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CSotD: Being closed, and being open

Jeff Koterba sets the mood today as America sorta kinda opens up again, maybe.

 

This Patrick Chappatte cartoon was very well timed, because I didn’t feel like cooking last night and decided to toss a little money to my favorite Chinese restaurant.

I didn’t intend to eat there; our restaurants are still closed except for take-out, though places with well-separated outdoor seating will be able to open up later this month.

But my favorite Chinese restaurant is simply closed. As is my second-favorite. As is the one I don’t even like very much.

And the local Chinese grocery has barely opened, on a level where you can phone in an order and she’ll pass it through the window.

I’m thinking there’s a level of fear among immigrants from that country which is not entirely random.

Knowing a couple of them to the extent a frequent customer can, I don’t think it has anything to do with the fearmongering and hatemongering coming out of DC — I think they’re genuinely afraid of the virus and I wonder what they’ve been hearing from their relatives back in China.

For instance, the son of the restaurant owners graduated from high school with my granddaughter a year ago, and I know his folks were proud of him because we talked about it.

But I didn’t see them at the ceremony. They didn’t close early for one day then, but they’re closed for a month now. That’s fear.

 

And they’re not alone. The Washington Post reports that most Americans — immigrant or native-born — are uncomfortable with reopening.

 

Graeme MacKay suggests that US leadership is more concerned with the economy than with the human toll.

This seems like a harsh take, but, then again, Dear Leader has forbidden any members of his corona task force from testifying before Congress and has announced plans to disband the group at the end of the month.

That goddam science isn’t gonna get in the way of his need to get the economy back on its feet before November, which may also be why he fired the Inspector General who would have noticed when money intended for small business was gobbled up on Wall Street, and why the GOP Senators are now stifling a bill to provide similar oversight on the next attempt to help the mom-and-pops.

Well, mom-and-pops don’t move stock prices, though the growing gaps on store shelves suggest some kind of relationship between those who make the stuff and those who sell it.

Then again, when did Wall Streeters look beyond the current quarter? Let the horse breeders worry about long-term health: We’re betting on this race right now.

 

Phil Hands explains the thinking of our business-major president, who claims to understand numbers but has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to relate to people.

 

And despite his cozying up to the Onanism Network, Trump still has loyal assistance from Fox & Friends, who, as Mike Luckovich points out, cheerfully dispense advice to viewers that they aren’t dumb enough to follow themselves.

Interesting contrast: When I turned on my TV just now to check Fox & Friends, it was still tuned to NFL Network, where Kay Adams, clearly broadcasting from her living room, opened her segment by reminding people to support local businesses and suggesting they buy some restaurant gift cards for when things improve.

When I did get to Fox & Friends, they showed a segment in which people at a factory that makes masks praised Dear Leadership and talked about how much it all mattered.

Nobody was wearing a mask, and — as you may have seen on social media — as Trump toured the place, somebody put “Live and Let Die” up on the loudspeakers.

 

Perhaps an Ann Telnaes fan is working there??

 

And while I admire the stark simplicity of that Telnaes piece, I didn’t mind reading through this four-panel, somewhat talky Jen Sorensen offering, because it delivered a slap across the head that I’m going to ponder for a while.

Specifically, the topic of the Fall of the Berlin Wall (and Tiannamen Square, in the same time period) and the young Americans of that time period came up when I interviewed Arlo Guthrie in 1989.

We were talking about young people coming to his concerts and feeling nostalgic for the 1960s:

“I think what’s going on in the Soviet Union right now, and what’s going on in China right now, and what’s going on in Poland, for those young people, this is that time,” he said. “It’s not like it’s dead, and it’s not like it only belonged here.”

Moreover, Guthrie said, the various movements towards freedom and democracy will continue to inspire young people in other places, just as they always have. “There were people in other countries in the world who, 20 years ago, were looking this way. Younger people, I think, shortly, will begin to look elsewhere and see that they can participate in what’s going on.”

Sorensen indicates that her generation’s identification with those overseas events was a great deal stronger than I had thought, and even more than Arlo suspected.

Though it fits with a lyric by the late Johnny Clegg, born a decade after me and a decade before Sorensen:

I saw the Berlin Wall fall,
I saw Mandela walk free.
I saw a dream whose time has come
Change my history

And given what Arlo said about young people coming to his concerts, and despite the raft of “Ok Boomer” Millennialist ardour being pushed these days, I suspect it’s more a matter of attitude than of age.

As it was in the 80s and 90s, as it was in the 60s and 70s.

As it always has been.

Or, as Johnny put it, “Kuzulonga ukuthi nini? Asazi!” and “Keep on dreaming.”

Community Comments

#1 Kip Williams
May/6/2020
@ 10:04 am

The numbers whizzing by on the death counter are a telling counterpoint to the stasis of the “Days Since Trump Has Killed Any Americans” counter, with its single round, unchanging digit.

#2 Nelson Dewey
May/6/2020
@ 10:27 am

Did you see deAdder’s take on the Lincoln memorial?
I think it works better than any other.

#3 mark johnson
May/6/2020
@ 11:02 am

I think you’re spot on regarding the fear factor in the Chinese restaurant. My local favorite( they are a customer of mine and vice versa) has been in business for 50 years and has closed , no carryout even though that was always a part of the model. They are still quite connected to China. The 2nd generation’s wife came over as part of an arranged marriage , has family back home and is unnerved ( BTW, the arranged marriage has been terrific by all outward appearance)

#4 phil von neupert
May/7/2020
@ 4:47 pm

No, things haven’t changed that much, really. Remember “Hey, hey, LBJ…..? Here’s one for the New Millenium: Hey, hey, Donald J., how many people have you killed today!

#5 Mike Peterson
May/7/2020
@ 5:21 pm

Except that it tore LBJ up to hear that. Big difference.

#6 phil von neupert
May/7/2020
@ 5:32 pm

True on that, Mike. Not trying to bash Johnson, I was just hoping to get a chant started.

#7 Mike Peterson
May/7/2020
@ 6:52 pm

Even Nixon had a conscience, however strange it was. We’re in new territory now.

#8 phil von neupert
May/7/2020
@ 7:03 pm

Amen.

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