1 Year of Coronavirus -- What Now?


3 years ago



Hamilton Morris

3 appearances

Hamilton Morris is the creator and host of the Vice TV documentary series "Hamilton's Pharmacopeia," now in its third season.


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How's Brooklyn? It's grim. Is it? It's grim right now. I've lived in New York for the majority of my life. I love New York City and this is by far the grimest I have ever seen it. Really? I mean this winter, because it's everything that the entire country is facing, but it's the worst for COVID. It's also extremely cold. A lot of city services seem to have been impaired in one way or another. The streets are covered in garbage and ice and dog shit. Pretty much the only thing that I can do to maintain my sanity is run, but everything, including the outdoor running track, is covered in ice and shit. It's just this dystopian, frozen, pandemic landscape where every local business that I loved is closing down. It's a dark time. Yeah, I hear that about Los Angeles. I saw a lot of it, but I got out early. I saw the writing on the wall and I was looking to move in May. Once the lockdown got extended, once they were just going to lock down for two weeks to flatten the curve, I was like, that makes sense. Then here we are in April, all the way through April, here we are in May. And then I'm like, oh, they're never going to let us out of this. And then the crime started happening and it started getting dark. And I was like, oh, we got to get the fuck out of here. The homeless thing was flowers blooming out of rocks, out of cracks in the concrete. More tents, tents, tents, tents, tents. Los Angeles is filled with tents. You can't believe it. When I tell people about it and then they go there, they're like, I thought you were exaggerating. No, I was understating. Los Angeles is overwhelmed with tents. It's fucking crazy. You can't believe that on La Brea, they just allow people to set up tents everywhere. It's nuts. Well, yeah, what are people going to do? That's the question. What are people going to do? Yeah. Where are you going to put them? Do you have hospitals available for? And a lot of those, the problem is a lot of those shelters, they won't let them do drugs. And the lot of people are like, I would rather be in a fucking tent outside by the beach than be under your thumb. Because Los Angeles doesn't get cold. A cold day is 50. It's a big deal. Right. Just a sleeping bag. You're outside. It's nice. Yeah, it's really emphasized a lot of these economic divides because everyone in New York just orders everything on Amazon. So every apartment building in every nice part of New York receives a daily shipment of every tenant's stuff from Amazon. And then there's a secondary economy of people just going into all the buildings and staying and stealing all the packages. I've seen a lot of that. Yeah, I've seen a lot of ring videos, doorbell camera videos of people stealing shit. Oh, yeah, it's almost comical. I mean, I had one where I was loading my car with bags at two in the morning on a Tuesday. And in the lobby of my building for maybe 15 minutes, somebody just as soon as I walk around the corner, someone goes and scoops everything up. Yeah, it's a wild time. And I hope we're coming out of it. I mean, right when I came to Austin, this is the first time I've been on an airplane since the beginning of the pandemic. You're the first person I've spoken to without a mask. No, really? The first face I've seen in markets. Did you feel weird coming in here? But you knew everyone was tested. No, no, no, I felt fine. I've just been very careful. And because it's also cold in New York, it just promotes this prison cell-like lifestyle where I'm just sitting in my apartment reading and doing push-ups all day. Oh, God. Yeah. The dog shit thing is like so people just don't clean up anymore? They just gave up? You know how it is. There's this kind of tumbling character where things just start to accumulate and then no one shovels the streets and then it gets easier. Probably it's harder to pick it up because there's just like mounting layers of garbage everywhere and it just starts to look increasingly disgusting. Maybe we'll just get out of this in a couple weeks and everything will be. Oh, yeah. The problem that I don't think the people that shut everything down for a fucking year ever take into consideration is that people don't have the resources to bounce back. Things don't bounce back on their own, right? If you want to start a business, it takes money. It takes quite a bit of money to get a lease, to put the shelves, to hire employees. When you've been out of business for a year, you don't have any money. You've probably used up all savings if you had any savings. Try getting a loan when you don't have anything. There's no real logical path forward for a lot of these businesses. In Los Angeles, 75% of the restaurants are gone. Oh, yeah. I'm so worried about the restaurants in New York. Yeah, it's terrible. It doesn't seem like it's even talked about sufficiently because in New York, in the winter time, they're really trying. They're doing things that I would have never truly extraordinary things, like making these little heated space gazebos that are covered in mylar on the inside. Ultimately, most people don't even really want to do that. Then there's this weird conflict of, is it moral to support these businesses because you want them to stay in business? Or are you feeding into a system where people are subjecting themselves to unsafe working conditions and is it actually immoral to go to restaurants? Of course, people endlessly argue about that. Personal choices are not immoral. If the people decide that they're willing to work there and they're masked up and they feel safe working there, isn't that better than not having a choice to work there? I guess the idea is that instead of people going on unemployment, they feel pressured to put themselves at risk when they really should be at home, not potentially spreading coronavirus and ideally receiving some sort of government assistance. Well, it's also like when does the government assistance run out? It has run out for a lot of people. There is no more unemployment for a lot of folks. On top of that, the way everything's been mismanaged is so terrible in so many ways. Why is it okay to be at Target on top of people? Why is it okay to be at Walgreens on top of people? But it's not okay to have these mom and pop stores open or retail stores. Oh yeah. Or like I said, I haven't been on an airplane until I came to see you. But of course, I see all these stories in the news that are like, this guy went on an airplane and he took off his mask and they had to do an emergency landing and they kicked him off the plane and everyone cheered. If you haven't been on a plane, you just read that and you think, oh yeah, that guy sounds like quite an asshole. Good that they kicked him off the plane. But then on the plane, I hadn't even considered this. Like, what is done with snacks? What are the snack provisions? Are there no more peanuts? Is there no water? And if it is served, then everyone has to take off their masks. So this is all just sort of like security theater because they still serve food and everyone unmasks simultaneously to eat. So there's a period of at least 15 minutes where everyone on the plane is unmasked by the doing of the actual airline. Yeah, it's nonsense. It's full nonsense across the board. Well, I think people just don't know what to do. It's you know, they're aware that all these things are contradictory. Everyone is trying to do their best. They're confused. They don't understand it even to this day. People are trying not to be an asshole. You know, when you wear a mask, which are basically saying is I'm not an asshole. You know, I'm going to go around and I want you to feel like I care. I want you know, I want you to feel all right. So I'm going to wear a mask. But it's not. I mean, maybe it's protecting somewhat. It's not certainly not 100 percent safe. You know, like it's protecting you against droplets. Someone sneezes, but you're breathing. Oh, yeah. The masking is definitely good. I think that's pretty well established. But I guess what I don't understand is the hypocrisy. Like if we have established that masking is good, then we also have to not have snacks on the flight. Or water. Or water. But yeah. So then what do you do? You're on top of each other sitting three people next to each other. I mean, it's like literally the opposite of social distancing. It's incredibly intimate. You don't even know these people. You're touching elbows with them. Yeah. It's crazy. Yeah. I mean, and this is why when it started, I was one of these people that, you know, I was thinking, well, you know, I work in media. I know the way the media blows everything out of proportion. I remember Swine Flu. I know that they sell newspapers by making everyone terrified. This can't possibly be as bad as people think it is. And I was sort of in COVID denial. And I was also in the middle of filming the third season of my TV show. So I was just sort of seduced by the momentum of production and didn't want it to end. And people were saying, you know, I don't think we can film anymore. I think we have to stop. And I thought, what is the world going to shut down? Yeah, I remember that. Is the like, this is unprecedented. The world isn't going to shut down. We're not going to be kept in our apartments. It's just not conceivable that such a thing could happen. Cut to one year later. Catch new episodes of the Joe Rogan experience for free only on Spotify. 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