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Silverman: Nothing is quite normal, even though we want the pandemic to end

Last week I saw empty movie theaters, shuttered stores and lonely Denver streets — let's trust science and vaccines and get back to live events

Yearning for complete normalcy, we keep coming up empty. Not enough Americans trust science and vaccines. Regardless, there are significant improvements.

Favorite activities have returned, like movies, indoor restaurants and live events. But fewer people are attending. How long can these businesses survive? 

At home, my family celebrated the return of “The Sopranos,” via its new prequel, “The Many Saints of Newark,” simultaneously released in theaters and on HBO-Max. For nearly a decade, my wife, Trish, and I reserved Sunday nights for “The Sopranos.” We treasured that HBO show and were sorry to see it go.

Craig Silverman

Many Saints was a terrific two hours on our TV. The drama is delicious for Sopranos’ devotees, delivering backstories on everybody. The setting is Newark from the late 1960s well into the 1970s.

In 1974, I was a freshman basketball player at now-extinct Upsala College near Newark. The Empire State Building and World Trade Center Buildings were visible from our East Orange campus. Despite hard coaching by Richie Adubato and Ron Rothstein, both future NBA head coaches, it became obvious I was far more likely going to be a lawyer than a pro hoopster. 

I returned to Colorado, having experienced East Coast congestion, edginess and bigotries. It made me tougher. Young Tony Soprano toughened up in Jersey. The actors portraying youthful Tony are outstanding, most notably Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, the performer who portrayed the original Tony Soprano.

Many Saints is much better in modern movie theaters, permitting full appreciation of backdrops, subtle glances and the sensational soundtrack. Taking our chances, and our face-masks, we arrived early for last Wednesday’s 7:15 p.m. showing at the massive modern Regal Cinebarre, our first cinematic experience since 2019. 

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Social distancing concerns were misplaced. Zero customers were in the lobby. A masked employee helped me use a kiosk to buy touchless tickets. There was no concessions area. We were told a waiter would come by. 

I ducked in most of the 10 theaters to get a sense of other movies and audience size. Many were empty. 

At the Many Saints screening, there were four other patrons, grouped together well below. We took off our masks, breathed easy and treasured the experience.

Leaving the theater, the four other attendees dawdled near the exit. We turned back to study the credits. No need wrecking our exquisite stranger-free environment. Close contact with unmasked strangers is worrisome.

If this multiplex was so empty, what was I doing going out? At age 65, my second Moderna injection on March 11, 2021, was waning.  I read that effectiveness falls substantially after six months, particularly for those age 65-plus. Where was my Moderna booster? It’s past time

My wife takes outstanding care of me. She spoke the next morning to our family doctor who approved, and then discovered a Moderna booster could be obtained at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at CVS on the 16th Street Mall. 

Nearly every day of the pandemic, I’ve gauged normality commuting down I-25 and parking underground in the garage beneath our skyscraper office at 16th and Broadway. Both were always packed pre-pandemic. I-25 remains relatively uncrowded. So does our parking garage. Nothing is quite normal.

The 16th Street Mall was mostly barren last Thursday evening as I walked the seven short blocks to CVS. Wasn’t CVS an East Coast pharmacy? When did CVS come to Colorado?  My iPhone showed the closest CVS was inside a Target on California Street. There’s a downtown Target? 

Before COVID-19, this primetime on a beautiful early autumn day, the mall would be crowded, bustling with tourists and businesspeople. Now, rougher-looking people predominated. 

Only 3 Margaritas in the old Paramount Café location looked fun and crowded. When did 3 Margaritas, one of my suburban favorites, come downtown? How could I not know all this?

The 16th Street Mall has been my work backdrop for 40 years. When was that Radio Shack shuttered?  It occurred to me I’d not been having lunch with downtown pals for years. 

At the second-floor CVS pharmacy inside Target, I was told it was the wrong CVS, but not to worry. The actual store was a block away. There are two CVS pharmacies practically  kitty-corner on the mall? 

The correct CVS pharmacist noted my COVID-19 card and age, then gave me a form asking me to attest to being immunocompromised. What the heck? I didn’t go to medical school. But I do have elevated blood pressure controlled nicely by medication. Quick research on my phone showed that could qualify.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Besides, Gov. Jared Polis, frustrated with slow FDA approval of boosters, advised older Coloradans to beat the rush and claim immunocompromise regardless. Who are we to disagree

The pharmacist asked if I also wanted the full-dose (24% more effective) flu shot, CDC-approved for people aged 65-plus. She told me both simultaneously would be fine. More iPhone research yielded a corroborating Associated Press story, I assented. I’m a sucker for science.

I enjoyed getting both shots in my hairy left shoulder. No problems afterwards. I don’t want COVID-19 or the flu. Neither should you. Be a good American. Get fully vaccinated. 


Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA who also has worked in the media for decades. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun. He practices law at the Denver law firm of Springer & Steinberg, P.C. and is host of The Craig Silverman Show podcast.


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