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Television anchors have fallen in love with the term “new normal.” I reject that term. No, I’m not going to start a protest march or loot the broadcasters’ homes or studios. I just want them to know that if it’s not normal, then it’s “abnormal.”

The expression “new normal” implies that everything is just as it once was, only newer. But that is not what we’re experiencing in our city and country these days. Everything about 2020 thus far is abnormal, which is defined thusly: “deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying.”

Wouldn’t you agree that is a better description of all that we’ve lived through since the first days of March?

Abnormal is an appropriate term for many things that are not as they once were, and are troubling to boot. Would you describe Khloe Kardashian’s current face after her seventh surgical procedure as being her “new normal?” I doubt it. It’s distinctly abnormal.

That word can be applied to dozens of other occurrences or events in recent days. I was excited to see that Dave Chappelle was hosting an impromptu concert on Netflix. We all need a good laugh these days, right? But what I saw in an abbreviated performance in front of a smattering of fans was a far cry from comedy. It was Chappelle understandably fuming over the gut-wrenching death of George Floyd just a week earlier. He was as outraged as everyone should be over the sight of a man having his breathing slowly choked off as other policemen and everyday citizens stood by and watched without intervening. Everything about that event was abnormal.

Browsing through the fruits and vegetables section of Albertson’s the other day, I noticed only one other customer in the entire store not wearing a mask. He was in the checkout line right in front of me. When I had my basket filled and was waiting patiently, I was told by this unmasked dude that I needed to take one step back. Looking down, I realized my right foot was a few inches ahead of a red stripe on the floor that indicated where I should stand for “social distancing” purposes.

Would you describe that as the “new normal?” I wouldn’t. I call it abnormal and under my breath I uttered several four-letter words and a couple four-syllable words that explicitly described what I thought of the entire situation. I then slid my dog treats and Haagen Dazs butter pecan ice cream further back on the conveyor belt to let the offended customer know I was doing everything I could not to violate his space. This despite the fact that if the jerk sneezed in my direction I might be dead within a month.

When I’ve needed a break from the keyboard and looked in the TV listings for live sports over recent weeks, the only two choices I had were Korean Baseball and the Johnsonville Cornhole Championships. If this doesn’t represent a dystopian world, what does? Sorry, but a World Cup quarterfinal soccer matchup between Peru and Finland from 2004 doesn’t get my blood racing.

Perhaps the most alarming reality of this so-called “new normal” is that I can’t find a balanced news account on any of the 100 or so channels that will tell me what’s happening in the world without being filtered through a political bias.

Growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s with just three major TV networks, I could be fairly certain I was getting news reports that weren’t drenched in opinion or slant. If Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley gave us an opinion, it was clearly labeled as such and came in the last 90 seconds of reporting.

Today, even a casual observer knows within the first three paragraphs of a news broadcast whether the message is drenched in left-wing or right-wing bias. This is beyond troubling, and that fact alone worries me as much as the imposing message that the second wave of the virus will be worse than the first, and that racially motivated protesting is a reality that will continue to boil for a generation.

I think I’ll scarf a dozen Krispy Kremes and zone out.

About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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