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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/14/20

Friends,

I have been terrorizing various of you over the past week with my musings about the COVID-19 virus (it’s real—stay home and be careful), the mendacity of our Supreme Leader (it’s real—hopefully we get through this despite him), and any number of bad jokes. Basically, I am against the notion that anyone with a Facebook account can declare themselves a journalist or an expert, and that blogging seems as accepted as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That said, my faithful friends, there’s no reason not to harass you. You may be a friend from college, or a community activity, or the golf course, or just because. But you’re important to me.

In these days of social distancing, I think we share a special moment, when we can spend more time with loved ones and just by ourselves, with some time on our hands. Time that can be spent in quiet introspection, periods of self-improvement or just binging without guilt. If we’re not careful, the hours will be eaten up like those little dots in PacMan, turning into days and days turning into weeks. We must be careful to be as diverse in our pursuits with this extra time as we are when our days are packed. As Andrea, Lauren, Tina and I are in the middle of our self-imposed isolation, I recall with amusement Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. You may remember that, once he accepted that each day would be much like the last, he found himself learning the piano, learning languages, improving on mistakes of the past, helping others. The whole idea is that every day—regardless of how unchanged from the last has the ability to be better than the last. And so, one of my pursuits will be my Musings from the Bunker. Here goes.


 

Politics and COVID-19

Let’s get this out of the way first. Suffice it to say that I’ll give the devil his due. The Supreme Leader finally did something presidential. Not that he didn’t completely muddle up the message, congratulate himself (wrongfully) for all the good things and quick actions that have (haven’t) been taken. Not that he took responsibility for none of the missteps or misstatements. Not that he didn’t eat up the shameless sucking-up of our sycophantic unctuous Vice President (who appears auditioning for an encore position on the ticket). Not that he didn’t outdo himself on complete social missteps (shaking hands with at least four people on the dais, repeatedly back-slapping, confused by the elbow bump).

But at least he did three important things. First, and perhaps most important, he finally acknowledged the gravity of the challenge—perhaps this will tamp down the crazy conspiracy theories on the Internet (e.g., “it’s a plot to finally bring down our president”). Second, he expanded the powers of the Secretary of HHS. I’m hoping this guy is not to HHS as Rick Perry is to Energy or Mnuchin is to Treasury. Third, he allowed experts to appear with him—both from the government and from the private sector. Let’s hope Roche and others figure out the testing and we can keep the distancing long enough to slow what undoubtedly will be a ridiculous strain on our health care system (a strain enhanced by our reduction of national readiness—see the Sherrod Brown letter attached to this article for how we, in another example of an unforced error, rendered ourselves less prepared for this… https://www.cleveland.com/coronavirus/2020/03/sen-sherrod-brown-criticizes-president-trump-over-pandemic-office-closure-claim.html I’ll rant about our woeful infrastructure if this isolation grows much longer…

Okay, enough of the politics.


 

For a good riff on germs, and to remember the genius of George Carlin, watch this: https://www.google.com/search?q=george+carlin+germs&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS738US738&oq=george+carlin+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l7.4339j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


 

Musings on Isolation

I’m going to try to find an interesting book, movie, or quote each day that in some way points to isolation. Today, it’s A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. Count Rostov is tried by the Bolsheviks and is ordered into exile in a luxury hotel. From this vantage point, he witnesses Russian history from a removed vantage point. It’s much more than that but I hear Jake in the back of my head admonishing me not to divulge too much…”let me read it for myself.” If you haven’t read it, do so.


 

Entertainment

I’m watching an amazing television series on Amazon Prime, entitled Counterpart. It stars J.K. Simmons (famous for Whiplash, Juno and, less impressively, the Farmers Insurance ads). Imagine that the world split in two 30 years ago. Since then, a second you exists—in a separate world. How would you be different? How would you be similar? Add to this that this is set in Cold War Berlin and there is an uneasy peace between these worlds. I know it sounds crazy but it is mesmerizing. Simmons is extraordinary.


 

Personal

It’s hard not to work out. Indeed, I think in a couple of weeks, Andrea and I will be ready for the geriatric Olympics. I’m even trying yoga. I’m thinking it’s time to watch French movies to bone-up on the language (for when travel restrictions are lifted). Andrea awaits when Lauren can join us and we can play Mah Jong. We want to teach her Settlers of Catan.

Today is Lauren’s birthday. Sadly, she is spending it in near-isolation. Because she was riding subways a little over a week ago, we are trying to stay separate until the period of greatest communicability is passed. We’ve had the requisite homemade chocolate chip cookies and cheers of joy. But it isn’t “business as usual.” She is quite the trouper—unwilling to break and run any risk of infecting us. We’re all okay (as is Jake up north with the Candy-ass Cardinal). Despite the challenge of celebrating from across a room, we are so happy to be with our beautiful, brilliant, extraordinary daughter!

On a sadder note, this also is Brad’s birthday. We miss him every day. Life has been kind in many ways, but cruel in this one. It is ironic/sobering/fill in your own adjective that we celebrate such a happy occasion with Lauren with the memory of our son. That said, the memories are cherished—funny, profound, challenging, beautiful.

I have a stack of books awaiting me, another season of Counterpart and at least one more circuit of core exercises in front of me.

Hoping you are all well. This is serious stuff. Take care.

Talk tomorrow.

With love,


Glenn

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