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Day 158: Digging Pandemic, the Hard Way

What am I supposed to say about the imposition of martial law in LA? Obviously it’s a nightmare, but I’m not there. Nor do I know what to make of the announcement that RAISE is helping enterprising states set up recruitment centers to hire and train medical, fire, and security personnel for emergency service. Anyone whose blood test shows antibodies to H5N1 (and who lacks a criminal record) will be hired, uniformed, paid, and given priority for related jobs after the crisis ends.

The official statement mentioned U.S. citizenship as a possible reward, so DHS—which runs immigration—must be hoping that foreign cops, firefighters, and medical professionals with flu seasoning will jump ship for our troubled shores.

A MUST IN EVERY NEW YORKER’S FLU SURVIVAL KITEvelyn chastises me for forgetting she was the person who first told me about the LES DIY “when you were nesting happily with your banker.” Yeah, yeah. She says the group is overworked and divided over how to dispose of the burgeoning supply of corpses. They hear that scores, maybe a hundred, fester behind apartment doors in our corner of New York.

I’m wondering if the cops I saw in Central Park were chasing people who were trying to bury flu victims. (Did they make the ones they caught carry their corpses away?) An email just popped up to report that stray dogs were spotted unearthing human bodies in nearby Tompkins Square Park—just three blocks square, mostly concrete.

The LES DIY’s coordinator runs one of the biggest community gardens in the East Village and she resolutely opposes the members who want to turn the verdant lots into impromptu cemeteries.

The city and developers have never accepted that the gardens—survivors from a time when residents planted greenery and built fountains in rubble-packed lots to enliven blighted blocks—should remain in community hands. The properties are now priceless and she thinks the city will grab them if residents are caught using them for unauthorized activities. Imagine how the media will portray illicit burials in two years, when everyone is feverishly trying to forget what things were really like now.

She’s probably correct about the long-term peril. For the moment, I’m sure the police appreciate the LES DIY’s activities, which help maintain order. Desperately famished folks can make trouble. The group has even enlisted doctors and nurses who have withdrawn from the organized chaos of Public Health to help people in a more accessible setting—a back room at the restaurant. Why should the cops oppose that?

Still, residents with dead roommates and relatives are frantic, and the group is fracturing. My correspondent didn’t state her position. Ric has gone inactive. He writes to explain that the bedbugs must’ve joined him via a book he found in the lobby of his apartment building. Ric worked hard to keep his restaurant free of the parasites, but a novel called Cloud Atlas proved too intriguing. I remember when Ric texted me to praise it.

I sure hope the LES DIY can bear up. Nothing else works around here. Brownouts are becoming frequent around the country as utilities hoard coal and oil. Even writing at night, I save my text every few words. Count Blogula can’t afford to waste thoughts these days. They could dry up.

In Lieu of Coal: Breathe/Don’t Breathe

We must be close to running out of vital supplies. Power plants generally stock three weeks’ worth of fuel. If, as we were promised, the authorities spent the hiatus preparing for Round Two, why are the shops so empty?

Fortunately, I’ve realized—doh!—just how much my protective gear is worth. (No, I’m not raising prices, although shipping costs have risen because it must all be insured for so much more; my cleverly disguised packages have started to vanish.)

Whenever I go out, I wind up making sales. I can’t let people come here. Like a crack dealer, I meet them in the park or on street corners. I have yet to be robbed. I’ve managed to restock a little survival cash.

Storekeepers seem happy to barter food and kibbles for my goods, so Sneeky and I are plush with dull sustenance. I could trade for a car but I’d never manage to switch registration or insure it. Most bureaucracies remain shut.

The media tell us that New York’s trend-setting Quarantine Culture is hot, so long as we consume it digitally. However slowly the pipelines move it, money flows to the ISPs and vendors of downloadable games, streamable movies, and songs that do both. The runaway hit theme of Round Two is Breathe/Don’t Breathe, by Uncle Monkey. If you listen carefully, the song has nothing to do with bird flu, but who can resist something both ominous and cheerful? Let’s hope we all get to dance to the post-pandemic nostalgia remix.

The overworked and understaffed gendarmes of the 9th Precinct spend precious hours pursuing me. I’ve heard from a dozen cops who want free protective gear. After agreeing to a couple of requests, I took to throwing things again. I could never satisfy the world’s biggest municipal police force.

A call from “Sergeant Petruca’s nephew Cazimir” was the last straw. Of course Poles and Italians interbreed; it just sounded farfetched in the moment. I told him my stash was fully committed to doctors and politicians. And to you, my loyal patrons.

Let’s hope they don’t yank my temporary Health Security Certificate. The security of my health is nothing to sneeze at.

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