Don't we all have things we miss in this pandemic -- beyond family and friends?
I miss my home town twinkling on the western skyline.
I wrote about this a few months ago.
On Sunday I did something about it.
With the plague at full blast, I had to deliver something to the NYT plant in the College Point section of North Queens.
It was a cold day, very little traffic. Ideal driving conditions.
My muscle memory told me how to handle the turns and merges and quick decisions of parkway driving in the city,
With every mile, my exhilaration grew.
First stop was the NYT plant; since my retirement in 2011, I have become friendly with the people there.
On a quiet Sunday morning, I dropped off the item and kept going.
The museum had large banners facing the Grand Central Parkway. I remembered one winter in junior high school, when I went ice skating in this building with some classmates. Now it is a vibrant community asset; I thought of my friend who helps run it, and the Panorama of New York City, where we have "bought" our family home in Holliswood.
I drove around to the front of the awesome building on the glacial hill. My mom was in the first wave of students in the new building -- in 1927. She loved the school as much as I do; it was our major bond, She passed in the very nice Chapin Home, a few blocks away, in 2002. The city, in its dunderhead way, terminated Jamaica High a few years ago -- a DiBlasio failure -- but there are several smaller schools tucked away in the building that will last forever.
I drove along Henley Rd., near the house where the worst president in American history used to live, soiling the image of Queens. There was no time for a drive past our old house, where my mom moved nearly 100 years ago; I had to pick up my order of Shanghai dumpling soup in Little Neck.
My Sunday morning excursion temporarily dispersed the miasma of the murderous pandemic.
I'll keep in touch with the many dozens of my Jamaica contemporaries; we are very tight.
Maybe some quiet Sunday morning soon, I will drive into The City (Manhattan, that is) -- just to see it.
The main thing is that thousands of people are dying per day because of the Orange Fool and his little helpers in Congress. (Somebody on MSNBC called them "eunuchs" on Saturday. Sounds about right.)
Americans are dying at a growing rate because he has convinced a horrifying chunk of the nation they can breathe on each other at close range.
Nurses are getting sick, getting demoralized. This is the tragedy. We know that.
The personal side of Covid-19 is the carnage in a region I know well, North Queens, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods in the country. The human side has been caught by the NYT in a special section in the Sunday paper, written by the great Dan Barry. You won't hurt my feelings if you abandon this blog and go read about the very American swath of Queens, the losses of humans who are now real to us.,
Meanwhile, the Orange Fool is trying to break the nation in his final weeks, protesting the election, which he lost soundly. To cover for himself while he pillages, he sends out Rudy the Clown, performing Opera Buffa in the courts of America. We know that, too.
Nothing’s working, and now I am beginning to realize that even the Web-driven delivery system. designed to keep consumers safe from germy stores, is starting to sputter and falter.
For once in my journalistic life,, I just sniffed a trend. After encountering delays on most things I tried to do online, I just read another story in the NYT's Sunday paper: the backup of many items ordered online for delivery. The system is on overload. Plus, it's the holiday shopping season. None of this, I hasten to add, is as bad as Covid-19.
NB: The following is the bleat from the comfortable class, which wants to shop and do business by computer, by phone, by courier.
That "system" breaking down, too.
Most online and telephone ventures are met with a long pause. Banks. Stores. Utilities. Services. People are working from home. Good luck to you. I got this message the other day:
"Due to COVID-19, our carriers are experiencing delays in shipping packages. Thank you for your patience. Please check online for the status of your order."
That message pops up regularly, online or on recorded announcements, from the new masters of the Internet. Even Amazon is having trouble with Covid in the warehouses, and when the workers complain, Amazon seems to be putting the legal squeeze on them, in classic management heavy-handedness:
Here are three personal examples of services wearing down. Bear in mind, this is the whine of somebody (me) who would pay somebody else to do his shopping, to deliver his goods:
*-- Our regional cable company used to have techies available on the phone, some of them quite knowledgeable, in their weary sarcastic Long Island accents, talking Luddites into re-setting their TV sets. Now the company depends on a Chat system with people apparently in call centers working from a script. One of our sets went rogue the other day. and the voice at the other end told me to perform the normal reboot functions. No good. He claimed to run some tests. Nothing. “Your box is broken,” he typed. “I will send you a new box.” In a few weeks. Okay. When he was done, I noticed a little white card in a slot in the box. I pulled it out and inserted it again. The TV set immediately went on. How do I notify the unreachable cable company? Let’s see if they send the box.
*-- Another hurdler for the well-off: We selected nearly 60 grocery items from our favorite big-box emporium but the "system" shuddered to a halt when the store tried to hand off the order to a delivery service. I asked for help online and got a personable bloke at a call center -- in Durban, South Africa. I love Durban! Spent my best three days of the 2010 World Cup alongside the Indian Ocean, smell of curry in the homey little hotel. Great memories. Alas, the agent couldn’t help me, and my food order got blown out during the transfer. I typed it all over again, somehow got the order from a very capable delivery guy. The process? Maddening. But of course we ate well. As I say, indulge me.
*-- We ordered a few basic items from a very good office-supply chain. It was supposed to take two days, but got stuck in a warehouse somewhere. A very helpful agent named Pamela convinced me to wait for the delivery, which arrived Saturday morning, four full days after ordering. But as the saying goes, nobody died.
You know what's efficient? I'll tell you what's efficient: The federal government. Medicare. The very thing our Vandal-in-Chief is trying to break. I went online Friday to finalize the drug programs for my wife and myself in 2021. The process took less than 15 minutes for the two of us. Every step was simple. The same thing is true about ventures into Social Security – real people or website -- smart, knowledgeable, polite, able to solve the problem. Just what we need to tear down, according to angry maskless Trumpites.
Meanwhile, if we listen carefully, there is the crunch of things being broken, on purpose, Trump still trying to harm immigrants while stuffing goodies into his gunnysack. Evidence of pardons for money, pardons for his sweet little kiddies. People are being told not to believe the obvious election results.
After this guy vacates the White House, please, somebody, check the silverware.
This is how bad it got bad at the Mets’ home opener on Friday:
When Edwin Diaz walked into the game, the cardboard mockups of real fans began to head for the exits. I swear.
Edwin Diaz! Aaagh! Not him again!
Cardboard people began checking with the baby-sitter on their phones, began edging toward the rest rooms, began filing out toward the parking lots and the No. 7 elevated train – to get the hell out of there before Diaz torched the place, again.
Eight innings into the first game of this bizarre season -- a season I am not sure should exist, given the pandemic -- I experienced the mini-terror of the fan – with no ticking clock, with three massive last outs to achieve.
This is the same Edwin Diaz who was acquired by the Mets last year and had one of the worst years ever for a so-called relief pitcher. Fans groaned when they saw him flexing in the bullpen.
On Friday, as rigid and lifeless as the fans appeared, they knew a terrifying situation when they saw it.
It was a classic Mets’ game of recent seasons, Before Covid. Jacob deGrom pitched five crisp innings, looking like the two-time Cy Young Award winner that he is, reaching his pitch limit, and turning the game over to the bullpen.
All those vividly-colored one-inch-thick fans recognized the script – the paralysis of the Mets’ hitters whenever DeGrom pitches.
This opener had a subplot – the presence of Freddie Freeman for the Braves, after a terrifying siege with Covid months ago, when he admittedly felt he would not live. Later, he recounted his experience to Nick Markakis, a teammate, who promptly decided to sit out this season.
Freeman is back, one of those admirable opponents that even some Mets fans, in all their bilious loyalty, can respect. He monitored first base, and seemed to greet the Mets’ Brandon Nimmo with a tap of his glove after both of Nimmo’s singles.
This camaraderie would not have gone over back in the day, when an opponent would have fallen to the ground and called for the umpire to eject Freeman for menacing with his microbe-laden glove. In these nicer times, it was good to see Freeman’s hawk-like features back on the field.
The Mets got a post-deGrom run when Yoenis Céspedes clubbed a massive home run, and Diaz induced terror in Mets fans by striding onto the field, but somehow he procured three outs, around a walk (to Freeman), to secure a 1-0 victory, and the Mets remained undefeated 24 days into July.
This patchwork “season” may or may not last 60 games. But on Opening Day, with thousands of faux fans planted in the seats, a pyromaniac “relief” pitcher terrified the fans, in whatever form.
I know it is hypocritical of me to worry about spreading the virus -- (the Mets abandoned all pretense of safety when they greeted Cespedes in the dugout)-- but baseball, in this strange form, is back.
has filed an interview with, of all people, me.
It's on his blog. (Just past photo of rat!) My thanks for his interest. GV
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see: