A DIFFERENT WORLD

UPDATE: This article originally ran a year ago on SERENDIPITY.  Since then the airline I work for has reached about 30 percent passenger capacity. That is well short of last year’s projection. The effects of the pandemic linger on.  Some 767s were sold to a company that will convert them to cargo freighters. The airline will lease some back as another step in reinventing its business model.

Reinventing Ourselves, by Rich Paschall

When I was much younger, perhaps late teens, and throughout my twenties, I used to like to go down to State Street, “That Great Street,” in Chicago. It was alive in much the same way as Time Square and Broadway in New York were. And yes, just like NYC, our downtown had a somewhat seedy period, but that came later.

“On State Street, that great street
I just want to say
They do things that they don’t do on Broadway, say…”

I particularly liked to go downtown in December to see all the Christmas decorations. Marshall Field’s, the giant department store, had Christmas windows filled with mechanical people, trains, cars, and all sorts of moving parts to marvel at. I was just like the children gathered around the windows to get a good look at the displays. Our fantasy world was mechanical back then. Today it is video, but I digress.

Marshall Field’s at Christmas.  Photo credit: Richie Diesterheft

There was a time when I would plan to do my Christmas shopping, sometimes all of it, on Christmas Eve. I could arrive at the Red Line subway stop right in front of the historic Chicago Theater and go first to Field’s. I might not buy anything there because it was the most expensive stop, but if you went downtown, you had to go there.

After the visit to Field’s and perhaps a purchase of Frango Mints, off I would go to Carson Pirie Scott, Montgomery Ward’s, Sears, Wieboldt’s, Goldblatt’s, JC Penny. By the time I got to the last of the giant department stores, I would buy everything else I may have needed. Then I could go right out to a subway stop at the other end of State Street and head home. It was a marvelous adventure and has always brought happy memories of downtown at Christmas.

The stores are gone now. Every single one of them is gone. Marshall Field’s is now Macy’s. They have kept the Marshall Field’s plaque outside the building below the famous clock, so as not to upset the locals. They also have Frango Mints. These are the only throwbacks to those days. Except for that one grand store, the department stores of State Street have all been replaced by other businesses or torn down.

Times changed. They did not. Instead of transforming themselves for the future, they waited for the past to come back. It didn’t. I saw these great stores disappear one by one. Ward’s, Sears, Wieboldt’s, and Goldblatt’s all had large stores in our neighborhood. When Sears had the motto “Sears Has Everything,” they really did. From washing machines to stoves to clothes, that was our favorite store. Gone.

It is the same with many businesses. As motivational speaker Simon Sinek likes to point out, these are not unprecedented times. Major shifts in business have come before. This one is just “more sudden, absolutely. More shocking, absolutely.”

He gives several good examples we all know are true. The internet changed business. Some companies are surviving now because they have changed the way they work. In Chicago during a period of lockdown, one small clothing shop gave virtual tours of the store and video displays of the clothes. When delivery and pickup were available, people could tour the store online, pick out and pay for what they wanted, and drive to the business, where an employee would come to the curb to hand them their purchases.

Restaurants are gone for good after being out of business for months. Others survived by reinventing themselves as online products. They found their way to Yelp and partnered with Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats.  Reinvention saved them.

Sinek likes to note that Starbucks did not put the local coffee shops out of business. They offered a newer version, and the old-time shops refused to change. Why would I go to a shop with an old worn-out sofa and year-old magazines, when I could go to one with the latest newspapers, a variety of beverages, pastries, and sandwiches, and importantly for millennials, wifi?

I work for a major airline that is operating at 5 to 10 percent capacity on any given day. Most of its fleet is grounded. It has lost 20,000 people from its workforce. Facilities around the globe go unused. Business disruptions and government regulations eliminated many flight destinations.

The airline industry believed back in March that they could regain 90 percent of their pre-COVID business by December. Now the hope is 50 percent. As the novel coronavirus continues to surge in certain countries, the USA for example, so the hope to recover your business any time soon is fading.

In 2012 Air Canada had launched Rouge, a subsidiary to more effectively compete in the low-cost tourist/vacation travel industry. It was looking at other growth opportunities to serve the ever-growing luxury tourist trade. Their business model was built around these expanding travel markets. That dream has taken off as the last flight from the battleground.

So what is a passenger airline with no passengers to do? The Canadian government is not going to hand the airline billions of Canadian dollars to help it through to the time when business returns to “normal.” The new normal is right around the corner and it does not look like it did in January.

They have to reinvent themselves of course. The 767 Boeing aircraft are being retired early. Accelerating this process for an older part of the fleet only makes sense. They were not being used anyway. Some of the planes had the seats removed to put freight on top, but this is a stop-gap measure. The main deck has no cargo door so this is labor-intensive. Other planes fill the belly entirely for cargo runs, but the seats are not removed. Mail, e-commerce partnership, and cargo and business charter runs are added to the new business model.

What about underserved areas of Canada? The airline has entered into a drone partnership. The initial run was to indigenous people who live on an island. There are many far-flung communities that can be served through a combination airline, drone service.

Without adapting and changing, airlines will die. Some already have gone under while others stay afloat through government bailouts. There are those, including a prominent orange so-called politician, waiting for things to go back to the way they were. We have news for them. It is not going to happen.

JUST A LONELY BOY

Last year we had a number of quarantine playlists to help you through your pandemic blues.  You might now be emerging from your sequester days, but we will repeat this list in case you still feel like a Lonely Boy or lonely girl.  This Top Ten originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  

Lonely And Blue, by Rich Paschall

Are you lonesome tonight? Alone again, unnaturally? Feeling like Mr. Lonely? Lonely Is The Night these days so we thought it was time for our Lonesome List top ten. You can make a Journey to Ask the Lonely, but you will just be a Lonesome Loser. Those Lonely People will not have the music to sequester by.

Lonely town, lonely street

I Think We’re Alone Now, so I will give a shout-out to a Bill Withers tune. The Grammy-winning artist passed away recently at the age of 81.

We don’t want you to feel like a Solitary Man or that you are the only “One.” We can be Alone Together with these top hits.

10. Alone Together, Dan + Shay. The young Country stars scored well with this song and entertaining video, a 2018 release. I was going to put Alone Again, Naturally in this spot, but if you recall the 1972 hit, you know it was one of the most depressing songs ever written. I put it on the YouTube playlist if you must have it.

9. Lonesome Loser, Little River Band. Count this 1979 release as one among a string of hits by the Australian supergroup. It made it to number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

8. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams.  This 1949 song by the Country Hall of Fame artist was one of his biggest hits. It is from an era before Country music started sounding more like rock or pop music. Plenty of “twang” here.

7. Lonely Is The Night, Billy Squier. Now let’s go 180 degrees in the other direction with this classic rock hit from 1981. Squier puts out some guitar solos for your all-alone moments.

6. I’ve Been Lonely Too Long, The Young Rascals. This 1967 hit is an oldie, but a goodie. The Young Rascals were later known just as The Rascals. Yes, we all get older, if we stay away from deadly viruses.

5. Lonely People, America. “Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup, And ride that highway in the sky.” This was written as sort of a response to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Interestingly, it was produced by long-time Beatles’ producer, George Martin.

4. Alone, Heart. This 1987 “power balled” is Heart’s biggest hit. Co-author of the work, Tom Kelly, sang high harmony on the studio recording. Lead singers are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.

3. Only The Lonely, Roy Orbison.  The 1960 recording was the first big hit for Orbison, who also co-wrote the song with Joe Melson. They had shopped the song around, offering it to Elvis and the Everley Brothers before deciding to record it themselves.

2. Mr. Lonely, Bobby Vinton. Recorded in 1962, the song did not become a hit until 1964. Vinton began writing while in the army. It is about a soldier waiting for letters from home.

1. Lonely Boy, Paul Anka. The prolific singer-songwriter recorded this when he was just 17 in 1958. He went on to write other big hits for himself and other stars. We knew you needed some early rock right about now. You Boomers should sing along. The rest of you can just enjoy this oldie.

Click on any song title to hear the song. For the entire Lonesome sequester playlist, click here.

See also: SPLENDID ISOLATION, Your Quarantine Playlist, SERENDIPITY, April 26, 2020.

 

KEEP CALM AND STAY HOME – RICH PASCHALL

Last year as England and the United States were suffering not just from COVID-19, but also a lack of leadership at the top, the Queen of England took to the airwaves to address the United Kingdom. This post originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).

A Leader Addresses The Nation, by Rich Paschall

It is not often that Queen Elizabeth II makes an official address to the United Kingdom. If you do not count her annual Christmas message, which is nothing more than a Season’s Greeting, she has not taken to the airwaves for an official speech to the nation since 2012. That was the occasion of her 60th Anniversary as the monarch. Prior to that, it was 2002 when the very popular Queen Mother had passed away. In fact, her latest address was counted as the fifth time in 68 years that the queen has spoken to the kingdom in her official capacity.

Surely we do not have to tell you the reason everyone was invited into the palace electronically to hear what the queen had to say. COVID-19 has hit England very hard.  By Friday the number of deaths had reached almost 9,000. It is less than half the total of the US, but quite considerable when you consider the size of the population compared to the USA.

The nation had to be instructed. The nation had to be put at ease. The nation had to be assured they were going to get through this.

Eighty years earlier, as a young princess, Elizabeth spoke to the nation during another battle for survival. Children were being evacuated from their homes in London in 1940 during World War II, to keep them safe from the bombing raids on the city. The nation, and especially the children, needed to be put at ease.

“We know, every one of us, that in the end, all will be well; for God will care for us and give us victory and peace. And when peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place.”

It has once again fallen to Elizabeth II to speak to the nation:

I’m speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time, a time of disruption in the life of our country, a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”

She was not there to call attention to herself. She was placing no blame on those that were on the frontlines of the battle. She was there to praise their work and assure them they were appreciated:

“I want to thank everyone on the NHS frontline, as well as care workers and those carrying out essential roles who selflessly continue their day-to-day duties outside the home in support of us all. I’m sure the nation will join me in assuring you that what you do is appreciated, and every hour of your hard work brings us closer to a return to more normal times.”

She also wanted to call attention to those who serve their families and all the  nation by staying at home:

“I also want to thank those of you who are staying at home, thereby helping to protect the vulnerable, and sparing many families the pain already felt by those who have lost loved ones.”

She also did what a good leader would do in times of war. She assured the nation that they would be victorious:

“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge.”

And while the 92-year-old Queen was instructing the nation and attempting to keep them calm, where was the bombastic conservative Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson?  He was being admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Subsequently, he was moved to an Intensive Care Unit. Karma had caught up with him as it has done with others who thought this was little more than the flu going around. He was the politician who made light of the pandemic and even claimed to be “shaking hands continuously” with people in the hospital. His jokes are not funny anymore.

It is important to have a leader who shows confidence and seeks to not only instruct the nation but also to reassure everyone that everything is being done to win the battle. We do not have that here. We have someone who does not praise those on the frontlines, instead, he scoffs at them, belittling their efforts, accusing them of stealing masks and other equipment.

He gives little or nothing to states needing life-saving equipment while giving others, Florida for example, everything they ask for.  If you praise him and live in a state likely to vote for him, he will take care of you.  Others can die. He is not just corrupt, hoping to profit from the misery of his own nation, he is also evil. Pure evil, but I digress.

Let’s end with a positive message. Let us be reassured that there is a brighter day ahead and we will get through this darkness and find the light.

“Using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal, we will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”  – HRH Queen Elizabeth II

Sources: “Queen Elizabeth says ‘better days will return’ in rare and historic coronavirus address,” by Hannah Yasharoff, USA Today, usatoday.com April 5, 2020.
Queen Elizabeth II Coronavirus Speech Transcript,” rev.com April 5, 2020.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth to make rare address to nation over coronavirus,” Reuters, cnbc.com April 3, 2020.
Coronavirus: 980 dead in UK hospitals in deadliest day of pandemic yet,” by Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, theguardian.com April 10, 2020.
Wartime broadcast, 1940,” Princess Elizabeth, royal.uk October 13, 1940.
Boris Johnson Kept Working, But the Virus Took Over,” by  , and , Bloomberg.com
Here’s Why Florida Got All the Emergency Medical Supplies It Requested While Other States Did Not,” by Lydia DePillisMike SpiesJoshua KaplanKyle Edwards, and Caroline Chen, propublica.org March 20, 2020.

OUR LOCAL BUSINESS

The Pandemic Legacy

The sad fate of local businesses is shown everywhere in the neighborhood. For Rent, For Lease, and For Sale signs can be seen in abundance within a few blocks of where I live. Yes, some of these businesses had failed already or would have failed, but there have been no takers for their empty storefronts and buildings. The Wall Street Journal recently stated “200,000 U.S. establishments above historical levels” closed permanently in the first year of the pandemic.  Many needed help they could not get under the previous administration.

On a recent trip to a neighborhood supermarket, I took my camera for some pictures along Montrose Avenue for about a mile east and half a mile west of where I live. I also grabbed one around the corner on Kedzie. Even if you are not from our city, you may have encountered the loss of local business as well. The is a part of our pandemic legacy.

Click on any picture above to go through the full size of each one in the gallery. Be sure to stop at SERENDIPITY for more on “Our Pandemic Legacy.”

Source: “Covid-19’s Toll on U.S. Business? 200,000 Extra Closures in Pandemic’s First Year,” by Ruth Simon, The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com, April 16, 2021.
See also: “Our Pandemic Legacy,” What We Learned So Far, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, May 9, 2021.

ABSOLUTELY NO ABSOLUTE RIGHTS

What is right for all? Is it absolute freedom? As we hope to be finally seeing light at the end of the long Pandemic tunnel, we must still be reminded of the truth we started with. This commentary appeared last year on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).

Stay at Home, Save Lives, by Rich Paschall

While we accept the precept of “freedom of speech,” we also understand that it does not apply to everything in all situations. As you probably have heard often, we are not allowed to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is none. This could cause a stampede for the exits and put some people at risk of being hurt or killed in the panic.

Similarly, you can not shout out in a crowd that you see a gun when there is none. Due to the types of mass shootings, we have seen in recent years, we know that there could be a panic that could cause harm.

You are also forbidden to engage in the type of speech that would incite a riot. Hate speech in gatherings could, in turn, result in attacks either at a rally, let say, or following in the days to come. There may be a politician or two who have gotten away with this, but that’s another matter.

There are laws against slander and libel as the defamation they bring may cause harm to groups or individuals. While we see misinformation spread often on social media, doing so as a respected news source could bring danger to others. A well-known News network is being sued by a Washington State group for issuing false news in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Yes, the Constitution promised you freedom of speech, but that does not mean you can say whatever you like. Where there are dangerous consequences to what you say, you can be held liable for your remarks. Don’t you wish that also applied to Orange politicians, but I digress?

There is also “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” but it doesn’t mean you can gather a large group wherever you want. Try to form a parade down State Street (that great street) without a permit and see how far you get.  You can not take over a baseball diamond in a public park if another group holds a permit. You can not have the pavilion at the local forest preserve if another group holds a permit. In fact, we have many regulations regarding the assembly of large crowds. It is not uncommon to post limits of assembly, many by fire codes that are enforced by the local government.

It’s a free country, or is it?

You have probably heard of people who do not want to shelter at home during the COVID-19 outbreak. They insist it is a free country and they can do what they like. The government is not going to tell them what to do. They have their constitutional rights. But do they have such rights?

The Constitutionality of the restrictions we have described above has been tested in courts and upheld. Local and national governments not only have the right to impose such restrictions on the public, but they also have a duty to do so.

Scientific evidence has told us that the only way to “flatten the curve,” in other words lessen the spread of the virus, is to keep a “social distance.” This has caused many at the state and local levels to impose restrictions. Some do not want to abide.

You can find plenty of examples of people who did not want to social distance and observe the restrictions, who have died of the virus. They not only put themselves at risk, but they also put others at risk as well.  They do not have that right.

Social Contract

Many of the authors of The Constitution were certainly well aware of the philosophical writings of John Locke (The Second Treatise of Government), Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Du Contrat social). These works would have greatly influenced their thinking about forming a new national government. They knew that members of society must agree to give up certain rights for the good of society as a whole. It is a “contract” we have as a member of society, to act in a way that benefits all. It is the greatest good for the greatest number.

“That a man be willing, when others are so too (as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defense of himself he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himself.” – Thomas Hobbes

In other words, we must do what is right for all. Those who think they can assemble as they please, including at religious services, are misinformed and violating the laws of nature, science, and the social contract. No one has the right to go out and spread the virus. They are not immune. They are not free to do as they like. Governors (Republicans all) who refuse to issue stay-at-home orders, or allow large exemptions (think Easter services), are not acting in the interest of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Let’s put it in a way that may drive the point home. There is a post going around social media that may illustrate the problem of some states practicing social distancing, and others ignoring the advice.  We must “ lay down this right to all things; and be contented” because it is the only reasonable course of action.

Sources: “Leviathan,” Thomas Hobbes, sparknotes.com
Washington State Group Is 1st to Sue Fox News for Calling Coronavirus a ‘Hoax’,” by ken Stone, timesofsandiego.com April 2, 2020.
The Social Contract,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, coursehero.com
Social Contract,” en.wikipedia.org

BACKFIRE: THE BIG MISCALCULATION

We have now reached 4 and a half million known infections and over 155,000 dead from COVID-19 in the United States. In case you missed it last week on SERENDIPITY, here are the beginnings of the epic failure in leadership. Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to teepee12.com for the rest of this article.