On a beautiful November day John Maloney delivered a sweet, brilliant eulogy for his friend Frenchy, voicing the admiration we all felt. Marines shed uncontrollable tears, duty bound to serve in Iraq and resolved to stay tight and honor this sacrifice. My unit prepared for Iraq and an instructor noted one unit that performed better than mine. It was John’s.
Remember back in January, before we sent SWAT Teams into restaurants after diners and before we jailed hairdressers or governors outlawed vegetable seeds? If those things don’t disturb every fiber in your body…well, they just should that’s all.
One benefit of this Covid Spring is that we all get the chance to reexamine our priorities, which can become wildly skewed in lengthy periods of prosperity. We’ve been prosperous for a very long time, most of us entirely unscathed by our various wars and rumors of wars, and on the macro level we may have forgotten that our extraordinary wealth is historically unusual, requires vigilance and constant maintenance, and is also an addiction.
In February, 1944, Lt. Ed Charles was a Navigator in the 336th Squadron, 95th Bomb Group out of Horham, England. One night he was sleeping in the barracks when the door flew open and the C.Q. (Charge of Quarters) went probing through the darkness with a flashlight. “Is there an empty bunk in there? We have a new arrival and he needs a place to sleep.” Ed told the CQ the bunk next to his was vacant. He sat up. He offered to help the new guy unpack his gear and get squared away.
I let the dogs out late the other night and looked up in the sky to see a train of satellites — forty, fifty, sixty of them — racing through the stars. It is a testament to effective quarantine — and a purpose-built informational firewall — that I didn’t know what I was seeing, and so had one of those increasingly rare moments in life where everything was startlingly new, and fresh, and even exciting.
In response to wildly irresponsible remarks made by the artist David Hockney, who told the NY Post that smokers are immune to the coronavirus, the Figure 8 Ranch assembled our emergency response team for a counter-briefing. Here is an unclassified transcript of the briefing for widest dissemination…
I am now 72 hours into a self-imposed news blackout and the results have been marvelous. The decision to quarantine my mind, and spare it the slings and arrows of fear-based journalism and morale-sucking stupidity, was actually compelled by a mistake.
Shakespeare was right, of course. We come sliding into the world and, drawing our first breath in it, seem to somehow intuit life’s pre-eminent lesson: we are entitled to precisely nothing — not food, not water, not toilet paper, and certainly not surgical masks and ventilators. And so it is that in our first few moments in the arena we give a great angry cry in protest — until someone sticks a tit in our mouths.
It’s worth noting the possibility that a novel coronavirus, the result of some communist party jackass French-kissing a bat at a food court in Wuhan, China, will accomplish what Chairman Xi and Bernie never could have: turning America into a socialist paradise. That’s a story for the ages if there ever was one.
Enjoying the pandemic much? That’s a fair question because so far, from my little combat outpost where I sit and dream of a former life — when I thought I was Con Conagher — we seem to be collectively overdoing the doom. Don’t get me wrong, I take this virus very seriously, as I would any kind of worldwide illness, but there is a noticeable absence of optimism in the air.
“Why, believing as he did, that all human obduracy was susceptible to common sense, was he unable to turn back? Why was he determined to complete his journey even if it meant putting his life in danger? At what point had this prank, this joke, this piece of horseplay become serious?”
–John Cheever, The Swimmer
This morning, early, before I’d even had my first cup of tea, and in the wake of news that the stock market was caught in a death spiral — the worst day in its history and tanking on wholly unfounded global anxiety and media driven perfidy — I received an excellent text from my daughter. She wrote: “At an autopsy with detectives for a potential homicide.” Which was proof again that life in the twisting alleyways of Rome goes on, flame lit and gruesome, whether trading in the plaza has been suspended or not.