Sunday, April 12th, 2020


The Lyin King

Either you told them or they told you, but maybe this was the year that you watched a young child come to the realization that there's no Easter Bunny (our kids learned early, the year we ran out of time and didn't boil the Sharpie-decorated eggs we used for the hunt). These moments are temporarily bittersweet, but they quickly merge into an exciting rite of passage; a period of intellectual growth when we each peel away layers of childish, magical thinking, and we're gradually initiated into a world of reality, facts, and adulthood. But what if that transition never happened? What if a child grew up physically, outwardly, visibly; but if on the inside they still believed the silly myths that most of us could see through by the time our age hit double digits? And what if that person held the most powerful and important position in the world? It would make for a turbulent segue from sweet, children's fables to a full-on horror show. Which brings us to the NYT's detailed look at what transpired as scientists urgently worked to move a president to action at the most important moment of his tenure—and of our lives. He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus. (He saw. He just couldn't or wouldn't believe.)

+ "Life-saving medical equipment was not stockpiled. Travel largely continued unabated. Vital public health data from China was not provided or was deemed untrustworthy. A White House riven by rivalries and turnover was slow to act. Urgent warnings were ignored by a president consumed by his impeachment trial and intent on protecting a robust economy that he viewed as central to his reelection chances." AP: Signs missed and steps slowed in Trump's pandemic response.

+ During this critical period of inaction, Anthony Fauci probably felt like he was repeatedly using defibrillator paddles on a manequin. His take on all the criticism: "I mean, obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that." (Tony knows science. But I know politics. Someone's going to deny that. And you know exactly who that someone is...)


Origin Mill

"The results of the poll may seem startling, but it also reflects just how difficult it's been to convey accurate information about the pandemic clearly to those who need it the most." Vox: Nearly a third of Americans believe a conspiracy theory about the origins of the coronavirus.

+ "A Wuhan biosafety laboratory, bat blood, a wet market, scientists, pangolins, politicians looking for someone to blame: the perfect ingredients for a story that won't go away." Joe Pompeo in Vanity Fair: Inside the Viral Spread of a Coronavirus Origin Theory.


Boris Day

"It is thanks to that courage, that devotion, that duty and that love that our NHS has been unbeatable." Boris Johnson is out of the ICU, and out of the hospital, as he thanks health workers and says, 'it could have gone either way.'


The Store Owner

"Last week, I caught a lady in the back of the store stuffing things into her purse. We don't really have shoplifters here. This whole store is two aisles. I can see everything from my seat up front. So I walked over to her real calm and put my hand on her shoulder. I took her purse and opened it up. Inside she had a carton of eggs, a six-pack of wieners, and two or three candy bars. She started crying. She said she had three kids, and her man had lost his job, and they had nothing to eat and no place to go. Maybe it was a lie. I don't know. But who's making up stories for seven or eight dollars of groceries? She was telling me, 'Please, please, I'm begging you,' and I stood there and thought about it, and what am I supposed to do? I said: 'That's okay. You're all right.' I let her take it. I like to help. I always want to say yes. But I'm starting to get more desperate myself, so it's getting harder." WaPo: Burnell Cotlon, on his beloved community and why he's keeping a secret list.


The Immigrant

"They got married, and bought a two-family house near the water. They worked hard: He stocked shelves at a Market Basket in Danvers; she ran the register at a Market Basket in Salem and checked customers' receipts at the door at a Walmart in Lynn, working 60 to 70 hours a week — but they had a good life. She grew orchids and tomatoes. Her husband adored her. Money was tight, and work was hard, but they were happy. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. And suddenly, Vitalina was gone."


The Mourner

"Sandy Brown tried to calm her son, Freddie, alone and scared in a hospital intensive care unit. His father had died a few days earlier. Freddie, just 20, was worried he would die, too. Talking on FaceTime throughout the night, Sandy recited Scripture and tried to slow his breathing. She sang spiritual songs to coax him to sleep, like a mom singing lullabies to her baby. One day later, Freddie died."


The Health Workers

"I can honestly say the nervousness is apparent in many of us. Seeing each other getting sick just increases the anxiety that one of us might be next and bring it home to our family." Buzzfeed: Nearly 3,000 Health Care System Employees In The Detroit Area Have Confirmed or Suspected Coronavirus Infections.


The Leaders

"San Francisco had yet to confirm a single case of the coronavirus when Breed, the city's 45-year-old first-term mayor, declared a state of emergency in late February. Two weeks later, Breed's decision to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people forced the hand of the Bay Area's beloved Golden State Warriors, who this year moved into San Francisco's Chase Center after nearly a half century in Oakland. Her decision, along with the NBA's first positive case of the coronavirus, set in motion a chain of events that effectively shut down all of the nation's major sports leagues. At the time, Breed heard criticism that she was moving too quickly. 'Not anymore!' she told me with a chuckle." The City That Has Flattened the Coronavirus Curve. I said it yesterday, I'll say it again: We need to stop covering good press conferences and start covering good leadership.

+ Kansas supreme court upholds governor's order limiting the size of Easter services. (Even atheists were like, Thank god......)


Feel Good Sunday

"We have reached a crossroads, we have emerged from what we assumed was normality, things have suddenly overturned. One of our main tasks now – especially those of us who are not sick, are not frontline workers, and are not dealing with other economic or housing difficulties – is to understand this moment, what it might require of us, and what it might make possible." Rebecca Solnit: 'The impossible has already happened': what coronavirus can teach us about hope.

+ Italian comic book illustrator Milo Manara is drawing the female heroes fighting the virus. "I'm setting them down on paper so that we may remember them one, two, 10 years down the line. I hope they will have helped us enter a new world." (Art like this helps us survive the current one.)

+ SNL was live from home last night. It made me feel better. Here are all of the skits, Weekend Update, and Chris Martin playing Dylan.

+ Want to support an iconic bookstore? Here are some of the indie bookstores seeking donations.

+ Oakland has closed a bunch of streets to cars. Other cities should follow its lead.

+ "A white 2019 Audi A8 L sedan with extra fuel tanks in the trunk pulled away from a Midtown Manhattan parking garage late last Saturday night. A driver on a high-speed mission aimed the car west and hit the accelerator. Averaging more than 100 miles per hour over nearly 3,000 miles of the nation's epically uncrowded highway system, the car arrived at an oceanside hotel in Redondo Beach, Calif., less than 27 hours later." (Traffic, in other words, is light.)


Your Holiday Bonus

Damon Lindelof's serialized story returns tomorrow. The first 12 chapters are here.

+ If you're all caught up, here are a few bonus articles for you. First, if you're like me, you've been having weird dreams. It's not just us. WaPo: 'Edith Piaf sneezed on my cheesecake's and other coronavirus dreams. And Vox: Having weird dreams in quarantine? You're not alone. (I'm not sure if its the quarantine or having watched The Tiger King.)

+ And if you need a shocker that's certain to make you the MVP of your Easter dinner, try this: Believe it or not, people are still booking cruises for next year. (Now that's what I call going overboard...)

+ Happy Easter and Passover to you and yours. Onward.