Archive for Quarantine Time

Tin Pot Dictator…

In 2016, we self-absorbed, righteous, liberal Democrats laughed when Donald Trump, the failed businessman turned entertainer, staged a theatrical made-for-TV moment on the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for president. It was jokish; Melania, the beautiful accessory trailing dutifully behind. He told us he was running because Mexican rapists and criminal elements were invading “our” country and that he could return America to greatness.

Today, on the 5th of July four years later, it seems appropriate to put that event in some kind of historical context. No one imagined a Trump victory in 2016 but it happened, and here we are in 2020 faced with an emboldened, delusional Donald Trump asserting that left wing, liberal, socialist elites are relentlessly campaigning to undermine his legitimacy and the democracy of “our” founding fathers. read more

Can We Stand Together?

M and I live in an autonomous zone, not the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) you’ve read about – where Black Lives Matter protestors are occupying six city blocks and a park in Seattle – but our own Covid-19 autonomous zone ten miles north of the CHAZ.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines autonomous, an adjective, as meaning:

  1. (Of a country or region) having the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs (self-governing, independent, sovereign, free, self-ruling, self-sufficient)
  2. The freedom to act independently 
  3. (In Kantian moral philosophy) acting in accordance with one’s moral duty rather than one’s desires.

I’m not being flippant; M and I are locked down in our own “zone” to protect ourselves from the death-dealing virus but equally concerned – not about protests in the CHAZ – but over the mounting crisis in America. What can we do about it? This is about more than Covid-19. This is a global crisis with America is its epicenter. We sit in the throes of a viral pandemic with a surfeit of African-Americans dying at the hands (or knees) of white police officers and a White House willing to use pepper spray, flash bangs, and rubber bullets against peaceful protestors to clear a path for the president to stand awkwardly holding a Bible in front of a church. read more

“I Have No More Words.”

Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is a man of few words. He is the sometimes boyfriend of Mma Precious Ramotswe, the title character in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mr. Matekoni is a car mechanic in Botswana where the series is set. He is a simple man – wise and laconic – who, when asked to explain something, often responds with “I have no more words.” I use it jokingly when M pushes hard to continue a conversation I’m not comfortable with.

Today, it’s not a joke. It’s exactly how I feel. “I have no more words” to explain what’s currently consuming us – a killer virus, police brutality, racial division, a violent culture, government stalemate – in effect our whole existence on this 2nd of June 2020. read more

American Master…

We may all have a case of cabin fever but there is no scarcity of good books, videos, films, and music to keep us occupied while we wait for Covid-19 to be vanquished. On Sunday night M and I watched a beautifully made PBS documentary American Masters:Wyeth, chronicling the life and work of Andrew Wyeth the great American realist painter–who lived most of his life, by choice, in self-isolation. 

While taking an art history class in the 1950s, I became aware of Mr. Wyeth’s work but didn’t understand how to place it in the continuum of American art. Neither did the arts experts; realistic painting seemed old fashioned to them. But, in 1948, Alfred Barr, the founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, purchased what has become Wyeth’s most famous painting, Christina’s World, for $1800 and that act helped change the art world’s perception of what “might” be modern. At the time abstract expressionism (Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clifford Still and others) was the big thing in modern art and realism was out of favor and assigned to a place in art history.  read more

No Smell, No Taste…

Granny

My restless brain is in overdrive search now that I have all this time and nowhere to go, so when I heard that one of the symptoms of Covid-19 was the loss of smell and taste, I free associated back to a bar of the same name (No Smell No Taste) in the West African country of Liberia. As Jerry Jeff Walker said about going to jail “I wasn’t there on a research project.” No Smell No Taste was a shanty bar, part wood, part corrugated tin, dirt floor on the road from the airport at Roberts Field to the capital, Monrovia. Big fun. Heineken beer preserved and fortified with formaldehyde (not unlike Trump’s injection of disinfectant) and a favored watering spot for Pan Am crew members. But, that’s another story. read more