Where do I go when it’s safe?

food and film

a-group-of-opened-cans-of-food-containing-fruits-vegetables-and-legumesKevin, who is from my home county, though I don’t think we met until college, asks what should be a simple question:

Where is the first place you are going when it’s safe to go out?

Of course, not everything will open up at the same time. The thing I miss the most, singing in the choir, is going to take a while longer than other activities. So, it’s a toss-up between going to the movies and going indoors to a sit-down restaurant.

Now there have been some cinemas open around here with a limited capacity. I’m not feeling at all comfortable with attending. Maybe by the time I take my second COVID shot, I’ll feel differently. Yet, watching movies from home is a lesser experience.

I have some HBO channels, though not MAX; Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. So I have the capacity to see films at home. I just don’t have the discipline to treat films at home as I treat movies in a place I have to sit in a dark room with strangers. And it’s been true for over 40 years.

As for restaurants, I’m not doing that indoors either. Or for that matter, outdoors. When the weather was decent, there was a row of outdoor dining options at the end of Madison Avenue, only a couple blocks from here. Not only did I never patronize them, when I needed to go to the local CVS, but I also made a point of walking on the other side of the restaurants.

Now, I did do takeout occasionally, and sometimes I’ve been anxious about buying THAT, depending on the size of the unmasked crowd I had to wade through. Besides, takeout is not sitting in a restaurant, with its ambiance. There’s a huge difference between being served by a waitperson and taking food home in metal containers.

Hometown

Right before the lockdown, I was planning a trip to my hometown of Binghamton, NY in late March. I wanted to see the court transcripts of the trial involving my grandmother Agatha Walker (later, Green), who levied charges against my biological paternal grandfather, Raymond Cone. These records are only available in paper form, not electronically.

A random look at the 2020 blog

Thank Allah for music

while blackSome blogger buddy used to do this look at the previous year. He’d select a post date and a sentence from that post at random.

I’ve found it interesting to see how well, or poorly, it reflected the past year. So, the 2020 blog in one post. Sort of.

January: “Willis was the son of people identified only as Jacob and Charlotte.” This was the first of two posts that week about Raymond Cornelius Cone, who I had just discovered was my biological grandfather. Willis was his father.

February: “Those particular matinees mean three things: cheaper tickets, a lot of older patrons, and best of all, a discussion with the cast after the shows.”This was back in the days when I was going to Thursday matinees at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady.

March: “She had to go into work on Monday and Tuesday last week, which I thought was crazy.” An Ask Roger Anything answer about retirement. I was referring to my wife’s school’s COVID methodology.

April: “Yet, and ‘Holy Crap This Is Insane’: Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA Indefinitely Suspends Environmental Rules.” The 50th anniversary of Earth Day. I was pessimistic.

May: “The United States was allegedly staying out of it.” The music of 1940. The “it” was WWII.

June: “In light of the nationwide outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, movies like Just Mercy and I Am Not Your Negro are available to stream.” Juneteenth links.

Caesar months

July: “He believes the continued popularity of white depictions of Jesus is ‘an example of how far in some respects the United States has not moved.'” He being Edward J. Blum.

August: “He often combined the two.” Another Ask Roger Anything answer about why I’m a duck. “He” was the late Raoul Vezina, who combined his love of art and music.

September: “The moderator said a particular bill meant X.” A discussion of the Federalist Paper No. 62 of James Madison and how far we’ve moved from it.

October: “The search committee was afraid that these folks wouldn’t cotton to working with a black person.” This was the job I held for over 26 years but almost did not get.

November: “Freedom for the Stallion – the Oak Ridge Boys.” A link to a song by the legendary Allen Toussaint.

December: “If I were to have major surgery, such as for this situation, one doesn’t want to deal with the complicating factor of this patient having a bad reaction from the antibiotic.” So, I’m NOT allergic to penicillin!

People who do not read this will ask, “What is your blog about?” Other than About Me, I have no retort. So maybe, just maybe, this shows what was reflected in 2020. Music, COVID, race, genealogy, health, politics. I guess that’s about right.

Music in the time of COVID, 2020

Six Feet Apart! Stay Away!

In the best of times this century, I’m not listening to much current music. Music in the time of COVID is pretty much the same. It’s always a miracle when I purchase tunes put out by an artist whose first album came out since 2001.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Freedom HighwayLinda Ronstadt, oddly. I bought one of her Mexican albums, her Capitol albums, plus the complete Trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. After seeing the documentary about her in the summer of 2019, I was utterly sad that her singing voice has been silenced.

Also, I enjoyed Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back far more than I thought. Those riffs from the Temptations, Isaac Hayes and many others were quite enjoyable.

The only 2020 music I bought was Reunions by Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit, and Gaslighter by The Dixie Chicks, I mean The Chicks. Whatever. I swore in 2003 that I’d buy all of their albums. They had not put one out in 14 years, so it hasn’t been a heavy lift.

I’ve actually gotten to see my niece Rebecca Jade singing from her home. I’d seen her perform live only once before, back in 2018, when I visited her mother. I’ve also seen RJ with her occasional collaborator, jazz guitarist Peter Sprague. They’ve had the only live music shows I’ve “attended.”

Perfidia – Linda Ronstadt
Gaslighter – The Chicks
What Have I Done To Help – Jason Isbell And the 400 Unit
Freedom Highway – Rhiannon Giddens, feat. Bhi Bhiman
Party for Your Right to Fight – Public Enemy
Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen

Rebecca Jade videos

COVIDy

The Boston Globe compiled 40 songs about the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve actually heard several of these without even trying, usually on a news show.

Six Feet Apart – Luke Combs
Do What You Can  -Bon Jovi
Let Your Love Be Known – Bono
Stay Away – Randy Newman
This Too Shall Pass – Mike Love featuring John Stamos

And there were “songs written before the virus spread but released because the tracks resonate with the current times.”

Living In A Ghost Town – The Rolling Stones
Tryin’ to Keep It Together – Norah Jones
We’re All In This Together Now  – John Paul White featuring Rosanne Cash
Grateful – Jewel

VMAs?

Here’s a matter of self-curiosity. I watched the Video Music Awards this year for the first time in more than a decade. It aired on August 30, but I didn’t actually view it until October. And then in 15-25 minute segments.

As you might imagine, there were people I had never once heard of, CNCO, Maluma, and Doja Cat, who my daughter does not like for some reason. Then there are the ones whose names I’d seen but could not have identified, such as Chloe X Halle and DaBaby.

So THAT’S what The Weeknd looks like. (And he’s significant enough that my spellcheck accepts the spelling of his name.)

Thank goodness for some veteran acts such as Black Eyed Peas and Miley Cyrus. Because my daughter was obsessed a couple of years ago, I actually know more about BTS than any sexagenarian needs to. They premiered the song Dynamite and soon enough it’s not only #1 in the country with half a billion views but playing on some television ad. (For what, IDK, and don’t tell me because I don’t care.)

Lady Gaga won every category for which she was nominated, one with Ariana Grande including a new category.

Dynamite – BTS
Rain On Me – Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Nobody told me there’d be days like these (X3)
Strange days indeed
Most peculiar, Mama

Nobody told me – John Lennon (1984, posthumous)

Why people reject Christianity, part 38

an abomination

forked tongueAs a Christian, I know that there are a lot of understandable reasons why people reject Christianity. Pedophile priests, homophobic preachers… do I need to haul out the litany? That said, a couple of recent examples have distressed me more than usual.

ITEM: “Believe in Divine Immunity”: Trump-Supporting Megachurch Pastor Tells Congregation NOT To Take COVID Vaccine

“Guillermo Maldonado, the Florida megachurch pastor, and self-declared apostle… told his congregation not to take the soon-to-be-available vaccine for the COVID-19 virus because it is part of a plan to prepare people to accept the biblical Mark of the Beast.

“Maldonado, who mocked members of his own congregation for staying away from church in the early days of the pandemic, used his Sunday sermon to warn that the COVID-19 vaccine will ‘alter your DNA’ as globalists set about ‘preparing the structure for the Antichrist.'”

I’ve long found the obsession with the apocalypse to be theologically obscene. This one mixes in absurd technological blather.

That’s why they allow firing squads?

ITEM: Trumpkin pastor calls for Democrats and journalists to be executed 

“On the day before Thanksgiving, [Rick Wiles] called for Trump to have Democrats and journalists lined up and shot [because] they are secretly in bed with Beijing.

“The Christian [sic] pastor made the remarks during an episode of his TruNews program… as he discussed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Wiles also pointed out that the Justice Department has created a new rule allowing for firing squads to be used in federal executions…

“We already knew that Wiles is nothing more than a Nazi masquerading as a pastor… This is domestic terrorism, straight up.”

ITEM: An Ohio group called We the People Convention took out a full-page ad in the Washington Times (a flagship conservative newspaper).

They are asking Trump “to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.

“OK, any crazy group can publish an ad in any paper that will take their money. But recently pardoned felon Michael Flynn retweeted the ad with the comment ‘Freedom never kneels except for God.'” The fact that they don’t have a prayer of a chance of reversing the outcome of the election doesn’t seem to stop them from trying anyway.

For those of you who think everything will change come 20 Jan 2021, I’m afraid not. We’re dealing with an extensive toxic mindset. And when it’s conflated with a sense of “God’s will”, we’re in deep trouble. This  Newspeak is an abomination. The definition of abomination is “a thing that causes disgust or hatred.”

These purported men of God are disgusting purveyors of hate. If their goal is to “bring people to the Kingdom”, they are failing miserably.

I’m dreaming of a COVID Christmas

When will we reach widespread immunization?

coronavirusThough I knew it was possible, seeing the spike in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths has been demoralizing. More to the point, watching the numbers in some categories more than double from October to November in Albany County is acutely troubling.

Since my father-in-law died of a non-COVID-related disease on April 22 of this year, my wife had driven out to Oneonta, NY to help her mom with the cleaning and shopping. Right before Thanksgiving, our family was discussing plans. My daughter and I thought that making the 70-mile trek wasn’t that good an idea.

My wife said that maybe she’d go alone for a day or two. We believed that she was missing the concern. My daughter is going to school at home. I don’t go to many places. My wife, conversely, is going to work every day, teaching students face-to-face and dealing with colleagues whose protocols while not at school are unknown. It was my MIL who finally put the kibosh on the trip.

A friend of mine is a nurse at Albany Medical Center. On December 1, they had a strike action over many issues, most of which predated COVID. In a non-epidemic period, I would have joined the picket line. Not now.

Nervous

My Grammarly account analyzed my writings from the second to the third week in November.

1. Neutral 15‌% +5%
2. Formal 14‌% +1%
3. Confident 13‌% -6% that’s about right
4. Friendly 8‌% -2%
5. Optimistic 8‌% -5% certainly accurate
6. Worried 8‌% +4% yup
7. Sad 6‌% +2% I’ll accept that

Even the places I’ve gone to in the past – CVS, grocery store, takeout restaurant food – I visit less often. In part, it’s because of the vaccines on the horizon. It seems that people are getting cocky about when we’ll get back to “normal.” There will be enough doses to treat about six percent of New Yorkers, primarily health care workers and the elderly in facilities, before the end of 2020.

As someone over 65, I expect/hope to get at least one of the two necessary doses by St. Patrick’s Day 2021. And, barring new information, I will take the injections when they are made available.

This article from FORBES is consistent with some other pieces I’ve read. When will we reach widespread immunization— roughly 70% of the population? In the spring? By July 4? In a year? Or will it take far longer? Will “the overwhelming majority of people” elect to be inoculated?

But the “surge upon a surge” that is happening now, I fear, will become worse during the December holidays and the weeks thereafter. I already know ours will be a low-key COVID Christmas and New Years. I’m hoping others can just hang on just a little while longer with social distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions.