The Second Annual Pandemmys

How many thought last year’s pandemic Emmys, where the beloved Schitt’s Creek swept every major comedy award (Note: Including, at last, one for the beloved Catherine O’Hara), and in turn launched tens of thousands of Halloween/gay pride costume ideas, was a one-time thing?

Well, it only sort of was.

Shiny happy Moiras!

Yes, SC is no longer with us, leaving this year’s comedy trophies likely to come down to a battle between Apple’s Ted Lasso and HBO’s Hacks.  But do you know what else IS still with us?

Envelope, please –

THE PANDEMIC!!!

Woo hoo?

So live from coast to coast on CBS for three hours plus on Sunday night beginning anywhere from 5:00-8:00pm, depending on your time zone, is

Drumroll, please —

THE PANDEMIC EMMYS!!!!

Prepare the “Ted Lassos the Emmys” headlines

Yes, it’ll still take place at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown L.A., where many of us in L.A. haven’t been since, oh, pre-pandemic days.  But instead of getting perennial awards show host Jimmy Kimmel, this year CBS is trying something different.  They’re giving us –

CEDRIC the ENTERTAINER!!!

Now truly, he happens to be a funny guy.  And he’s the star of the CBS series The Neighborhood which certainly has nothing to do with this year’s Emmys except that, well, it is on CBS.

There better be good hats!

But let’s not digress.

You might be saying to yourself right about now: Chair, why do I give a flying fig about the best on television when the world is falling apart and I haven’t received my COVID booster shot yet because I’m nowhere near as old and connected as you are????

Well, the reason is:

You’ve freakin’ been doing nothing BUT watching TV most weekends this year (Note: Because you’re still alive) so OF COURSE you’re going to care!!!!!

Don’t act like this is not you!

That being the case, please join both The Chair and Holly on Tuesday as we unpack the SECOND ANNUAL PANDEMIC EMMYS on THE FIRST ANNUAL EMMY EPISODE OF —

POD FROM A CHAIR!!

We will recap what promises to be yet another strange awards evening, among so many strange evenings in the last 18 months; applaud and hiss the winners and losers and snubbed; and perhaps even politically incorrectly dish a couple of the outfits, especially among any perceived anti-vaxers.

Of course, none of that is as important as JEAN SMART winning for BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY for her career-topping performance in HACKS but, then again, what could be???  #IfSheLosesItsRigged.

Jean and the Emmy Technicolor Dreamcoat

The only thing we could think of is getting the vaccine, masking up AND having a few laughs.

Stay tuned.  And see you soon.

Let it Go – from Ted Lasso

The Stories

This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that leveled the World Trade Center Twin Towers in NYC and destroyed part of the Pentagon building in Washington D.C.  Nineteen Al-Qaeda terrorists on a suicide mission hijacked four large jets – two from American Airlines and two from United Airlines – and essentially used them as giant bombs by flying three of the four of them into those buildings.

In the process they killed 2977 people, left well over 25,000 others with permanent injuries and cost the United States over $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.  This is not to mention the many billions more – actually many trillions more – spent over the last two decades on various wars overseas.

Names and flowers remain

Also, let’s not forget that among the dead that day were 344 firefighters and 70 plus police officers that ran directly into the wreckage in order to do their jobs (Note: There were probably more than that). 

And all of the collateral destruction created by all of the above. 

One of those is the fate of the fourth jetliner, whose passengers presumably revolted against the hijackers and crashed their plane into a field in Pennsylvania rather than have themselves be crashed into either the White House or Capitol building, their jet’s presumed target.

United 93 Memorial Site in Shanksville, PA

These are the facts, though they do little to truly explain the magnitude of this one event and the reverberation it’s had over the last two decades.

That’s the way it is with seminal tragedies, whether they be international news or merely personal in nature.

When they’re both, well, it’s that much more difficult.

We each find our way to put events in perspective (Note: Or we never do), create some kind of order and hopefully move forward.  There is no right or wrong way to do this and, ultimately none of them ever feel adequate or quite enough.

Wall to wall American flags, or not. (Toby Keith concert, 2002)

Undoubtedly this is why a personal informal survey I took of how others feel about the events of the 20th anniversary 9/11 memoriam/hoopla is unsurprising.

Some say they are avoiding everything because it’s too upsetting, too commercialized and far too reductive. 

Others believe to turn one’s back and not watch, get involved or at least donate to some worthy cause is selfish, disloyal and/or just plain emotionally bankrupt.

And then there is the largest middle group that feels a little of each and thus indulge in some small or large part of all the hoopla and memories.  If you’re in that crowd, as I am, maybe you leave with some new perspective or call to action.  Or perhaps you emerge sadder, angrier or more confused than ever.

Until a few minutes, hours or days go by and your life resumes pretty much the way that it was because, well, it sort of has to.

Only memories now remain

Though if you believe we are all an accumulation of our experiences and change happens only when you reach a tipping point in certain areas you can’t accurately say that time doing anything is wasted.

At least that’s what I tell myself.  And it makes me feel better. 

Momentarily.

It is both correct and cliché to proclaim and/or embrace 9/11 bromides like – the world was forever changed or we will never be the same or America was united on 9/11 and we need to remember that in these divided timesdespite the urge to either dismiss any or all of the above as merely clichés and hollow expressions or laud them as aptly inspiring lessons of both the political and social kind.

Which kind of brings us back to where we were the day after 9/11 happened and the week before the 20th anniversary happened.  Leading us to ask the question:

Have we really learned anything at all and, if we haven’t, what is the point of even thinking about this?

We have to learn from this

This week I watched Spike Lee’s excellent documentary series on HBO, NYC Epicenters 9/11 – 2021 ½, which covers the historical significance of tragedies like 9/11 and the COVID 19 pandemic;the wordy but telling Netflix drama, Worth, starring Michael Keaton, about government payouts to 9/11 families;and the rousingly watchable film of the Broadway musical, Come From Away, inspired by the true life story of the 38 planes diverted out of airspace for five days on 9/11 to a tiny Canadian town on the tip of Newfoundland, Gander.

Each work to various effects on their own terms and prove compelling and even funny in surprising and unexpected ways.  But none of them make even a slight dent in telling the enormity of the 9/11 story because, well, how could they?

No one thing will ever tell that story and no single story or group of stories can ever live up to the task. 

Must sees

This is because when it comes to seminal events in personal and/or human histories the stories are infinite and never-ending.  It’s why the Shoah project came to be in 1994 to account for the Holocaust after thousands of stories about the extermination of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis had already been told.  And it’s the reason why new ones are to this day being unearthed and will continue to be accounted for long after Shoah.

You never know what is new for whom and how it is going to resonate for which audience to come.

That point came into focus when during the seemingly endless coverage on Saturday two newscasters Zoom interviewed Joe Dittmar, a 9/11 survivor.  Mr. Dittmar, who worked in insurance, happened to be in NYC on business that day on the 105th floor of the South Tower when the first plane hit the North Tower.

His visitor badge

Like many others, he decided to immediately evacuate via the stairs.  But by the time he got down to the 78th floor he decided he would continue down the stairs rather than take the plaza level elevators that were now an option because he thought, as an insurance guy, the stairs seemed the better choice.

That and, despite the efficiency of the elevators, per various people around him who worked in the Tower and knew the building.

So Dittmar continued down the seemingly endless stairway and, when he got between floors 74 and 73 , the second plane crashed though floors 77 and 83 of the South Tower, the building HE was in.  Or more to the point, trying to vacate.

The crash instantly eviscerated the people and everything else between floors 77 and 83; ensured those situated above it were sitting duck prisoners of fate; and allowed many of those just below it, including Dittmar, to make their way to safety.

When asked if he wondered what would have happened if he didn’t make the split second decision he did and instead chose the elevator, he replied he didn’t have to wonder at all.  If he chose differently —

I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you now.

His survival is a miracle

What he primarily learned from that experience,  he said, was to always live that day and to never expect anything. 

There were no what ifs, no oh my god, life hangs in the balance and EVERY decision IS IMPORTANT, HELP, and nothing to the effect of, I happened to get lucky but I’m not smarter than anyone else.

This guy wasn’t a philosophizer.  He had, in very plain and simple terms, lived to become a realist.

On this “very special”9/11 anniversary there were a lot of unique photo ops, political speeches, expert talking heads tackling the events of the last 20 years from various angles and, most of all, a fine solo performance from Bruce Springsteen of a song he wrote last year about loss, I’ll See You In My Dreams, at the site of the attacks.

They all worked fine.

But the average Joe put it into perspective for me in a way no one else could.  And in a lot less time.

Come from Away – “Welcome to the Rock”