Reopening: No live music allowed?

This year and last year have been two of the most devastating years of my life. I thought that 2016-2018 were bad, well I ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s been especially devastating to young people. Thinking about it, I lost 20% of my 20s, time that I’ll never be able to get back. I lost a lot of my youth to depression and anxiety and now this pandemic, which will no doubt cause even more depression and anxiety for me. I entered the pandemic feeling great and working out and eating healthy and now physically I have deteriorated. I now have back pain. My knee pain has always been there, but every time I go up or down stairs my knee feels weird. This is supposed to be the best years of my life where I can travel and do the things I enjoy: see live shows, take pictures outside, go to museums, check out bookstores and record stores. Error 404 none of those things found. I’m scared that I won’t be able to achieve so many of my travel goals because my knees will be so bad that I can’t walk long distances or do adventure travel.

Everyone talks about the impact the pandemic has had on the elderly, but hardly anyone has talked about the impact on the young. The young are always an afterthought, or maybe that’s too generous. Not even a thought at all in The Man’s head. They’re healthy, they say. The young are spoilt, they say. The young have it too good, they say. I’m sorry but so many Millennials and even Gen Xers see home ownership or even having their own flat as a pipe dream. We can’t afford housing, food is expensive, healthcare is expensive.

This isn’t surprising. We live in a gerontocracy. Always has been that way. The boomers didn’t run the show in the 60s. The establishment were all grey straight squares. There weren’t hippies in the government then, or now. The government only look out for people like them: old, straight, cisgender, white, and big emphasis on wealthy. They only care about themselves. Here’s something you may not know. Did you know that in America, you can legally not hire someone because they’re too young? Yup! Age discrimination laws only apply to those over 40! But of course Congress won’t do anything about that because it doesn’t affect them or their kids even because when you’re well connected you can get anything you want. Imagine if we had more 20-somethings and 30-somethings in government. I bet things would be very different. Fresh faces and new approaches. I’m tired of seeing the same people in there who have been sitting on their bums doing nothing but collect a paycheque, virtue signal, and curry favour with their donors.

That’s enough whingeing on my part. My problems are first world problems. There are people who have it even worse than me. I can’t help but be depressed every time I see the news: people getting kicked out of their homes, people losing their jobs, people being emotionally or physically abused during lockdown, people begging for money to cover the most basic living expenses. Every GoFundMe is a policy failure. Every charity is a policy failure. The government have not learnt from this.

Think about this: a lot of governments gave increased unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs during the pandemic. That’s good. But you know who has been left out and needs that money now more than ever? Those who were already unemployed since before the pandemic. They’re even less likely to have savings or be able to get a job because large unemployment gaps look sus to hiring managers. Poverty and unemployment are a vicious cycle and it’s hard to get out of. I’ve been reading a lot about crimes and why people commit them. They’re poor. They’re desperate. They need to survive. It’s a last resort. Is it any wonder? No wonder people related so much to The Joker. Not one country offered UBI though. That policy has been growing in popularity and no one wants to implement it. Who runs the show? The rich.

Since this is a music blog, let’s talk about music. For over a year now, if you’re not one of those lucky people in Australia or New Zealand, you’ve gone over a year sans concerts. Music is one of those things that brings flavour and variety to life, gives you something worth living for. Music has kept me hanging in there. Yes, concerts can give me anxiety because of big crowds and lack of space, but there’s nothing more that I want to do than go to a concert right now, or even see some live music. Young or old, I think we all miss music. This isn’t a young people thing at all. It’s a human thing. We all want to be entertained and join together with the band, as The Who sang in 1972. People need unity and togetherness now more than ever. All this time apart and it breaks down camaraderie. People see each other as strangers, and this is devastating to populist, grassroots movements like unions and mutual aid. I guess that’s what the elites want, people fighting and bickering over small differences so they don’t unite. Remember: the rich are a minority.

All over Europe, countries are experimenting with how to make concerts safe and give people some normalcy and entertainment. In Barcelona, they held a concert with 5,000 attendees in the audience. They took precautions like making sure the venue was big enough and had space for everyone, everyone was tested beforehand, and everyone was required to wear masks. Guess what? It was a success! No sign of more infections. In fact, only 6 people out of the 5,000 tested positive within 2 weeks of the concert, and that is a lower rate than those in the general population. Who is to say that those 6 caught covid at the concert? Could be from somewhere else. In Liverpool, they took it one step further and had a mask-free concert. Given that England has done an incredible job vaccinating its people, makes sense. Apparently that was a success too! Peter O’Neill of Irish music magazine Hot Press wrote that the findings were that concerts are as risky as doing your weekly shop! Life is full of risks, right? Car accidents are common, but that doesn’t stop people from driving. No, you take your precautions: wear a seat belt, obey the rules of the road, pay attention while driving.

People always say follow the science. Outdoors has been proven to be much safer than indoors. Summer is coming up, isn’t that the golden opportunity for outdoor concerts? In America, plenty of those were held last year and they’ll be continued to be held this year. People like concerts, plays, and movie screenings held in the park. They’re cheap or even free sometimes.

Meanwhile in Ireland the government is like “No Fun Summer 2021”. When restaurants and bars open up, there will be a limit of how much time you can spend inside, a curfew of 23:30 (yeah, because we all know the virus only pops out at midnight), and no live or loud music. Here are the rules for pubs, which are set to open in August, if we’re lucky. So many rules. Why bother going to a pub? You’re better off drinking at home and inviting friends over and playing whatever music you want and dancing where you want. Too many rules and making it an ordeal to go to pubs and restaurants is just going to hurt the businesses. These restrictions are especially detrimental to musicians who will not be able to promote their music. Many musicians have worked for years as musicians and how can they transition to other work? It takes time and they need support, which the government won’t give. If you have a radio show, blog, or podcast, make your platform available to local musicians. They need your support. If you like music, stream local musicians’ music on Spotify. Better yet, buy their music on Bandcamp, they get more money that way.

Makes no bloody sense. No plans for concerts in the park. No plans for pilot events. I might as well be in prison, that’s how free it is here. What’s the point? Of all the developed countries, Ireland had the longest, strictest lockdown, yet the numbers of infections are still high, we have hardly any rapid testing, and hardly any vaccines. There are countries that didn’t lock down as hard and they’re still doing better than us. Tell me again how this is a developed country, because it doesn’t feel like one.

The government be like enjoy prison, suckers! And people wonder why the youth emigration rate is so high. People are simping for Ireland right now because the Dรกil (for the Anglos, that’s parliament) here is standing with Palestine, and that’s great! Yes, standing with Palestine is the right thing to do. The Israeli government are committing war crimes and have been oppressing Palestinians for decades.

Things are far from good here. The government won’t stand for their own citizens and solve problems at home. Yes, I know you can talk about both international and national issues, but the government aren’t doing anything for the people here. Homelessness is out of control. No affordable housing. People in their 40s and even 50s are stuck renting, and rent is 2 to 3 times as much as a mortgage payment. The two main political parties here Fianna Fรกil (more like finna fail, am I right?) and Fine Gael are essentially the same, and they even realised that after the last election and formed a coalition together, even though both parties individually have fewer TDs (MPs for the Anglos) than Sinn Fรฉin, the left wing nationalist party.

I don’t have a whole lot of options. Go back to America, where healthcare leaves you in debt and the politicians are even more blatantly in bed with corporations? Make aliyah and go to Israel, a country where I don’t speak the language, a country whose government oppresses Palestinians, and I have no idea how I’ll be treated since I’m mixed? I’m stuck here, since my husband is Irish and his work is here.

The difference between June 2020 and June 2021 is that we have vaccines now, albeit not enough right now. Granted, most of the unvaccinated are young people. Yet the government are taking forever to get young people vaccinated, and not spacing out vaccine doses like Britain did so we can get more people vaccinated. You can see the difference between the North versus the Republic. Night and day. Same island, but completely different treatment. Not going to lie, as much as I’m a stick it to the man type, I kinda wish Ireland were still part of the UK so we could have better healthcare. Spicy take, I know! The healthcare here is like America’s but people somehow glorify it because at least people aren’t 6 figures in debt from medical treatment. Any medical debt, be it in the hundreds or thousands, is not acceptable. Stop being complacent, people! Demand better. You pay a fucktonne in taxes and for what? To get fuck all?

My husband has been listening to the Blindboy Podcast, hosted by one of the Rubberbandits – a comedy/hip hop duo from Limerick, and on the podcast they talk about how detrimental the Irish attitude of “sure, it’ll be grand” is. People expect the government to fuck up. It’s not a question about if or when they’ll fuck up. It’s how. I’ll go on the subreddit for Ireland or look on Twitter and I see so many complacent people whose bar for expectations isn’t just on the floor, but at the basement and they’re applauding like sheep at not even the bare minimum. Why are you so happy and okay with what’s going on?

People are used to poor performance by the government. My husband assumes it to be incompetence, but me being a cynic, I think it’s malice. They’re trying to screw people over on purpose because they only care about themselves and lining their own pockets. Sure, let’s give ourselves a raise and cut important government programmes and cut welfare! Well guess what, global warming’s a problem and money and stocks ain’t gonna save you from rising ocean levels and wildfires. I think that’s why I run into problems here. I come from a blunt, go-getter culture. Let’s see action, to quote The Who once again.

Shoutout to Patrick and Jeffrey from Maryland for supporting the blog!

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