James McMurtry — “Cancelled Culture”
When the pandemic became a real thing for most of us, a year and a half or so ago, I worried that if I were an asymptomatic carrier of covid and coughed in a restaurant, I might infect a server who might then go home and infect his or her parents who, being older and subject to more severe symptoms than most of us, might die because I coughed in a restaurant. Now, I worry about the server’s children. I’m fully vaccinated, but so are musician friends of mine who have contracted the Delta variant of Covid-19. My friends have “mild cases,” meaning they haven’t had to be hospitalized. One of them has been ill for weeks. Singers and drummers seem to get it a lot, they have to breathe deeply, sucking in that viral load. The Delta variant is hitting the unvaccinated hard. Over ninety percent of new hospitalizations resulting from Covid are of unvaccinated people. The Delta variant is hitting young people hard, perhaps because the young have been late to get vaccinated. Children are now entering ICU, where there are still beds to be found. Children under twelve cannot yet be vaccinated. So I imagined myself facing a room full of fans, dancing maskless, some secure in the notion we had a few weeks ago that the vaccination would protect us from even contracting the virus and that we were back to normal, a few oblivious to the fact that Covid ever even existed. The vaccinated might get sick, but they probably won’t die. But we are seeing more and more evidence that the vaccinated can contract and spread the virus. Some of those in the crowd have babysitters on the clock back home. Even vaccinated, those reveling parents could take something home from my show that would inconvenience them personally and bodily, but could prove deadly to their kids. I’ve cancelled/postponed all my indoor shows through September, save one where the audience will wear masks and show proof of vaccination to enter. I couldn’t figure out what else to do. Many venues won’t let us demand proof of vaccination or mandate the use of masks, especially in red states. Funny, we used to be able to demand non-smoking shows. Promoters didn’t like that for a while, until suddenly, smoking bans went into effect almost everywhere, and the bar business barely flinched. I sure don’t miss crashing, too tired to shower after a show, and waking up with my pillow smelling like smoke, years after having quit smoking myself. I’m going to keep pushing for whatever safety measures I can get wherever I can get them, and I’m not alone. Chuck Prophet is taking a major stand. So is Kevin Russell. The government won’t step up and help us, nor will many states. Many club owners and promoters won’t help us. But some of them fought the smoking bans, and lost. And some of them have school aged kids, as do the musicians and touring crews who are getting breakthrough infections at an alarming rate. The game has only begun, I fear. And we all need to keep our heads in the game.
Find more information on James McMurtry here: http://www.jamesmcmurtry.com
Find earlier columns here: Wasteland Bait & Tackle: July 2021