A chilling image came across my television screen this week — the construction of a field hospital in Central Park in Manhattan.
Out of all the news stories, facts and mistruths, and climbing numbers revealed in daily press conferences, that image was the most chilling to me. For two reasons, I think — one because I visited Central Park often when I lived in New York and, secondly, because it brought to mind the great plagues of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
But on a brighter note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how our entertainment has adapted during this pandemic. Entertainment is a field that’s been greatly affected by COVID-19. The late-night hosts first tried doing shows with no audience then briefly suspended but several have come back on air remotely from their homes.
Steven Colbert came to us first from his back patio and this week from his home office, where he wants to keep wearing suits because he’s working. I’ve really enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon from a tent he constructed in his backyard with his youngest daughter pushing buttons to play the music for his Friday night "thank you card" bit and his older daughter holding the cards. His wife is behind the camera.
Fallon aired from different rooms in his home and his youngest daughter, like any typical child, gets bored, gives up on her jobs, makes tons of noise, jumps on her dad in the middle of him speaking and answers "no" when he asks if they want to hear jokes. The hosts are interviewing guests via video-conferencing.
All sorts of artists are appearing from their homes on YouTube, Facebook live, Instagram and Twitter to give mini concerts, just to cheer people up. There was an IHeart Living Room Concert last week with Elton John hosting and featuring Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, Billie Eilish and Tim McGraw, among others, singing and playing from living rooms, home studios, poolside, backyards and bedrooms. And country music stars have a similar show planned.
It was neat to get a glimpse of these celebrities' home lives and generous of them to allow us into their private sanctuaries.
The Grand Ole Opry still came to us live last week, albeit with an empty hall and Marty Stuart, Vince Gill and Brad Paisley played on stage with just their guitars and stools placed six feet apart from each other. They began with a tribute to Kenny Rogers, who had just passed away the night before. The whole show had me choked up.
No NCAA March Madness this year, so no brackets to fill out. A local TV station’s sports team made a bracket for Movie Madness featuring sports-themed movies instead. The start of baseball has been postponed.
Everyday people have joined in too: there’s a Goshen Sings Facebook group, where local residents go live from their front porches or living rooms singing a cappella or with instruments. A hammered dulcimer player offered to play in neighborhoods for neighbors gathered on their individual front porches.
We saw Italian citizens singing together from balconies and New York residents banging pots and pans out their windows at a prescribed time in solidarity. People are holding virtual social hours, birthday parties (and candle parties). Drive-by celebrations are becoming more common.
We, as a nation, as a world, are showing our resilience and flexibility in an unfamiliar time. These impromptu concerts, late-night home edition shows and socially distanced celebrations provide a ray of light amidst the grim details of increasing deaths and overwhelmed medical systems. They provide needed relief from disturbing press conferences and the harsh reality that hits when one does venture out on necessary errands and encounters plastic sheeting and tape marks on floors seeking to protect us from each other.
So keep singing, America. Keep playing your instruments, sharing jokes, sending positive vibes and messages. I, for one, am really appreciative of our celebs for seeing that the shows do indeed go on and not being afraid to be real.
I may have initially come kicking and screaming to social media but now I say thank heaven for the social media that allows us all to be connected and to keep working while we have to be physically apart.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay positive, readers, and know you’re all in my prayers.