Since the freak lightning storms of August 17th set the entire West Coast on fire, the air we breathe has been varying degrees of poisonous.
Though fires continue to rage, San Francisco and much of the California coast had a reprieve in its air quality over the last five days, and it was glorious but also disquieting.
How long would it last?
The smoke-filled air has nudged me to the ocean over the last month with its healing breezes, and Ocean Beach has become my new favorite place in San Francisco during the pandemic and wildfires.
The beach feels like a safe place to walk among strangers, easily distanced, without masks.
I survived the AIDS plague in San Francisco partly by doing my own epidemiology in real time. There were all kinds of theories about transmission when it was still being called gay cancer or gay pneumonia, but I strongly suspected it was probably through our old favorite, buttfucking. That hunch turned out to be true, and becoming the Johnny Appleseed of thin Japanese condoms to guys across the country, saving a few lives along the way, was an odd and gratifying role.
After watching the spread of COVID-19, my epidemiological hunches are that outdoor transmission is rare. Indoor gatherings of any kind are dangerous so if you want to socialize, do it outside. It also seems that it is difficult to pass the virus on with surface transmission, so all the Lysoling is absurdist theater. Above all, wearing masks around strangers on city streets is not only simply common courtesy but is our only effective prophylactic right now.
Please stay away from bars, churches, gyms, weddings, funerals, indoor restaurants, or any inside family gathering, because that is how this virus is being spread.
And if you live in California, I urge you to to go the seashore because it is a tonic right now, even if you are a hapless kayaker who doesn't know how to get into the ocean without assistance.
Besides the fresh ocean air, there is one gorgeous tableaux after another at Ocean Beach.
But beware. There are many ways to die, and weak swimmers being swept away and drowned in the dangerous currents is a frequent occurrence.