No Holds Barred: Upheaval is trending!

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Ten days ago, a photo went viral of two 20-year-old scantily clad girls sitting closely at a bar with martinis in hand.  The caption read “Covid is so last week – we’re into riots and protest now.” That said it all.

Upheaval is trending everywhere. Former media “stars” seem MIA quickly. Doctors Fauci and Birx have dropped their mics and are off the radar.  Yes, Fauci recently claimed the new Covid wave “is my biggest fear and it isn’t over yet … oh my goodness where is it going to end … and a vaccine is now hard to predict.”

Well, thanks for the memories.  We are back to “No One Knows Shit” (the t-shirt slogan for 2020) about anything political or medical. Our nation is open, and we are on our own.

My home state of Arizona opened two weeks ago, and we are exploding in caseloads so no surprise the answer seems to be we are “testing” more.  Testing is the answer to everything nowadays.  Who is Biden choosing for a VP?  He is “testing” the waters and credentials of various people. “Testing” is treading water and “gathering data” means “I don’t know.”

Now that Arizona has enough hospital beds and ventilators (remember that limited necessity?) and some questionable drugs, we are opening up a vacant Dillard’s department store and some empty hospitals to prepare more beds.  After all, NYC had the Javits Center and Central Park for its overflow.  Though in the end, it almost wasn’t necessary.  We are hoping for the best.

I am sick of “peaks” and “spikes” and “curves” – we are in this for a very long haul.  Let’s limit the graphs and wear the masks, wash our hands and watch the distance.  Maybe act like the “only adults in the room.” What does that even mean now?

There is no real soft “safe openings” anymore as I hear hotels are accepting 20% capacity with limited maid service, no room service but maybe poolside dining, though the pools may not be functioning.  Hotels have a bigger “ick” factor than department stores. Marriott is trying to lead the way with lobbies offering masks and sanitizers, no bellmen, and pre-registration temperature checks. So, what kind of vacay/get away is all this?

A spritz of hospital-grade disinfectant, anyone?

And don’t even mention Las Vegas which has opened and is already struggling with plexiglass separators at slot machines and roulette table topping out at 4 people and even more plexiglas and packaged dice.  The strippers are now working as bartenders (behind plexi) and wearing masks with pasties.  You have to be a diehard gambler to show up for all of this. Why not stay at home and watch porn and play Texas Hold-em on your own “filthy” computer?

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em!

The great commercial comeback is important for neighborhood restaurants and bars and nail salons but for the overall hospitality industry?  Opening while you are trying to find a whole new “experience,” let alone service and purpose, and luxe is next to impossible. Forget business travel — they have found a new home. At home. Golf junkets and bachelor/ette  charter flights have crash landed.

A lot of smaller hotels are not adjusting their rates for Covid consideration.  They can’t afford it.  $200 is as low as they can go.  $48 a night rooms may now exist at Motel 6, but nobody is doing bargain rates. The cruise lines are trying it for 2021-2022 bookings.  Who can look that far without a pit in your stomach?

After all, the nation has been on a giant “staycay” for the last 4 months. It’s tough to chance a fast trip anywhere as caseloads are rising. And as for warmer weather killing off the virus, my state has been hovering around the 100s for two months — and the virus is thriving!!  It was like that in Australia last March (their summer) during their massive fire.  Sorry, the virus simply doesn’t take a hike in high heat or humidity (another reported fact that became a fallacy!)

Meanwhile, the optics of social justice apologies continues to fight for attention as the Covid spreads.  As bad as Trump’s photo-op holding the Bible in front of St James Church was, the Congressional Democrats did one better by taking a knee in Emancipation Hall for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to mark the length of time George Floyd’s neck was pinned by the officer’s knee.  All of the Democrats were wearing Kente cloth stoles from Ghana to signify their black solidarity. A fashion statement just like Nancy Pelosi’s outfit matching face masks. Accessories as symbols — remember the knitted pink pussy hats of 4 years ago?  Where are they now?  Not even on eBay.

But taking a knee is really hard to do and watching these aging senators and Pelosi (all in their late 70s and Nancy about to be 80) was more a feat of dexterity than a message of solidarity.  I found only one photo of Nancy getting up from her knee with the help of one, and then two people. What did the other old guys have to do?  Tuck and roll and stagger to standing?  Just try going down on one knee and back up if you are over 65. It is not a royal curtsey.  It takes a chair or a staff of people to get up and out of it.

So now we have YouTube tutorials on how to get in and out of a “standing half knee” pose.  At this point, only Colin Kaepernick has captured the original message of that move.  Everybody else who is doing it is losing it. Especially if you are doing it for prime-time exposure. And leave all scarves and stoles to Dr. Birx who may return to the viewing audience as we battle a 3rd Covid wave.

The other side of the BLM public apology came from many magazine and newspaper editors who resigned or merely released their behavioral regrets. Anna Wintour, the “Imperious editor” and Conde Nast artistic director, is not leaving but her memo reads as shallow as any PR release can:  “I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to black editors, writers, photographers and other creators … we have been hurtful and intolerant.  I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”  

Of course, this was all too little too late and extremely soulless.  The truth is for the last eight years, Anna Wintour and Vogue has been seriously irrelevant. Her demise, as well as all of fashion, has been a pre-existing condition that BLM and Covid could take down minus the drama. Up to now Vogue and Conde Nast has had a terrible time switching to online platforms. Wintour has been known to be a very unempathic character to many people. “Nuclear Wintour” was her nickname. The whole fashion industry allowed her to thrive with her Met Galas that became tiresome and meaningless. So the blood was in the water before they all knew it. The same takedown is going on in Hollywood. The Oscars are now canceled. The red carpet has been rolled up and over for a long time. That whole party has ended. I guess the hosts were the last to know.

Wintour’s troubled reign got me thinking about Diana Vreeland who was ousted from her Vogue editorship and it served her really well.  She left Conde Nast — a company known for nasty hirings and firings  demoralized, and rebooted herself creating the Met’s Costume Institute with stature and significance. She put it on the map and it should have been named The Diana Vreeland Costume Institute in her honor (not the Anna Wintour Costume Center). Vreeland’s influence will be remembered. Will Wintour’s?

Many young fashion bloggers and influencers will have to take note. The upheaval is taking a lot of those fashion people out  as well. I am not sure it matters who comes in to replace them. “Know when to hold ‘em — know when to fold ‘em” — is an art to pull off.  Especially when we’re too self-involved to see it coming.

Coming forward – post BLM protest – it doesn’t seem that Oprah or even Obama made a big healing dent with their online statements. Only comedian Dave Chappelle hit the high note in his 28-minute YouTube (Netflix sponsored) hard hitting 8:46 special (named after the amount of time Floyd suffered).

Dave Chappelle hitting the mark — as usual.

Equally impressive was his show’s actual social distancing set up in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Which Chappelle admitted “is weird and less than ideal circumstances to do a show.” The small audience was seated far apart on folding chairs in an outdoor field and everyone wore a mask with a giant “C” stamped on it.

Chappelle was raw and it was more social commentary than comedy.  But the one message I got was his answer to whereabouts of black leadership or celebrities expressing their support at the time of the rioting.  He seems to be for basic grass root direction.

Does it matter about celebrities and leaders coming forward to lead? “No” says Chappelle. “This is the streets talking for themselves — they don’t need me or anyone right now.” Chappelle went on to express his outrage as only he can, right between the eyes of the audience with his cigarette in hand. It turns out we DID need to hear him, even though he insisted “I’ll keep my mouth shut.” And after 27 minutes, it was clearly a good thing he didn’t.

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