I’m still here!
Where have I been for the last two weeks? Busy. I’ve been busy with work. I’ve been busy writing film reviews for Through the Shattered Lens. I’ve also been busy thinking about what I want to do with this blog. Even though the name of this blog is “Pop Politics,” I ever meant for it to be anything more than a personal blog. Even when this blog briefly went viral last year, it was an accident. The only reason I broke the news about Mad Magazine shutting down was because I thought everyone else in the world already knew. If I had known no official announcement had been made, I wouldn’t have written a word.
Going viral and suddenly having thousands of people looking at this blog and my twitter account (even if it was for only three days) was not as pleasant an experience as you might expect. In the first few hours after I posted the news about MAD, I had a lot of strangers accusing me of making stuff up. Even worse were the people who seemed to blame me for the news. And then there were the actual journalists who were pissed off that I (“some rando with a blog” as one of them put it) scooped them, even though that was never my intention. For someone like me, that was a lot to deal with.
So, if this blog isn’t a political blog or a journalism blog, what is it? It’s just a personal blog. It’s a place for me to write about my day and record my thoughts. If people want to read, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine too. Not everyone wants or needs to be famous. Not everyone is trying to build a brand. Some of us just want a place to express ourselves.
This is my place.
May’s coming to an end with riots across America and social distancing at an apparent end.
I have no idea what June has in store for us but I guess we’ll find out together.
I could either tell you that I was really busy or that I spent the entire week watching Police Academy movies on Netflix.
Which one sounds better?
It wasn’t a bad day. I woke up to rain and I’ll probably be going to bed to rain. In between, the weather was pleasant enough to take a walk around the block. Of course, wearing a mask while taking a leisurely stroll felt strange but that’s the way of the world is right now.
The Dallas county stay-at-home order has been extended until May 15th. Interestingly, the main opponent to Dallas’s stay-at-home order has turned out to be J. Wiley Price. Price represents some of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Dallas County and his argument has been that, the longer the economy is shut down, the more likely it is that the small and locally-owned businesses in those communities will never be able to reopen. That will take jobs and opportunities out of communities that are already struggling. Price is a controversial figure in Dallas and he’s said a lot of things over the past few years that I disagree with but I actually agree with him here.
(In Dallas, Price’s nickname is “Our Man Downtown.” It’s generally agreed that he’s corrupt-as-Hell and he was very publicly investigated by the FBI a few years ago. But, regardless of his personal ethics, he does seem to take care of his constituents.)
There’s been a shift recently among those who want to keep the economy locked down. They’ve gone from talking about reopening when the curve is flattened to reopening when there is a vaccine. However, there’s a very good chance that there will never be a vaccine for this. Waiting until there is zero risk is not realistic because there will probably never be zero risk. It’s scary but that’s the truth.
Today is 4-20. Because I know my mother occasionally checks this blog, allow me to say that I have no idea why that date would be significant. Some people were excited about today’s date but not me. No way.
Another day in lockdown. Three more bandannas arrived at the house today. I ordered them off of Ebay a few weeks ago and they finally showed up. Lisa and I put them on, just to see if they were the right size. Then we stared at ourselves in the mirror and wondered what it’s going to be like to spend the rest of our lives looking like we’re about to hold up a stagecoach or rob a bank. For a few minutes, at least, we felt like Bonnie and Clyde.
I heard today that Georgia is scheduled to reopen on Friday. A lot of people are saying that it’s a huge mistake and others are saying that it’s about time to reopen the economy and loosen some of the lockdown restrictons. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Even if COVID-19 hasn’t been the end of the world event that some people thought it would be, it’s still not something to mess around with. At the same time, there’s something galling about the same people who refuse to close Central Park criticizing another state for wanting to get back to work. So much of the coverage of this pandemic seems to come from people who almost seem to be rooting for massive red state fatalities. It’s a sad statement about the current lack of national unity. My hope is that things will be okay in Georgia. And, if they’re not, my hope is that we’ll learn a lesson from it.
The days are blending together and right now, there’s no end in sight.
In a time of crisis, people have to be able to trust that there’s someone looking out for their interests. What makes this crisis so difficult is that many of us no longer have that feeling. We don’t know how bad things actually are. We don’t know how close things may be to reopening. We don’t feel like anyone — in the government or the media — is willing to be honest with us about the situation and it makes us all feel even more alone. It’s hard to trust Trump’s positivity because we know that he’s loathes the idea of acknowledging that there’s a problem that he can’t solve on his own. It’s hard to trust the media’s negativity because the media has been telling us that the sky is falling for three years now.
Unfortunately, the election is not going to change that. Even if Biden defeats Trump, it’s going to be hard to trust a media that has such a clear rooting interest in one party. In 2016, we had a terrible choice. In 2020, we’ve got another terrible choice.
I wish I could be more positive tonight but realistically, I can’t be. Fortunately, there’s 7 Police Academy films on Netflix, just in case I need to remind myself that things could be worse.
Lisa and I are currently watching something called Tarzan in Manhattan. It’s a late 80s tv movie where Tarzan goes to New York and teams up with a private investigator played by Tony Curtis. Jan-Michael Vincent is in it, as well. It’s pretty bad but at least I know what I’ll be reviewing for the Shattered Lens tomorrow. As bad as this is, I’m glad that we found it before we forced to resort to binging our way through the Police Academy movies on Netflix. That day will come eventually but we’re still trying to hold it off for as long as possible.
We watched a little of Trump’s daily press briefing today. A lot of people are upset because Trump said, incorrectly, that he has absolute authority as President. It’s amazing to watch the people who celebrated eight years of “I have a pen and a phone” suddenly discovering why checks and balances are actually a good thing. One would hope that they would continue to remember it even after they return to power but I doubt they will. They’re not really upset about the potential usurpation of power. They’re just mad that Trump is the one doing it. America deserves better than it’s getting from both its leaders and its media.
Other than Trump’s press conference, the big political news is that Bernie formally endorsed Joe Biden today. They had a live stream conversation, during which Biden appeared to be reading from a teleprompter. Say what you will about Bernie, and I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t agree with him about much, but Bernie doesn’t need a script to have a conversation. It may not matter, of course. Trump is such a divisive figure that the Democrats may not need a good candidate to beat him and there are a lot of people who will happily vote for anyone but Trump. But I still can’t imagine actually being enthusiastic about Biden on any level other than the fact that he’s not Trump.
In the UK, Boris Johnson is out of the hospital. That’s some good news to end on.
Today, I’m tired.
There are lines in front of grocery stores. People are getting pulled off of buses for not wearing a mask. In Kentucky, the governor has announced that the police will be checking out the church parking lots on Sunday and writing down license plate numbers so that people can be forced to go into quarantine. I’m torn between knowing that we have to take extreme measures to fight the spread of the COVID-19 and also knowing that this won’t end after the lockdown does. 9-11 started the process of normalizing the idea of living in a police state and snitching on your neighbors. COVID-19 is here to finish the job. We’re saving lives at the cost of freedom but what are we supposed to do? Let people die? These are troubling times and right now, there’s not much we can do but wait and see what we’ll be dealing with in the future.
The latest news out of the UK is that Boris Johnson is out of the ICU and that he’s recovering. That’s good news, regardless of whether you voted Tory or Labour in the last general election.
Here in the States, there was briefly a flurry of excitement when it was reported that Colin Kaepernick, who has been a free agent since 2017, had been signed by the New York Jets. It turned out that the story was based on a tweet that was put out by a parody twitter account. What was interesting was witnessing the number of media figures — the same people who were told we should listen to in times of crisis — who fell for the tweet. Those of us who have never particularly cared about whether or not Kaepernick was signed to an NFL team have often wondered who Kaepernick’s fans actually were. Now, we have our answer. They’re people who work for the cable news channels.
Myself, I never really cared whether or not Colin Kaepernick wanted to take a knee during the national anthem. It was his right, as an American, to kneel. At the same time, I also think the NFL had the right not to sign him. Many people seemed to feel that an NFL team should have been forced to sign him but, even if that was constitutional, it just would have meant Kaepernick would have been spent the past three seasons sitting on the bench instead of appearing in Nike commercials.
Today has been a good day. It’s been as close to a normal day as anyone could hope for during a pandemic lock-down. Everything that has happened has really given me a new appreciation for normal days.
Allen Garfield died yesterday. He may not have been a household name but he was one of the best character actors of the 70s. He rarely had the lead role. Instead, he was usually the obnoxious foil to the main character. Invariably, he played people who you would not want to have to sit next to on an airplane. He played Barnett in Nashville and he was Gene Hackman’s sleazy rival in The Conversation. He was 80 years old and, because of a stroke that he suffered in 2004, he was retired from acting.
The singer John Prine also died yesterday, again of COVID-19. We’re losing a lot of voices as a result of this pandemic.
Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign today. Joe Biden’s been running for President since before I was born. I guess his dream is finally going to come true. If Biden wins, it will be due to voters rejecting Trump and not due to any great enthusiasm for Joe Biden as a candidate. The thought that we can’t do any better than Trump and Biden is not a happy one.
Despie my feelings about the presidential race, today is the first day that I’ve felt really confident that, eventually, things will get better. I just hope that everyone reading this is staying safe.
Chag sameach all.