Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Double Lockdown | Lefsetz Letter

Right now the AQI is just a bit over 150, in the red zone, labeled “Unhealthy.” As for the beach, down by where I hike, it’s even worse, it’s also in the red zone, i.e. “Unhealthy,” but it’s about 160.

Now the truth of Los Angeles is the further you go east, the worse the smog gets. Normally the coast has the clearer air. But not now.

The fire is out by Azusa, you know, of “The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association.” That was the b-side of Jan and Dean’s single “Ride the Wild Surf.” I thought they made up the names, I had no idea these places really existed. But they do. And Azusa is right on the borderline, of the Angeles National Forest.

That’s something that non-natives, people who’ve never been to L.A., don’t know. That the wilderness bumps right up against the metropolis. There’s everybody, and then there’s nobody. And where there’s nobody can get very hot during the day and equally cold at night so if you’re stranded there, outside cell range, you might not make it back.

But I’m going nowhere. I’m home. Inside.

You can take the warnings seriously or you can maybe pay the piper later. Then again, even if you can’t quite see the particulates in the air you can certainly smell the smoke and visibility…well, at least there’s some sunshine today, but nothing like the blue skies we’re used to. Oh, that’s another thing about SoCal, no clouds. I know, I know, they’re a feature on the east coast, everywhere else, but we rarely get them here, unless it’s gonna rain. And usually that’s when the rain comes, when the fires begin, that’s the turning point, you watch the news for precipitation but…I’ve been here for eons and I might have seen it rain in September once, maybe twice, so that’s not how the fires are gonna be extinguished.

The rest of the country is laughing at California. Yet, I point them to yesterday’s article about Jerry Brown:

“Jerry Brown on a California Exodus: ‘Tell Me: Where Are You Going to Go?’ – From his ranch, the former California governor is experiencing the same smoky air wafting through much of the state. ‘We are causing this,’ he declared in an interview”

My mother once told me that her mother, my grandmother, would still be voting for Roosevelt if he hadn’t died. That’s how I feel about Jerry Brown if hadn’t termed out. Elected young, he was considered “Governor Moonbeam.” He ran for president too early. And then as an oldster Brown came back, was mayor of Oakland and ended up back as governor, older and wiser. California is a blue state. Once upon a time it had huge red factions, but those are now gone, and everyone likes Arnold, well, except maybe for his ex-wife, but he proved he was not up to the job as governor and there are no Republicans in the pipeline. Unlike Arnold, Brown is a wonk. He not only knows, he can opine for days. And with experience he knew it was about compromise, realism. It was Brown who fought with the Democrats, even though he was one of them, he pulled them back from the brink, he restored California’s finances. But that didn’t keep the rest of the country from laughing about California.

It happens in California first. Always has, still seems to be. Sure, you’ve got nitwits testing the limits in Florida, but that’s more of an ongoing Darwin Awards culture than cutting edge. You see in California we’re three hours from New York. We might as well be living in a different country. Californians get no respect, they’re seen as flighty, and that serves them well, it allows them to jettison judgment and just be who they are, who they want to be. And as a result, innovation happens in the Golden State.

It’s California that has pressed for cleaner air. It’s California that not only engendered smog controls on automobiles, but got the whole car industry to cater to its demands. You see with enough customers, you’ve got leverage. And the truth is many of the cutting edge cars are designed in California anyway.

Don’t talk to me about Texas. It’s a boom and bust state, depending on the energy market. Fracking is a financial disaster. As for tax considerations…that’s how we got into this mess, via low taxes. You can’t have it all and not pay for it. Which brings me to last week’s Nicholas Kristof article:

“‘We’re No. 28! And Dropping!’-A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decades, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.”

The American Dream is over, and the sooner we wake up to this fact the sooner we can be on the road to recovery. Then again, facts are fungible, there no longer is any truth, but if you look outside my window you can see some.

So, I don’t want to get Covid-19. How will I achieve this? Especially in a country that opens more and more each day. People are burned out, to use a phrase, with staying home so they’re not. I’m just waiting another week for the Labor Day Covid-19 statistics. Seems like people went on road trips, interacted, will there be a negative result? You’d think so. But everybody believes Covid-19 can’t reach and affect them, no way.

So I’m reading and streaming. And working a ton too, I’m busy, I’m not complaining about it.

But at the beginning of lockdown, it was novel, everybody was calling, everybody wanted to Zoom…but that’s died down, everybody’s hunkered down, waiting for it to be over. When will it be over? Fauci says not before the fall of 2021. Other experts say it will be sometime in 2022 that we can live our lives normally. What am I supposed to do in the interim?

Right now my house is not in danger. Although we did have to evacuate a couple of years back. But everybody’s in suspended animation when it comes to their mental health. Staying home takes a toll. Not that you’d get anybody to admit it in our winners rule society. If you evidence just a crack, someone will come along and split you in half and take your spot. We’re lemmings climbing a greased pole.

So, California is burning up, but it’s not like the rest of the country is getting a pass. There’s that new hurricane, Sally, sauntering to the coast, you’d better keep your Mustang in your garage. But those people in Louisiana who lost their homes in the last hurricane, we no longer hear about them, the news cycle can’t keep up with the past. Kind of like everybody no longer getting cash from the government, how are they paying their bills? But in America we ignore those who lose, they soil our image of our nation.

And then there’s the election. There’s tons of news, not that almost any of it is relevant. Except for Caputo talking about fighting in the streets and all the left-leaning publications filing articles about what to do if Trump won’t leave, if he declares unjust victory. There are more questions than answers, and if you believe in the system you’re gonna get your comeuppance in November. As for the Post Office? The L.A. “Times” had a front page story today, turns out mail is much slower, but that’s old news, that ship has sailed, DeJoy is in charge and get over it.

Nothing sticks. At least the left wing prognosticators have realized this. They say out loud that the Woodward book will have no effect. Nothing Trump does will shake his believers free, nothing!

So, we’re watching “Borgen.” We’ve started the third season. I recommend it.

And I’ve been reading books that I can’t quite recommend.

But the truth is almost nothing is as satisfying as it once was. You yearn for time to catch up, and then when you get it each and every day…

So, over the weekend it was like the end of the world, dark outside. Eventually it will return to normal, it always does, but frequently at a cost. But relief doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. Nothing is imminent.

They rescued the auto companies in 2008, it turned out to be the right thing to do. Do we rescue small businesses today? Is there enough money to do this? Yes, I’ve got a ton of questions, you probably do too. But answers are elusive. Seems the country wants to live in darkness. And in California we are right now.

Check your AQI – Enter your city or zip code in the box in the upper righthand corner, click on your town in the resulting list and then click on the red button that says “AQI”:

U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI)

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