Spent the day going slowly mad, because there was someone knocking at the door. Then the wall. Then the roof. Then something fell from above in front of my window. All the while, Spanish-language pop music.

Yes, the roofers were here! And they had a hard time of it, to hear the crew chief talk. Getting all the shingles up on the roof was one thing, and getting them from the ground up the hill was another. At the end of the day they were exhausted, and we gave them all beers; our high-spirited neighbor who’d watched them labor did me one better and came out with tequila shots. I hope no one tumbles tomorrow.

The other high point of the day: the satellite dish was brought low, never to chat with the heavens again. I should feel sad, except I halved my bill by going to the online version. Just don’t need that much TV. DirecTV was too much TV. Every time I fired it up, I thought: gah. Never see a fraction of it. Boil it down!









I wrote about this in narrative form over at Ricochet: the Januarian Movement. A manifesto must be written! I’ll get around to it. Maybe this is it. Note: none of this is intended as a battle cry to walk around Target without a mask yelling at clerks who ask you to put one on. That’s not what this is about. It’s about a mindset that the mask has come to represent.

The occasion for this grumpiness was a piece on CNN:

There is no getting 'back to normal,' experts say. The sooner we accept that, the better

To which I immediately thought, no, and no, and no, and also here’s your hammer and your bag of sand, just to begin. Also, "experts."

The article begins:

As 2020 slides into and probably infects 2021, try to take heart in one discomfiting fact: Things are most likely never going "back to normal.”

Take heart. It’s a telling giveaway: the author likes the new upended rewritten world, and wants you to embrace it as well.

Why? Well, before it was Murca, and Murca sucked.

We are slowly learning if this year's changes are permanent.

Not because we chose them, but because they were imposed.

If work — for the lucky among us — will remain from home.

Lucky in the sense that you have a job, or lucky in the sense that you can work from home? Everyone alone, no office camaraderie, no connections with other people, just endless atoms spread out in small rooms, the tall towers of downtown empty?

If we will visit the grocery store less but spend more.

Because if you go to the grocery store too much you will die. Or get sick. Or not realize you sick, but you will get the disease from someone somehow, and then go to a nursing home and pry open Grandma’s mouth and spit.

If we will find wearing a mask on the metro to be just part of life.

Unless the virus dissipates, which would ruin everything, wouldn’t it.

"Five years' change in six months" is a common slogan for the pandemic. The disruption has upended lives in jobs lost and relatives who live alone or perhaps died without saying the right goodbyes. Yet

Yet. There’s an upside to dad dying alone.

Yet permanently severing ties with January is not necessarily a bad thing, psychologists say. The danger comes from hankering for normalcy again, rather than getting on with working out how to deal with whatever is ahead.

Let me grab your face with both hands and lean in close and utter a secret of the universe: it is possible to do both. But no, these miserable people want you to know that the Walking Dead virus has changed everything, and there’s no going back to January.

The human tendency to believe change is temporary and that the future will again resemble the past is often called "normalcy bias."

People who don't adapt to change believe what they remember as "normal" will return, and delay modifying their daily routines or outlook. Those who refuse to wear masks may be guilty of normalcy bias, Davenport said, since they perceive this intrusion into lives as a passing fad they don't need to embrace.

Possibly so. But if you’re telling me that masks are not a passing fad, you’re saying we have to wear them in perpetuity and behave as if the Covidian Miasma must alter everything in perpetuity. You might call this is the abnormality bias.

The rest of the article doesn’t support the headline. The rest of the article is just . . . meh.

The brain's circuitry does prefer to survive, however: While part of our minds may be inclined to resist change as we feel disasters are a passing event, another stronger part of our brains embraces the new swiftly.

Right, and good for us. We can inhabit two distinct realities. Let’s call one “good” and the other “bad.” What we have right now is bad. And by “bad” I mean the empty downtown, the shuttered restaurants, the abandonment of the streets to the mad and the indolent and the predatory, the instinctive revulsion towards other people, and the centering of a disease as the defining aspect of every element of daily society. That is bad, and hence, should not be accepted as a a permanent state.

The “good” is the old world. January. To repeat the earlier point:

Yet permanently severing ties with January is not necessarily a bad thing, psychologists say. The danger comes from hankering for normalcy again, rather than getting on with working out how to deal with whatever is ahead.

It’s as if January and Now are equally weighted as two possible modus vivendi, and our attachment to one over the other is irrational and counterproductive.

Well. No. I’m here to make a bold, counterrevolutionary assertion: January was better. And January is a standard we should hold up and remember and strive to regain. That doesn’t mean you don’t wear a mask tomorrow. It means you will discard it when it’s been a month since a case and the hospitals are empty, despite what the sign says. Despite what the sign says. It means you will not slump around in perpetual compliance for the rest of your life, and acquiesce with sad nods and shrugs when all the aspects of human interaction are forbidden and the world shrinks to a hive of bees in their cells. It means prudence and it means kicking the shins of those who revel in contraction.

It means being a Januarian.

As I have said: I have been masked up for a long time, and I carry hand sanitizer and keep my distance, but I will not live like this is Ebola. Live by the rules, for now, and regard every day as the penultimate day you’ll put up with the Wuhan fallout. Be safe, stay furious, and keep January in mind whatever you do and wherever you go. Anyone tells you to let it go, bark no.




It’s 1927, and the news in Los Ang-uh-lees is thick:

Terror rampant in Vienna! Blast Sinks River Boat! Film Frauds under Fire! Mexican Planes Bomb Rebels!



You don’t think of Vienna as being particularly earthquake prone. Been a while since a major European city was leveled by a temblor, no?



You know it’s been a big story when they just say the guy’s last name.

  The details of the crime. A women’s club believed he was a poor lamb, it seems.
  This guy was a real piece of work.
  I managed to find a picture. Charming lad.

In today’s news of most lasting significance, as Paul Harvey used to say: the announcement of a new movie palace.

You might recognize it:

Cinema Treasures:

This was the first of around 288 theatres designed by architect Simeon Charles Lee, who was only 28 years old at the time. The Tower Theatre was the first movie theatre to be built in Los Angeles as a ‘talkie’ theatre and opened on October 12, 1927.

The interior:

A picture I took in 2011:

From what I read, it’s going to be an Apple Store.

Just a random face from the Society page, proving that there are some timeless mugs out there, and not all women in the 20s looked . . . well, like women in the 20s. She has what the hacks would call a startling frankness.

The paper was full of notices like these; the town was booming.

And today:

A lot changes and a lot doesn’t.

Whew! That was a lot. Sorry. Back tomorrow, with less. Maybe.



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