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San Diego Comic-Con Is Hopeful That It Won’t Have To Cancel Pop Culture’s Biggest Weekend

With a confirmed case count that grows distressingly higher by the day, the coronavirus pandemic will dictate our lives for months to come. There’s a reason movies that were supposed to come out in June have already been pushed back months, if not until 2021. But San Diego Comic-Con organizers remain optimistic (possibly irresponsibly so, in the same way that it took Disneyland too long to close) that pop culture fanatics will descend upon the San Diego Convention Center from July 23-26.

“To our amazing Comic-Con and WonderCon fans: We understand how difficult the current climate has been for all of us and appreciate your continued support through these trying times. No one is as hopeful as we are that we will be able to celebrate #SDCC2020 together come July,” the official SDCC account tweeted. “As we continue to monitor the situation with local authorities, we will post updates on our social channels! Until then, remember: ‘A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.’ — Christopher Reeve.”

San Diego Comic-Con was attended by 135,000 people in 2019. I’ve been to Hall H. It’s already a cramped nightmare before worrying about the deadly virus. As fun as the full-cast panels can be, the smart (and potentially life-saving) option would be to push SDCC to later in the year. Who knows? Maybe by then, The New Mutants will be out.

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What I Learned By Spending Two Weeks Battling The Coronavirus

The last half of March was not great for any of us. Myself included. I had the misfortune to accidentally answer my editor’s request that I write an explainer about “what to expect if you get the coronavirus” by, well, getting the coronavirus. And though I knew that the actual effects of COVID-19 vary wildly — from asymptomatic to mild cold-like symptoms to severe flu to possible pneumonia and death — that didn’t exactly make it less scary. Especially when the illness really took hold.

A few weeks down the line, there are still a lot of unknowns. I’m under house arrest by doctor’s orders for at least another two weeks so that I don’t a) spread the virus, and b) don’t get it again (which we’re learning might be a possibility) or get something else, considering that my immune system has basically been wrecked by all this. Still, with numbers climbing dramatically in the U.S., it seemed like the right time for me to reflect on my experience with COVID-19, up to this point.

Before we dive in, some context. Before I got sick, I was running outdoor 10Ks every day. I was fasting for 18 hours per day. I was only drinking alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays. I don’t smoke (or vape). My diet was basically proteins and greens for lunch and dinner with an orange and a banana as a post-run snack. I was also taking a multi-vitamin every day since late-January (I usually don’t take vitamins). I hadn’t traveled since early January. For the most part, I was healthy — albeit a little overweight. I occasionally suffer from allergy-onset asthma but it’s super rare. Otherwise, I have no underlying health conditions. Generally, I go years without getting the flu or even a cold.

Secondly, I live in Germany. Germany has a good healthcare system that’s trying to stay afloat with the virus tearing across the country. I was not allowed to go to my doctor or a hospital during this ordeal unless my breathing nearly stopped or my fever peaked dramatically. Basically, the Germans are containing the virus by keeping ill people off the streets and out of the hospitals at all costs, unless it’s an actual health emergency. My doctor checked in on me daily during this time and gave me an over-the-phone diagnosis and treatments.

Lastly, I just want to reiterate that COVID-19 symptoms vary wildly. This is what I went through as a fairly healthy 40-year-old.

Related: Cooking Through The Quarantine: It’s Time You Knew A Great Chicken Soup Recipe

How It Started

Zach Johnston

Yeah, so as I mentioned, I used to run a 10K every day. That became my first red flag. Some days it’s hard to get after it, but once you’re out there it’s all good. On March 16th, I was just tired all morning. I remember putting on my running shoes and thinking, “Hum, this shouldn’t be wearing me out.” I foolishly went for my run anyway.

I barely made it through. Generally, I can run a 10K in around an hour plus five to eight minutes. It took me ten more minutes that Monday. By the time I got home and showered, I had a tickle in the back of my throat and a slight headache.

My muscles ached very differently than every other day. Usually, the ache after a run is more like a rubber band that’s been stretched but is working its way back to its natural shape. The pain fades out fairly quickly. This was different. My legs and hips hurt from deep within. It was more of dull throb.

I got through the rest of the day and went to bed around my normal time (11 pm-ish). The next morning, I woke up thanks to a cough that seemed like it was deep in my lungs. It was dry and hacking. My head was heavy and pounding. My ears felt clogged — in the sense that I heard the ocean instead of regular noises. My deep muscle pain had deepened further still. It was a bone-ache now. Luckily, I didn’t have a fever.

I called my doctor and she isolated me in my bedroom. She had me do a few breathing tests and check my temperature, then she quizzed me about my symptoms. From there, she told me to monitor my breathing and take my temperature every two hours. She asked that I please not come to the office or the hospital unless my breathing became severely labored or my temperature rose dramatically.

That was it. I was ordered to ride it out at home.

The First Week

Kamil S, Unsplash

Looking back, the first week was hell but, weirdly, not as bad as the second — though the overall symptoms were more severe. Let me explain: I was full, knocked out sick the first week. I’d wake up in the mornings fairly lucid and get some stuff done. By noon-ish, I’d be out of it. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The coughing would increase until it was nearly constant. I would get very short of breath and need an inhaler. My headaches entered “splitting” territory. My body felt like it was melting. I was so out of it, I couldn’t even watch TV. I’d just pass out until the coughing woke me up for a short spell and then pass out again.

On Wednesday, I had a slight fever but nothing too severe. It peaked at 100F. I never had a fever again. I did have pretty harsh breathing issues every night. Some nights they were severe enough to keep me awake but I never felt like they were severe enough to call an ambulance. Basically, my inhaler was in my hand as I slept, instead of sitting on my nightstand.

Thursday was more of the same but then diarrhea started. I kind of attribute that to my change in physical activity and diet. I was mainlining ramen spiked with chilis, gochujang, sambal olek, and ginger. I was drinking YETIs full of green tea, fresh ginger, and honey. Every time I woke up, I made sure to drink a glass of water. I was only really having one meal a day as I was not getting out of bed for a meal in the evening — I was too exhausted and in too much pain by that point.

By Friday, the symptoms ebbed a little. I was feeling like I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I still had a severe cough and headache but my muscle aches had subsided.

On Saturday, I was feeling better still. The headache was half of what it had been the day before but the cough remained. I could think straight again and hold an actual conversation.

Then everything shifted.

The Second Week

Rex Pickar, Unsplash

By Monday, I was coughing so much that capillaries in my lungs were starting to burst. My snot was speckled with deep red blood. I was coughing up thick and almost hard chunks of phlegm with speckles of blood in them. On top of that, my body started to ache in more pinpointed ways. My neck was almost stone — to the point that I had to turn my whole body to look around. My lower back was also a mess. I couldn’t even lie down. The kicker was that I completely lost my voice.

At this point, the doctor ran some more lung tests on me over the phone and started checking in multiple times daily. The main concern was this: My lungs were shredded, my immune system was likely obliterated from fighting through the previous week, and now I was in real danger of getting pneumonia — a big reason that people are dying from this virus. My doctor also attributed the pinpointed muscle pain in my back and neck to not running anymore and being bedridden for a week. My doctor decided to put me on a very high dose of azithromycin for three days to stave off pneumonia. The drug is also being looked at as possible defense against COVID-19.

I was now experiencing pain in my chest/lungs, but my breathing, while not ideal, wasn’t terrible. The headaches would come back as I got more tired. I would have hard coughing fits when I woke up and when I’d get tired again. Like, full-on, ten-minute long coughing sessions that’d usually end with a little blood.

I carried on with my diet of ramen, spicy soup, and ginger and green tea. I drank as much water as I could. My soup consistently got spicier throughout the week as my sense of taste and smell basically disappeared. By Thursday, I was putting a full tablespoon of each gochujang and sambal olek along with an entire red chili into my soups, plus a full thumb of diced ginger, and still not thinking there was enough spice. I added some Ben and Jerry’s into the mix to soothe my throat from all the coughing.

I also started taking 400mg of Aspirin cut with vitamin C every four to six hours. I just couldn’t deal with the constant pain anymore. I was starting to get mentally frustrated. Aspirin at least took the edge off and let me sleep until coughing woke me back up.

This basically carried on until Friday morning.


Dominik Martin, Unsplash

Last Friday morning, March 27th, was basically the first morning since March 17th that I didn’t wake up to a coughing fit. My cough was gone. My headache was basically nil. My back and neck were still stiff but getting better. I wasn’t tired by 9 am. My voice was still shot but it was improving.

By Saturday, my voice had finally returned along with a sense of smell and taste. My body aches had almost gone entirely save for my lower back and neck.

But it’s not over. Things have changed.

One, my lungs are obviously damaged. I’m out of breath at least six times a day. I’m not allowed out of the house under any circumstances. So, I’m trying to do a little exercise, but my lungs can’t support it yet. I can get about ten push-ups out in one set before my lungs say, “stop, asshole!” and I need a hit off an inhaler.

My tastebuds and nose have changed. Cilantro — which I love and use constantly — tastes like soap right now. Red meat and especially venison (I eat a lot of wild game) taste far more metallic. I’ve been eating high-probiotic cheeses to rebuild my gut biome, and the ones with the most mold (brie, gorgonzola, etc.) cause my mouth to numb and my lips to tingle. The laundry detergent we use suddenly has an unbearable smell, to the point where I have to go on the balcony for fresh air to avoid it. I’m craving sweets and chocolate desperately right now. I also need way more salt on food at the moment. If it’s a salty snack, I could kill it. I had to stop myself from eating a whole bag of chips just yesterday. I don’t know. I am hoping all of these things are just my body readjusting post-illness. We’ll see, I guess.

The hardest part now is not knowing. Can I get it again? I don’t know. Am I safe from getting a secondary virus or disease? I don’t know. How long will these changes in my body, palate, and senses last? I don’t know.

Then there’s the psychological aspect. As I started fully recovering in earnest, my social media feeds started filling up with death notices directly related to COVID-19. I know I’m lucky but that sense of luck and elation at having recovered comes with a real sense of survivor’s guilt.

As for where I got it, well, there are two options there. One, both of my sons go to a school that had two teachers get the virus in early March. It’s very possible they carried it home to me (though they have shown zero symptoms). Two, I was the one going out to grocery stores and stocking up since February. It’s very possible I got it at a grocery store. It wasn’t until very recently that strict protections arrived regarding gloves, masks, and social distancing. In fact, most of that arrived in Berlin the day I actually got sick.

And… that just about covers it. With so much news out there, I think one thing that kind of gets lost is what this virus does to you if you do get it. Even if you have a mild case, like I did. It’s far more miserable than any flu I can remember.

Of course, there’s no real advice to be found here. Nothing you can do better or worse once you have the virus. Oh, except the advice we all know but our natural human impatience might be leading us to double back on at this point in the quarantine: Stay home as much as possible.

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Rolling Loud Postpones Its Miami 2020 Dates To February 2021

Yet another festival has fallen victim to coronavirus postponement syndrome as Rolling Loud announces new dates for its Miami iteration in February of 2021. Miami has a special place in the hearts of the festival’s organizers, as it was the location of the original Rolling Loud festival and many of the festival’s go-to artists call the city home. The May 8-10 dates originally scheduled for this year’s fest have become unfeasible due to COVID-19 coronavirus precautions, so the new dates are February 12-14, 2021 — Presidents’ Day Weekend.

Read the statement from Rolling Loud below:

Since our last update, we have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19, hopeful that it would slow and allow us to proceed with producing the festival in May. At the same time, we were working around the clock on a contingency plan in case we had to postpone. It was important for us to not make the decision too soon, without having all of the facts. We wanted nothing more than to turn up with you all at the 6th year of our sold out show. However, as the spread of COVID-19 has increased to tragic levels, it became clear that we could not proceed with the May 8-10 dates.

To make sure that fans get the same experience that they signed up for in May, we’ve worked extremely hard with all of the artists, vendors, city and county officials, and the venue to make that happen. Accordingly, Rolling Loud Miami 2020 will be postponed to President’s Day Weekend (3 days), February 12-14, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium.

Same lineup. Same rage. Ain’t nothin’ changed but the dates.

All purchased tickets will be honored for the rescheduled dates. If you need a refund, don’t worry, we got you. Purchasers will be notified via email by April 8th on how to obtain a refund. We’ve also extended the Layaway Plan GRACE PERIOD to August 1st for those fans who missed a payment and still want to be able to attend in February. We love you all and want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to get lit with us next year.

We’ll get through this together. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all soon! If we all do our part to help suppress the virus, we’ll be moshing together again in no time.

Follow Uproxx’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Earthgang Share A Captivating Psychedelic Animation For Their ‘Lala Challenge’ Video

Atlantic rap duo Earthgang made their full-length debut on J. Cole’s Dreamville label last year, but the group is looking to have their 2020 be just as prolific. The group shared an intricate animation for the video accompanying the track “Lala Challenge.”

Animated by McKay Felt, the visual takes fans on a journey through the fictional Mirrorland. The animation opens with the members of Earthgang positioned as the masterminds behind a giant, ominously floating head being observed by a group of mind-numbed teens. The animation stands as a commentary on our reliance on technology. As the world morphs and melts around them, the characters in the animation stay locked to an illuminated screen. But Earthgang comes to the rescue and provides solace to the fictional city, filling the desolated area with plants greenery.

Upon sharing the animation to social media, the group quipped about how they are all stuck at home in quarantine: “LOOK AT US SITTING IN OUR HOMES BEING BEAUTIFUL,” they wrote.

The “Lala Challenge” video arrives as the second visual released by the group this year. Back in January, Earthgang debuted a harrowing visual to the track “Swivel.”

Revisit Uproxx’s review of Mirrorland here.

Mirrorland is out now via Dreamville/Interscope. Get it here.

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Joe Buck’s Home Video Play-By-Play Has Led Some To Send Him Sex Tapes

It started with a harmless idea from legendary FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck: To entertain sports fans by doing play-by-play calls of their home videos during the United States’ mitigation efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. It turned nasty, in something anyone that frequents the internet could’ve seen coming, as fans sent all sorts of videos to Buck hoping he would commentate on.

Sex tapes began to appear in Buck’s inbox as he sifted through new material, as he told Newsweek.

“You have to go through these videos like the Zapruder film because you’re worried that there’s going to be something in the background, there’s going to be something hidden like a Highlights Magazine that we should not focus on,” Buck said, “but it’s still there and it becomes some internet thing where I put my voice to something that I shouldn’t have.”

While Buck did not say it dissuaded him from continuing the fun project, it’s created a certain level of attentiveness he wasn’t expecting to need for the harmless idea. Don’t count Buck out from one day doing a play by play call of such a video, however. For now, it’s baseball and football, but who knows what could come next.

“Maybe later in life, but not now,” Buck said. “I look at these videos very carefully and pick the ones that seem the most wholesome to put my voice to.”

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Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Will Have Input On The Brooklyn Nets’ Coaching Search

Chief among the many things that happened in early March in the NBA that now feel like a lifetime ago was the Brooklyn Nets parting ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson. General manager Sean Marks expanded upon that decision and what comes next — along with many other issues — in a conference call on Wednesday with local media.

Despite the uncertainty around the resumption of the NBA season during the coronavirus pandemic, the Nets have not moved forward with their coaching search, Marks said, out of respect to interim coach Jacque Vaughn. Previously, Marks said he would wait until the end of the year to begin that process, and it appears he is sticking to that timeline. Brooklyn would be in line to make the playoffs if they happen.

More pressingly, Marks admitted he will seek out the opinions of superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant during the hiring process, which Marks said has always been how he does business.

“I think that’s the approach we’ve taken with everything,” Marks said. “From four years ago, whether it was free agency or even in the draft, we had our own players come and watch draft workouts. I love getting their opinions, I love seeing what they see.”

Marks praised what he called a “collaborative approach” across the organization, but it’s worth mentioning that Irving’s connection with former Cleveland head coach Ty Lue was the center of much intrigue when Brooklyn originally moved on from Atkinson.

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Two Bandanas Belonging To Tupac Are Being Sold At An Auction Along With Other Memorabilia

It’s been nearly 24 years since the death of iconic West Coast rapper Tupac. While his memory lives on through his music, and several conspiracy theories surrounding his death, memorabilia belonging to the late rapper can often be found floating around the internet. Those who wish to purchase an item formerly owned by the rapper are in for good news: two bandanas and other memorabilia from the rapper are being sold in an online auction.

Thirteen items belonging to Tupac are being auctioned off by Gotta Have Rock and Roll. One red and one blue bandana are being sold starting at $1,000. Other articles for up for auction include one of his diamond nose studs, a handwritten letter to his girlfriend from prison in 1995, a signed and inscribed polaroid, an original press release from Death Row Records, a hotel bill, two handwritten lyric pages, and much more.

Ahead of the auction, another item formerly belonging to the iconic rapper was sold for a record-breaking amount. Tupac’s old prison ID card sold for a hefty $30,000 to an unidentified collector who wishes to remain anonymous. Garry Shrum, Director of Music Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions explained the reason for the large price tag: “Tupac and his music are just as relevant today as they were more than 20 years ago. Fans haven’t forgotten his impact on hip-hop. They will go to any lengths to own a piece of Shakur’s life and times.”

Find more information on Tupac’s items being sold here.

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Jessie Reyez Grows While Maintaining Her Center On The Eclectic ‘Before Love Came To Kill Us’

The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.

On “Roof,” the ninth song from her new album Before Love Came To Kill Us, Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez sums up her career evolution and her current position in one succinct line. “I could drive a Benz, but I’m still in my old-ass Honda,” she smirks. “Cocky’s in a coma, but I got my commas.”

That’s the album in a nutshell: Reyez has grown up but she’s also held her center. Her growth is as evident as her powerful sense of self-assured identity. It’s an identity she worked to establish on her developmental EPs, Kiddo and Being Human In Public, and it emerges fully formed on Before Love Came To Kill Us.

Possessed with an off-kilter voice and a wicked sense of humor, Reyez litters her lyrics with sly pop-culture references and emotional gut-punches, a legacy of her come-up alongside rappers like King Louie and multiple collaborations with Eminem. But she also knows her way around a straight-up pop bop, giving Before Love an impressive array of tools with which to work.

From singing in Spanish on “La Memoria” (Reyez is Colombian-Canadian and lived in Florida, busking on the beach before moving back to Toronto and pursuing music full-time) to referencing Goodfellas on the album’s intro “Do You Love Her,” Jessie utilizes every tool at her disposal to demonstrate her growth as an artist. While she does so, though, she doesn’t get lost in the eclecticism of the project, using the diverse styles to display different facets of her own strong personality.

The centeredness allows her to remain the focus, even when guest stars 6lack and Eminem contribute verses. Her duet with the former on “Imported” allows her to flex her hip-hop songwriting chops alongside one of the genre’s most solid dual-talent artists, while on “Coffin,” Jessie’s half of the song is miles better than Em’s out-of-place, off-key crooning. Through each track, Reyez’s voice slides between more alien pop and cool, velvet R&B, further demonstrating her versatility.

That versatility is doubly highlighted by the variety in the production. The uptempo “Dope” is a dance-pop party starter, offsetting the ballad-laden back-end of the album, which gives Reyez the chance to explore infatuation (on the pulsating “I Do”), heartbreak (the sweeping “Love In The Dark”), and a friends-with-benefits situation turned sour (the aggressive “Kill Us,” which lends the album its title). Reyez sings with charm and panache, modulating her unusual voice to suit the needs of each track, from moody and dark to carefree and tongue-in-cheek.

With that level of self-assuredness and nerve, Reyez is able to navigate seemingly disparate soundscapes and experiment to her heart’s content, secure in the knowledge that she won’t be swallowed up by an overwhelming new sound or stumble over an unfamiliar one. Before Love Came To Kill Us is a rock-solid statement of self-determination that shows flashes of promise that Reyez will be able to adapt to whatever sounds become the vogue, but also remain distinctive, with a sound all her own. The Canadian songwriter comes into her own as an artist, proving she can ride the wave and still sound like herself.

Before Love Came To Kill Us is out now via FMLY and Island. Get it here.

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Bazzi Celebrates Two Years With His Girlfriend On The Romantic ‘Renee’s Song’

Bazzi and his girlfriend, Australian model Renee Herbert, are celebrating their two-year anniversary. Now the singer has commemorated the occasion with a new song, the appropriately titled “Renee’s Song.” Bazzi begins the brief, gentle, and guitar-led track with romantic lyrics: “There’s a song I like to sing / It says your name, I love the ring / So come here, so come here / I may be broken by my past / But I know my worst days, they won’t last.”

Sharing the song on social media, Bazzi wrote, “dear renee, i wrote a song for you – through everything weve been through, i hope this makes you feel special. happy two year baby X.” He followed that up today with another tweet, writing, “my love – you’ve stood by my side through everything for two years. i wrote this for you & i hope you feel like the only girl in the world today…” In December, Herbert celebrated the anniversary of meeting Bazzi, writing on Instagram, “2 years ago today I met you. There’s no one in the world like you, you fill my life with so much love and happiness. Love u bestfriend.”

Meanwhile, Bazzi recently offered an update on how his self-quarantine is going, writing earlier this month, “it’s going good. still adjusting to staying inside all day and the anxiety that comes with that lol but just rekindled my love for the office so i’m watching it for the 4th time.”

Listen to “Renee’s Song” above.

Bazzi is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Get Your Final Four Fix By Looking Back At Past And Present Star College Basketball Guards

March Madness getting canceled due to COVID-19 had a number of really unfortunate side effects. Perhaps the most unfortunate of them all is that seniors will not get the opportunity to have one final shining moment, and the opportunity to potentially cement their place in NCAA Tournament lore is no longer on the table.

As a result, we here at Dime wanted to take a moment to shout out two of college basketball’s most outstanding senior guards and compare them to two legends of the game. Today’s Dime Breakdown spotlights Markus Howard of Marquette and Cassius Winston of Michigan State, both of whom had the potential to put their teams on their backs and lead them deep into the Tournament.

Howard’s game reminds us a bit of Jimmer Fredette — a high-scoring guard from a smaller school who is in range to rise and fire from the moment he steps over half-court. Winston, meanwhile, has just enough Kemba Walker in his game that the Spartans always seemed like they had an advantage going into any matchup, if only because there was no way the other squad would have a gamer capable of rising to the occasion like their star floor general.

There will be other NCAA Tournaments, and there will be more opportunities for players to go from really good college basketball players to all-time greats. That, sadly, won’t happen this year, but if it did, we’re confident that Howard and Winston would have made their way into that rarified air. But if there is any solace they can take, we have a hunch that by the time future NCAA hoopers join the Jimmers and the Kembas, Howard and Winston will be getting the job done at the next level.