]hy does this keep happening? Why does America keep making the same mistakes?
Donald Trumpâ€™s disastrous leadership is, of course, an important factor. But I also blame Ayn Rand â€” or, more generally, libertarianism gone bad, a misunderstanding of what freedom is all about.
If you look at what Republican politicians are saying as the pandemic rips through their states, you see a lot of science denial. Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, has gone full Trump â€” questioning the usefulness of masks and encouraging potential super-spreader events. (The Sturgis motorcycle rally, which drew almost a half-million bikers to her state, may have played a key role in setting off the viral surge.)
But you also see a lot of libertarian rhetoric â€” a lot of talk about â€œfreedomâ€ and â€œpersonal responsibility.â€ Even politicians willing to say that people should cover their faces and avoid indoor gatherings refuse to use their power to impose rules to that effect, insisting that it should be a matter of individual choice.
Which is nonsense.
Personally, I’m hoping she knocks off all the looters and all the moochers, starting with Paul Krugman.
Babylon Bee has the latest news from Middle America:
WASHINGTON, D.C.â€”While battling the darkest monster from the pit of hell, known as “COVID,” Donald the Orange fell to his doom several days ago, sacrificing himself to save America from the deadly demon.
So Americans were ecstatic to learn that Donald the Orange had returned in a new, better form, now known as Donald the White. A brilliant white light shone from Walter Reed Medical Center as Donald the White emerged just in time to save America from COVID, Antifa, and the Deep State.
“I come back to you now at the turn of the tide!” he cried as he rode triumphantly out in the presidential limousine, codenamed “Shadowfax,” cutting right through the ravenous hordes of Antifa counterprotesters blocking the way.
“Donald! Donald the Orange!” cried his supporters outside Walter Reed Medical Center.
“Yes…” he said as he sat in the back of Shadowfax. “Yes… Donald the Orange… that is what they used to call me.”
Vanity Fair identifies the next essential accessory for members of today’s urban haute bourgeois community of fashion.
Now that face masks and shields are officially a part of our everyday outfits for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that luxury designers would want to cash-in on the biggest accessory trend to come out of the pandemic. A number of brands have already made the foray into fancy masks, but Louis Vuitton is the first to offer a high-fashion face shield, with the price tag to match.
The French fashion house announced this week that it will be releasing its elegant $961 take on PPE as part of the label’s 2021 Cruise collection, available in stores worldwide on October 30th. The shield is composed of an elastic monogrammed strap that goes around the wearer’s head with a moveable shield attached by golden studs engraved with the LV logo. The shield itself also comes trimmed in Vuitton’s signature monogram print, can be flipped upwards to be worn as a peaked hat, and also comes with transition lens technology so it can go from clear to dark depending on the level of sunlight.
A press release announcing the shield describes it as â€œan eye-catching headpiece, both stylish and protective.â€ And once cities are allowed to safely have in-person runway shows again, these LV Shields are almost guaranteed to be the must-have accessory of fashion week.
You think the above is silly? Try this:
My culture is not your prom dresshttps://t.co/jnqyTlubKM
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) September 21, 2020
Ross Clark notes that an explanation, other than politics, is required to account for the difference in the impact of the COVID-19 virus in Asia from the toll it’s taken in Europe and the United States.
Japan… has not used any of the standard measures for tackling Covid-19 â€“ lockdown, test, track and trace â€“ with any great vigour. Neither has it succeeded in snuffing out the virus by any other means. If you think Boris Johnson or Donald Trump have been reckless in some way, you ought to be berating the Japanese government far more. But you wonâ€™t because Japan, in spite of its laissez-faire attitude, has had remarkably few deaths: seven for every million citizens, compared with 567 in the UK. Even Europeâ€™s Covid pin-up â€“ Germany â€“ has suffered a death rate that is multiples that of Japan: 103 per million.
But then again, if you compared Japan with its Far Eastern neighbours, you could establish a case that Japan has been reckless: South Korea and Taiwan have even lower death rates at 5 per million and 0.3 per million respectively.
This brings one to an inescapable conclusion that has been obvious since mid-March, at least to anyone who has been prepared to see it: that there is a fundamental difference in the way that this virus has behaved in the Far East compared with Europe and America. It has been far, far deadlier in the latter two, and in a way which cannot even nearly be explained by the way different governments have handled the epidemic. This raises two possibilities: either there is a difference in the virus that has been attacking Western countries or there is a difference in the human populations.