Wondering When We’ll Be Wandering Again. . .
By John Andreula
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
Schools are closed and not just businesses, but entire industries, are being shuttered. Neither is new news to anyone in the world right now.
Businesses still open—as of the time of writing this—are sending wave after wave of emails telling consumers how much they care about customers and employees. They regale us with tales of how much said employees are cleaning and disinfecting their establishments’ surfaces, how few of us are allowed in those establishments at one time, and most importantly, that we should be spending the little bit of money we have left on said businesses’ products and services.
Unending frenzied runs on grocery stores are causing even more panicked behavior. Empty shelves are causing prices of basic necessity items to manifest astronomically inflated costs on online marketplaces. Multi-packs of toilet paper, normally sold for twenty dollars and less, are selling for between fifty and one hundred dollars on eBay right now.
Despite the insanity and stupidity that COVID-19 is causing in many people across the United States, many businesses and organizations are using novel methods—pardon the pun—to support the social distancing and self-quarantining efforts of the many saner Americans.
It all comes down to creativity and ingenuity. . .
The entertainment industry is feeling the effects of the pandemic. Concerts, sporting events and social gatherings are all shut down.
These businesses generate immense amounts of income. They employ countless performers, production staff, maintenance, security, parking staff, and every food and merch vendor and ride-share driver in between.
And as many as are negatively affected by this industry’s closure we can now add the customers to those who are getting frustrated and disappointed.
Two live music festivals, SXSW and Ultra Music, have “postponed” their 2020 annual mega-shows until 2021.¹ If you were one of the unfortunate masses that purchased tickets or passes to either of the events there’s no refund for you.
You can get some extra. . ., some discounts. . ., blah blah blah. . .,when what the people really want is their money back. Even Airbnb is piling on, telling customers who booked rooms for these events to “Go fuck yourself!“²
Thankfully Coachella and their sister country-music festival, Stagecoach, bucked this trend. They are allowing refunds if customers can find and jump through the hoops they’ve hidden on the internets. But hurry! Their generous and complicated offer expires promptly on May 1st.
Many fan conventions are announcing postponements to dates later into 2020 as well.
Emerald City (ECCC), WonderCon, and the Game Developers Conference (ironically initialed: CDC) have all pushed their events back. E3 has cancelled outright. The list of kiboshed shows and bad news is growing by the day.
Despite the disappointment, or in light of it, one Denver organization decided to take back geeks’ ability to gather this past Saturday on Facebook. Rocky Mountain Con hosted a Virtual Con live on their Facebook page.
The event organizers auctioned off a multitude of comics and collectibles, and had several amazing giveaways for those who shared their feed with their respective networks. The event also featured several artists doing sketch and ink commission live via webcam.
As of the time of publication, Rocky Mountain Con is still planning on hosting their Collector’s Showcase in Denver on June 7th, but we will have to wait and see how long the social distancing recommendations and restrictions last.
Fortunately, other entertainers are also making lemonade out of this overly sour situation.
Comedy Central’s satirical news program, The Daily Show, returned to television airwaves this past Monday after a twelve day furlough. In the wake of New York’s self-quarantine measures they have modified the show’s format and rebranded themselves. They are now known as The Daily Social Distancing Show.
The new direction began last week as host, Trevor Noah, and the rest of the staff started producing content from their homes and releasing it via Trevor’s Instagram account. It just might have been the most positive and uplifting way to consume the COVID-19 and world news anywhere.
The big guys aren’t the only ones being creative either.
Volunteer organization Fixit Clinic is known for helping local communities repair broken appliances. Doing this they keep trash out of landfills and money in people’s pockets.
Fixit Clinic was already doing amazing work before the world got crazier, but has since had to cancel local in-person clinics due to the coronavirus. They didn’t take it lying down however. . .
The organization decided they weren’t just going to send out cancellation notifications by email. Instead they got inspired to host free online “Virtual Clinics.”
People unlucky enough to discover broken appliances while enduring the current crisis now have the opportunity to fix their own broken items. It’s all thanks to Fixit’s online volunteers.
Many up-and-coming artists and entertainers are moving forward as well, while the majority of professional ball players, musicians, movie and TV stars are at home doing their “Netflix and chill.”
The Vasquez family of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin hosts a bi-weekly podcast called The FAMProject Podcast. Their show’s pre-corona concept highlighted life lessons that their school-age daughters and their friends are not being taught at school.
The family hoped to shine a light on both parental responsibility as well the children’s, in building resilience and self-sufficiency before the pandemic began. But since, David, Michelle, Angel, and Faith have decided to adapt. Their show’s format is now centered around discussions on how they, and to a greater extent everybody, can survive this coronapocalypse.
Recent episodes have included candid discussions and youthful opinions on the coronavirus, how local and national leadership is handling the pandemic, and what we should all be doing to pass the time while at home and under self-quarantine.
It’s just a matter of time before more of the world’s entertainers and businesses pivot, but, the longer they wait the more it will present little guys like FAMProject and Rocky Mountain Con humongous followings of their own.
Things will obviously be difficult in the foreseeable future. Those without income, those in the higher risk categories, and those with children home from school will all be tested in the weeks and months to come. We want to let everyone know we see you.
At a time filled with much bad news and negative emotion it’s refreshing to see the creativity and ingenuity of those featured above, and the many others I couldn’t mention, are all exhibiting.
And if you are creating, keep creating. Let the turmoil and uncertainty fuel your inspiration and propel your efforts.
And if you’re just a casual observer happy as I am about all these innovations to our culture please spread the word. Share what you’re seeing with family, friends, and your network, because we’re all in this together. Your people need some good-natured distractions, and artists and creatives need your support now more than ever.
Thanks for reading and doing your best to stay geeky and healthy.
And as always stay wandering, even if you can only do it from the comfort of your own home.
¹How can you postpone an annual event until the following year when the event was already to set to occur that next year?
²Not an actual quote, but possibly how Airbnb’s CEO responded when asked how they were going to respond to the question of whether or not to issue refunds.
John Andreula is a socially distant wanderer and writer hunkered down somewhere in Colorado.
Connect with him on the Gram at: JohnAndreulaWritesStuff
And on Twitter at: @MovingOnUpwards
Kodid Laraque Two Elk can’t wait to get him the hell out of the house.
She’s on Insta too at: @Leyla.Kodid