This is a great time for people who are interested in soup and masturbation.
Greetings from Day 6 of Austria’s quarantine lockdown.
Travel has always been a privilege and a luxury. Despite being a well-traveled, far-flung bunch, we tried to never take that privilege for granted—but all our worlds just got smaller, fast, and it’s breathtaking. We believe in the power of travel to remind us that the world map is sometimes no more than a cruel geographic lottery—all the more so right now—and of the simple truth that a country’s people are not their governments. So it takes a rare thing for us to tell people not to go, pack, leave, experience. But we are. Stay home. If Ireland can close its pubs 36 hours before St Patrick’s Day, you can do without spring break in Clearwater, Florida or even one trip too many to the supermarket.
Almost everything makes for pretty surreal reading right now, and we have some appropriately surreal content this week. For decades now, co-founder Nathan Thornburgh and photographer Shane Carpenter have been covering the New Hampshire primary—the flesh-pressing, the electricity of big rallies, the brave and sometimes delusional lesser-known candidates. So check out this photo essay from last month’s primary—just a few weeks ago, but from a different world. On The Trip podcast, we finish our New Hampshire sessions with ones of the brave lesser-known candidates: Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan, whose ultimate goal is to get money into the hands of scientists so humanity can overcome death with science and technology. (Some of the transhumanist movement’s ideas may seem a little out there, but investment in science sounds pretty good right about now.) Zoltan also shows Nathan the tiny chip he had implanted (with a horse syringe, no less) in his hand—which, in his case, is for no more sinister a reason than to open his car after a surf session, sans keys.
Now, on to the matter at hand. Over the years at R&K, we have out of necessity perfected the art of the awkward online meeting—a grid of pixelated, sometimes frozen faces, ambient noise of cappuccino machines and traffic, cameos from curious dogs and less curious cats (sadly, no donkeys or miniature horses). Not incidentally, we’re also very good at online happy hours. (Note: Nathan is now out of Neta Mezcal, and is nervously awaiting his replenishment from Astor Wines.) For now, we can raise a glass and do our jobs without leaving the house. So many others who are integral to what we do and the stories we tell, on our site and for The Trip podcast—freelance writers and editors, bartenders, restaurant and service workers, artists, activists, exceptional people doing a lot with little—can’t. They have to go to work, or rely on tips and service fees, and will be hardest hit by this widespread quarantine. Here are some thoughts on things we can do right now.
A question we’ve grappled with this week is whether we should be ordering food. How do we balance supporting local restaurants and businesses with the vulnerability of the people delivering our pizza, ramen, or cases of booze? The Atlantic columnist Amanda Mull’s piece on how we should get food during the pandemic explores this dilemma, and how to make that decision. (Amanda also has an excellent and informative Twitter account, with cameos from her rescue chihuahua, Midge.) For now, many restaurants are doing pickup and delivery only, keeping staff employed but also putting delivery workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Some have measures in place to reduce contact on delivery. It’s a case-by-case decision (a local restaurant is a better choice than sending a gig worker to a busy grocery store, and try to find out if the restaurant treats its workers well) but if you do order food, make sure you’re understanding about mistakes and delays, and TIP WELL! Here is a useful thread from a delivery worker explaining the risks they take and how to help keep them safe.
How to help:
-Support your local stores and restaurants. See if they’re open for pickup and delivery. Go online: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are full of appeals for restaurant workers and freelancers.
-Write to and call your representatives and senators and let them know the restaurant industry should be part of the federal stimulus plan.
-Support restaurant industry workers by donating to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.
–Sign a petition to provide emergency employment benefits for restaurant workers and other measures to save America’s restaurants.
-Here is a Twitter thread connecting people with bartenders who could use a Venmo boost.
-Chef José Andrés has closed his D.C. restaurants and is turning some of them into community kitchens for to-go meals. You pay by scanning a code or with Paypal. You can also not pay, if you can’t right now. So check out how to support them.
How to help freelancers, writers, and creatives:
-Pre-order books by authors and writers who’ve had to cancel book tours and readings. (Some events at bookstores will be held virtually, so check in on their social media channels.) Order books from independent bookshops. Buy email-order books from The Second Shelf, a store in London selling rare books, first editions, and rediscovered works by women. Capitol Hill Books in D.C. is offering one-hour private slots. Astoria Books in Queens, NY is offering books for pick-up. Download books free from the New York Public Library.
-Are you or do you know an unsigned musician who’s had their SxSW gig cancelled? Enter NPR’s Tiny Desk concert competition.
Other good stuff:
-For those home-working with kids suddenly underfoot, Alessandra Potenza and the team at Scholastic have created a free resource with many days worth of articles, videos, games, and activities to keep everyone entertained, from pre-Kindergarten to 6th grade and above.
-Slate has listed all the stuff people are releasing for free due to coronavirus—such as PBS free-streaming Ken Burns’ 18-and-a-half hour series, Baseball. (That’s me sorted!)
–Playboy magazine is offering free access to its archives for 2 weeks. As a female writer on Twitter pointed out (don’t remember who, sorry), this is a great time for people who are interested in soup and masturbation.
-The Vienna State Opera has closed, but opened its archives for free streaming. The New York Metropolitan Opera has also shut down but is free-streaming versions of the operas it was scheduled to perform over the next few weeks. (The Met Opera site crashed when too many people tried to watch Carmen the other night, but it should be up and running now.) Also, as columnist Jeanna Kadlec points out, the Met Opera (which has now laid off most of its staff) offers some of the only reasonably priced tickets in New York during normal life too, so don’t forget about them when this is all over.
-Travel without moving! Enjoy live footage of dogs in Latvia and beaches in the Virgin Islands at Earthcam.com. Take virtual tours of U.S. National Parks. The Monterey Aquarium is shut, but you can watch its live cams. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, of the letting penguins roam around the empty aquarium fame, will be streaming their penguin nesting coverage. While we’re at it, here’s a whole thread of live animal cams.
-Here are some museums with online collections.
-Take some online courses, including from Ivy League universities.
What we’re reading:
-Culinary Backstreets’ Coronavirus Diaries—dispatches from cities by Culinary Backstreets writers detailing how Naples, Marseilles, Tbilisi and other cities are dealing with coronavirus. (Naturally, Tbilisi is drinking more chacha, but its disinfectant properties are unconfirmed.)
Our R&K travel archives. We can still dream, right?
Stay safe, stay home everyone.