Pandemic Journal Entry 19: I won a 2020 “Kushy” Award and this is my acceptance speech

Gosh. Wow. I did not expect this. I definitely didn’t imagine I’d be at this podium only a year ago, when I was reeling from a series of business failures that, if one believes in hindsight, were extremely avoidable.

But here we are.

Without those failures, as well as the many, many others that followed, and the other failures that followed those, I would not have arrived at this historic moment.

To quote the sacred motto of the Kushner Participation Awards, AKA the “Kushys,” “None aspire, fewer endeavor, okay is good enough.”

Like all of you in my tax bracket I grew up sneering at the idea of participation trophies. Just showing up, phoning it in, or doing it half-assed never seemed like a life goal – or a business model. Then I learned that the act of participation itself is just enough. As my ethical role model Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80% of life.” And friends, if just showing up gives you that much of an advantage, why bother with the other 20%?

The video you just watched, highlighting members of the Kushy Hall of Fame, acquainted you with the foundation’s most important values: Don’t be afraid to stumble into things. Never sweat the details. Experience is overrated. And, remind yourself and others, every day, that no matter how things turn out you’ll be able to add whatever situation you’ve found yourself in to the win column.

My humility prevents me from claiming to embody those values, so you’ll need to connect the dots on your own. But we all know the story about my most recent endeavor to remake global affairs.

It’s a bold tale, in which the scion of a failed real estate developer, freshly graduated from B-school and having burned his way through his and others’ substantial inheritances by doubling down on rural shopping malls, was tasked by a prep school buddy with sorting out a simple little situation called Korea. My intuition was enough, and after a couple press conferences that grabbed the horrified attention of leaders on both sides of the DMZ I judged my mission accomplished. The smoking remains of North and South Korea notwithstanding, I’m proud of my success and have little regard for what historians, who lacked the good sense to pursue real, revenue-generating degrees, will write.

I see the bar is open. I’m finished here, folks.

Pandemic Journal Entry 18: Our sheepdog is blind because dog groomers are not considered essential workers

Despite my ever-more-frequent pleas to the governor, state legislators and president of the American Canine Optometric College, dog groomers are not considered essential and must remain at home where they are unable to restore my sheepdog, Ben’s, eyesight.

Ben’s vision failed as Hemingway might describe: Slowly, then all at once. I blame the government, and my electric clippers that stopped working and are out of warranty.

I faintly remember Ben’s close-cropped black and white coat, fluffy ears and puffy tail. His clear dark eyes stared at the treat in my hand, his embarrassment at looking like a giant Maltese momentarily forgotten. I resist anthropomorphizing animals, but I could almost imagine Ben seeing the future and it tasting like peanut butter.

Days passed and with them Ben’s hair grew. Oh how we laughed at the week we called “his teenage years,” when an emergent forelock covered his right eye. I’d love to believe that Ben was laughing along with us as he bounced around the house, just like he had always done.

I doubt that our aging mutt, Rox, saw the humor in Ben’s playful and increasingly inerrant thrusts at dog-shaped objects he encountered. As Ben’s hair grew longer and longer and longer still, his ability to distinguish between humans, other household pets and pieces of furniture become less acute.

I became worried when I observed him sitting in front of a coat tree for twelve hours, apparently believing it to be a visitor who had something tasty to share.

What would Darwin say about the genetic composition of a canine who is unable to naturally shed excess supraocular hair? As an alternative, one could reasonably expect sheepdogs to develop the capacity for sonar detection. Their lack is a strike against the very idea of evolution.

It has also necessitated a fiendishly clever strategy we have implemented to help Ben overcome almost total blindness. We either 1) use our fingers to sweep his hair aside before commanding “eat!” or “play!” or some other imperative, or 2) we kick back on the sofa and watch him chase what he believes to be Rox around the living room, as she sits comfortably in our laps.

We pray our accommodation is temporary, and cling to the hope that Ben will one day return to the world of the sighted. Please help us and call the governor.

Pandemic Journal Entry 17: I’m ready to return to simpler times when we could all focus on just punching Nazis

The allure of looking to the past can be irresistible, but there’s danger in nurturing the belief that we can return to simpler times when we should be flexible and willing to embrace the “new normal.” Nonetheless, I struggle with changing social mores and practices, and nowhere is this more real than during my weekly trip to the grocery store.

As I travel the one-way aisles, cloaked in anonymity behind my mask, I survey the people I encounter and wish for a simpler time. A time when I only wanted to punch Nazis.

We literally fought a war to defeat Naziism, and those who flaunt the symbols and language of Nazi-era Germany are asking to be punched. If you asked me a few months ago who I would be willing to punch, “a Nazi” was my clear, unambiguous answer.

But now. Now. There’s the guy in the pasta aisle whose freedom is a product of the greatest generation’s sacrifices. He interprets that freedom as the ability to ignore social distancing conventions and assert his aggressive unwillingness to wear a mask.

I want to punch him. Hard.

Just like I want to punch the hipster who lowers his mask to cough as he passes me in dairy.

And the family of four who dominate the chips aisle and touch everything on the shelves before deciding to buy none of it. Yes, I’ll punch a kid, too.

The loud woman who invades my personal space and barks at the cashier, “Did you find my phone?” Bam. Right in the mouth. But only after warning the cashier that she might want to look away.

MAGA hat/no-mask guy who has hovered over the butcher counter for 30 minutes? Not shopping but just making some kind of statement? Pow. Probably twice.

My grocery store has become a target rich environment and the thought of punching so many people in such a short period of time makes me wonder if I’d have the stamina to punch a Nazi, if one appeared in front of me.

I don’t fear the future, but I admit I long for the past. A simpler time when the only people I wanted to punch were Nazis. Is that wrong of me?

Pandemic Journal Entry 16: I’ve got some bad news but you’ll have to subscribe to my Patreon to hear it

Friends tell me there’s enough bad news in the world but I think they’re focused only on quantity and are missing the bigger picture. Yes, there is bad news everywhere we turn: COVID-19, unemployment, corruption, murder hornets, etcetera. But what’s missing is a handcrafted, curated approach to bad news.

As a lifelong connoisseur of bad news, I’m uniquely positioned to provide subscribers with targeted, relevant and impactful bad news. In my life I’ve received bad news and given it. I’ve been a bystander to the delivery of bad news. I’ve intercepted, deleted, ignored and wasted bad news. And now I’m ready to sell it.

I hear you: Why would you pay to receive bad news when you get your fill from the Internet? Simple: I provide personalized bad news that you can adapt to your lifestyle, just by changing subscription levels.

For a mere $5 per month, I’ll share bad news that will mildly irritate you but not change your life in any way whatsoever. For example, I might share that your neighbor’s dog was the one that shit in your yard six months ago. Double your subscription to $10 per month and you’ll get the news by voicemail.

For $25 a month, I’ll interview your friends and family members and share weekly nuggets of bad news. Your kid got straight D’s in school last semester. The document you’ve been looking for got thrown out with the garbage. That sort of thing.

If you’re ready for a swift kick in the nuts, subscribe at the $200 level and get express bad news. Your wife is leaving you for her dentist and taking the kids? I’ll share that bad news with you in excruciating detail and won’t let you off the phone.

I hesitate to mention it, but $500 per month will unleash a tsunami of bad news. I can’t even hint at what it is, but the idea of picking up the phone, checking email or reading text messages will give you tremors. It’s the value pack of life-altering bad news.

No one else can make bad news an art. You owe it to yourself to embrace a better – and worse – way of getting bad news. Visit my Patreon page and subscribe. I promise you’ll regret it.


Okay, no joking about this: My friend Don Durham is committed to overcoming food insecurity by growing food to give away. You can support his work by visiting https://www.patreon.com/HealingSpringsAcres and subscribing,

Pandemic Journal Entry 15: Both sides of the debate matter so we should hear from Grandma Killer and the job-killing libs who want to let grandma live

“You can call me Grandma killer” might seem a provocation in light of the almost universal love we feel for our grandmas or Nanas or G-mas or whatever we choose to call them, but fairness demands we hear from both the woman who proudly declares her willingness to snuff grandma, and the weak individuals who haven’t bothered to stake out a position on the continued viability of their maternal ancestors.

You might question Grandma Killer’s moral standing vis-a-vis “the grand mom matter” because of her history of questionable, attention-seeking opinions like “We Need to Start Befriending Neo Nazis,” but I suggest this demonstrates a lack of imagination about the more delightful aspects of neo-Nazis and other modern day fascists. They provide a colorful and historically important counterbalance to the unwashed masses who cry about justice and peace at rallies and protests.

And you may wonder if reopening zoos and museums is sufficient reason to cap a few grandmas. The weight of Grandma Killer’s commitment to these cultural icons is a clarion call to club grandma in the head like we would a baby seal and get this economy rocking again.

Catered parties, salon appointments and meeting girlfriends at Cheesecake Factory are self-evident arguments for euthanizing not just grandma, but all grandparents. We can all agree on this, right?

The opposition may value grandma for her sentimental presence but they have no credible reason to support keeping her alive. She probably doesn’t hold down a job, can’t procreate, and only provides utility in the form of babysitting and baking. Any objective observer of grandma would vote to kill her off in a hot second.

Sure, both sides make arguments about the pros and cons of grandma, but once you weigh the evidence the choice is clear: Grandma’s gotta go.

Pandemic Journal Entry 14: A Grudging Apology to Everyone Else in the World

I have always considered myself a citizen of the world and tonight I stand before everyone left on the planet – and by everyone left I’m mainly referring to your broadcast media proxy with their white-hot klieg lights and probing follow-up questions, beaming my face to the unknown number of you still alive in secure, Murder Hornet-proof bunkers – to offer an apology.

I am sorry. I could not have known that after weeks of nothing but news about COVID-19 – weeks trapped in a house with nothing but my contempt for humanity to keep me company – that it would be a mistake to raise my voice to the heavens and ask, “Why keep us waiting? Wipe us out already!”

I am sorry I failed to realize that this might be seen by sundry deities as a challenge, and that those gods might be thin-skinned enough to chuckle and answer by unleashing Murder Hornets on North America. But then, how could I have known?

Right. Like I should have expected a passing comment spoken only to myself to unleash a Murder Hornet rampage in South Dakota that will go down in history. That is, if recorded history is a thing when this is all said and done. Okay, though. My bad.

Look, folks. I’m sorry your flyswatters, rolled up newspapers and half-empty cans of RAID were no match for the most murder-y insects to ever exist. It’s not like I can be held responsible, even though I tweeted that I was a big fan of their work after that video of Javanka flailing away at and disappearing into a swarm of Murder Hornets at Mar-a-Lago went viral on TikTok.

Who could have known that their savage bloodlust would only grow and that my throwaway mention, “Up next, Liechtenstein!” would prove to be prescient, almost as if I had directed their movement? No one, of course. Just like no one, least of all me, could have anticipated their uncanny ability to track down and consume human prey who had secreted themselves underground behind six inches of hardened steel. No matter where in the world they were.

Listen, I’ve learned my lesson. Taunting the gods isn’t prudent and I won’t do it again. Promise. That said, I may have played some small role in unleashing this plague, but don’t all of you frightened survivors feel a little bit responsible for not stopping the Murder Hornets’ inexorable advance across the globe? Think about it and let me know. I’ll be in my bunker.

Pandemic Journal Entry 13: An Objective Comparison of the Pandemic Journal and Economist, Two Seemingly Identical Publications

A survey of Pandemic Journal readers discovered that when the print edition of Economist is unavailable, Pandemic Journal is overwhelmingly the preferred substitute. This is both confusing and a cause for happiness, and because emotions are running high among our writing staff we’re choosing to see our sample size of one as statistically significant.

When I founded Pandemic Journal over a decade ago in April I did not set out to challenge Economist. But now that readers are fleeing Economist for Pandemic Journals’ cut rate approach to satirical commentary about current events, I think it’s high time to show others who are questioning the value of their Economist subscriptions an objective comparison between these two esteemed publications.

Let’s begin with the most obvious point of comparison: Cost. Economist suckers in high finance wannabes with a $12 for 12 weeks offer, then hits their credit card with a $549 charge for three years (153 weeks!). Pandemic Journal, on the other hand, is like the kindly drug dealer who not only gives away free samples to get customers hooked but is just happy to provide a service so he doesn’t ever mention money even though he constantly doles out an ever-increasing number of drugs to an ever-more-dissatisfied customer base. Advantage, Pandemic Journal. While the Economist has a more sustainable business model, we do this for the lulz.

Next, editorial staff. Economist pays pointy-headed writers buckets of pounds to be both occasionally wrong and extremely unfunny. Pandemic Journal is occasionally funny and extremely wrong. Let’s call this a draw.

Then, there’s content. Economist claims to “filter out the noise of the daily news cycle and analyse the trends that matter”. Pandemic Journal is all noise, all the way to 11, all the time. Further, we believe that “trends” is a fancy word that falsely suggests knowing that which has yet to happen. We’re not living in Back to the Future, and we’re definitely not down with spelling “analyze” with an “s.” Pandemic Journal FTW.

Advertising: Economist is rolling in sweet, sweet advertising cash. We want us some of that. Advantage (grudgingly), Economist.

Finally, legacy value. Pandemic Journal fully acknowledges the value of a long publishing history and understands that respect is earned over time. Economist professes to engage in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” Pandemic Journal is unburdened by intelligence and launches headlong into each day with hard-earned and unrelenting ignorance. We cannot judge, dear reader, which approach offers greater value. That is for you to decide.

Pandemic Journal Entry 12: Boom Goes the Virus

Before reading, please see: Twitter to Coronavirus Conspiracy Theorists: Stop Telling People to Burn Down 5G Towers

It began innocently enough. I was shopping online for a new cell phone and as I started to click on a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra an email alert popped up on my computer. 

“Don’t,” was all it said. 

Then, “Take your hand off the mouse.”

Finally, “Call [REDACTED]. This is a secure number.”

And that’s how I found myself deep in conversation with Alex Jones, the genius behind Infowars and purveyor of Super Concentrated Beet Essence Extract. 

“Is it safe?” he asked.

“Is what safe?” I replied. 

His silence spoke volumes. I heard him without having to listen to anything at all. 

He broke the silence: “I’m not wearing pants.” 

I had questions. About the Kennedy assassination. The illuminati. Whether the Doubletree chocolate chip recipe circulating on the Internet is legit. I held my fire. 

“Did you hear me”” he repeated. “No pants.”

Sage words from the InfoWarrior, a media giant. 

“No. Pants.”

Wisdom has its own pace, so I waited. 

It may have been an hour or it may have been days, but he broke the silence. “Q has a mission for you: 5G spectrum, COVID-19 – there’s a connection. You know what to do.”

“Uh…?”

“Look to the mainstream media.”

I dove head first into fake news. It was everywhere: 5G towers were burning across Europe. 

My mission was crystal clear. Those towers needed to burn. And gas was only $1.06 a gallon. Q had ordained it, and Alex was the messenger. Synchronicity, baby. 

So that night I found myself atop a newly constructed 5G tower. Soon it would burn. I would celebrate. The world would awaken to truth. 

I poured cheap, cheap gasoline from a five-gallon can and watched it trickle down the structure beneath me. It soaked the earth below. I breathed in the fumes. I gloried in the knowledge that I would soon be celebrated by those oppressed warriors who take to their keyboards to open the sheeples’ eyes. They would sing my praises–me, the 5G avenger, the savior of all humanity. With a flash of flame COVID-19 would be gone. I was gonna be bigger than that American patriot who shot up the pedo-pizza joint in DC. I inhaled deeply.

I was a feeling a little woozy, to tell the truth. 

My phone rang.

You know those signs on gas pumps that tell you to not talk on your cell phone while pumping gas? I didn’t take those seriously but maybe I should have. 

The explosion that followed a split second later was less of the massive boom you’d expect after watching Die Hard 42 times, and more of a deep “woof” that sucked the air out of my lungs and pitched me to the ground, 150 feet below. 

When I awakened in a hospital three days later, Alex’s face was six inches from mine, like he was inspecting some new type of insect. 

“You look like you’ve been in a dunk tank of Nair,” he observed. 

I had to give him that. My hair and eyebrows were gone.

“Sign this.” He shoved a piece of paper and a pen into my hands. “No time to read it.”

I had a bit of trouble signing, since my wrists were cuffed to the hospital bed, but I managed. 

And that’s how I became a triple threat to the establishment: Convicted felon, multilevel sales associate, and SpokesPatriot for Super Concentrated Beet Essence Extract. 

Isn’t America the greatest nation in the universe?