Pandemics and pandemonium

The "pandemonium" part is just an etymology and a riff, so you can skip to that if you don't wanna read any plague stuff

We’re in a pandemic and it’s bad. I’m currently up in Vermont, having skipped town early because my roommates in Brooklyn were making me feel unsafe and anxious - bringing people over, going out to bars, going to the gym, taking trains to New Jersey, coughing and such (probably from smoking, but the sound was bad). But it may become an Appointment in Samarra type of situation, especially if too many out-of-staters flee here and overwhelm the rural hospital system. There’s no safe place, only risk-minimizing behaviors. Please do all the physical distancing possible, wash hands or sanitize if you got no sink nearby, sanitize your phones, wipe your doorknobs, rest and be extra contact-avoidant if you’re sick. Gotta flatten that curve.

In a crisis as in any time, I’m thinking about our political system, and what I want is what I always want: to rearrange our systems to prioritize taking care of vulnerable people and generating good, robust public resources, and fuel it by reducing our waste and excesses, starting with the extreme excesses of our most powerful people and organizations. We gotta be quick and honest and caring.

But you knew that already. Gonna try and stay journaling with happier stuff these days. Starting with…


The kids, in my opinion, got a lot of potential, and will be alright if we give ‘em half a chance. I informed some of my classes that their generation is being called the “zoomers,” and they were like “nooo! that makes us sound like boomers!” And then they proceeded to describe in some detail how the boomers had given them a precarious economic situation, and I was like, “these kids get it.”

Most kids at NYC schools, before they shut down, had already embraced the distancing. Pretty early on I saw them switching to elbow-bumping, or doing this:

It’s good to see people adopting socially beneficial behavior, and having a good time with it. Even if we’re now moving on to more distance than that for the most part, good sign of cheerful adaptability.


Pandemic (pan + demos) isn’t directly related to pandemonium (pan + demons), but did you know Pandemonium first was coined a literal place, the capital city of hell? It comes from a book I never read called Paradise Lost, it’s by a guy named John Milton and he looks like this:

Portrait of Milton, circa 1629

Just look at this erudite motherfucker. Hard to imagine him writing a book that’s not boring as shit. But I might check it out, because any book where Hell has a capital city sounds pretty wild and fun. Apparently it was built in one hour, and it seems from what I can tell that it’s also the largest city in Hell – like Atlanta or Boston, unlike Albany or Montpelier.

Makes me wonder about the life of a demon. Do they have to commute to Pandemonium? Do a lot of them live in the greater Pandemonium area? Or is it like a reverse commuting situation where they all live in Pandemonium, but go out into the hell-fields to work? Is there another, less famous city that kind of thinks it rivals Pandemonium, but inside Pandemonium the demons don’t think too much about it – the Boston to its New York, the Baltimore to its DC? Are there demons in the demon government who badmouth Pandemonium whenever they’re on the campaign trail and make a big show of being Pandemonium outsiders, while the demon civil servants and local service workers who do the hard work of keeping Pandemonium running get a bad rap, and don’t even get voting representation in the demon Congress? Maybe I should read the book and write some fanfic. Something to do if we make it through this.

Update: my god, it’s ten books! Ten books that constitute, apparently, one poem. Definitely not the ratio of poems to books I’m used to. Usually a poem is very short, and it takes many upon many to constitute a single book, and even then the book is pretty thin. Alright, I’m never reading this thing in my life. I would, however, read some sort of Wiki about the facts of Hell as laid out in Paradise Lost, or perhaps a short prose adaptation.