Friday, July 31, 2020

DON'T LEAVE ME A LOAN

 

It might help if he wasn't wearing a tie.


When you live in New York in the middle of summer during a heatwave and pandemic, your choices of fun are limited. You might want to go to a museum, movie or restaurant just to let someone else pay for air conditioning, but those choices are out. And as for the beach, well, great white sharks have been calling our area home sweet home recently.


The only logical choice you have to survive the weather is staying inside and cleaning the house. Oh, and ordering stuff online. Since I've started collecting unemployment, that extra COVID-related bump -- which has come to an end -- has gone a long way to helping the family expenses. Half of it has gone straight into our joint savings. 

told you you never heard of it.
That means the rest is mine, do you hear me? MINE! To do with as I LIKE! And I like Blu-Rays mainly. So many that I've ordered some haven't even been released yet. I'd make a list, but you haven't heard of them and wouldn't be interested  anyway.

These and other purchases have gone on my AmEx card, the way all consumer-hungry Americans do it. The difference with me is that I pay off my bill every week. Whether it's 25 or 125 bucks, I want it taken care of faster than you can say "14.99% APR."

You see, back when I was steadily employed at my previous job, there were times I would go a little haywire with the green card. And it wouldn't take me long -- like, one day -- to forget how much I was spending. 

So I'd study my checkbook or ATM receipt and think, Looks like I'm doing pretty good! Then Mr. AmEx Bill would come knocking without warning. Suddenly, my nice little cushion had deflated.

Not anymore! I'm all over my charges like purple on acai, so I know exactly how much I really have at any given time. You call it madness, but I call it peace of mind.

A few months back, AmEx wanted to let me know that there had been a change in my credit score. Expecting a gold medal for my fine payment history, I was flabbergasted to discover the score had dropped eight points.

Eight points?! For why?

It turns out that having a 100% perfect history of paying the bills isn't enough these days. Nope, what's hurting me, they report, is not having any loans.

Wait, I thought that would be a good thing! To my simple mind, it reflects what we're told to do since birth: LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. 

Well, apparently I've been doing it wrong. It's better, I've learned, having debt hanging over your head like the sword of Damocles.

Doesn't "prequalified" mean "before you qualify", which
means "you don't qualify"?


And here's the big horselaugh: My score is 34 points lower than it was a year ago when I was spending less, dropping from EXCEPTIONAL to VERY GOOD. 

All I have to do to improve my credit is borrow money for something expensive I don't need in order to pay it back with interest. While I'm collecting unemployment. 

Forget about that "I never met a man I didn't like" jazz. Will Rogers' wisest remark was, "We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poor house in an automobile." An electric one at that.

Perhaps the credit reporting folks realize my simple mind needs some reassurance. This week, I was informed my score had gone up. 

One point. 

At this rate, my credit score should be back to EXCELLENT when I'm legally too old to buy a car. But I'll still have zero debt. Take that, Experian!

                                                                       *********************

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

FITS AND STARS

Once again, reactions like rapid heartbeat, upset stomach and

I'm starting to miss the days when
J. Fred Muggs co-hosted the morning news.

pulsing headaches have put me on the no-news diet. And how much better I feel!

Not that I've cut myself off entirely from the world. My phone gives occasional updates and I look at the headlines on Drudge twice a day (to make sure we haven't gone to war for political reasons). If you ever find yourself feeling like crap -- and you haven't been diagnosed with COVID -- try cutting the news out of your life for a month or so.



Now, entertainment news is another thing entirely. Never have dull headlines about people I've barely (ore ever) heard of been so entertaining. And if it's pointless non-news is what you're looking for during

Don't you dare tell me this doesn't
look good.

these virus-ridden days, Yahoo Entertainment is the place to go. Just the name tells you that the stuff you're ingesting is utterly non-nutritious yet wonderfully satisfying, like a fried chicken sandwich in an iced donut.

If you've got a daughter, you might have a similar photo -- if your daughter had a $3000 dress, posed like a professional model a decade older than she is, displays her 17 year-old cleavage, and posted it on Instagram for all the world to see. If the not-so-blind gossip sites are correct, mom and dad have encouraged this kid to get in the spotlight for years -- family business and all that. Well, God bless her -- Hollywood kids always breeze happily through life.


There's more to unpack here than the Chan family's luggage. Is Kanye going after the pro-choice or anti-abortion vote here? Did they consider aborting her during the campaign rally as the headline states? Is the name North West a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock? And why did anybody take this seriously as a presidential campaign rally (as Kanye claimed) when it was just an elaborate promotion for his new CD?

Again going to the visually-challenged gossip... the Kardashians are behind all the press leaks about Kanye's mental health (as if his behavior wasn't enough of a tip-off). Their ultimate goal is to get control of his finances. If you're going to marry a crazy man, make sure he's rich. Oh, and good luck with genetically preventing North from inheriting the crazy from daddy!

In other celebrity marriage disasters, the "He said he'd kill me/She said she'd kill me" marriage of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard took another new unbelievable step in court today:Amber Heard denies Johnny Depp's claim she married him for money, fame: 'I hadn't seen his movies'.

Johnny and Amber in pre-drunken, drugging
finger-severing fights days.

Forget about the first half of Heard's claim and focus on the last. For sheer, forehead-slapping What kind of a fool do you take me for? bullshit, this statement takes the devil's food cake, along with Yoko Ono's "I never even heard of the Beatles". Every fucking actor in Hollywood has seen every other fucking actor's movies at one time or another, either at a premiere, a studio screening room, or on a living room wall during an orgy. (Wait, I'm thinking of Lionel Atwill and porn for that last one.)

And if you were ever a teenage girl with stars in your eyes, you were particularly inclined to watch Johnny Depp movies on video during sleepovers. The climax of Edward Scissorhands probably caused more adolescent female sobbing than the death of Bambi's mother -- even if, as in Heard's case, the sobbing came from bisexuals.

Johnny, of course, wouldn't be in this mess if he had been content to stay with his common-law wife in the French countryside with their kids. But once he met Amber on the set of a lousy movie nobody remembers... and she flashed those baby blues at him... and she whispered something like, "Johnny, do you mind if my girlfriend and I come over tonight? She's really hot, I think you'd like her"... Johnny went middle-aged nutzo. And did I say there was a 22 year age difference between them? I hate to blame the victim, but...

Y'know, there are some good folks out in Hollywood... as they want to
Give yourself some room so you can pat yourself
on the back.

remind you with the subtlety of a 5.4 earthquake:
Zelda Williams honors late father Robin on his 69th birthday with donations to homeless shelters.

This is the kind of snark that (perhaps rightfully) irritates my wife. But hear me out! First, to give Zelda her due, that's a cool name. Second, donating to homeless shelters is a worthy cause. Even if you're being cute by donating $69.69 to "as many homeless shelters as I can," as she said.

But why do celebrities feel the need to announce their generosity? Telling the world (or, in Zelda's case, her 200,000+ Twitter followers) about how wonderful you are doesn't make you wonderful as much as much as it does how wonderful you think you are. The only person who knows about my charitable contributions is our accountant, and the only thing he cares about is if we pay him in full on time. (By the way, Zelda Williams has 200,000 followers because why?)

For God's sakes, can't you leave your poor kids
out of your publicity machine?

Famous homewrecker Gisele Bundchen is pulling a similar stunt by boasting that she's planting 40,000 trees to celebrate her 40th birthday. Well, no you're not, Gisele, even if you did plan on doing so in the Amazon rainforest until that whole nasty COVID thing spoiled your vacation.

Get a load of that photo of the family. Planting a tree -- without one speck of dirt on their hands or spotless white shirts and sneakers? We're not fooled, damn you!

Gee, I'm glad that celebrity news makes me so calm.


                                                 ****************

Friday, July 17, 2020

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 41: "HUNTERS"

In the four years I've been working as an extra, I've been on the set with a few A-listers. But none were more A-listy than Al Pacino on the Amazon Prime series Hunters. If I had never worked again, I could always tell people, "Pacino? Oh yeah, great guy, everything you'd think he'd be. Lemme tell you about him. Wait, don't go away, this was a cool job!..."


Some of my best roles are Jewish.
Did I say cool? Well, on a metaphysical level, absolutely. But physcial? Oof, not by a long shot. We worked last July 10-12 during a brutal New York heatwave -- the worst kind, if you haven't experienced it. 

At the time, Hunters was going by the alternate titles The Hunt and Leviathan. We had been told it was a series about Nazi hunters in 1970s New York, which could mean only one thing: ugly fashion. 

The wardrobe department came through splendidly. My God, how hideous we looked! And nothing makes you appreciate your own summer wardrobe when you're dressed in 100% polyester in 90% humidity.




The first day of filming was a wedding scene at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, built in 1887 in the middle of Chinatown. (Where else would you expect a synagogue?) As I settled in one of the pews, the woman next to me pointed to a man two rows up. "I think that's Al Pacino's stand-in." A few minutes later, Pacino loped in and exchanged places with him. 

In the scene, we were all looking at the cantor, but in my brain, I was still staring at Pacino. I can be seen to the left of him, two rows back, minus my glasses. Wardrobe ordered them off because they looked too contemporary. Once again, I pay the price for my keen fashion style.


Until I watched this episode, I had forgotten that I'd filmed one scene outside the synagogue as well. The only thing jarred my memory was a van, which was part of the show, pulling up and speeding away over the course of several takes. It's remarkable how I look totally bald atop my head when I actually do have several or more hairs -- though, admittedly, not as many as my colleague in the gray suit.
The Montauk Club a little before we showed up.

The next two days of filming the wedding celebration were at the Montauk Club, which, despite its name, is located in Brooklyn. (You can see the room where we filmed on this page.) By then, it had gotten even hotter and stickier. 

The holding area on the first floor had a fan the size of a VW Bug, which helped if you didn't sit too close or too far way. 

Upstairs in the dining room, where we were working, was an elaborately-hooked up portable air conditioner which felt great -- until it had to be shut off when filming commenced. Then it was like being in a very ritzy steam bath.

My first scene, which didn't make the final cut, featured Pacino chatting with another guest near the bar. While I couldn't make out their dialogue, I was close enough to think, Wow, he sounds like he's imitating Al Pacino!  Another scene, featuring a guest giving a speech, remained but I was nowhere to be seen. 

But it was after lunch when I finally got to shine. A few other extras and I, dubbed "The Old Guys" by the P.A., were directly involved in a scene where the actor playing Pacino's grandson notices their necklace with a Hebrew letter (don't ask me what it was or meant -- this was a year ago). 

We filmed around the buffet table as we helped ourselves to food we never got to eat. At the beginning of the scene, I entered from the left. 


But it was the next shot -- which was actually filmed first -- that knocked me out (in a good way). I was chosen for the close-up of the necklace. As they set up the shot, I was rehearsing the fine art of helping myself to food. 

When I looked up, there were two cameras pointed at me from directly across the table. One of my colleagues, watching a monitor, later told me I looked stunned. As you can see, by the time they started filming, I had sufficiently regained my composure.

Later in the evening came the hora. Only people who knew the dance were wanted on set, so that left me out. But at some point, a P.A. asked for volunteers to fill out the scene. Guess who stood up first.



It took a few forwards and rewinds, but I found myself in the back row in the middle of the shot. The only reason why I knew it was me was my open collar and equine smile. 

We were at the Montauk Club until midnight or so. Many of us, no longer needed on set, were hanging around outside in the muggy evening when Pacino and his assistant exited and walked to his car. He looked at my colleague Sasha and me, and said, "G'night, fellas!" as only he can. We returned the farewell before I turned to Sasha and whispered, "Al Pacino said goodnight to us!" 

The only other moment that rivaled the thrill I got from our exchange was earlier in the day, when the other "Old Guys" and I mentioned how old we were. When I said, "Sixty-three," one of them laughed and said, "He's just a kid!" Never before did I take that as a compliment.
If this is how I look in real life one day,
please shoot me.

The story would have ended there if I hadn't been unexpectedly called back two weeks later for a funeral scene at the synagogue. Just to shake things up, I was now in a different suit and wore a typically-repulsive pair of 1970s eyeglasses, which did nothing for my looks. Why do old guys always wear over-sized glasses? It looks they're looking through two TV screens.

In the synagogue, I was no longer behind Pacino but one aisle over. The wide shot at the beginning of the scene wasn't wide enough for either my colleague nor me to be seen. I had better luck in the over-the-shoulder shot behind Carol Kane at the coffin.


I would have drawn an arrow pointing to me, but that would have been even more pathetic than hitting the pause
 button every two seconds just for my blurry image.

OK, see the tops of the heads to the left of the coffin? Now, look at the couple behind them. I'm on the inside. This isn't the most impressive moment of my career. But did I tell you about the time I worked with Al Pacino?

POSTSCRIPT: I have to share a typical conversation with my wife regarding the show. Following my close-up at the buffet table, the camera went tighter on the necklace.

My wife was shocked. "That's not you!" she claimed. 

"Whaddaya mean it isn't me?" I retorted wittily. "Do you know how many takes we did?"


She pointed to  the screen. "That person has hair on his chest!"

Oh my God. My wife just saw me share the screen with Al Fucking Pacino, and get a close-up, and all she can say I have a hairless chest? "Look, that's me!" I barked like an incensed Rottweiler.

"Well, maybe they used somebody else," she reasoned (badly).

This was getting wacky even by her standards. "THEY DIDN'T USE ANYONE ELSE! THAT'S ME!

This didn't satisfy her, of course, because it ran counter to her narrative. Naturally, I couldn't let it go either. The next day, I froze the screen and took a better look before calling her in to point out that what she had mistaken for hair was actually my goddamn veins. Which made me almost wish I had let her continue thinking they used a hairy-chested stand-in.

                                                          *****************

Thursday, July 16, 2020

SIGN LANGUAGE

Remember, Jimmy nose best.
Between COVID-19 and the daily Black Lives Matters protests, there have been messages popping up all over New York. Whether posted on light poles or scrawled in chalk on sidewalks and benches, it's become clear, as Jimmy Durante reminded us, everybody wants ta get int' da act! 

Just a stroll around the Upper Eats Side provides a wealth of advice, instructions, and good old fashioned haranguing. If you can't make it yourself, lace up your virtual Reeboks and read them from the comfort of your home. Your guide will even offer appropriate commentary after you read them!


Can't say that I disagree with the person who posted this at a bus stop. Especially when they misspell "okay." Nothing like personal education experience to prove a point!

Written by hand at the top: 
9/11/01 - We Will Never Forget!
Today's CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
MORE BIO WARFARE.

Two warnings for the price of one. Who says you can't find a bargain in New York?
































Adding just one word to upend the original communication -- it never gets old. The person who wrote DEFUND on this barrier outside Carl Schurz Park likely didn't amuse the cops who placed it there. But it got a thumbs-up from my daughter, and isn't that what counts?



The word "fascist" is thrown around so easily these days that perhaps this was written in response to the leftist DEFUND protester. Or maybe it's the title of a long-forgotten Woody Guthrie song. Whatever it is, it's pretty catchy. One point penalty, however, for misspelling "fascist".



































This is an official posting from City Hall detailing the legal measurements restaurants need to follow if they want to have outdoor dining during these Phase Three days. It's not as romantic as it sounds.





The fence surrounding a long row of trees in Carl Schurz Park on East End Avenue has become a BLM memorial. Signs come and go every evening. These two -- particularly the one at the right -- likely gave Upper East Side locals the vapors. And the way the world is going, I wouldn't be surprised if they were the last generation.






Cavell wrote her message in a prison cell the night before her execution. Remember this the next time you see someone bent out of shape when they're told to wear a mask at Costco. It's doubtful they'll have a stamp honoring their "courage."


                                                        *********************

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: 7/15/2020

President Trump immediately ordered a wall to be built around his daughter.






"Take me, for example," Ms. Trump said. "Thanks to Goya, I've gone from whoring for politics to whoring for beans!"






Announcing the new service, Amazon president Jeff Bezos assured reporters "I promise former cashiers will be able to find something new: working for slave wages at our warehouse!"



"In my defense, however," Trudeau said, "I figured this kind of shit worked for the Clintons and Trumps, so why not me?"





Asked why, Trump explained, "I've lied everywhere else, why not there?"




"And by 'bigger tent'," said Hogan, "I mean enough to hold even more racists, neo-Nazis, tax dodgers, sociopaths, and mentally-defective Evangelicals. Oh, and Trumps. Lots and lots of Trumps."





                                                      *************

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

UNDER COVID, PT. 30: NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND AND OVER SCALP

This sign is now in our building's first floor, opposite the hand
sanitizer.  I expect the management company to eventually
hire someone to take our temperatures every time we enter.
Last Thursday marked a double milestone for me in COVID-stricken New York: for the first time in four months, I got a haircut and rode the subway. Two subways, really, when you take into account I had to transfer. So maybe that makes it a triple milestone. Living dangerously, that's me.

These events were unthinkable even a month ago. The barbershops opened only at the beginning of July. While I was enjoying my new look, it was getting awfully shaggy in the back. But I had wanted to wait a couple of weeks to see if there was a spike in COVID cases after hair salons re-opened. For no matter how badly I needed a trim, a barbershop was not going to be the hill I intended to die on.

Tell 'em Kevin sent you. Not that they'll know who you're
talking about.
I arrived at there at 8:20 a.m., ten minutes before the official opening time. Two other guys were already there (outside, of course) ahead of me. One of the barbers arrived two minutes later to open the joint up. Due to social distancing laws, I had to continue to wait outside while the other two customers went in. 

But for my wife, it's worth it.
Whether due to our easy haircuts or the urge to get people out as fast as possible, the barber ushered me inside within 15 minutes, after the other customers had left. Being used to five barbers working at once while another five customers waited their turn, it was a little eerie that he and I were the only ones there. 

They've had to to raise the price for their standard cut to $20, a perfectly understandable move -- particularly when my wife has to shell out over a hundred bucks with tip. But she goes twice a year, while I go at least six times, so we're not that much apart, no matter how much she whines about it.

From there, I went straight to the Q train on 2nd Avenue. Although I hadn't been there since March 10, for some reason it didn't seem out of place to ride the escalator down to the track; it felt like I was going to another background gig. Muscle memory, I believe they call it. It's probably the most impressive muscle I possess.

No rush at rush hour.
Unlike pre-COVID rush hour workday mornings, the platform was nearly deserted. And instead of standing-room only, with passengers pressed together like a loaf of sliced bread after it's been stepped on by Fatty Arbuckle, the half-dozen or so people on my car were spread out several feet apart. 

Although I had the front part of the car to myself, with more empty seats than there were actual passengers, I stood as I usually did at rush hour. Somehow it felt cleaner than sitting. Years of practicing the fine art of balancing my back against the front a crowded subway car have paid off. 

Now I know what it was like when Pres.
Roosevelt took a private train from
Washington to New York.
Transferring to the 7 train at Grand Central was another eye-opener. No need to squeeze past commuters running for their ride -- there was plenty of room for everyone (or, rather, the few of us there) to stroll through the station. 

The 7 train itself was close to deserted. There was literally nobody but me on my car and the ones directly in front and behind it. To put it another way, if you told any New Yorker pre-COVID that this selfie was taken on the 7 train at 9:30 in the morning, they would have called you (and I quote) "a lying motherfucker."

After arriving at Hudson Yards, no more than four other passengers exited the train with me -- and we were outnumbered by MTA workers on the platform at least 5 to 1. Most were there to clean the train, as they now do at the end of each line. 

If riding a near-sterile subway is the result of COVID, the subsequent arrival delays are worth it. I just hope people still avoid riding it.


                                               ****************************

Monday, July 13, 2020

AND THE HITS KEEP ON COMING

"Thanks, Kev, for
keeping my name
before the public!"
I find it interesting when older pieces on this blog suddenly get hits, often for no discernible reason. One could hazard a guess that people who've read the latest "Breaking News" click on the NEWS label to search out more. By why the  sudden interest in teddy bear sex? On second thought, I don't want to know.

Other than the COVID pieces, the most popular appear to be the movie reviews. Lately, my review of the 1943 B-movie Gangway for Tomorrow, posted over seven years ago, got 25 hits. I believe it was Robert Ryan month on TCM recently -- or it could be I've become the number one gateway for his fans. Flip a coin, then flip it again if you guessed the latter.
 

Hamilton and George Washington fight to see who
looks more like a wax dummy.
In the last month, perhaps because of Hamilton streaming on Disney+, I've gotten 77 hits for my review of the George Arliss version. Initially, I thought it was accidental: people Googling "Alexander Hamilton movie" or some such, and accidentally clicking on my page. 

But a little investigation shows that they're actually searching for "Alexander Hamilton 1931." I'm honored to report that, of the over 10-million Google results that come up under that search, my site is the fifth most popular. Success at last! As I write this, 28 people have gotten my take on George Arliss in the last 24 hours, something I trust he's grateful for in the afterlife.

"So that's where I left that dead body!"
Another winner, at 192 hits in the last six months, was my  review of The Sin of Nora Moran. Most of that came when TCM announced that it was running the newly-restored print over the spring. When I originally posted it in April 2013, I lamented how Nora Moran was available only in a mediocre print on YouTube, and that it would likely never be restored. 

Either the word got out to UCLA, or it's just a coincidence that someone who could do a good deed actually did so. Either way, I'm happy it happened, although, as usual, secretly sorry that the world now knows what used to be the province of just a few diehard pre-Code movie fans. I'm selfish that way.

The COVID pieces have reached the double digits as well. It's impossible to know, however, how many people were actively searching them out or were referred to by regular readers. Early on, the pieces were getting a lot of hits from Italy, when, at the time, COVID was ravaging the country. The goofball in me wanted to think total strangers who lived 4,000 miles away and whose first language wasn't English were actually interested in my take on life in New York during COVID. Makes sense, doesn't it?


What do they want from me when they've got this?
As the weeks and months went by, I eventually noticed that, every few days, the number of hits from Italy jumped to roughly 80 somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. New York time, whether I posted something or not during those days. 

In fact, of the 2,200 hits I've gotten in the last month, 783 emanated from Italy. Regular readers? Bots trying unsuccessfully to leave comments in hopes of having me click to their sites or leave a (non-COVID) virus of their own? Hey, if there really are Italians reading this, could you leave a comment for once?

Russia, on the other hand, could use all the diversion it can get from me.
Number two in my readership in the previous four weeks, is the US at 718 hits. How many of these people are for real is up for debate. But you know what isn't? That the 265 from Russia are definitely  up to no good. 

Or are they? Last week, I received two, count 'em, two hits from Russia -- the same week I received two hits on a 2016 piece entitled "Referral Madness", where I speculated the reasons why I suddenly had 300 "readers" a day. (Hint: they all came via a Russian search engine.) 

I know my last name is Russian, but it's unlikely my wannabe comrades are looking to have a reunion. Nope, this was, and continues to be, just an emboldened motherland flexing its digital muscles by trying to infect as many American sites as possible. But because bots can't leave spam here, my laptop should remain Putin-free. 

There is hope for me as far as real readers are concerned. The majority of hits appear to be referred from legit search engines, either in the US or their international counterparts (i.e. Google.com.au), or sites like Facebook and Pinterest. I would like to think they read each piece all the way through. I would also like to think someone will find a cure for COVID in five minutes.

                                                 ***************************

Monday, July 6, 2020

UNDER COVID, PT. 29: AN OPEN AND/OR SHUT CASE

Good lord, man! Who would want to shop there during COVID hours?
As Phase Three of New York's re-entry into "normality" begins, the city that earlier felt half-completed is now one that's half-open. You can go shopping -- but, for many stores, no further than the entrance. You can get your hair cut -- but only with one other customer in your company, and he's on the opposite side of the room. You can go grocery shopping -- but you have to wait on line until customers inside leave. And now in 90-degree weather!

The next trend in automotive extras.
Not even mass transit is immune to "is it or isn't it open?" Because bus drivers are now separated from passengers by a barrier inside the vehicle, you have to enter through the rear door, away from the fare box. If you're taking the express bus, you still have to pay via the machine at the stop. But if you're on the local, that means your ride is FREE FREE FREE! The MTA might be running at a deficit, but at least you've got some happy passengers.

Now maybe some of this is the similar where you live. And maybe, like New Yorkers, you've adjusted, remembering what it was like during early spring, when the sense of fear among your fellow citizens was palpable. Pedestrians either stayed ten feet behind you or scurried past as if being chased by an invisible stalker (which was the case).

Of course, it would help if the string didn't break
after one use.
Now, everybody calmly strolls down the street as in the P.C. (pre-COVID) days. Only we're all wearing masks, as if it were a perfectly normal item of clothing, like pants. These days, they're probably more important.

The city employees handing out masks gratis four at a time in every park have certainly helped popularize the style. And if my wife and I are out together, that's a total of eight right there and then. If it keeps up like this for the rest of the summer, by September we'll have enough to charge people for ours.


Room for two more!
Television and movie production has been given the OK to start, but under strict legal guidance (which can be found in this five page pamphlet). One of the new rules is that there are to be no more than 100 people on the set at any time. When shooting on location, the number drops to ten. No problem... if they were still making silent movies with natural lighting.

New COVID-inspired guidelines for location work are not only strict, but inexplicable. For instance, actors are not allowed to be dressed in police uniform, which should be mighty tricky for the dozen or so cop shows that film here. As someone who's worked on location countless times, I can say without hesitation that shooting will be virtually impossible. On the other hand, if you've ever been prevented from walking down a street because of filming, you'll find the COVID restrictions quite welcome.


A Parisian bistro, it ain't.
The closest return to normality is the half-opening of restaurants. While inside dining has been put off for at least a few more weeks, chowing down al fresco appears to be a success. People are so desperate to get out of the house that they're willing to sit at tables not only on sidewalks but in parking spaces inches from traffic. A romantic glass of Champagne with your loved one while a line of fire trucks roars by? Right this way.

So now in addition to dodging pedestrians in order to stay six feet apart, we have to make our way through people eating seafood linguine or carne asada tacos. And please watch out for the waitstaff! All of it is fodder for new lyrics to an old show tune.

I have often walked down these streets before
But Phase Three has turned it into such a freakin' chore
All the tables there
With a dozen chairs
As I walk on the street where you eat.

                                                        *********************