It’s been more than three months of living and working in this altered reality of ours. In that time I’ve used the Weekly’s arts and culture pages to do what I’ve done for 13 years at the paper: find and write about what I think is the most interesting and valuable stuff from our culture. But it’s been with more purpose, as arts activity dried up and our lives receded inward to our homes. We still needed to hear others’ voices.
I wanted to share culture that inspires us to cheer, to get angry, to cringe, cry, laugh, to accept whatever we might be feeling. Because it seemed like a bewildering amount of news—much of it distressing or tragic—was clamoring for our attention, and I thought we might need to process emotions for balance. So an essay about trying to get rid of a rusty, dusty tricycle touched on loss and grieving; a roundup of protest songs was about how music can unite us for hard times ahead; writing about video games, I wanted to assure parents that they weren’t failing by allowing their kids more escape during a pandemic.
I found advice that could brace us for these turbulent times, as well as entertainment that avoided reality altogether. I curated poems and art, recommended TV shows, pointed out free digital resources. It’s been a privilege to bring all this to readers in this moment. But I didn’t make any of that content. There are a myriad of creative people in this community and in the world who use their witnessing, their lives, their training and talents to create art. I hope it’s been worthy of your time.
Many of you have let me know that the paper (also in this digital format, Monterey County NOW) has been meaningful for you. It has been for me too. It’s felt like a culminating moment in my own mission to share truths that circulate in the arts. And the beauty is that you don’t have to look like that person, or have lived their experiences, or come from their culture or politics or economics, to embrace their expression.
You just have to be a thinking, feeling, caring human being. And these last three months, difficult as they have been, have proved again that there are lots and lots of you out there.
As I sign off in my final issue on staff at the Weekly after 13 years, and depart for a staff job at CSU Monterey Bay, thank you for reading. And take care.
-Walter Ryce, arts & culture writer