Life on Lockdown

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(Pictured: my town, Madison, Wisconsin, at twilight.)

At our house, life on lockdown is not much different than life every other day. The Mrs. has worked at home, downstairs on what used to be our dining room table, since 2012. I do whatever work I can manage to find in my upstairs office, as I have done since I quit corporate life in 2003, unless I have radio to do, or a class to teach. But both radio and teaching are done for the foreseeable future. (The part-time staff at my stations are off the schedule for the duration.) And that’s fine, really. I am not sorry to be limiting my exposure to the outside world, even though I’ll miss being on the radio in a time such as this.

One thing that has surprised me about the lockdown so far is how little I have missed watching sports. It’s too bad that my teams didn’t get to play in the college basketball and hockey postseasons, but I don’t pay much attention to the NBA and MLB in normal times, and while I watch the NHL playoffs, I don’t plan my life around it. So far, repeats of games from out of the past are holding me over nicely. If this were the fall, I would miss football, but the NFL offseason is unfolding normally, so there’s no void to feel. But ask me again in September.

So The Mrs. and I are doing about as well as anybody can under these conditions. We hope that we will continue to be fine, although the next month to six weeks will be especially hard for all of us, no matter where we are. It’s not just the spectacle of suffering we will witness, or the fear of joining the sufferers. It’s the continuing requirement to alter the way we live. And as social distancing becomes second nature, those of us who have lived a lot of our lives online these last several years may need to start distancing within that life as well.

It’s been said that if acetaminophen—Tylenol—came up for FDA approval today, it would never get it because of its potential for damaging side effects even with relatively small doses. Nevertheless, we keep taking it because it’s useful, and it’s so ubiquitous. It occurs to me that social media is the same way. We would not have approved of it if we’d known how it would cheapen every kind of discourse and amplify the voices of people whose opinions are worthless—if we’d known how bad it is for our mental health, even with relatively small doses. But we keep taking it because it’s useful, and it’s so ubiquitous.

There are two types of people on social media that I have grown quite tired of these last couple of weeks. The first are the ones bitching about being bored. With a world-historical and unique opportunity to pursue anything you want to do beyond having to show up for work every day, it took two weeks before you ran out of ideas and desire? The second are the ones who think they’re CNN. I see people on Facebook posting literally two dozen news stories a day, often the most doomiest/gloomiest pieces out there. This must scratch some sort of psychological itch for these people, but it’s not an itch I share, or one I particularly want to know the details of.

Related: when you find a story describing in vivid detail people dying horribly after the virus shuts down their lungs, maybe don’t race to post it on Facebook. We all know that shit is bad, we’re all afraid that we’ll get it, and those who are A) able and/or B) sensible are trying like hell to avoid it. So what are you trying to accomplish by throwing it in our faces?

Read the room, people.

Like millions around the world, I have more time on my hands than usual. So I’m taking requests. If there’s something you’d like to read about, please let me know what it is: dig into a particular song or artist, do a ranking of some sort, answer a question, write about some specific date, whatever. You’ll help me pass the time, and in exchange you’ll get something you can use to pass the time. Put it in the comments below, or send me a private message in any of the several ways listed under “contact jb” at the top of this page.

6 thoughts on “Life on Lockdown

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter. As one of your younger readers, would love to see One Day In Your Life go into the new millennium. Perhaps a day from the Fall of 2001/Winter of 2002 might be appropriate given the current state of the world.

    Hope you and the wife continue to stay safe and sane!

  2. David

    Some time ago, I recall you discussing various books you enjoyed regarding the history and development of radio. Per my potentially faulty memory, these may have included, among others, Ben Fong-Torres’ “The Hits Just Keep on Coming: The History of Top 40 Radio” and Marc Fisher’s “Something in the Air,” each of which I subsequently read and enjoyed.

    To the extent that you have additional books and/or films (documentary or fiction) in this area that relate to radio that you would recommend that are quality (or, like something like “FM,” are at least interesting from a period point of view), I’d love to hear your thoughts. We’ve obviously got time on our hands, and the topic is of interest to me–and a lot of readers of this fair blog.

    Best regards.

  3. John Gallagher

    This lockdown has caused me feelings of anger, anxiety, uncertainty all at once. It’s all mainly because of when my wedding and special event DJ business and photo booth business will resume. Facebook does nothing but stresses me out because of all the misinformation out there. A majority of my May clients are in a holding pattern to see what happens next. I did have a May postponement, a March cancellation and two April cancellations. The inquiries for future dates have quieted down drastically. I’ve applied for disaster relief from the SBA and unemployment as sole proprietors are apparently eligible now because of the pandemic. Uggh.

  4. Adam

    Another long-time reader, first-time commenter — I’d love to see what your take is on Shadoe Stevens’ AT40 tenure (either in general, or by focusing on a specific show in the same way you’ve looked at Casey-era stuff). Thanks for all your wonderful and thoughtful work over the years, Jim — hope you and your loved ones are staying well.

  5. Wesley

    Here are my suggestions you can choose or discard:
    1. Rank all the classic TV show themes that made the top 10 (Theme from SWAT, Welcome Back, Secret Agent Man, Hawaii Five-O, Three Stars Will Shine Tonight, Theme from Greatest American Hero, Happy Days, Makin’ It, Miami Vice Theme, Peter Gunn, The Rockford Files, Theme From Hill Street Blues), with comments about the records, their series or both.
    2. Rank Casey Kasem’s substitute announcers on AT40.
    3. Analysis of one or all of the “Cream of the Rest” classic rock staples–“Money,” “Dream On,” and “Born to Run.”
    4. Your take on the AT40 1974 countdown of the top producers of the 1970s, more reviewing the producers than the show itself in case you haven’t heard it.
    5. Giving you a three-month head start: The 50th anniversary of the debut of AT40.

  6. Pingback: Turn the Beat Around | The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

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