It seems like ancient history now — the way we lived way back in the days of yore. But it was only February. Richard Swerdlow takes a ride in a time machine.
Like a lot of people, I have a tottering tower of newspapers I haven't gotten around to reading, but don't want to toss just yet. Since sheltering-in-place has provided an unexpected block of free time, it was an opportunity to catch up on last month's backlog of Sunday New York Times. So, I grabbed a February edition and settled in.
Things have sure changed since February. Flipping through the entertainment sections left me shocked — not at the scandalous subject matter of the films, but at the concept of going to a movie. Did dozens of strangers actually sit right next to each other for hours? Being one of the thousand people crammed into a Broadway theater together bordered on insanity. And with a seating capacity of 3,800, the Metropolitan Opera seemed like a petri dish.
The sports section was worse. I practically dropped the paper in disbelief. The Knicks playing at Madison Square Garden, with a seating capacity of 19,812. A jaw-dropping photo of the crowd at last year's Duke-Syracuse NCAA Carrier-Dome match-up with 35,000 spectators. Did we ever really live like this?
Page after page of the style section displayed ordinary events that now looked astonishing — crowded parties, weddings, museum openings. The news section photos had me cringing — people hugging, shaking hands, sitting together, protesters marching shoulder-to-shoulder.