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So the longish days of April have turned into May. It is May Day, and I cannot help but think of working and how hard most people have it by working underpaying jobs where they have to deal with incredibly annoying people.

Before any of this started I had my doubts on how working people could make ends meet, but now the system has been nearly destroyed and I am not sure what is next.

I do know that I am not keen on going back to the way it was unless there are some real opportunities. I am fine with making the trade off of working with people I like and taking less pay for personal happiness. I mean happiness is way better in the long run. But, that pay must be fair and at least remain sustainable.

However, now the arduous task of sniffing around and networking is afoot. Like Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery, I am sniffing out my next gig and hustling to solve thing sand sort it all out.

I am working a bit at my job and still applying for other things which has been nice. I know this much, I am done with having to deal with large groups of people if at all possible.

I love how St. Louis has come together to help small businesses whenever possible. There is a nifty new farmer’s market that has popped up down the street. They have pretty much everything and it is affordable. I am avoiding the grocery store if I can and making do with ordering from local stores when I can. The international grocery store down the street is still open so if I need anything in a pinch there is that.

One nice thing about our city is that it, for the most part, has decent citizens who actually respect other people. As a result, this thing has seen folks come together and help others. Whether it is making masks, checking in on folks, shopping local or supporting the local arts. It is nice to not be divisive.

A lot the museums and arts organizations are working to provide some interesting content right now. I think just getting their name out in the public consciousness really helps a lot.

In appliance news, the food processor is kaput. There’s still some scratch left on the Target gift card so I guess shopping could sort there. But I would rather buy local.

Everything I was looking forward to has been canceled. I was supposed to be in Chicago this week. I miss Chicago. I have a monthly planner but it is pretty useless at this point. Unless I write in ‘stay at home’ each day. I am trying to watch some theater stuff that is being offered and a few concerts etc… So I could put that all in there but it seems pointless since I find I am not looking at it much.

I am taking a few online classes and that has surprisingly eaten into a lot of my time. Yale has a happiness class that apparently is all the rage and the most popular one offered on campus. I am taking a free version of it and it has been interesting. Part Psychology, part mindfulness and part ‘get your shit together,’ The Science of Well Being has been a good way to declutter mentally and sort of assess where things are it.

I also am taking two classes through MoMA in New York. One is Modern Art & Ideas and the other is Seeing Through Photographs. I just started the former this week and the latter about two weeks ago. They both have been pretty great. As someone who likes art and often has to write doubt it for various outlets, it has bene informative. I had a so so art history teacher in college so this has been great. I have always liked photography and am enjoying learning a lot more about it.

I did an online lecture last night for their current exhibition, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures.

You can take the virtual tour of the exhibition and see some interactive content on the MoMA website. I have always loved her work and it was really cool getting some context about it.

The next class I start isThe Modern World, Part One: Global History from 1760 to 1910. It is through Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I have studied a lot of this before in school but I wanted a deep dive.

These are all mostly 5-6 weeks long so after this I can move on to some other stuff. I also have been studying up on analytics, marketing trends and doing as much writing as I can.

I have also been watching some movies, I saw Tokyo Joe early this morning.

It is a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1949 and finds him in postwar Tokyo. It is not as good as some of his other stuff but I had not seen it before.

I also am watching. SXSW films on Amazon. some are shorts, some are docs and feature lengths. I enjoyed My Darling Vivian, a documentary about Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto. It was really interesting.

I also started watching Schitt’s Creek which has been fun. Dead To me is starting next week and I am looking forward to that. I am behind in watching a lot of stuff I wanted to see, but it is not like I am going out dancing anytime soon or anything.

The worst thing is trying to sort out sleep. it has been frustrating.

I did interview Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s about her new book, All I Ever Wanted. It is a very interesting read.

I still have a stack of magazines and books to get to so next time I may have more interesting things to write about.

I have been listening to a lot of music. I have made an effort to listen to the new albums by Fiona Apple and Hazel English. There also is Alphabetland, the new record from X. It is loud and fun! I also like this band called Catholic Action. They are from Glasgow and really have good melodies.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album coming out called Quickies. That should be fun too.

RIP to the great Tony Allen. His latest album, Rejoice is amazing. He was an amazing drummer and will be missed. This album is fantastic.

Well that is it for now. sorry for the delay. Stay inside. Please stay inside.

Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid

Ok, if I hear “in these uncertain times,” or “in these difficult times,” or “with these changing times” anymore, I am going to yell loudly. The English language has loads of other words and phrases that people can use to describe all of this. Stop being lazy and obvious!

Also, those phrases don’t give people warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s like telling people The Beatles are out there to listen to but they have to listen to Third Eye Blind for awhile. Do your damn job marketing people and think of something else. It is just lazy and, frankly, sort of annoying.

So things now are all about routines. I try to have a set task for each day with a few other things to clean up. There’s webinars, job searching, the St. Louis art Museum’s object of the day and loads of zoo webcams. At night, I listen to Patrick Stewart reading a sonnet. He has a different one each day.

I also am trying to find time to laugh. This is why I am listening to a Lenny Bruce bit each day as often as possible. It’s not overdone or cute or simple. it is raw, honest and funny in a way where your brain is engaged.

As an extrovert I am surprised I am ok being separated from people. I am checking in on folks and saying hello to old friends now and then, but really I am ok social distancing. People are idiots and I am fine with not talking to strangers. I am of a generation where our formative years were spent trying not to get our ass kicked in high school for having a weird haircut and a jacket with buttons and badges all over it. So, for me, avoiding people is kind of old hat.

It reminds me of all of the terrors of Catholic school and social status and all that nonsense. What all this means is that those years of being a ‘weirdo’ in high school are paying off. I sure am glad I learned how to read.

I am really bummed about Bill Withers passing. I really loved his records. There was never a time when I ‘wasn’t in the mood’ to hear Bill Withers. he had a terrific catalog of songs and I think it is sad he didn’t get more mainstream attention. He really didn’t make a bad record.

John Prine’s passing is really sad. It was nice to see him get more notoriety over the last few years. he was one of our country’s best storyteller and his music was moving, fun, spirited and emotional.

Not much on the movie front. I have been watching some old films from the 1970’s and some film noir. The Taking o f Pelham One Two Three is not only a great movie, but an interesting slice of life of America in 1974. Walter Mathau is great in it. I want to be him when I grow up.

I also saw an indie film called Phoenix, Oregon. it was streamed nationally as part of film Festival Day. It is about these guys who buy a bowling alley becsuase there regular job sucks. Here is a link: https://phoenixoregonmovie.com.

I have discovered a band called Deutsche Ashram. They have a new album out called Whisper Om that has been calming and catchy.

They are very dead poppy but also have some textures and density to their music. https://deutscheashram.bandcamp.com

There also is a new album out from The Strokes but I haven’t dug too deep into it yet.

I did listen to Felt for the first time in ages yesterday. I forgot how much I liked their records. They formed in 1979 in Water Orton, Warwickshire and have this jangly sound that matures into more adventurous terrain. They are pretty obscure in certain circles, but the kids in the know appreciate the harmonies and nuanced songwriting.

I am still hustling. I finished a freelance technical writing project and have move onto a full on magazine piece. But “in these trying times” you have to take whatever you can get. I do know that I am never going back to any sort of frontline retail if I can help it. Especially since people are rude and uncaring and selfish.

I do miss baseball.

Sadly, I am not expecting to see any live music for the foreseeable future. it is a shame too since there was a lot of shows I was looking forward to seeing. In the meantime, I have books and music and word puzzles to keep me busy.

In appliance news, the dishwasher and washing machine are getting good workouts. I wish I had a freezer too.

I am plowing through All I Ever Wanted, the memoir from The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. From Austin to the heyday of LA’s punk underground and the rise of new wave pop, she has pretty much seen it all. The narrative is pretty straightforward and no nonsense. It also is candid and honest and free of sugar coating.

This would be a good time to read The American People in the Great Depression by David M. Kennedy.

It is part of the Oxford History of the United States series and is very good. There is some pretty scary and stark stuff in there but it is something people should know anyway. My grandmother always told me stories about the Great Depression and it was pretty sad stuff.

Well I guess you didn’t read this to be cheered up did you?