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Adventures in Maskless-ness: Billy Joel Edition

(Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)

I thought I’d have been making more of my maskless updates here at PJ Media, but, for a long time, I’ve been going maskless without issue. Life was almost close to normal again. I loved it. Yeah, some people have been masking up again because of the Delta variant, but not many–and not for very long. But on Saturday night, I went to the Billy Joel concert at Highmark Stadium near Buffalo, New York. It wasn’t the first really large-scale event I’d been to since the Trump rally I went to in Pennsylvania not long before the election, but it was easily the largest event I’ve been at in well over a year. What would it be like, I wondered. Would COVID and the Delta variant loom over the event? Would it be only modestly attended out of fear? Well, I’ll tell you all about it.

The Longest Time

I actually bought the tickets for the Billy Joel concert in November of 2019. I’d never seen the Piano Man in concert and was very much looking forward to it. However, the concert wasn’t actually until the following August—around the time of my wedding anniversary, so my wife and I considered the concert to be an anniversary gift we’d enjoy the following year.

Or so we thought. When the Wuhan Flu hit, things changed. Truth be told, even in the early weeks of the pandemic, I still held out hope that the concert would still go on. After all, it was only supposed to be 15 days to slow the spread, right?  But for the longest time we had no idea if the show would be canceled or postponed because of the pandemic. The thought of the show getting canceled was awful. Billy Joel is in his 70s, and who knows how long he’ll actually want to keep touring. Finally, in mid-June, I got word that the concert had been rescheduled to August 2021. Well, that was a relief. We’d have to wait another year for the show, but the show would still go on!

PREVIOUS: Adventures In Maskless-ness, Part 3

I Got to Extremes

With the concert rescheduled, my confidence that the show would still happen went back and forth–particularly in the last several weeks as the Delta variant of COVID became the justification for renewed restrictions. But, long story short, the show wasn’t postponed again, though restrictions were put in place. The concert was in Erie County, which is apparently experiencing “substantial” COVID-19 transmission, and thus it was reported last week that “any fans, staff and/or vendors attending the event at Highmark Stadium will be required to wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status” in the indoor areas of the stadium.

Seriously? I didn’t get vaccinated, so I’d have to wear a mask again.  While my position has been that I would rather leave an establishment than wear a mask if instructed to, I’d waited too long for this concert, which I already paid for. So I decided I’d bring a mask “just in case” but not wear it unless asked to. The question was, “Do I even still own a mask anymore?” Seriously, I haven’t worn a mask in weeks. I found one eventually—the perfect one. A mask designed to look like a bird’s beak that opens and closes as I speak. A ridiculous mask for a ridiculous policy. Hey, I’ll go to extremes if I have to.

A Matter of Trust

I was curious about a lot of things regarding this concert. Would people choose not to go because of COVID fears? Would everyone be wearing masks? Who knew? I kept my mask in my pocket, waiting for the inevitable moment that, once I was in an indoor concourse, the indoor mask mandate would be enforced full throttle. Except it wasn’t. People who were already wearing masks outdoors kept them on, and those who weren’t didn’t bother masking up.

It was beautiful. I was so proud. I guess most people felt like I do: “I’m vaccinated; I’m not wearing a mask.” Because otherwise, what’s the point?” By my estimation, no more than 1 out of 20 people in attendance wore a mask. And they generally wore them everywhere. Indoors and outdoors. Something tells me these people will wear masks forever. But for the rest of us, it was a matter of trust in the science: we’re vaccinated, and masks don’t work anyway. We know it. Fauci knows it. And the Erie County Health Department knows it too—even though they pretend they don’t.

Shameless

It was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday. The stadium was packed, and the concert was amazing. On top of that, the overwhelming majority of us weren’t wearing masks—indoors or outdoors—and it felt like normal again. I figured most people wearing masks during the concert did so because of a pre-existing condition that made them feel compelled to wear one, despite the fact that they are useless, but, whatever, I was having a good time and chose not to judge.

Until later, that is.

There’s always been a part of me that has felt there are people who, despite being vaccinated, wear masks to virtue signal their “good citizenship.” I got confirmation of this at the concert several times. Billy Joel’s concert, like many others, used giant screens to show various graphics and footage of the concert and, on occasion, focus on an individual in the crowd or a group of people singing and dancing along to the music. While most of the people shown were maskless, every now and then a masked fan would be shown. Like everyone else who discovered themselves on screen, these fans got excited about it. But, of course, virtually every masked fan who discovered they were being shown on the big screen almost immediately pulled their mask down.

That’s right. Just like going to a BLM riot made you immune from COVID, apparently there’s a new thing called Jumbotron immunity. Who knew, right? I couldn’t believe it.

And it happened multiple times.

Fans I thought were genuinely thinking they were protecting themselves from COVID shamelessly pulled their mask off in seconds without a thought or care in the world, defeating the purpose of wearing the mask the rest of the time. Were these people legitimately afraid of catching COVID, so much so that they’d forget for several seconds in the hopes that people they know would recognize them on the screen? Apparently, five seconds of fame is worth the risk of dying from COVID, right?