Take a Break and Listen to a Bit of Beethoven

Take a Break and Read a Fucking Poem: "from Ballast" by Quenton Baker

Not every public health agency is publishing racial breakdowns of novel coronavirus infection rates (ahem, Washington State Department of Health), but the early data from those who are report that black and brown people are contracting COVID-19 at disproportionally high rates.

From a ProPublica analysis: "As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black...In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14% black, African Americans made up 35% of cases and 40% of deaths as of Friday morning."

From an analysis in the Atlantic: "In Illinois, the infection rate among black Americans is twice their percentage of the state population. In North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, black people comprise 32.9 percent of the residents, but 43.9 of the confirmed coronavirus cases, as of March 30."

Why this is happening is nobody's guess. ProPublica quotes Harvard physician and epidemiologist Dr. Camara Jones, who says: "COVID is just unmasking the deep disinvestment in our communities, the historical injustices and the impact of residential segregation."

This bad news reminded me of a good poem by Seattle poet Quenton Baker, which was published in a special new quarantine column for The Volta, a journal edited by a bunch of Seattle- and Arizona-based poets. You can read the rest of Baker's poem whenever he publishes Ballast, which is inspired partly by the 1841 slave revolt on the Creole. While you wait, pick up This Glittering Republic from your local bookstore.

A few notes:

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Film/TVMusicMediaCelebTechThe LadiesSlog AM/PM

Slog PM: It's Quibi Day, Thunderpussy™ Wins, New Jersey Needs People Who Speak COBOL

That Thunderpussy is trademarked, finally.
That Thunderpussy is trademarked, finally. Lester Black

It's Quibi Day: The streaming service with the shortest attention span is joining the streaming wars today. As Vulture aptly summarized, the short-form streaming platform (think: "'quick bites' of entertainment designed to be consumed, snacklike, on your mobile device") is betting that "millions of consumers already overwhelmed with streaming options will pay $5 per month to stream premium, star-studded versions of the short-form content they already get delivered to their phones for free via YouTube and social media."

It's got two subscription tiers: one that's $4.99 per month with “some ads” and one that's $7.99 per month with no ads. Here's what's good on the platform.

Still confused and wondering WTF is Quibi? Vox has a good primer.

Catch up on the latest COVID-19 headlines riiiiiiiiight here.

There's an election tomorrow in Wisconsin: Did you forget? You're forgiven if you did. We shouldn't even be having it, considering the circumstances.

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Breaking Coronavirus Updates: Kids Won't Go Back to School This Academic Year, Boris Johnson Is Moved to Intensive Care

The world is preparing to put more bodies in the ground.
The world is preparing to put more bodies in the ground. MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/GETTY IMAGES

• Washington state schools will remain shut down through the rest of the academic year. Distance learning will continue.

• Congress will inevitably need to pass another stimulus bill. Pelosi predicts it will cost at least $1 trillion. She has said she wants the package to pass this month, but the House is not back in session until 4/20.

• World leaders have been messaging support for UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care for coronavirus complications.

• Boeing's production suspensions spread around the country: The company will suspend its production work in South Carolina “until further notice,” reports Seattle Times.

Grocery workers are dying of coronavirus. The deaths are leading to store closures.

• There's much to do about tomorrow's election in Wisconsin, but the TL;DR is: It's happening. The Supreme Court has refused to extend a deadline for absentee voting.

• Thomas Lopez, the owner of the popular Tacos El Tajin food trucks in Seattle, has died from COVID-19.

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These Seattle Restaurants Have Easter and Passover Takeout Specials

Place your orders with Bakery Nouveau by Thursday, April 9 to enjoy your chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and hot cross buns by Easter Sunday.
Place your orders with Bakery Nouveau by Thursday, April 9 to enjoy your chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and hot cross buns by Easter Sunday. Bakery Nouveau

Easter (Sun April 12) and Passover (April 8-16), two major springtime holidays that often fall around the same time, will look much different this year on account of social distancing. But, when it comes to feasting, observers needn't be left to their own devices. Whether you're after artisanal chocolate bunnies or homemade matzo ball soup, local eateries like Tilth and Dingfelder's Delicatessen have fashioned up holiday specials to enjoy with your loved ones—even if it's over a Zoom call.

Bakery Nouveau
The beloved local bakery chain has a variety of Easter treats available, including hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies, and giant chocolate eggs filled with individual chocolates.
Pickup only (West Seattle, Capitol Hill, and Burien locations); orders must be placed by Thursday, April 9

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A New Amazon Tax Is Coming to a Council Committee Near You

Can Bezos take the heat from a big business tax?
Can Bezos stand the heat from a big business tax? Timothy Kenney

The Seattle City Council is going to consider a new business tax to raise progressive revenue!

Today, the council only voted on which committee to refer the legislation to. That decision took almost an hour. There was finger-pointing and bristling and no one has even talked about what's in the legislation yet.

We're in for a wild ride, folks.

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Governor Inslee Closes State Schools for Rest of Academic Year

:This decision, like every decision we’ve made during this crisis, is very difficult, Inslee said.
"This decision, like every decision we’ve made during this crisis, is very difficult," Inslee said. Getty Images

Saying Washingtonians "cannot risk losing the gains that we have made," Governor Jay Inslee today announced the closure of the state's K-12 schools through the end of the academic year in June in order to extend pandemic suppression efforts.

Although all schools in this state will be prohibited from holding "traditional, in-person instruction," Inslee said distance learning efforts will continue. In addition, high school seniors will still graduate, ESL and special needs students will still be able to attend classes at some public school facilities (provided social distancing mandates can be followed), and attempts will be made to even out a digital divide that makes distance learning much easier for well-off and urban students than for poor and rural students.

“These are difficult times and this is a tough day for us in Washington state," said Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who joined Inslee for the announcement.

Reykdal added that Washington is now one of 14 states that have closed school buildings for the rest of the year. He expects “dozens” more states to follow suit and counts some 50 million students presently finishing out the school year in non-traditional ways across the country.

Reykdal also used his time at the podium to call for US internet service to be treated (and, presumably, regulated) as if it were a public utility.

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The 31 Best Livestreamed Seattle Events This Week: April 6-9, 2020

Prolific Portland guitarist and singer-songwriter M. Ward will go live on the internet this Wednesday to play songs off his new album, Migration Stories.
Prolific Portland guitarist and singer-songwriter M. Ward will go live on the internet this Wednesday to play songs off his new album, Migration Stories. Courtesy of the artist via Facebook

As local businesses are forced to shut down in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local artists, entertainers, and businesses need your help now more than ever. While you're quarantined at home, there are still lots of ways to show your support and stay entertained as organizers pivot to video. Below, we've rounded up our picks for the events happening digitally this week on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms, from Nocturnal Emissions Live-ish to Medicine Ball: Playwrights v. Poets - The Quarantine Edition to a virtual Ghost Gallery tour. Find even more events on our livestreamed events calendar, and check back on Friday for a roundup of the best local livestreamed events this weekend.


The National
Rich Smith has called Ohio-formed indie-rock band the National "the musical equivalent of reveling in anxiety-depression, a mental condition common among urbanites." Get yourself some of that via this livestreamed performance.
2 pm

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Washington Senator Mark Mullet Installs an $80,000 Pool in the Backyard of His McMansion

Pool boy.
Former bank executive, Democratic state senator, and pool boy. COURTESY OF WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE

One of the many interesting details from this Seattle Times story about "essential" businesses fulfilling not-so-essential services includes the fact that Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) is installing a $80,000 pool in the backyard of his McMansion during a pandemic.

The Times reported that "a small crew" from All Star Pool and Spa showed up last week to resume installation on the Senator's pool in order to reinforce excavated walls that the installer claimed were "caving in...making the backyard a hazard for the family."

Mullet told the Times he has six kids and that he had "no idea construction would take place during a global pandemic" when he "authorized the pool project last year." He added that he "had zero role in this whole process" of having his hole reinforced.

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A Garden of Small Victories

Marigold and morning sun.
Marigold that made it through the winter. ES

We take good news where we can get it these days. Old news will do. Even some of the oldest, most eternally recurring, shot through with fungi, moldering-from-the-lingering-damp news: the arrival of spring.

Has such a stale bulletin ever been greeted with such close attention in Seattle?

Here, as elsewhere, the locked-down world has produced a sudden and intense renewal of interest in the "Victory Garden" movement, which dates to two far-off eras now being pointed to as comparisons for the current moment: the first and second World Wars.

Back then, at the urging of the federal government, Americans began tending millions of tiny plots that would help both their dinner plates and the war effort by increasing the country's supply of vegetables. No one in the nation's capital is asking for such a collective effort today. Yet seed packets are selling like crazy across the country as job losses and death tolls mount, talk of a victory garden comeback is rampant, and helping things along here in Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee's list of essential businesses that can remain open during his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order includes "garden stores and nurseries that support food cultivation."

I learned years ago to be happy with small victories in the garden—or p-patch, or indoor pot. I've done them all, and believe all should be considered paths to lockdown "victory," whatever that may mean to you, especially in a time when the lived experience of our required social distancing is so unequal from person to person.

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Don’t Listen to Bad Ideas—Austerity Will Only Hurt Us More

We have two choices before us: grow our way out of this crisis, or wither into it.
We have two choices before us: grow our way out of this crisis, or wither into it. Lester Black

With our economy and sense of social normalcy completely upended to combat the spread of coronavirus, it was only a matter of time before we’d hear the calls for austerity. They come in well-messaged colloquialisms like “time to tighten our belts” and “we must trim the fat.” Many will join in. But just as we have to do everything we can to suppress the spread of coronavirus, we have to do everything we can to suppress the spread of bad, reactionary ideas that follow it.

Make no mistake—austerity measures are the exact opposite of what we should be doing. They will only perpetuate the economic contagion caused by this pandemic, and will hurt the people who need help the most.

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The Real Possibility of War With Iran During a Global Pandemic


In the middle of February, I began writing an article that examined the roots and implications of the undying Iran/US conflict from the perspective of Iranian Americans in the Pacific Northwest. But by the end of February, just before the work was completed, the novel coronovirus claimed its first American life. And on the first day of March, images from a high-resolution satellite operated by Colorado-based space technology corporation Maxar showed "Iranian authorities digging large numbers of graves in the Qom area... [for] the growing numbers of coronavirus victims in the country."

At this point my article seemed dated. We had, it appeared, entered a much more different world than the one that prompted my investigation. Iran was now busy burying the dead, and some of its top leaders were counted among them. Meanwhile, Seattle became, according to the New York Times, the American capital of the virus. The US/Iran conflict would certainly be shelved for the time being.

I was wrong.

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Support Local Organizations by Supporting The Stranger

Were all in this together. Lets do this thing.
We're all in this together. Let's do this thing. Getty Images

Friends and neighbors! Last week we announced that we would match our reader contributions in digital ad credit for three local organizations to assist in their outreach during this strange and difficult time. Your generous contributions from last week have been paid forward to Northwest Harvest, El Centro de la Raza and SCIDpda to help them get their important messaging out.

This week, from April 6 to April 12, we will pay your kindness forward to three other organizations:

  • Bloodworks Northwest
  • YouthCare
  • Neighborhood Farmers Markets Association

    Please consider making a monthly or one-time contribution to help sustain our mission of keeping access free for everyone. We are putting your dollars to immediate use to keep you informed, entertained, distracted and not feel so socially-distanced from the city and each other.

    Find out more about how those organizations are supporting their communities during this crisis below:

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  • Slog AM: Trump Asks Self and Nation: "What Do I Know? I'm Not a Doctor..."

    The president has a question.
    The president has a question. Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

    Over the weekend, the Queen of England gave an address that was calming, reassuring, grounded in facts, aware of history, and instructive.

    Meanwhile, on Friday night Trump fired "the intelligence watchdog who validated the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint." His name is Michael Atkinson, and his actions helped kick off Trump's impeachment. In response to this and other recent moves by the White House, Noah Bookbinder warns: "Dictators around the world are using the pandemic to tighten their control."

    Tump also used his Sunday coronavirus briefing to again push an unproven drug: "Mr. Trump’s recommendation of hydroxychloroquine, for the second day in a row at a White House briefing, was a striking example of his brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda," writes The New York Times. "'But what do I know? I’m not a doctor,' Mr. Trump added."

    A State Representative from Ohio is ready to make a "crimes against humanity" referral over this:

    How did Trump become fixated on hydroxychloroquine, anyway? Giuliani.

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    A Message to the City from Jonathan Biss

    Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who has performed in Seattle many times, and is obsessed with Beethoven.
    Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who has performed in Seattle many times. Photo by Benjamin Ealovega/Courtesy of Jonathan Biss

    Good morning. It's Monday, April 6. What better way to start the week than with some music?

    Today's message comes from the world-renowned pianist Jonathan Biss. "I don't live in your beautiful city, but I love it," he says to Seattle. "I've been there lots of times playing in Benaroya Hall and Meany Hall and I really hope to be back there soon."

    He also says that for him, "Beethoven has been the single most nourishing thing these past few weeks. Somehow, despite deafness and alcoholism and misanthropy and god knows what else, he was always able to hold onto his sense of hope and idealism. If he could, maybe the rest of us can too."

    And then Jonathan plays some Beethoven for us:

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    Inslee Sends Back 400 Ventilators, Says to Give Them to New York

    Thursday evening, Gov. Inslee extended the states stay-home order for another month.
    Inslee says it's "ludicrous" we don't have national stay-at-home orders. KAREN DUCEY / GETTY IMAGES
    This post has been archived. Read our latest coronavirus updates here.

    • The state death toll reached 338 people, according to numbers released by the Washington State Department of Health on Sunday evening.

    • That is an increase of 28 deaths in 24 hours. That's higher than previous days, when there were 26 deaths in a 48-hour period. However, the state's reporting has been inconsistent all week, coming at haphazard intervals.

    • The state has now confirmed 7,984 cases of COVID-19, an increase of 393 since the last numbers. The number of people who've been tested rose by 3,457 to 91,375. The state's population is 7.5 million.

    • We've done so well here flattening our curve that we don't need the 500 ventilators headed our way. So Governor Inslee is returning 400 of them to the Strategic National Stockpile, saying, "These ventilators are going to New York and other states hardest hit by this virus."

    • In New York, the "state reported 594 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday — a small decrease compared to the 630 new fatalities announced the day before."

    • Funerals around the world look like nothing we've ever seen before.

    • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19. Her name is Nadia.

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