PICTURED: A very quiet 101 freeway near Ventura around noon on Friday, March 20. Photo by Ivor Davis
by Ivor Davis
This week I was supposed to be in New York. I had the best seats in the house to see the Broadway Musical Jagged Little Pill and was due to speak at a Beatles Convention. Not anymore.
It’s Monday in downtown Ventura. Or maybe Tuesday. Possibly Wednesday. Lately all the days seem so similar in Week Two of this strange Season of Pandemonium.
I have my radio playing some soothing music — Itzhak Perlman on the fiddle and the Boston Symphony Orchestra doing Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto in D major, Op. 5, or maybe Op. 4 — I can never tell the difference.
In the confines of my home office, all is well, and if I should need a touch of reality I can always tune into Lance Orozco on NPR’s KCLU radio, who ever so efficiently brings the travails of the outside world into my controlled environment.
As we all know only too well, life on the outside is a Big Medical Mess. And maybe getting messier. And the stock market: Let’s not even go there! This pandemic disruption has forced every one of us to re-arrange our lives like never before.
I’ve never experienced anything like this rampant fear of the unknown. As a child, growing up in London during World War II, we all knew that Adolph Hitler and his Luftwaffe were trying to bomb the hell out of us. But at least we knew the enemy — and we had bomb shelters in our backyards and British guns shooting the V-1 bombs down.
Now here we are, 70-plus years later, it’s March 2020 and life has turned sour and uncertain for everyone from Ojai to Oshkosh to Obereggen (in Italy). The entire world has gone slightly mad as the coronavirus lurks everywhere. Including in Ventura County.
In this era where phrases like “social distancing” and “shelter in space” have suddenly become part of our lingo, I would like to offer one man’s take on this unwelcome intruder. It’s a whole new normal and unfortunately there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Yet.
Here are a few personal observations about life in our own backyard.
Ten days or so ago, my children (one in Ventura and one in Seattle) called to anxiously warn me of the dangers of COVID-19, which sounds a lot less ominous than any label with the word “virus” attached. They declared that I had better beware because I fell in the highest risk category — the “elderly.”
At first I was outraged to be labeled thus . . . and at first assumed they were deluded.
Then I checked my passport — and discovered that they were right. Sort of. Because I don’t feel elderly.
First, I ran to the local liquor store, ignoring the Corona beer — and opting instead for a six-pack of Guinness. Over a pint or two, I began to contemplate the future under lockdowns. If one is to survive (particularly as a member of that risky age bracket), then I would declare that the most perfect place to be at a time like this is Ventura.
During the escalating crisis, and these uncertain times, while grocery stores have been crowded with shoppers — from Costco in Oxnard to the Trader Joe’s I like to frequent on Mills Road — they all behave so immaculately; even as others furiously overload their carts with such necessities as pasta and toilet rolls!
The world may be going slightly crackers, but in Ventura they have (at least from my vantage point) kept their cool!
To prove my point, just cast your eyes south to Los Angeles. Friends who have the misfortune to live there say life has become insane. Trips to the supermarkets have become an ordeal, with furious/frantic shoppers literally wrestling each other to grab goods. The result is empty food shelves. And gun stores are selling out of ammo! Maybe someone plans a revolution next week!
We are so fortunate to be in Ventura, where people (most of us anyway) appear to be
practicing isolation, quarantine, home lock-up, call it what you will, in such a civilized manner.
On our less-crowded streets, it also seems so much easier to remain eight feet away from anyone. On bike lanes, cyclists practice gentlemanly conduct — whereas on Seattle’s Burke-Gilman Trail, your life is often in peril as cyclists pedal so furiously, as if they are prepping either for the Tour De France or the end of the world!
In our town you can easily find pleasant walks ,particularly along the mostly uncrowded beachfront, scenic footpaths and the Promenade that runs alongside the Pacific, past the pier and the Crowne Plaza. On that route the scenery is absolutely stunning. Crashing waves, surfers and the awesome splendor of the Pacific Ocean, framed by the distant Channel Islands — sometimes sharply etched on the horizon, other times shrouded by clouds. Or try Marina Park for more scenic splendor and uncrowded beaches.
We even have our spectacular botanical gardens and its two mile trail high atop City Hall.
And have you looked out at Ojai lately, and the splendor of the Topa Topas capped with picture-postcard-fresh white snow?
I am a social kind of guy, but these days our lives have been severely discombobulated. Ventura Music Festival, the Museum of Ventura County, New West Symphony, Rubicon Theatre, Focus on the Masters Artist Spotlight series: All canceled.
However, this week I was able attend a service at my local synagogue in a novel way. Temple Beth Torah, like all other places of worship, is shuttered. But via my home computer and a conference system called Zoom, I participated in the Shabbat service with Rabbi Lisa Hochberg-Miller and guitar strumming by cantor Robin Faigin. Not quite the same as being there — but a worthwhile alternative and an important emotional coming together without the risk of contagion.
I have lived in Ventura for 40 years and as most longtime residents will attest, there’s been nothing like this in our lifetime.
So, the bottom line: If I’m going to be trapped for two weeks or two months or even longer, then in my opinion Ventura is a great place in which to be incarcerated.
Life During Lockdown is a new, semi-regular series exploring how Ventura County residents are adjusting to restrictions imposed due to concerns regarding COVID-19. We will publish new stories in future issues as space and content allow.