Senor Weaselo is a freelance musician living in New York City. As you would expect, this means he has had some stories and adventures in his time. These are not all of those stories, and definitely not the more specific ones, due to at least a veil of anonymity and not wanting to get blackballed.
But what these are are ramblings of a New York City musician as he tries to make some sense of the hustle. Or at least of his surroundings while making sense of the hustle. Or as the hustle grinds to a halt. These are his stories.
I start this off my saying that I know I’m not the only one affected, and main line of work is not the only sector affected. But my current lines, plural, of work give me an insight into the difficulties. I also have to say the normal “stay inside, do the social distancing thing, don’t lean close to your neighbor and cough on them,” unless you also kicked your neighbor’s ass earlier, which might explain Senator Rand Paul winning the Congressional coronavirus pool.
So let’s start off on the freelance musician front. Well, simply, everything is shut down. So gigs are canceled until at least April 15th, and I imagine more could go but I haven’t gotten all of those dates. Senorita Weaselo and I go to our alma mater and ringer in the orchestra? Not anymore, we weren’t able to play the opera but the last orchestra concert is canceled, as are all events at the school’s Performing Arts Center, until the end of the season. The summer orchestra we play with at the moment is still fine, for now, which is worth noting because the deadline for their composition contest is May 1st and I’m waiting for account things to get solved so I can download Finale on the new lappy. (Fucking OS Catalina… my current Apple gripes will be for another day.)
My last three gigs the weekend before the gatherings got slashed were weddings, and one was in Borough Park, Brooklyn, which has become a current hotbed for the virus. So I probably should self-quarantine, despite us being on the bandstand or in the corner of the lobby. The weddings felt less attended, but some things didn’t change, such as the dancing, and that’s probably one of the big reasons of the spread in the area. One of those weddings was moved up a week, and a fourth one got moved up from evening to morning (which meant that I could not make it as I had a funeral to attend). It might have gotten axed because that was the first day of super-limiting groups, where the first cut-down was half the capacity and the second was less than 50, before the current “don’t fucking do it, assholes.” A friend’s wedding, originally this past Sunday, moved the ceremony up, but I’m pissed off because I wasn’t invited, and the last I saw her it was “see you soon, or if not before it then at your wedding.” So nice to know you’ve gone from salt and sand and soon to so what? (Just solidifies that A, the famous redhead cellist was right, and 2, Senorita Weaselo’s better, but I knew that one already from her sending me a whole bunch of cute photos of us just now.)
Moving on from my own miffedness, Padre Weaselo, a freelance pianist and keyboardist, is feeling the pain. He has something seemingly every night, between bands, solo gigs, his steady weekend playing at a catering hall, church on Sunday mornings. His church did have a service this past Sunday (of course the Baptists still met) but I’m not sure how they did it. Probably everyone phoned in, or Skype, or whatever. But the Lord was praised. But yeah, he’s worried about bills, because a lot of the relief funds, surprise surprise, independent contractors and those who take 1099s may not be eligible for the relief! If it weren’t for Madre Weaselo he wouldn’t know what to do. She works at a hospital so her job is “essential.” So I think it won’t be the absolute end of the world for them, but it’s still rough. Plus, Padre can’t go to the gym, which he’s really cut up about, to the point that he got a workout bench that one of his friends was getting rid of.
Onto the other sizable portion of a freelancer’s work, teaching: A the college I TA and tutor at (and yet they call me Professor), we had a week of recess as we moved to “distance learning.” Distance learning is just using Skype, or everyone’s app du jour, Zoom, to teach classes. This includes Zoom for classes the professors teach, Zoom for my TA study sessions (when people actually show up to them—the basic music class does okay, but the theory class attendance is nonexistent), and Zoom for tutoring hours. Okay, nobody’s come to my Zoom tutoring hours because I don’t think they know who gets emailed, but one of the tutors said she did get one student! So… progress?
As for my studio students at the other music school I work at, that’s using Skype. The school asked students if they wanted to take lessons via Skype and about half of them said yes. So it’s not everyone, but it’s not a total loss. I saw a few of my students on Thursday and I don’t think it went too badly, though the violin students went better than the piano students. My private students are also trying to figure out whether they want to use Skype or whether we’ll be on hold for the moment. I hope to hear from them soon.
Senorita Weaselo teaches at the same music school and so is doing the same thing with her students, and she’ll tell me how it went later tonight. All the lessons are at or around their normal times. But she also teaches at an after-school program, and that’s now on hold. Granted, she’s tired of dealing with the running and screaming and complete disregard for violin safety. Kinda like how I felt last year teaching elementary school, but I at least had power of grades. After-school she doesn’t have that authority, so what power do you have?
As far as being creative, it sucks right now. This past weekend I basically just watched a bunch of YouTube videos and when I called Senorita Weaselo last night I lamented the fact I was feeling stifled and trapped. I’m still waiting for Finale to get sorted out, so I can’t hammer that out, and I just wasn’t in the mood to do anything else. I felt a bit nihilistic about it, like what’s the point? And getting into that loop if nobody you know’s asking is scary. And I don’t have the recording skills to be the one asking “who wants to work with me?” (Maybe I should think about getting Logic.) I worry about being left in the proverbial cold in a time like this because I’m busy doing whatever other things. If I can find some old videos to post to YouTube from 2016-2017 I need to do that, but I need to find them first. Not the piece I played with orchestra, that was kinda out of tune. Fortunately after I wrote this paragraph, someone tagged me on Facebook for a Dvorak 9 flash mob, so I recorded an excerpt of that on my phone. The quality sucks and my room is too small to be a good studio (simply because I almost don’t have enough room to bow) but it did the trick for the day.
Lastly, I guess check on your people. My grandfather lives alone since my grandmother passed away a couple years ago. In the best of times he’s lonely; my dad sees him every couple of days to get him some things, but with how busy I get where I don’t even see my parents, when he asks to see me I don’t have a chance. Now I have the freedom, but with my likely exposure it’s best if I don’t see him. He’s in his 80s, he has some health issues, I don’t want to see him and then expose him because that would probably be really dangerous. So of course what he’s done the last week or so is ask for about four items every day because then it forces us to see him, and I think between Padre Weaselo and I we told him that supermarkets were a madhouse (they were in certain places) and we’d want to expose him as little as possible. I should call him more though.
And you guys are fine with it, but to other assholes, stop being racists. There’s an entire fucking flame war on Senorita Weaselo’s social medias based on a post she shared about not calling it “Chinese flu.” You know, the thing the commander-in-cheeto is hand-writing into his notes to throw chlorine trifluoride-soaked rags on the fire. She’s seen that firsthand, getting dirty looks from people on the way to work. Because people really suck, and crises bring out both the best and worst in people. Hopefully we’ll all see it on the other side sooner rather than later.
Senor Weaselo is not a confirmed coronavirus case. That’s probably about the best he can say right now. Also this PAUSE/quarantine/stay the fuck home can help him regain his capsaicin reserves.
Speaking of, this year’s NYC Hot Sauce Expo is postponed to a date TBD. As is the upcoming season of BattleBots. It is a dark time.