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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 4/3/20


Happy Friday friends!

 

WHY CAN’T WE JUST SAY “WE MADE A MISTAKE”—AND THEN DO BETTER?

Just like Rosie the Riveter, we are fighting a battle on the home front. But unlike her, we also are on the front lines. We are asked to follow increasingly restrictive rules (including the recent directive to wear masks when going out). We are reading every article, parsing every interview, reviewing every study, for some sense of direction. We look to our leaders to provide honest tough news, tempered with hopefulness. But we also look to in our leaders for accountability. We want them to tell us they have control of the situation, they’re making tough decisions and they are to be held accountable. The reason Governor Cuomo has become a celebrity is as much for his willingness to be accountable for tough decisions as for having made the those decisions.

In trying to find a historical precedent for accountability, I recalled the letter written by Supreme Allied Commander and future president, Dwight Eisenhower, to be delivered to the American people in the event the D-Day invasion failed:


"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."

That is a far cry from today. Long after this crisis has passed, etched in our collective minds will be many images—images of bravery, loss, burden, and beauty. Sadly, among the more vivid is the image of the President stating, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

It is incontrovertible that we were ill-prepared for this crisis and then bobbled the ball repeatedly. Without acknowledging that responsibility, later pronouncements from the White House sound hollow and insincere. TRIGGER WARNING: If you are among those who cannot abide criticism of the administration, you might want to skip to the next paragraph. Here is one of many articles summarizing the six months of fumbling that exacerbated this crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/28/trump-coronavirus-politics-us-health-disaster?CMP=share_btn_link

But the administration is not solely to blame. There is plenty to go around. Here’s an article about the snafus by the State of California: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-27/coronavirus-california-mobile-hospitals-ventilators And there are the mistakes of the CDC early on in dealing with the production of masks. And then there is evidence of the failures of business in addressing the need for more (and cheaper) ventilators, contributing to the failure to prepare for this crisis: “The U.S. Tried to Build a New Fleet of Ventilators. The Mission Failed.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/business/coronavirus-us-ventilator-shortage.html?referringSource=articleShare

The message is that there is plenty of blame to go around. Our systems—political, whether federal or State, corporate, infrastructural, have been proven to be woefully inadequate and unprepared. But few step up to acknowledge their own failings and then promise to get it right this time. It is no wonder that trust in our institutions is at an all-time low. How could they gain that trust back? They could start by being accountable. When leaders accept responsibility for what happens on their watch, they demonstrate their humanity, and in acknowledgement of their failure, give us reason to accord them continuing respect and support for their decisions.

 

WITH OR WITHOUT COCKTAILS, AN ON-LINE HAPPY HOUR KEEPS US CONNECTED

The weekend has arrived again. Time to get out and socialize. The next best thing to going to our favorite restaurant or bar is hosting get-togethers with friends. If you’re looking to organize a virtual happy hour, here’s a guide: How to Have a Successful Virtual Happy Hourhttps://nyti.ms/2xh9iBV

 

APPRECIATIONS OF ARCHITECTURE

I have found the scenes of empty streetscapes strangely alluring. One thing I’ve noted is that without people, the eye is focused on the architecture around us. It is all around us, yet camouflaged by street signs, people, and vehicles. Now that the people are “out of the picture” and we have a little time, perhaps we should take a “virtual stroll” around our great cities, to admire the architectural marvels around us. There are several of these floating around, most with great photographs of iconic architecture.

Here’s a great architectural tour of LA, featured recently in the LA Times. I like this one because it focuses on one building per decade, beginning in the 1930s:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-building-type-architecture-tour-20171126-htmlstory.html

And here’s a tour of modern architecture in LA prepared by the LA Conservancy:

https://www.laconservancy.org/explore-la/curating-city/modern-architecture-la/explore-modern-la

The New York Times recently has been offering virtual tours of its neighborhoods. Here is a great Virtual Tour of New York’s Museum District (around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Upper East Side) from yesterday’s paper:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/arts/design/nyc-museums-architecture-tour-virus.html?referringSource=articleShare

Finally, Frommers offers the iconic architecture of Chicago:

https://www.frommers.com/slideshows/848105-a-tour-of-12-architecture-icons-in-chicago

 

THE HAIR DILEMMA…

I know a lot of women are complaining about their inability to visit their favorite salon; but guys have hair too…well, many of us… It’s approaching two months since my last haircut. What am I to do? I finally got rid of that ridiculous pseudo-beard. I’ve started to try to trim the sideburns back. But what about the emerging “Jew-fro”? It’s starting to feel like the 70s all over again! Do I turn a pair of gardening shears over to a family member and hope they can just thin it out? If I don’t do something, I may soon look like this:


And if I try to do something, I could end up like this:


 

IN CLOSING


A recent Presidential proclamation:



I think he misses the point. When Churchill pledged blood, soil, tears, and sweat, when Kennedy asserted we were all Berliners, when Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down that wall, when George W. Bush grabbed that bullhorn to speak from the Twin Towers wreckage, I’m pretty sure they weren’t checking the ratings. They didn’t need to. They were well aware the entire world was watching, as we are now.


Wishing you a productive day and a restful weekend,


Glenn

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