Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

It’s been decades since baseball was America’s national pastime, but the sport still speaks volumes about America. The state of our nation was on display Thursday night at Nationals Park, which was almost entirely empty due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Even with no fans in attendance to boo him as they did at the 2019 World Series, Trump did not throw out the ceremonial first pitch and likely will leave office as one of the few U.S. presidents in the past 100-plus years never to participate in that tradition. Similar to Trump’s abandoning the fight against the Coronavirus crisis, leaving Dr. Anthony Fauci as the trusted public face in that battle, Fauci supplanted Trump on the pitcher’s mound.

Unfortunately, Fauci’s toss displayed all the quality of Trump’s approach to the virus.

The rest of the evening wasn’t much better. The awful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Nationals Park had some fans longing for the Roseanne Barr version. The fake crowd noise and cardboard cutouts representing fans in the stands at Dodgers Stadium for the evening’s second game reminded the nation that next to nothing was normal.

Still, there was hope. For just a few minutes in the seventh inning the game itself took over. Watching Mookie Betts’ breathtaking baserunning reminded us of baseball’s beauty. Lost in the drama and athleticism as Betts slid headfirst into home plate for the go-ahead run, we remembered how to forget.

Next in series: Coronavirus Diary: NBA Restart

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Swine

About this time, Larry would be pulling the pigs off their spits. The ’82 Project Foundation Swine Social would reach full swing. Along with fellow board members from the Whitefish Bay High School Class of 1982 and our 100 or so guests, we would eat and drink together, pulling cold beers from Beth and John’s ice-filled canoe on the back lawn and toasting our organization for its effort to fund-raise on behalf of our community.

We would heap our plates with pot-luck side-dishes and salads and desserts. We might take a final look at the silent auction items that raise funds, like our $25 food and beverage bracelets, for the scholarships we grant each year to a graduating senior from our alma mater and for the reserve we keep to help community members in need.

We WOULD be doing this right now, but we are not, thanks to the Coronavirus crisis.

Instead, the best I could do today, stuck in California when I was supposed to be at home in Milwaukee for this event, was to bike to the nearest bbq joint for some symbolic swine, meditate on what I was missing, then bike home to refresh myself with a can of Quarantine Beer shipped to me by the co-founder of The ’82 Project, and make a donation equal to my two tickets for admission to the event that SHOULD have been.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Opening Day

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Firewords

Most Independence Days it would be time for fireworks. This Fourth of July, it’s time for firewords.

I have always loved this holiday. I was raised to be a patriot. One grandmother was born on the Fourth of July. The other belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution, tracing her lineage to the Revolutionary War financier Haym Salomon.

I drank the same red, white and blue Kool-Aid that most of my peers did. I loved this country and celebrated it every Fourth of July.

Ordinarily at this time of night, I would lie back on a blanket beneath the fireworks at Klode Park in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, where I graduated high school and where my parents still live. I would have spent the day following a parade of stilt-legged Uncle Sams and cheerily oblivious families through the streets, drinking beer sold by Rotary or Kiwanis, and “dancing” to a Tom Petty cover band.

Tonight, July 4, 2020, fireworks sound distantly through my Foster City, California porch door. It’s not a scheduled show. Those are all canceled due to the Coronavirus crisis, as was my annual trip home. Air travel is unsafe while this virus rages, and anyway my parents fear infection too much to let me in the door.

So, any fireworks I hear now are set off by the people. By morning. we’ll learn that some of those fireworks were gunshots. Beyond the Coronavirus crisis there is anger in the streets and a reckoning still to come for the recent police murders of unarmed Black folks George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks.

It’s just as well that I did not have a normal celebration today. We’re not free. We are captive to the Coronavirus crisis and the failed government that flouts it — at our expense and deadly danger — even while flying a fake freedom flag. We suffer from centuries of systemic racism, now fanned by 45.

Maybe it’s best that instead of my normal celebration, I spent today on my porch close-reading Frederick Douglass’ “What, to the Slave, is the Fourth of July?” One-hundred-sixty-eight years later, his question remains unanswered. So, this Fourth of July, what’s to celebrate?

Coronavirus Diary: Re-Opening

It’s been more than two weeks since my last diary entry. The main reason is that news, thinking, talking, and writing about protests stemming from the murder of George Floyd have consumed my days and nights. I’ve also focused on selling copies of Az Der Papa and worked extensively with students from my “On Point” class at The Writing Salon.

I could not have imagined anything usurping my mindshare from the Coronavirus crisis, but because of who I am, where I’ve lived, and how my friends are, the anti-racism concerns take precedence. I won’t comment further here on anti-racism to keep this diary as purely as possible about Coronavirus.

As to that, signs (or lack thereof) indicate that much is re-opening. Most importantly, the stairs at my running hill shed their police tape and detour signs about a week ago. It has been a blessing to return to running, now mixed in with cycling as much as 20 miles at a time, to keep me as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

Some live televised sports have resumed, notably boxing, golf, and European soccer. More restaurants, shopping, and other services are now available. We have even seen a few friends in recent days as well as light at the end of the tunnel…at least for now.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Funeral

Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Busy Week

When the Coronavirus crisis closed classrooms, it seemed my work for Citizen Schools would end abruptly. But the organization asked all of us volunteer Citizen Teachers to create a three-minute video about our career paths and another, shorter video wishing students well and sharing some brief guidance.

To my surprise, Citizen Schools featured my videos in their national e-newsletter!

As the above video mentions, this week also marked the introduction of my new novella, Az Der Papa. Here is the second video from the Citizen Schools newsletter.

This week, I also led a three-hour online Writing Salon course for a group of design professionals, plus my new online writing program for Citizen Schools. It’s a thrill to re-connect with students and colleagues, but “distance learning” feels so distant from what we experienced when I introduced this class in February with words that seem even truer today:

Speaking of Donald Trump

Have you heard the new word
From absurd orange bird?

The cock of the walk
Who can squawk
But can’t talk

Who frowns
On the brown
Holds them down
What a clown

Whose wall-building bombast
Blasts outcasts
He thinks he outclasses
But can’t outlast

Vile defiler,
The liar, denier
Of climate fire
Heats our air
Doesn’t care
It’s not fair

We can’t bear
But we swear
We will tear
Your orange hair
If you dare to declare
You are heir to the rare

You are square
So prepare
And beware our despair
When it’s time to compare
We’re the real billionaires

Next in series: Coronavirus Diary: The Last Dance

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction.

Coronavirus Diary: Korean Baseball

The desperate search for live sports on TV reached a new level today as the Korean Baseball Organization debuted on ESPN2. A Zoom call kept me from the first 15 minutes of coverage, and I did not DVR the game, because the quest is for live sports. So, maybe I missed something, but after an inning with none of the KBO’s vaunted bat flips or cheerleaders and the stands as empty as a Marlins game, there was just no buzz.

In terms of finding any compelling sports programming in recent weeks, the NFL Draft was not bad. At least the event itself was newsworthy, and we were spared the spectacle of draftees boating across the fountains of the Bellagio, per pre-Coronavirus crisis plans. This Thursday’s three-hour Schedule Release ’20 on the NFL Network? No, thanks.

Just about the only game in town now for quality sports TV is The Last Dance.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Signs of Life

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Streaming Consciousness Bay Path Bike Ride

Press play on Spotify.
Start Strava.

Push off the asphalt.
Pedal true north.

Slalom through Covid warning signs.
“Social distance,
Breathe at your own peril,
Etc.”

Skirt the shore fishermen,
Chattering Tagalog through their masks.
Warm up into the wind,
Face frozen,
But heart warming.

When the breeze allows, go fast.
When it doesn’t, go hard.

Weave through the oblivious.
Kids know no risk
Because the world revolves around them,
And parents blessed with precious child time still screen-stare,
At the center of their universe.

A family frolics on the beach,
Where windsurfers used to launch.
The golf course is closed.

The tide is out.
The stench blows in.

The sky howls.
Cold eyes drip hot tears.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Korean Baseball

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Fit Kids

Inkflow client Fit Kids released its new series of Home Workouts via the e-blast below. School closures during the Coronavirus crisis limit even further the scant fitness resources in the disadvantaged communities where Fit Kids operates.

Each workout uses bodyweight only, providing a fitness solution for underserved youth who live in crowded housing conditions. The pursuit of fitness — with its physical, mental, and social-emotional benefits — is critical to people living in the most vulnerable communities, where COVID-19 has disproportionate impact.

Next post in series: Coronavirus Diary: Streaming Consciousness Bay Path Bike Ride

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction

Coronavirus Diary: Anniversary

What a day! Probably the best one since the start of our shelter-in-place order.

8 a.m.–Led a webinar for Sports Philanthropy Network titled “Content and Communication in the Coronavirus Crisis.”

10 a.m.–Zoom workout with Lori Fhima, my dear friend from University of Minnesota days.

noon–St. Thomas Academy work resumed with an interview of Jackson Najarian, nephew of Peter Najarian, whom I used to interview when he played football for the U.

1 p.m.–Phone call with Arabella DeLucco, Founder of WeXL, followed by shooting video selfies for WeXL.org.

1:30 p.m.–Phone call with my son, Sam.

2 p.m.–Another St. Thomas student interview.

And all day, the one-month anniversary of the Coronavirus crisis, I celebrated my 27th wedding anniversary, thanks to the spectacular Valerie Liberty!

Next post in series: Coronavirus Crisis: Fit Kids

Series begins at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction