I was up very late, I was up very early; I wanted to sleep more but I couldn't, because my body wants to panic. Usually I can sleep forever, people have to pour water on me or light me on fire to wake me up, but these days, at the slightest chance to panic, but body's up and at 'em. Was there a creaking sound in the wall? Are my walls okay? Why is my wrist itchy? Are itchy wrists a sign of covid?
Sick of laying in bed worrying about imaginary problems, smaller problems, easier problems than the tidal wave of problems washing over us all, pulling forks out of drawers and floating them through windows, turning all the furniture upside down, emptying people's wallets and 401(k)s, draining confidence and hope from our brains, I got up and went to the kitchen and made coffee.
No, I do not drink fancy coffee. I drink whatever's on sale. This morning I made coffee out of the Seattle's Best Coffee breakfast blend I found on sale when I was shopping for the apocalypse. As I sat there watching the coffee being made, I thought: I'm going to go check on the songs John Osebold is making out of sounds people send him today.
In case you are not familiar with his galaxy of gifts, John Osebold is like no one else. Here's a guy who could write a whole musical while waiting in line at Rite Aid, and it would be good even if it was about waiting in line at Rite Aid. He could then perform that musical all by himself right outside the Rite Aid and it would be 100 times better than any musical you've ever seen at the Paramount—it would certainly be better than Wicked—and people would gather and take pictures and remember it for the rest of their lives.
Anyway, Osebold gave the morning address to the city today on Slog, and asked for people to send him sound files, to give him something to do today, and to give you something to do today, and already he's turning those sound clips into songs. I was clicking through them, one by one, and one about coffee came up. "Someone needs... a muthafuckin coffee..." I heard someone singing. Not Osebold though. Someone else's voice. Someone must have sent him a sound file of themselves walking down the street saying that into their phone.
I identified with the singer.
Seconds later, I was laughing like I haven't laughed in... weeks? Months? What year is it?
It's so stupid, you're not going to think it's funny now that I've built it up, but here's the song "Getting Coffee." It is one minute and 2 seconds long. It was at the :28 second mark that I started laughing, and then at the :47 mark I laughed again, and almost spilled my coffee.
But I didn't! I didn't spill. A minor success for the morning.
Now I'm sitting in the leather chair where I do most of my reading and writing, drinking Seattle's Best Coffee, relishing how dumb the coffee song is, and listening to another track John made this morning, something much more peaceful, the track "Hyding." This is way more in keeping with my new mood. Suddenly I'm melting into the beauty of wind chimes.
Not only are all the songs free on John's website, both for you to listen to and also for you to download and manipulate and turn into your own songs, but he also writes out the lyrics to each song, so you can follow along. Here are the lyrics to "Hyding":
One hand on the other
Solitude my lover
Hiding away from the world
One lighthouse to another
Reaching for each other
Shining away to the world
The line "Solitude my lover" makes me think of the the guidelines about having sex during the coronavirus crisis that New York City sent out earlier this week. Short version: Please just masturbate a bunch. No group sex. Cool it on the kissing.
The line "One lighthouse to another" makes me think of the To the Lighthouse book club I just led at Hugo House, and all the people who were in that book club, and how we thought nothing of it, gathering together in a room once a week, sitting in a close circle talking about what a genius Virginia Woolf was.
What I should really be doing is thinking of something to write on Slog today. What I should be doing is writing about how Trump still plans to kick 700,000 people off of food stamps on April 1, despite the virus that is sweeping the planet with terrifying rapidity, the virus that he has known about since January 3, the virus that is costing people their lives and jobs and purpose and ability to leave the house. This fuckwit now wants to take 700,000 people off food stamps? Someone needs motherfucking coffee poured into his eyeballs.
Okay, no, I'm just getting pissed off and depressed now; I would like to try to be happy today; maybe I should write something happier. Maybe I should write about how, testing issues notwithstanding—can we trust these numbers if everyone who wants a test still can't get a test?—Inslee's strategy in Washington state seems to be working:
It’s working! What Inslee is doing is working: https://t.co/SvRTB13bpb
— ChristopherFrizzelle (@TheFrizzelle) March 21, 2020
That's heartening, eh? It's heartening. It would be more heartening if there were widespread testing.
I guess I could talk about how Kenny Rogers died last night at 10:25 pm at the age of 81, and how last night when I first heard the news I thought it was Kenny Loggins who had died, and instantly thought about my mom, whose nickname for me as a kid was Christopher Robin, singing this song to me before bed.
I was kind of irritated when I learned later that it was the other Kenny, a Kenny I have nothing to say about, although I do have this nice photo of him emailed to me by a publicist of death.
I hate to be insensitive to all the Kenny Rogers fans, but I don't really know who Kenny Rogers is. I think of him as the other person in that duet with Dolly Parton.
Want to watch them sing it together? Of course you do. We don't have anything else to do!
Confession time: Even when I sit down expressly to watch Kenny Rogers in this video, to focus on him, to learn something about him, I can't. The moment Dolly walks out, she is all I can see. The moment she starts to sing, she is all I can hear. Sarah Vowell once wrote: "When Dolly Parton is in a room, everyone else looks sort of drab."
According to the statement from the publicist of Kenny Rogers's death: "The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date."
Jesus. Can you believe we're living through a time when funerals are forbidden?
What's Dolly Parton's reaction to his death?
You never know how much you love somebody until they’re gone. I’ve had so many wonderful years and wonderful times with my friend Kenny, but above all the music and the success I loved him as a wonderful man and a true friend. pic.twitter.com/hIQLIvt8pr
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 21, 2020
(1) It's hard to watch Dolly Parton cry.
(2) Must be nice to believe in heaven, huh?
For me, in my life, art is heaven. It's the only kind of heaven we have. It's the only immortality there is. We could all be wiped out tomorrow, the planet could spin empty of humans for hundreds of years, but somewhere sitting on a hard drive somewhere might still be, for example, eons in the future, all the music John Osebold is making with your sound files today.
I'm going to embed John's album that he's writing today—an album that will get longer as the day progresses, as the weekend progresses, as the week progresses—right here, so you can find these songs more easily later:
BTW: Jose Bold & the Remotes is a hilarious band name. ("Jose Bold" is another way of writing out "J Osebold.") I've always wanted to be in a band, and today I'm in a band. I'm a member of the Remotes! I'm sitting here drinking coffee, staring out the window at the overcast sky, waiting to see what John does with all the weird 3-second sound files I'm sending him, including one very inappropriate sound file. Later, I'm going to read The Plague. This is going to be the best day of quarantine yet.
Islands in the stream is not what we are. Motes of dust turning in space is what we are.