Pentagon Tales: Jeffrey Lewis
Pentagon Tales * Trasmissioni dal lockdown
1. Where are u right now?
I’m in my apartment in Manhattan, with my girlfriend. We were together 5 years, living together, then we broke up last year, then started to see each other again this winter. When the virus started to seem scary, and it seemed New York would soon be in a bad situation, i asked her to temporarily move back in here so we wouldn’t have to be alone in the apocalypse! So it’s been nice, I think it was a good idea, we’ve been in the apartment together indoors here for 25 days now. Cooking, cleaning, dancing, watching movies.
2. What’s happening in your country/city at the moment? Are there any restrictions?Are venues/shops/bars opened?
Everything is closed in New York City, no music, no bars, no stores, no restaurants, no theaters, no movies, this has never happened in history, as you can imagine. The supermarkets and pharmacies are open, and some little corner grocery stores are still open (but some are closed), some alcohol/wine shops are open (but some are closed). The post office is still open. Some restaurants are still operating for home-delivery, but no restaurants are open for people to go sit and eat. The buses and subways are still running, but they must be almost empty. Only the most desperate people, or the most not-caring, must be on the buses and trains now.
3. Did u have any tour/gig planned before this thing started?
I was very lucky, my European tour ended on March 7, so my returned home to New York City on March 8, and things began to get really crazy just a few days later. If the tour was any longer it could have been a problem. I did have some gigs in March that got cancelled, including a nice-paying university gig, and a gig to benefit Bernie Sanders, and a couple other events that were cancelled. The biggest situation for my band is that I had already booked an American southern tour for May, and of course the tour-booking takes a lot of work; it’s a shame to lose that tour. I have not made an official announcement about canceling the May tour, but it seems almost impossible that it can happen. I have not been printing posters for it or doing promotion, because I don’t think it will happen. Also, at this time I would normally be working to book my summer tour dates, but there seems to be no purpose to doing work to book tour dates and make arrangements for gigs and travel, there is no way to know what the next few months will be like in the world. So It’s impossible to make plans, even for September and October and beyond, I feel paralyzed to make my band’s touring schedule for 2020. It’s not a terrible problem, it is not life-or-death. We are still healthy and fine. When it’s possible to play gigs and tours again, we’ll play gigs and tours again.
4. How this situation is reflecting on your everyday life?
I stay inside every day. I used to almost never have food in my house… just a little bit… but now my refrigerator and cupboards are full, so we don’t have to go outside to shop, I think we can stay inside for 10-14 days without going out for food now! This is really different for me. Usually when I’m at home in New York I go out for food all the time, pizza, mexican food, coffee, meeting friends, going to open mics and concerts. This is a strange and special time, we’ll remember this forever.
5. How the Music Community in your country/city is reacting?
In the first week of the new indoor life, like March 15-20, when all the clubs first closed, there was a lot of online activity, a lot of live-stream home-concerts and things like that, but it seems now it is a bit slower, maybe everybody got a bit bored of this concept!
6. Do u usually have any help from the Government if u’re a musician or a u work in the music world in your country?Do musicians / people working in the music world get some money or help for the tour they cancelled?
I don’t know if musicians will get any governmental help, I have not tried.
7. How the Government reacted?Did they think about the economical loss and disaster the musicians are facing?
It seems other people are in bigger trouble than musicians, I think a lot of people are in a money-crisis, and people with children or other expenses, who have no income now, and their children are stuck at home with them too, I’m more worried for them. Musicians have problems, but musicians always have problems.
8) What’s the social situation where u live? How people in general are living these days? What’s the percentage of your friends that right now is not working for this reason?
Most of my friends that I talk to are working from home, they are not having money problems. They are mostly having problems dealing with how to have their children home all the time.
9. How’s reacting the Society and do u think after this will be over something will change in the everyday life?Do u think people will change anything in their life?
I hope very much there will be change in American healthcare, I hope this creates more awareness that everybody needs to have access to doctors and healthcare. Maybe this will create an improvement in the American healthcare system. I also hope this creates more awareness that science is important, when scientists talk about global warming and climate change, when scientists say we need to act first, before things get bad, this is a good example. This virus situation is a perfect example of how the disaster could have been avoided if the scientists were respected earlier, instead of waiting until the problem got too big to contain. It will be the same with global warming, so I hope this becomes a good warning to people.
10. Is there anything u would recommend to the people of the music world during these hard times?
Music is so great, we have been dancing every day, listening to records, and it’s amazing how good it is to listen to music that you love. To put on music you love, and turn the volume up a bit (but respect the neighbors too!), it’s such a good feeling! So, for people making music, it’s good to feel that you are part of something important. Not everybody is the Rolling Stones, but there would not be a thousand great bands unless there were a million bands trying to be great. So whether I am great or not, I am proud to be part of the army of people who are working to make great music, all around the world. If a million people are trying to make great art, maybe one or two or a hundred of them will really make it! So keep working! Art is wonderful and healthy for humans, it’s really medicine for your mind, from the beginning of your life till the end, young to old.
11. Is there any book/lp/movie u read/listened/watched recently that u would recommend ?
We have been having fun watching disaster movies, as we live in this little science-fiction miniature-disaster at the moment. So we have been watching World War Z, Cloverfield, Outbreak, Contagion, Train to Busan. A bit scary, but also fun. And for music, the thing I recommend is just to pick something you love, and play it loud! It feels great! And dance to it, to! If I must recommend an album I will say “My Ancestors” by Chrissy Zebby Tembo, this is a great African garage-rock album from 1974.
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