Gilead Sciences: Dystopian dreams comes true

All the grey junk tomorrows…

New tracks by ssRNA6, Zoe Polanski, Superpuppet, Freak Heat Waves and Joshua Van Tassel, dreams, velvet ropes, Remdesivir.

+ssRNA6, “Snog (Coluber), Move (Amniote Editions)

This may be the first ever Play Exclusively column. Because, in addition to what I’ve been playing recently, this is what I’ve been playing to the exclusion of everything else. Five songs on repeat for days. Throughout the Coronavirus crisis, I shunned everything new, preferring to listen back to historical records, making desert-island lists for the desert island that became of my life. But there’s a sea of newness out there. It’s easier to dive back in than to tiptoe.

I can’t imagine what the next knees-up event will look like, nor when it will happen again in meatspace. Even if there was a rave, I’m not sure that it would be any fun dancing at a safe distance, in hazmat suits. I miss desperately the days of overbearing bouncers, lascivious enforcers, the inquiring mindless, probing, prodding, prying, penetrating, searching, snogging, squeezing, spreading, patting down, feeling up. I’d go through that line twice.

Superpuppet, O Sun (self-released)

Fresh as if torn from today’s headlines:

“Heated debates rage over who is allowed entry into certain spaces and who is kept at the door. The policing of movement from place to place, the raising o fborder walls, the encryption of data — these and other restrictions lock out scores of people. And monitoring technologies keep watch to make sure only the chosen are let in. But you can’t keep information from spilling out, and you can’t always manage the chaotic flows of human migration. Somewhere someone will break through. Information will leak. What the state does with those incomers and leakers sets long-term precedents. Things cannot forever be kept under lock and key.”

—From Grafton Tanner’s The Circle of the Snake: Nostalgia and Utopia in the Age of Big Tech, forthcoming via Zer0 Books.

Zoe Polanski, “Pharaoh’s Island,” Violent Flowers (Youngbloods)

 Dream: June 20, 2020

I am in a European city, maybe Krakow. I am staying in a hotel. It is big and beautiful and old. Many of the hallways lead up and down at odd angles and seem to make no sense. Some of the doorways are too tight to fit through, so I don’t. I just marvel at the intricacy of the place, like a giant fractal in three dimensions. Then I am hanging out with Miley Cyrus. She is there with a gang of girls. Cyrus is standoffish with me, but she has a brunette friend who says she thinks I’m cute. We all smoke a joint together. I can feel the sogginess of the roach between my lips, and I hope that nobody has Coronavirus. The brunette asks me if I want to come along with them and make out and I say, “Yes, very much.”

Freak Heat Waves, Dripping Visions, Zap the Planet (Telephone Explosion Records)

As conspiracy theorists go, the Polish-American sculptor Stanisław Szukalski was heroic. Beginning in 1940, Szukalski earnestly outlined his elaborate concept of “Zermatism,” in which he theorized that all of humanity originated from post-deluge Easter Island. He believed that humans had been enslaved by a malevolent race of “Yetinsyny,” the unholy offspring of Yeti and homo sapiens. Over a 40-year period, Szukalski sketched out his ideas in a 42-volume tome of more than 25,000 pages and 14,000 illustrations — a monumental life’s work.

The art community, however, avoided his scholarship like COVID-19. A clip from the Autumn 1988 issue of Whole Earth Review notes: “…[Szukalski] categorically loathed all art critics and invariably repaid their admiration with profound contempt … Szukalski simply refused to make himself palatable. He held a lot of unpopular opinions and he saw no reason to keep them to himself.” The thing about knowledge is that it all started out as theory. Theories become hypotheses, experiments, observations, conclusions. When we stop theorizing, we’re lost.

Joshua Van Tassel, “Eternal Turtle,” Dance Music Volume II: More Songs for Slow Motion (Backward Music)

“In a corrupt context,” claimed Jane Jacobs’s ‘Jasper’ character in the 1992 dialogue Systems of Survival, “the moral and scrupulous man or woman is a misfit.”

Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company that makes the Coronavirus therapeutic drug Remdesivir, announced on June 29 that doses of the antiviral medication, which has been provisionally FDA-approved for emergency use in the U.S., will cost between $2,340–$3,120 per five-day treatment, depending on whether or not the patient has private healthcare coverage. In early trials, Remdesivir sped up recovery in COVID-19 patients by up to four days, meaning that mild-to-moderate cases could potentially be discharged from hospital up to four days sooner than those not taking the drug. A day in hospital in the states costs an average of $3,949, according to the U.S. debt assistance service debt.org, and each hospital stay costs an average of $15,734. So, if a $3K dose of remdesivir can save a four-day hospital visit at roughly $16,000, it’s quite a steal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has secured half a million treatment courses of Remdesivir, with a potential “street value” of up to $1,560,000,000. Gilead Sciences reported earnings of $22.45-billion in 2019.

Its chairman and CEO, Daniel O’Day, wrote in an open letter that the company would “price Remdesivir well below [its] value.” They can afford to do this because of the overwhelming demand — a healthy market of more and more sick people, as the virus ebbs and flows in new waves throughout the country. Gilead’s shares have risen about 18 per cent this year, according to the CBC, and the company “may be on the verge of having one of the fastest growing products in the industry,” according to SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges.

Daniel O’Day about now is asking his assistant for a moment alone so he can jump up on the Redwood boardroom table and shout, “We beat penicillin!” ■

See previous editions of Play Recent here.