Hello, my fellow hermits.
Are you in isolation? Restless? Irritable? Discontent? You could purchase a bag of magic mushrooms and find your spiritual awakening! I recommend Pink Floyd’s “Animals” and a trusted ally. I think drug dealers are still open during pandemics. You could wake up at 4 a.m. and enter your name into America’s toilet paper sweepstakes. You could listen to Joey Diaz and Sam Tripoli tote conspiracy theories about Kobe Bryant’s death (by assassination?), a rabbit hole I let myself fall into on Friday night.
Or, you could continue your journey into my mind with this week’s addition of “What I Learned This Weekend.”
You’ve chosen wisely. Let’s begin.
Finding the healthy balance of COVID-19 coverage – I’ve decided there are three types of COVID-19 people.
1. Bordering on hypochondriac. I have a few friends like this, and they’re wildly annoying, but probably a necessary evil. Due to some sub-Reddit addiction, these hypochondriacs were likely reading about this virus months before it even started! Some are imperious by nature, by which I mean they take fearful opportunities like this to make plans and give orders. True, some may have small children or at-risk loved ones—they get a pass to fret. Whatever the cause, the “‘chondriac crowd” takes a certain amount of pleasure being first to share terror-inducing Twitter threads or Facebook posts by COVID-19 victims, or distressing computer models predicting worst-case scenarios about the spread and mortality rates of the virus. But, like most things, it is necessary to have a fringe group, no matter how annoying, to inform the public about things that might make us uncomfortable. Fringe groups are like buoys off a beach: Sometimes it’s fun to swim out to touch them.
2. It’s just the flu, bro. Flu-bros seem to be fewer than ‘chondriacs, but their message is loud and clear. They’re COVID-19 truthers, and they think we’re all overreacting.
Now, much like the ‘chondriacs, Flu-bros do serve a purpose. An idea shared by one of them sticks in my head. What if we gave flu season the coverage we’re giving COVID-19? The World Health Organization estimates the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year. This season alone, the CDC estimates that 31 million Americans have caught the flu. Those numbers dwarf COVID-19, yet the flu gets little to no attention anymore. Imagine if we had people live-Tweeting their experience with the flu, and imagine if every time someone died from it, it was a national headline. We’d be petrified!
Now, the problem with this is, we have much less experience with COVID-19, there is no vaccine and the death rate at this point is higher than that of the flu. The way I see it, Flu-bros are less interested in helping the situation, and more interested in helping their “facts over feelings” brand. To each their own, we’re all adults here. What can be more insufferable than Flu-bros themselves are fully-grown members of the media throwing temper tantrums about Flu-bros.
3. I’m overwhelmed. I fall into this camp. I imagine the majority do. Most of us know that COVID-19 is dangerous, more infectious than the flu, we should be social distancing, and people with pre-existing health conditions and older people are most at risk. Past that, a lot of us are wading through a sea of ‘chondriacs, Flu-bros and White House briefings. It should be noted that the press does the public no favors after these briefings by asking their gotcha questions about Trump’s use of “the Chinese virus.” I get that you hate the guy, but we have bigger fish to fry.
I’ve concluded that wading in the COVID-19 media water is mentally unhealthy. I know the basics, so I’m separating myself from the hysteria. I will do my part to social distance, I will check in on the people I care about, and if I feel symptoms, I will perform a google search about how to get tested in Arizona. Other than that, I feel that if I delve deeper into the subject I’m crossing over into things I can’t control territory. Giving too much thought to those things is just plain unhealthy.
The Belichick-Brady cold war – Tom Brady chose to play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose winning percentage is the worst of any major sports team at .387, over Bill Belichick’s Patriots, who are the most successful regime in sports history, all things considered. Rick Stroud figured out that winning percentage stat, not me, in his awesome story about what it took to get Brady to Tampa Bay. It turns out that Brady had seemingly already made up his mind before he sat down with GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians. He knew Bruce Arians’s offense, he loved the idea of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and it probably didn’t hurt that Arians gave Brady more love in the offseason than Belichick did publicly.
Predictably, last week was a celebration of Brady, and a condemnation of Belichick. Why couldn’t Belichick just treat Tom Brady differently this one time?
Well, because that’s the Patriot way, and the Patriot way is what produced Tom Brady in the first place.
What other than the ultimate meritocracy would’ve given beanpole Brady the chance to steal the starting job from a locally popular Drew Bledsoe in 2001? Think about that - as you wade through Brady-lore over the next few years. Bill Belichick has always despised politics, and so he removed locker room politics from his teams long before he drafted Brady in the 6th round. That’s the Patriot way. For Belichick, salary means nothing, and draft position means nothing, and for Brady, that created the ultimate chance at upward mobility. You think it’s crazy, but I firmly believe that given his lack of imposing physical stature, and lack of college acumen, Tom Brady may have never happened at all if he were drafted by the Browns, Redskins or Dolphins.
So, I will not be rooting for Brady as he embarks on his cold war against Belichick. I’m team Belichick. And I think Brady’s in for a rude awakening in the NFC South. This is a guy whose division contained zero elite quarterbacks for 20 years, while he was surrounded by perennial top-10 scoring defenses, the best coach ever, and weapons like Rob Gronkowski and Randy Moss. Now, he has to face Drew Brees and Matt Ryan twice a year, and he’s in a conference with Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz. By the way, Bruce Arians is no slouch, but those who watched him here in Arizona know that when it comes to game-management, he’s the antithesis to Bill Belichick. Unmethodical, emotion driven.
Brady, at 43, will face the toughest schedules of his career, while trying to turn around a losing culture. Yikes.
What I can’t bring myself to care about –
Who cares? We really tried to make a story about this in Phoenix this week? What are we, 12?
What to watch – Let me make your quarantine better. I watched three of the best films in a long time over the weekend, and I can’t believe there aren’t more people talking about two of them.
Richard Jewell (2019): You may not have heard of this movie, because Hollywood-types resent the conservative-leaning Clint Eastwood, or you may have heard of it because some didn’t like Eastwood’s portrayal reporter Kathy Scruggs, an Atlanta-based journalist who played a major role in the entire Richard Jewell saga. *Spoiler alert*: He depicts her as willing to have sex in exchange for a story. Whatever. This movie was awesome. Richard Jewell may be the most loveble accused murderer of all time, Sam Rockwell steals the show as he portrays Jewell’s lawyer, and if you for some reason didn’t hate Jon Hamm before this flick, you absolutely will after. Hamm, by the way, has the most punchable face in Hollywood, and I would argue he’s half as talented as his IMDB would have you believe.
Dark Waters (2019): It is a damn shame, a DAMN shame that probably less than 1% of America will see this movie. If you like conspiracy stuff, if you like crime stuff, if you like lawyer stuff, or if you like Mark Ruffalo, you will love Dark Waters. Holy smokes. Ruffalo plays Robert Bilott, lawyer who takes on DuPoint after he finds out that the chemical company was*spoiler alert* knowingly poisoning literally all of us. This is a real story, and you will absolutely hate DuPont afterwards. Thank god for actors like Ruffalo, who will take on passion projects like this that the mainstream won’t touch, and thank god for the man he plays, Robert Bilott, who had the balls to stand up to an industry he once represented.
Out of the Furnace (2013): I’ve been saying this for years, but here’s another example that Rotten Tomatoes is bought, paid for, and should be culturally irrelevant. They gave this a 54%, but I expected something closer to 85%. Sell-outs. The whole time this movie was playing, I kept asking my girlfriend why we don’t have more stories about the rust belt of America. For every Out of the Furnace, we get about a thousand 500 Days of Summer, detailing the love interest of some ironic, dorky city-dweller. That’s not cool. Cool is grimy. Cool is voyeurism. I want more of the hood, more of the hill people. This film gives viewers a cold look at what life is about in a steel town of Pennsylvania, but it does so with the star power of Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe and Casey Affleck. It’s badass, go watch it.
Where to eat (takeout) – Hanny’s in downtown Phoenix. This is cracker-crust, bountifully-flavorful pizza. Get the Prosciutto, or the Hot Honey Pepperoni. My favorite part about Hanny’s is that the crust doesn’t get in the way of the toppings. Whatever, I sound pretentious, but this is delicious, and their takeout is always quick. It is a little on the pricey side. My girlfriend and I spent $45 dollars on two pies and the Tiramisu. That’s something I’m willing to pay for, because food means that much to me, and if you’re still reading, I assume it means that much to you too.
That’s it for this weekend folks. Stay safe, stay informed, stay sane.