News reports allege 38% of Americans blame Corona beer for the coronavirus. Maybe it’s fake news, maybe it’s true. Either way, I’m back in the U.S. after working in Jakarta and visiting Tokyo and it’s weird here. 

As a comedian on Twitter observed, this is a time for us to all come together by being as far away from each other as possible.

How about some good news? Something to be grateful for?

Well, R.E.M.’s 1987 classic “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” is back on the charts. With a bullet.

Work World

In Jakarta, I met with our clients from the Lion Air crash. We are making extraordinary progress for the 46 victim families we represent. This has been the most tragic and satisfying case of my career.

On my way home, I stopped In Tokyo. I visited shrines and Zen gardens. My hotel had a view that reminded me of Lost in Translation

Apocalyptic Fiction

My movie recommendations this month are from the post-apocalyptic genre. I suggest a Charlton Heston film festival. Specifically, The Omega ManPlanet of the Apes, and Soylent Green. This is a trifecta of semi-romanticized alienation. 

If you’re still keen for end-of-the-world stories, I like Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Strain, the first Mad Max movie with Mel Gibson, and, a classic, On the Beach with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. I loved the Nevil Shute novel as a teenager.

If you’re willing to risk madness with your cabin fever, check out Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys and Akira, a Japanese movie that was arguably the predecessor to The Matrix

No plague is complete without a reading list that includes The Plague by Albert Camus. Next I’m turning to Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m a longtime Vonnegut aficinado. In my youth, after my first novel was published, I wrote him a letter. He wrote back.

I’ve never read The Hunger Games or The Road or The Stand, but maybe now is the time. Post-apocalyptic fiction is in fashion again. To everything there is a season. 

Public Service

Meanwhile, real life continues to be stranger than fiction. Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib announced he was not running for re-election. Instead, he is joining the Jesuits.

“I have felt a calling to dedicate my life in a more direct and personal way to serving the marginalized, empowering the vulnerable, and healing those who suffer from spiritual wounds,” he wrote in his announcement. 

At the same time, King County Executive Dow Constantine, a good guy with great musical taste, has been using his social media to ask citizens not to hoard toilet paper. Seriously. He’s rumored to be interested in the job of Lt. Gov. 

With Governor Jay Inslee a likely cabinet appointee if Joe Biden is elected President, Lt. Gov. becomes an interesting position. If Jay vacates, the Lt. Gov. fills the big chair until the next general election.

I know Cyrus. He is one of the smartest and most intriguing elected officials I’ve hung out with. As I wrote on my lawyer website, politics has become an increasingly hostile and unproductive environment for those of us who believe in public service. I agree with Cyrus when he says, “In this time of consumerism, distrust and polarization, many Americans are longing for an encounter with the transcendent, the joyful, the loving.”

I wish Cyrus all of that as he continues his service.

Stay safe. Thanks for reading.