Masked in Manhattan

Some photos from a June 12-13, 2021 visit…

Summary: Based on observed behavior and discussions with folks we met on the street, New Yorkers continue to regard their city, including the outdoor environment, as contaminated. However, instead of taking the obvious step of moving somewhere that isn’t contaminated, e.g., Zoom it in from Vermont or Hawaii, they continue to reside in NYC and attempt to protect themselves from airborne contaminants via bandanas, paper surgical masks, and other non-N95 masks (keep in mind that N95 works only if professionally fitted).

The city has a moderately post-apocalyptic feel. As in Boston, many retail spaces are vacant while marijuana-related enterprises are thriving. “Safety First: No Entry Without a Face Mask” on the door of a shop selling cigarettes and vaping products and some of the numerous marijuana-related trucks that we observed:

(The city is awesome for parents who were looking forward to discussing the crucial benefits of cannabis with their young readers.)

Roughly half of New Yorkers seem to wear masks on the sidewalk. The younger and less at-risk the person is from COVID-19, the more likely he/she/ze/they is to be wearing a mask. Mask usage is less prevalent within Central Park.

Vaccination does not comfort the anxious. Nor does actual experience of COVID-19 infection as a mild illness. For example, on East 90th street we encountered a group of locals who were taking the ferry to East 34th. One appeared to be a white woman in her 30s. She said that she’d had COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 and that it was comparable to a bad cold. She said that she’d been fully vaccinated. Despite this background, she stated that she wouldn’t use the subway system anymore, however, “because of COVID.” (Masks are, in theory, required on these ferries, but if you sit on the open top deck the enforcement is non-existent and compliance is only about 70 percent.)

What about being 18 years old, rich, white, and healthy? The Dalton School for Rich Kids says that you should be “unafraid” …. and fully masked:

(see also “Sex-ed teacher out at Dalton after ‘masturbation’ lesson for first graders” (New York Post) and “Uproar at NYC’s posh Dalton School after faculty issues 8-page anti-racism manifesto”)

Official government-funded media: “Fully Vaccinated People Can Stop Wearing Masks Indoors And Outdoors, CDC Says” (NPR, May 13, 2021). Private buildings and stores, however, remain skeptical. A friend’s cooperative building (a handful of units per floor):

What people used to call a “Korean deli”:

Capitol One, powered by Pride and “face masks or covering” (a bandana is fine!):

Here’s the restroom in the restaurant section of the Time Warner mall at Columbus Circle (when will that be renamed?):

They’d gotten organized enough to block off sinks, but were not organized enough to fill the soap or paper towel dispensers (we were there at 6 pm on a Saturday evening, so there were quite a few hours left before cleaning/replenishing).

Evidence that almost everything related to COVID-19 is religious… here’s a restaurant’s “outdoor dining” area. It is fully enclosed with no windows. Air is provided by a standard AC/heat pump.

But you can’t get COVID, unlike in a restaurant’s standard indoor space, because it is outdoors.

The most orthodox Churches of Shutdown that we found are the art museums. Email from the Guggenheim Museum after after making a mandatory reservation:

You’ll need to wear a three-ply mask regardless of vaccination status — staff is required to, too — practice social distancing, wash or sanitize your hands frequently, and pack light as our coat check is temporarily closed. Please plan ahead and read COVID-19 Safety Measures: What to Expect When Visiting.

In other words, they are fighting against an aerosol virus by cleaning surfaces and not touching their (rich white) visitors’ backpacks. (from November 2020: “The Coronavirus Is Airborne Indoors. Why Are We Still Scrubbing Surfaces?” (NYT): “Scientists who initially warned about contaminated surfaces now say that the virus spreads primarily through inhaled droplets, and that there is little to no evidence that deep cleaning mitigates the threat indoors.”). Among the below, my favorite is the exhortation to “Report violations of COVID-19 requirements by calling 311 or by texting ‘violation’ to 855 9044036.”

(How was the art? Nearly the entire museum is given over to a TV screen in the middle and visitors are supposed to stand and watch TV. Re/Projections:

To emphasize the works on display, many of the rotunda walls remain empty during Re/Projections.

Conceived in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, these projects rethink the Guggenheim’s iconic rotunda as a site of assembly, reflection, and amplification.

Artist Christian Nyampeta considers new models for globalism based in reparation and the possibility of a common world in an age dominated by difference.

Featuring renowned love songs written by men and played by women and nonbinary musicians, Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance celebrates pop music while revealing a culture shaped by chauvinism.

Our visit coincided with Christian Nyampeta’s work. It is unclear how much in reparations the (overwhelmingly white) visitors will want to pay after shelling out $25/ticket to the Guggenheim.)

Email from the Metropolitan Museum: “Face coverings are required for all visitors age two and older, even if you are vaccinated.” In other words, they’re somewhat less strict than the Guggenheim in that a bandana is considered effective PPE and museum employees won’t be inspecting your mask to determine the number of plies. Where the Met has the Guggenheim beat is in requiring visitors to wear masks in outdoor spaces, e.g., the rooftop garden:

The museum employs an official mask karen for this garden and he would periodically remind the scattered folks on the roof to keep their masks on. He also hassled a mom and dad for walking 20′ away from their two-brat stroller while taking a photo. Separately, where is Big Bird’s mask? (or maybe this isn’t Big Bird due to copyright issues? Big Bird is yellow)

The museum was mostly empty, possibly a consequence of the reservations required policy (though, as a practical matter, nobody checked whether or not we had a reservation). The slightly tighter spaces in the museum are closed off for safety:

There are COVID-19-related signs roughly every 10-20 feet throughout the museum. And, of course, water fountains are closed. Here is a sampling:

If you’re passionate about 1 gender ID out of 50+, make sure to get to the Met between July 2 and October 3 for “The New Woman Behind the Camera”:

The New Woman of the 1920s was a powerful expression of modernity, a global phenomenon that embodied an ideal of female empowerment based on real women making revolutionary changes in life and art. Featuring more than 120 photographers from over 20 countries, this groundbreaking exhibition explores the work of the diverse “new” women who embraced photography as a mode of professional and artistic expression from the 1920s through the 1950s. During this tumultuous period shaped by two world wars, women stood at the forefront of experimentation with the camera and produced invaluable visual testimony that reflects both their personal experiences and the extraordinary social and political transformations of the era.

The exhibition is the first to take an international approach to the subject, highlighting female photographers’ innovative work…

Is it fair to say that referring to “female photographers” reflects cisgender-normative prejudice? Holding the phone just above a 6′ screen:

The Museum has a new Dr. Fauci section. Truth and Research:

What does Research tell us about the Truth regarding the origins of this most pernicious virus? The New York City government wants to remind you that it is Asians who are responsible for COVID. Times Square:

“Fight the virus, not the people” and “Stop Asian Hate”! Who are “the people” that we’re told to associate with “the virus”?

One of the more peculiar aspects of NYC and COVID today is that the stay-in-NYC New Yorkers assert that they’re lives are completely back to “normal”. Yes, they’re wearing masks indoors and out, avoiding the subway, mostly not working in offices, not going to concerts or theater, etc. But this is indistinguishable from the way that life was in 2019. In some ways, they seem to be correct. Traffic leaving Manhattan on a Sunday was bad and traffic returning was terrible, with at least 5 miles of parked cars jamming the approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel from the New Jersey side.

The cost of an Uber is up roughly 50 percent:

Inequality continues to be a public health emergency at Teterboro (ancient V-tail Bonanza in front of a Gulfstream V):

(Excellent service as always at Meridian and parking a four-seat piston-powered plane is cheaper than parking a car oin Manhattan! (parking fee waived with purchase of 20 gallons of 100LL) My standard tip of $20 for the line guys will soon be insulting; inflation is already at 8% per year.)

On the way out we did the Skyline Route down the Hudson at 2,000′, turned around at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and came back up at 1,500′. If you don’t count LaGuardia Tower and Newark Tower, a good time was had by all!

20 thoughts on “Masked in Manhattan

  1. I am glad your trip up the Hudson did not end up with your cirrus crashing into an apartment building!

  2. The democratic party finally allowed Calif* to not wear masks, except on BART & airliners. It’s hard to believe that Calif* is now actually freer than the federal mandate to wear masks on airlines & the federal mandate was actually what the Amerikan people voted for. They could have voted for a situation where masks wouldn’t be required on airplanes by now.

  3. Our mafia-don-in-chief (As an Italian-American co-worker refers to him, AKA has Governor) announced this afternoon that nearly all restrictions are lifted in NY state but that private business can still require people to wear mask and refuse to serve you if you don’t. Funny how private businesses aren’t allowed not to serve you if they don’t agree with you in most other ways.

  4. The Lincoln Tunnel is indistinguishable from the last time I drove through it, well over 10 years ago. Some things never change….

  5. Speaking of crazy beliefs: isn’t it peculiar that believing that elite institutions have been compromised by cabals of pedophiles marks one as a potentially dangerous rube, yet Jeffrey Epstein somehow managed to get a teaching post at the Dalton school without even having graduated from College?

    • SuperMike: I’m not a scholar of Jeffrey Epstein, so I didn’t know this! is fun: “In the mid-1970s, students at one of New York’s most esteemed prep schools were surprised to encounter a new teacher who pushed the limits on the school’s strict dress code, wandering the halls in a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest.”

      The rest of the article makes it sound as though much of what we’ve heard about Epstein is untrue. He didn’t have sex with any of the teenagers at Dalton back in the 1970s (a time when nobody would have remarked on a teenager having sex). Some guy who went to an Epstein party more recently said that there were no young females present:

      “Mr. Roth, the former student, said he and Mr. Epstein did not stay in close touch. But a couple of years ago, he got an invitation to Mr. Epstein’s home after running into him. It was the only time he had been invited to Mr. Epstein’s palatial townhouse, he said, and so he went over for an afternoon gathering. Everyone present was in their 40s and 50s, Mr. Roth said, and there was no untoward behavior.”

    • @philg talk about a buried lede: the two headmasters Epstein worked for were Bill Barr’s father and an accused child molester? Wait until the QAnons hear about this!

  6. If you want to see hilarious mask behavior, stop at an NH State liquor store on I-93N on a Friday. NONE of the employees wear masks, yet 95% of the customers voluntarily wear masks anyway.

    It pretty much captures the “virtue gap” between blue collar NH and white collar Maskachusetts.

  7. >Evidence that almost everything related to COVID-19 is religious

    “Religious”is not a good term to describe the mental illness surrounding Covid response, though I have used the term myself. Religion suggests reveal truth of divine origin and a preference for a spiritual outlook as opposed to Materialism and Positivism.

    A more accurate term would be mass hysteria or mass delusion. We should leave God out when describing the folly of man’s vanity.

    What was the best food of the trip?

    • The replacement of God with other objects of worship is what is meant by idolatry in Hebrew scripture — not just the golden calf, which is a symbol of idolatry that is easy to understand. So communism and Nazism were forms of idolatry — in communism the replacement of God with the state and in Nazism replacement of God with the science of that day, ethnic superiority and eugenics. Today we have the worship of nature (climate change), the worship of so-called science (masking and so on), the worship of “diversity.” These topics cannot be discussed logically and those who dissent are heretics and are censored and ostracized.

    • Mememe: With a 5- and a 7-year-old in tow, we couldn’t wait for tables or plan too far in advance. We had a good Korean meal on 32nd St and a couple of picnics in Central Park with friends. We tried to get into Momofuku Noodle Bar at Time Warner Center (where they’re serious about stopping COVID-19 with signs in the bathroom, but can’t be bothered with soap or paper towels), but it was a 45-minute wait at 6 pm on Saturday.

    • It’s a religion, all right: the cult of Government Almighty aka Collective God Leviathan.

      The “experts” and “intellectuals” are the cult’s priesthood, and Hobbes with Machiavelli are the patron saints.

    • @philg

      Good on the little ones for liking Korean food — it can be too spicy and weird for youthful western palates. Next time you are in the area, consider taking them to one of the Koreatown dessert bars friendly to the western palate — Spot is cafeteria style and therefore kid friendly, but there are other good dessert places on that street as well.

      But let us be honest, gourmandizing is an adult conceit. All young kids know that McDonald’s is the best. The flagship McDonald’s on 42nd Street has a magnificent cavernous interior to satisfy the adult nutritional requirement for ostentation with one’s meal.

      The deficiency of Manhattan Mcdonald’s is that they do not have playgrounds, but I hope your kids enjoyed the various playgrounds of Central Park and the rest of the city, which are truly world class.

  8. It is not COVID that I would be worried of when I’m in NYC, it is the mugging and random harassments and dirty and infected surfaces on streets, busses, subways, restaurants and bathrooms to name some. No mask can save you from those germs that you simply cannot avoid.

  9. On Thursday June 24th in NYC I saw an IMAX movie in a mostly-full AMC theater – no mandatory empty seats. Movies are fully back on the menu!

    Masks are still nominally required on the subway but I stopped wearing one weeks ago and as of today you’ll generally find a half-dozen scofflaws in any crowded train car either maskless or wearing the mask as a magic talisman in a chin-diaper or under-nose configuration. There are still signs and automated nagging about it over the speakers, but no actual person enforces the rule.

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