The weaving of stories to influence voters is more active than ever, efforts to cast a candidate as “beholden” to some entity beyond the citizenry. Even as our technology has made quantum leaps since 1960, we see more storytellers than ever – nefarious and otherwise – depending on the human need for a compelling narrative to latch onto, to accept as gospel truth in a chaotic time, undisputed fact rising above the din.
Seeing these lonely hitchers is like driving by the closed sign on the Upstate Films marquee, or inadvertently standing a little too close to someone and having them freak out and move away as if you’re radioactive, even though you are masked. If you’ve slipped into a benumbed state of temporary pandemic forgetfulness, these now-quotidian occurrences can zap you right back into despair.
Coyotes prefer those less populated spots near the reservoir, away from industry, even of the mom’n’pop variety. Much warier of humans than black bears and deer, they patrol and prowl and scavenge and yip and bark and live their coyote lives mostly in darkness, rarely venturing to back yards and streets. Their combined calls create an eerie, keening, beautiful sound, awakening an uncommon fear in modern-day humans.
I was the designated grocery-shopper for my household In March and April, when Covid numbers were at their highest in
I first realized we as a culture were in for a lo-fi content boom in March, when late-night talk-show hosts retreated to their homes and interviewed celebrities via Zoom, or some equivalent. Big stars with earbuds, poorly lit in their kitchens, their kids in the background, with no edits to spice up the visuals. It was chaotic and oddly intimate.
I now believe I wasn’t actually in my home for long enough stretches to feel the lingering presences of those who came before. But now, having spent so many days, nights, and weeks within and around these walls – much more concentrated time and enforced stillness than ever before – I sense them. This new pandemic-induced version of myself has much more in common with my forebears than the old me. Of course they did not stay up all hours watching movies via cable television in what was once the dining room. No, they probably slept at sunset and awoke as dawn lit up these same bay windows. Even so, we lately share significantly more common ground.
In the late Eighties, the band in which I played bass, the Fleshtones, led a sellout crowd from the Elysee Montmartre into the Boulevard de Rochechouart, Paris. Band and crowd chanted the refrain to a song, again and again, amid honking horns and confused pedestrians. I climbed with my bass into a tree in the median as hundreds gathered below, hollering, singing, chanting in French-accented rock’n’roll English. An unforgettable night was actually just beginning. I was 22.
The most remarkable aspect was the smell. A sharp tang, a sour musk – like a cross between sweaty gym socks and skunk; a scent you can feel on your face. Sitting in the car, my body contracted involuntarily. A message deep in my primal brain said: “You are not at the top of the food chain right now. Watch it.” It occurred to me every human should experience this deeply humbling, quiet terror. The sooner the better.
As their doors were closing indefinitely, my friends freaked out in various heartbreaking ways: scrambling, laying off staff, anxiously doing math, staring at bank balances on glowing laptop screens, taping closed signs to their doors and leaving them there, altering their websites, despairing for the future, grieving for plans scuttled, dreams seemingly crushed. Despite these dramatic circumstances, they held it together. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, when the going got tough, they kept going, albeit carefully, mindfully.
Word to the wise: If you’re going to slam your fist into something, try and connect with the knuckles of your index and middle fingers. They’re supported by a chunk of bone in the hand, and less likely to break. This was one takeaway of the summer of my broken bones.