Saturday, April 4, 2020

Evanston: a letter; 74,000 lives; saving the human race

Readers have sent me interesting and useful virus links.  This is in distinct contrast with the television news.  Every piece on the NBC national evening news last night was emotion based, and NBC is usually less sensational than some.

From Larry comes a letter written by F. Scott Fitzgerald when he was quarantined in France in 1920 during what is often called the Spanish Flu Epidemic.  Evidence seems to establish that the epidemic began in Kansas and was spread by movements of US soldiers, but somehow we managed to pass the blame to Spain.

Dearest Rosemary,

It was a limpid dreary day, hung as in a basket from a single dull star. I thank you for your letter. Outside, I perceive what may be a collection of fallen leaves tussling against a trash can. It rings like jazz to my ears. The streets are that empty. It seems as though the bulk of the city has retreated to their quarters, rightfully so. At this time, it seems very poignant to avoid all public spaces. Even the bars, as I told Hemingway, but to that he punched me in the stomach, to which I asked if he had washed his hands. He hadn’t. He is much the denier, that one. Why, he considers the virus to be just influenza. I’m curious of his sources.

The officials have alerted us to ensure we have a month’s worth of necessities. Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy. Please pray for us.

You should see the square, oh, it is terrible. I weep for the damned eventualities this future brings. The long afternoons rolling forward slowly on the ever-slick bottomless highball. Z. says it’s no excuse to drink, but I just can’t seem to steady my hand. In the distance, from my brooding perch, the shoreline is cloaked in a dull haze where I can discern an unremitting penance that has been heading this way for a long, long while. And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.

Faithfully yours,

F. Scott Fitzgerald

About an hour after I posted the above, I received an email from Justin that the letter is in fact a parody and not written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I thank him.

One can believe in nothing.  I should have known that.

From Ken in Perth, Australia, comes a link to the Worldometers site with accurate numbers and graphs about the pandemic.

And from Mark comes a link to an article about unexpected consequences of the pandemic.  Both cities and the oceans have become quieter and the reduction in air pollution may have saved the lives of 74,000.  How unexpected.

I thank them all.

Sailing Anarchy reports that San Diego Bay is now closed to sailors.

Yesterday Spring came to these upper flatlands.  The temperature officially at O’Hare was 70ºF/21ºC and Carol and I had a very pleasant walk among the tombstones.  A cold front passed during the night and took Spring with it.  Not much above freezing again with dreary low overcast.  As I have observed before, no one ever lived in Chicago for the climate.  Of if they did they were demented.

And last.  Do your duty.


Nathan de Vries said...

Hi Webb,

Just a heads up that the letter by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a parody written by McSweeney’s:

It’s still great none-the-less :-)


Webb said...

Another reader also informed me of that. I have now included the correction in the entry. I very much appreciate both of you bringing the truth to my attention and I agree that it is a great letter.

Anonymous said...

And some will say, if it has come to the point where watching TV is what will save us are we indeed worth saving? Maybe we simply give the place back to the landlord so she can proceed with the needed repairs.

Webb said...

That brings agreement and a smile.