April 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

What will shopping in cities look like? Plus, putting Trump's tweets on a death toll timeline.

As states begin what will be a long and zig-zagging reopening, consumers will emerge to a new retail landscape. Of course, that landscape was already littered with boarded up storefronts before anyone ever heard of Covid-19. Derek Thompson: The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever. “We are entering a new evolutionary stage of retail, in which big companies will get bigger, many mom-and-pop dreams will burst, chains will proliferate and flatten the idiosyncrasies of many neighborhoods, more economic activity will flow into e-commerce, and restaurants will undergo a transformation unlike anything the industry has experienced since Prohibition.” This is the most popular kind of article (and topic of conversation) I’m finding these days: What aspects of our lives will never be the same after the pandemic? We might be putting the shopping cart before the horse, and I often wonder, how much will really change, but I understand the drive for this type of content. Whether we change or not, the analysis provides something of a salve, because all of it imagines a world where the pandemic is over. In the meantime, few are willing to shop til they drop.

+ The Pretenders: I went back to Ohio / But my city was gone / There was no train station / There was no downtown.


Pounding Nail Salons in the Coffin

“‘To open up businesses where it’s impossible to practice social distancing — hair salons, nail salons, theaters — people are like, what? You want to put everybody in a closed room, and that’s supposed to be okay?’ said Demetrius Young, a city commissioner in Albany, the center of the state’s epidemic. ‘For black folks, it’s like a setup: Are you trying to kill us?'” WaPo: Fear and mistrust in rural Georgia as Gov. Kemp urges the state to reopen.

+ Come out, come out wherever you are has been changed to Come out, come out, depending on where you are. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Called Out For Refusing To Re-Open His Mansion For Public Tours.

+ “If you were to imagine a horror movie when all the people disappear, that’s what it looks like…You can’t imagine that there is a circumstance that could possibly cause that. I couldn’t have.” On the other side of the re-opening equation is the devastating impact of closures. How Las Vegas Became Ground Zero for the American Jobs Crisis.

+ NPR: “Two leading former federal health officials who served in recent Republican and Democratic administrations are spearheading a call for a $46 billion public health investment in a future coronavirus aid package in order to safely reopen the economy.”


The Virus vs the Virus

As LysolGate ground the Covid press conferences to a halt, the president moved to fill up a few more pages of the DSM with his tweets. I thought it would be interesting to line up Trump’s tweets in a timeline next to the number of deaths under his watch. This written record is not as bad as the oral record, but it’s still worse than you think. Take a look at The Virus vs The Virus: A Trump Twitter Timeline. (Editor’s note: Now that it’s too politically damaging for Trump to be there, the often multi-hour, daily White House press Covid briefings have been canceled. In other words, they were rallies all along. Never forget the cable news networks showed every minute live, right up to the end.)

+ NYT: 260,000 Words, Full of Self-Praise, From Trump on the Virus. (And close to zero words of empathy…)

+ White House officials say Trump works so hard, he often misses lunch. (Then Lysol must be loaded with calories…)


Heal Thyself

“The pandemic has revealed some strengths—including frank heroism and ingenuity—but it has also exposed hidden fractures, silent aneurysms, points of fragility. Systems that we thought were homeostatic—self-regulating, self-correcting, like a human body in good health—turned out to be exquisitely sensitive to turbulence, like the body during critical illness. Everyone now asks: When will things get back to normal? But, as a physician and researcher, I fear that the resumption of normality would signal a failure to learn. We need to think not about resumption but about revision.” Siddhartha Mukherjee in The New Yorker: What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine.

+ The pandemic is often referred to in wartime terminology. If we’re really in a war against Covid-19, the enemy has hit our bodies, and the industry tasked with healing them. Vox: Coronavirus has created a crisis for primary care doctors and their patients.

+ Those two articles provide a look at the health system and the health care providers. This one is about a patient. NYT: 32 Days on a Ventilator: One Covid Patient’s Fight to Breathe Again.


Irony is a Dish Best Served Cold

A warning from one of the nation’s largest meat providers: “Millions of animals —chickens, pigs and cattle— will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities. The food supply chain is breaking.”

+ For some people, it’s already broken. Politico: USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared.


I Dedicate This Song to Jamal Khashoggi

“Live Nation has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, with essentially all concerts and sporting events around the world on hold.” So they needed a cash infusion: Saudi Arabia Buys $500 Million Stake in Live Nation.


Lid Blown

“White Island is otherworldly, an 800-acre fantasyland that has beckoned Hollywood filmmakers and everyday selfie-seekers alike. It is also an active volcano, a roiling catastrophe waiting to happen. This is the story of the day when the worst-case scenario became real—and of the race to save those who faced the blast.” GQ: The Eruption Of Instagram Island.

+ The natural segue, of course, is for us to now watch a live version of Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption. Life has slowed down during quarantine. It’s time to bring back the eleven minute guitar solo.


Good, Good, Good, Reverberations

“Reverb is seeing success during this period with both new and used musical instruments … ‘We are seeing extraordinarily high order volumes, outpacing even the amount of orders we see during the busy holiday season. Several of the music shops that sell gear on Reverb have even told us that March was one of their best months ever… Compared to this time last year, searches for music gear are up nearly 50%, with several categories.'” Rolling Stone: Sales of Instruments and Music Gear Are Soaring. Will Quarantine Spark a Renaissance?


Feel Good Monday

Can a single N95 mask possibly make a difference? It turns out the answer is yes. If you missed this story over the weekend, it’s a good One.

+ “Less than three months after helping the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory as their starting right guard, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is putting his doctorate in medicine to use: fighting the coronavirus outbreak at a longterm care facility in Quebec.” (You know I’m desperate for good news if a feel good story includes the 49ers losing the Super Bowl…)

+ New Zealand claims no community cases as lockdown eases.

+ FSU students create map of kindness to spread positivity during pandemic.

+ The Doobie Brothers Perform ‘Black Water‘ In Isolation. (This is the closest I’ve gotten to a doobie since the pandemic started…)


Something Something Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost, Watchmen, and The Leftovers) has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. The first 14 chapters are here.

Chapter 15: I Was Being Sarcastic When I Said They Were Dead The Whole Time

Every husband should prepare himself for this possibility that he will one day encounter a strange man in his bedroom. Nonetheless, George was still surprised to see one in his.

“Don’t freak out, dad…” said Alden, “He’s with me.”

“What year is this?” said the strange man with the phenomenal beard.

“Who are you?” said George.

“I’m Brad,” said Brad, who was extremely tall and not at all uncomfortable in a way that made George incredibly uncomfortable, “Seriously, bro, what year is this?”

There was only one possible explanation for a query such as this. George looked at his son. “Alden Rosenberg. Are you time-traveling right now?”

“Technically, no.” Alden responded, “But Brad is.”

“I fucking A am.” said Brad, holding up his hand for a high-five. Alden sighed and half-heartedly provided it.

“Dad,” Alden said, turning to George, “We are in the midst of pandemic and I have very serious concerns about our current leadership. Brad is going to help me make some necessary revisions.”

Brad turned to George too, excited that he had indeed traveled through time but also by the line of blow he had done at work before the kid showed up. Okay, more the blow, less the time travel, but the point was he was fucking pumped. And boy, did he have questions. “Is Hillary fucking Clinton seriously the President?”

George furrowed his brow. He did not like where this was going. Or where it had already gone. “Yes…” he said cautiously, “But despite my son’s “concerns,” I think she is doing as good a job as could be expected given the circumst—”

“–Yeahyeahyeah…” Brad interrupted, “Your kid said nobody’s listening to her about staying inside and so she turned off your internet and now you’re looking down the barrel of full-scale nationwide revolution, that about the size of it?”

“The… size of it?” said George, who did not see the world in terms of size because he was 5’9 and that was perfectly average even though he was actually closer to 5’8 and maybe if he was being really honest about it, 5’7.

“Hey… does she really have an eyepatch? How’d that happen?” asked Brad.

“Well,” said George, “It was horrifying actually… it happened on live telev—”

“—Gentlemen!” interrupted Alden, who knew that everyone reading this cared more about how Hillary lost her eye (horrifically) than anything else and wanted to make sure this was not revealed until the very end, “We don’t have time for this. Dad… just tell us where Mom’s C.G.S.P.P is so we can get this over with.”

“Heh.” chortled Brad, “You said peepee.”

George hesitated, then realized that the hesitation would be perceived as weakness, so he said much louder than a normal person would ever say, “Sorry, bud. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Dad.” said Alden, who liked being lied to only slightly less than he liked being called bud, “Tell us where the Chrono Genomic Sequencing Pharmaceutical Printer is or Brad here’s gonna beat you up.”

“Sorry, Mr. Rosenberg.” Brad said, politely cracking his knuckles.

George should have been surprised at this threat of violence from his own son, but he was not. Alden had embraced Oedipal tendencies from an early age. When he was six, George told him to turn off the television and Alden just looked at him and said, “How about I turn you off ?” George laughed nervously, but Alden made it clear that he wasn’t joking when he said, “I’m not joking.”

So George knew that Brad would indeed beat him up if he did not reveal the whereabouts of Elizabeth’s time machine (she hated it when he called it that) but he also understood that Alden must have already accessed it if Brad was already travelling through time and he was on the verge of pointing out this very paradox when the ceiling above them abruptly exploded and two adult panda bears fell into the room from above in a cloud of sawdust and insulation.

“Shit.” said Alden.

“GRAAAAAAAR!” said one of the pandas.

“…The fuck?!?” said Brad.

“MUHHHHHR!” said the other panda.

The door flew open and a woman burst into the room. She was sweaty, slightly drunk and most certainly fifteen years older than the last time any of them had seen her. She was brandishing a whip, which she cracked with brutal authority, bringing the pandas to attention, for she was clearly their master.

“Hi, honey.” Elizabeth Rosenberg said to her stupefied husband…

“Sorry I’m late.”

To be continued

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