I have been thinking quite a bit about the way things were, the way they’re gonna be—with or without a COVID-19 vaccine—and the way that things are in this horrible moment.
Such was my mood the other day, when I packed all of my most cherished possessions into a couple of shoeboxes to bring them down into the basement where I will be working for the foreseeable future. In addition to the sad but somewhat satisfying realization that I don’t own anything that’s worth a damn to anyone but me, I also came to grips with how most of my prized ephemera comes from the sort of adventures I may never experience again, or at the very least, that I won’t get to enjoy for the next year or so.
I have some poker chips from the Harrah’s casino in New Orleans. Great city, one of my favorites, but I won’t be going back there for a while.
A lot of my memorabilia comes from the Republican and Democratic national conventions, which are far more fun and depraved in person than many people realize from watching recaps on the news. Among the treasures I’ve collected at these debaucherous ideological orgies, I always get an extra kick out of Gov. Bill Richardson’s salsa, which dates back to when the former New Mexico governor ran for the White House in 2008, and I’d also never part with my donkey-shaped Kraft Macaroni & Cheese from the 2004 DNC in Boston. Needless to say, I won’t be going to either convention in 2020, and I can’t say it is bad that those events will not proceed as usual. They’re ridiculous and wasteful, and should probably be canceled once and for all.
And then there are all of my concert tickets and hip-hop merch, most of which was bought at shows. And several pairs of sweet promo shades, from when bands were doing that. It’s painful to say this, but I can’t see the independent music scene and its shoulder-to-shoulder appeal returning any time soon—even if I’m trying to see things through the rose-colored lens of the regrettable premature reopening underway in which politicians and most of the public are pretending that shit is okay and returning to work and eating at restaurants despite alarming COVID-19 numbers in Mass and elsewhere.
Speaking of absurdity, one of the wettest things in my collection is a bottle of water from conservative actor Glenn Beck’s 2010 Restoring Honor event in Washington, DC (I also have goodies from Jon Stewart’s subsequent Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, though I can’t find them at the moment). This is the point where I’m supposed to pine for a time when far-right bigots and psychos were less vile than they are today, but they’ve always been racist and dimwitted, so I guess this particular memory differs from others, since even during the pandemic, I could easily drive a couple of miles outside of Boston and find a large group of Fox-worshipping imbeciles gathered for some asinine cause or another.
Wait, did I say outside of the city? I meant that I just have to go to M Street, where the beach has been occupied by bronzed and brilliant young adults for weeks. But I digress; back to my stash …
I have a couple of empty cans of Four Loko, the alcoholic crack nectar that had to be reformulated due to the likes of the aforementioned post-collegiate Southie set getting too simultaneously jacked and drunk. More than anything else on my shelf, the Lokos remind me of society, and the planet that is out there, nonsensically chugging along, having private parties and flouting public health recommendations while I sit in my cellar…
It’s all a pretty awful, mediocre experience catered to meatheads and morons. Still, I’d hate for it to end, and I can’t wait until it’s safe to rejoin the action.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.