By Bruce A. Smith
Bob Dylan released a new song today titled, “Murder Most Foul.” It’s a studio production of Bob’s stream of consciousness review of all the dramas of the past fifty years, starting with JFK’s assassination. As such, it’s dirge-like and sad. But it touches some deep feelings that may be obscured by our current boredom or fear of Covid.
In fact, I’m writing these words as I listen to Bob’s dirge a second time. The first time I had to abandon it because it was too depressing.
But the piece awakens something that is real and important. Perhaps vital. Maybe others will experience something similar. I don’t think I am alone, and Dylan may have sensed that today was a good time to release this recording.
To wit: my good friend Jeff Facebook-messaged me from Austin this afternoon with lengthy missives that were in turn accusative, angry, and confused. Jeff and all of Texas just entered a mandatory “shelter-in-place” orders from Governor Greg Abbott, and to violate them risks a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail. Don’t Mess with Texas has never seemed more real. Hence, Dylan.
Bob’s release also comes with a personal announcement:
“Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you. – Bob Dylan”
“Murder Most Foul” can be heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbQkyvbw18
Pinned by BobDylanVEVO
Some of the commentators on Bob’s YouTube page reveal similar tones. Rickey Lee Bauman posted: “I needed this right now, this window into time. Stuck at home, not knowing where this virus is going, your winged words reach into my soul. Thank you, Bob Dylan.”
Another commentary comes from Korry Norman: “The significance of this song at this time, and for it to be Bob Dylan. He has sat in the shadows for decades and then drops this. Wow. Goosebumps.”
Also, Svetlana Lazarova wrote: “Bob Dylan, if it were even through this song, has forever shown himself as the HOMER of our times… “
Lastly, a poster by the name of “Lefty Smokes” said: “If everyone sings this while washing their hands, we just might make it.”
I’m with Lefty. In fact, I’ve been washing my hands like crazy, alternating between soap and my bleach baths, since I went mega grocery shopping yesterday – spent 150 bucks, a personal record for a single shopping spree. Just before I went, I watch a 15-minute video from a Dr. Jeffrey Van Wingen, who demonstrated sterile techniques for handling food and packaging. In short, Dr. Van Wingen treats everything from a grocery store as if he is bringing to a surgical operating room instead of a kitchen. He’s intense, but thorough. Further, I believe he is wise, and I endeavored to follow all of his instructions. It’s a commitment, though, and putting my foodstuffs away took an hour!
In his video, the good doctor, who is an emergency doc in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is nervous but articulate, and I highly recommend viewing it:
A couple of tips I learned from during my grocery outing. First, wearing latex gloves causes problems. The fingertips of the gloves will get stuck in zippers and jam them, necessitating ripping the glove apart. Plus, the gloves make removing one’s wallet from a pants pocket difficult. Continuing, I recommend taking one’s debit card or cash out of your wallet before you put on the gloves. Also, remove your “buyer’s club cards” or coupons, etc. at the same time.
Secondly, a N-95 mask will prove to be difficult to breathe through during a 45-minute tour of the grocery aisles. Heavy breathing resulted for me, and I fogged my glasses repeatedly.
Fortunately, the grocery store was not crowded. I had called the store earlier to assess my social distancing risks and the Graham Safeway clerk assured me I would be okay at 3 pm on a Thursday afternoon. In addition, if I wanted super-safety I could shop on Tuesday or Thursday mornings between 7am and 9am, which are reserved for seniors – but that’s too early for me.
The shelves were stocked, except for toilet paper, and I really needed some. I still don’t understand that TP hording thing so many people possess.
But the meat cases were full, and the cookie shelves jammed. In fact, when I pulled out my “Family-Size” pack of Oreo’s, I thought a half-dozen more packages might fly out since they were packed so tightly.
Surprisingly, none of the Safeway workers were wearing any protective gear. No gloves nor masks. In fact, I didn’t see any shoppers wearing a mask, either, and only one other old guy was wearing gloves like me. That is very different from Plaza Market in Eatonville, where most of the staff were using gloves, at least.
Regardless, when I got home the fun began in earnest. As Dr. Van Wingen suggested, I first sanitized a receiving area. Everything from the store got placed on a table outdoors, and I sanitized things with a bleach schmata or dunked them into a bleach bath at the sink before I placed them into the refrig, pantry, or kitchen. The exterior of everything got sanitized – all packages, cans, and fruit. Even my little zip-lock baggie of turkey slices from the Deli Counter, and I made sure to sanitize my hands between each transfer.
Like Van Wingen, I scrubbed all my oranges, but I only dunked the bananas, since I didn’t want to bruise the fruit. I also figured that I only touched the skins lightly as I peeled them.
Cans were a little tricky, as the labels slid off in the bleach bath. It reminded me of stories my mother used to tell of leaving me alone for too long when I was in my “terrible two’s” and I would tear labels off the cans I could reach in our kitchen’s lower cabinets. Memorably, we ate “mystery soup” for a couple of months that winter.
Moving along, local and world news reveal that Covid is becoming more serious everywhere. Boris Johnson, the UK’s PM, has tested positive. Closer to home, 35 patients are now reported dead at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, which is the epicenter of Washington’s Covid outbreak.
Similarly, 18 Covid patients died yesterday at Elmhurst General Hospital in Queens, NY. As a result, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio declared Elm Gen “the epicenter of the epicenter,” and it’s just a few miles down the road from my Mom.
All this may have coupled with my anxieties about heading into the world yesterday because I have had chest pains for much of the past 48 hours. Yes, I wondered if I some of the new Covid symptoms that are getting reported. Besides fevers and a cough, Covid patients are also experiencing body aches and tummy issues, especially diarrhea and nausea.
Of course, fear feeds into fear, so I’ve been addressing my concerns in a logical fashion. Yesterday, I took my blood pressure for the first time in a year and was surprised to see my “before meds” reading of 149/91, which is much higher than normal. Oh Gawd, am I having a heart attack?
But I’ve been down this road before, and since my actual heart attack in 2012, I have taken five trips to the ER with chest pains that were later diagnosed as anxiety, thus earning me a trip to Good Sam’s Behavioral Health Department. Suffice to say, the several years of psychotherapy that followed were welcomed and alleviated much of the depression that accompanied my cardiac event.
Fortunately, my BP was down to 117/65 by nightfall.
Further good news comes from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is reporting that he has recruited retired health care professionals to form a “Surge Force” of 40,000 to service all the new hospitals being constructed in available places, such as the Javits Center Convention Center in Manhattan. Cuomo’s Force includes 2,000 physicians and 16,000 RNs. He also has 6,000 retired mental health professionals who have volunteered to field distress calls from folks freaking-out. If you’d like to chat, the number is: 1-844. 863. 9314.
Along those lines, the US Navy Hospital ship, The Comfort, is now scheduled to dock in NY on April 18th, just in time for the Covid peak to hit New York, according to recent reports from Gov. Cuomo.
Similarly, entrepreneurs are coming forward in inspiring ways. Budmen Industries in upstate New York is reporting that they are licensing out 3-D imaging techniques so that people can produce safety gear, such as face shields and masks, by using 3-D printers. The beauty is that these outfits can be localized, next door to hospitals that need the equipment.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/budmenindustries/
On the bad news front, President Trump seems to still want to re-open America by Easter Sunday, April 12th. The NY Times is running a graphic that projects a 100-million Covid cases by the end of the year with 1 million deaths if Trumps pursues that option.
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck has reportedly claimed that he would be willing to die rather than “kill” his country, to which Governor Cuomo retorted that his “mother is not expendable.” Mine ain’t either.
Lastly, ABC’s World News with David Muir is reporting that a doctor on the front lines at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan has said, “this is the humanitarian crisis of our lifetime.”
Stay safe everyone. And a Big Thanks to all those Safeway employees in Graham, WA who allowed me to stock my pantry yesterday. I toast you with that bottle of Cabernet I bought.
Covid Photo Gallery
Sis, again. And a hat tip to Lyme, CT and my friends on Plum Island, NY in Lab 257.
Yup. Bananas in a bleach bath.
Just a quick dunk before the labels floated away…..
Lots of Vitamin C, and they taste great.