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March 13, 2020
This has been one of the strangest PopCulteer essays I’ve ever had to write.
As everyone knows, we are most definitely living in interesting times at the moment. The original plan for today’s column was to tell you all about ToyLanta, the big toy convention that I go to every year now. It’s supposed to start next Friday, and as I write this, it has not yet been canceled or postponed. I will tell you more about that in a bit, but first we have to address the sick elephant in the room.
The last few days have taught us not to count on things remaining stable. As I sit here in my office on a stormy Thursday night, the whole country is joining together to make a sacrifice for the good of the weakest of us. Sporting events, concerts, plays, film festivals, pop culture conventions and any other imaginable gathering have been canceled so that we can hopefully “flatten the curve” and stem the proliferation of Covid-19, which is a pretty lethal virus. I think we can all agree now that this is not a hoax or a political stunt, and all serious-minded people need to work together to stem the tide of this horrible disease.
Update…11 AM: Demonstrating the fluidity of the situation, we have a statement from ToyLanta…
We understand your concerns and our priority as always is for everyone to have a safe and happy experience. We are meeting multiple times each day when we have new information. Buddy, one of our board members, has met with the Cobb County Board of Commissioners to seek their counsel. We commit to you that we will advise you of any change as soon as we have any update.
Update…5 PM: Larry Hama, creator of the “Real American Hero” GI Joe, has pulled out of the event due to concern over Covid-19. He will attend virtually, and take sketch requests, if the event goes on.
Update: 7:20 PM: The show has been canceled.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT With an ache in our heart, we announce that after an extremely difficult deliberation, meetings with the hotel, and meetings with local officials, we regretfully have come to the conclusion that we need to cancel Toylanta/Joelanta this year. We are working on plans for refunds and we have already booked the dates for ’21 and ’22 and will be announcing those shortly. Please forgive us. It is with a heavy heart that we arrived at this decision but we believe it is the best decision because we love you all and want to keep you safe. We will be announcing some details shortly. Please bear with us in the interim.
About eight hours ago (as I write this), I posted a review of the play, Bug, which is running at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Or rather, it was. All remaining performances of Bug have been canceled, along with every other play at a major theater in Chicago, as well as Broadway and off-Broadway, and just about every other large event in the country. All that stuff I said about making sure you don’t miss it? Nevermind.
Wednesday I posted a long “Stuff To Do” column, plugging local events, and to be honest, I’m wondering now if it was a good idea to even do that. I don’t know how many of those shows are going to happen as planned. There’s certainly a strong argument to be made for postponing everything scheduled for this weekend. It seems like the whole world is changing every five minutes or so, so maybe the best advice I can give anyone is that this is a good weekend to watch Netflix and chill. We don’t really need to be out gathering in large crowds.
So there you have a whole slew of cool stuff that I really really hope we get to experience next week. I will be telling you more about ToyLanta up until the show, so if there are any changes you can read about them here. Sunday we’ll bring you more videos from back in the JoeLanta days, and we’ll also have all our regular features. That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer.