Episode #864: Masks Actually Work
First Broadcast: 6/22/20
When we recorded this episode, New York City was on the verge of moving on to "Phase 2" of re-opening businesses as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline in the city and the rest of the state. In contrast, COVID-19 cases continue to increase for the United States as a whole, either because or in spite of the premature "re-opening" happening in so many other parts of the country, like the state of Oklahoma, for one, and Tulsa County, Oklahoma, for another, where new COVID-19 cases are now spiking after weeks of remaining relatively flat. Despite Tulsa becoming one of the nation's newest epicenters for coronavirus, President Donald Trump scheduled first campaign rally in 3 months at an indoor arena there on June 19th--a.k.a. Juneteenth--not too long after the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, perhaps the deadliest instance of racist violence in the U.S. in the 20th Century. In a rare instance of accomodation, Trump moved his rally one day later to June 20th, but that still disregarded the advice of the White House coronavirus task force and several hundred medical professionals in the Tulsa area, who recommended--and in some cases pleaded--that the rally be canceled, since a large crowd of people, close together, indoors with poor air circulation, shouting and cheering, and not wearing face masks, meets all the conditions for a perfect storm of coronavirus transmission. Will this turn out to have been a "super-spreader" event (despite its eventual underwhelming crowd size)? Should we fear a re-opened Las Vegas in the same way, with its poorly-ventilated casinos and crowds full of mask-less patrons? Will the U.S. ever get its "R" number to less than 1, or to 0? Aren't the outdoor protests of mostly masked people for racial justice safer for people to attend than any mass gathering indoors? Sooner or later, we'll all find out!
Episode #865: Sunburn on Your Throat
First Broadcast: 6/29/20
Has a significant portion of the American people just given up on trying to decrease the spread of coronavirus? Would that explain why new cases of the virus have spiked in several states, to the point where more than half of the states in the U.S. have seen increases this week, such as Florida, which set a record of 9,585 new cases in one day on the Saturday before this episode first aired? Does it explain why President Trump thinks quarantines--like the one now being imposed by New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut--don't apply to him, or why he and his fans don't wear face masks? Do they not understand why doctors shifted from recommending people to not wear masks to encouraging everyone to wear a mask? Is it because too many people believe conspiracy theories about COVID-19? Maybe I'll just stay home and get some more cocktails delivered for as long as New York State will let me...
Episode #866: Is That a School?
First Broadcast: 7/6/20
Protesters occupying City Hall Park wanted the City Council to cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department's portion of the New York City budget for the coming year. However, despite some reporting to the contrary, only around $837 million of cuts were made to the NYPD allocation, and around $300 to $400 million of that came from shifting the control and cost of the School Safety Agents in New York City public schools from the NYPD to the Department of Education--without actually removing those "Agents" from the schools, which was supposed to be one of the other goals of reducing the NYPD budget. Is this just another way of maintaining the school-to-prison pipeline in another form? Does New York City really need to have more cops in public schools than there are in the entire cities of Boston and Las Vegas combined? Doesn't the presence of police alone contribute to more reported incidences of "criminal" behavior than the absence of police? Might we all be better off by ending police presence in everyday life as much as possible instead? I'm sure this discussion is far from over!
Episode #867: Remember Brunch?
First Broadcast: 7/20/20
This week, we mourned what we thought was the late Odessa Diner--unaware that only two days after our recording, the news of that restaurant's demise would be reported as extremely premature. It wasn't long before we started remembering Gray's Papaya, Papaya King, St. Mark's Comics, The Batcave, Village Comics, the Sunshine Cinema, the Pioneer Theater, and other fallen New York establishments. After that, we jumped to talking about a recent anti-gun violence march across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was apparently "hijacked" by a pro-police demonstration by the one of the local police unions--which is probably not the best way to participate in the ongoing nationwide discussion about defunding the police. More to come, eventually!
Episode #868: Hoover Town
First Broadcast: 7/27/20
First, we try to clear up the mystery of the Odessa Diner, and we're still not sure if it's just closed for remodeling or closed for good. Then we talk about policing (or maybe the end of it), Occupy City Hall, Salt Lake City's humane ideas to eliminate homelessness, and how much money it costs to rent an apartment these days (hint: minimum wage ain't enough, especially here in NYC). Just trying to keep ourselves sane in the age of COVID-19!
Episode #869: Bathtub Guacamole
First Broadcast: 8/10/20
We open by mourning the loss of some decent guacamole with the closing of the Fonda restaurant on Avenue B, and it isn't long after that before we start talking about avocado shortages, election results, several rebooted cartoons, art with a singular point of view, and perhaps the most memorable crank call ever made, all in a 28-minute audio burst! Hey, we can't talk about COVID-19 all the time, can we?
Episode #870: Express Elevator
First Broadcast: 8/24/20
Where would you rather spend your time? In a school full of an unknown number of COVID-19 cases, or a field full of mosquitoes with West Nile Virus? Does a mosquito box fan trap work as well as it claims? Did Trump really complain about Michelle Obama not citing a higher coronavirus death count in her DNC speech? How baffled is the rest of the world at the United States' response to COVID-19? How much are we all reeling from the firehose of news that's been showering us ever since Trump decided to run for office? Has coronavirus altered our collective sense of time? The answers to all these questions--or maybe none of them--are somewhere within this episode... or maybe not...
Episode #871: Yet Another Example
First Broadcast: 9/7/20
Jacob Blake is a 29-year-old black man who was shot 7 times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 23, 2020. That shooting inspired people to protest in Kenosha for 4 nights in a row, and on the third night a 17-year-old Trump fan from Illinois traveled to Kenosha where he hung out with so-called militia members and shot and killed two protesters and wounded a third, all with an AR-15 he was not legally allowed to possess, and all without any police even trying to arrest him. President Trump couldn't find anything even close to meaningful to say to Jacob Blake's family, but he found nice things to say about the teen who was eventually indicted for murder. What else could I expect from a President who doesn't think systemic racism exists in this country, and who thinks planes full of "thugs" wearing "dark uniforms" from the "dark shadows" are controlling protests across the nation? Why does a cop who shoots a man 7 times in the back get the benefit of the doubt, but when one cop gets a milkshake that tastes a little off, suddenly people think there's a movement to assassinate police? Is it really September already?