Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In the Time of COVID-19

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1. Two Days Ago

Outside the supermarket, six o'clock in the morning, the beginning of senior hour, those over sixty only. A mass of guards, corporate outsourced, not supermarket employees, congregate in front of the entrance, ordering the 7 or 8 people who've been waiting on 6 am to get in line. 6 o'clock arrives, several of those in line inform the guards it's time to let them in. It is one of L.A.'s climate changed uncharacteristic cold and damp mornings. One guard, a short middle aged black woman, shouts out: Get in line! Get back in line! But it is six o clock, remonstrates a line-waiter. We'll tell you when you can get in, shouts the guard nearest, a tall middle-aged black man.
This enrages me. Reminds me - with the deep fog and early hour and the harmless seniors waiting in line - reminds me of movies and photos showing Jews waiting to be herded onto boxcars for Auschwitz. I know, I keep bringing this up, I can't help seeing the similarity. I, who of course is not waiting in line, approach between the two guards and shout back at them, turning from one to the other: Stop giving orders! Be polite! This is not a prison! / Let us do our job, says the short black woman. The tall black man moves menacingly closer. I answer: It is not your job to pointlessly regiment people in line when they will not be waiting to get in (this supermarket is literally the size of a football field, it takes over a minute to walk from one side to the other.) Now a young Latin guard inserts himself into the debate and himself between me and the two black guards. He orders me: 

- Step back!
- Go to hell. I mean, go anywhere, just don't be here. This part of town is still mostly civilized. I don't know where you are from but it's obvious you, with your unthinking brutality, aren't from here.  
- You are a racist. 
- No, If anything I'm a geographer, a geographist. I like the part of the town I grew up in. There are people of all races here. Unlike you they are not brutal idiots. 
- Call me an idiot again and I'll hit you. 
- Brutality proven.

I put on the mandatory mask, and walk away. The doors are open.

2. Last Night

Evening. I'm eating my Whole Foods take out dinner at the Beverly Gardens City Park that divides the two buildings of an extra high priced hotel, rumored to be owned by Arab royalty. I'm alone, except for my bike leaning against the fountain the wall of which I am using as a seat since all the chairs have been stacked up, someone there before me having conveniently moved up a table to the fountain with the same idea. I'm just closing my computer ready to go when one the Beverly Hills Ambassadors, otherwise known as the homeless police, tasked with keeping undesirables clear of the city, walks up to me: Sir! You're loitering. You can't be here. I answer:

- I'm leaving. But I can be here.
- You're trespassing.
- No. The park is open to the public.
- The park is closed.
- Where does it say that?
- Over there.
- Where?
- There.
- You mean that wet floor warning?
- Yes.
- How does that say the park is closed?
- Over there. There's a sign.
- That bronze plaque? It says Property of the City of Beverly Hills. The parks were closed for Easter weekend, but are open again.
- That's what you say. I know you. You ride your bike all day and like to dispute.
- I should simply accept what anyone tells me? I trespass? I loiter? I'm disputatious? By the way, do you know how to read?
- Are you going to go or do I have to call the police?

At this point two men appear out of the darkness but keep a distance from us. One of them says: The guests of the hotel are complaining. You have to go. I answer:

- This park is city property and I am having a conversation with a city employee. You are trespassing.
- We're calling the police.
- Call the police then go back to washing the feet of murderous princes or whatever you do inside there.

Is it only loitering, trespassing, disputatious me, or is there something going on around here?

Further Reading:
Jump To Repression
Disease Control