Life with Coronovirus: Come Together, Stay Apart

Sure you’ve seen every virus movie known to man, but now its time to truly prepare for the new normal

In the matter of a few short weeks, life, as we know it, has ground to a halt, the world is going into lockdown, markets have flipped from bull to bear as mother nature issues her own correction in the form of Covid 19.  Millions of Americans are stuck in the house binge-eating, binge-watching and trying not to kill family–Like an endless Thanksgiving without the turkey and colonization.

Welcome to the apocalypse.  Yup, you are officially here–though for readers of this blog we know the signs of the times have been on full display for quite a while.  That doesn’t mean its time to dig your Mad Max uniform out of the trunk and ride out.  Apocalypse comes from the Greek, translating loosely to an unveiling.  It is the end of the illusion, not the end of time. Apocalypses are the moments where the truth of our world is revealed beneath the shiny bullshit veneer of the simulation we’ve been living in.  Welcome to the desert of the real.

The Covid crisis is revealing the limitations of capitalism to sustain people in a world increasingly marked by crisis, just a single symptom of climate change.  In a matter of months, a virus has shown us what we have willfully ignored for too long:  we are one, a human organism connected globally, a mass of cells moving in solidarity whether we want to or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. Your latte-drinking lash-wearing tik tok dancing life has been rendered obsolete.  There is no star status that will protect you from the virus, but we see too, that our systems of inequality are already making the crisis worse.  Unequal distribution of resources and racism, xenophobia, and sexism will mean those traditionally marginalized will be the hardest hit.

How can you shelter in place if you have no shelter?  How can you call your health care provider if you don’t have one? When we have to choose who gets what they need and who doesn’t who will stand up for those without a seat at the table?

But before we can parse the dissembling power structures, we have to survive the collapse. Now this, my Apocalyptic America fans, is something we have been preparing for.  Time for all the lessons of all those movies of the end time to guide your pandemic plays.  Let’s start with these to get you through the weekend:

 No Gas, All Break

Daily White House Press briefings are important sources of news, but if you’re not careful you might forget that this is the president with over 15,000 recorded lies during his time in office.  Avoid the gaslighting that everything is okay, nothing to see here. Gaslighting is a real and dangerous communication dynamic.  After months of the Trump Administration telling us that truth isn’t truth, you may find your ability to trust your own sense of what is real is not as strong as the pandemic coverage requires.  Trust scientists.  Trust the data.  Err on the side of caution.

Take regular news breaks with credible sources.  The New York Times has comprehensive and well-researched coverage, and have removed their paywall, giving everyone access to their up to date reporting.  The Washington Post, likewise, is using its big newsroom resources to provide coverage.  Local press is likely to be telling the stories no one else is and to give you the skinny on what is happening in your area. Check out your hometown paper and look for independent reporting on twitter and online.  Spread your news sources around, but avoid opinion pieces that lack evidence and conspiracy posts with fear-inducing clickbait titles.  As always, and are good places to vet what you’re reading before you decide to share.

Pace Your Panic

Okay, you have enough toilet paper. With over a week of panic shopping behind us, its time to stop freaking out and settle in for the long haul.  Early reports that prepared us for just a couple of weeks without school are giving way to warnings that this pandemic could lead to 12 to 18 months of disruption.  Even when the threat of the virus passes, we know that we will be returning to an economy in shambles, and many people in dire need of support. You cannot keep up toilet-paper-hoarding levels of panic for months: your mental and physical health simply cannot sustain that.  We need you healthy for the recovery, so please, pace your panic.  Yes, shit is scary as fuck so set aside a little time to let it all in so you are rooted in the seriousness of the moment. Balance that awareness with healthy levels of self-care, seclusion, and emotional management.  Read- draw- create- play- eat- move- drink- dance- this mess around on the daily, and keep your mind sharp and body ready for the long term challenges ahead.

Connect Without Commerce

Shelter in place orders and social distancing mean stores, bars, restaurants, and other public gathering spots are closed. Don’t let capitalism’s pause keep you from getting the social connection you need so much in this stressful time.   This is a chance for us to make space in our lives for connection without commerce.  This is the time when we can leverage the very best of social media to bring us together, lift us up, and find new ways of spending time together apart.  Internet–do you meme thing to keep us laughing; video chat apps, time to show us the lovely faces of our people in virtual family visits, work yoga groups, happy hour hangouts for singles, or mommy homeschool wine and support groups; Text, talk, post and crosspost to build a net of connection across the physical distance between us.

Since everything–or nearly everything–is closed, many of us suddenly have the time we haven’t been able to give to our loved ones.  Yeah, your kids may be yelling or your spouse underfoot or your dog barking nonstop, but if they are driving you crazy, that means they are still here, and that is a blessing you will be all too grateful for in the days ahead. Schedules are a little clearer, our time together more dear than ever.  Have that conversation you’ve been meaning to have.  Reach out and tell those you love what they mean to you.   We will need more love than facemasks or hospital beds, so make love in every way you can-in cookies and games and hugs and words and kisses and kisses and kisses if you are lucky enough to have your loved one in your containment zone.

We will survive as an organism but not without damage to the very fabric of our lives.  Things will not be the same, and that may be okay.  It is time to build a new world anyways. Hunker down for the hard road ahead. Build your resilience to support your people and your community. Connect, connect, connect.  Now more than ever, it is solidarity or nothing.

The Year of The Clown: No Joke.

Full disclosure:  I hate clowns.  I hated them before American Horror Story, and before they started hiding in bushes, even before Stephen King’s It.  I hated clowns before Trump was elected, before The Purge, and before Insane Clown Posse.  I’m guessing the recent trend of evil clowns in movies (and in the woods) means I’m far from alone in my fear of clowns.  You hate clowns, too? Then we can be cool.

AHS clown

Maybe the history books will call 2017 the Year of the Clown. The TV series American Horror Story, known for basing each season on the current cultural climate has chosen killer clowns for this season’s theme in AHS Cult.  Donald Trump was elected, empowering a bunch of hate-filled ass-clowns to turn their politics into hate crimes (I mean on the show. I mean in reality. I mean both on the show and in reality). The leering faces of hate, twisted with the joy of pursuing evil fills our TV screens, making us question, like Sarah Paulson’s character, if we are losing our mind. The series brilliantly marries our own time’s actual news footage with scripted terror and the result is disquieting–a horror show staged not in a nightmare but in our all too real nightmarish political environment.   Be scared.  This shit is real af.


Also crawling out from the gutters and onto the big screen is Pennywise, Stephen King’s killer clown.  This clown is really not playing.  Like all clowns, the smile painted on his face is a lie, and he really doesn’t love kids like he pretends to.  This clown runs around killing people even as the townspeople remain blithely unaware. Just like the All-Lives-Matter crowd, they refuse to see that there are people in their community, vulnerable kids (*cough cough* DACA *cough*) being taken out by a killer in their midst. Pennywise terrorizes the kids before sinking back into the sewer, sure to return again, like the battle over immigration.  When will the town band together and once and for all address the evil in their midst?


Creepy ass clowns are sneaking off the screen and into reality.  Last year the interweb was abuzz with stories of clown sightings–humans dressed in full clown regalia standing at the edge of woods, near play grounds, out in the street. And they weren’t makin’ balloon animals.  Police were called, chat rooms exploded with stories but no clowns were captured and unmasked.  The only thing they left in their wake was more fear in an already frightened country.

Clowns are supposed to bring joy, or at least that’s what they tell you.  Their painted faces are frozen in exaggerated smiles hiding their pain sometimes, their intentions other times.  What always bothered me was that they were so disingenuous.  Their smile a facade, their gaiety only there to lull you into laughter.  If clowns are so happy, why do they hide their face?  Their bright colors look tainted in shabby silk. I take umbrage at their afro wigs.  They hit each other and kick each other and stuff each other into cars.  If I wanted to see that shit as a kid I could have just watched the school bullies at work.

My neighbor loves clowns.  She’s never told me this, but walking past her house in the evening, I can see she has large clown paintings….in all the rooms in her house.  This is not a lie. In the living room, she has a giant painting of a crying clown.  I mean, it hangs in the room where she relaxes, a big sad face painted white, mouth gaping and painted tears running down one cheek.  Her bedroom sports several small paintings of sad clowns lit by a red lamp–wtf? What kind of choice in artwork is that? Every night when I see it I am struck by how unhappy you have to be to choose crying clowns as a home decor theme. Perhaps unrelated she also has a sign hanging outside her house announcing that her home is a politically correct free zone, that if you don’t like her gods guns and bible attitude you can stay away.  I notice no one comes to visit.  Should I tell her liberals are super fun?


I’m terrified that clowns are such a popular trope, only slightly vindicated that you all finally see clowns for the horrible disgusting frauds that they are. Clowns on the screen, clowns in my neighborhood, clowns in the white house: I do not trust them.  They’re not trustworthy.  That’s the trouble with clowns: they’re serious, even when they’re kidding–they mean it even when they’re laughing. That’s their thing, faking emotions, forcing laughter at things that aren’t funny, hurting each other for sport, painting on tears like they are a joke.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from It, AHS and every other clown horror movie is that the real danger is that no one believes in killer clowns. Like the clowns hiding in the bushes, even when you see them, no one believes you.  Everyone acts like you can’t tell bozo is there, but if you have eyes to see the foolishness you know. There is harm in painting your face white and demanding joy like a hostage taker.  There is danger in hitting your friends just for cheap laughs. Clown violence is funny till they start running over people in their clown cars.    Don’t let the killer clowns win–point them out, believe each other, and don’t let the joke be on us.  Half joking.  not joking. Stay woke.

P.S. is there a mask off joke here? asking for a friend….

My Brother’s Reaper

Picture this: you are walking down the street of your hometown, having just done a good deed when you are surrounded by police officers who demand you drop to you knees. You protest your innocence; they are unconvinced. You see yourself reflected in their glasses, your eyes wide like frightened prey as the pack of cops closes in. One grabs you from behind in a chokehold and brings you to the ground. You can feel his arm around your neck. You gasp out that you can’t breathe until you can’t even do that. It’s not supposed to be this way, you think, …your spouse, your children, and then nothingness.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before–oh but of course you have. Another summer, another incident of police brutality state sponsored murder. Just about a year after President Obama declared Trayvon Martin could have been his son, NYC police killed Eric Garner, a 43-year old married father of six on the street like he was nobody’s son. Despite our declarations to do better by those taken too soon, we have not done better as a nation: no new national gun laws; no overhaul of police procedures; no national examination of the massive inequities in the justice system.


Here is the great irony: we are safer now than we have been for some time. National violent crime rates are dropping and homicide is approaching a 60 year low– that’s right 6-0.

violent_rateCrime stats are complex, and maintained in ways that sometimes make it hard to compare, but by any measure, violence is down. Theories abound over why it’s down, including a very interesting link between reproductive rights and violent crime made here by Freakonomics.

Even as violent crime has plummeted, fear of violent crime has continued to rise. Many Americans believe we live in a dangerous world, peopled with hood wearing thugs at every corner. Older generations pine for the good old days, that apparently we’ve washed of the violent crime that happened. Just like Shakira’s hips, stats don’t lie.


Media plays a significant role in making people think the world is more violent than it is. A quick look at the prime time line up shows us hours upon hours of crime dramas. From the local news, to the most watched cable series, crime is literally everywhere, and that affects how we see the world. There’s even a name for it–mean world syndrome. George Gerbner’s theory goes like this: say you love CSI– in the world of CSI, violent crime happens 100% of the time. In the real world, violent crime happens .01% of the time. The more television we watch, the more likely we are to believe that what happens in TV world also likely to happen the real world. With so much violent content on TV, people that watch TV are likely to think the world is a mean, violent place.


When we think violence is more prevalent, we support policies and spending to get tough on crime. Take a look at your own town’s police force:

Yeah, just rolling to the Happy Bee
Yeah, just rolling to the Happy Bee


More than likely, they are more well equipped than ever, with SWAT resources

071612LAV300 and paramilitary gear.

swatBefore you give the build up of of police forces credit for the drop in crime, let me inform you that studies show crime has dropped both in towns that spent massive amounts on arming police and in those communities that didn’t do that.

Money is an object–and objective in this arms race. According to Business Insider: the over $34 billion in grants has given rise to a growing concern that some police officers are looking less like civil servants, and more like soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Police Equipment

Those who spend and make the money–from outfitters, to trainers, weapons manufacturers and gear houses are unlikely to tell us when to scale back. So who does this spending serve?


It’s didn’t serve Eric Garner. SWAT expenditures were not enough to save 26 people–mostly children– in Newtown or the people killed by gun violence in the 74 school shootings since Newtown. Anticrime spending is a civil arms race where Americans are increasingly falling victim, from bad stop and frisk to death by police warrant, and of course, old fashioned police brutality.


There is no greater drama that life and death, so crime is an easy go to to grab viewers eyeballs. When we let the stories affect our real world security, it’s time to use some media awareness and think critically about violence on and off the screen.


Our real world can only enjoy lower crime if we hold police to the task they are charged with: protect and serve the people. We are Trayvon, we are Eric, we are our brothers and sisters. None of us can be safe in a world where police routinely kill people of color with no consequences. That’s the world we live in now. Use your voice and your vote. Time to be the people we promised ourselves we would be.