We Have an Issue: How’s Your Blood Pressure?
Platitudes don’t help. Now is 100% the time to get political.
In this week's cover story, Mary Tuma examines an unprecedented time in our state: a dizzying 30 days in which conservative leaders used COVID-19 as cover and effectively banned abortion in Texas. As abortion providers brace for the next barrier to access, Mary lays out the legal tussle that flipped abortion care on and off like a light switch for millions of Texas women. The light is back on – for now – but count on Republicans continuing to use this pandemic to advance their agenda.
Which reminds me. About a month ago, a reader got in touch to chide me for my "poisonous political rhetoric." My high crime? Expressing fury at how this crisis has been "criminally mishandled by the president, exploited by elected officials for popularity points, and abused by our governor to deny Texan women their right to health care." I wish I could say I'd wildly overreacted – everything's under control, guys, nothing to stress about here! – but that is of course not the case. The president bloviates, spreads dangerous misinformation, and accuses the media of being fake news for reporting and correcting this misinformation. We still have freedom of the press, but it's being undermined and attacked every day by our highest elected leader, who has never, not once, stopped running for office. Other foundational ideas about our country are crumbling – ideas about opportunity and equality and justice – as the GOP, the "corporations are people, too" party, advances big business interests over those of regular people and, ignoring public health recommendations, rushes to "liberate" us from sheltering-in-place, almost certainly ensuring infection rates will jump. Oh, and have you gotten that relief check yet? How far did it stretch? Did your small business loan come through? How long did it take you to reach the unemployment office? How will you get by if you lose your health insurance?
If you don't come out of this thing at least a little bit politicized, I'm not sure you have a pulse.
Calming activities are great for lowering blood pressure, and what's more calming than a coloring book? Inspired by our friends at the Kansas City Pitch and Chicago Reader, we put out a call to Austin artists and illustrators for submissions, and boy, did they deliver. Art Director Jason Stout was tasked with choosing from all the entries: "I was blown away by both the quantity and quality of the submissions. Several artists have written that it's an honor to be a part of, but I would say the honor is all mine. It's fun, it's fantastic, it's fucking awesome."
You can now preorder the seriously nifty The Austin Chronicle Coloring Book, which features more than 50 artists depicting iconic sites from our city. Both digital and physical copies are available, and all proceeds will be split 50-50 with participating artists. Find out more at austinchronicle.com/coloring-book.
Online This Week
Armchair Traveler: "Day Trips" columnist Gerald E. McLeod continues his adventures in staytripping in the time of coronavirus. Find out how to experience some of May's usual highlights – including bat watching and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – from a safe distance.
Sour Meets Sweet: Go to recipe hub Chronicle Cooking to find our latest recipes, including Sour Duck Market's fried sweet potatoes with goat cheese onion dip.
Happy Birthday, Willie: Willie Nelson celebrated his 87th birthday with a gift to fans, posting to YouTube – at the very cheeky time of 4:20 – his 1976 appearance on Austin City Limits. Watch it now, and donate if you can to help FarmAid.