No masks, no social distancing but plenty of libation. Courtesy photo.

I suppose as an example of the “shelter at home” existence, the other day I found myself watching Korean baseball on ESPN. More to the point, I only recently realized this Monday is Memorial Day, the unofficial first day of summer. (Of 2020, the unofficial year that wasn’t.) If last weekend was any indicator, get ready for the crowds. I know because this past Sunday I went for a long bike ride that turned out good news and bad news.

The sun was out, the air was fresh, the exercise felt great and the city had opened the bike path. As a result, I rode much further than I anticipated, all the way to the north end of the path. (Out of shape from so much time indoors, I momentarily contemplated calling Uber for a ride home.)

As for the “bad news,” after months of being cooped up, everyone in L.A. seemed to be at the beach. Worse, most were not wearing masks or practicing social distance. (And, the next day, our precious beach looked like a landfill.)

While I was rather exasperated, with the “mask-less masses” continuously blocking my path, wisely I didn’t say a word. But, as weird as it sounds, I was reminded of the 1948 movie, Treasure of Sierra Madre.

The scene in question was where Humphrey Bogart is confronted by a group of heavily-armed banditos who are after his gold but claim they are “Federales.” With his rifle pointed, Bogart shouts, “Show me your badges.” The jefe bandito shouts back defiantly, “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Unfortunately, it seems there’s a growing group of Americans across the land and right here in our fair city whose attitude appears to be “We don’t need no stinkin’ masks.” (How’s that for an awkward segue?)

As if we needed more divisiveness in America, we’ve suddenly got the great mask debate. In the 2000 election we became a “red and blue country.” (Which I know sounds like the entire nation belonged to the Crips or the Bloods.) Now we’re “mask wearers” versus “screw your masks, it’s my life.” (Except if you spread the virus it’s not just your life!)

Little did I know as I was blithely riding my beach cruiser, a mask controversy was brewing on the beautiful grass between the Victorian restaurant and bar on Main Street and the Heritage Museum. It seems a sun worshiping and carefree crowd were picnicking and schmoozing sans masks and social distancing.

It was as if the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected 5 million world-wide and taken 323,000 lives, was a thing of the past. If only. As I write this, the WHO reports today saw the greatest number of infections in the history of the pandemic and California reported it was our 2nd worst day. (#Sad.)

I found out about the Victorians from a post on NextDoor.com. Personally, these folks ignoring pandemic guidelines and possibly helping spread Covid-19, really tick me off. So much so I made the mistake of posting my emotional reaction.

Almost immediately I found myself the subject of some mud-slinging and name calling that I’m still trying to ignore. (For example, I don’t dare publish a link to this column or fear a pitchfork and torch crowd at my door.)

While this is a generalization, it seems the mask-less are Trump supporters and the others just don’t watch to “catch the Covid.” I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, Trump routinely doesn’t practice his own administration guidelines.

Who can forget that infamous day two weeks ago when he toured a mask producing company in Arizona. Even though there were signs posted on every wall to wear a mask, and everyone else was, he wasn’t. He says he doesn’t look good in a mask. (I hate to break it to you, Donnie, it isn’t the mask.)

Reportedly, Trump doesn’t consider wearing a mask is “manly.” Ironically, I think the real reason is because a mask might smudge his bronzer make-up. Between make-up and hairspray applications, reportedly it takes him 2 hours to look “presentable” though I might use another word. (Meanwhile he says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine which makes me wonder if he washes it down with a little bleach.)

From my viewpoint, on a positive note “my sources” tell me today there was a zoom meeting between the police and others. Suffice it to say, the mask-less and no social distancing picnics city-wide may be over.

So here’s wishing you a wonderful and guideline-safe Memorial Day honoring fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. (Forgive me, but as opposed to the self-centered who won’t even wear a mask.)

Because of the crowds, I won’t be going for a bike ride. That said, I’ll try to do something more exciting than watching Korean baseball.

Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and jackdailypress@aol.com

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8 Comments

  1. Failure to wear a mask is not just for the benefit of the person wearing the mask, it’s for the benefit of those without one. Science shows that the simple act of talking spreads the tiny virus…unless, of course, you are upwind of the talker. The moral to this lesson is…WEAR A MASK, STUPID!

  2. Love it! Great point. It’s not about you, it’s about who you might infect.

  3. One of my favorite movie quotations.

    Unlike you, wasting your time, I have been indulging in a more refined cultural activity: Watching Korean serial dramas on TV.
    Will Moo Jang finally win the heart of Tao Lee? Tune in to episode 346.

  4. It is unfortunate that the divisiveness of this country comes down to MASKS! Can you believe that a president (notice no capital letter) of the United States of America has the wickedness to divide our country over a “freakin” mask! I am absolutely baffled that this can happen.

  5. With respect to your claims on the schism on masked vs the unmasked, it’s not fair to categorize those choosing to not wear a mask as being Trumpers (I’d be shocked if you even found that many in Santa Monica), but the effort to fit square pegs in round holes unfairly classifies those wanting a return to normalcy as being in line with the president’s verbose diatribes. There are simply many people who have done the research, weighed the risks and chosen to act in a manner that for all intents and purposes is normal. The greatest threat we are dealing with now is not COVID, but the nearly irrational fear gripping many (including a media establishment intent on making this all about Trump).

    As the statistical data and autopsies finally come in globally, metadata analysis reveals the mortality rate of COVID hovering between 1% to 0.5%; still slightly more lethal than seasonal flu, but it’s not Ebola. We also know the CDC revised its estimate that the virus survival on surfaces is far lower than previously thought making in-person transmission the most threatening pathway. We now know that over half of the deaths suffered were among those 65 years and older. We now know over two-thirds of those that die or suffer the longest hospitalizations do so from underlying health conditions.

    All of this adds up to a much-needed re-evaluation of city/county/state planning to focus on the most vulnerable and at risk; principally the elderly and those who care for them. Focus on the general population with asymptomatic testing for anyone who wants it as LA County is doing may make people feel better about themselves, but there is a glaring hole in developing more specific plans for the elderly. If you are going to have any reasonable public debate, it should be on what we need to do more aggressively in nursing homes, senior communities and rehabilitation centers.

    I don’t begrudge people wanting to get back to normal and if people want to congregate without masks and are asymptomatic, we shouldn’t stop them because the alternative is a permanent lock down which is untenable. We accept all levels of risk in our society today.

    Driving a car, riding a bicycle, flying an airplane, smoking cigarettes, drinking liquor, devouring a 1,800 calorie Baconator at Wendy’s are all levels of risk we assume every day. Consider what your level of acceptance is and adjust to it and we can move along until a vaccine is developed. Until then, there is no way we are ever going to have zero-risk associated with COVID.

  6. Great article!

    I, too, am baffled with the mask-less vs masked divide which all seems needless and unnecessary to me. Along the same lines, it would be like sending along a peanut snack to school with your child to a peanut-free school bc it’s your constitutional right what your child eats. It appears that the masked, not the virus, are now the enemy.

    Thanks for sharing.

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