It’s Friday but we’re not going anywhere

Mood:

I can see the train station from our window. It looks pretty dead out there. It’s normally packed at this time of day. I’d like to go downtown even if it’s just to walk around, but I don’t want to take the risk for no reason. Maybe tomorrow? I don’t know. Probably not.

It’s not that I miss the people. Of course I like seeing other people, but mostly I just miss the sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. I’m going to be dying trying to get back to my previous fitness level after this is all over. I could go to the park, sure, but I’m just not interested in inhaling someone else’s coronavirus breath while following them down the track. Central Park was packed last weekend and I don’t expect that to change unless the parks are shut down.

Pretty sure this is from a dinner we enjoyed at Wonton Noodle Garden on Mott Street in Chinatown, Manhattan, NYC

I also miss Chinese food. I don’t care what people say. I’m not eating out anywhere and I’m certainly not eating out at a Chinese restaurant until the pandemic subsides. But damn I miss those egg rolls, that pork fried rice, and roast duck!

I really don’t see things being back to the way they were by Easter. I’m not expecting to see full churches any time soon. Not like Trump wants. China had Hubei province in lockdown for months before they finally reached a point where there were no more cases of local transmission of the virus. In the US, we’re not even close to achieving that. We don’t even know how many people have it because we still don’t have the capacity to doing the testing we need to do. Plus, some States are obfuscating the number of deaths by attributing the cause of death to something else like pneumonia or SARS.

1000 people died today in Italy from COVID-19. They’ve been on lockdown since March 8th. Can you really imagine going back to work and risking death or risking killing your family members just to help boost stocks sooner?

It’s going to take even longer for New York City (and places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle) to recover and get back to normal than it will for the rest of the country. The city is an international travel hub. Face masks, gloves, and social distancing might stay the new normal here long after it stops being a thing in other parts of the country.

Coronavirus Journal: Day 17 of State of Emergency

Fresh snickerdoodles cooling on a rack.
Cuomo: Amid Coronavirus, Too Many People in NYC Parks

I was reading the news yesterday and I saw that Cuomo had come down to New York City over the weekend and had expressed some concern over the numbers of people that were gathering in city parks in close proximity to each other. Like I predicted, he threatened to shut down the parks if people don’t start practicing the 6 foot physical distancing required by social distancing.

We can still go out. We can leave the city if we want. We can still get groceries and wander around for exercise. We can buy lotto tickets and hit the liquor store. There are lots of people out walking around like nothing is going on. It’s really weird. A weird contradiction.

I guess I thought a quarantine would require people to stay in their houses except for medical emergencies. Perhaps that’s what other people were thinking too and that’s why so many people were panic buying and stocking their pantries with weeks and months of supplies, because what we’re doing right now doesn’t make sense if it’s meant to stop the spread of the virus.

Every trip to the grocery store is a trip into an enclosed area where sick people might be. Checkout requires interacting in close proximity with someone who has been in contact with dozens or hundreds of people over the course of a work shift. When our car is up and running again, I’m going to go on a huge shopping trip so if this goes on for a few more months we can minimize contact with other people.

Each trip on the train is putting yourself in an enclosed space with poor ventilation, often in physical contact with other people. I haven’t been on the trains in a few days so maybe things have changed since last week, especially now that the 100% shutdown of non-essential businesses is in effect. Maybe not?

Anyway, the cases of coronavirus are skyrocketing. There are 25,665 cases in New York State and 14,904 cases in New York City as of a bit earlier today. 131 deaths in New York City according to De Blasio’s COVID-19 update today:

Mayor de Blasio Gives Updates on Coronavirus in NYC | NBC New York

The numbers seem to be exploding, but all I get from this is that we should have started testing sooner and we should have shut down businesses and started social distancing sooner. We tried to put our pinky finger in the hole when the damn was already crumbling. Too late now.

An picture of a temporary closure notice at Ulta on 86th Street
Retail stores like Ulta, Sephora, H&M, and Banana Republic were all closed last week when I went to 86th Street. They’re definitely closed now with the new orders from the governor.

And is it really smart to keep people inside? I can’t help but wonder if anyone in my building has it. The air in apartment buildings travel from apartment to apartment. If one person gets it, it’s going to run through the entire apartment building more than likely.

President Trump has lost his mind again

It’s hard to believe, or I guess not that hard to believe, that Trump wants people to just go back to work anyway as soon as possible, regardless of the virus and the consequences. He would rather just say to hell with it and tell Americans that millions of people are going to die due to the hospitals being overwhelmed, but that’s ok as long as the economy picks up again. Essentially, he’s prioritizing the stock market and rich people’s portfolios over the lives of American workers. That’s complete trash.

Instead of telling Americans they’re on their own, the government needs to cut those Trump Checks. And not just based on 2018 tax data, but for every single American citizen. You don’t even have to be a socialist to understand that not doing it is bad for the economy. And you don’t have to be a stable genius to know that putting Americans in a position where millions will die would be worse for the economy than the quarantine.

Silver lining to coronavirus shutdown:

I discovered this Twitter account, which is great!
  • getting more reading done
  • leveling up my cooking skills (cookies pictured above, for example)
  • blogging more
  • more progress in learning Japanese, Spanish, and Tagalog
  • finally doing yoga again
  • even playing some video games

I really want to ride my bike down 7th Avenue since there’s no traffic to speak of (if the Twitter and the news are accurate), but it’s not worth the risk. I don’t want to end up on a ventilator in an ICU because I wanted to ride my bike. I’m going to be pissed if I get coronavirus and didn’t ride my bike down 7th Avenue, though.

What’s next?

The number of cases is supposed to peak in 14 to 21 days. It can only get worse before it gets better, but hopefully, if we stay inside as much as possible, we’ll weather the pandemic.

La Migracion Es Beautiful

My wife and I were walking down 116th Street this past Saturday on our way towards Target and ALDI. Between 3rd and 2nd Avenues we noticed a group of people painting a mural on a wall, so we crossed to take a better look.

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The mural primarily addresses U.S. immigration policy and seems to be an expression of the idea that “we are all immigrants.” One of the installations under the “Galerie De Guerrilla Gallery” section of the mural is a mirror with the word “Immigrant” in English under it. Another section of the mural shows a set of butterfly wings with the caption “La Migracion Es Beautiful” (Immigration is Beautiful). The point seems to be to remind English speakers that they are also immigrants while reminding immigrants that they are beautiful parts of a local immigrant society.

La Immigracion Es Beautiful

Maybe the mural isn’t about how we’re all immigrants, though. The butterfly wings contain pictures of a wide range of people, but almost exclusively depict Hispanics and African Americans, interspersed with what appears to be a few South Asian Muslims and Native Americans. One of the larger panels shows a Native American woman lying down by a river with teepees in the background next to a quote from an Ogala Lakota Native American. A section of the mural shows the face of an African American woman wearing an Indian feather in her hair.

It seems odd to include Native Americans and African Americans in a mural about how we are all immigrants. The Native Americans were the first people on the land. You can’t immigrate into a place that doesn’t have people in it before you arrive. And, unlike Ben Carson, I would hardly consider the enslavement and forced migration of Africans to be an act of immigration.

Maybe my first impression was wrong. Maybe the message isn’t about inclusivity but is rather about a unified confrontation between minority groups and those viewed as Caucasian. If that’s the case, the mural is eye-catching but is a missed opportunity for emphasizing shared belonging in the national community. Or maybe I’m just over-thinking the artists’ use of the word “immigrant.” Maybe the message of the mural is just protesting in general all of the morally reprehensible things that Trump (and the Republican party) has said and done without explicitly naming him. That would explain the quote by the Lakota Native American about the destruction of the environment. That, along with the slogan “El agua es vida” (Water is life) would be a reference to Standing Rock and DAPL. The inclusion of African Americans would be a reference perhaps to Trump calling for the death penalty for the wrongly accused Central Park Five. The inclusion of Hispanics and Muslims would be a reference to Trump’s constant vitriolic rhetoric and jingoism about Mexicans and Executive Orders that target Muslims.

Either way, immigration is a beautiful thing. Beyond the economic necessity of continued immigration, the diversity that immigrants bring to American life is what makes this country an amazing place to live, at least in major cities and on the coasts. I believe that intellectual and spiritual progress (and lofty goals like world peace) are dependent on having our comfort zones challenged. Encountering and understanding people from other parts of the world forces us to reevaluate and adjust our ideas and beliefs, both about others and about ourselves. I think that only happens when you’re forced to personally confront difference, in person. A book can only explain so much and never requires you to actually self-examine and defend your point of view. I also don’t see anything intrinsically worthwhile in resisting change or trying to hold onto an idealized vision of America that never existed in the first place.

Allegiance, with George Takei & Lea Salonga

In November, I told my wife that we would go see Allegiance for her birthday. She wasn’t so much interested in the show for the sake of the story, but because she’s a big fan of Lea Salonga and Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon hasn’t played in New York City since we’ve been here, but Lea has a starring role in Allegiance. As a bonus, George Takei stars in the play as well and I’ve really enjoyed him as an actor and as a person since I first saw him in Star Trek as a kid. His Facebook account is hilarious.

Allegiance || First Look

I was told later that Allegiance was based on Takei’s childhood. He actually went through a Japanese internment camp during World War II. We really did go into the show blind, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the story or the actors’ performances. The parts were well played. Everyone knew their lines. There was no stuttering. The dancing scenes were a lot of fun. The music was good.

I think what I enjoyed most about the show was the way it attempted to address complex ideas of identity, belonging and citizenship. Questions 27 and 28 of a loyalty questionnaire given to Japanese internees played a prominent role in the play. The audience is told what those questions are, but I felt like there should have been more explanation about why answering “yes” to those two questions was such a huge moral dilemma for many Japanese-Americans. Having the main character’s father say it impinges Japanese “honor” did not really convey the complexity of being singled out as a group and being made to affirm loyalty to the United States when one was already an American by birth and upbringing. You kind of pick up on it throughout the play, but only if you’re really paying attention. I suppose one doesn’t go to a play to be mindlessly entertained, though. It’s supposed to be thought provoking.

Not to take away from the suffering of Japanese-Americans during World War II, but I was reminded of the problems that many Muslim-Americans are facing today. They are being singled out as a group and subjected to additional scrutiny. Their loyalty, or allegiance to the United States, is questioned in the same way that Japanese-Americans’ allegiance to the United States was questioned.

The fact that Muslim Americans weren’t rounded up and placed in internment camps shows that most of us learned something from our previous mistakes, or at least the people who can make those sorts of decisions learned something. But, we’re walking on a thin line. It wouldn’t be hard for the balance to shift and to wake up one day and find people being deported to concentration/internment camps again. I mean, look at how popular Trump is with Republican voters. Sometimes the guy says something that makes sense, but even a monkey could type a coherent sentence if he sits in front of a keyboard long enough. Trump represents the worst of our past and the desire of some to return to a period of selective privilege that leaves everyone who isn’t a white male in second place at best.

Anyhow, coming back to the topic of this post, the play was excellent, thought provoking, a critical look at our past and relevant to contemporary affairs. I would recommend it to anyone interested in human drama, history, US politics, race relations, or just a good story.

The Longacre theater, where the play is shown, is a little cold. The seats are a little close together and they didn’t open the doors until 6:30 PM, meaning the line was still out the door at 7:00 PM when the curtain was supposed to go up. If you’re planning on going, show up around 6:15 PM to be at the front of the line.

Also, the concessions stand wasn’t impressive, but I haven’t been to a lot of plays so I don’t have a frame of reference and I imagine the audience is expected to be different from the one you find packed into a typical movie theater.