Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Out on the crowded river paths during the coronavirus






Sometimes I simply can't resist walking out on the river paths during the coronavirus, but pretty soon I have to give it up and veer into a neighborhood due to the crowds. I have found the walkers to be getting better and better with social distancing as the death count slowly ratchets up around here, and a few of them have even thanked me for wandering off into the woods or streets to avoid them.

But the joggers and the bicyclists remain hopeless. They will run or bike past you with mere inches to spare if you haven't made a dive for the bushes. I'm pretty sure they all believe they are traveling too fast to share diseases.

And that their sweat is pure.









Tuesday, April 7, 2020

How a newspaper chooses what you see: a Coronavirus photo essay






It is by no means the most burning issue of our current Pandemic. But it has nevertheless captured my attention, and I think it has a lot to illustrate about how the news media works, and, in a sense, about the malleability of truth.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about dramatic pictures of cities in lockdown and of their attendant empty roads.

So before I make my case in a broader way, we will start with a little photo essay of my city in lockdown. I got a new camera that is barely better than a piece of junk, but hopefully I have managed to extract enough in these pictures to make my point. So let's get started.

Call this


The Twin Cities Goes Silent. 

(My local newspapers (and probably yours) have likely run a photo essay along these lines and featured (better) photos much like these on their front pages):




The highways have fallen silent here in the Twin Cities a few days after the Governor's lock down went into effect.





The neighborhoods look abandoned...



Wildlife has reclaimed civilization. Here a turkey wanders through now unused streets!





And once bustling bridges are left unused.



Okay, so do you got it? My city has fallen empty during the Coronavirus shutdown. And if these were better pictures with a better camera and a better photographer they'd be pretty dramatic. As is they're a little dramatic I hope, or would be if you hadn't already seen a ton of ones just like them. And you get the point. They tell a story. Furthermore they are real, unretouched pictures of actual places. So that counts as news, right, and as documentation of a kind?



So now let's talk about my pictures, and maybe by extension let's talk about all the pictures like these we have seen of closed cities in the past weeks.

Look again at the first one:



First of all, it took me a long time standing on this bridge to get my shot. Cars kept getting in it! In this shot I had some luck and timed the picture right so that a small economy car is actually hidden behind the highway sign near the top of the picture. I also cut off the horizon which, though it nicely showed off some of the Minneapolis skyline, also unfortunately showed... cars. Cars and trucks. Pretty much like this shot below, which was an average shot of the same scene:





Could I have gotten more cars in this shot? Yeah. I wish I did. This was just random for the same spot at that time, a weekday mid morning.

Was it less traffic than usual? Absolutely. Was it quiet and empty? Despite the "evidence" of my first picture, no, never. It was never quiet and empty. The one "empty" picture I waited patiently to get was fake empty with a cropped top and an obscuring sign.



Now to the neighborhood pictures:






I have no shots of these streets with cars because there are never cars on these back neighborhood streets, other than maybe one at a time. And as to wildlife reclaiming the abandoned streets, turkeys just hang out here all the time, regardless of pandemics, not that I wasn't super excited to see them. There were six or seven and this was the last one crossing to a big, rough open wooded area they all magically disappeared into. Clever turkeys!

The bridge is one I see a lot of. It has traffic lights at either end which helps give it moments where it is empty even in moderate traffic times.

So this:




Is more often this:




But to emphasize how manipulative this process is, this shot was hard to get with a lot of cars in it. There is a lock down. The stay at home order does have an effect and it turns out it was pretty easy to get the empty shot.

Still, an average shot is probably like this below. I think the oxygen truck adds verisimilitude. It's only four cars. It's quiet, but we're not a ghost town.







The point is that the news doesn't thrive on complexity; it thrives on the dramatic. The empty shots tell a story. It is symbolic, partially accurate, and even in some ways reportorial, but the danger is that it pretends to be neutral. It isn't neutral because there are at least two stories here (though surely there are far more). One is:

The State is in an extraordinary emergency pandemic shutdown. Look how quiet it has gotten and how great we're doing.

And

The State is in an extraordinary emergency pandemic shutdown but it mostly voluntary and only somewhat, unevenly observed.

To my mind the second is the more true story. But my local papers and media are far more invested in the first story and believe that to be more true. So my library running a sloppy in relation to quarantine curbside pickup to get the bored (white) people out of their homes has now lead to a second large system starting their own poorly run curbside pickup scheme in the midst of a stay at home lock down because we are doing just fine. This is how the Governor is playing the story too. Go stretch your legs. Go for a drive. Pop on out to the Home Depot. Get a book from the library. We're doing fine. It's tough, but we're coming through it together.

And maybe we are. 

But that's not news exactly. It's an argument.









Monday, April 6, 2020

Your first coronavirus certificate!





Congratulations Coronavirus Survivor!


You have completed the first

400 YARDS

of the Coronavirus Marathon.


From all of us: Well done!





Sunday, April 5, 2020

White people library






Recently I discussed with you the curious nature of our curbside pick up at our pandemic battered library and how, unlike the old library, this new version of the library exclusively serves a white clientele. This fascinates me. Earlier in the morning I was out at the front phones and probably sailed past my marker of a hundred people personally helped without a single one of them being a person of color in any way whatsoever. At one point I had processed library materials for a surprising bunch of unrelated people all sharing the last name "Thompson". And I thought to make the joke "I have helped far more people named "Thompson" than I have helped black people over the last week. But I could have included absolutely any non white ethnic group instead in that statement. And then, even more to the point, the joke was meaningless because that same thing was true of every single name I helped! So I started thinking "I have now helped more people named "Braugenkamper" than I have helped any people of color.

It wasn't funny, mind you, but in my current state there was a horrid satisfaction to it.

While I have not personally seen, among a couple hundred visitors I have glimpsed in various contexts over the past week, a single person of color, there have, to be fair, been reports. One of my colleagues said they heard that a slightly crazy regular patron who is black came by to get some holds one day. That sounded pretty conclusive. There were also vague accounts of one other person of color coming by, but I was unable to substantiate it directly.

Of course it all begs the question: Why is this so?

A commenter in my first discussion of this subject proposed as an answer something along the lines of "White people are a bunch of self-centered, self-absorbed assholes!" And the argument certainly has a good deal of merit, both theoretically and historically. I am not here to refute that interpretation. I was more thinking I could add a kind of broadening theory.

My theory is this:

White people are accustomed to relating to a soft authority as fairly optional. They are free to interpret it as they wish. And so the slightly left of center Governor's Stay at Home order, with a focus on "Hey, let's all just pitch in" and "This might not mean you, don't worry" is a kind of friendly suggestion to large sections of the White People community. We are free to run with it where we like and pay it our vague attentions.

Whereas to immigrants and to people of color, all that "gee shucks, soft authority" is a velvet fist they have seen before. That stuff was written for them. They do not have the luxury or the state of relaxation that allows them to gloss over it all and make up their own casual interpretations. They, by history, are compelled to pay attention to it. They can choose how to deal with it once they pay attention, but they have to pay attention first.

And once one has actually paid attention to what's happening one would naturally, prudently do everything one could to stay at home.

I mean unless one was a self-centered, self-absorbed asshole.










Saturday, April 4, 2020

Pandemic t-shirts







One of my co-workers wanted a pandemic t-shirt. I mean why have a pandemic if you can't have a t-shirt.

So, me too! I want a pandemic t-shirt as well. Specifically I want a "City in Lockdown" t-shirt.

Mine will say:




If you're reading this, one of us is probably in the wrong place





Friday, April 3, 2020

Library for white people







In the evening the curbside pick up at my library finally died down. And once again myself and a couple of co-workers were talking and complaining about the situation.


You know the situation, don't you: State in lockdown, managers run amok, pandemic ingratiating itself slowly and murderously into the heart of the city, library under weird delusions of being some kind of emergency service, random chaotic rules at my library... You know, THE SITUATION.


One of my co-workers was telling the outrageous story she heard at a smaller branch she also worked at. It was of one of our colleagues who was more like me, that is, outraged. Outraged at staying open in a pandemic, then, outraged at staffing in a pandemic with a paltry two weeks of sick time handed out as largess by the county. Then outraged at violating the Governor's order to pretend that curbside pickup of bestsellers is some kind of essential service he just forgot to mention in his Shut Down order. But this outraged colleague the story was about is black. And she apparently very publicly proclaimed something like "I don't see why we're keeping the library open, risking everyone, just to get a few books for old white people!"


The story was told like that person had really gone too far. "That's a little much to say, isn't it?" The person telling it seemed to suggest.


But myself and the other colleague listening to it were only taken in for a half second. Then the other shoe dropped.


It dropped hard when we reflected.


Holy shit. Exactly!


My library is wonderful. Its constituency is magical. It is full of struggling youths from the Job Corps down the street. There are Mexican and Central American Immigrants, a rich selection of our local Somali population, and a wide cross section from our Hmong community. It's full of black people and European transplants, Native Americans, Chinese ex patriots and just people, amazingly, from everywhere. It is visited constantly by the developmentally disabled, people recently released from prison trying to adjust, and people with grave physical disabilities.


It is a fucking American melting pot. 


Day to day this is so normal to me it is sometimes beyond notice. All these people everywhere, but there it is. That is my American Library, Minnesota USA, believe it or not. It is the Rainbow of the World.


But now, suddenly, we are not that library at all. 


We are under a "Shelter in Place" order from the Governor, running some curbside pick up scam. And as this kind of library we are making 50 to 100 people, criminal people, as I like to point out, supremely happy every day, much to my regret.

And every single one of them is white.


Every single one of them!


My co-worker told us the story. She made the quote "I don't see why we're keeping the library open, risking everyone, just to get a few books for old white people!" And the two of us listening looked at each other, stunned.


We had helped hundreds of people over the past few days. 


"Have you delivered a book to anyone who wasn't white?" We asked.


"Nope." We answered gob-smacked. "Not a one." None of us had.



Although now, reflecting on it I realize it wasn't an accurate statement. The pick up has not only been used by old white people. There have actually been quite a few white people in their thirties who have used it too. 

I guess some kinds of people are just prone to being hyperbolic.










Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pandemic jukebox





Just how it feels right now...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iEId2vmb0M



Dear County Commissioner






Dear County Commissioner:


God bless you!

God bless you for daring to defy our namby pamby Governor's lily-livered Stay at Home order!  As my good friend Earl said "When did Minnesota become so yellow-bellied?" He's a big fan of the library, which I think you're in charge of over there in the County, but I guess they made you close those places anyway cause they're a bunch of chickens. At least you gave it a fight. "Blah blah blah we have to slow the virus and save lives." They said. You know what my good friend Earl said? He said "People die every day! PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY!" Actually he said it six or seven times cause he was pretty worked up. He really likes going to the library, though what he's doing on the Internet all that time there I got no idea.

But he's right you know. Something like a million people die every day driving their cars, but it's not like we close the roads until we can switch to some stupid mass transit system! Real Americans wouldn't stand for it! A couple years ago my Aunt Bettie had maybe a bit too much of that sweet wine she liked and then took out herself and a family of four at that dodgy intersection out by the train tracks while driving home. It was a bloodbath, but we didn't shut down the city for it. You can't stop death! You could maybe even say it's sacrilegious to try. And they're mostly all with Jesus now so it's kind of a happy ending anyway.

I know you have to pretend to try a little what with people being scared of dying, like with all that seat belt and helmet nonsense, and now with the social distance hoo-hah and "curbside" pickup out at the libraries, but I have admired how you have focused as much as possible on business as usual during this so called la-ti-da pandemic. I'm so thankful to you that I can even pick up my holds at the library despite the lame Stay at Home order. I'll stay at home when I'm dead! Me and Earl like to get together and drink beers and drive around to the libraries picking up holds and chatting with other people who pick up holds (don't worry, we're big guys and probably stay under the legal limit!). Thank god we have something to do. We'd go crazy if we had to stay shut in all day.

I guess all them lazy county workers are begging you to shut it down for being non essential! Ha, lazy suckers! I guess you showed them a thing or two! They should be thankful to have jobs! I work over at the Walmart part time, and I like to joke with the guests "Don't worry. I don't got no Coronavirus!" They think it's pretty funny, or maybe they can't hear me too well because they're mostly pretty old. But the key thing is they're bored by all this Coronavirus nonsense, and thank god the Walmart and the County and the library are giving them a place to go and be with people now that the Perkins won't let them in. 

You think those folks don't know they're gonna die pretty soon anyway? I mean, they're old. They know they're old! Half of them are pretty ready to go right now.

Yesterday Earl and me and a bunch of the guys from the VFW got together for a little beer picnic down at the Roseville Park. Thank god it's warming up outside, eh? Some young punk with his fru-fru dog yelled something at us about calling the police on us for gathering in a group of ten. For gathering! Earl, who was pretty toasted, sort of waddled over to him pretty quick, coughing a lot, and trying to shake his hand and thank him for the warning. It was pretty funny. You would have laughed. And maybe you had something to do with keeping that park open, so thanks for that too.

So anyway, thanks again for standing up to the Governor. I like how you used all that lawyer crap against him and when he tries to shut down the state for all but emergency and essential services, you all are like "Everything we do is an essential service, so suck it!" You got that right. Having a few beers with my buds is as essential as it comes! And Earl would just about die without his Matlock DVD's. He loves his Matlock.

I just wish the VFW had half the balls you do!


Yours,


Big Steve











Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bartleby the essential worker







Though I had planned on observing my Governor's sensible, but increasingly casual-seeming STAY AT HOME order by actually staying at home and having a bit of layabout, all posting on this blog a lot and drinking coffee constantly with my wife, I was stunned to find I am...

AN ESSENTIAL WORKER.

So here I am, at work, in a library, which is closed, and I am feeling very, very important.

The emergency service we are providing is one in which, say, for instance, season two of Facts of Life is on hold for a patron; well they can call us and we can prepare it for them, and then they can call us again, and we can put it out on a table in front of the library so that they can pick it up.

Did you know that both Molly Ringwald and George Clooney were at times in the cast of Facts of Life? I tell you this in case you had any doubts about me doing essential work here.

So naturally it has gone to my head.

The phone rings at the library. 

Clearly I am too important to answer that.

Can I shelve these requested books on the request shelves?

No. It's beneath me.

How about going upstairs and pulling some requested books off the shelf for an eighty-two year old woman who has decided to work her way through the whole Debbie Macomber ouvre one more time?

No.

I am an ESSENTIAL WORKER. What do people not get about this? I am like a Doctor or Nurse or something, but probably more important.

Stop asking me to do stuff!

I am going to stand in the middle of our first floor, as far away from everything I can, touching nothing. My hands hang loose in the air. I take deep breaths and conserve my energy. I am counting down from a million, holding back the storm of deaths. Don't talk to me. Don't go near me.

I will tell you when my moment has come.






Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Essential Employee






The Governor of my state, Minnesota, called, under emergency declaration, a Shelter In Place order.

Oh Lord, Shelter in Place!

It is unprecedented!

It is unheard of!

It is amazing!

And it is all because of this terrible pandemic. Oooooh it's terrible, so terrible, the most terrible.

And under this shelter in place order we have to stay home unless it is an absolute emergency! You have to need food. You have to be in danger! You have to need MEDICAL HELP!

Oh, or you have to want to get a library book, perhaps a dvd of Chicago Fire season 3?  

My library and my County have interpreted the Governor's order to mean just that. Indeed they insist that it is exactly what the Governor meant.

So do you know what that makes me?

AN ESSENTIAL WORKER!!!!!!

Fear me. For I am a hero.

Step aside all you slacker Doctors and Nurses. Cower before me oh grocery store stockers and farmers and drivers. Get off the roads you with your ambulances and firetrucks, your tool trucks keeping the city going, for I am on the move! I am the key to Western Civilization surviving through this darkness. Scurry before me little people! For Glenn Watson, 82 years old, of Blaine, Minnesota, would like to pick up a copy of Lee Child's seventh book...

AND I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN PROVIDE IT TO HIM!

And so to all of you out there in Internetland, lolling about in your pj's, good for you. Stop the spread. Shelter at home. Do the right thing.

But do not forget there are still giants among you, risking our lives to do the dangerous work that must be done. Do not forget we heroes, we titans, we ESSENTIAL workers, the people who put old bestsellers out on a table for you as you illegally defy state orders to get them. For lo we stride, we essential library employees, heroes of the age, like as Gods among you, tireless, resolute, heroic, bold, irreplaceable, and maybe, or maybe not, infected.















Monday, March 30, 2020

The problem with art







During a recent pandemic I was walking through my neighborhood alleyways, trying to keep the recommended 400 feet of distance from everyone in the world other than my wife.

Can we please do this forever?

People can just be, so, I don't know, infected.

And as I was walking I smelled tar.

I had so many feelings!

I know most of the reasons why, many of them having to do with the relation of smell to memory, and to how my four-year-old love of The La Brea Tar pits in L.A. imprinted deep emotions of positive association with the smell of tar that haunts me to this day. But that's not the point!

The point is that walking in that alley and smelling tar evoked in me a rich, complex array of sentiments and sensations as profound as any response to a piece of art. Yes, a song, book, or a painting may open up my world, cause reconsideration, and a complex burgeoning of feeling to be unleashed inside of me, but if tar can do that what makes art special or valuable? Because let's face it, anything I regard seriously and deeply, a tree, a glass, a sky, the song of a bird, a scrap of trash in the road, can well up with metaphor and meaning inside me. Anyone of them, if my effort is pure enough, is capable of briefly peeling back the facade, the great facade everywhere, and revealing the terrible and wonderful face of god!

And so what then, I ask again, is the point of art over any other random thing in the Universe?


I don't know. I don't have all the answers here. I'm just trying to make you feel.





Sunday, March 29, 2020

Just wanted to say hey.


Credit to jim, but I edited it a tiny bit so it's almost like a fancy collaboration!




Pandemic jukebox 2






One Summer evening in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, in the 1990's, my wife and I went out to sit on the front steps of the four-plex Queen Anne house we lived in. Someone was playing music really loud. We could hear it reverberating through the ground in that way that overemphasizes the bass and drums and makes it hard to pick out the singing and melody. But at some point we were able to pick out that it was R.E.M.

"Who would play this so loud?" We asked each other.

Then "How could anyone play it so loud like this?"

And then the other strange, wonderful shoe dropped.

We lived a mile or two from a stadium where a popular minor league baseball club played at the time- Midway Stadium. The place also sometimes hosted concerts. We saw Bob Dylan there once with Ani Difranco. And once, one Summer evening in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul, in the 1990's, my wife and I went out to sit on the front steps and we heard R.E.M. playing there live in a way that mysteriously carried through the humid air all the way to us.

This was that time!

And all of that is to introduce what I firmly believe is the greatest music video ever made. Of course I adore the song, but to bring it to film and actually deepen it is an astonishing act of art.

If you've never seen it the subtitles may throw you at first, as I think they maybe did me. They are not accidentally there. Stick with it.

I hope you like it:


Everybody Hurts



Time for some Internet exercise!







People will occasionally proffer some helpful advice on the Internet like:

Hey, maybe you should get off the Internet and walk around a bit.

Which is fine, even if a bit superior, I mean, isn't the person who said that writing it on the Internet. Maybe they should try walking around a bit instead of telling other people to do so!

And so in that spirit, with some of you trapped in your homes, I have borrowed from a tiny piece of my blog history to offer this opportunity to do a few short laps without having to leave the Internet

This is possible because what I am offering here are laps around the Internet.

You can run as many laps as you like, but I'll warn you, it starts out mildly interesting the first lap and gets way less interesting from there. Mainly it's for the exercise.

Though what it exercises the health professionals have not yet determined.



Click here and get ready for a healthful but pointless lap around the Internet





No lessons, just history






Gather around my friends and I will tell you another grim library tale from way back in the dark days of the 2020 pandemic.

Oh, it's still the dark days of the 2020 pandemic?

But I wrote this post five whole days ahead of time. Are you sure?

Well it's almost over isn't it?

Really?

Okay stop, that's enough, I don't want to know anything more about the future! It's horrible!

My library tale? Oh, now it just seems so trifling compared to what you all are dealing with in the future. 

But if you insist...



My sad tale begins on the gray first day that my stupid library began its inadvisable curbside pickup program. I arrived to a disorganized scene of unsafe chaos as the processes were worked out. Calls were coming in. Elaborate explanations were made. Double call protocols and multiple people hand-offs were instituted. Many pointless things were printed out. As many people, phone calls, and individual book touches as possible were involved. We still haven't entirely recovered from it and need 16 employees to check out a few dozen books to 20 or 30 people over the course of a full day.

Not that there's anything else to do.

Except stay home.

So you might guess that I had a bad attitude about it. You might even imagine that I complained about it just a tiny bit.

I did.

I was on the phone with a patron who had resolved not to just stay home, even though all the buses and billboards and Internet memes had begged them to. And I was hunting down their requested item that was not where it was supposed to be because even still our byzantine system goes mildly wrong half the time and it was much worse back then, and I was complaining about the Governor and the County Manager and the Library Director and the President and the Union and Capitalism and Communicable Diseases and MANAGERS, when one of my colleagues, sitting at a desk with nothing at all to do, offered me some advice.

"Why don't you just decide that everything is for the best and that we are helping people?" She asked.

I shrugged and replied "Why don't you just decide I am the best person you have ever met and can do no wrong?"

Alas, neither of us learned our lesson.







Saturday, March 28, 2020

Pictures from Jim, the post




In preparation for the Pandemic rules in this blog I bought a camera. But it hasn't come yet. Then from out of nowhere my friend Jim sent pictures.

"Hey, I was going to do that!" I said. "Can I put them in my blog?"

He said sure.

One of the main things I wanted to photograph was graffiti. And along with all this coincidence of what Jim sent here is one I quite like of a post, splitting the more colorless Minnesota landscape of early Spring.




You're safe here in the inner circle






At this point this is something of a traditional sentiment from clerkmanifesto. It may no longer carry the weight of its earlier vehemence and in many ways has become more ritualistic, almost an observance. But what better time is there than during our pandemic rules to assert our meaning and history and rituals! So gather round my angry but light-giving fire as we talk to everyone who is not us:


To everyone who has not yet read this, is not currently reading this, and never will read this:


Fuck you.




And to those kind souls reading this, don't worry about them, they'll be fine anyway. Those types always are.





Pandemic Jukebox







In doing my hundred greatest albums of all time I regularly wonder: How will I fit the Kinks in there? They are easily one of my favorite bands of all time, but I'm not sure there is any album in particular that I can pick out. For me, more than any album, it's all those... songs.

As we stroll through the pandemic, with some of us dropping away to die (well, I mean, I HOPE not!), I do plan on providing a jukebox. I mean, can't you listen to a song or two from the computer you're at right now? And if you can, maybe you should listen to what, for me, belongs as the absolute song of the Pandemic.

Yes, THE SONG OF THE PANDEMIC!

Strangers on this road we are on. We are not two we are one.

Come on.

Maybe sometimes the songs I'll be sharing here will just be the music, but if I can, well: this is not only one of the most lovely Kink's songs, and one of the most lovely songs ever written, but as seen here it is from one of the most beautiful passages of film I have ever seen. 

I'm sorry that maybe it cuts off. I hate that, but I do beg you to take a look.

A favorite song in a favorite movie and absolutely essential to our current moment:

Strangers





Bonuses for those of you doing the deep dive:

Keep in mind this is the second best song writer in the Kinks!

An enormously personable cover

You guys like the Kinks?

And one more singer I like



but these are all just footnotes.










Authority Issues, a post from 3 years ago





Yes, I suppose it's true that I have "Authority" issues. You can even tell by the way I put "Authority" in quotes like that, as if to say "Right, what a bunch of bullshit." Perhaps a tip off to my  "Authority" issues is how relentlessly I try to be an "Authority" myself. Look at this blog sometimes. It's just kind of fishy.

One place my "Authority" issues really pops up is when someone I like dies. Tom Petty? Seriously, why would you kill Tom Petty? You don't like Free Fallin'? There is something really wrong with you if you don't like Free Fallin'.

I know the apologetics: Some must die so that others may live. We must make room for the new. It's the circle of life. Whatever. I don't need more babies. Enough with the babies already! I don't need any new people! I like the old people just fine! I'm crazy about the old people! Why can't we just get old for awhile and then get younger for awhile. We can just sort of oscillate into eternity.

But no, we'll all die instead. Wow, that's clever. Who's the genius who thought of that?


Corona....... virus






 Lately, in the course of the pandemic it has become too crowded to walk safely along the river paths so I've had to switch to neighborhood routes. However, this morning dawned in the dismal gray of a lingering snow. The world dripped and slushed and I felt it might be discouraging enough to keep the river paths free of the infected masses for the morning. And so once again I walked with moderate safety in my bubble of copious space along the Mississippi.

While I was walking I got a really good idea for a blog post. It was the one a couple days ago about how Clerkmanifesto was designated as a Stage 2 Emergency Blog. It was satire. You might remember it.

No?

It was really good! I mean, I liked it. 

Other people have different opinions. Like, all the time. 

All the time.

Anyway my idea was so good (to me) I had to pull off the river and write it in the little notebook I carry with me wherever I go. Luckily I was right then at the monument to WWI veterans. A spacious overlook there provides a sweeping view of the Mississippi. So I stood there in the chill gloom and wrote. I wrote about the coronavirus. It was a dark humor, but it kept me warm for a while.

I finished. Then I put my notebook away and turned from the river. A bottlecap caught my eye. It was sitting conspicuously on the edge of the monument.

"Corona" it said.

I laughed. Someone had left a tribute, or the message of a Corona bottlecap. "That's funny." I thought. And I decided maybe it would be amusing to take it to work with me, so I leaned forward to pick it up.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" I screamed.

Oh my god, I almost touched it!