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Friday Night Lights: Risking Lives for the Dow

Friday Night Lights versus the Coronavirus (https://www.nccfnl.com/)

We have now celebrated V-Zero Day over the coronavirus per the White House Council of Economic Advisers. In a few days we will be looking back at the crisis per the Vice President of the United States. Next month we will be back to normal per the son in-law of the President of the United States. We have prevailed. There is light at the end of the tunnel per the President of the United States. We’re back!

What does it mean to be back to normal? For Trumpicans, the coronavirus crisis has been an economic crisis and not a medical crisis. People in New York got the virus. People in prisons did. People in nursing homes did. You know…those people did. Real Americans didn’t get the coronavirus.  As a person at a plaza in an Atlanta suburb said:

“When you start seeing where the cases are coming from and the demographics⸺I’m not worried.” (quoted in the Washington Post and by Michelle Goldberg, NYT 5/19/20).

The counter quotation on the same day was by Rebecca Patterson the girlfriend of Ron Wilkins in Texas who endured 37 days on a ventilator and has the medical bills to show it.

“People don’t really understand how serious this is until they know somebody who’s going through it. It’s only a matter of time before everyone in the country knows someone. I don’t know what the solution is but I don’t think hurrying to open is it.” (USA Today, 5/19/20).

If she was a Trumpican, it doesn’t seem like she is anymore.

Friday Night Lights

Sports, like every other segment of society, has been part of the coronavirus crisis. The Olympics have been postponed. Professional basketball and hockey seasons ended. Tennis tournaments and gold matches weren’t held. There was no “Play ball” for baseball. Football is trying to figure out what to do. Colleges are struggling with how to play sports if there are no students on campus or in the stands. But what about high school sports which affects every community in the country?

Friday Night Lights has been a book, a movie, and a TV series. It carved out a niche for itself as a tale of the role of high school football in a Texan community. It almost was an anthropological window into the way of life of a people and with a story to boot. Even people who were not from a Friday Night Light community themselves were drawn into its storylines of small town life with larger than life meaning.

But besides all that other stuff, it also was about football, about high school kids playing football, about high school kids playing football with practices in August which is only a few months away. Forget about all the talk about reopening schools in September for a moment and think about reopening football practice in a little over two months. Kids practice wearing helmets not masks; they practice near each other with no social distancing; and they sweat a lot especially in the hot and humid south.

And then there are the games. In a Friday Nights Light community, the whole town turns out for the games. It is not like high school in urban communities especially ones with professional sports. It’s tough enough to get coverage of college games yet along high school games there. Friday Night Lights and College Town football are different worlds from City Professional sports. Are you going to deprive these communities of the events that are essential to the social fabric of a community?

The game is more than a game. The whole community is involved. Politicians, families, local businesses, churches…you name it, it is part of the experience. So are the after game parties. So are the caravans to the away games. So is sitting in the stands. Real men don’t wear masks. Real Americans don’t get coronavirus. Who’s going to tell people in the stands to wear masks? Who’s going to tell them to sit apart? Who’s going to enforce it? Friday Night Light life poses an immense challenge if the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the son in-law of the President of the United States, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers are wrong and we have not prevailed, are not looking back, and there still is no light at the end of tunnel.

Church       

Friday Night Lights are not the only places where people gather on a weekly basis. There also is Sunday morning church. That debate isn’t waiting for August, it’s happening now. Weekly services are part of the routine of life for millions of Americans. For others who attend church for marriages, funerals, and the big holidays, the world of people who religiously attend weekly is as remote as Friday Night Lights football communities are. Simply being there in a religious building on a regular basis is part of the way millions bring order to chaos, strengthen themselves for the days to come, and find comfort. Are you going to deprive people of what is essential to their way of life?

We know that people gathered together indoors for an extensive period of time provide a ripe venue for the spread of the coronavirus. Outbreaks have occurred when simply one person has attended such family and religious events. People may not be in churches for as long as they are in a nursing home, a prison, a meat plant, or a cruise ship, but at this point, no one knows how much time it takes to spread the virus. It’s one thing for people to be willing to take the risk with their own lives; it is quite another for them to risk the lives of others. That’s the equivalent of not taking a vaccine.

Political Rallies

Our president feeds on the adulation of people who have accepted him as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. How long can he go without being fed? How long can they go without praising his name, laughing at his insults, and reciting the approved chants? He needs his rallies.

These rallies are indoors and for long periods of time.

No one who wears a mask will be allowed inside. Only Fox will be able to cover the events, the mainstream media won’t be able to.

Only Trumpicans will be present. They are immune to the coronavirus and the crisis is over.

Is there any doubt that Trumpicans will flock by the thousands to rally on behalf of their Lord and Savior once they are finally able to? After all, what could possibly happen to them?

Trumpican Presidential Convention

The single longest and largest concentration of Trumpicans will occur this August at the Trumpican coronation. Nobody will be allowed to wear a mask and there will be armed freedom fighters stationed at the entrances to ensure that no weak and wimpy people are allowed in. There will be no social distancing either. For days, Trumpicans by the thousands will rally indoors on behalf of their leader. And then they will walk the streets of the city in search of food and alcohol where they can continue the celebration. After all, what could possibly happen to them? We have prevailed, we are looking back, and we have reached the light at the end of tunnel.

The reopening of the country will pose many problems. First is the lack of reliable information from our national government. Second is the lack of reliable information from our state governments. Third is the belief in one’s invulnerability which doesn’t end when you stop being a teenager. Fourth is the fact that we are social animals who need to be with other people and touch them physically. Fifth is the origin of this country with the “Don’t Tread on Me” ethos that complicates the challenge of getting people to obey the government or common sense. And finally, of course, there is our impulsive immature child president who lives in an imaginary world where he creates his truth simply by speaking it and helped cause this crisis to begin with. All these factors do not bode well for the reopening.

Election Results: Amazon versus Hallmark

Amazon decided to locate its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, New York, and Alexandria, Virginia. These two locations possess the characteristics Amazon considers desirable.  They have highly educated and mobile workforces. They are located at both national and international transportation hubs. They have significant other business sectors so Amazon will not be the 600 pound gorilla that everyone turns towards to solve local problems. They have an excitement about them: people want to move there. The bottom line is that the midsize cities of mid-America simply do not have the base to support the Amazon behemoth. The other major cities simply do not have the resources or the proximity to the politicians and regulators Amazon needs to buy and sell.

As it turns out, Amazon probably would have chosen these two locations even if there had been no government prostitution. Other communities made more lucrative offers but they could not match the actual requirements for a successful match. For all we know, Amazon may well have been leaning towards these two winning locations even before the search began even if they it never consciously acknowledged it to itself yet alone to the public. In the meantime, Amazon gathered a great deal of information about a multitude of sites throughout the country that will be useful.

One cannot help but notice that the desirable characteristics for Amazon coincide with the burgeoning demographic areas of the Democratic Party. By contrast Republican areas were not even in the running.

Politically, Amazon’s choice in New York will not make much difference. New York already is a democratic state. Republicans have no chance of winning any statewide election. At the state level success for a Republican is obtaining 40% of the vote. Its last hold in power, the State Senate, witnessed an eight seat drop this past election. Instead of vying for majority power it has had for roughly 75 years with some breaks, Republicans now are an also-ran with little if any power to do anything if the Democrats are united. Even without Amazon, the 2020 census is likely to accelerate this trend as the one-party city itself and the Democratic suburb offshoots gain in power. In the reapportioning, the Republicans are likely to lose even more of what little they have left at the federal and state level.

The situation is a little different in Virginia. Republicans still have no chance of winning a statewide election there but the margins are not as stark as in New York. Part of the difference is due to one-party Washington, D.C. not being in the state of Virginia the way one-party New York City is in New York. As the Washington suburbs served by the Metro continue to expand especially with Amazon, the state will become more and more Democratic. It will not take a coin toss anymore to determine who is in power in the legislature. Republicans in Virginia will be restricted to the rural non-growth areas. The biggest difference from New York is where upstate New Yorkers retire to the South, rural Virginians are already there.  Amazon is quite willing to sell to these people but it would not want to locate there.

Hallmark’s audience is quite different from Amazon’s. The Hallmark movie universe tends to be the rural one with mainly white Christians, probably Protestants. If the city is involved, such as New York, it is the place the hero/heroine leaves. They either return home to be reconnected with their loved ones and to save the family home/store/factory. They tend to be in their thirties so they may have known some success in the big city but it comes with a price to their soul and happiness. They regain their soul when they return to the place where everyone says “Merry Christmas” and the community lighting of the Christmas tree is a big deal…unlike say in New York City where Rockefeller Center is devoid of all signs of Christmas and no families are present!

If they are not from the rural paradise and are the mean person sent there to shut it down or buy the store/factory/inn, then they soon succumb to its charms for its money they have and peace they lack. Hallmark could tell big city-based Christmas stories but they are the exception not the rule despite their being where the American people live.

And if there is not a rural American paradise to which to return, then there is always a small kingdom in Europe that no one has ever heard of desperate for an American princess. Considering the real stories of not only Grace Kelly but Meghan Markle, it turns out that fairy tales can come true.

Still the Hallmark world has an attraction to the Amazon world but only a part-time basis. People in the city buy second homes but rarely in another city. Someone in New York does not buy a second home in the Boston or Philadelphia area. They may visit a child in college in those cities but for a second home for weekends, summer, and maybe retirement, they often chose the Hallmark world. Excluding the glitzy Hamptons, many New Yorkers choose to go north to the Hudson Valley, the Catkskills, the Berkshires, and beyond. They want land, they want space, they want peace and quiet as long as they can go to Starbucks and get the delicacies and entertainment they want. These people do not want to live in Mayberry, Bedford Falls, or Cicely, Alaska. It’s nice to leave the rat race and visit Brigadoon every now and then. They need the Field of Dreams but only for a moment.

Did you ever notice how popular and important Friday Night Lights was for people who did not live in a Friday Night Lights community? A Friday Nights Light community is a Hallmark community with more realism. It does have conflicts. It does have tensions. It does have rivalries with similar neighboring communities. But unlike the Hallmark communities, the Friday Night Lights communities gather together every Friday and not just once a year. In these communities, the people have their community songs, their community flags and banners, their community traditions, and a community spirit that is passed on from generation to generation. If you buy a second home in such a community you will be an outsider even if your city money enables you to throw your weight around. This separateness especially will be true if you have no kids attending the local schools.

In this regard, a Friday Nights Light community is like a Jane Jacobs city block or street. The social fabric is strong. People have a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of community. These are not the characteristics of an Amazon community. The people who move to the big cities in other states have limited connection to the history of that state, that city, that community. Here in New York we are celebrating the bicentennial of the building of the Erie Canal. That project put New York on the national map on its way to becoming the world capital. That project launched a can do period in American history that lasted until we placed a man on the moon. Yet today the Erie Canal has no meaning to the people of the city. It remains an underutilized asset of American history in upstate New York of little interest to people in downstate New York. They would sooner visit the canals of Europe than those of New York.

The fate of the Erie Canal story highlights the shortcomings of the piecemeal approach. America has a big story to tell. What the two political parties have in common is that neither is trying to tell it. No candidate proposes a vision for We the People of the 21st century and the less said about our shallow, superficial, simple-minded President the better. Clearly there is a need for such a vision. Clearly there is a need for such a storyteller. Clearly there is a need to connect America’s citizens to the story of their country. In 1976, my father temporarily relocated to Washington, D.C., and bunked with Congressmen to reduce living expenses when he worked on the Bicentennial. In July 2016, the United States Semiquincentennial Commission was established in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the United States. It will occur on July 4, 2026, the bicentennials of the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4. Will we be a united country then or will the experiment have run its course?