Monday, May 25, 2009

Swine Flu panic, then and now...

So, I'm half-watching a 1976 episode of Barney Miller, a dry comedy set in a Greenwich Village police station... not something I was into when it was new, but I have to say that 30 some-odd years later it holds up pretty well.

Anyway, what catches my full attention: The words "swine flu." The main story threads involve a man who thinks he's a werewolf (the 12th Precinct puts in an awful lot of calls to Bellevue's psych ward) and an older couple robbed by a taxi driver, but the underlying narrative through-line is that everyone at the precinct house is sleep-deprived and on edge because New York is in the grip of swine flu outbreak (later upgraded to an epidemic), half the NYPD is out on sick leave and the Department of Health is sending over a nurse to give everyone emergency shots.

The irony is that I lived here and I'd totally forgotten about the swine flu panic before this one, though I do remember the now-defunct SoHo Weekly News's "NYTB" cover story about some drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis or other. Perspective is everything.

more things change

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