We Have an Issue: Brace for Impact
Either way, COVID-19 is coming. Let's look out for each other.
The City of Austin's cancellation of South by Southwest last week knocked the wind out of us. Our hearts are heavy for the SXSW staff that spent a year planning the conference and festivals, a third of whom were let go this week; for the musicians and filmmakers and speakers, many of whom were banking on exposure at the festival; for the businesses and workers that are going to see wages lost, gigs canceled, extra inventory wasted, hotel rooms sitting empty. We feel the sting here, too. Like a lot of small businesses, we rely on the boost of extra ad dollars during SXSW to get us through leaner months. And we're bummed about our two 60-page SXSW preview issues that were months in the making, featuring about 50 interviews in total, that will never see the light of day, at least in the package they were intended.
So far, the cancellation of SXSW – a public health decision made out of concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak – has been the most obvious barometer, locally, that this coronavirus thing is maybe starting to go south on us. At press time, there still have been no confirmed cases in Austin, but other spring events are being canceled out of caution or on the order of city officials. Social media is kicking around news of closures and self-quarantines, businesses and schools are blocking out plans for remote work and study, and the extra ghoulish among us – myself included – are tucking into zombie movies and other pandemic porn, because what else are you going to do?
That's easy: What we're going to do is keep going out and supporting the community until somebody official tells us it's not safe to do that anymore. So go to a show. Buy a local artist's work. Enjoy dinner out. Tip well. If the news is making you too anxious or you're at a higher risk for infection, that's okay, too; you take care of you, and consider donating to one of the fundraisers Rachel Rascoe rounds up in this week's "Faster Than Sound" column, or look for virtual volunteer opportunities.
And try not to be a jerk. Everybody's a little raw right now – let's go easy on each other.
Online This Week
Let Your Fingers Do the ... Kevin Curtin chats with Austin quartet Whit about their phalange-forward new video "Hand It Over."
Drink Your Veggies: Now's a good time to double down on your fruit and vegetable consumption. We round up nine Austin juice bars to boost your immunity.
Inside a Hen Heist: "Imagine Moby Dick as a chicken," begins Robert Faires' review of Deb Olin Unferth's new book, Barn 8, and honestly? We're hooked.
This Week on The Austin Chronicle Show on KOOP 91.7FM
The coronavirus conversation continues with News Editor Mike Clark-Madison, staff writer Kevin Curtin, and contributor Margaret Nicklas.
Tune in Fridays, 3pm, to KOOP Community Radio. Past episodes at austinchronicle.com/av.