The novel coronavirus was always likely to spawn new cultural manifestations, and in America it is gratifying to see how rapidly they are appearing.
Not all of them make sense. Some people have been peevishly, obnoxiously unable to process the perfectly reasonable urge of citizens facing a quarantine of indeterminate period to stock up on toilet paper. That deficiency in logical thinking is matched by the citizens who take this sensible precaution to a paranoiac extreme, and leave their fellow men bloody and cleaved in the household goods aisle in order to make off with all the toilet paper.
Neither response reflects well on our species.
But Sunday brings us welcome news of something that does. As sports seasons are lost to us, and churches and schools close their doors to their inherent purpose of hosting large gatherings, and restaurants, bars, and theaters echo empty and alone, a new form of cultural expression is emerging.
It’s hard to know what to call it at this point. Nomenclature will take time. In the spirit of the Wuhan Virus, perhaps we can start by calling it the Milwaukee Mo-Po, after the city of its first sighting.
If it isn’t viral on social media yet, it soon will be.
Someone is cruising around Milwaukee in a motorized Porta Potty… pic.twitter.com/eDhnODwzQw
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) March 15, 2020
The urge is powerful to make toilet paper jokes about this heroic, enterprising endeavor. And who knows? Maybe it does have something to do with toilet paper. It’s possible a desperate Wisconsinite is on the hunt for toilet paper and determined not to inconvenience anyone but himself.
Alternatively, he might be using a public performance to illustrate the hazards of running out of toilet paper, for those who have not grasped the gravity of it yet.
There are also various Milwaukee-themed jokes to consider, such as the Democratic Party’s planned national convention in Milwaukee in July. One could riff on why Milwaukee doesn’t have an NHL team (any takers?), or why the Packers are 100 miles away in Green Bay; or one could just tell Brewers jokes, of which there are plenty to go around, many of them on point.
Then there’s the whole field of cheese and the human digestive system to develop.
But that would be to miss the sheer artistry – the art for art’s sake – of this performative expression of unalloyed arthood. Performing in the rain, with an SUV at right tackle and accompanied by a posse on dainty motorcycles, is, as they say, genius.
And if (as is possible) this stirring event occurred before the Great Coronavirus Panic of 2020, the genius is only amplified. This one, you can’t mess up. America is back. The future is bright.