Yesterday, while going for a walk, I saw someone dressed in bin liners torn to form a kind of full-body plastic balaclava. Underneath, she was wearing a mask and sunglasses. She wore gloves so that she had virtually no exposed skin. As we passed by each other on the street, over six feet between us, she looked at me nervously.
"That," I thought to myself, "is a really good idea." 2020 is wild.
Today Bandcamp is forgoeing its share of revenue from all sales. (Its usual fee is 15%.) Independent artists are struggling in the current climate, so it's a great time to buy music from them. This post will have links to some of my favorites.
To begin with, I love Ariel Wang's EP Cat Faze. Moontide is a hauntingly beautiful song.
People continue to go outside. Couples are out walking together; people are exercising; families are walking their dogs, who all seem to be living their best lives. People are traveling to help each other. Everyone is practicing social distancing, but nonetheless, the streets are full of the best parts of humanity. What's missing is the rush of people on their way to and from work. The bustle of commuters and the stench of evening cars.
I wonder how all of this is going to remake how we work. I'm very anxious for the people who have lost their jobs; so many that the government doesn't want to release the official figures. There's talk of 20% unemployment, up from 3.5%. All those people need jobs; many of them may find themselves hired for remote work in place of their in-person positions.
But I don't know how realistic that is on a broad scale. I've got the privilege of a knowledge worker job: all I need is a laptop and an internet connection. Not every job can be converted in this way. We need our in-person workers. While there is probably going to be some kind of transformation, what we really need is a support package.
Gaelynn Lea's album Learning How to Stay is gorgeous. Her Tiny Desk Concert is worth watching, too, if you've never seen it.
It's been interesting to see reforms people have been fighting to see for years suddenly enacted. Non-violent offenders are being released from prison pre-trial; empty hotels and motels are being used to house the homeless; Republicans are proposing a universal basic income. Dogs and cats living together; mass hysteria. I love it. I don't love the context, at all, but I love that we've demonstrated that all these things are possible.
People are likely to fall through the cracks. I've been wondering about sex workers, which is a vulnerable population that nobody really talks about at times like these. How are they staying safe and well? I don't think they exactly have a benefits package to draw on. Do they have to continue working and risk exposure for both themselves and their clients? Do they go online and stream?
Meanwhile, Gamestop has self-classified as an essential service and told its employees to continue to come to work. Gaming is not essential. Companies like this need to face serious legal penalties - and we all need to boycott them. Luckily, for gamers, many better options are available.
Sapphire Lung's Chamber Slime is offbeat and full of life. They're worth seeing live, but if you can't, this album is the next best thing.
In some ways, I'm eating healthier and living a better lifestyle than I did when we weren't under quarantine. I've been eating a lot of beet and lentil soups; I've been taking solid exercise after work; I'm starting to drop and do push-ups between meetings. I used to do this a long time ago, and worked up to 150 push-ups a day. I'm nowhere near that number now, but maybe I can get there again?
But I miss hanging out with friends. I held a Zoom happy hour and posted it opportunistically on Facebook; the mix of people who turned up was a lovely cross-section of my life, and I was delighted to be able to introduce people to each other. Based on that, I'm sure I'll hold more. Life was so different less than a month ago. And it will be different again.
I realized last night that I was scared of getting the virus. Yes, I don't want to pass it on, but I'm genuinely afraid of contracting it myself. It's not to be messed with, and in a world where I had it and doctors had to choose between respirating me and saving someone else, I would want them to pick the other person. I don't want to live with the idea that my life was chosen over someone else's. Those are the decisions being made in many places right now. And at the same time, I don't want to go.
Thomas Truax builds his own instruments and plays incredible, avant-garde music. I'd love to see him collaborate with Sapphire Lung. His Bandcamp subscription supports him in lieu of live gigs.