Virus on the brain

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Beauty all around. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Sunny and brisk with temps in the low 60s, yesterday in New York. An occasional wind passing through with a chill in the air. With each day I see an increase in human activity, be in delivery trucks, bicylists, runners, walkers, and traffic. 

Almost everyone is wearing a mask. There are those who scold and even rage at anyone they see not wearing one. They’re the same people who move ten and twelve feet from another person. And turn their heads away.

Monday afternoon, an older woman who was walking on the avenue stopped to shake her fist at me for driving my car (in the road) when she was walking there. I had seen her well before I was on the same part of the avenue that she was walking on. The rule, which she may well be unaware of, is for those of us who live on the avenue (which has all four lanes mainly closed off to traffic), one must drive at 5 mph while it is open to walkers. 

Now, 5 mph sounds like it’s slow but when you’re actually driving at that speed, it’s just a little beyond standing still. The walker lady was never even close enough to be in danger, nor would she have been, but as I passed by and moved on more than a block, she was still standing there scowling, shaking her fist at me. I could see in the rear view mirror that there was another marauder-in-auto coming up behind her. I’m sure she didn’t have to worry that the driver couldn’t see her, but she really wasn’t interested in looking after her own safety as much as she was enjoying letting me have it. It did make me laugh.

JH couldn’t help but notice that these flowering Eastern Redbuds resemble the coronavirus. We’ve all got virus on the brain.

Passing judgment. This public outraging over masks (and social distancing) is new, in the last week or ten days. Personally I don’t like the mask for a number of reasons including breathing from my own exhalations. It also troubles me that people are not recognizable and many conceal entire their identity that way. It looks like a bad vibe. Often even the eyes are disguised, and I wonder what people are thinking about themselves and the world around them because they look alien, as in alienated.

Monday, we ran a photo JH took of a smart looking couple sitting on a bench on Fifth Avenue reading the morning paper together. They looked like an older couple because of their grey hair. They were also well and adequately dressed, relaxed. It was a fine photo of a good looking couple of New Yorkers on a sunny morning relaxing together. 

Yet there were comments on insta that they weren’t wearing masks and how irresponsible!! I had noticed the ‘no-masks’ immediately of course. The couple in the photo looked like very responsible, sensible people (tell by their dress). They were seated very close to each other which is likely how they live, and they didn’t need to wear masks sitting alone together by the Park on Fifth Avenue with no pedestrian traffic and other park sitters  to worry about.

We’ve been frightened in a mass experience before. Unlike the New Yorkers’ experience of 9/11, as our colleague Blair Sabol pointed out recently, “which brought people together.” This pandemic has in many ways temporarily alienated us from each other. We need each other, whether we like it or not. Personally we’re much better off together in these treacherous seas surrounding us right now.

On the sunnier side of things, we got this message yesterday:

“We wanted to let everyone know that  the restaurant is opening on Wednesday May 13th (today) for take out.  We love and appreciate everyone who has supported us during these difficult times. Once we know more about new regulations we will make another update.

Hope to see you all soon.


On another note, a musical one that is, you must have noticed that Little Richard died last week at age 87. For those of us who were around when Little Richard came on the national scene with “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!!” sometime in the mid-1950s with a string of hits (45 rpm) like “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Tutti Fruiti,” he was an instant legend. This was in the days before videos or much rock-n-roll on TV. Elvis came along about the same time and his first TV appearances on Vaughan Monroe, Milton Berle, and Ed Sullivan. 

Little Richard’s music broke racial barriers and his style was Way Out There for the time (like Elvis) to his millions of fans. He was fun, crazy, cool, and unforgettable … and all on one recording. He was unique and the message was clear: A celebration of fun and love and lively spirits. And if you heard him, you got the message, and were hoppin’ gladly.

Jeremy Westby, a music public relations man sent me some comments from people in the music industry and from friends, memories of this wonderful man. Here are some good thoughts about a great man…to close the day.

“In my book, Little Richard was the king of rock ‘n’ roll. He carried a full horn orchestra and wrote most of his songs. He was the first really crazy rock ‘n roll guy that everybody loved, black or white. I always had a Richard album or two even when I was broke. One of The Jordanaires told me that when he met Richard in the 50’s his face was painted purple. That about says it all.” — Don McLean

“Little Richard was a pioneer in the world of Rock and Roll. He excited audiences with his stage presence and through his music. In an era of James Brown and Elvis, Little Richard still captured millions of fans. I will not forget meeting him on the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune. My family and I send prayers to those who loved him.” — Lee Greenwood

“Several years ago I was at my accountant’s office when I heard this commotion in the front office. When I walked out into the lobby I saw Little Richard entertaining the secretaries. His appointment was right after mine. One of the biggest shocks in my life was when Little Richard said to me, “I know who you are, Tim. I’ve been following your career.” That was a surreal moment for me! He then sent his assistant to his car and presented me with a Bible. He told me wherever I do a show, make Jesus proud. It’s the best advice anyone has ever given me. To most of the world Little Richard was a bigger than life entertainer (and he was that for sure), but to me he will always be that kind soul who encouraged me in my music and who cared enough to talk about my salvation.” — Tim Atwood

“I remember, like yesterday, the first time I met Little Richard. It was down in Joshua Tree outside of L.A. on the set of a Taco Bell shoot. There was a freak snow that morning, so he and I waited and talked all day. We wound up getting to work the next day and from then on, we were good friends. He asked me to honor him by performing his songs on a television special, called ‘Celebrate The Soul Of American Music.’ I remember him sitting on the front row, smiling that big electric smile of his and clapping his hands. He called on my birthday and the last time I talked to him was to wish him a Merry Christmas. I sure will miss my friend. He was a sweet guy and a good pal. God rest his soul. “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!!” — T. Graham Brown

“I’m so sad to hear of the passing of the fabulous, flamboyant Rock Icon, Little Richard. He came into this world breaking barriers with style and music! He was so sweet, so much fun and truly, bigger than life! I’m so glad I got to know him! I loved him! I know he’s still breaking barriers, Onward and upward!!! Rock on in peace Little Richard.”  Deborah Allen

“Little Richard was a Rock and Roll pioneer and his legacy will remain as such. Years ago we had him on as a guest on our Oak Ridge Boys Live from Las Vegas TV show on the old Nashville Network. What a sheer joy he was… backstage as well as onstage. Energy just flowed from him… Rest easy man… you took R&B and turned into ROCK and ROLL!”  Joe Bonsall / Oak Ridge Boys

“Thanks to Little Richard for setting such a great example: Be yourself!”  Carrington MacDuffie

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