Pandemic Notes

We live on 6th Avenue in Brooklyn, at the top of the Harbor Hill moraine, and look down towards Upper New York Bay. The water begins a block from 1st Avenue. That’s where you’ll find the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal facility stretching north from 39th St. In the last couple of days, some three dozen gleaming white semi-trailers have appeared there.

Typically, there’s little activity at the SBMT, at least that’s what it looks from up here. A tiny security company vehicle crosses the wide parking lot. A couple of times a week, a short train moving junk from the recycling plant just to the north runs to the dock further south, across tracks that run through the terminal’s enormous parking lot and then down 1st Avenue. The unexpected train whistle in the early morning booms up the hill. There’s often a large puddle on the parking lot, too, that serves gulls and crows, hangers-on at the recycling plant, as a place for baths. Periodically, local politicians have a photo-op on the terminal grounds to promise jobs at the site. For the four and a half years we’re lived here, the most notable activity noted down there was the arrival of several vast white tubular structures, like pre-fab missile silos. They sat there for years before they were dissembled on site by blow-torches. It was all quite inexplicable. As the sparks flew, I wondered what it that was all about, and how much it cost us in “economic development.”

The white semi-trailers look like the freezer trucks that have been parked outside area hospitals to take the overflow of bodies. Officially, 5,789 have died from the pandemic in the five boroughs of NYC as of 9am April 12. I say officially because a concomitant spike in deaths at home weren’t initially being counted. Nobody was testing at-home deaths. There have been very many more of these at-home deaths than the usual 20-25 a day. Undoubtedly, a good number of these were, and continue to be, coronavirus-related. The leadership, locally by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and state-wide by Governor Andrew Cuomo—while vastly better than the murderous disaster of Trump—has been terrible. We are led by mediocrities and/or monsters. More details on the alarms sounding for months while Trump golfed and shoveled garbage tweets to his cult members.

Hospitals, morgues, funeral homes, and crematoria in the city are all filled to capacity, overbooked like some hellish airline flight. After spotting these white semi-trailers, devoid of commercial branding, I found this article about the city ordering 45 refrigerator trucks.

Of course, in a city of eight million, life goes on. Yadda god-damned yadda. I look down on the street and see three bros yucking it up as they triangulate the sidewalk with their six-foot distancing. None are masked, so they essentially block the sidewalk for themselves.

There seems to be a good mapping of coronavirus skepticism and climate disruption skepticism. The flavors of American fascism—militant ignorance, deranging conspiracy thinking, anti-expert “populism,” plutocratic string-pulling—combined with fundamentalist End Times fantasies and religious fatalism result in a deadly brew indeed. A number of Republican governors, especially in the Deep South—a region with the worst health and infant mortality rates in the nation, states historically designed to kill African Americans—have refused social distancing measures and even countermanded local versions decreed by mayors. Sub-Trumps and satangelicals—a portmanteau of my own, as far as I known, combining Satan with evangelical, because what else is the evangelical-Trump connection but some species of devil worship?—these fuckers model the vicious racist theocracy they wish to impose on the rest of us.

Meanwhile, there’s no end in sight.
***

The New York Review of Books has an excellent series of dispatches from around the world on the pandemic.

4 Responses to “Pandemic Notes”


  1. 1 Chuck McAlexander April 13, 2020 at 7:42 am

    I share the opinions and the anger. Add the bankers to the list to be loathed. They are dragging their feet in distributing the funds that could keep my family fed and housed until we get to the far side of this disaster.

  2. 2 Ellen April 13, 2020 at 8:51 am

    I cannot wait for them all to be brought down. I have to believe it will happen. I will back a cake and put on my party pants to watch them carted off to prison where they all belong. Karma usually works out. I know it is not always on my schedule and I admit to being impatient.

  3. 3 Paul Lamb April 14, 2020 at 6:31 am

    It’s like watching a train wreck and simultaneously hoping you’re not on the train.


  1. 1 Pandemic Notes #3 | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on May 24, 2020 at 8:00 am

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