Day 1: Settled down in a comfy chair with “Napoleon Bonaparte”, Alan Schom’s 888-page biography, that’s been sitting on one of my bookshelves for more than 15 years. I intended to read it long ago. After getting through the forward and page 10 of Chapter one, I placed it back on the shelf and selected “Dodge City, The Wickedest Town In The West” a book I can better relate to after sitting through a number of Fernandina Beach City Commission meetings. And, yes, there really was a Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, but not a Matt Dillon.
Day 2: Bars are all closed. Good grief, this is serious.
Day 3: News commentators are criticizing President Trump for saying the Coronavirus came from China – which it did — claiming it is xenophobic of him. An influenza pandemic is traditionally named for its place of origin e.g. 1918 “Spanish flu”, 1957 “Asian flu, 1968 “Hong Kong flu”, 1977 “Russian flu”. If President Trump suggested that folks frequently wash their hands, the media would report that he said people should go drown themselves.
Day 4: With the constant hand washing business it appears that we should bounce the eagle as our national symbol and replace it with Lady Macbeth.
Day 5: Made a beer run to Publix where I saw lots of masked and confused people trying to figure out the shortest distance to their desired purchase in the newly marked one-way aisles while gleefully elbowing their neighbors into the Wuhan bat-flavored ramen noodle section. They might as well block off the paper products aisle as those shelves are bare. Beans — canned and dried — also appear to be in short supply. I wonder if Beano is selling as quickly.
Day 6: I had no idea there were so many cable TV channels with hundreds of them in Spanish. There are several stations devoted to European, Latin and South American soccer, the kind of station you normally find being shown in Mexican restaurants to entertain the joint’s wait staff and annoy its customers. Since I don’t speak Spanish I called the cable company to tell them I don’t want them and to adjust my bill accordingly. The lady that answered spoke only Spanish.
Day 7: I discovered that there are TV channels in many other languages including one in Farsi, that says it features the “top sellers in Persian (e.g. Iranian) music”; another music station called “Sounds of South India” described itself as a “familiar mix of South Indian hits” that I guess we should all be able to hum along to. I also scrolled past Zee TV featuring something called Dil Dhadakne Do and Mumbaki. I have no idea what those are…maybe they’re the dictatorial leaders of Mali and Burkina Faso respectively, Congolese dinner recipes, or a combination of both.
Day 8: After reading, watching and listening to all the conflicting local, state and federal government officials report on the current pandemic situation I firmly believe that 19th century journalist H.L. Mencken was way ahead of his time when he wrote: “Government is a regimenting force that fleeces the citizenry without flinching, that could and does strip the individual to his hide, a gang well-nigh immune to punishment. It is dishonest, insane and intolerable.”
Day 9: My neighbor’s staring at me with a quizzical look as I dig a large hole in our nicely manicured back yard. Linda doesn’t agree that burying our most valuable asset out here is a very wise move even if it is MY Hank Aaron rookie year card.
Day 10: I’m wondering what’s going on in China? Are American restaurants open over there? Do they deliver American take out? Is number 1 a hamburger with fries and Number 2 a hot dog with chopped onions and mustard with a side of slaw? What’s Number 74, liver and onions or tuna casserole? Do they serve General McArthur’s chicken? Do they come with a plastic fork and knife or chop sticks? Do they have chocolate chip fortune cookies?
Day 11: I got a deal on 50,000 barrels of crude oil online from a guy in Saudi Arabia, who said he’d pay me to take them, but I’m having a problem finding a place to put it. I hope UPS doesn’t leave it on the front porch.
Day 12: While watching waaaaay too much TV I discovered a group of ghouls that jumps to the top of the loathsome list by preying on the misery of others – personal injury lawyers. These contemptable cretins are worse than scammers, robo callers, CNN & MSNBC commentators, or Nancy Pelosi. Their TV commercials urge viewers to sue hospitals, doctors, cruise companies, employers, airlines, the Sisters of Charity, anyone or any group these sleazeballs think they can squeeze money out of in this time of misery and despair. They encourage viewers to “…seek legal advice if you have a coronavirus malpractice lawsuit.” If you visit an office of one of these shysters you won’t have to be reminded to wash your hands, you’ll want to take a hot shower.
Day 13: I think I’m becoming a Democrat since this virus started. I’m sitting home all day, not working, complaining about everything, and wondering how I can get a check from the government.
Day 14: Since the beaches are closed to the public do the local environmentalists worry that sea turtles will wander into town to see where everybody went and get squashed by cars as they cross the road? Will the loud crowd extremists convince the City and County Commissions to erect turtle crossing signs with our tax money?
Day 15: While reading the financial pages of magazines and newspapers its apparent that the virus doesn’t discriminate. Once commerce commences the retail landscape will look vastly different. J.C. Penny filed bankruptcy impacting shoppers with modest budgets. Neiman Marcus, which sells the highest end luxury goods, may do the same. After appearing on national TV showing off her $24,000 freezer stuffed with gourmet ice cream in her San Francisco mansion, Nancy Pelosi — looking like Imelda Marcos on a bad hair day — announces that Democrats don’t want anyone out shopping until late November so the economy will be totally destroyed and Trump can’t get credit for improving any of it.
Day 16: Being self-isolated on Amelia Island is awful because the outdoors is the reason most people moved here instead of Detroit, Newark or Baltimore. In an article that appeared this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was pointed out that when people are outdoors, the air disperses the virus and people are far less likely to contract the disease than if they’re stuck indoors. What gives? Folks in Detroit, Newark and Baltimore are damned-if- they-do, damned-if-they-don’t as people outside in those cities may not only have the dreaded virus but they also have guns, knives, clubs and loud rap music on their car radios. The decent residents of those urban hellholes probably view the authoritarian stay at home self-isolation as a blessing because they’re safer now than they’ve ever been.
Day 17: Not sure if its Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. What difference does it make because if this general societal shutdown continues for too much longer the economy will collapse, and the loss of businesses, jobs, and ruin of savings will end up costing more lives lost in despair than to the virus.
Day 18: During this virus-inspired toilet paper shortage I was wondering if — when push comes to grunt — do the local members of the environmental extremist loud crowd like Margaret Kirkwood of the Atlanta Tree Conservatory and Conserve Amelia Now’s (CAN) Chuck Oliva buy toilet paper that comes from old-growth oaks or do they religiously search for the recycled keister cleaner?
Day 19: I suggested to Linda that we start eating all the ice cream and frozen yogurt in the freezer now just in case the power goes out.
Day 20: The media have gone totally mad. Fabiola Santiago, a columnist for the Miami Herald just tweeted that packed beaches will “nicely thin the ranks for DeSantis & Trump supporters.” Meanwhile MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace suggested that the “silver lining” of the coronavirus pandemic is that it will also damage President Donald Trump. There is something terribly wrong with these people. More than 60,000 Americans have died and all they can think about is it hurting the president. That’s like saying, “well, we had a nuclear strike in the US but at least it was bad for Donald Trump.” Burt Prelutsky summed it up saying: “Speaking of the media, it recently occurred to me that if there had been a free press in Nazi Germany, it couldn’t have been any more anti-Hitler than the NY Times, the Washington Post and most of TV’s news outlets are anti-Trump.” These alleged reporters are no better than the despicable personal injury lawyers, maybe worse. The parody Babylon Bee had a headline this week saying: “Judge Dismisses Sexual Assault Charges Against Joe Biden On Grounds That He Is Not A Republican.”
Day 21: A number of large tanker trucks are coming down our street with Arabic writing on them. I wonder where they’re going?
Day 22: Remember when you could walk into a dive bar that probably hadn’t been swept in months, sold pickled eggs and sausages from big jars, and had a floor fan sitting in the corner because the window air conditioner went on the fritz in 1987? The grizzled geezer that sat next to you at the bar wore a faded baseball cap that said, “Vietnam Vet” and wouldn’t shut up about the Dallas Cowboys. The waitresses there were all named Dixie, Roxy, and Jolean and called you “Honey.” I miss those places. I hope they survive.
Day 23: Elected officials aren’t very bright, but they’re not totally brain dead yet as evidenced by the fact that liquor stores everywhere are still open. Politicians aren’t dumb enough to prohibit booze, not while the population is still armed, and gun stores are selling out of ammunition. The Associated Press said alcoholic beverage sales rose 55 percent the week ending March 21 and online liquor sales were up 243 percent. Folks saw what was coming and were stocking up on necessities.
Day 24: The Wall Street Journal reported that there is a massive over-supply of beer. Don’t the dummies at the WSJ know the bars and all the sports venues are closed? Don’t reporters drink anymore? Of course, there’s a massive over-supply of beer you dopes! I bet the sports writers were onto this story long before the financial guys reported it. Journalism is dead, just not dead drunk like it was in the good ‘ole days. Guess what else there is an abundance of? Chicken wings! What do you expect with sports venues and bars shut down and no sports on TV?
Day 25: Got a frantic call from our HOA president. He asked if I know anything about all the crude oil streaming through our neighborhood streets. I suggested he call UPS as I strongly suspect they are involved.
Day 26: Over a few beers a friend of mine and I concluded that if you have a relative named Snake, Spider, Weasel or Spike and a son with the surname Junior, you were born in the south. We also determined that in the past folks with contagious diseases were locked up, not the healthy. It appears somebody got this one all backwards.
Day 27: Speaking of beer, have you ever grilled beer-can chicken on your barbeque? If not you should. All you need is case of beer, a four-pound chicken and some barbeque rub or any other spices you like. Rub on the spices, drink about a third of the beer in one can, then impale the chicken on it, sit back and drink the rest of the case while the chicken cooks. When your wife asks what you’re doing with all that beer simply respond, “I’m fixing dinner.” She’ll be grateful.
Day 28: I’ve contacted some of my old barroom pals and we’ve created a plan to help the breweries and bars dispose of the 10 million gallons of beer they say they have to get rid of before it becomes stale and they have to dump it.
Day 29: If reporters don’t go to bars anymore where do they get story ideas? Did you know that Damon Runyon named Obediah “Sky” Masterson — one of the four main characters in “Guys and Dolls” — after his pal, Bat Masterson, who he met in the Metropolitan, a New York City bar? Bat Masterson became a New York City newspaper columnist after making a name for himself lawing and gambling alongside Wyatt Earp in the old West, a piece of information I picked up reading “Dodge City, the Wickedest Town In The West.” I bet Napoleon didn’t know how to deal Faro and never buffaloed a bad guy.
Day 30: There is a convoy of beer trucks coming down our street. I know exactly where they’re headed.
Day 31: Our HOA president called City Manager Dale Martin and Commissioner Chip Ross asking if they wanted to buy some conservation property before the big energy companies get their hands on it. He believes it contains massive oil reserves. I’m sure he’s been drinking beer all day.
Day ?: When the doors finally open and we emerge what will we find? Will the two kids down the street be shooting hoops in their driveway again while others play street hockey on roller skates? Will neighborhood kids still ride their bikes across the wooden Egans Creek bridge to the two schools on Citrona? Will the back table at Pajamadave’s Beer & Wine Garden be filled with the same Cheers-like regulars that have occupied stools there for so many years? Will crowds return to downtown’s Amelia Island Coffee Shop, ice cream parlors and restaurants? Or will puzzled residents one day in the future pick up a yellowed journal and wonder at the last entry: “Candles are gone. We ate the cat.”
Capitalizing On The Misery Of Others: Probably one of the most useless and vitriolic Internet sites other than Facebook I’ve seen is the Nextdoor Digest. I’m told it wasn’t always this way. It was originally intended as a site to assist folks in area neighborhoods (e.g. North Fletcher, Amelia Park, Ocean Cay, etc.) to find lost pets, share information about qualified landscapers, handymen, appliance repair companies, and comment intelligently on local issues such as trash collection, road conditions, etc. However, what I found was a forum festering with rumors, accusations, lies, and enough gibberish and innuendo to make the National Enquirer envious. Maybe it’s because they’re locked up all day, but folks using this site have become more and more nuts. Lately I’ve seen postings popping up from those claiming they administer the site requesting its users to be civil. Others are saying they’re fed up with the meanness, politics, next-door informers, the President, the neighbors barking dog, cheap gas and nowhere to go, moldy cheddar, and say they’re checking out of the system. I’ve had people tell me their posts have been deleted while those with opposing views were welcomed. I’ve read it but I don’t use it because I’ve yet to discover a single piece of useful information or a worthwhile comment, mostly folks whining about their neighbors, commenting on national political issues, moldy cheddar and asking questions about lizards. However, somebody out there is taking advantage of this cacophony of twaddle because in addition to being loaded with useless and inane blather its cluttered with ads for products and services ranging from real estate and mortgage loans to security systems and devices to stop a dog from barking. Somebody is taking advantage of all this online blather and misery and is raking it in. Who?
Shades Of Gilligan’s Island: Atlanta friend Gary McKillips, who was once the PR guy for Ted Turner when Ted was married to Jane Fonda and owned both CNN and the Atlanta Braves before they were good, made cruise history recently.
Gary, who is now a play-by-play Associated Press radio sports reporter, and his wife, Anne, boarded the Celebrity ship Eclipse March 1. They had no idea they would end up in the cruising world’s hall of fame as passengers on the longest voyage in the history of that cruise line. That was not their intention. At the end of their ordeal Gary even got a letter from the cruise company’s President & CEO Lisa Lutoff-Piro telling him: “Your voyage was the longest sailing in the history of Celebrity Cruises’ history.” What was supposed to be a 14-day holiday turned into a 32-day sea odyssey.
The couple boarded the ship March 1 and the vessel departed port in Argentina the following day. All was normal until the ship rounded Cape Horn.
“We started heading to Chile and that’s where our problems began,” Gary said. The Eclipse was supposed to make a few stops and then arrive in port at San Antonio, Chile, where the couple said they were scheduled to disembark and later fly home from the capital city of Santiago.
Fears of the virus, which had stricken other ships, were cited by South American governments to deny the Eclipse entry to ports.
“Then we got word we weren’t going to go anywhere,” Gary said. “The Chilean government did not allow us to enter the port.”
The captain has told passengers that there are no cases of the coronavirus aboard the Eclipse, McKillips told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in interviews via video and text messaging. But fears of the virus, which has stricken other ships, were cited by South American governments to deny the Eclipse entry to ports.
Ultimately, the ship was allowed to enter a Chilean port for fuel and provisions, but passengers were not permitted to disembark. The captain informed passengers the Eclipse would instead sail for 10 days across the equator and all the way to San Diego, Gary related.
Gary applauded Celebrity’s handling of the situation. The ship remained immaculate, he said, and passengers well cared for. “They went overboard for us,” he quipped.
He said the Eclipse, which holds 2,850 passengers, was supposed to arrive in San Diego the morning of March 30, and the Buckhead couple should be home later that night. The cruise line picked up the tab for their flight.
“We arrived in Atlanta shortly after 10 Monday, March 30. Even flying in first class, there were no amenities. No pillows, no blankets, no beverage service except bottled water and the only food was a small snack box containing cheese, crackers, salami and a cookie. “Celebrity’s bag lunch came in really handy. Hartsfield-Jackson was a ghost town. The busiest airport in the world was no longer busy and traffic was very, very light on Interstates 85 and 400 going home,” he said.
If Gary could withstand so many years as a PR guy for Ted Turner, Jane Fonda and years of lousy Braves teams, this cruise was a piece of cake.
SOME FRIDAY HUMOR