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WesRecs

Vol. #21 - March 27, 2020

What day is it even? Hard to tell anymore. As we continue to prepare, adapt, cope, freak out, & resign ourselves to the total disruption of life as we know it, and an unfolding national tragedy, all I can do is urge you to do whatever you can to protect yourselves and your people and to treat others with an extra dose of patience and understanding. It's pretty clear that things are going to get significantly more difficult and deadly than they are at the moment. Meeting that truth with a level eye does not at all preclude hoping for the best and doing what we can to ensure the least awful outcomes possible. Things will never ever be quite the same after this, on more fronts than we can imagine, but that doesn't mean they have to be necessarily worse, just different. But all that is in the long term. Right now just focus on staying healthy, offering help where you can, using your time to the best of your ability, and remembering/recording what you're feeling and caring about right now.

I love you all.

WesRecs is the weekly newsletter where I (comedian/storyteller/TV Host) Wes Hazard recommend a bunch of cool content (recs) to YOU (the person reading this). There's no particular reason for this other than the fact that I love curating stuff and I'm always excited to share items that I personally have found worthwhile, exciting, or necessary. If you like what you see please be sure to subscribe to get each week's edition delivered straight to your inbox and if you know someone else who might be into it definitely share with them. You can check out all past issues HERE.
COVID Corner
General News/Info
  • A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients - Pro Publica This is truly horrifying. A respiratory specialist working in Florida opens up about what he's seeing in hospitals, and how severely COVID-19 hits patients, even young ones who are supposedly out of the most at-risk cohort.
  • A day in the life of an ER Doctor (Twitter Thread) Praise these people. And the nurses, and the train conductors, and the garbage collectors, and the grocery workers, and the delivery people, and everyone else who you wouldn't be able to navigate current life without.
  • The Economic Impacts of Coronavirus Mean We Need a Rent Freeze Now - Teen Vogue The title pretty much says it all. Multiple states and municipalities across the US have issued a 90 day mortgage moratorium...which is great. But if a rent freeze is not simultaneously enacted then what the hell was it all for? I'm a TV host, actor, and Standup comic among other things. Those jobs as we know them effectively don't exist right now. I personally am very lucky to have a bit of an eemergency cushion but so many of the performers, servers, and other gig workers that I know do not. I have friends who've been trying to get through to the unemployment office on the phone for 2 straight days with no luck. The system is thoroughly overwhelmed, which is to be expected given the circumstances, but none of those people is a homeowner which means that even if their landlords are not required to pay their mortgages right now they are still obligated to pay rent...despite losing their regular income due to no fault of their own, WTF?! The government stimulus plan calls for cutting a $1200 check to every adult taxpayer, that's a month's rent & utilities for a room with Craigslist roommates in much of NYC. Without a rent freeze all that check represents is a direct deposit to landlords...for April and April alone.
  • If Coronavirus Scares You, Read This to Take Control Over Your Health Anxiety - The Guardian Many people I know are currently COVID free (thank God) but still very much struggling with anxiety/terror/grief. There are situations in life where anxiety and sadness are absolutely correct responses. This is one of those times. The trick is to manage it so that you can do as much as possible to help yourself and your loved ones and your community. I thought this piece had some truly excellent advice for just that.
  • Your Next Comic Is Not Coming to the Stage: Comedy in the Time of COVID-19 - Paste Magazine The great Kate Willett (you may have seen her on Netflix) reflects on the sudden shutdown of live standup and how that's affecting her schedule, finances, and outlook. Definitely very resonant. This is without question the longest break I've taken from Standup since I started. It's weird to do something at least every week (and damn near nightly) for a decade and a half and then simply not have access to it for what may be 3 months? 6 months? 18 months? The rest of time? Standup is all that a lot of people I know have in terms of not only $$ but emotional balance. Pray for us. "Other than tweeting, the one activity that we’re all consistently engaging in is reflecting on our new identities without being able to fall back on the three words we’ve leaned on for social capital—“I’m a comic.” COVID-19 will hit comics hard. Most of us are uninsured. A lot of us don’t have savings. But without comedy, absolutely none of us are cool."
  • AN OPEN LETTER TO COMEDIANS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS QUARANTINE - The Comic's Comic I have known Jessica Mozes for most of the time I've been doing comedy. She was one of the most hard-working and committed staff members at The Comedy Studio's original location in Cambridge, MA's Harvard square and she was always upbeat and encouraging in a world that doesn't often appreciate that. She put together this AMAZING checklist for comics (of all types and in all stages of their careers) to be productive and self-helping during this industry lockout. I was practically cheering when I read this. First you need to make sure that you and your people stay safe and healthy. Then you need to see to your money. After that? GET TO WORK. One day this is going to be over, and maybe nothing in the landscape will look the same after that. But you can either look back and acknowledge that you used the time every episode of The Blacklist 3x or you can say you finally wrote that pilot you've been telling everyone you'd get to "when I have time". Just saying. (But stay healthy first!...and buy a non-famous comics album/special too!).
  • Zoom & Skype call tips (the secrets of video conferences) - Seth Godin There's a decent chance you've spent more time on Zoom & Skype (or Microsoft Teams if you're really corporate) in the past few weeks weeks than you did in your entire prior life combined. Pros: finding out just how weird your co-workers houses are. Cons: Constantly wondering if Brian is actually wearing pants or just bull-shitting all of you. You learn all of this stuff fairly quickly the more you do it but just in case here are some great tips to eliminate unnecessary calls and to keep the needed ones as short and as productive as possible.
  • How Coronavirus Will Reshape The Concert Business -  Billboard Every performer I know needs to be paying attention to this sort of thing. Our focus right now should be on saving lives, staying healthy and mitigating misery. But when that curtain goes back up things are simply not going to be the same and you've got all the time in the world to prep for the new reality.


We're Not Going Back To Normal  - Technology Review

A much needed piece of pragmatism regarding the new world that we're in. The current COVID-19 crisis will not just evaporate in a few weeks. The disruptions it's caused are going to be with us, on and off, for many months and we'll be feeling ripple effects (medical, economical, cultural) into next year. There are going to be waves of Covid-19 outbreaks and even after a vaccine has been developed we'll see new pandemics at some point in the future (SARS, MERS, H1N1, etc. are anything but ancient history). Hopefully this crisis will prepare us and our public health systems to better face what comes next but there are certain aspects of our collective adaptation to this specific crisis that will remain after its gone. Remember when you didn't have to take your shoes off in an airport? (Some people reading this might very well not remember that time). Now it's the unquestioned norm for air travel. This pandemic will lead to changes like that in more facets of life than we can currently imagine. Be ready to get into a different headspace. AND be vigilant about how these many necessary measures may end up (intentionally and unintentionally) placing undue burdens on the most vulnerable of us. I really like how this article acknowledges that, even if no concrete solutions are offered.
 
"So how can we live in this new world? Part of the answer—hopefully—will be better health-care systems, with pandemic response units that can move quickly to identify and contain outbreaks before they start to spread, and the ability to quickly ramp up production of medical equipment, testing kits, and drugs. Those will be too late to stop Covid-19, but they’ll help with future pandemics."
...
"As usual, however, the true cost will be borne by the poorest and weakest. People with less access to health care, or who live in more disease-prone areas, will now also be more frequently shut out of places and opportunities open to everyone else. Gig workers—from drivers to plumbers to freelance yoga instructors—will see their jobs become even more precarious. Immigrants, refugees, the undocumented, and ex-convicts will face yet another obstacle to gaining a foothold in society.

Moreover, unless there are strict rules on how someone’s risk for disease is assessed, governments or companies could choose any criteria—you’re high-risk if you earn less than $50,000 a year, are in a family of more than six people, and live in certain parts of the country, for example. That creates scope for algorithmic bias and hidden discrimination, as happened last year with an algorithm used by US health insurers that turned out to inadvertently favor white people."


Any part of America that isn't suffering right now will be doing so over the next months but something that's consistent state to state and region to region is that the incarcerated will suffer more than just about any other population. As I've noted in the past few issues of WesRecs Federal, state, & local officials across the country are doing either too little or nothing at all in order to mitigate the impending human rights disaster in America's jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers. These are places that have poor sanitation and paltry access to health services in the best of times and as both guards and the guarded are increasingly more exposed we're going to see an explosion of infections and deaths. At a bare *minimum* we need to stop locking up detained immigrants and anyone deemed no threat to society and releasing those with less than a year left on their sentences and those who are most at-risk health wise. More than that needs to be done to avert the worst of the tragedy. I fully acknowledge that it's a bit of tightrope act to balance the the rights of inmates to have access to counsel, court dates, family visits, and outside healthcare with both the need to aggressively combat spread of the virus in facilities and the need to supervise those who are in fact active threats to public safety but this issue must be addressed. There are literally millions of Americans in jail or prison, they have families, they have people that rely on them, they cannot be forgotten or cast off as we face this crisis.

Coronavirus Comedy
This is an incredibly challenging time for everybody, whether you're directly dealing with life & death concerns, or you're trying to stay afloat in rough financial waters, or you're just struggling to cope with cabin fever and disruptions to every facet of your daily routine. The old adage of laughter being "the best medicine" may sound trite if you're worried about a relative in a nursing home that's on lockdown or if you've got a fever and a hacking cough but your local hospitals are already past 100% capacity BUT I still think it's a valuable sentiment to hold on to and I know for a fact that the darkest times do indeed produce some of the biggest (and most necessary laughs) so here's a quick rundown of some public health crisis comedic reliefs I've seen this week:
Things Read
 
Things Seen

Leon Edwards Breaks Down Elbow Technique and Other Signature Moves - Ultimate Fighting Championship

I'm about as casual as you can get about it but I am a fan of MMA (watching, not participating). I read a decent amount of fight news and I really love watching old bouts on YouTube. I fell into a bit of a UFC rabbit hole the other night and was lucky enough to stumble onto this profile of UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards as he breaks down his favorite tools in his personal arsenal (Clinch Elbow, Left Body Kick, Straight Left Punch, etc.). If you're like me in that you like MMA but you're not that knowledgeable about the technical aspects this is great because Edwards talks about what each move is then demonstrates it in a gym setting while describing its benefits and how/when to use it. Afterwards they splice in actual fight footage of him actually using the moves (very effectively I might add). Great combination of learning and entertainment.

LA Year One #19 - Shaun Bedgood

Shaun Bedgood and I started doing standup within a year of each back in Boston. It seems like forever ago and half the venues we used to perform at (or, more often, that we tried unsuccessfully to perform at) have closed or moved. Shaun was always one of the most driven and and nicest comics around and I was happy to see him chasing his dream at the next level by moving to LA a few years ago. The night that I taped my episodes of Jeopardy! in 2018 I actually got to catch up with him a bit at The Improv. He told me then that he was doing more acting than comedy at the moment but he was really getting after it. The hard work is already paying dividends (you might have seen him on an episode of Shameless pretty recently). Here Shaun talks about his first year of moving to LA and its ups & downs. Lesson #1: Don't move there if you don't have some money and a plan on how to make some more. Great watch.
Uhhhh..this is by far one of the most random things i've ever included in here but dammit if i haven't thought about every day since I've seen it: This is how a bat pees. Nothing more, nothing less.
Things Made
  • The Sounds of NYC have changed a bit in the last few weeks. I started to take notes. Here's my Siren Diary, a catalogue of the emergency services sirens that I've heard recently. It’s not even remotely scientific and you can draw zero conclusions from such a small and patchy data set but here it is.
  • Wes Hazard - The Urology Incident I've had this video (originally recorded in 2013) uploaded to YouTube for years but kept it in the "unlisted" category. I just didn't know how a 10 min story about a urology issue and the doctor's appointment that it led to would play. But seeing as we're now living in plague times it seems like anything even remotely humorous about medicine/ailments/illness may be a welcome reprieve. Objectively, I think the story holds up and you should get a laugh out of it. Medically: I had the Cystoscopy done not long after this. It was fine. Nothing detected. Ultimately this problem resolved itself.
I had so much hair then! Time is cruel.
Word of the Week
Pseudologist, n.
[ soo - daw - luh - jist ]

Meaning: A systematic liar; = pseudologer n.

Origin: |Pseudo| Ancient Greek ψευδο- (before a vowel ψευδ-), combining form (see below) of ψευδής (adjective) false, ψεῦδος falsity, falsehood, ψεύδειν to deceive, cheat, ψεύδεσθαι to be false, speak falsely + Ancien Greek  -λόγος, meaning either ‘(one) who speaks (in a certain way)’, or ‘(one) who treats of (a certain subject)’
Somebody Said This
As it is written in the learned Nathaniel of Mainz: there shall come upon the earth in the time of night a man surpassing eloquent. All that is God’s, hallowed be his name, must have its counterpart, its backside of evil and negation. So it is with the Word, with the gift of speech that is the glory of man and distinguishes him everlastingly from the silence or animal noises of creation. When He made the Word, God made possible also its contrary. Silence is not the contrary of the Word but its guardian. No, he created on the night side of language a speech for hell. Whose words mean hatred and vomit of life. Few men can learn that speech or speak it for long. It burns their mouths. It draws them into death. But there shall come a man whose mouth shall be as a furnace and whose tongue as a sword laying waste. He will know the grammar of hell and teach it to others. He will know the sounds of madness and loathing and make them seem music. Where God said, let there be, he will unsay.

-George Steiner The Portage To San Cristobal of A.H.
Fun Facts
  • The term “mortgage” is derived from the Middle French for “Death Pledge”
  • “The Curse of Tippecanoe” (aka Tecumseh’s Curse) is a purported pattern of U.S. Presidents elected in a year ending with “0” dying in office. The pattern held from the presidency of William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) through John F. Kennedy (elected in 1960). It has since been broken. Ronald Reagan (elected 1980), while shot in office, did not die. And George W. Bush (elected 2000) lives to this day.
  • The Subaru WRX is the most ticketed car on American roads.
  • Charles Barkley missed the first game of the 1994-1995 NBA season because he inadvertently rubbed lotion into his eyes at an Eric Clapton concert and burned his corneas.
  • Not all of humanity lives on earth, and hasn’t for two decades. The international space station has been continuously populated since 2000.
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Copyright © 2020 Wes Hazard -- Comic. Poet. Performer., All rights reserved.


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