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Serial Living

Bill de Blasio. Never has such impressive height been wasted on one man. The New York mayor’s request for citizens to rat-out fellow social distancing violaters via smartphone snaps was apparently flooded with dick-pics and Hitler memes. Dick-pics, for those with lives, are male anatomical self-shots, taken mostly by lonely guys thinking “damn .. I look good from this angle ..” Don’t ask me how I know this. The point is, the images forwarded to de Blasio may be the first legitimate usage of this mildly illicit practice. They could have saved the Hitler memes entirely. It’s also enduring proof that New York City is still great. They’re getting slammed daily by a deadly pandemic yet still have time to drop trow and take a snap for their bumbling, fink-encouraging mayor. San Francisco may have been a front-runner for in-place sheltering, but its humorous sensibilities lean more toward naming a sewage treatment plant after George W Bush. Aren’t we so great? *This* is why you capitalize the “c” in “City.” If de Blasio’s request had been issued in San Francisco, documented proof that violaters had voted republican would have been forwarded as well. New York is as progressive as any city going, yet refuses to play that pussy bullshit. I’ll be back there again, risk groups and mortality rates allowing.

For now, though, I’m choosing to shelter in the gritty confines of Marin County. With neither subways nor crowded streets, Marin’s virus hot-spots are confined mostly to bike trails and jogging paths. Say what you will about white people (and apparently there’s an entire Netflix series dedicated to this) we’re damn good at avoiding one another for a protracted period. This is particularly true in conjunction with affluent liberalism or any ’cause’ that can be practiced publicly for an hour or two before retreating to our dark-bottom pools and Jacuzzis. We’ll even forego wife-swapping and Rolfing if the plan dictates and we don’t have to hold out for too long. There’s a trade-off to all of this privilege, though, and some of the oddest tales of human behavior sprung from the Marin of my youth. Much of Marin County’s reputation pivoted some time in the 70s when Cyra McFadden’s book “The Serial” came out. It focused on the trippier, self-indulgent elements of the county, painting it as a large commune packed with Zen joggers, natural fibers, enzymes, peacock feathers, and whip fantasies. While these things may have been occurring in select pockets, the Marin inhabitants I grew up around were mostly the families of neighborhood guys from the city; Italians who had crossed the bridge seeking more space. I don’t recall anyone producing a peacock feather or doing much enzyme shopping but there was the time Jack Arata buzzed down Joe Picetti’s mailbox to demonstrate the efficiency of a new chainsaw he’d purchased. Darker tales from those in the ‘extended’ group included the pharmacist’s wife who tried to separate him from his head with an axe while he slept. Cyra McFadden was likely indulging in too much high-grade sensimilla to be aware of these stories. The truth is Marin was all of these things but, as with San Francisco, I have little idea what it is now, other than quarantined.

Choice-elimination can be paradoxically liberating. Those who worry about missing the boat can feel secure knowing all are moored. If you balk at parties or social gatherings you likely feel ahead of current curves. And there are less noble endeavors than curbing infection; on a grand scale, it puts buying a vacation home or pursuing your third Ph.D. to shame. This Marin County relevancy doesn’t speak to more typical worries like keeping your kids fed or the rent paid when your waitressing gig disappears. But live long enough and you’ll be tested, even in the leafy confines of NorCal suburbia. All these apologetic caveats get redundant after a while, anyway. Chances are Bill de Blasio wouldn’t fly around these parts, either.

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