September 22, 2020

I should be sitting here

It’s one of those evenings when I’m in a French existentialist mood. Everything’s terrible and nothing I can do or say can make it any better. Time to break out a beret, a black T-shirt, and an unfiltered Gauloise and yammer on about the futility of modern living. But that sort of thing generally doesn’t last with me. I have a deep seated optimism by nature that no matter how bad things seem to get, human beings eventually get their act together and start responding to their better selves. The question just becomes how low can we go before that kicks in or whether it will kick in quickly enough to save us from our worst impulses. I don’t know the answer to these things. I may have to take a sabbatical from my usual diet of political news for sanity’s sake. I don’t watch any of it on television, I’m not that much of a masochist, but I do read relatively extensively on politics, especially as it intersects with health policy so that I have some clue as to how to begin positioning the little corners of health care for which I have some responsibility to weather the storms of administrative and financial craziness that have become all to frequent recently.


I’m not sure what’s put me in such a dreary mood. Nothing too horrible has happened at work. In fact most things are ticking along. There have been some hiccups with expanding the VA house call program into the Huntsville area but nothing that can’t be overcome with some training and attention to staff. UAB is functioning relatively normally in the outpatient arena. Perhaps it’s a side effect of my annual flu shot which I received earlier today. They generally don’t bother me but one never really knows how the central nervous system is affected by the state of one’s physical health. You are living inside of it and are usually the last one to notice anything different. One of the problems with being alone after so many years of coupledom is there’s no one who can look at me at home and tell me when I’m a bit off and my personal barometer may just not be the most accurate. I’m hoping a cocktail, some left over chicken masaman, and some reading of Sondheim studies before a decent night’s sleep will take care of the issue.


We officially passed 200,000 Covid-19 deaths in the USA today. That could easily double again in the next few months. If only those who led our country would approach matters of public health with the speed and gusto they are approaching the prospect of filling a vacant Supreme Court seat. SCOTUS will still be there after the first of the year. Another 100,000 Americans or so may not be. It’s become painfully clear that the powers that be consider all of us not of their class expendable. Couple this with economic imbalance of the type that led to the French Revolution and I fear sometimes we may really all be dancing on the edge of the abyss. And then I decide, no, it’s not that bad and start trying to figure out when I can next go to Seattle to see my family.

Politically Incorrect Cabaret


The Politically Incorrect Cabaret is talking about doing some on-line content, perhaps some things from the archives edited together with some new stuff. On line theater techniques would allow us to pull in some members who have since moved away. The Ansager would be happy to come out and play. I don’t mind monologuing it but one thing I have discovered is that I cannot sing or learn music well in isolation. Too much of my ability to learn music comes from being surrounded by sound of either accompanist or other singers and without all those subtle cues, I get lost in terms of either rhythm or pitch (often both) and the resulting product is terrible. I also am terribly self conscious when I sing solo. I can do it in character when it’s not me but I have a dreadful time when it’s Andy up there exposed. It’s why I hate recital singing and won’t sing for church outside of choral work. Give me a character and a situation in a theatrical piece where I can work it out in my head as to just why I’m singing and I can do it no problem (except when the part was written for lyric baritone and I have to cheat as a bass-baritone who has gotten lower with age for all those above the staff notes).


People have asked why we haven’t done more Politically Incorrect Cabarets during the Trump era. It’s because out current political moment is nigh on impossible to satirize. No matter what I could possibly dream up, reality will top it next week. Think of all the things that would have been unthinkable five years ago that have become normalized in terms of political ideology and discourse. Politically Incorrect was born, in part, out of a theatrical moment in March of 2003. At that time, as the drums of war were leading up to the invasion of Iraq, performing artists around the world decided to make an antiwar statement and on 3/3/03, theater companies around the world did performances of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata as a message. Some were readings, some semi-staged, some fully staged. I was part of the Birmingham production put on by the Birmingham Peace Project and it was my first appearance as an actor on a Birmingham stage outside of a church show. There is some thought that maybe Birmingham needs a Zoom version of Lysistrata as a reminder. I was the narrator that held that original production together. Tommy was one of the soldiers and I still remember him coming up the aisle with his balloon phallus fully inflated. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t think any pictures recorded that particular moment.


I think the thing I’m the most scared of at the moment is the opacity of information regarding Covid-19. The combination of lack of interest from the federal government with the strict control of information that flows from federal sources such as the CDC and the FDA (which is the prerogative of the executive branch – they are all executive agencies) makes it difficult to know where to turn for well sourced science regarding spread, responses, impact of morbidity over time and the like. When the CDC recommendations flop back and forth in a rather ham fisted way, one can only surmise that non-scientists are calling the shots for political expediency. If the political system tries to hide the true extent of the virus and what it’s doing to the population, we’re going to have a world of hurt. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Anyone who has ever been a project manager knows that you can’t keep a dozen people on task and not talking about what they’re working on. You can’t have nefarious complicated cabals of tens of thousands without somebody somewhere accidentally spilling the beans. For this reason alone, truth will always eventually out and if the public ever decides that their loved ones died because the government decided they were expendable or acceptable collateral damage, there’s going to be hell to pay.


Usually, by the time I finish one of these and I’ve been in a funky mood, I’ve straightened my head out a bit. Not so much this evening. Anastasia kitty has decided to snuggle so I’ll finish this up and go back to my reading for a bit followed by my Schitt’s Creek binge watch marathon.


You know the litany:


Stay in when you can.

Wear your mask.

Wash your hands.


It’s that simple.

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