Tuesday, March 31, 2020

stay @ home


The livestream shows continue to bring joy to otherwise dull and repetitive days.
Sunday I watched the incredible Merv Campbell play and sing and even dance a solo brunch show from New Orleans.
On Saturday I tuned in for Francoise K's DJ set. The way he talks about cuts and DJ's oral traditions is inspiring.
Lots of venues are now offering shows--Everett Music Initiative, Dick's Drive-in + KEXP. I can only hope we're all throwing enough cash to keep our precious musicians fed and housed for now.

Monday, March 30, 2020

sew tired but worth it

Welp, busysmartypants is in the mask-making business. After a few failed attempts I finally connected with a local group sewing masks for medical providers: Gathering Roots.
I filled out a google doc on Saturday, and yesterday morning received an e-mail inviting me to Slack and sharing links to a how-to video as well as a fabric provider who could Lyft over as many kits as I wanted to order. Around 8pm last night, a friendly Lyft driver dodged cops trying to shoo him off the streets and handed me 2 boxes containing pre-cut fabric squares, filters, and elastic bands.
A short pause here to acknowledge I don't have a sewing machine and am not much of a crafter, but these days of sitting around while friends and family who work in hospitals are exposed to covid-19 has been so frustrating. An intrepid cousin in Colorado inspired me to try harder -- she ordered furnace filters online and has been sewing her own masks. Another relative dug up a trove of new N95 masks she'd bought for a project and shipped them off to cousins on the front lines. This family!
So, I watched the video about ten times and nervously got started. The first mask was too small I think and I messed up the elastic but I'm getting better. I bleached my needle and thread and scissors and keep sanitizing and washing my hands and trying my hardest to work quickly. I've got 10 done and will try and do 5 a day until I get all 50 done.
It ain't much but it's something.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

we got this Seattle

The Space Needle this Sunday morning.

writing during this

So as you may have noticed, BusySmartyPants has gone to almost daily posting while covid-19 has us all hanging out at home. Each day seems much like another and it helps to have a record of how the neighborhood is changing, the day-to-day activities and frustrations and victories, the small and meaningful connections.
I'm on Zoom, group chats, or even phone calls (!!) most days and nearly every evening.
Last week alone, I had a trivia prep call, a friends' happy hour, "coffee" with a friend and former boss, a 2-hour trivia night, and then an all-family chat.
Was lucky to see Tank and the Bangas perform last night in what looked like someone's basement apartment. Earlier in the week, Keiko Komaki played in a sunny corner of New Orleans.
Today, more Kermit Ruffins (all aboard at the Mother In Law Lounge!).
I throw a few dollars into the digital tip jar whenever I can.
More seriously, several of my family members, who are medical providers, told us on last week's chat that they don't have access to protective gear. Not enough masks, specifically. One just ordered air filter material off Amazon in order to make their own masks. A sibling is sending 10 extra N95's to a family member working at a military hospital. I have messages in to several local orgs providing materials for mask making.
It staggers the mind to realize that this nation, helmed by loud-mouth braggarts and religious zealots, is so ill-prepared and willing to sacrifice us, but here we are and so:
Here. WE. Are.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Over It

The Seattle Times is over it with the mob boss-in-chief. (As are local radio stations.)
The Seattle Times
Reminds me of the legendary New York Daily News headline.

an informal survey of a neighborhood

I took a quick, hopefully non-germy walk to pick up groceries and coffee.
It's interesting who's thoughtful and kind, in terms of keeping distance, waiting their turn, etc.
I gotta say, gentlefolk of the male persuasion, you're not doing great.
Is it privilege? Do they not know better? Are they dumb?
I don't have answers. Just noticing that the people crowding me, not giving space, not yielding, including driving like assholes, are 90% white dudes.
A quick PSA: Kidd Valley takout is not a good idea. Much as I love their veggie burger and want them to stay afloat, they are taking orders over the phone, online and in person simultaneously, with all customers crammed into a tiny front area. Not. Good.
Much as I'm griping, there is kindness around. At the market, I miraculously found cleaning solution and a breakfast sandwich. I thanked the cashier for being there. He said he hoped the store could stay open. I said I did too, but to please be safe. He said that I was like family, because I've been coming in for so many years, and to be well.
At the coffee shop, strictly limited to 3 persons inside, I ordered coffee and asked about filters. They were out, but the owner gave me some from the store's personal stash and wouldn't take any money for them. I tipped well but still. Wow.
More boarded up windows and so-long messages around town.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

techno gatherings

So online gatherings are our now, and honestly they have been kind of fun!
It's wild to know that no one has plans, or some place to be.
The faces are growing weary and the shared laughs--who can't get video to work, whose ceiling are we staring at, the joys of virtual backgrounds--and stories and virtual toasts are the best medicine.

a somber tour

I took a walk around the neighborhood early this morning. I try to head out early while it's chilly and hopefully quiet.
It's tough to hear about the airlines begging for cash, for a couple of reasons.
One, I live under a flight path (descent to SeaTac) and I STILL hear planes on their descent every minute, like clockwork. If the planes are empty, why are they still flying?
Second, small businesses in my neighborhood continue to close, so get in line, you greedy fat cats.
The nail salons, gyms, yoga and massage places, all closed.
Starbucks, incredibly.
Spin Cycle, a record store, is completely closed with brown paper over the windows.
Lifelong: closed.

Even the big potatoes, the Wells Fargo and T-Mobile, are boarded up for the duration.
The food bank around the corner has tape on the sidewalk, delineating 6 feet apart.

I still see motivational posters, well wishes, and it brings a pang to my chest.
Fantasy A

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

daily message to the city

The Stranger, Seattle's alt-weekly, is posting a daily message to the city.
What a concept! It's heart-warming and a little terrifying.
Today's is from artist Timothy White Eagle.
Previous messages have come from a drag queen, a musician, and an actor.
Check back daily (and if you can, throw 'em some cash, they're hurting along with the rest of us).

a tale of 2 management companies

I pay rent at 2 different properties.
One, for a shared writing studio.Here's the covid-19 e-mail we all got last week from Equinox, telling us they would reduce our rent for April to 20% of our actual rent.

Two, for my actual apartment. Here's the covid-19 email I just received from Redside Partners, LLC, basically instructing me to ask the government or go get another job, if I might have trouble paying rent in April.

The differences are breathtaking. And gross.
Miss me Redside Partners, please, with this greedy bullshit.

this too

Monday, March 23, 2020

the new new

I took a day off yesterday to sleep and stay off social media. (Real talk: I crashed. Could. Not. Move.)
Today's new reality: bars switching to takeout, festivals and shows moving online, folkx making masks at home, a calendar full of friends and family Zoom calls each evening. It's weird but it's something!
The roll call continues:

The Kraken

Wu Tang Clan

Hood Famous Bakeshop

Saturday, March 21, 2020

real talk

The stress of hiding ourselves away indoors has surprised me. Each day seems long, and much like another. You check social media repeatedly, then try not to, then check in, afraid what you might have missed: another governor's order? a celebrity diagnosis? another stock market plummet?
The news is rarely good.
For perspective: we're a week or so into the real restrictions.
2 weeks into working from home.
10 days into the start of the restaurant layoffs.
We don't know where along the spectrum we lie: 10% there? 90%?
No one can know.
So we check in with family and friends daily, sometimes more.
Do what we can to handle the existential dread: go for a socially-distant, early morning walk at the park, savor the first coffee of the morning, treat ourselves to 15 minute yoga or a pastry or both.
When it all becomes too much, shut off the laptop and the threads and read a book or listen to music or just lay on the couch and breathe.
Watching those who can, step up, is inspiring.
Seattleites and Christian Siriano (!) sewing PPE/masks.
Jose Andres feeding the community.
Wondering where and how I can be a part.

I was doing okay

I was doing okay Saturday morning until I ducked into ETG Coffee and heard that Sunday is their last day open for awhile. The owner Laurie has done her best to keep afloat, but can do it no longer.
She said she'll continue roasting beans for Bean Box.
Come on Seattle/Washington/America.
Relief now for small businesses and service employees!
We're losing what makes us wonderful.

Friday night concerts (livestream version)

The livestream music continues!
Last night, Peelander-Z, a Japanese punk band experience, put on a show from Texas where they'd hoped to be at SXSW. What a performance! I'm still scratching my head -- there was a young kid shredding on guitar, an Elvis-type performer with motorbike handlebars attached to a mic stand, and then of course the wonderfully anarchic Peelander-Z, occasionally hoisting a huge sign saying "Wash Your Hands" and zipping on and offstage in tiger masks, oversized ties and colorful outfits.
Later, Big Freedia herself rocked from New Orleans with 2 luscious dancers.
I'm so grateful to American performers for making this possible. WWOZ Onlinewire lists shows daily, as does KEXP and I'm sure a bunch of other places. Yo Yo Ma posts a daily song of comfort.
Tune in and feel your spirits lift.

Friday, March 20, 2020

in positive news

There are good things happening amongst all of the dreariness.
--Artist Trust has started an artist's relief fund for local artists hit hard by the slump. A good friend received a check just yesterday. I'm so happy to see this working as intended.
--Was able to hang out with the fam on video chat for awhile last night. We got the giggles when our aunt changed her background image and became a floating head.
That's all I got for now. Wishing everyone peace and strength.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

the other side

Corvus & Co.

a morning walk

I took a quick walk around the neighborhood early on a chilly morning. I was out of coffee beans--a near-tragedy in this caffeinated burg. So many bars and restaurants are boarded up now--Quinn's, the Comet/Lost Lake Complex, Capitol Club. Which I assume means they won't be returning anytime soon.

A man and woman tried vainly to rouse the sleeping person on the stoop of the postal shop on Pike and 12th. Dog walkers hurried by. A properly-spaced line of patrons awaited entry into Amandine Bakeshop. At Pine and 12th, a cheery reminder. We still have tacos (carry out, of course).
Me, I'm home and working, with the luscious tunes on WWOZ keeping me company.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

the show goes on

I"m happy to report that it hasn't taken musicians and artists long to figure out a way to share their performances on livestream. It means the world to me, as a dedicated fan of live shows, and I suspect we're only just getting started.
Saturday evening the Seattle Symphony broadcast a Mahler symphony. Normally I wouldn't know one classical piece from another, but this was a real treat: professional musicians playing with strength and beauty. (I was relieved that it was only an hour, though.)
Monday I checked out the Metropolitan Opera's broadcast of Carmen. You have to use their app and I couldn't get my subtitles to work but it was also lovely.
Tuesday night was burlesque performer Trixie Paprika reading of a Sherlock Holmes tale for Noveltease Theatre. Not really my thing, I discovered, but I appreciated the coy energy.
Tonight I had the pleasure of watching the Monty Banks Trio perform at Buffa's, live in the back room, in New Orleans. I'd tuned in for my all-time favorite Treme Brass Band but they had a sick band member and so Monty Banks it was. The patter, the jazz, the porkpie hats--I felt almost as though I were in a tiny little club in one of my favorite cities in the world. There are shows all week and a tipjar right on the page. Laissez les bon temps roulez...online.

ghost town

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

city market for the win

Sláinte, wherever you are today.

the things we say

The things we are having to say to each other are unthinkable.
Some funny, some verging on the really scary.
With my significant other, wondering if and when there's a curfew or complete shutdown of the city, whose place we want to be stranded at.
Whose turn is it to stand in line at the grocery store.
Is this cough seasonal allergies or something worse.
We have family members who are medical professionals, transit management, law enforcement, and in the armed services. They don't get to work from home. They're the ones keeping society in the US and Canada afloat right now. I'm fine on my couch, but I worry for them.
And we have a family member with a less than robust immune system, realizing belatedly they don't own a thermometer, there are none left in the stores, and getting tested is probably not a possibility in the near future.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

streaming Saturday night

Trying to follow the Governor's order to stay in and away from crowds, I stocked up on essentials on Saturday afternoon--nacho ingredients, a vegan cheesecake--and walked home in a cold wind.
(The grocery store in Ballard was a hive of activity, with entire families roaming the produce department, shelves empty of pasta and bread, and a worried-looking cashier wiping down the debit card keypad after every transaction.)
It was date night, and so my partner and I worked on his unemployment budget, chefed up nachos and considered our entertainment options--Netflix, Hulu, YouTube. We settled on the Seattle Symphony's broadcast of a Mahler symphony (the lead flutist or flautist or fluter or whatever you call them was wonderful), and later, an ill-advised viewing of a really bad Will Smith superhero movie (the kind of bad where you writhe around on your chair groaning at each new stereotype, but don't quite have the energy to turn it off).
This morning, a bus ride on a coach that was surprisingly full, although riders spaced themselves out pretty evenly. Another quick grocery store stop, a Whole Foods with seemingly zero sanitation measures and fully stocked shelves.
Every overheard conversation revolves around "the virus." Who's out of work. (all our restaurant and music friends) Is it still okay to go to bars? (no) Is the USA going to be Iran or Korea in this scenario? (remains to be seen)
Everyone mocks the toilet paper hoarders but I don't blame them.
We don't know where this is heading and I for one am not interested in a full-on quarantine without sufficient rolls of t.p. on hand.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

apart but together

Social distancing.
Flatten the curve.
Terms I'd never heard of a week ago and now are part of daily vocabulary.
I haven't been to the office in just over a week nor have a huge contingent of Seattle office workers. Team meetings are on Zoom, all of us in our living rooms or spare bedrooms, working away as best we can, with occasional cat or child visitors popping in.
The stores are empty of toilet paper, beans, and any sanitizing agents.
So many Seattle restaurants have closed that you now go online to check who is still open, if you need to order takeout.
Most art and music gatherings are cancelled but The Seattle Symphony and punk Belltown bar Screwdriver both are offering up live shows this weekend online.
A family member in Canada reports that border crossings to the US mean a 14-day quarantine upon return, so we won't be seeing them for awhile.
Other family members are for some reason on a cruise out of the country, and we are anxiously awaiting their safe and healthy return.
My e-mail inbox is jammed with daily notices from travel sites, hair salons, property managers, hotels, cupcake stores--everyone notifying their covid-19 status and how they're handling it.
The upshot for me, as a relatively privileged person with an office job and access to grocery stores and Netflix, is a few minor inconveniences. For my friends in the food and service industries, they have either been abruptly laid off or working severely reduced hours. Those in the medical field are working long hours and trying to be safe.
I signed up for a Seattle-based community help group to bring groceries or supplies to seniors or those who can't get out and about.
The few public conversations I have feel meaningful and fraught.
At the tiny coffee shop near me, where the owner roasts her own beans and calls me kitten, the one table has no chairs and a sign that says, "Eat it and Beat it."(She also gave advice on getting SNAP lined up now vs after April 1 when Voldemort has implemented new restrictions.)
With each new closure or restriction, I wonder what's next. I wish the feds were doing a better job--the lack of testing is criminal but we have a lot of smart scientists and local officials working their hearts out right here in my own city.
I know we will get through this. Will we emerge stronger, healthier, wiser? Time will tell.

bsp videos don't sleep on 'em