You’re Wearing a Mask

San Francisco big shots in their masks.

This story from the San Francisco Examiner from November of 1918 will sound familiar. By late 1918 the first wave of flu cases had passed and the city decided, with much fanfare, to lift the requirement to wear a mask:


Signal Sounds Promptly at the Stroke of 12 and Those Who Do Not Doff Gauze Are Ridiculed

Much Material Accumulates in Drug Stores, but Most of Discards Are Deposited in Gutters

All San Francisco was ready to discard the influenza masks right on the dot of 12 o’clock yesterday, an the crowds that stood in front of street and tower clocks watchfully waited doffed the enforced camouflage without a second’s delay. But those who attuned their ears for the welcome shrieks of factory sirens were just a trifle nervous two or three minutes after the hour, for the din was slow in gaining volume.

Five minutes after the hour 95 percent had doffed their masks and were laughing back at the sunlight and into one another’s faces as if they had just made a great and delightful discovery. A few minutes later few masks were to be seen save those which littered the sidewalks or had been hung up in conspicuous places.

The driver of an ice truck attached his masks to the hood of the machine and spectators, taking the hint, decorated the hood with scores of them.

Fifteen minutes after the hour the newsboys began to take noisy note of those who still wore masks. A masked workingman in a corduroy coat and trousers was followed at Market and Powell streets by a dozen boys who shouted in chorus “take off your mask.” Made stubborn by the baiting, or for some other reason, the man continued to wear his mask while they heckled him.

Not a few remembered Dr. Hassler’s request to deposit the masks at convenient drug stores because of the scarcity of surgical gauze. These will be delivered to the Red Cross, sterilized and used to make surgical dressings.

As will also seem familiar, the decision was premature. By January of 1919 the flu raged back and Mayor James Rolph ordered the masks back on.

A second wave, masks in the gutter and mask Kevins and Karens–what can I add to this? In lieu of a conclusion, I’ll just point out that Iggy Pop may have composed the anthem of our times back in 2001.

The Other TickTalk

Got ticks? Like scientists who pun? The University of Massachusetts Amherst has a free series of webinars on the biology of ticks. You can watch live or look at the archived videos.

Each month we will hear from Dr. Stephen Rich and the Laboratory of Medical Zoology (LMZ)! TickTalk in 2020 will also feature exciting guest speakers on tick topics that you told us were important to YOU. The series will include seasonality and life stages of ticks (key to planning intervention and prevention), emerging or invasive tick species, how ticks use vegetation and leaf litter throughout their life cycle, increasing fears of Alpha-gal allergies (allergies to certain meat and animal-related products), dispelling myths of tick control, and many more. Mosquito concerns, including life cycle, behavior, and EEE infection, will also be addressed and Dr. Rich will discuss the tens of thousands of mosquitoes the LMZ tests each year for a range of viruses. Tune in the 2nd Wednesday of the month!

Come for the ticks stay for the mosquitoes!

Saturday Linkages: Hot Takes

Kolomon Moser, Summer’s Evening.

View tonight’s lunar eclipse

How to stop your glasses from fogging up when you wear a mask

Incompetence and Errors in Reasoning Around Face Covering

David Beckham leads the way as men flock to ‘cottagecore’ look

Twin Peaks: The Return, or What Isn’t Cinema?

Pentagon War Game Includes Scenario for Military Response to Domestic Gen Z Rebellion

The True Cost of Dollar Stores

It’s ‘Our Fault’: Nextdoor CEO Takes Blame For Deleting Of Black Lives Matter Posts

I’m Black and Afraid of ‘White Fragility’

The Mystery of John Titor: Hoax or Time Traveler?

Tweet of the week

138 Erics Gone Wild

On episode 138 of the Root Simple podcast we brain dump with Eric Rochow, a.k.a. “East Coast Eric” of Garden Fork TV about concrete work, bears in the garden, plywood boat building and storm windows. Eric has been a frequent guest on the Root Simple Podcast and is back to fill us in on what he’s been up to under quarantine. During the show we discuss:

You can also find Eric on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Saturday Linkages: Quarantine Movie Suggestions

Rather than the normal links this morning I thought I’d post a few quarantine movie suggestions from Connor Kilpatrick’s movie list in the most recent issue of the Jacobin (behind a paywall but worth the price of admission). We’ve been making our way through Kilpatrick’s golden-age of Hollywood sub-list. So far we’ve watched:

Scarface (the 1932 version)
The Big Sleep (Don’t worry about the plot it makes no sense at all–just enjoy the scenery)
His Girl Friday (You can watch this one for free on the YouTubes)
The Sea Wolf (This one is kinda like a relentless, brutal film noir at sea and, remember, the sea is dope)
I Walked With a Zombie (Way better than you’d think given the lurid title)
Out of the Past (One of the best movies ever made)

Happy viewing.