Will Leitch
Writer, New York, NYT, MLB, WaPo, others. Founder, Deadspin. Author of four books, with fifth, “How Lucky,” coming May 2021. https://williamfleitch.substack.com

A semi-regular rundown of what we’ll put in a vault when this is over, and try not to remember.

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There are two, perhaps three, and maybe soon more, vaccines about to arrive, and with those vaccines, there is hope. Our current miseries are not permanent. This pandemic will someday be over, and it could even be soon.

Thus, to commemorate this unprecedented time in human history, we have been, on a semi-regular basis, putting together a Pandemic Time Capsule. In it, we will place those objects, figures and curiosities that existed as a critical part of our pandemic reality but will likely vanish when we are outside of that bubble. …


Because it could have been. And probably should have been.

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The Covid-19 catastrophe in the United States is the worst it has ever been, and with the Thanksgiving holiday looming, it’s about to get even worse. We’re on the cusp of 2,000 deaths a day for the first time since May, and it is likely that this week or next we will reach 200,000 cases in a single day for the first time ever. Remember, Dr. Fauci’s terrifying estimate back in late March that “100,000–200,000” Americans could die from Covid-19? We’re already at 259,000, and on track for 400,000 by February. This is a disaster in every possible way.

Still, I can’t shake a nagging feeling: This could have been a lot worse. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that we’ve had such a meager, even indifferent federal response, but in many ways, we’ve actually been quite lucky. Covid-19 has disrupted every aspect of human life on this planet, and it will take us years, maybe decades, to deal with its ramifications. But when you take a step back and look at the virus itself, and some of the other viruses we’ve barely evaded in the past, it’s clear we’ve caught a bunch of breaks. …


78 is the new 40.

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Joe Biden is 78 years old today. That’s pretty old! No male in my family tree has ever made it to 78, though I like my dad’s odds of surviving the next seven years, at the very least. Only one of the Grumpy Old Men ever made it to 78. Charles Schulz, Ted Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Mister Rogers … they never got there either.

But 78 sure isn’t what it used to be. After Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20 as our 46th president, the next person in the line of succession will be Kamala Harris, who is obviously younger than 78. But the next two, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President pro tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley (who is currently recovering from Covid-19), aren’t. And depending on who Biden selects as his various Cabinet members, the rest of the line could be over 78 too. Seventy-eight is nothing! Harrison Ford is 78. Judge Judy is 78. Joy Behar is 78. …


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I am trying not to occupy too much of my brain space with what will happen to Donald Trump and his gaggle of goony nincompoops when they leave the White House until they are actually off the property, in the same way I knock on wood anytime someone says something hopeful; better to be safe than sorry. But I hope you will allow me the exception of Ivanka and Jared.

This has been a wonderful week to dunk on Ivanka and Jared. The President’s favorite offspring (at least until she gets too old) and her husband (somehow inexplicably still one of his top advisors) are learning, as their time in MAGA land comes to an end, that their young and wealthy and gorgeous pals in Manhattan —that’s to say, the only social circle they’ve known their entire lives — want nothing to do with them anymore. “To even come back here, it’s not going to work,” one of their old socialite friends told CNN. Frank Bruni in The New York Times called them “the Faustian poster couple of the Trump presidency.” It is clear the invites to all the old parties they used to attend will no longer be forthcoming. CNN guesses they might move to Florida, though if they truly want to be treated in the royal style to which they’ve become accustomed, it is maybe time to get acquainted with the nightlife of Tuscaloosa, or perhaps Sturgis. …


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This photo is the last photo I have in my phone taken before March 11, 2020, the day widely considered the unofficial beginning of the pandemic here in the United States, the day before Utah Jazz basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive and shut down the NBA, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson revealed they had the virus, and President Trump sniffled his way through an error-riddled, deeply concerning Oval Office “speech.” Every aspect of that picture, taken during my family’s annual trip to St. Louis Cardinals spring training in Jupiter, Fla., screams Before Time. We’re at a stadium with thousands of fans in it. Everyone is crammed in next to one another. My children are smiling. This photo was taken a little more than eight months ago. …


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This is our new weekly pandemic feature: Is It Safe, where we ask you what you’re comfortable with in the age of Covid-19, and what you aren’t. Read our primer to understand the concept. And email me your thoughts at williamfleitch@yahoo.com. This week: Religious services.

The first thing my mother wanted to do outside of the home when the pandemic hit was go to mass. She could order in groceries, she could have pizza delivered, she could even hold off on hugging her grandchildren. (For a while.) But she needed to get to mass. That was her constant. …


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Dangit, Zoom!

The potentially wonderful news Monday that a Covid-19 vaccine could be coming as soon as later this year, with widespread (if awfully complicated!) deployment as early as spring, served as a reminder of a mantra we all told ourselves at the beginning of the pandemic but have largely forgotten in the madness of 2020: This will all end someday. Time may have seemed like it stopped back in March and will never re-start again, but it, in fact, will. You will hug your extended family again. You will go to dinner parties where you meet people you didn’t know beforehand again. You will sit shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow fans at a football game again. That did not all just go away forever. It’s going to happen again. …


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Of all the glorious celebrations to break out across this grand nation in the wake of the presidential race, finally, being called for Joe Biden on Saturday, my favorite might have been this one:

It is one thing to be so joyous by the defeat of Donald Trump that you jump on top of your car and start throwing impromptu block parties that last all day and night. It is quite another to decide that this occasion, right now, is when Christmas must start. That’s rejoicing. Christmas starts right now!

It was wonderful: Saturday’s sudden explosion of joy across our major American cities, cities that it turned out had not been burned down by Democratic mayors, was the release many Americans, most Americans, had been waiting for. It was just such a relief to know that, for all the challenges facing the Biden administration and all the divisiveness in this country, that guy will not be president very much longer. Joe Biden is a likable, good-hearted person who I believe will make a dully competent chief executive, but those people weren’t losing their minds because Joe Biden was going to become President. They were doing it because Donald Trump soon won’t be. …


For the next two months, the whole country will be watching us

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Photo illustration. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

I moved to Athens, Georgia from New York City in June 2013, but over the last 48 hours, most of my old friends finally seem to have realized where I live. The text messages have been blowing up. “ALL EYES ON GEORGIA!” “MAKE IT HAPPEN, LEITCH.” “DAWGS GONNA DO IT!” A presidential election with nothing less than democracy on the line might not be the ideal way for my NYC friends to finally learn to identify Georgia on the map, but I suppose I will take it.

Early Friday morning — or very late on endless Thursday, depending on how much you tried to Kornacki your way through it — Democratic nominee Joe Biden finally passed President Donald Trump in the vote count in this great state. This led to a whole new round of text messages and a global understanding that Georgia — specifically Rep. John Lewis’ old district of Clayton County, the peach of the old South—may have just kicked Trump out of office. …


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At exactly 11:28 p.m. ET on Election Night, I, after drinking too much bourbon and answering too many anguished texts from terrified friends having Jacob’s Ladder-esque Election Night 2016 flashbacks, sent out this Tweet.

I had no specific expertise to make this judgment. I had just seen former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs on MSNBC reacting to Fox News’ election analysts calling the state of Arizona for Joe Biden — a call that remains in dispute two days later, as it turns out — and that led me to playing around with the FiveThirtyEight Scenario Generator long enough that I realized Biden winning Arizona would gave him a very clear path as long as he hung on to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. (Apparently the Trump campaign felt the same way.) …

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