Excerpt from 'Here's What's Gonna Happen'
“Love didn’t grow very well in a place where there was only fear, just as plants didn’t grow very well in a place where it was always dark.”
This is an excerpt from the members only post that also came out today. If you’re a paying subscriber, delete this, as there’s nothing here that’s not in the deluxe version. In the deluxe version, I also review breakfast cereals, so if you’re looking for an upbeat and fun ending, please consider subscribing, since the VIP content is, in no uncertain terms, the primo shit, as it were. Anyway, on with the show.
Sup, team? How’s everyone’s quarantine? Mine is weird as shit. Some days, I’m super content being a homebody, dicking around on the internet, cooking meals and washing the dishes and then heading to bed to read (currently reading The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter...recommended), and other days I feel like I’m gonna lose my mind. The other night I performed in some weird online deal with my buddy Kyle...it was some kind of live zoomcast/podcast/everyone hangs out and bullshits type of thing...I don’t totally know what it was, I guess. I just know that I came on and played a few songs and shot the shit w some dudes for a while and then it was over. Nice distraction, right?
Well, here’s the thing...I don’t think I’m unique in this at all, but I’ve been performing for a long time. It’s a pretty full body experience for me, even just to do it into my phone or whatever. Since I was about 16, I’ve been regularly doing shows and here’s a few things that I’ve noticed happen to me: I usually can’t remember anything that happens on the stage unless it’s something truly astounding (this is true whether I’m drinking or stone sober, by the way), I can be sitting there at the side of the stage waiting to go on and preoccupied with anything...I can be depressed, angry, happy, in love, in despair, whatever, and when I get on stage a whole other brain kicks in and I’m just kinda off to the races (I assume this is common for almost all performers. I definitely ain’t trying to imply that this makes me special or interesting at all).
I can be sick as shit, and when I’m on stage, unless it’s an imminent (Siri voice) “attention: you’ll be shitting in 2 minutes regardless of literally anything, figure out where you wanna be” type of situation, the sickness abates, and after the show is over, I’m simultaneously pumped full of adrenaline and exhausted, and I wanna have a drink or two and hang out with people. It’s become completely pavlovian to me. Once a show is over, I need to dick around with some homies. I need it the way a crackhead needs to convince you to buy these cheeseburgers he has in his hands.
So anyway, I did the thing with Kyle and his cohost, Matt, and then I was desperate for some hangs with people who don’t have the last name Kelly just to put a little spice in the old meatball, if you feel my meaning (no offense whatsoever intended towards my family...I gotta imagine you and they all get what I mean). BUT THERE IS NO HANGING OUT! I tried to text some folks about maybe figuring out how to meet up outside and stand a responsible distance away from each other, but no dice. I was fucking crushed.
The next day, I went to a funeral for one of my really old dear friends. The whole thing was weird as hell. There was no service (at least not while I was there), just a viewing. I didn’t know that it was gonna be an open casket situation, and that was…weird. BUT, it wasn’t the weirdest part. The weirdest part was that I haven’t seen a lot of these people in like 20 years and presumably, I knew most of those in attendance, but the ravages of time are a hell of a game changer when it comes to recognizing folks. Add to that that everyone was dressed in mourning attire and wearing masks, and I had zero idea who the fuck anyone was. I went to a funeral, saw a bunch of people I know, didn’t recognize any of them, and left. It was uh...not what I had expected it to be like, but it makes sense in this pretty senseless time, eh?
Speaking of senseless, here’s the thing: there’s no way out of this pandemic, and I mean that very literally. The reasons are twofold:
Without strong and thorough federal level leadership, there ain’t no way to get out of this. The solution to beating a virus involves not just quarantining, but also testing, trace testing and further isolation until things can be assessed and people can be treated, and/or a vaccine can be developed. Were we on the road to doing this on a nationwide scale, we could mitigate the impact of this shit pretty effectively and quickly. But we are not doing that. I promise I will not rant about politics, but love him or hate him, our president is not the type that has any interest in implementing this kind of pragmatic initiative, as it’s full of hard-to-swallow truths and he’s much more interested in um...creating his own narrative in which he’s whupping ass in every direction without so much as lifting a finger. So um, something about a camel though the eye of a needle and a rich man in heaven?
Or, to use a less biblical metaphor: wish for the president to construct a feasible plan for actually flattening the curve and putting America back on financial and societal track via science and proven methodology in one hand and shit into the other and see which hand fills up first.
It’s easier, VASTLY easier, to not care about something than to care about it. Here’s the truth: We are a rudderless, leaderless people adrift alone on uncertain seas. We are quarantined and isolated by totalitarian order in many places and as a result, people are going broke, seeing their dreams evaporate and finding themselves in situations they never thought they’d be in. Were my first point up there anything about how our elected officials have this under control and are working overtime to make sure that we can minimize the effects of this BRUTAL disease (and it really does sound horrible. I don’t want to drown in my skin because my glass lungs are full of my oxygenated blood leaking through my suddenly porous veins. To quote Randy Jackson, that’s gonna be a no from me, dawg), then all of this potentially devastating isolation would be the obvious course to stay.
However, that’s not the fucking case at all. There’s no indication that anyone in power is doing jack shit besides seeing what kind of goalposts they can move and how many constitutional pillars they can openly flout. As a result, people are getting fucking antsy. You see it in Michigan where a lot of complete morons with machine guns are storming government buildings and buying Subway footlongs and shit, and you see many, many governors caving into the the very enticing notion that if they lift these quarantine restrictions, then they will no longer be on the hook for paying for their entire state to be unemployed, so they’re opening shit up, not for you, local militia goblins who need your roots dyed and your sandwiches artistically crafted, but for the bosses, for the shareholders and for their own bottom lines.
Now, before we go on, I want to point out that I’m aware that I sound like I’m playing both sides here. I’m saying that on one hand, the people in charge are using totalitarian police state tactics, and on the other, some people are opening up their states and that both are bad. Yes. Actually, both are bad. I don’t think that’s controversial. On one hand you’ve got power brokers experimenting with how to prevent the American public from organizing, assembling, working and so forth without any sort of constitutional mandate or precedent, and on the other you’ve got yahoo dipshits just opening for business specifically to feed the liege lords' coffers. Although those things may sound opposed, they actually kinda go hand in hand if you step back just a little. BUT I’m aware that that’s hard to do when you’re trapped in the myopia of your own isolation and fear and uncertainty.
And here’s the fucking thing: because of the yahoos, the totalitarians’ best intentions are completely fucking castrated. If Missouri isn’t quarantining and it’s the neighboring state to Illinois, it doesn’t matter if we are. If everyone doesn’t quarantine, the shit doesn’t work. That’s kinda why they forced through these draconian and medieval directives on how we can dress (masks at all times), how many people we can assemble with, how many visitors you can have in your home and whether or not you can even go out and make a living. If everyone isn’t quarantining, then this all just becomes an exercise in determining “how much shit the american people are willing to eat because they’re afraid,” and that, my friends, is 1) fuuuuucked up and 2) exactly what’s happening right now.
I personally think the people demanding to be allowed to go eat Blizzards in a Dairy Queen seem like a deranged lunatic fringe, but they’re NOT wrong about one thing: there are some unprecedented things going on right now in terms of the erosion of civil liberties and the only thing I’ve seen from the left is quiet acquiescence to handing over all their basic rights to a government they theoretically LOUDLY and heartily distrust, and a lot of shitty narcing on their fellow citizens, because mofuckers be scared. No. I’m serious.
There’s nothing a coward loves to be more than a narc or a cop and you see it all the time now in these fear laden days. Either you’re a fucking dumb hick lobbying to get the titty bars and nail salons open again or you’re an insufferable dipshit calling the cops on your neighbor for not wearing a mask while she jogs, Maoist Cultural Revolution style.
And this is why everything will fail. Faced with the choice, most people find it’s easier not to care than it is to care, and thanks to the massive bungling of this shit, there’s nothing even to care about. You CAN’T care about a compromised quarantine, and you probably don’t even want to when it seems like the only other people that do are shitty narcs and spies. Similarly, the people who DO care about their civil rights being legitimately trampled are gonna end up looking like those idiots who are willing to die for Baskin Robbins, and as soon as the whole thing starts to break down, which it already has, none of any of this is gonna matter any more.
As I said, you can’t do a quarantine if everyone’s not down. And everyone, for reasons that range from absolutely moronic to legit concerns about the state of their freedoms and livelihoods, is not down. So here’s how it’s gonna go, and you can mark my words, because it’s gonna go exactly like this:
People are going to stop caring, and they’re gonna stop caring so much that they don’t even care that they look like these imbecile COVID deniers, and things are gonna open again slowly. My prediction is that there’s gonna be a new thing kinda like being a conscientious objector during Vietnam where if you can prove you’re legitimately compromised or rendered mentally incapacitated due to fear of this virus that you can work from home or whatever (which...fat lot of good that does the gigantic swath of Americans who work in service, retail, production, manufacturing etc), and at first, things will open softly, slowly and carefully.
I’ve seen a lot of dipshit experts out there discussing how everything will be different from now on. Restaurants will have partitions between tables, no one will be comfortable if someone isn’t wearing a mask, the notion of crowding into a bar or a concert or an amusement park or whatever will become unthinkable (well, maybe not amusement parks, since that shit is where cousin kissing goons and bacteria thrive in tandem more than probably anywhere else on earth), and they’re right, but only kind of.
It WILL be weird at first. There will be masks and gloves and partitions and garbage cans over every other barstool and so forth at the start. But then something is gonna snap. Some restaurant is gonna just say “fuck this” and stop with the masks and partitions. That restaurant is going to see a surge in business, controversy and exposure (and probably narcs), and then people, some of them even reasonable, are going to just here and there say ‘fuck it’ and treat themselves to an experience of the way it used to be, before all this. Just for their anniversary, let’s risk it, baby, it’s been months and wouldn’t it be nice to breathe and just pretend this isn't happening for just a few hours? who cares about just a few hours? And so forth.
About one in the morning, some dude is gonna pull a garbage can off one of the barstools so he can sit by that woman over there. The bartender will be too drunk to care. It will all break down. Slowly at first and then so rapidly that all of everything that’s going on now will seem like it never happened.
Except for the fact that there’s a virus that just kills people swimming around in our society now, and when someone gets it, bummer. We’ll get used to it. It’ll become kind of like a communicable cancer in that it’s something we’ll all kinda secretly think we’re gonna get but then spend most of our lives actively ignoring and even making jokes about to somehow pretend that cleverness and faux nihilism will miraculously shield us from that which we most fear. Once shit opens up, this will be the new reality within 3-6 weeks.
You know how you didn’t wear your lucky socks that one day and as a result your favorite team lost and therefore didn’t go to the playoffs? We all know that shit is just fun superstition but if you have to believe it becomes kind of real at a certain point, no matter how pragmatic you usually are. You kind of think that your socks have a bearing on how the Steelers play that day. Even though when you think of all the other Steelers fans out there, all in their own sets of magic socks, logic kinda dictates that your socks don’t really mean shit, huh? There’s no way that a collective of 53 pro athletes half a continent away are somehow beholden exclusively to your socks for their fates, right? But it’s fun to believe.
It’s nice to believe that by staying inside you’re making a difference. Hell, I’m of this mindset. I am quarantining out of a sense of social responsibility and fear and pragmatism and I salute all of you for doing the same. But my magic socks aren’t gonna win this football game. I don’t say this as a defeatist, but as a realist. To paraphrase Lebowski, the war is over. the bums lost. In 3-6 weeks after a very cautious reopening, the partitions will come down, the buckets will come off the barstools, and things will go back, except for that some people will become insufferable, some people will crack up and become paranoid, some people will just die, and some people will wear masks. This is exactly what will happen. 100%.
Concerts and public events will be weird as shit, with attendance either hurting or swelling or being hamstrung by laws that no longer matter since everyone else has already given up. People will freak out in many different unforeseeable ways. But the part where something changes, like, where we get herd immunity after all the weak die (which, um, who are we, a gang of roving barbarian cannibals? Seems like a slightly antiquated and capriciously savage thing to hope for), or we flatten the curve and eliminate the disease...neither of those things is gonna happen. We are gonna all slowly give up and then just get used to living with a new way to die, kinda like when they introduced cars and people realized how great it was to have a few whiskey sours before getting behind the wheel. I’d love to tell you that there’s even a remote possibility that this isn’t exactly how shit’s gonna pan out, but unfortunately…search your feelings, Luke. You know it to be true.
thanks for reading. As I said, the full edition of this includes a pretty undeniable breakfast cereal review, so if you don’t want to end on such a bleak note, consider subscribing. It goes a long way to helping out artists just like me.