With the exceptions of baseball and (conceivably) fencing, horse racing—and its mainstay, gambling—is the sport that’s gained the most from the pandemic.
Though many racetracks remain closed, others sorted themselves out to proceed as usual, sans spectators. A horse race can be held from start to finish in compliance with sanitary protocols but, more importantly, the capacity to simulcast, livestream and bet off-track / online was already installed and ingrained in its audience. On the day of its reopening on Friday, 15 May, 2020, Santa Anita Park’s handle for nine races was $11,207,076—as compared to $6,974,738 for eight races on the same date in 2019. And the trend has sustained itself since.
This comes down to not only technology or infrastructure, but to a preexisting habitude which makes the disposition to accept change and adopt new ways considerably smoother than it might have been, had the transition been—or simply felt—forced or abrupt. The most compelling aspect of the racing industry’s display of capacity was in the speed of its turnaround, and the explosive growth it has experienced since is the direct result of that response.
So it is hardly a coincidence that All Tomorrows Parties shares a birthday of January 1st with every racehorse in the Northern Hemisphere. We explicitly discussed that it should be that way, and it is partly behind why ATP left the starting gate in time to mark Year One with a brief breakdown of early Covidian daze, and a taxonomy of the aesthetic waves articulating the entire enterprise.
The race itself is an unprogrammed steeplechase that thrives on our creative stamina and our considerable experience on flat. As proof: days after our debut, the landscape and its configuration had transformed dramatically already, and we have let these transformations guide our hand. Whomever has been following Covidian Aesthetics for a while will have gleaned in it an effort to become entrained to the untrodden rhythms of a bourgeoning Kultur that will be very different from anything that we have known (though it may resonate quite profitably with what other periods and processes can teach). The only look-ahead that we can give you at this point is that we are looking ahead in ways that help us build capacity.
To do so, All Tomorrows Parties pries—anatomically, forensically, geologically—into the psychedelic tissue of our times: to lubricate the pressure points that, if allowed to, can keep our minds and our imaginations moving forward. These are, alas, the very junctions at which many minds surrender to stagnation and contraction, and so designating and designing signposts, signage, signals as we go along becomes ever increasingly important. Almost anyone who’s made it this far has lost someone at one of these turns.
Most recently, Aesthetic Wave Three—triggered by the approval of groundbreaking mRNA vaccines—gave way to Aesthetic Wave Four with the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, which waved in yet another shift in terms of what almost anyone thought was possible—until it happened. I would go so far as to claim that each of the aesthetic waves began with an event that challenged and expanded that notion by putting the fundamental value, probity and reality of our institutions, governance, and expertise—the spit that held the world together—to the test.
Part Two of All Tomorrows Parties is a work of kintsugi along some of these fracture lines. In my previous essay, I anticipated Wave Four would be “angrier and more frustrated” than any before it, borrowing and rearranging motifs from Wave Two. It may also prove to be the longest, given the manipulation of the variable that @ghostofchristo1 made explicit in his recent essay: that ours is a crisis of voice. To address it as such, we have accompanied our reverse and perverse juxtapositions of BLM and Q to the tune of Kanye West’s metamorph Sprechstimme in “I Thought About Killing You”: I love myself way more than I love you / And I think about killing myself / So…
Add to this that, for better and worse, social media started acting as a voice suppressant when, on January 8, it went on to domino-deplatform the sitting President of the United States and tens of thousands of his followers; dispersing them, driving them further underground. While this was easier to envision than how—and even that—the Belly Beer Putsch unfolded, it set a precedent the consequences of which we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives.
You get the picture. I won’t spell it out or break the spell for you. Sit back, and listen to what we have done.