Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #17: July 1, 2020

Hi all,

This weekend is typically one of the biggest celebrations of the summer - fireworks and hot dogs; beaches, barbecues, and beers with friends and family.  This year will of course be different, but the celebration should be no less important.  The Fourth of July is Independence Day - the day when we celebrate our freedom.  Freedom means so many things, and it's all the more important to celebrate at this incredibly strange moment, when many of us feel far from free.  We're unable to do many of the things we'd like to do; we're unable to see the people we'd like to be with; we're unable to fully express ourselves through the myriad relationships and activities we used to fill our time with.  And yet - despite all of that - we are free.  We can be whoever we'd like to be.  We can speak our minds.  We can disagree with those in power.  We can do nearly anything we want to, say anything we want to, learn anything we want to.

As the recent protests have made clear, there's still a lot of work we need to do to make sure that everyone feels comfortable truly being themselves - even here, even in this country that has long symbolized freedom throughout the world.  There is much to be done to ensure that every one of us is able to fully take advantage of that freedom.  And yet, I'm still full of hope.  I believe that our country truly is the country I grew up believing in - the one where I can do anything I set my mind to, be anything I want to be.  And I believe that we can get to a place where every American feels that way.  So this Fourth of July, let's not just celebrate that our country's founders fought for their freedom and ours, but let's also remember the fight that still lies ahead, and let's take steps to make that dream a reality.  If you haven't yet, please take some time this weekend to engage with these issues, to reflect on where we are and where we can go, and to take real steps toward getting there.  My blog post from June 4th includes many ways you can help, if you haven't yet found a way to do so.

And, perhaps most importantly, please be safe this weekend.  In order to change the world and to see what the future holds, we need to stay healthy and stay safe.  Unfortunately, that means that many of our typical Fourth of July traditions may need to be modified or put on hold this year, but there are many, many ways that you can celebrate from home.  This incredible guide from the New York Times lists so many different ways to celebrate this weekend, whatever you're in the mood for.  It has lists of fireworks displays, activities for kids, families, and individuals, and lots of other suggestions and information to make sure this Fourth of July is just as spectacular as ever.  Some of these suggestions are called out below, but there's no point in reinventing the wheel, and this guide to the holiday is fantastic.

Previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.  Happy Fourth of July, everyone!


The Yummy Stuff
  • Ever wanted to learn to carve fruit into incredible sculptures like flowers?  Join me for a fruit-carving class (and a sesame brittle demonstration) led by 2020 James Beard finalist Natasha Pickowicz this Friday, with all proceeds benefiting community organizations and Fair Fight, the anti-voter-suppression organization founded by Stacey Abrams.  Check out the rest of this 10-part cook-along series, Cooking for Equity - Asian Chefs for Black Lives here.
  • Resy, one of several restaurant reservation services that was thriving prior to the lockdown, has pivoted to offer special takeaway meals for pickup at a variety of top NYC restaurants.  They're unveiling a theme each Monday, along with special menu items offered by participating restaurants, which you can order all week.  This week theme is Fourth of July.  If you live in Brooklyn, please order the corn dog, crinkle-cut fries, and cotton candy combo (paired with a Pinot Gris) from Red Hook Tavern so I can live vicariously through you!  If you love me enough to order a second one and walk it across the bridge, I'd happily invite you stick around and eat it with me (from a safe distance) on the roofdeck...
  • Outdoor dining has been open in NYC for over a week now, with over 6,100 restaurants having been approved to offer outdoor seating.  Phase Three theoretically begins here next week, although the much-anticipated plans for restarting indoor dining (at 50% capacity) have been delayed.
The Fun Stuff
  • Phase Three in NYC also includes "personal care services."  I know many of you were waiting with bated breath for your haircuts a few weeks ago, but what I've really been struggling with is going without a massage for the past few months.  As careful as I've been about ergonomics with my work-from-home setup, some back and neck pain is basically unavoidable when we sit for so many hours at a time, and my shoulders are desperate for some professional help!  Check out your favorite places' websites or other channels for information about when they're reopening, but remember to check that they're taking appropriate precautions - just because businesses are legally allowed to open doesn't mean you should let your guard down, so be careful!
  • The world has been gradually reopening, but large gathering spaces like stadia and theaters remain empty or sparsely populated.  Barcelona found a way to turn the empty space into something beautiful and remarkable.  When the El Liceu Opera House in Barcelona opened this month for the first time since April, the UceLi string quartet performed to an audience of 2,292 lush green plants, which were then donated to health professionals from the ClĂ­nic de Barcelona hospital.
  • Missed the Pride celebrations last weekend?  Check out this virtual 3D tour of NYC's LGBTQ+ landmarks, from the Stonewall Inn to Christopher Park.
  • Every year, NYC is replete with numerous outdoor movie options, and this summer will be no different.  The organizers of the Tribeca Film Festival are teaming up with IMAX and setting up drive-in's on the beach at Orchard Beach in the Bronx (up to 500 cars) and Nickerson Beach in Nassau County (up to 250 cars).  Check out the details and the movie schedules here.
  • Spending so much time with your kids or loved ones that they're starting to feel like aliens to you?  Send them to outer space on Thursday at 1pm with the Liberty Science Center.  You can check out the institution's many other virtual activities and live-streamed events here.
  • Bummed that NYC public pools are remaining closed this summer?  Check out the Cool It! NYC program to find one of over 1,000 "cooling elements" like misters and fire hydrants that will be set up throughout the city to help families stay cool.
  • Want to get away with your kids but can't travel?  Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey reopened its Safari Adventure a few weeks ago as a drive-through experience!
  • Desperate for live entertainment?  The Parking Lot Social is a touring experience offering a wide variety of activities in a drive-in setting - the activities and schedules will vary from city to city.  Check out the details here.
  • Two of the world's leading experts on the science of happiness are teaching an 8-week course via 92Y on How to Be Happier, starting this Monday.
The Fourth of July Stuff
  • The Macy's Fourth of July fireworks displays were spread across NYC over the past several days (at surprise locations to avoid crowds), but the finale will take place on Saturday from 8-10pm, from the Empire State Building, and will feature highlights from this week's displays.  Please view it from home on TV (tune in on NBC) if you can't find a spot to watch while keeping a safe distance from others!  Many other cities will also be hosting online presentations and fireworks displays if you'd prefer a local vibe - see here for details.
  • ESPN has gotten creative with its coverage during the quarantine, hosting spelling bee marathons and the Cherry Pit Spitting Championship (seriously), but this Saturday, at noon, they're hosting a NYC classic, live!  The Nathan's hot dog eating contest will not fall to the quarantine - it will continue on, sans audience.
  • Take a tour of an important historical site: You can take virtual tours of so many different places these days, including the U.S. Capitol, Philly's Independence National Historical Park (home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Benjamin Franklin museum), and the Statue of Liberty.
  • Reflect on the ongoing struggle of our fellow citizens to fully realize the freedom that so many of us have long enjoyed.  One option is this virtual exhibit on The Struggle for African American Freedom, courtesy of Google Arts & Culture.
  • Take an Independence Day quiz and test your knowledge of our country's history.
  • Having friends over anyway?  Check out these tips for how to do so safely.

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