Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Nurse the Hate: The Story About Having A Port In New York

I bought a bottle of Sandeman Fine Tawny Porto on my last suicide run to the grocery store.  I can tell I must be getting older as I have developed a taste for tawny port.  It's a shame I cannot sit at a dinner table with friends and say, "Gentlemen, let's allow the ladies to retire to the parlor while we have our port in the library."  At this point I can stare at Netflix by myself and need to restrain the urge to gurgle the port down a beer stein.  I am watching the clock, waiting to get back on my path.  Like you, I am stuck in this purgatory.

I always think of the English when I think of port.  They established the trade after all.  I watched a British period docudrama last week where men shot blowguns at targets while their ladies jousted with verbal barbs at a proper emotional distance.  That was a generation that knew how to handle a pandemic.  "Yes, as I understand it Perkins spent 13 agonizing days with the fever before succumbing in that tent in Burma.  Nasty business this...  Oh, my honor?  Freshen up my port, would you Williams?"

I got into port about 30 years ago.  My Uncle Jack (who Bobby Latina clipped his name for "The Jack Fords" for those interested in minor Ohio rock and roll trivia) was amused that I had taken a liking to this very out of fashion beverage.  I remember having a port at Windows On The World on top of the World Trade Center.  I didn't have a dinner jacket, so they gave me the "rental" penalty jacket.  Restaurants would sometimes require gentlemen to wear blazers, and if they didn't have one they would provide one they kept behind the reception desk.  The key was that this jacket would be blatantly unfashionable and fit poorly, theoretically punishing you to the point where you would never again forget a jacket at an establishment as fine as this. 

The problem with this policy is the poorly fit blue blazer was better quality than anything I owned, so this was like traveling where I had my clothes shipped ahead.  Imagine walking into a hotel room and they made you wear a clean pair of Chuck Taylors as opposed to the filthy cheap knock offs you normally wore.  "I can wear this?  Seriously?  Sure!"  I was probably wearing an early 90s enormous XL cut shirt with an ugly pattern that looked like a pajama top and some unflattering pleated pant, so anything that covered any of that eyesore was a welcome addition.

When I traveled to New York under these circumstances, I was jolted to understand how out of fashion I was at that particular moment.  I remember once going to a party at an apartment across from Wall Street and I noticed I was the only guy with his shirt tucked in and wearing a belt.  "Wait?  We don't tuck our shirts in anymore?  When did you guys find out?  Who told you?"  There is never a time that you feel more Midwestern.  The good news was I got the tip and became one of the first Cleveland guys to wear his shirt untucked.  "Hey man...  Look at Miller.  How come his shirt isn't tucked in?  Is that a thing now?"

That night with Jack Ford we had a port at Windows.  After dinner Jack Ford wanted to take us to an old bar he knew in Manhatten where he insisted we all had to get another port.  I returned the blazer to the sneering host, in the back of my mind noting I needed to buy new clothes when I got back to Ohio.  Jack drove us to the bar.  He swerved all over the road with the misguided confidence of a senior citizen with a belly full of gin and port.  We stopped at a place with long graceful brass rails down the old wood bar.  It was one of those New York places that seemed like it had always been there and would always be there.  They had three different ports, so we split them up amongst us.  I remember my father was there, and my cousin Nancy.  My mother had recently died, so my father must have been lonely.  The holidays are brutal that way, an experience each of us is doomed to have unless we have the relative good fortune to die before our loved ones.

The night had hit that point where conversations had drilled down to the person immediately next to you.  I asked Jack about his business, a murky "international moving company" that had extensive work in Central America, Africa, and the Middle East.  We were drinking a Taylor's Tawny, a nice but by no means great port.  It was a good one to have at the quiet last part of the night.  Jack had his guard down a bit, something I had never seen.  He was probably drunker than even I realized.  He stared straight ahead and starting talking.  It wasn't so much to me.  It was something on his mind he had to get out.  "I was in Nicaragua one time with two guys I worked with.  We were doing this project down there.  We were at this little country bar.  A beer joint basically.  We all had to take a leak, and they had an outhouse in the back.  There were three stalls, you know, those little boxes with holes in the ground.  I was heading out with the other guys, and then this kid bartender asked me if we wanted another round.  I turned back at the bar and some local got up and cut me off to go to the outhouse.  So I ordered another round and then all three of those guys got machine gunned in those outhouses."

Up to this point we had been having our normal dry sarcastic banter.  Jack got faraway for a minute.  He looked at the mirror across from us, all the colorful bottles in the three deep row, paused and knocked back his port.  I was stunned, waiting for some kind of "Ah gotcha!" punch line.  There wasn't one.  We sat there quietly for a moment.  The spell broke.  He tuned his head to look at me, returning to the present.  "How's your port?"     

Monday, April 6, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On Cheap Tuscan Red Wine

Another night in house arrest.  I opened a cheap ass Italian red from Tuscany tonight, a Rosso Tuscano.  I have immersed myself in Italian wine over the last year for two reasons.  The first was I was painfully undereducated on Italian wines.  I knew just enough to be dangerous about Barolo, Chianti, and Amarones.  I got extremely lucky in my last big wine certification to have been asked about Amarone production, something that stuck in my head for no good reason like the song "Love Is Like Oxygen".  Had I been asked about Sicily, differences in key Sangiovese production areas or even locating Puglia I would have been screwed.  Sometimes things work out for me.

I did the IWC Italian wine course and have had to memorize a bunch of pointless wines like Vino Santo (a dessert wine almost no one drinks) and Grappollos (a nice red you are as likely to come in contact with as having a beer with Iggy Pop in a hotel lobby).  I tried to memorize obscure Southern Italian grapes, rivers, and soil types last year while almost having a mental breakdown and, not surprisingly, that didn't go very well.  As a result I have to score well on the second test which is focused on Northern Italian areas like Piedmont, Verona, Friuli and Trentino/Alto Adige.  I was feeling good.  I felt like I was back in control of my life and then Doomsday hit.  I don't know if it's possible to take on more stress then I have in the last two years.  When I get the inevitable stress-induced stomach cancer diagnosis sometime around Christmas, I will feel my muscles in my shoulders relax slightly as I realize I can just let the avalanche of shit bury me and stop struggling.  But before I do, I am going to enjoy this Tuscano Rosso on a Monday Night.

When I used to go to Italian Restaurants back in The Olden Times, I would usually order Chianti since I felt like it was sort of legit and I never knew what the other crap was on the list.  It seems crazy now that people used to just walk into buildings filled with other people and order food, often shaking hands and touching strangers before eating.  What a reckless age the 2019s were!  Thinking about sitting in a crowded restaurant now eating a plate of pasta surrounded by a swirling chaos of humanity seems as insane as participating in a bi-sexual orgy of intervenous drug users in Haiti in the 1980s.  Life comes at you fast.

Here's a quick lesson about Tuscan wines.  Chianti is sangiovese.  It's that annoying European thing where they assume you know what's in the bottle because they told you the region where it was made.  Here in America we don't know anything, much less where anything is located.  Ask someone to find Iowa on a map sometime and you'll see what I mean.  So in the area around Florence and Siena they make wine from sangiovese.  It tastes sort of cherry with a dusty tinge on the finish.  Chianti got very popular about 50 years ago, so the Italians did what the Italians do...  They tweaked what the borders of Chianti are.  For example if Cleveland made Chianti, one day when you woke up you were told that Akron is Cleveland now too and their wine is no longer "Akron Wine" but "Chianti".  Now the guys that were making a mint in what was previously recognized as Old School Chianti got pissed.  Thinking fast, the government said "OK!  You are now Chianti Classico!".  On top of that, there are a bunch of areas surrounding Chianti that grow sangiovese too. Sometimes the wine tastes better if they blend in a little cabernet or merlot.  They aren't "allowed" to call it sangiovese then, even if it's 75% of the blend or so.  The government insists it must be called "Red Wine" (or "Rosso").  So if you see a "Rosso" from Tuscany, it is probably a pretty decent little red wine for a Monday.

Italy is a really great place.  The weather is good.  The food is great.  The people are nice.  I feel badly at how the virus has walloped them for the iconoclastic tendencies of the people that make it such a wonderful place.  I had been planning to go on a little trip to Puglia with my favorite person in the world before Doomsday hit.  When I was losing my mind last year, photos of Puglia kept appearing, calming me almost like a tranquilizer.  I had been looking forward to sitting seaside at Puglia, having a nice dinner with the salty sea breeze in our faces... and enjoying a wine from Tuscany.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Nurse the Hate: A Brief Discussion on Bordeaux

I decided to open a Bordeaux today.  I have always loved Bordeaux, though that has become somewhat unfashionable to say.  It's like clearing your throat during an argument between two people debating the merits of two bands like Brian Jonestown Massacre vs GOAT and saying "You know, I love Creedence!".  You might be 100% correct in your opinion that it is the superior band, but it's just not quite as cool as the other two, now is it?  I can't tell you how many asshole "wine influeners" that I follow online who devote their time to pointlessly being a champion for the equivalent of indie rock band wine grapes.  "Dude... totally loving this Arbois!".  Fuck off.

Let me break down why you should buy cheap Bordeaux.  There is value there.  When China decided to have a middle class, these people in this new middle class looked at themselves and said "Holy shit!  We have disposable income!  What should we buy to let other people know that we have MADE IT?".  This resulted in sales going crazy for legacy luxury brands like top tier Bordeaux.  Previously the European and US country club/banker set had driven up the best Bordeaux wine prices beyond most mere mortals price range.  Now drop in a few million Chinese that know just enough to be dangerous and only want "the best of the best".  This has resulted in the top Bordeaux wines soaring from $100 a bottle to $2000.  Meanwhile, the ocean of "everyday" Bordeaux wines are still $12-$18 because the Chinese market doesn't want to buy anything that doesn't cause label envy.

The basic fact is that almost all of these people buying the wines can't differentiate in what they are drinking.  They just know it's supposed to be good.  Anyone can tell that a Chateau Latour is better than a $20 bottle of Bordeaux.  Yet, who can justify that a Latour is 100 times better than the one you picked up at the wine shop?  It's $2000 vs $20.  Let me tell you about when I was at Bordeaux sitting around drinking wine with a bunch of Chinese folks...

What I find interesting about Asian cultures is the strict dedication to rote memorization of facts.  Here's a blatant generalization.  Every one of those fuckers has the entire textbook memorized when they walk in the room while I am still trying to pronounce "Pauillac".  If someone leading a group discussion says "Latour makes 50,000 cases", you can be sure a young Chinese guy in glasses will raise his hand to say "Excuse me, I believe last year they made 49,400 cases" as if that made any difference to the real point.  They painstakingly memorize data while oblivious to the greater meaning of the data.  This often best reveals itself in blind tasting.

There was an entire table of Chinese.  I was sitting with a couple French guys, a Hungarian, a girl from Taiwan and a German at the other table.  We tasted a wine that was concealed in a paper bag.  It was tight, extremely tannic and not very enjoyable to drink.  The Chinese table was especially brutal in their assessment of the wine, calling it cheap, low quality wine with a tone that varied between disgust and pity.   When it was revealed to be a fairly expensive Bordeaux from a known producer, the Chinese table flipped on a dime.  "Ohhh!!!!"  They excitedly took photos of the bottle and fought to pour themselves more wine, tripping over each other to get more of this wine that moments ago they had dismissed as horrible.

The flip side to this is regardless of how good the quality of an inexpensive producer is, the Chinese market will not take a strong position on an inexpensive Bordeaux unless the label has somehow created status for itself within the mainland.  These poor Bordeaux guys from the wrong side of the tracks have been relegated to always being stuck in the $15 price point despite being forced to make better wine just to be in the same stratosphere as the properties suddenly getting $500 per bottle for a wine that they happily charged $50 for 15 years ago.  There are also hundreds of these shoestring operations out there fighting for the same shelf space on grocery store shelves.  The quality of these cheap Bordeaux is so much higher than it was in the 1990s, it's almost unrecognizable.

Now don't get me wrong.  I would prefer to drink a Leoville Barton or Lynch Bages every night.  I just can't afford to now.  Frankly, with the collapse of the world economy, I have some concerns about being able to afford the $15 Bordeaux.  As news is beginning to tease the idea that the peak of the pandemic won't be until June, that puts being able to go outside in anything less than a hazmat suit at some point in September.  This will lead to a complete global economic catastrophe that will make the Great Depression look like a picnic.  Maybe that means a complete re-adjustment of fine wine pricing where Latour goes back to being $90 and the cheap Bordeaux is $8.  Unfortunately I won't have any money unless I start selling heroin or guns.  The people that make the $8 Bordeaux will have to start selling heroin or guns too, as selling wine to importers at $2 a bottle won't put food on the table.  Hmm.  This is a real pickle we're in.  For now, I'm looking for good $15 Bordeaux and staying in the bunker.  I suggest you do the same.

Shields up.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Leo's Story About Greece

The one good thing about being under house arrest has been the ability to devote more time to my wine studies.  Sure, I watched Tiger King on Netflix, but I also sat through an hour and half webinar on Friuli and Lombardy.  A man needs balance.  A quick side note on Tiger King...  I kept waiting to see Leo stroll by on screen at some point.  Joe Exotic seems like a guy that would have been able to dupe Leo into feeding tigers, or at the very least make pizza out of expired Wal Mart meat.  When you toss in the fact that Joe Exotic provided weed strong enough to make straight guys have sex with/marry him, and I think we can all agree that it was plain dumb luck Leo never stopped at that Oklahoma roadside private zoo.  He would have nestled in like a tick there.

I've been sampling odd wines writing timed tasting notes.  Yesterday I got into a Xinomavro from Naoussa (Greece).  I have not had a great deal of Greek wine. There are a couple of good reasons for this.  First, I don't eat at Greek restaurants because there aren't a lot of Greek restaurants where I live because there aren't a lot of Greeks which means there aren't a lot of Greek wines.  The other reason is I was given a bottle of Greek wine once by a lady that did some work for me and I didn't trust her judgement on things like food or wine.  She had that thing a lot of older Greek and Italian women have, the judgement that the shinier something is, the "nicer" it is.  She loved Cher, shiny tight dresses, and rattling bracelets.  These women live in homes with gold lamp shades, zebra pelt rugs and fake waterfalls.  You think I am going to trust her judgement on a wonky shaped bottle of white wine?  It was a different age.  1999 Me was afraid to even try it.

I have since done what the Ancient Greeks referred to as book learnin'.  Greece, as befits an ancient culture with fabulous weather and rocky soils, has an equally historic wine culture.  Most Greek wines that make it to the States are crispy little whites meant to be drunk with seafood.  I don't know if I had ever even seen a Greek red wine before a few years ago.  This was a good one.  Xinomavro is a red wine grape.  It is very tannic and has a lighter color like a Nebbiolo.  To me it tastes like if a decent Barolo/Barbaresco was blended with a little California Zin made in a more restrained style.  It is tannic, structured, and feels somewhat delicate.  It doesn't have the complexity of a good Nebbiolo, but the exchange is more approachable fruit.  I've never had a Xinomavro from a quality producer with a decade of bottle age, but I will bet it is fabulous.

So I was drinking my Naoussa Xinomavro pondering End Times, wondering who has all the hoarded toilet paper, and regretting never having been to Greece.  I am woefully undereducated on Greece.  I have always assumed it was a place where hairy guys force you to do shots of ouzo at tavernas before stealing your wallet.  It's a place where you get lost because you can't read any signs and business can done with a goat.  "You take girl.  I take goat."  This is admittedly a hazy idea of Greece at best.  Leo went there for his honeymoon.  I had a conversation with him when he got back about it hoping to glean more information about Greece, but as usual he had almost no concrete facts on where he was and what he saw.

The only thing that stood out to him was a story he told me about "what they do in Greece".  As a disclaimer, he usually can't discern between something that is an odd trait of an individual that has attached himself to him or something which is a defining national trait or custom.  On his honeymoon he was on a group tour.  Leo told me about "something they do in Greece".  This could have been something someone told him on the bus as a joke.  "Yeah!  When you sneeze, someone will say a number between 1 and 27, and that number was the letter of the alphabet of the first name of the person that was thinking about you".

Now I know what you are thinking.  It's probably the same thing I was thinking.  There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, not 27.  I then questioned in my mind if Leo had picked up the Greek alphabet in the week he was in Greece, or maybe there were 27 letters in that alphabet, but decided that both facts were unlikely.  I had opened this Pandora's box, so I dove right in.  I asked Leo for clarification on what was the 27th letter of the alphabet.  "Ah..."  I could see him mentally running through the A,B,Cs in his head.  Suddenly his face brightened as he had found the answer.  "The 27th letter of the alphabet is The Joker". He smiled broadly, his point defended.  The debate was over.

So last night I sat there on this open ended house arrest listening to Fountains of Wayne, a criminally underrated band who's main songwriter Adam Schlesinger just died from coronavirus.  Shit.  Give any of their records a spin.  The songs are great.  The wine was good.  I was really digging that xinomavro.  If I ever get out of here, I am going to track down one of those with some bottle age.  I am also going to look into if anyone in Greece spells their name with a Joker.  It is probably necessary to note that upon introductions.  "My name is Alexander.  It is spelled joker-capital A-l-e-x-a-n-d-e-r.  The joker is silent..."

Ah Greece...  so much left to learn.      

Friday, March 27, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts From The Bunker

One of the things I have discovered during this mandatory lockdown is that with the exception of not being able to play music, my life isn't remarkably different.  In many ways it is much more pleasurable.  As I plow through mindless work reports, it's nice to blast music.  The ability to not just mentally zone out but actually physically zone out when a co-worker asks for clarification on a point made clearly three minutes earlier is quite nice.  The lack of direct human contact though his beginning to play tricks on my mind though.

For example, as I walked the bassets the other morning in a completely quiet and desolate subdivision, I began to think "what if none of this is real?  what if life is a dream like state?  Not like the Matrix where there's some creepy host living off my body, but more like consciousness itself being a lie..."  The next thing you know, your mind can drift into the idea of your body being composed of atoms, and you yourself are nothing but a particle of an atom that is part of a larger creature which is actually a particle of a larger creature and so on.  The idea of "God" is actually just the realization of a larger creature you are part of which builds upon itself on infinity.  Meanwhile I'm just a guy walking a couple of dogs wondering if he can make his credit card bill.

I try to get past the existential arguments roaring inside my head.  There is a distraction of sorts.  The good news is The Boogie Man of the virus is everywhere.  It is the perfect villain.  The virus is invisible.  It is deadly.  It lives on all surfaces.  It floats through the air.  People carry it who don't even know they have it, yet if YOU get it you will die gasping for breath in a leaky tent on a high school football field.  I am being told I need to support restaurants and get pick up food, but I have also been given dire warnings that if Kendra from the Starbucks drive though window even grazes my espresso cup with her disease riddled fingers, I will be twisting in fever and body aches within hours.  I have no choice but to return to my bunker and attend pointless meetings on Zoom.  The only safe place is home with my cleaning agents and toilet paper.

I have stopped looking at the news every 15 minutes.  The last time I looked it appeared New York was doomed, the Federal Government was useless, and various counter narratives are chattering away.  The virus is going to kill us all, yet someone else is saying that current models suggest it won't be as bad as we had initially thought.  The Fox News narrative is urging their largely senior and working class viewers to disregard warnings from scientists.  This is probably in the hopes of bolstering the Fox News ownership stake stock portfolios.  Meanwhile it is unclear if the talking head scientists are understanding the idea of achieving some sort of acceptable risk level where a larger number of people than the quarantine ideal will be exposed to the virus in exchange for not living in 1931 again.  Who knows?  We can get down to the finger pointing later I'm sure.

I am reading.  James Joyce.  The Grapes and Wines Of Northern Italy.  "Million Dollar Bash" about The Basement Tapes.  There is a lot of bad TV to watch.  I am digging into my record collection.  There are weird things I haven't been able to pay attention to in the past.  Goat, The Chills, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, The Black Lips...  The one thing about this virus quarantine is that life has slowed down.  There is a certain gift in being able to take a second, look around and assess.  I am having longer lingering conversations with neighbors while walking the dogs, neither of us having manufactured deadlines urgently pressing on our subconscious.  I still find myself fighting back an internal alarm telling me to keep moving, don't waste time.

I feel that regardless of how this scenario plays out, our lives will be changed.  Priorities will be shifted.  The fear of deadly microbes and invisible danger will permeate our day-to-day.  I look at a pen to sign a credit card slip at a retailer.  Is it safe?  Who touched that pen?  There is a certain feeling of distrust in others that has seeped in.  Strangers are unclean.  I see people walk the other direction when seeing me with the dogs.  Squinting eyes assessing me.  "Is he sick?  Is he a danger to me?"  It doesn't seem likely we will get out of this without some of the residue sticking to our character long term.

There are 867 coronavirus cases in Ohio with 15 deaths.  There are 11.8 million people in Ohio.  That is .007% of the population with the virus.  Is this all hysteria?  Did Ohio act responsibly to minimize our infections?  I have no idea.  I am along for the ride like everyone else.  Eventually life will continue and I won't think twice about using an unfamiliar pen.  At least, I hope I will.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Exciting New Times In The Days Of Coronavirus

There was an undeniable Zombie Apocalypse feel to the end of this week.  The run on toilet paper and chicken was not how I pictured it, but then again this is sort of a B-level Zombie Apocalypse where instead of having Matt Damon as the lead we have Jason Priestly.  It would be much more exciting if this disease came and made you bleed out of your eyes and anus instead of just giving you a wicked ass case of the flu, but this is the disease our good friends in China thoughtfully created for us.  We have to play the hand we have been dealt.

America being what America is, sales increased sharply for cheap liquors and guns.  I am not 100% positive on what many people have for a game plan.  I picture them bunkered in their homes with bottles of Yellow Tail wine and Old Crow, crouched behind walls of hoarded toilet paper, trembling trigger fingers ready to shoot at a virus if it dares to enter their door to interrupt their binging of Netflix series.  To all of those that ran out and bought all the chicken and 600 cases of water...  now what?  I'd recommend that Miles Davis documentary.  It will be fun to watch that and have some baked chicken with a bottle of Dasani.

By the time Friday rolled around, I wasn't sure if I should disregard everything as a complete hysteria or get on board The Freak Out Train myself.  The more news I consume, the more sure I am that this sinus infection I have is about to blossom into me being on a ventilator in a rain soaked tent outside of an overrun hospital.  The pervading feeling is fear and distrust.  I walked the bassets and the rare times when I came across someone else walking I could see them evaluating me thinking "Is he infected?".  Their eyes squint slightly and bodies tense, involuntary reactions no doubt to the constant stress of The End Of The World.

When the number of cases start to ratchet up, The Fear will start to feed onto itself.  This period of time will be a real test.  I won't be surprised to see flipped cars serving as barricades on the Rocky River Bridge, open fires burning in barrels.  Nearby residents will have turned into tribes, enslaving the weak, many of them disregarding current fashions and now dressing in animal pelts with chains of human ears serving as punctuation to their descent into Lord of the Flies/Mad Max.  Language will have evolved into the last 48 hours into a new simplistic series of grunts.  "You no pass bridge.  We take car.  You slave now."  Meanwhile I was just hoping to get into Lakewood to buy toilet paper.  It will be a drag to serve as a slave in a tribe of guys that used to be window installers and Home Depot employees, but it's important to adjust when life throws you a curve ball.

Maybe I can become some sort of cryptic advisor.  I can picture myself in robes with a belt made of keys that don't open anything.  I will speak only in riddles.  The Tribe War Lord will beckon me to his chamber (what just two days ago was a yoga studio).  "Advisor!  What say thee?  Shall we make war on thy tribes of Rocky River so we may take thy toilet paper and water?"  I will stare off in the distance, strolling slowly as a slow smile spreads on my face.  "The moon that is full is like the bear that has been awaken three days before Spring."  Now if this was a week ago, these guys would look at each other and say "What is that dude talking about?".  Yet, even though it is only two days from now, they will have adjusted to The New Normal and speak in this odd new language.  "The Oracle has spoken.  Thy words truth.  Gather slaves.  War we make."

Life comes at you fast.  Whatever we would be hearing from the government normally would be taken with some skepticism, but as this current leadership group is incapable of speaking honestly, all bets are off.  I assume the truth is some sort of weird variance from whatever is being presented.  The combination of incompetence and pathological lying gives us facts through a funhouse mirror perspective.  Who knows what the hell is happening?  It's worth trying to make lemonade from these lemons.  This disorienting pause in our lives could be a benefit in disguise.

These weeks will be like an extended snow day without the snow.  As long as you don't let your mind wander into thinking "this is what it would be like if a neutron bomb hit", it could be nice re-set in our lives.  This is a good time to re-evaluate what is important.  I fully suspect people will emerge from this period of pause and gain the perspective to understand that their daily grind is largely an illusion of purpose.  Having this forced time to catch your breath and evaluate might not be all bad.  Well, unless you get enslaved by a war party of Lakewood Barbarians.  That would be bad.

Good luck in your bunker.  Enjoy your chicken.  See you soon.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Coronavirus!

The coronavirus is the biggest mass hysteria event in my memory.  There are three people in Ohio that have tested positive to this largely non-fatal disease.  There are 11.7 million people in Ohio.  The governor has declared a State of Emergency.  Sure, why not?  Clearly things are out of hand.  People are hoarding toilet paper.  Yet it is confusing.  Some events are being cancelled, but not all.  Don’t go on airplanes!  Buses and trains run as scheduled.  Don’t go to a basketball game.  Movie theaters are apparently fine.  Office workers are working from home.  Hourly employees are still at Subway and McDonalds.  Once again, there are three (3) people out of 11.7 million that are diagnosed with having it (Two back from a Nile cruise and 1 from a conference in Washington).  I love my odds of survival.

The finger is being pointed at the media, and this is a valid criticism.  All the tools TV and radio stations use to get viewers hooked in on the latest storm events has been unleashed with great glorious power on this ideal super villain.  Coronavirus is invisible, can seemingly strike from anywhere and can never be stopped.  Only by changing all your normal routines and avoiding everything/everyone can you possibly be spared, and even then, you still are AT GREAT RISK.  If you thought the specter of a never-ending war on the terrorism boogieman was good, bask in the glory of the unseen superdisease!  The fact that we can also pump in some Nationalism and blame the Chinese for causing it makes it even better.  I heard the virus was caused because rural Chinese men have sex with bats, and then made soup from the semen soaked dead animals, but this might only be an internet rumor…  USA!  USA!  USA!

I got back from Dublin last week and after the jet lag/lack of sleep, came down with a head cold.  If you want to be a pariah in the United States in March 2020, sneeze in a grocery store.  Check out the looks you get if you cough in a line for coffee.  It’s like I have dripping open sores from leprosy as I walk into the water at Kalahari Water Park (which has probably happened by the way).  Everyone is on full alert, neighbor ready to turn on neighbor.  My co-workers are convinced I am spreading coronavirus, this despite the fact I came from a place with no cases and am showing none of the symptoms of the virus.  I am sick and now ALL illnesses are coronavirus.  There is no longer such a thing as congested sinuses or allergies.  There are only gradations of coronavirus. 

I have decided to go with the flow as opposed to swimming against this strong tide.  I am openly telling people I am sick with the coronavirus, have no intention of staying home, and have licked their phones.  Embrace it.  We are all going to die from something, and you are going to die from the coronavirus I brought from the cesspool of viral infection, Ireland.  With luck I will get national media attention as instead of staying quarantined on a doomed cruise ship, I actually swim out to meet other oncoming vessels to infect all those aboard.  I will do nothing but attend pro sporting events, ride in airplanes, march in parades, and work very, VERY closely with children.  The coronavirus is not really a disease.  At this point, it’s an idea.  Cradle the fear.  Give in.  Let the hysteria wash over you like a microbe filled stream.  You are IN DANGER.

By the way, you just touched your face.