At 4:30 PM local time on Thursday June 4, the church bells will toll in Budapest. Citizens are asked to stop work, stand, and bow their heads for a minute’s silence. Opposition politicians will quietly walk together, at an appropriate social distance, to a site of national memorial, while the domineering Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and the country’s largely-ceremonial president, János Áder, will give nationally televised addresses.
None of this has anything to do with the coronavirus. At time of writing, 532 people are reported to have died of the disease in Hungary, but there will be other moments to mourn them.… Seguir leyendo »
I first drifted into the Father Brown and Miss Fisher television series in 2018, while under the effects of pain medication and postsurgical malaise. Even though my family and I are safely housed, and my own case of Covid-19 has been relatively mild, I see the shadow of prolonged illness all around us, and I’ve instinctively returned to my cozy mysteries.
The traditional cozy is a soft-boiled whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth operating within an intimate community, mostly outside the traditional police force. The sleuth has a contact on the force; their relationship is familiar but often testy. Each episode features one-off characters, affected by a murder, around whom buzz the core characters, who solve the murder.… Seguir leyendo »
Police on the roof of a building, firing rubber bullets at the crowd below. Angry protesters in helmets and padded lifejackets. Intersections littered with teargas canisters. Middle-aged women pulling off their protective Covid-19 face masks to douse their stinging eyes with milk. Storefronts smashed; acres of downtown real estate in flames. More teargas. More anger. An emotional mayor asking for the prosecution of a member of his own police department, then calling in reinforcement riot squads. Pepper spray and stun grenades. Hundreds of National Guard troops arriving in convoys to restore order to the streets.
In the three days since the horrific death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in broad daylight, Minneapolis has been transformed almost beyond recognition.… Seguir leyendo »
My dad is very sick with a cancer that is spreading and spreading and because he asked, because he never asks, I drove 500 miles away from Manhattan, across the northern border, to help care for him (after, of course, my Canadian government-surveilled quarantine). “Don’t judge me, take care of me,” sings FKA twigs on a two-minute interlude I must have listened to on repeat for an hour straight. The song is off of London drill artist Headie One’s 2020 mixtape with producer Fred again.., GANG, which really got me: confessional, silky, short. On a 2019 song called “Nearly Died,” he raps, “I don’t glamorize jail, them lonely nights, they were shit.”… Seguir leyendo »
In the midst of a pandemic that has crippled health care systems in the developed world, Cuba has projected an image of international solidarity by dispatching its medical missions to countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus. While these medical services are welcome, they also serve a symbolic purpose by tacitly endorsing socialized medicine. The positive press reports about the medical missions deflect attention from the less savory measures that Cuba has adopted to control the crisis at home. For Cuban authorities, any struggle against an outside force—be it an insurgency, capitalist cultural influence, or an infectious disease—inevitably becomes a symbolic battle against internal enemies.… Seguir leyendo »
Lockdown possibility for a new cinematic discovery: the Russian writer-director Kantemir Balagov, a protégé of the last Soviet master Alexander Sokurov, not yet thirty and possibly the most arresting young filmmaker to emerge in the last few years.
Beanpole, Balagov’s beautifully acted second feature—set in Leningrad in 1945, and featuring two shellshocked nurses tending to even more damaged soldiers—won a prize at Cannes last year and was a hit at the 2019 New York Film Festival. It opened in January and is available for streaming on both MUBI and Kinomarquee.
Closeness, Balagov’s first feature, aptly named given its tight framing and the claustrophobic family situation it depicts, can be streamed through Anthology Film Archives.… Seguir leyendo »
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—I live in an apartment that is somewhere between Greenpoint and the East Williamsburg Industrial Park. It’s mostly warehouses and the BQE, far from the things most associated with life in New York. The news coming out of the city can feel dire and overwhelming, but when I stay off the Internet, life still floods in. These are some of the moments that have kept me connected, and given me some hope.
PACKAGES: I was supposed to visit my family in California in April. Instead, my parents send me USPS boxes full of home-baked cookies, jars of olives, homemade masks.… Seguir leyendo »
Three years ago, a foodie friend recommended the 1985 Japanese film Tampopo, a self-styled “ramen western.” I wasn’t a foodie and I didn’t much care for ramen, so I ignored him. Now dinner has become the thrilling climax of every locked-down day, and my most sensual aesthetic encounters come from the watermelon radishes and candy cane beets that I buy at the farmer’s market. This weekend, I realized that the time had come for me to watch Tampopo—after dinner, of course.
At the beginning of the film, a laconic trucker named Gorō, a Robert Mitchum type in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat, stops for a bite at a dingy roadside ramen shop.… Seguir leyendo »
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA—In the summer of 2019, after I gave birth to my son, I flunked the postpartum depression screener. A multiple-choice questionnaire, all new mothers were required to fill it out before leaving the hospital: In the past seven days, have you felt scared? Panicky? Had difficulty sleeping?
I was a first-time mom past her due date. In Philadelphia, it was 111º F. Yes, yes, and yes.
Five months later, in January, I sat on the couch holding my son and tried to convince myself I was just being paranoid. Coronavirus had leveled China’s Hubei Province, had even landed in the US, but Washington state was far away.… Seguir leyendo »
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—In Scotland, the spread of the virus was two or three weeks behind London as lockdown came in, and we’ve seen the benefit of that delay. Bed occupancy in Edinburgh’s ICUs peaked around April 9, is dropping now, and only briefly breached the pre-Covid-19 capacity. But the delivery of medical care is utterly transformed.
I work in primary care. As the hospitals were cleared out for Covid-19, specialist outpatient clinics for practically everything but cancer were cancelled. Many routine hospital tests are now unavailable. The labs are frantically expanding their viral testing capability and have little capacity for anything else.… Seguir leyendo »
LIVINGSTON, MONTANA—Spring has finally arrived in late April, and after a nearly monthlong shelter-in-place order, Governor Steve Bullock announced last Wednesday that Montana has “seen the number of positive [coronavirus] cases decline over these past weeks.” Along with a handful of other states, including Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, and Tennessee, Montana has now begun a “phased reopening,” which commenced on Sunday, April 26, with churches. As of this Monday, retail businesses can open if they operate at “reduced capacity” to ensure “physical distancing”—a mandate that is not as difficult to achieve here as it is in other places, in this state with an abundance of land and only a million people.… Seguir leyendo »
There are many things one may learn by being in quarantine, not including that very special ennui that makes you daydream about finding a Halliburton case full of street drugs, or getting hit with a cricket bat by someone in a gimp suit.
For the most part, I have barely noticed the California shelter-in-place order, because, thanks to my childhood friend, the artist Kimberly Brooks, I have been in a gleefully self-imposed quarantine since late last year.
My first contact with Kimberly came in high school, when I was a lowly freshman and she was a sophomore. She was the Queen Bee: the prettiest, bossiest It-Girl in several Bay Area school districts.… Seguir leyendo »
BANGALORE, INDIA—Here, in the world’s most congested city, there is a midnight quiet at all times of day. On the streets, where the occasional two-wheeler or pedestrian can be seen, there are no trucks or public transport. Police checkpoints have been set up along the main arteries. Cars are confiscated if drivers take them out for no good reason. Some hospitals are open, and groceries, and ATMs. Everything else is shut; and each time the lockdown reaches its endpoint, it is extended.
In India, the pandemic came as a bounty to the ruling BJP party: taking advantage of the chaos the virus brought, the Indian government consolidated powers it would have been impossible to imagine even half a dozen years ago.… Seguir leyendo »
The Covid-19 quarantine, which has in many other ways decimated my concentration, has revived my collage industry. I started making collages around age thirteen, in part out of frustration at my poor drawing skills and in part because of the lure of unpredictable found objects. The practice reached its peak in my twenties, when I made fliers for bands and had a hand in a zine or two. Then the scene changed, the bands broke up, and I no longer had an audience or a purpose. So I quit making visual work for nearly forty years. But the flame never entirely went out, as proven by the fact that I lugged my materials—piles of magazines, accordion folders full of clippings—from apartment to apartment and house to house, at least nine times.… Seguir leyendo »
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—Fourteen days after March 11, when the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, I converted from telemedicine skeptic to telemedicine evangelist. Like most primary care physicians, I used to do my job face-to-face: patients came to my office, were greeted by staff, pocketed magazines no one admits to liking, and were finally ushered in to see me in my white coat. Now, staff work from home, non-urgent visits are cancelled, those magazines are piling up, and my daily “rounds” are either by video chat or phone.
There’s no shortage of work. I “see” more than twenty Covid-19 patients daily.… Seguir leyendo »
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK—Several years ago, when I stormed out of psychoanalysis with Dr. S., I decided to journal at my little desk instead, but I could not get past the attempt to describe my view to the street. I’m still trying.
The window by my desk is the only place in my studio apartment where I can see a segment of sky above the opposite building rather than the secondhand sun that’s dispatched from it. It’s a front-loaded, precarious feeling—to lean out toward a wider world that won’t arrive—like hoping for shooting stars on a bright moonlit night, or waiting for a married man to leave his wife.… Seguir leyendo »
LINCOLN, VERMONT—Our town meeting was on March 2. Much of it, as always, was devoted to deploring the state of the roads. “I’ve lived here for more than seventy-five years,” growled one gentleman, “and I never seen it so bad on that stretch by the dump.” It’s true: the roads were worse than usual this winter. That stretch in particular was a frost-heaved, axle-bending rollercoaster ride.
When I think of that evening now—more than a hundred townspeople packed into one toasty room, shoulder to shoulder—it seems a very long time ago. Our lives here are paced by well-defined seasons. There’s ski season, cut short in mid-March by social-distancing guidelines.… Seguir leyendo »
HAVANA, CUBA—Every night at 9 PM, applause erupts across Havana, filling the city’s dark, empty streets. It’s hard to see where the clapping is coming from, but if you look up, you can spot people leaning out windows and over balconies.
I’m currently in Cuba with Belly of the Beast, a media organization that reports on the island through journalism and cinematography.
On most nights, after the applause for the doctors, I call my mother to check in. She lives in Blaine County, Idaho, which recently had one of the highest infection rates in the US. As of Thursday, there were 467 cases among the county’s 23,000 residents.… Seguir leyendo »
WATERTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS—Tuesday morning and, as usual, I’m watching a head bob before a verdant if patchily rendered digital landscape. I’m on Zoom, of course, along with a hundred and twenty or so other anti-hunger advocates from across the state of Massachusetts.
For the past year and a half, I’ve worked part-time at a small nonprofit embedded within a much larger nonprofit, first in data entry and now in childcare solutions and case management. Our focus is workforce development: we match clients with and pay for job training. Now that training centers are closed through at least May 4, our students study from home, or try to.… Seguir leyendo »
WELLESLEY, MASSACHUSETTS—During the early days of quarantine, back when I was still trying to keep straight which Tolstoy princess had the mole and which had the mustache, and was still forcing my family to gather before the hearth every evening, as our forebears had, to hear the patriarch read poems aloud; before, that is, the fear of becoming very ill, or of losing our home, had really kicked in, I opened The New York Review of Books and turned to the classifieds. Twentieth-century artifacts still gamely chugging along, these notices offer all kinds of enticements: a farmhouse in the Dordogne or Tuscany, a kit for constructing a geodesic dome, a massage of uncertain propriety.… Seguir leyendo »