Life During World War Covid-19

Tom Smith

life during world war covid-19—tom smith—april 2020

This month in Frankly Green Bay, I break new journalistic ground by submitting to you my first wartime dispatch from the front lines. I would imagine any writer who has respect and fondness for literary history such as I, does not mind checking off the Ernest Hemingway box on their resume. Don't worry, I won't take this Hemingway direction too far: for one, I don't ever plan on killing myself, and unlike Hemingway, who once said, “There are only three sports: bullfighting, auto racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games,” I firmly believe the only three sports are professional wrestling, the NFL and XFL, and roller derby.

What war am I referring to? I'm talking about World War Covid-19. This planet is under attack and we're all on the front lines. I truly hope as you read this that you and all your family and friends are currently safe at home. I also hope you are washing your hands frequently, practicing social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel, and not being a total jerk to the grocery or retail worker who is risking their lives and the lives of their families for awful pay, no hazard pay, and zero or sub-standard benefits. Don't be Homer jabbing the bag boy with a loaf of French bread.

Please take this seriously, because in Day Two of the “Safer At Home” order, I already have a report of a non-essential business opening again after only one day of being closed in compliance. Not following correct protocol during this pandemic is just going to make things worse and draw this out, and that may lead to the 2020 NFL season being postponed or cancelled. Somberly ponder the financial affects on Green Bay if this happened. What would that do to the identity of this city? Just remember, plan B—if Green Bay doesn't have the Packers for tourism income—my half-baked idea in the meantime is to fake an extraterrestrial UFO crash.

My job as the manager of the Exclusive Company is quite different as of March 25 and will be until April 24, unless the “Safer At Home” order is altered. As a non-essential business we are not open to the public, I'm currently the only employee on the schedule, and my now part-time job consists of processing our Amazon sales for postal pickup (note: the entire inventory of CDs and vinyl with UPCs of the whole Exclusive Company chain is available for purchase through Amazon), receive UPS, USPS, and FedEx, and answer the phone saying, “Good morning, the Exclusive Company, we're closed until April 24, how can I help you?”

So besides work, I'm just staying at home, and I'd encourage that in others as well. So, you're locked up at home for a month, and you're asking, 'What do I do to keep from going stir crazy?' Good news! I'm here to help you plan out activities to help your mindset in your isolation.

#1:Watch the movie “Stir Crazy.” Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder rule in this movie.

#2 That 'music room' in your house that you've been piling records, compact discs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, VHS tapes, books, magazines, action figures, band t-shirts, and Gwen Stefani chocolate bars, for the last 20 years? Clean it. I'm currently knee deep in record store promotional items in a room that was built on rock and roll. Truth be told, I started early, the weekend of March 14 and 15, when the COVID-19 virus caused the postponement of my trip to Los Angeles for a show that was a celebration of the life of Kim Shattuck of the Muffs that also served as an ALS benefit show.

#3 Clean your oven. It's been a long time since I've cleaned an oven, and it's been a long since my oven has been cleaned. I'm not saying that I've never cleaned the oven in my current residence, where I've been since 1994, I just don't recall doing it here. The last time I positively remember cleaning an oven was at my previous residence. The reason I remember this is because I used an old Mudhoney “Burn it Clean” shirt that didn't fit me anymore, which I'd bought at Milwaukee's late, great, Atomic Records, in the '80s. This made me giggle because that's basically what the chemicals in oven cleaner do.

#4 Wash your dishes on Saturday and Sunday nights between 8 and 11 p.m., listening to old time radio dramas on Wisconsin Public Radio. The last month I've been getting into these a lot, they're very enjoyable. The earlier parts of the broadcast are more comedic, lighter fare. The later hours transition to murder and the supernatural. Not shockingly, the title of my favorite radio program is “The Weird Circle.” These rebroadcasts that lately range from 1941 to 1952, are a great way to look back at an era long gone. Also included are some of the commercials from the original broadcasts, and Pabst Blue Ribbon had quite the radio jingles at one time. As a huge fan of the Pride of Kenosha, Orson Welles, I was giddy last week when I discovered there's a radio adaptation of his movie The Third Man, in which he reprises his role as Harry Lime. If you pay attention to the credits of these broadcasts, you'll be amazed to hear where some people got their start—famed Hollywood producer/director Blake Edwards has been mentioned numerous times as a scriptwriter.

#5 Put your CD collection back in alphabetic order. I'm sure that, like me, you bring a bunch of CDs to listen to at work every day, and then you bring them home and just throw them somewhere and don't take the time to file them alphabetically.

#6 Go through your vinyl collection and pull out non-essential albums to make room for much better records that you've bought in the last ten years.

#7 Practice trombone loudly from your balcony. I assume all my neighbors are fans of The New Day.

#8 Move the Christmas tree in the dining room that's been up since 2017 into your newly cleaned music room.

#9 Plan a vacation for when this is all over to a city in America that you've never visited to eat at a locally owned restaurant. I myself will be going to Memphis, Tennessee, to Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken.

#10 For those of you who cook, (and for those of you who don't, maybe this is the time to start?) prepare something you've never prepared before. Since the cleanliness status of my oven has prevented me from making frozen pizza, after I clean my oven I'm going to make a home made pizza. In fact, I will be making Time Bomb Tom's Hot Pizza.

#11 Train your cats to fight to the music of a Star Trek fight scene, like when Spock and Kirk were having it out on Vulcan.

#12 Re-watch the reboot of Battlestar Galactica in its entirety.

#13 Number thirteen may be the most critical and important advice I can give you: change your sleep patterns so you'll be able to stay up late every night to watch the incredible powerhouse lineup MeTV has on between 1 and 4 a.m. The lineup of “Mannix, Cannon” (which stars William Conrad, who earlier in his career was the voice actor for Marshal Dillon on the radio version of "Gunsmoke") and “Barnaby Jones” (A Quinn Martin Production), is the most unbeatable three-pronged TV lineup in the game today.

Live long and hope to see you all at the end of April.

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