The West Wing and the Devil

Network news producers never learn. Or maybe they do, and the implications of the lessons they’ve learned are just hard for me to stomach. A global pandemic ought to provide editors all the trending topics they could ever ask for. Nevertheless, the story continues to be reported through the frame of the 2020 elections, as […]


The last time I pressed the flesh, it was March 6. That was a Jersey City Friday, there was fear in the air, and arts events happening all over town. It was a cold and rainy night, but we went out anyway: we’d arrive at a gallery, greet the artist and the owner, shake hands, […]

Protocols, revisited

This page has been pretty grim. I understand why a few people who check it every day were surprised by yesterday’s post. One very good friend of mine even accused me of optimism. I told him that he knew me better than that. Nothing fundamental has changed: I still believe that American authorities have been […]

Thank you, Dr. Cevik

I hate to encourage anybody to visit a social media site. But unless you’ve completely given up on Twitter, I believe you ought to unroll a thread posted there on May 4 by a virologist working in Scotland. Dr. Muge Cevik’s twenty-two tweets apply preliminary contact tracing results to the dynamics of transmission in an […]

Vitamin D

Hilary thinks I’ve been misleading about the size and poshness of our flat. It’s neither big nor posh. In these dispatches, I’ve referred to our “deck” a few times, but we don’t really have a deck. We’ve got a fire escape attached to a kitchen door and ten feet of metal runway before the steps […]

The show that never ends

If we ever had to subsist on the money I’ve made as a musician, we wouldn’t be living in a pretty little jewel box of an apartment in Downtown Jersey City. We wouldn’t be in an apartment at all. We’d be dodging raindrops in an alley behind the Pathmark. This does not distinguish me. Musicians […]

Roll the bones

Yesterday the lockdown lifted. The state government helped. But even if they had chosen not to reopen the parks, that decision would’ve been overridden by the authority of the spring sun. If local greenspaces had been barricaded, people would have been out on sidewalks, in intersections, in vacant lots. Some traditions go too deep to […]

Gates of delirium

Modern life makes skeptics out of us all. No doubt you were skeptical about a hundred things before breakfast, and a hundred more since; if you put on the news, you can double that count. So many official stories feel inadequate, or messily manipulated for popular consumption, or just downright implausible. When you hear them, […]

The fog and the sunshine

Yesterday began our seventh week of isolation. This I know because we’ve been keeping a record of the days on the back of the door, and for no other reason. March moved deliberately, with each moment loaded with significance, and slow-burning questions: how am I feeling?, where am I standing?, am I a transmitter or […]