WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Across the Universe

Abby Feldman's life has come full circle. After a comedy career that has taken her from Manhattan to Brazil to just within reach of the dark bat wings of the Kremlin, she's now waiting out the coronavirus pandemic in her childhood bedroom in Pittsford. Where her mother, she says, "keeps my supply of avocados replenished."

"It took a pandemic to appreciate this small town that I come from."

How did we get to the point that singing is considered to be a dangerous act?

That's where we are, in this era of COVID-19. Last week, the nation was reopening bars, restaurants, churches, music venues. Now, more than half the states in the country are pulling back from their premature announcements that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and life may now return to normal.

"Miss Juneteenth" is one of the current virtual offerings at The Little Theatre, part of the Black Cinema Series. It's about a single mom, Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, preparing her rebellious teenage daughter to follow in her footsteps and compete in the pageant.

"One message is pride, one message is teaching history," Richard McCollough says.

Gaelen McCormick's creative soul was saved by crochet.

"It was right around the time of the Women's March in DC," she says, "and, you remember how everyone was making pussy hats? And I thought, well, that doesn't look too hard, why don't I get some yarn and watch a YouTube video. And actually, that kind of saved me for months, learning how to crochet, and learning how to be creative in a way that really felt good, but didn't have to involve sound."

A couple of weeks ago, the actor Stanley Tucci went viral. He simply posted a brief video in which he demonstrates how he makes a Negroni cocktail. A double shot of gin, a shot of sweet vermouth, a shot of Campari. Shaken with ice, garnished with an orange, which he first squeezes into the glass as he advises, “Don’t let anyone see you handle it like that.”

Simple, yet elegant. Others may quibble. The late Anthony Bourdain suggested a 1:1:1 ratio on the booze, don’t bother shaking, and just drop in an orange wedge. It’s a big world; to each his own.

Perhaps the vehicle to lead us out of the coronavirus pandemic will be our cars.

The car. In which we are hermetically sealed. Unless we roll down the windows, which is bound to happen as summer arrives. One thing COVID-19 cannot stop.

Alan Zweibel hears voices in his head.

"All the time, when I'm writing -- and this goes on for many, many years -- the TV is on when I'm writing at home," he says. "The volume is down, and it's usually a show that I've seen before. 'Law and Order,' you know, 'SVU.' Something that's not going to take my mind off my work, but it's like a white noise in the background, there's an ambience to it. And if something does catch my eye, between sentences or paragraphs, I'll turn the volume up a little. But it is a constant companion."

Had it been a minute faster, or a minute slower, on a 2,825-mile journey, the Titanic might have been just another passenger ship that never met an iceberg.

That's the cruelty of timing. We're seeing it now in the arts, as musicians gauge whether they should release a new work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, or wait until it's OK to throw a party.

Here's what the coronavirus pandemic is teaching us:

Slow down.

Monday morning, Facebook greeted me with this message:

You have seven events coming up this week.

Seven. That list used to run into the hundreds.

We don't know what to do with ourselves. Have we forgotten what the arts can do for us?

Pages