CoVid Star Power

We are all the stars of our own lives.  This applies to each of us, whether we choose to luxuriate in the spotlight or are repelled by the mere thought of being noticed.

All of this is to say we have the ultimate say on every choice we make because at the end of the day we are the person taking the action.  It’s not only our name and reputation, but it’s our decision that keeps the entire project that is US afloat.

And nowhere has this been more apparent than in the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases across the United States.

Oh god

New COVID-19 cases are increasing in all 50 states in the US at an alarming rate.  Sure it’s worse in Florida, Missouri and the Arkansas border than it might be than where you’re reading this, but rest assured cases are also UP where you are.

Thanks Delta-Variant.  Thanks mask refusers.  Thanks pandemic deniers.  And most of all, thanks TO THE NON-VACCINATED.  They are all truly the STARS of their OWN SHOW.

Me, 24/7

The above sentence is meant to be read and/or said aloud with sarcasm.  You can also throw in a dollop of anger, impatience and even hate on my part on any given day or if the mood strikes you.   And given the news lately, it likely will.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday that this is becoming the pandemic of the unvaccinated.  This is because that population accounts for over 99% of recent COVID deaths.  However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t get a mild case of sick with perhaps lingering  lifetime effects from this disease.   

Nor does it mean that kids under 12 years old, who right now don’t even qualify to get a shot, won’t soon be in danger.  In fact, doctors tell us that if virus keeps surging the youngest members of our population will be the most affected.  Even now in Mississippi, a state with one of our lowest vaccination rates, seven children are in intensive care with COVID-19 and two are on ventilators.

Never more relevant

I won’t bore you with too many figures but just know that new cases are up 10% over what they were a week ago and 38 of our 50 states have seen a 50% increase. 

Across the US there were an average of 26,448 new cases per day over the last week. 

That might not seem scary in a country with 328 million people until you realize this figure was 67% higher than the week before.

If you take into account where we were in COVID-19 cases in, say, January 2020, and then look back and do the math of just a few months later, you’ll catch my drift.  Meaning we could be moving into deep sh-it once again if we don’t get our acts together.

Translation?  The answer is not to run to the nearest bar or local Med Men outlet (Note:  Google the latter) to not deal with what’s happening.  Instead, it’s to act like the best star in the world (Note: Think Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep) and step up, do your homework and carry the entire production on your shoulders if need be).

If we lockdown again, I’m ready for my Wilson phase

I live in Los Angeles, the most populated county in the country.  Because we’ve had a FIVE HUNDRED PER CENT increase in cases in the last month, an indoor mask mandate has been reinstated  as of Saturday night this weekend. 

What does this mean?  It means that if you go inside a supermarket, a workplace, a gym, a theatre or ANY INDOOR PUBLIC SETTING YOU HAVE TO WEAR A MASK.

It’s said that L.A. is leading the fight against the Delta Variant of COVID-19.  But, well, are we?

Or is it more like this?

I was fully vaccinated at the end of February and since then have always worn a mask at indoor public settings.  Except, well, a couple of times where I sat indoors at a restaurant when there was social distancing and I had to take my mask off to eat.  And then slowly decided to keep it off while I was inside because it seemed easier and no one else had one on.

Translation:  Truth be told, I never felt totally comfortable being unmasked in an indoor public space after I was vaccinated, even when I was six feet apart from others.  But I did it a few times (Note: Okay, maybe even more) anyway.

As a guy who used to lean towards the hypochondriacal, until I got older and realized there is truly NO escape from death, I figured that with the vaccine I could drop a shoulder strap or two at a socially distanced indoor restaurant. 

The Delta variant’s best friend

Still, there was no way I’d be doing a full strip indoors, even in L.A., at the movies or the, well, supermarket.  At this point, I no longer have any desire to prove just how comfortable I am onstage or center stage EVERYWHERE, even though, living in Hollywood, there is ALWAYS a chance you can be discovered, or rediscovered, at any moment and at any given age.  Or so the legend goes.

Nevertheless, it seems far too many Americans do see themselves as the center stage star of their own burlesque routine in towns big and small all across the country.  Rather than recognize they are part of a cast of millions in a daily blockbuster production called real-life, they see themselves as the spoiled pampered star at their local dinner theatre doing the same old thing in the same old way to less and less and FAR LESS success.  But, I mean, why change now, right?

Keep tellin’ yourself that, Norma

Those who’ve spent their adult lives in the entertainment industry realize at some point there is no reasoning with certain of these types.  They believe it is their right to act and strut and sing out exactly as they always have even if they put the entire rest of the cast and crew, in fact the entire show or project, at risk.

There is no shared responsibility. There is only the wants, needs AND DESIRES of the STAR. The star’s only real life are those moments that they are center stage and, for stars like these, those moments are every second of every waking hour of every single day. Consequences for all others be damned.

By the way, that kind of star doesn’t always have to be the performer.  It can be the director, the producer, the writer or the financier in the background.  It can even be, um, a former president of the United States.

HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED

Or it can be the person staring back at you each morning in the mirror, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

We all have the final say on what we do individually.  It’s our names, our reputations and our decisions that keep us afloat and, en masse, it is all of those things that keep the entire project that is the U.S. afloat.

Or sink it quicker than a summer stock production of The Sound Music in Atlanta featuring the Trump family.

Carly Simon – You’re So Vain

Happy Birthday America!

What do you say about someone – or something – on its 245th birthday?  I’ve been stumped other than to say –

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!

Sure, OK, this.

Which begs the question: what do you get a 245 year-old?  Though it seems to me we actually gave the United States its birthday gift months ago by voting out #45 and installing as #46 someone who none other than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) once called as good a man as God ever created.

That would be Joe Biden.

I think you mean… Joe Cool!

I, for one, don’t go in for the God stuff as it relates to human beings, or actually anything at all.  Still, it seems like a universally appropriate compliment.  Joe’s the kind of guy no one can truly bring themselves to hate or proclaim as evil, or even bad.

The best they can do is label him slow or incompetent or a puppet that is controlled by a vast left wing conspiracy of gays and Jews (Note: That’s ME!) with space lasers and indoctrination pamphlets. 

Or they might say he’s at the mercy of gaggles of black and brown people bent on erasing white culture and bankrupting the country with endless financial reparations based on critical race theory.

But personally evil or bad – nah!

Plus — He’s Dr. Jill Biden’s husband!

Considering these times vs. #45’s times, that’s one HUGE step towards reuniting these United States.  And as we’ve heard Joe say so often by now – there is nothing this country can’t accomplish when we do it together and that it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States.

So —

LET’S HEAR IT FOR JOE!!!!

Well, I’m cheering, anyway.

USA! USA! USA!

In less than six months he’s taken a country closed down and paralyzed by a worldwide pandemic to a place where almost 70% of the population will soon be vaccinated (Note:  Probably in the next few weeks).  Cities have opened up, millions of jobs have been added since he’s taken office AND he signed a $1.9 trillion economic aid package into law in March that has rushed money out the door to the citizens who need it most.

What’s been the principle criticism on all of this from his opposition?  Well, it’s that all those extended unemployment benefits are discouraging people from returning to work.

I don’t know about any of you, but NO ONE I know is dying to get back into an office, with or without masks, and it has nothing to do with laziness or unemployment checks.

I swear it’s not because of my mask tan

It’s actually more like they don’t want to get sick and perhaps actually die (Note: Delta Variant, fear of the unmasked if you’re medically vulnerable) or they can’t get the child care of elder care they need to take care of those in their family that they’ve been taking care of.

Still, let’s not make this political, tempting as it is to do so on this Fourth of July in particular.

Instead, let’s consider that our 245-year history is rooted in our disagreements – political, judicial, social and way too many more to mention.

Just in case you need a reminder

On the downside this week – Cosby’s out of jail on a technicality and the US Supreme Court says it’s okay to repeal voting rights in states with laws where the historically disenfranchised in mostly non-white areas face additional obstacles to vote.

On the other hand, at least some (and one in particular) racist cops AND Capitol Hill cop killers are getting convicted of serious crimes.  Not to mention, even large-scale crime rings masquerading as hospitality businesses run by former presidents and their family members and enablers are being chased down and tried for grand larceny and likely worse.

Me trying not to be smug

In addition to that, my congressman, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and a Republican politician whose name I could never imagine uttering out loud without wanting to vomit… Liz Cheney (WY-R) are teaming up with a bunch of others to get to the bottom of the January 6th 2021 insurrection.

You might not be optimistic but I will remind you that people scoffed back in 1980 when Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb teamed up to do her Guilty album.  Yet it is still her biggest selling album internationally out of the near SEVENTY she has released to this day and netted them a Grammy AND a string of Billboard hit singles.

So suck on that awhile, America!!

Plus as a bonus: So much good hair!

Of course, I josh, but only slightly.  Because in America it is the unlikeliest of pairings and the unlikeliest of people that have led us out of the dark times into brighter days.

On the other hand, it is also the likeliest of people that we knew would lead us straight down into hell that did so, and then often down further into a rabbit hole of what felt like certain and eternal Armageddon. 

Who me???

Or so it seemed at the time.

As we writers know, these are the consistent narrative choices that await us every time we sit down to face the blank, or partially filled page.  Dark vs. light, surefire damnation vs. as good of a man (or woman) that God ever created.

What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. once said?

The arc of the moral universe is long…but it bends towards justice….

In our 246th year, let’s hope so.

Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – “Guilty”