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

Three Holidays

There are no less than THREE holidays in Los Angeles this weekend, and that doesn’t include the celebration of the lifting of masks for the vaccinated or the opening up of tens of thousands of businesses nationwide.

Not that I’m rushing to take off my mask if you’re standing next to me or jonesing to get back to a packed gym or movie theatre.

For one thing, I can jog around the hills of my neighborhood and have weights at home.  And secondly, what movie am I going to go out and risk my life to see?

Peter Rabbit 2?  A Quiet Place 2?  Fast and Furious 9?

Surely you jest

Yes, 9!!!  Or as it’s better known, F9.   

To which I say to the studios – f U.

But let’s not go there, even though I went there, in this celebratory time.

And yes, OF COURSE, I’m exaggerating.

I’ve been vaccinated and so have almost 70% (oh wait, that’s 60% receiving at least one dose) of California.  So truly, I’m not risking MY life by going out to a movie theatre and sitting or standing next to you – Delta Variant – at least according to medical science.

Right?

Exactly.

Should this be me?

But if life is at all worth living for any reason it is for these times of celebration.  And, I’ll admit it, I like a party.

But am I the only one trying to balance the demands of Father’s Day, Gay Pride and now Juneteenth, all in the space of a single long weekend?

It feels strange.  Even for a fella who has lived more than half his life in L.A., headquarters of the Trump Resistance and a place more than half of America considers the strangest city of them all.

Strange? Yeah, OK fine.

Juneteenth commemorates that day in 1865 – June 19th – when the Union Army issued a special order to proclaim and enforce freedom for all slaves when it advanced into the state of Texas.

See, even though Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation “ended” U.S. slavery, Texas was a bastion of Confederacy AND the most remote of the slave owning states.  Meaning it didn’t adhere to federal law and needed a little…um…prodding…to make Lincoln’s proclamation true reality.

Yet leading conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation are already using the Juneteenth Holiday to say that while there were issues or problems in our history, look at how we…are overcoming them.

Nice sentiment, right?  Cause well, Juneteenth is finally a holiday WHOPEEE!!!!

Well, this would be fine if the half-century struggle to make it a holiday hadn’t been continually squelched by ultra right wing Republican U.S. senators like Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson.  

His most recent argument?  

Giving workers another day of paid leave would cost too much.  

I can’t with these morons

Of course, one presumes he meant money. But the ugly truth is that, as any thinking white person who ever heard a racist sentiment expressed in a segregated room knows, these are coded words to avoid saying out loud that its real threat is to the superiority and dominance of Whiteness as an American institution.  

Open the door to Juneteenth, as we now have, and well…THAT COULD ALL BE GONE!!!  OMG!!!!!!

See, the new Fox News/Republican Party talking point this week, and likely all through to Election Day, 2022, is the danger of what Juneteenth demands – teaching something called critical race theory in schools.   

The entire Fox audience after they hear “critical race theory”

So much so that there is now legislation in Texas (Note: Of all places) that would ban any teacher from the discussion of slavery and the possibility of any institutional racism in America. 

Which begs the question of how exactly they will handle explaining future Juneteenth holidays to their students.  Perhaps, try to NOT discuss it?  

Well, as any one of us who learned about sex from our friends or from porn knows, THAT always works.

Critical race theory is more than 40 years old and hardly the MARIXIST conversion of America’s children that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is now shouting to anyone who unwisely still tries listening to him.  In fact, all it really asks is for us to discuss the idea that racism may have contributed to American public policy over the years (i.e. slavery, criminal justice, housing, etc.). 

Which is why it’s so confusing when a group like the Heritage Foundation and its chief spokesperson now says making Juneteenth a holiday is the perfect answer to those who are promoting critical race theory…Juneteenth says no, we don’t need to destroy the very structures of this nation, the things that make us great.

Wait… what?

That’d be like Anita Bryant proclaiming the legalization of gay marriage, gay adoption and gay teachers in schools proves just how great of a country America is.

(Note: For those of you who don’t know, Ms. Bryant was a C-list singer who spent half her life screaming that we gays were an abomination, a threat to children and a festering infection on the social fabric of American society.  Or, well, words to that effect).

Though Ms. Bryant and her ilk are part of the reason why June is Gay Pride Month nationwide, why this weekend in Los Angeles there is a virtual/live celebration parade on the streets for the 51st straight (Note: No pun intended) year, and why White Straight People don’t need one.

That would be one boring parade

Still, if Cruz, Heritage, Johnson, et. al. keep up their intransigence and hypocrisy, who knows?  They might marginalize themselves right down the evolutionary scale just enough to lay claim to OUR status.  And without mass, or masked, snickers.

I’m clearly joking, kind of.  Though no one can say the evils of homophobia and racism didn’t contribute to Pride and Juneteenth.   You need an oppressor to break free of in order to celebrate the gloriousness of your survival.

Which is yet another reason why this weekend is confusing.  

Especially when you realize both these holidays fall on FATHER’S DAY!!!

Welp. That about does it.

Who among us doesn’t have some loaded history with our parents, much as we may love them?  And if you don’t, get some therapy or just, well, go away.

I had to look it up in order to find out that Father’s Day was started in the U.S. in 1910 by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd in honor of her father William, who fought in the Union Army (Note: Thank God!!!) during the Civil War.  Sonora was 16 when her Mom died in childbirth and, together with her Dad, helped raise her five other siblings.  As the story goes, her single Dad was so exemplary that when he passed away she, and her brothers, wanted to find a way to honor him and all the great fathers of the world.

Nothing about Father’s Day feels controversial until you realize that its origins were around a single man who shared co-parenting duties with his underage daughter for his five other kids.  I mean, is that the kind of thing we want to promote?  And what about the costs of all of those presents?  Not to mention, what if you didn’t have a good father, or no father at all?

Better to avoid the entire subject, or any of these subjects, at all.

Or celebrate each and every one as thoroughly as you can while you still have a chance to carry on about any great thing you get at any key moment in your life.

Madonna – “Holiday”