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  • Stephen L Carter, Sr.

COVID SERIES (PART VIII): VAXXed and Masking Still

Any light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel?

by Stephen L. Carter, Sr.

I read it in the newspaper, so it must be true–Chicago’s iconic festivals will return in Summer 2022. And yeah, we missed them terribly! Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced the return after a two-year Covid induced hiatus. They’ve said in essence, “LET THE FESTIVALS BEGIN!”

As Old Timers like me say,”… ya don’t miss the water ’til the well runs dry.” Well, New Timers, aka Millennials, say it too. I didn’t miss Summer 2021 Lollapalooza, didn’t miss hanging out for three days with hordes of Millennials who packed Millennium Park, cheek to cheek AND the other cheek to cheek. Fear of Mass COVID-19 Contagion prevented me from being anywhere near the South Loop for the annual Lollapalooza. I still cringe when I see images of thousands of “The un-masked” who stormed the stages on Chicago’s lakefront. I admit in journalistic candor that I avoid events that draw “special crowds.”

“Special crowds” is my code word for The Un-masked and Un-Sun-Blessed. I did miss the Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, Taste of Chicago, Farmer’s Markets, Chicago Gospel Festival, Chicago Air and Water – but had they opened in the Summer of 2021; I would not have attended.

Far too many Covid deaths of family and friends make me wary of events where hundreds and thousands of both Masked and Vacc’s – but especially “The Un-Masked” and “Un-Vaxxed” would be attending. Yes, I’m pumped with two Modernas and the booster. By Summer 2022 – if offered an additional booster, I’d take it, but I’d still be mighty cautious of large crowds. But you should know, I’m personally reminded each day, with each reported Covid related death - of my mortality and my high-risk vulnerability of being a Cancer survivor.

Large public gatherings will not be my Temptress. I don’t care if a line-up of Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Frankie Beverly & Maze, The Isley Brothers, Tony Bennett, and Marvin Gaye were to put on The Concert for All Times – I’d only attend if my new best buddy, Tony Fauci, accompanied me. Whoa! On 2nd thought, if Marvin Gaye were to make a guest appearance or “Apparition Appearance,” I’d invest in a ticket now.

I somewhat jest, but I’m serious as cancer, that it will be a while for me to risk being less than cautious of the still too real and prevalent danger and presence of The Unmasked and The Un-Vaxxed. Like my many Octogenarian families, friends, and colleagues say, “We’ve come too far” to risk “It” in these uncertain times. I, for one, can’t be lulled into any depth of security that masks or shots offer for the “new normal” experience of life as we now know it in the Good Ole US of A or other countries. Who can predict when these times will again be normal or what will be the “new-normal experience? Will it ever again be a mask-less society?

It’s been 120 years since the Grandfather-I-Never-Knew became a casualty of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1919. I pray my grans will never experience another pandemic in their lifetime. Until the day COVID-19 becomes a bit more predictable. Until a substantial number of The-Unmasked and Un-Vaxxed join The Club with me and my trusted buddy, Tony Fauci–I’ll be comfortably “couched” in front of my TV, attending virtual concerts and becoming a ZOOM-in’ expert. Like many things of this “New Normal,” I never could have anticipated working toward a Master’s degree in ZOOMING and Virtual Reality–on my couch.

Like our parents and grandparents, we ask our readers to keep a copy of your current CURRENT Magazine on your coffee table for future reference – just like in the Good Old Ebony/Jet era. Look for dates and places for Summer events and updated COVID protocols. The grapevine, aka DCASE, tells us that many of the Chicago Summer events will be coming to your neighborhoods, and we’ll keep you posted.

Dear Readers, if you have been keeping count, I am on a mission to become an impactful journalist, writer, poet when I reach 1,000,000 words. I have 798,208 words at the latest count to get my 1,000,000 words. Feel entitled to comment, exercise your vents, or praise privileges by snail mail ATTENTION: BlackButterfly, Current Magazines, Kirkwood Business Center, 1940 E. 79th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60649 or email:

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