Corona Beach Blues with Keller

by Keller // David & Keller

Remember that beach playlist I told you about? Of course you do. You know everything about me and you remember everything I tell you. For those with dementia, I was all prepared to submit my weekly article as required by WUSC bylaws, but was reminded that the Saturday I had planned for my Spring Break Beach Mixxx ’20 was actually July 4. I was forced to throw everything out and quickly crank out a patriotic piece that wouldn’t cause David to chastise me. I was unsuccessful. My entry was not up to David’s standards, and he beat the hell out of me, to be quite frank. I’ve gotten used to it. And, I mean, in a way I guess I deserved it. The playlist and article were both, as David yelled through his mask before the lashing began, “pablum at best!” 

If you’re wondering, David was not wearing a leather mask like the Gimp wore in Pulp Fiction or like the ones that fell out of my parents’ luggage at the beach. No, he was wearing a much smaller face covering, the kind people wear to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which is a topic our radio station addressed with PSAs back in January and February. How we went from PSAs telling us to wash our hands to attending funerals over Zoom six months later is mind-blowing. While there is a lot of disagreement out there in the world today, I would guess it would be very difficult to find a group of folks who’d tell you — honestly — that things have been handled well. Things could certainly be better right now. And, if you agree with that, then you’d have to say things could have been handled better.

This all brings me to my beach playlist. I love the beach. We are fortunate in Columbia, SC, to live near some of the best beaches in the US of A. I am partial to Kiawah. The beach itself is massive, flat and rarely crowded. I can hear you now: “That’s just a bunch of rich assholes down there!” Have you been to any beach in our state lately? Have you looked at the Zillow listings there? Rich assholes are everywhere — especially at our beaches. But, at Kiawah, there’s enough space to avoid the people you don’t want to see while on vacation. For some reason, you won’t read that in their marketing.

The people I wanted to avoid this past vacation were Charlestonians. I stayed in Charleston for two nights before spending the week at the beach. Charleston was wide open. The bars were filled, the restaurants had long lines and public spaces like White Point Garden were jammed up with Ron Jon tees, flat brim ball caps and cellulite. The only thing you didn’t see were masks. There was a noticeable difference between how Charleston was treating the pandemic and how Columbia was and is treating it. There was, no kidding, a birthday party at the small ice cream shop next to the condo where we stayed. It seemed really dumb to me. Delicious, but dumb.

I like Charleston. I have lots of family and friends there. It’s a fine city. But, man, they either know something I don’t or they were carrying on like a bunch of buffoons. Let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say masks do not work to prevent anything or slow the spread of anything. What’s the downside of being wrong? That I look like a fool in a mask? I cannot think of another one, so I am going to go with, “I look dumb.”

OK. What’s the downside of not wearing one if it turns out that a mask does help prevent the disease from spreading? The downside is a lot more people get sick. And maybe people you care about get sick. And maybe more people getting sick at once means less effective or suboptimal treatment for those seriously ill. And maybe it means we have to shut things down again or delay openings. I don’t know. I guess I feel that looking dumb or not cool or unmanly or whatever it is that people say is worth the risk. I mean, those partygoers in the ice cream parlor looked dumb and they weren’t even wearing masks. So, for a lot of our fellow sandlappers, there’s really nothing to lose at this point.

Thankfully, our stay in Charleston, which is — and I’m sure this is just a coincidence — now a coronavirus hotspot, was quick. Within 48 hours we had joined a bunch of rich assholes on the beach out at Kiawah, which is where I crafted a beach-themed playlist before I had to pivot to Old Glory. Although I am back in the mask-wearing city of Columbia and the sand is finally out of my undies, I thought the old playlist might save my skin, so here it is: a bunch of tunes about the beach or that reference the beach or that blah, blah, blah. Just mash play already.