It’s becoming a lot harder to ignore the fact that life after quarantine will be radically different than life before it. It seems like such an easy thing to admit, like yeah, of course, we can’t go back to normal. But for a while, I just thought that meant politically. That we couldn’t go back to the normal that led to this crisis (an underfunded healthcare system, a lack of a social safety net for everyone, an economy where people were barely getting by…you get the gist).
What I’m learning from the various articles projecting and imagining life after self-isolation is that normal will change in even more subtle ways—now that is a lot harder to get my mind around. That it might take years before this virus is no longer a threat, that live shows might not resume for a while, that public life might slowly get used to routine self-isolation periods in order to keep a virus that professionals still don’t know a lot about at bay.
The idea that I’ll get used to these things, or that I’m expected to do so readily, is very foreign to me. Obviously, never experienced anything like this in my lifetime. And for it to happen right as I was about to graduate into the “real world” is pretty demoralizing. I didn’t even get a chance to experience the “real world,” and now I’m being told I have to abandon any conceptions of what life after graduation could look like because it’s all being upended by a global pandemic. Which is a very self-absorbed and ignorant thought—especially when people with far fewer means are dealing with this too—but I would be lying if I said I didn’t think it from time to time. I truly feel out of my depth, and my heart goes out to all the high school seniors who have been dreaming of a college experience that will be wildly different than the one they get.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to be in the city that never sleeps while we’re all stuck indoors. I’ve been here for a few years, so my appreciation for New York has long graduated from a surface-level crush that romanticizes the convenience and 24 hour culture of Manhattan to one that appreciates the New Yorkers I’ve met and the relationships I’ve formed. But I think (perhaps wrongly) that my time indoors has led me to the perennial question: What makes New York great? As someone who has only been here for a short amount of time, it might seem presumptuous to attempt to answer this, but I can only speak to what I know.
I’m thinking about the way my community here in Queens has come together to help each other, transplants and life-long residents working to meet people’s needs where the government has not. I’m thinking of my friends, who continue to reach out and talk to me even when I’m prickly or frankly a bummer. I’m thinking of all the businesses that have donated their space, time, and money to helping medical professionals get food, lodging, and care. I’m thinking about the sound of the birds, the warmth of the sun, the now distant memory of the 7 train platform at sunset when nature flashes bright against the Manhattan skyline. I’m thinking about my neighbor who plays disco at odd hours and the loud cars that still speed off towards Queens Boulevard, leaving the sound of reggaeton in their place. I’m mostly thinking about that word resilient, and all the work that New Yorkers do to earn that title.
There are few places as special as New York, and while the why behind that may seem ephemeral, it’s telling that at a time when I can’t enjoy the spoils of the city—again, the ability to flit between bars and venues without worrying about a curfew—I’m even more heartbroken at the prospect of leaving. That even stuck in my basement, there is still no place I’d rather be than New York City. Isn’t that funny? New York is so magnetic that even in quarantine I’m willing to brave all of its quirks (high rent, rats, etc). If I were a New Yorker I might take that as a compliment. Or maybe I’d still wish for yuppies to fuck off, but even that makes me smile. What a place.
in my queue 🎶
One of my friends just released their debut EP! Check it out, there’s a little bit of everything on here—but generally, if you like guitar-based music you’ll enjoy this. My favorite tracks tend to be the faster ones (“Menage a Trois” and “Toy Soldiers”)!
A lot of good music dropped this past Friday, so here’s a selection from some of the new albums I’ve been listening to:
what i’ve read 📖
I’ll be very honest. I have read nothing besides Game of Thrones for the past week. I’m reading it for a medieval literature course I’m taking, and it’s been hard to tear myself away. The other day I spent three hours reading it, and even then I was reluctant to put it down. So I guess I’ll make a suggestion that probably comes about decade too late: You should definitely read Game of Thrones. I heard the show ended horribly, but luckily you can redeem the series by holding out for the real finale that’s being written as we speak.
what i’ve written📝
A few of my articles went up on AdHoc this week! I got to speak with Rachael Pazdan about The Hum’s fifth anniversary, her decision to start letting men on stage, and where she pictures the series going next. I also got to speak with Lido Pimienta about her new album Miss Colombia, feeling stuck between two worlds, and the strength she has to marshall to control the narrative around her work and herself. Finally, I hopped on a call with Lily from Long Neck to talk about her “Social Distancing Project”: a Google Drive where artists can upload demos and add to existing ones. Check out the pieces below:
Did you know this Monday is a really prosperous day? It’s 4/20/20, a day so auspicious it only comes once every hundred years! And while we’re all be stuck inside (you better stay inside) there are a ton of cool things you can do on 4/20 to celebrate!
Before you celebrate though, remember that not everyone who has access to weed is as lucky as you. There are still black and brown people in jail over possession (even in states where cannabis is legalized), and incarcerated peoples are more susceptible to COVID-19 due to the conditions of their imprisonment. Nice Paper has a neat graphic detailing ways you can help out and a ton of links to bail funds in their bio. Before you spark up, share the love.
Alright! I’ve gathered together some 4/20 programs happening tomorrow, and if you play your cards right you could attend all of these events and still have the party going until the next morning:
The Nude Party, Live in Quarantine: Starting at 4pm, The Nude Party will be doing a live set on Instagram Live and Facebook. Their last live-stream was amazing, so don’t miss out.
thanks for coming…to my 4/20 show: thanks for coming is going to be doing a live-stream set at 4:20pm where they’ve promised to play 20 (!) whole songs. You can watch via Youtube and Instagram!
High On The Live: Performances, live DJ sets, and more will take place during this cyber rave. It’s ambitious: starting at 4:20pm on 4/20 and ending at 4:20am EST. Check out who’s playing and follow High On The Live for more info!
Stoned Alone: Billed as a 3 Room Zoom House Party, this virtual celebration is held by Weed Rave and Stoner's Night LA. Expect a virtual smoking patio by Sesh In, DJ sets, movie screenings, product giveaways, dance competitions, meditations, talks and more. The party is free, but make sure to donate if you can. There's an Eventbrite link (if you'd like to donate) and you can follow their private account on Instagram for more info about the rave. It’s from 5pm-11pm, so make sure you stop by for some fun.
Siren Sounds Presents: Diane Coffee ft. Sabrina Ellis, Kahiem Rivera, Dropper: Tune into BabyTV for this show! Each show is $5, but you have the option to donate more—proceeds shared among the artist, Baby's All Right staff, and Make the Road NY.
The Chronic: Dr. Dre’s debut album makes its way onto all streaming platforms this 4/20. Light up, sit back, and take a trip back to 1992 (what was that like?)
The Midnight Gospel: A new series from the creators of Adventure Time drops on Netflix on 4/20, and from the previews, it looks just as visually bright and wacky as its predecessor.
Slumber Mag Creative Club: This one isn’t technically for 4/20, but every Monday Slumber Mag is posting a prompt on their story to spark inspiration. Responses can be videos, collages, written words, etc and they post select submissions on the following Thursday. Submit at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Spicy Zine is back with new virtual programming! Check out their website for a full list of programming—there are stretch and sketch sessions, meditations, artist workshops and more.
My good friends at AdHoc have been boosting a bunch of cool initiatives on their Twitter! Here are some they’ve shared and more that I want to highlight are:
Register for an Absentee Ballot: It’s honestly atrocious that mail-in ballots haven’t been made default at this point, but at least you no longer need an excuse to request an absentee ballot. If you live in New York State I would highly recommend you request a ballot. Headcount is very easy to use to find out how to request an absentee ballot, and it takes five minutes to fill out the application and email it to your respective county.
Save the USPS: It is so important that you help this vital public service. My grandfather worked in the USPS, like hundreds of black and brown people do, and without the USPS independent businesses would have such a hard time reaching you. It’s one of the few things this country does right, and it faces a lot of strain during this crisis. Text USPS to 50409 to help the USPS in under five minutes.
Protect Media Jobs: So many media jobs have been cut this week: Vibe, Billboard, and Vox media have furloughed or laid off hundreds of employees. Media jobs need to be protected, especially as it becomes more clear that depending on ad revenue (which has disappeared during this crisis) is not sustainable. As Ivie Ani tweeted, your favorite writers don’t have jobs anymore. If you value their work, please sign this petition.
Yesterday was the original Record Store Day, so I thought I might ask you to share your favorite physical release you own—CDs and cassettes welcome. One record that I keep going back to is Pottery’s No. 1, which makes me want to dance as soon as the needle hits vinyl.
Share your responses here!
So I’m writing this while drunk on cheap Trader Joe’s wine—it was that or vodka—which you may have gathered from the extra-long (and very wordy) intro. This is still kind of fun for me to write? I’m pretty surprised by that, but maybe the idea is that I’m talking to other people and that feels better than talking to myself. The wine is good, but I’ve lost track of how much I’ve had—I don’t own any wine glasses and I’ve made the mistake of pouring it into a mug. For those of us still reading, is this helpful? I’ve been compiling a bunch of info in the last few newsletters with the hopes that it will help somebody. I’ll still write about what I want to, but if you have anything you’d like to see from this newsletter let me know!