The beginning of a new year always renews my interest in what the future holds for us human beings, and as usual I'm turning to my trusty old crystal ball to see what it can tell me about the year ahead.
The first thing I notice when I gaze into my crystal ball is that there is a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, which will cause massive flight cancelations, long lines at pharmacies, and workers calling in sick.
No, wait, sorry! False alarm. That's a hair on my crystal ball, not a wrinkle in the space-time continuum. How embarrassing! That's happened to me before. If you don't use your crystal ball regularly, it can accumulate bits of dust and cobwebs and give you incorrect information about the future. The best way to prevent this is to keep your crystal ball stored in the felt liner that it was packed in at the factory. (If your crystal ball didn't come in a soft felt bag, or if you lost the bag, you can rejuvenate the ball with some polish, but I recommend ordering a felt bag immediately or else you're going to be needing a lot of polish over the years.)
OK, back to the stormy future. It turns out that removing that rogue hair didn't change what I see in my crystal ball. So, what could possibly be wrecking the year ahead if not a wrinkle in the space-time continuum?
Oh no. I see nasal swabs. Paper masks. Rubber gloves. 2022 looks an awful lot like the summer of 2020.
Putting my crystal ball away for another year.
Now that the damnable pandemic "is over" (I actually found myself uttering that phrase recently), I can finally take in a good old-fashioned rock show again. And I deserve it, having had 18 months of my precious early-mid-life stolen from me by the evil virus.
Prior to the unwelcome arrival of the bug in spring 2020, I was in possession of three sets of concerts tickets, including the horn-driven afrobeat New Yorkers Antibalas, and that Australian bad seed himself, Nick Cave.
And also Pussy Riot! Having by that point in late winter spent many an hour pedaling my bicycle while wearing an un-mandated mask not unlike the variety of balaclava used by those rocking Muscovites, I could not imagine myself donning one on a sweaty rock club stage, as the anti-Putin collective did nightly whilst hollering undecipherable epithets into microphones.
These days wearing a face covering indoors in sweaty nightclubs is pretty much required. Look, if that's what's required, I'm in.
Tickets started going on sale in late spring,and I snapped them up for Thee Oh Sees and The Mountain Goats, even though it seemed entirely unlikely that these shows would ever happen, given the rise of the malevolent delta variant of COVID-19. The tickets represented hopes and dreams rather than actual plans.
But those awesome concerts really did happen, as did a recent show by the Garden State punk outfit Titus Andronicus at the Sinclair in Cambridge, the best venue in the history of small rock show venues. Playing their second album in its entirety, Patrick Stickles and his bandmates brought back the energy that had been missing from my very late nights for a year and a half.
Unlike Pussy Riot, Titus band members didn't bother wearing balaclavas or any other face coverings while bellowing into mics, but for obvious reasons indoor mask mandates don't extend to touring punk bands while they are on stage.
Back in the old days (like, 2 years ago), I could conduct a team meeting and be completely certain that no one was listening to me. They'd be talking amongst themselves, surreptitiously passing love notes to one another, launching spitballs at the crown of my head when I would look down at my notes, and so forth. This would leave me with no choice but to clear my throat and bang my gavel, shouting, "there will be order in this meeting room!"
Now, with only the sounds of Jeb from communications munching on potato chips and Gail from finance trying but failing to squelch nervous laughter, I'd return to the topic of whether the annual employee summer outing should be held at a newly established ax-throwing pavilion, or instead at a beer garden. Or both (ax throwing first, needless to say).
But now, over Zoom, I get silence, even though there is collectively more noise surrounding my team members than ever: dogs are barking, kids are screaming, spouses are running the blender in the next room over to make smoothies. I hear none of it because everyone's audio is muted. Which means I also get zero reaction to anything I say. "Any questions? Thoughts? Opinions? How are things going? Does the lack of any discernable reaction indicate that everyone's doing OK? Is that a yes? Would you please raise your hand to indicate that you're alive?"
Hands go up. People are still alive, if maybe not entirely well.
I should have plotted my family’s summer vacation well before these early hours of May. What the hell was I thinking? Now all the vacation spots are taken. Every resort booked; every campground full; every friend’s couch occupied (yes I checked). It’s like the latest crisis is that there’s nowhere to go. Maybe it’s a CDC plot to keep me from leaving New England. I’m under house arrest in these six states!
OK, slight exaggeration. But the CDC is well aware that spending 16 months straight in New England is harmful to one’s psychological health, if for the weather alone. Even Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC herself, has been granted leave from the region; surely I can leave town for a week or 10 days too.
But where to go? My many years in Catholic school taught me that angels have a penchant for coming to people in dreams and visions to provide useful information, such as announcing the birth of a savior. So there’s a chance that an angel with some time on his hands might pop into one of my frequent dreams to suggest vacation places for my family, with star ratings and user reviews. I like to know what kitchen implements are provided when I rent someone’s space. I’ve stayed in one or two places that had no wire whisk on the premises, confounding plans and diminishing the vacation’s karma. So it’s important that the angels be transparent, providing all the necessary pros and cons of each vacation opportunity. Of course, they are angelic, so one should be prepared for them to be somewhat cryptic in their messaging.
Also, I’m hoping they take into consideration cost. We don’t have wings so we’ll have to book seats on commercial airlines to get from here to there, which isn’t necessarily cheap.
J'Biden Era Haikuage
People's Arms. That's right!
200 million shots
In 100 days
We are good people
But we still have far to go
Repair. Restore. Heal.
There's nothing new here
The Affordable Care Act
We're restoring it
Democracy is fragile
The world is watching
Strategy is based
On Science, not politics
Truth, not denial
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