It seems to help to pay attention to things. This weekend I took note of signs in business windows. Some were hand-lettered, some printed on the on-site computer, some had obviously been designed by a pro and downloaded from Corporate. Sandwich boards, too, on the sidewalk — that was a thing. The longer ones explained they were closed for the duration, and seemed to take a lot of words to say so, about how much they valued their customers, but the governor has determined, etc. The shorter ones got right to the point: OPEN FOR CARRYOUT. We are OPEN. Call ahead for CURBSIDE PICKUP.

One restaurant put a sign in every window, written in Sharpie Magnum: OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN. Only for carryout, of course. But it’s the only lifeline most restaurants have. It’s worth making a display of.

My pet store has it totally dialed in. Not only is this place incredibly clean (even the animals that exist primarily to be sold as food for others, like the white mice, look happy) and super cheerful, they have conquered online commerce, and they’re a very small business. Either someone has a kid who does this work free, or they have a surprisingly large budget. Within just a few days of starting walk-up service only, they posted a new website offering most of the inventory online. You shop and pay, get an order number and a time when it’ll be ready, and then show up. They’ve rigged a doorbell on the sidewalk and a bench, where they drop your order for no-contact pickup. The employee wears a mask, but smiles beneath it, and you can feel it. Instacart, but for a little pet store. It’s great.

We pause for this word from Alan, who was driving to Belle Isle for some R&R and fly-casting:

Only in the Pointes, I always say.

Meanwhile, I dug up my mom’s sewing machine and made a proper mask out of this:

I folded and stitched it into an oblong and added a hair band as an elastic strap. Rudely Elegant was an empty movie theater in Columbus. A gay artist bought it and turned into a nightclub that was only open one night a month. The monthly party went all night long — not sure how he swung it with the liquor license, maybe by making it a private club or something — and had a theme, usually a color. I attended the White party, and the Red party, but not the Black party. That’s because Black = Leather and it was a very wild scene; I’d be surprised if women were even allowed in the door. Note the rooster. Nineteen eighty-one, in the Chinese calendar, was the Year of the Cock. I might still have the handbill announcement/invitation somewhere. There was a nude young man — I’m told he was an OSU athlete of some sort, very deeply closeted — wearing a mask, with a live black rooster blocking his privates.

All I got was the party favor, the handkerchief.

That year was also the first that AIDS appeared in the U.S. The party was in March, I think, and no doubt many of the people having party sex that night were positive. Anyway, pretty much every gay man I knew then is dead now, so it seems appropriate to finally pull out that hanky and make it my mask for the new plague.

And we head into week? Four, I believe. More ahead, but I guess we’ll muddle through somehow.

Stay safe, stay sane, see ya soon.

Posted at 8:14 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 113 Comments

What immortal hand or eye?

Like many of you, I spent seven hours of my life watching “Tiger King” on Netflix this week. Kate and I got into it; it was our mother/daughter quarantine jam.

I have two (2) experiences with so-called private zoos to share before I get into “Tiger King.” When I was at Bridge, I reported on a story about some bills that were introduced not long after the 2012 incident near Zanesville, Ohio, when a mentally disturbed owner of a private zoo — a state, after watching “Tiger King,” you may assume most of them live in — killed himself, but not before opening all his cages and freeing his animals to roam. By the time the police were done dealing with the grisly aftermath, I believe most of the animals were dead and at least a couple had “disturbed the corpse” of their former keeper, which is how they put it at the news conferences.

There’s only one reference to this in “Tiger King” — a brief snippet in the opening sequence, in which the governor or someone says, “We were amazed that anyone can just own a tiger or lion.” Yep, they can, and my story, which seems to have been re-topped with maybe some editing notes lost in a CMS migration or two, because that’s really not my style, only scratched the surface of the weirdness of private zoos.

In Michigan, as I remember it, some members of the traditional zoo community — facilities like your city’s zoo, with a board of directors and responsible habitat duplication and so on — were pushing legislation that would have made private zoos like the one in Zanesville much harder to establish and run. The legislature, always happy to help out a pal, countered with a bill to protect a single roadside outfit in the Upper Peninsula, where orphaned bear cubs were available for visitors to pet, hold and have their photos taken with them.

As I worked on this, I was introduced to the tension between the AZA, or Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the ZAA, or Zoological Association of America. What’s the difference? Here’s me:

“The confusion is that AZA and ZAA are basically two different things,” said Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo and an opponent of the legislation. “The AZA is the gold standard.” It is the accreditation body that recognizes the zoos most people visit, five in Michigan – Potter Park, the Detroit Zoo, John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek and the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

The ZAA, Harrison said, is for smaller, frequently privately owned “roadside zoos” where visitors can not only see animals, but sometimes interact with them.

To differentiate the two, Harrison says, she points to the AZA’s 70-page application for accreditation, as well as numerous protocols pertaining to safety of animals, enclosures and visitors, veterinary care and more, while the ZAA’s, available on its website, “is three pages.”

Here’s one of the pushback bill’s co-sponsor’s take on Big Zoo:

Hune thinks the difference is also one of size and market. The AZA, to him, is the big-money, big-zoo club trying to quash the entrepreneurial upstarts who represent competition for not only visitors, but prestige. The use of the term “roadside zoo” is offensive to many who keep these smaller facilities, and rely on tourists or limited trading of animals to survive.

Very Tea Party, that guy. But reporting gave me an excuse to go visit his family’s camel farm on my way home from Lansing one day:

To Hune, who raises Bactrian camels on his parents’ farm outside Fowlerville in Livingston County, the Zanesville incident was an outlier, a rare and random act by a mentally unstable individual. Not that he would deny animals can be dangerous – in 2004 his father, David, suffered a skull fracture when one of his son’s camels picked him up by the head as he worked nearby.

“It wasn’t an attack,” said the younger Hune. “He just wanted attention.” The incident left the elder Hune with a plate in his head, but that didn’t dampen the family’s enthusiasm for exotic livestock; four camels still live on the farm, along with ponies, donkeys and a few head of cattle David Hune raises for freezer beef.

Anyway, my point is: There are legit zoos and there are “Tiger King” zoos, and I bet even the ZAA wouldn’t want shit to do with that guy. Which brings me to my second anecdote, which happened years ago, when I was sent to write about a private zoo, with tigers, down in southern Ohio, around Logan. I took my friend Becky along for company on the drive and what the hell, how often do you get to spend a day at work visiting a tiger outfit.

This zoo, near Logan, was pretty much a dump, run by two guys who drank beer most of the day and messed around with their animals. I really don’t remember much, but I remember feeding time, which was terrifying. One guy came out with a bucket of meat and the other guy drew a large-caliber handgun and covered him.

“Is that necessary?” I squeaked.

“Oh yeah,” the other guy said. Dinnertime ended without serious incident, but it made me far more appreciative of the Columbus Zoo, where the big cats managed to be fed without Smith & Wesson getting involved.

Anyway, like I said, Joe Exotic, the titular star of “Tiger King,” was leagues beyond these guys — a narcissistic, half-nuts redneck who ran a private zoo in Oklahoma where he bred and sold tigers to terrible people and antagonized a particular animal-rescue sort named Carole Baskin, a feud that led to his downfall. My takeaway: Don’t pick a fight with a deep-pocketed woman married to a lawyer.

That’s really the TV Guide synopsis. It is so, so much weirder than that. I lack the energy right now to describe it, so I’ll defer to New York magazine:

Every time you think you’ve gotten a handle on what exactly the crimes are in this true-crime series, Tiger King throws you another curveball. Thought it was going to be about illegal animal breeding? Well it’s also about murder. But not the murder you thought! Well okay, yes, it is about the murder you thought, but it’s also about more murder. All of that seems like plenty for one series, right? Ha ha, there are also cults! And polygamy! And everyone has lions and tigers just lying around their homes, all the time! Tiger King is absolutely “good,” in that I watched all of it as quickly as possible, often with my jaw on the floor.

…There’s a whiff of class tourism here, not that different from shows like Toddlers and Tiaras or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo — shows that treat their subjects like sideshow acts in a circus, where the circus is poverty. You feel okay watching this?

No, not entirely. But I did. It beat watching CNN.

Kate and I went for a much-needed bike ride today. The river was blue, the sky was blue, and it was warm for once. It felt very good. Of course, the information never stays at bay for long:

Have a good weekend, all. Stay separated.

Posted at 8:17 pm in Current events, Television | 59 Comments

And now, this.

It rained hard overnight Friday. I was on the early-morning-weekend-update shift (we rotate), and I was lying in bed, preparing to get up, when I heard a different rhythm to the rain on the roof. A separate drip-drip-drip that didn’t belong to the dripdripdripdripdrip coming down on the bathroom skylight. I thought Alan might be awake, so I asked him:

“Do you hear that?”


And that, friends, is how we were up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, me trying to aggregate the fucking onslaught of overnight news — Friday night was when the president christened “that woman in Michigan,” our governor, “Half.” (Her name is Gretchen Whitmer. If you don’t get it immediately, think about it.) There was also a hot nursing home and the usual skyrocketing disease numbers. And Alan was clambering around in the attic, trying to set up drip-catchers and figure out where the leak was coming from, because it is indeed the Month from Hell, house-wise.

On March 2, we had our gigantic backyard oak tree taken down. Very close to the house, very tall, and I hated to do it but it had to be done — the thing was rotten all the way through. But hoo-boy, expensive. A couple weeks later, the hot water heater started to leak because why? Because it had rusted clean through. So the new water heater came next. Now, a leaky roof. And a pandemic.

But we’re all healthy! So that’s good. Seriously, it’s good. I’m reading more and more about people younger than me dying, older than me dying, lots of people close to dying. (Like John Prine, please keep him going just a little longer.) The tree, the water heater, the roof — all these can be fixed with money. Your health can’t.

Good to remember. But man, I wish I made a lot more of it.

So it was only a half-terrible weekend. Except that the auto show was finally cancelled, for the upsetting reason that FEMA is taking over the Cobo Center (now known as the TCF Center) for a 900-bed field hospital for the next six months.

I did have to do some food shopping. I put a bandanna over my mouth, which did nothing but maybe made others feel better. Kate went with me; her bandanna was red, which, she said, meant she was a Blood.

I’d like an N95 mask, but they’re only to be had in 300,000-piece lots. I’d like some more hand sanitizer, and businesses are making it, but again, only in gigantic lots. When this stuff trickles down to the retail level, someone let me know.

Or maybe I could buy one “out the back door,” like the president says.

Anyway, the Kroger now has floor stickers to space people out in the checkout line, and plexiglass sneeze shields between customers and the checkout clerks. Our new normal.

Kate says we can make our own sanitizer, but we’ll need aloe gel. That’s probably disappeared from the stores, too. Might have to sacrifice our kitchen aloe; her day may well have come. We’ll see.

What to read? Here’s something I wrote: An obituary, but non-COVID. No, just the tragic loss of a 33-year-old man, widely beloved, who had an aggressive form of colon cancer. He first had symptoms on his honeymoon.

An entertainingly written history of Purell, from the WP.

And I guess that’s all. For once I can ask, what fresh hell awaits us in the coming week and be almost entirely sure there will be some, and a lot of it.

Stay safe! Keep washing those paws.

Posted at 7:13 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 104 Comments

The list.

You guys. This throw-grandma-from-the-train argument the lunatic fringe is making these days is no surprise to me. I have a select group of Deplorable blogs and Twitter accounts that I follow, and they’ve been saying this since almost the beginning.

A lot of them live in smaller towns — nothing like those crickets chirping in the inky night to make you think you need a lot of guns, and nothing like living elbow-to-elbow with people of all colors, creeds and ethnicities to make you think we could do with a lot fewer (but more of their tasty national dishes). They’re convinced the disease will never make it to wherever they are, and if it does, no biggie. They’ve been treating chest colds with grandma’s secret poultice since they were babies, and it never fails to knock them out in eight to 10 days, tops. They’ll be fine. It’s the Dow they’re worried about. Also their taxes. And so on.

So they’ve been saying two things for a while: 1) Is the death rate really so bad that it’s worth wrecking the economy over? And 2) MAGA!!!!!

For the record: I do not intend to sacrifice myself for anyone’s grandchildren. Until a month ago, I was feeling pretty good about retiring in three to five years, and then doing things. Some people would call it a bucket list, and I guess that’s what it is, but it doesn’t include skydiving. Over the last few days I’ve been mentally adding to it whenever my brain starts to sizzle a little from the ambient stupidity in the air. Here’s what I have so far:

  • See a few more Vermeers. (I’m not in the every-Vermeer-in-the-world camp, but just, y’know, a few more.)
  • Spend a day at the Prado and examine “The Garden of Earthly Delights” from every angle, from as close as I can get, until I’m satisfied. Then maybe go back two days later and see if it has anything else to say to me. It’s Madrid, after all — I won’t get bored.
  • Go to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Hermitage, the Neva, Red Square, and Lenin in his tomb, then home before I get arrested.
  • Rent a big, steady, kind horse and ride through the Irish countryside for half a day, with at least one short gallop and a couple of low fences.
  • Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from end to end, north to south, not too fast, then have dinner in Tijuana.
  • A month in Asia, itinerary TBD.
  • Read way more books. Maybe write one, maybe not.
  • Sell house in Grosse Pointe, buy condo in Detroit.

I think of a couple more every day.

The only thing I can recommend you read today is this, a story about how the Trump morons were handed a report that literally said PANDEMIC PLAYBOOK on the cover, then threw it away. Because they are morons.

Gotta get to work. Have a great weekend, all.

Posted at 9:16 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 94 Comments

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

I guess we’ve all been considering how we want to be in the coming weeks and months. How we want to conduct ourselves, think of ourselves later. Do we want to be heroes? Some people say that. They’ll shelter Anne Frank’s family, dammit! Screw those Nazis, they won’t hoard toilet paper!

I have no illusions about my own morality or ability to stand up to extraordinary measures. Sure, I’d put the Franks up, if they asked. But if the Nazis came snooping around later, or worse, the Serbs, and grabbed my daughter and threatened her with rape or worse if I didn’t talk? Yep, the Franks are in attic. We’ll just go out for coffee until you’ve dealt with them. No worries, I’ll clean up.

But we probably won’t have to deal with Nazis, or Serbs, in the coming misery. Rather, it’ll be poverty, and shortages and brother-can-you-spare-a-dime. I think, in that case, I want to be generous.

There are two kinds of generous. Foolishly so, and sensibly so. And a third, maybe: Just-because generosity. My boss gives a buck to every bum we pass on the street. It’s kinda comical. He engages them in conversation. He offers them small tasks in exchange for a few dollars more. He once stopped on the way back from lunch last summer to talk to a guy we both knew to be a heroin addict who grew up in Grosse Pointe and now sleeps rough, downtown. My editor was suggesting job opportunities, and the junkie was saying he couldn’t apply because he didn’t have a state ID. My editor said, “I could take you down to the library and show you how to get the documents you need, online.”

“Yeah, but you know? There’s an opportunity cost to that,” the junkie replied. I rolled my eyes so hard I actually may have sprained them, then said I would nip into the coffee shop we were standing in front of, because I could use a double espresso.

When I came out, they were still discussing the economics of giving up an hour or two of panhandling vis-a-vis the chance of getting a paying job later. I separated them – the junkie probably figured time chatting was money lost – and I laughed as we walked the final block back to the office.

“You are the world’s softest touch,” I told him. We agreed there are worse things to be.

You might call that foolish generosity, but as I’ve often told my husband: If I had to sleep on the street, I’d want to be high all the time, too. Giving a buck or two won’t change anyone’s life. But it might make the next hour a little better.

The spot outside my Saturday breakfast spot is popular with bums. They say they’re hungry. I ask what they want to eat, go inside and buy it, taking it out in a go box. “Make sure the wrappers go in the trash,” I say, then go back inside and have my own eggs.

I expect, in the coming days, weeks, months – people will lose their jobs. They’ll need help, need cash, need something I can maybe help them with. I want to do that. I’m not going to give away money to anyone who asks; I have needs, too. But I won’t be a pig about what I have. I’ll share. I’ll overtip. I’ll buy stuff I don’t need if I can afford it, and it helps the seller in some significant way. (Which is to say, bring me your Girl Scout cookies.) I don’t want to be an asshole, crouched in my bunker, thinking only of my own family. Stacking up boxes of ammo, or some other paranoid must-have.

Another friend of mine received this piece of mail at his house today:

It was a campaign mailer. Speaking of generosity.

God, this country. Enjoy Wednesday.

Posted at 9:59 pm in Current events | 112 Comments

The Bug, week 2.

On Friday, I donated blood. I generally do a couple-three times a year, mainly because they come to my gym, and what the hell, why not.

Around the same time, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Libertarian Fantasy America, was tested for coronavirus, and before receiving his results (which were positive, but you knew that), worked out in the Senate gym and went swimming in the Senate pool.

And all I can think is: OK, the Senate has a gym, no surprise there. But THE SENATE HAS A POOL?

My workout today was a Social Distancing Boxing Workout, held on one of the local high school football fields (artificial turf, no less):

At least I got something done. Sitting indoors, marinating in my own worries was making me nuts. I did get out, responsibly. Went to the Eastern Market, where the doors were propped open to permit the free flow of air, and advice was as close as the banners hanging everywhere:

Because Americans are natural entrepreneurs, some were taking advantage of the current crisis:

I saw the market’s executive director, although I didn’t recognize him at first. He had a bandanna pulled over his face in lieu of a mask. “This is hard for me,” he said. “Because the last time I saw someone wearing a bandanna like this, he had a shotgun and was robbing my bar.”

Saturday night I cruised around, chasing tips about illegal speakeasies. I’m sure they’re out there; Detroit has a long, storied and proud history of flouting liquor laws. I didn’t find any, but I found Woodward Avenue quiet enough that I could get a shot of the installation on the front of MOCAD:

Man, I sure hope so.

Otherwise, I followed the news and cooked meals and otherwise tried to keep things chill. Because otherwise I would just get furious — an emotion I’m sure many of you are familiar with.

So, so angry. Another workout tomorrow should help. You?

Posted at 9:34 pm in Current events | 55 Comments

The bug.

God. What. A. Week.

I try to keep my sense of humor in all things — adjusting it for mordancy as circumstances dictate. But this week is chapping my ass for sure. Our alt-weekly pretty much folded this week. Most alt-weeklies — all of them — pretty much did the same, across the country. If your advertising model is pinned to nightclubs, bars and restaurants, and all of them are closed, everywhere, it’s lights out, folks.

And that was only part of the misery that has asserted itself in, what? The last week.

And here we are.

I am not enjoying the daily briefings. If only I could have the simple faith of a MAGA-head; I’d feel so much better. Instead, I find them deeply terrifying, the sight of the people we need to trust with our very lives, kowtowing to this idiot. Meanwhile, the tide is rising in Michigan; cases tripled from yesterday to today and I’m starting to read social-media posts from doctors talking about hospitals right here in GP, “inundated,” in their words.

I’m keeping my sanity, but it’s starting to fray, just a bit. It helps that Kate is finally home. I went to hug her and she said, “I don’t want to bring home the ‘rona,” and I informed her that in our house, we have officially decided to call it “the bug.” Because we watched “The Wire,” and honor it.

I bought dog food standing in a line outside our pet store, too. That was weird. But they have a really cool vibe, and I’m sorry I couldn’t go inside:

Anyway, Eastern Market is open this weekend. I’m going to go. Also, my trainer is offering semi-private sessions, and I’m going to those, too. It’s not back to normal, but I need to get at least a little way there.

Let’s get through the weekend.

Posted at 8:32 pm in Current events | 112 Comments


Poor Shadow Show. Ten days ago, they were on top of the world, headed out on their triumphant tour. Now, limping home from a mere two shows in California — one in Oakland, barely attended, the other in a record store in Fullerton — their van broke down. In rural Utah. Ferron, Utah, to be exact, which is where they limped when it started making an awful noise on the interstate.

Apparently they chose it because it looked like it had a service garage. It did, but it’s been closed for years, which they discovered after sleeping in the van like a trio of hobos.

But the sun rose Tuesday, they found a tow truck to take them to the next-closest, somewhat larger town — Castle Dale — where they were diagnosed with a bad wheel bearing. Alan advised them to have all four replaced, we sent them the money via the miracle of electronic transfer, and they spent the day hanging out in Castle Dale. Everyone was very nice, in rural-Utah fashion. They skated around a local playground in their fancy Moxi skates, and I’m sure they were quite a sight. A rock band! All girls! With a Michigan license plate and a van covered with stickers! And cotton candy-colored roller skates!

They’re really cursed this tour, but then, we all are. We’re working our asses off, all day. I believe Detroit’s alt-weekly is on life support and who knows, maybe Deadline Detroit will be soon, too. We’ll keep working until the bitter end, though. It’s how we do.

How about that stimulus, eh? Those airlines really need the help, so they can hoard the next bailout.

Meanwhile, in the checkout line at Whole Foods…

My friend Deb used to put out these products. I believe they’re called “bookazines,” or something like that. Look at the fear in those eyes. Americans can make a buck off anything.

Meanwhile, enjoy working at home tomorrow. Grocery stores are still stripped here, but we have plenty of food.

Posted at 9:03 pm in Same ol' same ol' | 76 Comments

Got that pandemic.

Well, I guess we’re in the thick of it now. Both my jobs have pulled the work-from-home trigger. I went out Saturday because I always go out Saturday, although I observed more than the usual courtesies — washed my hands a few times, refrained from touching the vegetables at Eastern Market, overtipped at the coney island where I eat breakfast. I’m torn between supporting the small businesses imperiled by this disaster, and doing my public-health duty.

Also, I’m trying to avoid stir craziness. This is going to be the real challenge. Once the temperature gets above 50, I’m going out on my bike and you can’t stop me. Around this car-crazy town, no one is coming within six feet of me, I promise.

I should add that everyone at Eastern Market, basically a very big farmers’ market, was polite and the goods were plentiful. Grocery stores, meanwhile, are being stripped like farm fields in a locust invasion. Toilet paper in particular is a very hoardable item. I guess people figure that if you need it you need it, and it’s not like it goes bad. If it turns out the crisis ends before they use up 200 rolls, well then, no need to buy it before November. I just inventoried our stash; about 11 rolls. I think we’re good.

Meanwhile, here is the scene this very afternoon in Corktown:

Fox News viewers, I presume.

This is going to lead to the full shutdown of bars and restaurants, I predict. Ohio and Illinois did so within the last hour. And if that happens, ah well, it was nice knowing you guys.

Things are changing so quickly I don’t know what to say other than: Hello from lockdown. “Bombshell” is available for rent on iTunes now, and we did so last night. It was OK, not a bombshell, but not terrible. Charlize Theron is quite the mimic. And John Lithgow wore those prosthetic jowls like the pro he is.

Stay safe and isolated, guys.

Posted at 5:35 pm in Current events | 79 Comments

Everything is upside down.

Jesus, I hope we don’t have another week like this one for a while. In recent months, my editor and I at Deadline, our radio guy and a rotating special guest do a week-that-was podcast. This week we’ll be talking about the primary and COVID. Standing here, on Thursday night, the election seems like it was a month ago. Today was so bananas, with news of more COVID disruption coming every hour. This was my favorite:

Gobert spreading the love at LCA 3/7/2020 from r/DetroitPistons

That’s Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz player who tested positive for the big C, pulling off his compression sleeves and throwing them to the crowd. Lucky kids! Ah well – they’re out of school tomorrow and maybe for some time afterward. Everything is in an uproar. Kate called from Bakersfield today, crushed — most of their tour is cancelled, Europe as well, they have a long drive back and everything is terrible.

I hope they don’t need any toilet paper on the way home. My local Kroger:

That’s the toilet paper section. I don’t know why toilet paper is what we’re hoarding. There’s still plenty of pasta and beans and so on. You run out of t.p. and you can make do with a rag, disgusting though it may be. But if you need to eat, you need actual food.

This world is so stupid. This week has been so long

Who watched that shitshow last night? If that guy wasn’t on serious drugs, I’ll eat my remaining stash of t.p. (Six rolls.) What a fuckup – a 12-minute scripted speech, and they were issuing corrections on it within half an hour. Of course, it’s not like there’s much at stake, is there:

ROME — The mayor of one town complained that doctors were forced to decide not to treat the very old, leaving them to die. In another town, patients with coronavirus-caused pneumonia were being sent home. Elsewhere, a nurse collapsed with her mask on, her photograph becoming a symbol of overwhelmed medical staff.

In less than three weeks, the coronavirus has overloaded the heath care system all over northern Italy. It has turned the hard hit Lombardy region into a grim glimpse of what awaits countries if they cannot slow the spread of the virus and ‘‘flatten the curve’’ of new cases — allowing the sick to be treated without swamping the capacity of hospitals.

If not, even hospitals in developed countries with the world’s best health care risk becoming triage wards, forcing ordinary doctors and nurses to make extraordinary decisions about who may live and who may die. Wealthy northern Italy is facing a version of that nightmare already.

I did my part by rewatching “Contagion,” like everybody else in the world.

Eh. It’s late and I’m exhausted. But before I go, please spare a good thought or a prayer for our own Jeff Gill, whose father died “peacefully and unexpectedly” today in Texas. Condolences to one of our best community members.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 10:02 pm in Current events | 109 Comments