We are closed. Athens is closed. Sorry folks.
Moose Dawg outside should’ve told ya.
Trying to come to grips with the current new normal is going to be absolute torture. There’s no way around it. For the health and safety of all, we, the college town/drinking town with a music problem, must sober up, hunker down, and figure shit out.
I think one of the things that has been circling in all our heads is how Athens’ problems tend to be so systemic from outside issues. Take, for example, deciding to keep the student population away from UGA. Easy enough decision, right? The kids are already on Spring Break, just keep them away for a bit. Well… the University System of Georgia has to be the ones to make that call. And despite being the flagship university, all of the other colleges in the state must also be taken into account by the USG. So a blanket statement was issued decreeing that all shall return to normal and we, like proper Athenians, RAISED SAND. Because we know what happens when some 39,000+ people come back into town. Not to mention they were on cruise ships, traveled abroad, live in the Atlanta area.. all situations where their likelihood of interacting with COVID-19 is higher.
So now we’ve shut the University down. Well, sorta. “Instructional break” for two weeks means that faculty and staff are now scrambling as best they can to digitize material, reorganize a syllabus that was crafted for face to face instruction, and bolster the already overwhelmed online capabilities. We staff are taking it day by day at this point, unsure if we’re supposed to report to work online or be forced to use vacation days or sadly even go without pay. If I’d been a student worker during the period I swear to you I would’ve lost my mind. Solutions are being worked on, but it does shine such a bright light on what we really consider necessary and what large gaps there are in the system. All things revolve around the University, our biggest employer.
Let’s turn now to our other well known venture, MUSIC. Live music is a massive part of Athens culture. You go downtown, get thee to a venue and drink to the tunes of your favorite bands. To say that this containment protocol is devastating would be putting it lightly. SO many folks here do part-time work. Your lighting tech can’t tour right now and so can’t get money to pay the rent. Your PR campaign for your upcoming album revolved around the shows that aren’t happening. Your bar staff depend on the income every week because they can’t pull enough hours at the local burger place. It’s a fucking mess.
But you know this. It’s happening all over right now. The small businesses are going to hurt. Freelancers will hurt. Hell, even I of the ivory tower paid sick leave full time job am going to feel some of the effects. I’m just asking that you be mindful. Toss some money to your favorite band. Buy the shirt from your favorite restaurant even if you’ll never wear it. If you’ve got the room, forget charging them rent this month. I cannot even begin to fathom the financial fallout this strange period of time will cause.
We’re all in this together, folks. We’re volunteering to stay home in order to save lives, flatten curves, keep each other safe. If we’re lucky, it’ll look like we overreacted by a LOT. If we’re lucky. I’m working now on a spreadsheet that will link you directly to bandcamp and merch pages of local acts (and record companies, etc). Most of these folk depend on paychecks that won’t be coming this week. Or even this month. So if you’re one of those acts, please email me a direct link to whatever merch/music you got for sale. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get word out best we can.
Keep safe. All is not lost. We’ve got to just do this one day at a time.