Pence Starts Wearing Mask After Fauci Says It Will Protect Him from Women ~ The New Yorker

Vice President Mike Pence visits Mayo Clinic.
Photograph by Nicholas Pfosi / Reuters

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Vice-President Mike Pence has started wearing a mask after Anthony Fauci told him that it will protect him from women, Fauci has confirmed.

After seeing video of a maskless Pence touring the Mayo Clinic, on Tuesday, Fauci said, “I knew I had to come up with something fast” to get through to Pence.

Fauci immediately got on the phone with the Vice-President and informed him that “clinical research” had demonstrated that a mask is “an effective female-repellent.”

“I told him that wearing a mask would protect him from 99.99 per cent of all women,” Fauci said. “He seemed very impressed.”

In an official statement, the Vice-President thanked Fauci for his excellent advice and indicated that he would start wearing a mask at all times, including at home.

There is love and irony in Frida Kahlo’s painting of herself with her husband

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Power couple,
power portrait


On the spectrum between starting a business and getting married — perhaps two of the most optimistic things one can do — where would you put painting a portrait of yourself beside Diego Rivera?

Ask Frida Kahlo. She made this double portrait in San Francisco in the spring of 1931, two years after marrying Rivera. It’s a simple image, in the same way that marriage is a simple idea — only it turns out to be a hall of mirrors: Who’s up, who’s down, who’s doing the real work, whose heart is most fitted out for love?

Vertigo descends.

At the end of 1930, Kahlo and Rivera had arrived in America — a country convulsed by the Great Depression. Kahlo found it “ugly and stupid.” She grew to like San Francisco, but she longed to return to Mexico.

Together, the two of them were building a business, a brand. Rivera was a double-chinned communist, an avowed atheist who could tickle the sentimental hearts of America’s titans of industry. He had been a denizen of bohemian Montparnasse, a friend of Modigliani and Picasso. His murals made him a hero back in post-revolutionary Mexico.

He was in San Francisco scooping up commissions to paint more murals — for the Luncheon Club of the Pacific Stock Exchange (not known for its communist sympathies); the California School of Fine Arts; and the widow of a former president of Levi Strauss. He was to have a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in late 1931.

Rivera was the big cheese in their fledgling marriage. Kahlo was just starting out.

It’s the fashion among Kahlo cultists (and I’m a paid-up member) to make Rivera the bad guy. But their marriage had already, by this time, corkscrewed down into a category of amorous rivalry that renders notions of “good” and “bad” redundant. Whatever they were in, they were in it together.

The banner above Kahlo’s head is in Spanish. It begins: “Here you see me, Frieda Kahlo, with my beloved husband Diego Rivera.” Straightforward, as I said. But how strange, on reflection, that he is depicted as the painter in a picture that she has painted.

Rivera holds his palette and brushes the way Saint Peter holds the keys to heaven or Edsel B. Ford holds a car designer’s compass (in a portrait Rivera made in Detroit the following year). Beside him, Kahlo tilts her head demurely. The way they are grasping hands calls to mind the uncanny, dead-or-alive couple in Jan van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait.” Kahlo wears a dark green dress and an orange Mexican shawl. Beside Rivera’s great, clomping shoes, her green ones adorned with red polka dots are almost comically tiny.

It’s as if she is saying (with who knows what degree of affectionate irony): Look, gringos, at me and my big handsome husband. (Rivera was as ugly as sin, but love’s lens — it is well documented — generates powerful distortions.) Feel his heft and girth, the thunderous wave of his charisma, the globe-encompassing magnitude of his mirthful eyes . . .

Of course, in their symphonic relationship, Kahlo’s “smallness,” and her work’s concentrated potency, hum in continuous counterpoint to Rivera’s largeness — the fat, thumping chords of his big politics, his big pictures, his great-man bloatedness. But it’s her melody we remember best.


Peru’s Queen of Quechua Rap Wants to Rescue Indigenous Culture With Her Music ~ NYT

Renata Flores, 19, is part of a generation of Peruvian musicians combining the bouncing beats of Latin trap, rap and reggaeton with the sounds, and language, of the Andean countryside.

Credit…Celia D. Luna

The music video begins with the sweeping views of the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the whistle of the region’s traditional wind instruments.

Then you see Renata Flores. Standing defiantly in the baggy pants, slick ponytail and hoop earrings that have become the uniform of hip-hop artists around the world, she begins to rap — in Quechua, the language of the Incas, whose empire was rooted in these heights.

This blend of traditional and transgressive, rural and urban, local and global, has thrust Ms. Flores, 19, and her music into an intensifying debate over identity in the region, and made her a leader among a new generation of artists producing contemporary music in Quechua, which remains the most widely spoken Indigenous language in Latin America.

In the last few decades, internal migration has transformed Latin America into the most urbanized region in the world, but Indigenous languages — spoken by millions who have moved to the cities — have often been dismissed as the speech of poor farmers and relegated to nostalgic cultural spaces, including festivals and museums.

The message conveyed to Quechua speakers is that their identities are part of the region’s past.

In Peru, artists like Ms. Flores and the promoters of urban Andean music — sometimes called rap Andino or Inka trap — are presenting Quechua speakers as also integral to their country’s future.

“There are people with strong criticism who say, ‘this is an aberration,’” said Liberato Kani, 26, one of Peru’s best-known Quechua rappers, who sometimes hears from people who say the language of the Inca should stay “in the audio in my museum.”

“But if they’re criticizing,” he went on, “it means they’re listening.”

Ms. Flores and Mr. Kani, along with soundmakers like Kayfex, who recently signed with the Warner Music in the United States, are combining the bouncing beats of Latin trap, rap and reggaeton popularized by artists like Bad Bunny with the sounds of the Peruvian countryside.

These include the melodic whistle of the quena, a wind instrument, and the moaning harps and violins used in the country’s most emblematic musical performance, the scissor dance.

Their argument is that there is no better way to become visible than through pop culture.

Mr. Kani’s songs are solidarity anthems that chronicle urban and rural life. “I pray to father mountain for water in my pueblo,” he raps in “Harawi” meaning “Poem.”

After shows, which have attracted thousands of fans, he is sometimes approached by young artists who want to know how to spin rhymes in their own languages, including Aymara, spoken in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru.

Quechua, which is spoken by an estimated eight million people across at least five countries, was spread across South America by the Inca long before the Spanish arrived.

But there are few instances in which the language is used in media to tackle contemporary concerns.

Ms. Flores takes on female power, government corruption, war and international pop culture polemics.

Her new album, Isqun, or “Nine,” set for release this year, traces “everything that the Andean woman has had to go through, since before and including the arrival of the Spanish to Peru,” over nine songs, she said.

She recorded it at a music school owned by her parents, and directed the production. She is an independent artist, self-funded with the help of foundation and competition money, event payouts and a contract with a shampoo company.

In “Somos Fusión,” a half-Quechua, half-Spanish song about the life of the half-Incan, half-Spanish daughter of the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, she cheekily addresses Rosalía, the Spanish-born pop star who has sometimes been accused of crowding out Latin American artists.

“We’re fusion,” she sings of Francisco’s descendants. “Rosalía, admit that I’m right.”

Quechua has survived not only conquest, but the foundation of the region’s independent republics, whose leaders often discouraged the language’s use in an attempt to eliminate Indigenous dissent.

More recently, the language has endured Peru’s internal war, which spanned the 1980s and 1990s and pitted a brutal rebel group called the Shining Path against a sometimes equally violent government — with poor farmers trapped in the middle.

When the violence had subsided, Peru’s truth commission found that 75 percent of the war’s nearly 70,000 victims were native speakers of Quechua or other Indigenous languages.

It was out of that pain that several musicians formed a 1990s rock group called Uchpa, meaning “ashes,” helping to launch a Quecha-language blues-rock movement that became a freedom cry for a generation of Peruvians who had grown up choked by fear.

It is out of that legacy that artists like Ms. Flores and Mr. Kani have arrived, aware of the language’s history, but removed enough from the pain to take on new sounds and political issues.

Ms. Flores lives in the small city of Ayacucho, once the cradle of the Shining Path and the birthplace of Uchpa. Her parents, former members of a Peruvian rock band, are now a hospital administrator (her father) and a music academy director (her mother).

She first captured Peru’s attention five years ago. At age 14, having failed to win a season of an American Idol-style show called “La Voz Kids,” she and her mother decided to take what would have been her champion song, Uchpa’s Quechua cover of the Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun,” to the internet.

Soon, her video of the cover was trending on Facebook in Peru. Then came more covers in Quechua: Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” (“Chaynatam Ruwanki Kuyanayta”) and Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” (“Wichichkamuni.”)

Back then, Ms. Flores just wanted to do “something different,” she said. But she began to think about what it meant to sing in the language of her ancestors.

Her own maternal grandmother had been a teacher in rural Peru during the reign of the Shining Path and had told her about the horror of that time. Her Quechua-speaking students had been recruited by the guerrillas and terrorized by the military, her grandmother said. Speaking an Indigenous language made them both the victims of rebel recruitment and the object of suspicion among other Peruvians.

Her paternal grandmother, who grew up in the countryside, never learned to speak Spanish fluently.

Ms. Flores began to wonder why she sometimes felt embarrassed to hear her grandmothers speak Quechua in public, and why so many of her peers seemed ashamed to speak the language in class.

She began to wonder why no one had ever fully taught her the language.

Over time, she started writing her own lyrics, starting in Spanish and then translating them into Quechua with the help of her grandmothers.

Her goal, she said, was to “rescue our culture.”

“Tijeras,” or “Scissors,” her first politically oriented single, was a #MeToo-era rallying cry. “My scream,” she raps, “maybe if I sing it nicely, people will listen.”

“Qam hina,” or “Like You,” released in September, is perhaps her most ambitious project yet and has been widely viewed in Peru.

Américo Mendoza-Mori, a Peruvian scholar of Quechua who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, offered a translation.

In the song and its video set in the Andes, Ms. Flores tells a story from the perspective of a singer-character whose grandparents disappeared during the conflict.

But as she narrates her grandmother’s story, she also speaks about the girls in rural Peru who spend many hours walking to class each day.

As the song continues, the narrator experiences an unspecified abuse on the long path home from school.

Ms. Flores and her mother, along with a team led by a young filmmaker named Apolo Bautista, produced the video. Local students played themselves as extras and sing the chorus.

“Munani musquyta,” they chant. “I want to dream. I want to learn. I want to speak.”

Upon seeing the video, Ms. Flores’ maternal grandmother, Adalberta Canchanya Alvarado, 78, declared herself “incredibly proud.”

“She is free and can sing, and we were not,” Ms. Canchanya said. “And she tells it exactly like it is.”

We Are Living in a Failed State ~ The Atlantic

The Rōbert [Cholo] Report (pron: Rō'bear Re'por)

Illustration: American flag at half-mast on IV stand

When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.

The crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational, and collective. The United States reacted instead like Pakistan or Belarus—like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering. The administration squandered two irretrievable months to prepare. From the president came willful blindness, scapegoating, boasts…

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April Snow/H20 Equivalent for RMP & some history


11-S. Hale checking Snow=H20 equiv. # 45.jpegApril SWE ~ Snow/H20 Equivalent for Hwy 550 Corridor


RMP  24”@2.2” H2O

Monument  15”@1.35” H2O

Molas Pass  12.5”@1.05” H2O

Coal Bank Pass  8.5”@.8” H2O

All stations well below normal… RMP 50 year average: 44.5”, Monument 25-year:  35.5”, Molas 25-year: 28.3”; Coal Bank 25-year: 34.2”



The past three years for SWE ~ RMP

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The Virus Won’t Revive F.D.R.’s Arts Jobs Program ~ NYT

The Federal Art Project, part of Roosevelt’s sweeping employment plan, gave work to thousands of artists, but politics and society were different then.

Credit…Federal Art Project/WPA, via Smithsonian Archives of American Art


In the loft above the pickle factory, dozens of women sat each day at looms or hovered around copper-lined tanks filled with dye, weaving drapes and rugs for the government.

It was San Francisco, in the early 1940s, and Margery Magnani, a 20-something French literature major, somehow found herself the forewoman, supervising as many as 95 workers.

Most of them were old enough to be her mother or grandmother. Some sewed cut-up old military uniforms together by hand. Others hung the finished fabrics over large poles so they would become crisp and presentable.

The younger women worked the 75-gallon tanks, dyeing about 25 pounds of yarn a day into shades of deep red or green. The material would end up as rugs, or drapes for an Army club, or decorations for the venereal disease clinic.

The work usually went without a hitch — except for when the dye would drip down into the pickles below.

“These people would come upstairs, just screaming their heads off because all of a sudden there was red and blue water trickling down,” Ms. Magnani said in an oral history recorded by the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

These weavers were part of a federal jobs program launched in another uncertain time and designed to employ painters and sculptors, actors, musicians, writers and craftspeople who were having a hard time making a living.

For roughly a decade, starting with the Depression of the 1930s, a generation of artists received their paychecks from the government under the auspices of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

They did jobs like teaching art to children or painting murals for schools and post offices.

“On the whole they were united by one very simple, basic thing: They needed to eat,” said Burgoyne Diller, a mural supervisor for the Federal Art Project, in an oral history.

Credit…Federal Art Project/WPA, via Smithsonian Archives of American Art


There is talk again in some circles of fashioning additional federal help for artists as the pandemic wreaks havoc on their livelihoods. Some lawmakers, for example, wanted $4 billion in emergency funding for the arts included in the stimulus package.

“There are going to be a lot of people out of work who make their living as a musician, people working for community theaters,” said Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat and leader of the Congressional Arts Caucus, last month. “You can’t turn your back on them.”

But few defenders of the arts are optimistic that a program as sprawling and generous as the New Deal initiative could happen now.

“I’m not sure you can get Congress to agree on anything,” said Barbara Bernstein, founder of the New Deal Art Registry, an online guide to art from that era. “Especially not something as easy to make fun of as an art program.”

For one, President Trump has cast himself as an arts antagonist, at least when it comes to funding. In each of his budget proposals as president, he has called for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

And he has no shortage of allies, some of whom view the arts as elitist and others who say that, however valuable, cultural matters should not be the work of government.

Nikki Haley, the Republican former United Nations ambassador, reacted with criticism when Congress finalized the $2 trillion emergency aid bill in March and set aside $250 million for the arts, including the N.E.A., the N.E.H., and public television and radio — less than 7 percent of what lawmakers like Representative Pingree had pushed for.

“How many more people could have been helped with this money?” she tweeted.

The mood was different when the New Deal program passed. Certainly conservatives of that era viewed some artists as dangerously radical leftists, but Roosevelt’s program was a minor part of a major initiative that included money for projects like new roads and bridges. It was pushed by a popular president whose party controlled both houses of Congress. And it came at a time when some in the government saw the morale-boosting benefits of creating a truly “American” artistic style, one no longer derivative of Europe, said Ms. Bernstein.

During that era, so many programs disbursed arts funding under a parade of acronyms that even the artists who had benefited couldn’t keep the names straight.

The Farm Security Administration, for example, was the unlikely sounding source of projects that produced famous photographs like Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” and Gordon Parks’s “American Gothic.”

Credit…Federal Art Project/WPA, via Library of Congress

Threadgill’s, The Austin Venue That Helped Launch Janis Joplin, Closes Down


Before she was one of the stars of the 1960s, Janis Joplin got her start performing at Threadgill’s in Austin. The iconic club recently announced it will close permanently due to the coronavirus.

With public life paralyzed by the coronavirus shutdown, a sad announcement came last week from a beloved cafe and music venue in Austin, Texas. Threadgill’s, the Depression-era beer joint where Janis Joplin got her start — and later a place that fed Austin’s appetite for good food and good music — is closing for good.

Threadgill’s is part of Austin’s creation story. A welder and bootlegger named Kenneth Threadgill converted a gas station into a beer joint and opened it in 1933, as soon as Prohibition was repealed. But it was in the early 1960s that Threadgill’s entered American musical history.

A rebellious undergrad at the University of Texas named Janis Joplin, who played blues on her autoharp, began coming to the Wednesday-night folk sessions at Threadgill’s. She sang like nobody the salty old proprietor had ever heard.

“Kenneth Threadgill, as I understand, welcomed Janis Joplin to Threadgill’s and nurtured her — and this, at a time when no one liked how she looked,” pianist Floyd Domino, a Threadgill’s regular, remembers. “A lot of people didn’t like how she sang. And he gave her confidence, and she ended up going out to San Francisco and the rest is history.”

Joplin and Threadgill remained close, even after his tavern went out of business. Then in 1981, a local hippie music promoter named Eddie Wilson acquired the decrepit structure on North Lamar Boulevard and renovated it. Threadgill’s was reborn.

For nearly four decades, the scuffed wooden stage would be home to acclaimed singer-songwriters Jimmy LaFave, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and many others. And the kitchen would create Southern comfort food prepared in the spirit of Wilson’s mother, Beulah. The vegetables were slow-cooked with ham hocks — and the chicken-fried steak was legendary.



“When you start with the right stuff, you really can’t screw it up,” Eddie Wilson says. “And it’s really a matter of getting it really good and soaked in that buttermilk dip that we put it in. And then into the seasoned flour, and really pressed in good and hard. And then back in the dip and then in the fryer. So that it goes in the fryer wet and just kind of explodes.”

The 76-year-old Wilson, with his white beard and cowboy boots, has decorated the walls of his cafe with the artifacts of his life at the center of Austin culture: musical instruments, signed photographs, concert posters and his extensive collection of neon beer signs. Some of the memorabilia dates to the 1970s, when Wilson co-owned Armadillo World Headquarters, the fabled concert hall that helped create Austin’s offbeat musical persona. There was also a second, larger Threadgill’s that closed a couple of years ago.

Then came the pandemic. The virus is proving fatal to both people and businesses with pre-existing conditions. In the case of Threadgill’s, Wilson describes the problem as “A combination of pushin’ 80 and it being pretty marginal anyway.”

Business had been hurting, and tastes have changed. Young diners in this foodie town favor fusion cuisine like Tex-Mex/Indian and Asian/smokehouse over Beulah’s meatloaf and black-eyed peas. Wilson and his wife Sandra have been looking to retire. The coronavirus pushed them toward the exit.

“I would’ve never gotten around to it probably if the shutdown hadn’t come along and put all the people out of work that I would have had to put out of work myself,” he says. “It just felt like it was time.”

The property is now for sale. The wall art will be auctioned off later this summer. And the renowned kitchen staff is considering new offers.

We Cannot “Reopen” America ~ The Bulwark

No matter when government stay-at-home orders are revoked, the American economy will not reopen. Because the source of the economic shock is not government orders. It’s the pandemic.
APRIL 24, 2020

Featured Image

Street performer Robert John Burck, known as The Naked Cowboy, plays guitar amid coronavirus concern in the almost deserted Times Square on April 13, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

The movement to “reopen” America is a fallacy based on a fantasy.

The fallacy is the notion that lifting stay-at-home orders will result in people going back to their normal routines. This is false. The state-issued stay-at-home orders did not determine most people’s desires to stay home—they merely ratified behaviors that the vast majority of people and institutions were already adopting in response to COVID-19.

The fantasy is that we can go back to what the world looked like 12 weeks ago. This is not possible now and will not be possible until we possess a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Understand that I am not saying that stay-at-home orders should be indefinite. What I am saying is that whenever the stay-at-home orders are rolled back—whether it is tomorrow or a month from now—it will not result in anything like a “reopening” of the country.  And the sooner people grasp how completely and fundamentally the world has changed, the faster we’ll be able to adapt to this new reality.

Let’s take a close look at just a couple of examples.

Vegas, Baby

Las Vegas will not “reopen” because the city as we knew it in February 2020 is gone.

Las Vegas is the 28th-largest metropolitan area in America, home to 2.2 million people. Its main business is gambling-related tourism. The city welcomes roughly 42 million visitors a year who pour $58 billion dollars into the local economy and support 370,000 jobs. Almost 40 percent of the area’s workers are employed in the hospitality industry.

Up until this past January, 70,000 people got off an airplane in Las Vegas every single day, mostly to take in the city’s charms.

On these flights, passenger seats are roughly 17 inches wide with 31 inches of pitch. So in order to get to Las Vegas—where the principal pleasure is spending disposable income on hotel rooms, while eating expensive meals, and playing casino games—something like 150 people would share 8,000 cubic feet of cabin space and recycled air for anywhere from one to four hours.

So tell me: When the state of Nevada lifts the stay-at-home order that it issued on March 12 and the casinos that drive the state’s economy reopen their doors, do you think that Las Vegas is going to come roaring back?

Because I do not.

What is much more likely is that the former steady flow of visitors to Las Vegas will resume as a trickle.

There are economic reasons for this: National unemployment levels will be near 20 percent, so people will be grappling with a great deal of financial uncertainty. Disposable income will be at a low ebb. When disposable income is in retreat, people generally do not take extravagant vacations where the primary purpose is to lose money in an entertaining manner.

But there are health reasons, too: People who are older or immunocompromised—or who come into regular contact with someone who is older or immunocompromised—are going to curtail their behavior in order to cut down on unnecessary personal interactions.

Getting on an airplane to fly to a city so that you can stay in a hotel, eat in crowded dining rooms, and stand elbow-to-elbow with strangers around a craps table will be far, far down the list of behaviors on which most people are open to taking a risk.

Which means that the 28th-largest city in America is going to hollow out.

If the tourism industry were to only decline by 30 percent in Las Vegas, it would be an utter catastrophe. No tourists means no work for maids, taxi drivers, cooks, dealers, waiters, and the tens of thousands of jobs that make up the invisible, back-of-the-house operations in hospitality.

No jobs for the people in hospitality means a shockwave to the local economy: The retail and service sectors will be crunched. Real estate values will implode. The strain on social services will be gigantic.

The central fact to be grasped here is that “reopening” the economy is largely a formality until there is a vaccine. Because only then will people modify their behavior to something approximating pre-pandemic levels.



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