My backyard, the final frontier. Isolation log: Day 51.
Everything on the internet is suddenly seeming to appear quite plausible, if not even factual. Now I’ve discovered that the Apocalypse is far more entertaining than I might ever have imagined.
It has a wonderful cast of characters, from the leading man, cast appropriately as the Orange Menace, down to classical Greek Choruses of his angry followers. These groups are mostly made up of white women in tight t-shirts boasting their odd patriotism, and white men with AR-15s and bandoliers of bullets. Their shared anger is directed at Democratic forces trying to keep the protesters from dying of a disease called the coronavirus. Of course, the well-armed dunderheads are convinced the disease is a hoax perpetrated by either some extra-terrestrials from the minor planet Upuranus or Richard Simmons, the enthusiastic exercise guru. They’re not sure. Not a clue, actually.
The narrative is pretty straight forward. There’s a backstory that shows a complete lack of preparedness, with the added intrigue of a racist hatred that led to the dismantling of what, had it not been dismantled, was the very thing that would have shown this Administration as being prepared. (This is the gang that refused to shoot straight.) And few would have thought otherwise. Except for the “lamestream” press that might have pointed out, correctly, that the pandemic task force was created in 2005 by George W. Bush and augmented and maintained by Barack Obama, theirs are the voices that would have been drowned out by the sound of the shuck-and-jive grandstanding from the self-praising Trump.
Even as we Americans awaken each morning to a new and ever-rising death toll, His Orangeness is shouting the huzzahs! in celebration of what? Ineptitude? Callous indifference? Cowardice?
Chatting mostly about the great job he’s doing fighting the invisible enemy reminds many of Don Quixote’s battles with windmills, a literary reference he might have missed in college. His focus is on his television ratings—as if his daily rallies, sparsely attended by a pared-down press corps, were some kind of lurid game show; an alternate reality show, as it were. It’s a blessing that the three major networks and CNN have spared us from having to bear any more than the highlights, many of which include his asinine berating of reporters.
Of course, the best of his highlight reels is when he takes on the demeanor of Marcus Welby, M.D., and waxes idiotic about injecting and/or inhaling or otherwise ingesting Lysol or Clorox. And let’s not omit his temporal brilliance in suggesting that we be given head-on shock treatments with klieg lights or use light-bearing suppositories filled with magic fairy dust.
Not that many folks need much prodding, but there seems to be a growing interest in a list of conspiracy theories that run the gamut from ridiculous to ludicrous which, of course, is a rather narrow gamut. Nothing like a pandemic to bring out the darkest suspicions of people.
Many of the so-called Left, none of whom watch Fox News and therefore have privileged access to actual information, are convinced that the hesitancy of the Administration to act is because Covid-19 had brought Chinese factories to a screeching halt a day or two after the first diagnosis. That resulted in their falling behind making the designer face masks and hospital scrubs that Ivanka was planning to market from her business suite at the White House.
Much of the Right believes the whole thing was made up by Communists to abolish all of their rights, especially their Second Amendment rights that guarantee they can wield AR-15s and don’t have to be vaccinated for anything. They also like that part of the First Amendment for its allowing them to be evangelical adherents of some ill-defined theocracy. It’s a pick-as-you-please interpretation of the Constitution.
Some of this clear-headed group of “very good people” have been holding demonstrations on the steps and inside a few state capitols, demanding that they be heard and be allowed to resume their normal, pre-virus activities which may or may not include returning to work.
While nothing says “idiot” better than wearing your Sunday-best camo, bringing along your weapon-of-choice will probably not help any conversation to even get started, let alone progress.
I find conspiracy theories and their proponents to be mostly annoying. Although usually harmless, they seem to grow naturally in any political environment, much like weeds in a garden. There is a lot of accompanying paranoia (thus the whispers), a serious mistrust of anything associated with authority, constant blame-shifting, and a sense of being victims of circumstance. And there is absolutely no arguing with them. It’s pointless, much like trying to teach a pig to sing.
While some of the theories are so preposterous as to be mind-numbing, there’s usually not much humor involved, except for the theories themselves.
A case-in-point might be to look at the end of Lenny Bruce’s career. At some point, the comic thought the paying public came to see him not for a good laugh but for endless babbling about his legal problems. Bruce thought there were mysterious forces out to get him. Maybe there were, but we still wanted to laugh.
Mort Sahl, the great political satirist and comic, briefly derailed his career by endlessly spouting all of his conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination and the subsequent Warren Commission concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald did, in fact, act alone. Had Mort not followed the sage advice, “Forget about it, already, and tell some jokes,” he might have ended up sorting mail at MGM.
Behind every decent conspiracy are some key players. The Covid-19 cast of characters includes the World Health Organization’s Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, known affectionately as Doc Teddy. WHO was, of course, founded in 1948 in Switzerland by Mao Zedong, who was returning to his native China after earning a degree in communication theory from Oxford University, to start the Cultural Revolution, which he wouldn’t get around to for another 18 years. Nonetheless, Communist China still runs WHO—at the expense of the U.S. This cannot be denied. Or not.
Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci have maintained a close friendship ever since the good doctor was doing his obstetrics rotation and delivered Lil’ Bill, as Tony still calls him, at a Seattle hospital that was subsequently torn down to make room for the Microsoft campus.
On January 20, 2020, a Monday, Bill and Tony were having dinner together in Washington, D.C. This was most unusual because it’s been a long-standing tradition for the entire Fauci family, to gather in Brooklyn on Monday evenings for a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and a salad of iceberg lettuce, roasted red peppers, peperoncini and Wishbone Italian dressing. Vintage Chianti from the Rufino province just north of Florence is always served. After dinner, the Faucis would then gather around an old black-and-white television and watch videos of Walter Cronkite anchoring the CBS Evening News from 1975—a period of U.S. history in which not much happened and was therefore soothing.
On the night in question, Lil’ Bill got a telephone call during the soup course saying that the first case of novel coronavirus had been reported in Snohomish, a Washington county that Gates just happens to own. Gates immediately called MIT, which he also happens to own, where scientists have created a new ink that can be embedded in the skin and read with an infra-red smart phone app to see if you’ve been vaccinated and for what. It also can report whether you had breakfast. He told them to get ready.
Fauci, an epidemiologist by trade who just happens to look like an Italian elf, is in a practice that is the very cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions and evidence-based practices by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare. He calls himself an “odds-maker.”
All that being said, he called the White House and put all 50 governors on Zoom. He proceeded to instruct them to close down the country, with shelter-in-place orders to be enforced until all of America’s guns are confiscated. Only essential businesses—H&R Block, liquor stores, dry cleaners—could remain open. Any restaurant wanting to serve take-out would be required to construct a drive-through service area, thereby leveling the playing field for McDonalds and Chez Panisse, or any of Daniel Boulud’s signature restaurants.
After toasting to the New World Order with glasses of single-malt sake, Lil’ Bill and Dr. “T” read their fortunes from the cookies served at Wuhan Harry’s Noodle Emporium & Asian Massage Parlor. Their fortunes were the same: “Wuhan Harry’s Not Make You Sick.”
Before leaving for the Ford’s Theater for a private screening of Into the Dark Side of the Woods, a documentary about a gay Nazi stuntman in Hollywood with music by Stephen Sondheim, Lil’ Bill called the White House to suggest that the virus was probably a synthetic germ that Chinese scientists had created to help Trump lose re-election.
Fauci objected. “That’s just not true.”
Gates just smiled. “But it will keep the Idiot-in-Chief occupied and maybe, just maybe, keep him out of our way as we establish world dominance. You and me, Dr. ‘T’, you and me.”
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Survival Guide for the Apocalypse
The following items should be safely stowed should that time come when we really, really need them.
Alcohol, Beef jerky, Fruit roll-ups, Alcohol, Cans of imported duck confit, Instant ramen noodles, Alcohol, Twinkies, Cheez Whiz, Saltines, Vodka & dry Vermouth, Green olives, Foie gras, Gin, Cocktail onions, Dill pickles, SPAM, and, several cases of Bandol, a fiercely structured red wine from Provence that, at $47 a bottle, is capable of being transformative.