Quarantine Chronicles Day 14: It’s cow-a-dunga time for skaters at city parks. Go home, people

Two solid weeks now stranded in my house and its sprawling grounds. I’m thinking of resurrecting a project I embarked on several years ago, cataloging every form of fauna and flora in my backyard, from terrorist raccoons to tiny but hugely irritating fleas. Maybe.

Reader Annmarie Signey wrote to tell me that “The Husband and I attempted an early morning trip to Costco during senior hours on Tuesday, saw the line to find parking snaking down Junipero, determined the few essentials we wanted to purchase were not so essential and went back home to knitting, video games, writing and baking.”

Because that’s what we’re all doing. Sitting at home, flipping through books, remotely spinning the TV dial, zooming through movie moments and concert footage YouTube, slaying a couple hundred seconds on Tik Tok. Just employing any one of the hundreds of anti-boredom weapons that are in our arsenal these days.

On Saturday, I learned that the Parks Department was dumping mulch into the skate parks, or at least the one at El Dorado. In my day (wake up! This is important!) you could’ve closed a skate park just by tossing in a handful of pea-size pebbles and then sit back and watch skaters on clay or even steel wheels wipe out like bodysurfers at the Wedge.

Now it takes a truckload of mulch to do the trick because skaters—who have since the wheel was invented bristled at any form of society’s or the law’s resistance to their sport/activity—have refused to follow the stay-at-home restrictions, never mind the safe-distance edicts from every level of government and science. They have continued to come out in large numbers to skate parks like El Dorado and Bixby parks (and they’re even more adamant and militant at the latter location).

The day after the mulch-dump, it was reported on Facebook that the kids had come back to shovel out the mulch and sweep up, though by the time the Post’s reporter, Stephanie Rivera made it out to the scene, the skaters had hightailed it, though someone had left a bodyboard next to a pile of mulch. “They were planning on surfing the mulch I guess,” said Rivera.

At the risk of sounding dangerously close to my age, it’s ridiculous to what lengths the city has been forced to go to to prevent people from congregating in an insatiable quest for fun and activity in the midst of this pandemic.

The kids feel fine, so how about playing some hoop at the park? Nope, the city has put steering-wheel and bike locks on the rims. It’s closed parks, beaches and bike paths. It’s flipped the timeless demand of parents telling their kids to go outside and get some fresh air. Now it’s, “Stay in your room and play video games.”

Hasn’t everyone heard by now that by ignoring all of these precautions and safety tips that most of us can recite by heart you’re endangering yourself, which apparently is a chance skaters and other groups of minglers are willing to take, but you’re also endangering your relatives and friends and making this historically horrifying pandemic and the crushing restrictions that are being imposed to try to stem it last longer?

And, on Day 14, the isolation is rapidly becoming, for many of us who are doing what we can together alone, more interminable.

Turning to the mailbag, our faithful correspondent and attorney Tom Brayton offers his and his wife’s quarantine chronicle:

“The walls are creeping inward. Inch by inch.

“I canceled Netflix some time ago due to television apathy on my part. Big mistake, I now know. HBO offers some solace, not much. ‘Revenge of the Planet of the Apes?’ Scares me to the edge of my couch. Mayor Garcetti has authorized restaurants that deliver food to also deliver alcohol. That certainly is cause for some optimism. But I quit drinking alone after I saw ‘Lost Weekend’ and I quit drinking with my wife after I saw ‘Days of Wine and Roses.’

“We (wife and I) have developed an innovative lunch routine. We visit any one of the local burger drive-thru operations, then head out toward the ocean and eat in the car while watching no waves whatsoever at the Long Beach coast.

“A problem we encountered on day one was the car battery went dead as we listened to NPR tell us we should be six feet apart. (Henry, the independent car guy in Bellflower told us if we must listen to the radio, leave the engine on. Or use a portable radio. We opted to do that.) Then there is the food spillage from having to behave like a circus clown juggling  burger in one hand, fries in another and coke between the knees. The spillage is a big problem.

“Evenings are worse than the afternoon. It is a shame ‘Jeopardy’ only lasts 30 minutes, isn’t it? Maybe there are reruns somewhere.

“Meanwhile, Caesar the big ape is about to lead the other apes in escaping the compound and things are going to get very ugly real fast. Scares me to death.”

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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