by Tony Frankel on May 1, 2020

in Extras


Who knows if the COVID-19 epidemic will change the world for the better? Remember, some asserted that 9/11 would make us recognize how precious life is and that it would have us reassess contentious relationships with our fellow countries. Yet we went right back to the tenacious polarity between political parties in the U.S., and we remain at the precipice of another Cold War.

In fact, life is getting tougher due to inventions that were created to simplify life and increase toleration. Political Correctness often feels like a noose tightening around my neck, and technology has become so complicated that I spend more time trying to fix problems than I do enjoying what should have been my free time. In fact, I’m over trying to figure out the ins and outs of a cell phone. And even as I have cut off social media, Google and other Corporate America Big Brother companies continually keep track of me without my permission. And figuring out how to get them off my back is more complicated than technology itself. So, technology was invented to free us up so that we had more time to pursue our passions, but instead it has usurped our precious time. It could drive a person crazy.

Our readers have always had the arts to turn to: museums, concerts, live theater, going out to a movie — or even performance art — become healthy addictions to balance out the blather of white noise out there.

Then came the stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, creating a different kind of mental stress. I’ll never forget the day when the press releases staring trickling in, announcing opening night postponements. Since this is a nationwide site covering the arts, that would blossom into thousands of emails announcing festival closures and theater seasons being completely cancelled. For the first time since 2006, I was off to New York as I had plans to cover the most promising season in years, and I wept when Broadway shows closed like dominoes. But when I went to Disneyland the night before it closed its gates indefinitely, the empty park simply left me in a state of shock.

That was two days before the Ides of March. Today is May 1, 2020. For me, the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise: I am finishing handyman projects that have been left on the back burner; making the Stage and Cinema site look more aesthetically appealing; cooking creations like crab cakes; reading literature again; updating contacts; and more.

Some people are finding other ways to deal with the solitude: Binge-watching TV shows and streaming the arts; adopting pets; purchasing plants; and having ZOOM meetings.

Others may not be so lucky: they feel isolated, overwhelmed, stir-crazy — or just angry that they can’t spend a day at the beach. Fortunately, there are sites such as BetterHelp that can set you up with a live, online therapist, which will come in handy not just to deal with the lockdown, but to keep you prepared for reentry. Remember, it’s probable that we will go back to the way things were: divisiveness; an overcrowded planet warning us that it can’t sustain eight billion people; addiction to factious news programs; and covetous consumerism that is making a very very few very very rich.

My greatest hope is that we will abandon old ways of being. That mediocrity will not be the dominant force in the arts anymore. That leaders will be allowed to lead. That honesty is not seen as “harsh.” And that we can laugh uproariously at our ways of being. After all, we all want the same thing: peace, love, and the safest community possible. It all comes down to you.

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