Good Readers: We started this special series in March 2020, as we were receiving many personal communiques from PopMatters‘ contributors and interesting articles about life in this extraordinary time of global pandemic. Global shutdowns were just being announced.
Shortly thereafter, we lost our dear colleague, Brian Holcomb, to COVID-19.
The losses to life and culture and industry and the political impact throughout the world will not be fully realized for years to come.
If you would like to contribute to this special series, please follow our submissions process, here. (No emailed articles, please.) We are accepting short entries (500 words minimum) and of course, the long-form essays PopMatters, est. 1999, is known for.
Personal observations and experiences are welcome — but please, keep that smart cultural critique at the forefront. What we are looking for in this series is broader cultural criticism with elements of the personal experience. Articles hinging on outrage, angst, and anger and political diatribes will probably not be accepted — social media and news commentary are better platforms for that. Instead, take an informed cultural/political/personal look at life in these times of COVID-19.
We’re interested in art and life, and the art of living, in these times of global health crises.
Join us — at a safe distance — on this journey through the canonical and radical as we look to literary representations of pandemics past to help us understand the politics and possibilities of the present COVID-19 pandemic.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, be well, be safe, and spread love, but only love. Please, wear a mask and social distance. When vaccines become available to you, get vaccinated. Our lives depend upon mutual respect and cooperation.
Note: We don’t exclude readers with a paywall. That’s one of many ways we send love to you. Send PopMatters a little love back at no cost to you. It’s simple: don’t ad-block. If you’re not seeing ads, type “How to whitelist website” in your browser and follow the instructions. Thank you.
Oscar Wilde Envisions Our Post-Pandemic Socialist Future
Millennials and GenZ had time to contemplate the real harms wrought by capitalism during the pandemic shutdown. Perhaps they might read Oscar Wilde, now.
Bo Burnham’s Pandemic Comedy Special ‘Inside’ Is The Krapp’s Last Tape of Our Times
Like Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Bo Burnham’s Inside offers rich insights into how our psyches and sense of self get warped by ever-advancing technologies.
Photo Essay: Postcards from the COVID-19 Pandemic
Postcards from the milieu of the pandemic shutdown. A photo essay.
‘Chrono Trigger’ and Coping with Pandemic Trauma Through Video Games
Coping with the COVID-19 shutdown via a video game, where I have control over the apocalyptic outcome, was what I needed. Chrono Trigger delivered.
On Peter Gabriel’s “I Have the Touch” in a Time of Forbidden Touch
Peter Gabriel’s “I Have the Touch” perfectly captures the agonizing isolation that so many of us have been experiencing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Musicians Are Surviving the Pandemic — and the Music Industry
‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ Can Help Children Cope with Covid-era Death
As the COVID-19 pandemic upends our families, communities, and way of life, children, especially, struggle with loss. Rachel Shukert’s Netflix series, The Baby-Sitters Club can help.
Fire in the Time of Coronavirus
If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.
Teaching Miyazaki’s Films in the Time of Pandemic
Miyazaki’s powerful worldview speaks to our times in striking ways: the hidden terror of the natural world; the need for truth and compassion; the humanism in the face of adversity.
COVID-19 Is but One Indication of the Return of the Monster
Mike Davis’ COVID-era update about emerging flu pandemics, The Monster Enters, is concise, disturbing, and valuable.
How Aaron Sorkin and U2 Can Soothe the Pandemic Mind
Like Aaron Sorkin, the veteran rock band U2 has been making ambitious, iconic art for decades—art that can be soaring but occasionally self-important. Sorkin and U2’s work draws parallels in comfort and struggle.
Step Up to It: A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19
Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.
Waiting for the World to Change in the Era of COVID-19
From a GenXer to the GenZs in the time of COVID-19: We know, the waiting is the hardest part.
Old Crow Medicine Show Sing on Through Total Devastation
Social unrest, a global pandemic, and an industry that has forever been changed? No problem. Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor stares down the future.
Life Isn’t Binary and Neither Is the Coronavirus Pandemic
Non-binary thinking offers new routes for adapting to life with Covid-19.
Rhea Rollmann’s article.
I Went on a Jewel Bender During Quarantine. This Is My Report.
COVID-19 sure sucked the life out of things. I found some comfort in Jewel. That’s right. Jewel.
What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression
The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?
Little Protests Everywhere
Wherever you are, let’s invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let’s encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.
“Without Us? There’s No Music”: An Interview With Raul Midón
Raul Midón discusses the fate of the art in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is going to shake things up in ways that could be very positive. Especially for artists,” he says.
Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti
COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.
OK Go’s Emotional New Ballad, “All Together Now”, Inspired by Singer’s Bout with COVID-19
Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band’s latest pop delight, “All Together Now”, as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.
Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation
Emma Donoghue’s Room and E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.
Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau’s ‘Walden’
Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.
Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?
Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.
Marc Maron’s Private Grief on a Public Stage
The risky healing power of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast eulogy to Lynn Shelton.
Isolation Odyssey: Behind the Scenes with a Lockdown Orchestra
Scattered throughout the world, members of Opera North’s orchestra share how they are enduring the loss of live performance and companionship during the COVID-19 lockdown. They also share a mood-lifting, online isolation performance of a work that everyone knows but not always for the same reasons.
COVID-19 Means Living Life in Two Minds at Once
COVID-19 has created a day-by-day experience in which we realize there are no perfect answers, and every moment exists as a co-mingling of light and dark counterpoints.
Work Doesn’t Always Look Like Work: In Defense of Radical Laziness During COVID-19
Expecting financially devastated artists to produce during the coronavirus shutdown is akin to handing a condemned man a typewriter on his way to the gallows. To hell with that.
Stressed About COVID-19? Seek the Tao of Coen
“Son, you got a panty on your head.” As purveyors of gallows humor, filmmakers the Coen Brothers teach us how to laugh at things that aren’t funny — but kinda are.
The Cure’s “Seaside” Cure for Sheltering at Home
In these times of pandemic turmoil and outright trauma, what better match does the tempestuous human soul have than the sea? And what better lyricist than the Cure’s Robert Smith, who twins the wrath (or sadness) of the sea with similar human emotions?
Some of One World’s Comfort Songs Are Off-Key
One World: Together at Home and what our choice of anthems says about how we cope with a crisis.
I Would Like to See My Doctor: Social Distancing and Telemedicine
My first COVID-19-era “telehealth” video call had me looking up my doctor’s nose. Who could blame him for turning his camera off?
Willie Nile Celebrates Fans, Family, Friendship With “Under This Roof” (premiere + interview)
Willie Nile moves forward with a message of unity and love in the wake of COVID-19 and remembers friends, John Prine and Hal Willner.
On 11 April 2020 we lost longtime contributor, friend, and colleague, Brian Holcomb to COVID-19. His love for and knowledge of film has provided great pleasure to PopMatters readers since 2006. His easy-going, friendly communiques with his editors will be missed. Indeed, we last heard from Brian while he was in hospital — he emailed that his interview with director Yam Laranas about his recent film, Nightshift, would be delayed.
That Brian even thought of this self-directed assignment, and took the time to email about it while in hospital, seemed a good sign that he was recovering and would be back with us when he was ready. We would wait until then, of course.
How little we really know about life.
Like so many who have loved, known, and worked with Brian, we are heartbroken for his family, for his friends, and for ourselves. Well, Brian, your creative work, like your warm memory, lives on in all whom you’ve touched. Rest in peace, good man.
Cyberhills of Isolation and Connection: Italy in the Time of Coronavirus
Ironically, the very thing many have lamented as chief atomizer of humankind, social media, has proven to be indispensable for bringing us together — and for bringing me solace while, like Boccaccio’s women in Decameron, I wait out the pandemic in the hills of Abruzzo.
Our Monsters, Ourselves
Not just for devotees or scholars, The Monster Theory Reader provides a framework for understanding humans at least as much as monsters.
All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger’s Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop
Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.
Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation
As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.
How to Listen to Your Old Music While Self-Isolating
There are various ways you can mine the bounty of your exquisite taste to while away an hour or two during this stressful time of coronavirus. But you’ve got to do it with some intentionality.
Matchbox Twenty: Aren’t We All a Little “Unwell” in the Time of Coronavirus?, by Joshua Friedberg
Say what you will about Matchbox Twenty – I know I once did. But during this COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all going “crazy” and feeling “a little unwell” in this time of isolation, and I’m turning to their music.
What Lurks Beneath: ‘Jaws’ and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19
Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg’s Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn’t close the beaches — and sacrifice that revenue source — during a public crisis.
Love at a Socially-Isolating Distance
In one sense, life in the time of Coronavirus clarifies an essential element of love: love always occurs at an ontological distance.
Life in the Time of Coronavirus Is No Time for False Dichotomies
Nick Drake’s ‘Pink Moon’ and Finding a Place to Be During Coronavirus
Shuttered inside our homes, contending with the COVID-19 outbreak, Nick Drake’s third album promises rebirth and renewal: the pink moon is coming.
Corona Tales: Life As an Indie Musician in 2020, by Lynne Hanson
Canadian Americana artist Lynne Hanson tells her tale of the Coronavirus Blues, one of canceled tour dates and diminished revenue prospects.