Mask up, all you critters!


By Jock Lauterer

Since our poor fractious nation is suffering from LDD (Leadership Deficit Disorder), we get our guidance from where we can. Confoundingly, even the otherwise simple mandate of mask-wearing divides us into a cold civil war between Maskers and Anti-Maskers, (Picture Charlie Brown’s eye roll and accompanying thought bubble, “Good Grief.”)

From unconventional sources, we get affirmation, gleaning non-threatening wisdom in organic, pop-up advice, dispensed with much-needed light-heartedness.

“Mask up, Carrboro!” urges an upbeat traffic sign for motorists entering old Venable from the west. Yard art with masks beckon us to “Vote!” and wear masks as equal measures of sacred civic engagement/responsibility. Even this year’s front yard Halloween skeletons advise us to “Wait, Wear and Wash.”

My personal favorite comes from the scion of Bynum, the venerable 82-year-old folk artist, Clyde Jones, whose whimsical folk creatures (he calls them “critters,”) pepper our landscape with playful good humor.

Case in point: Beneath two ginormous red cedars that tower over Capt. John’s Dockside Seafood Restaurant in Northern Chatham Village, 15-501 south, a brace of brightly painted and responsibly masked Clyde Critters — a gift from Clyde himself — command compliance.

The notion to mask up Clyde’s yard art belongs to long-time owner John Dimos, (as in “Cap’n John” himself) who is a long-time friend of Clyde’s and realizes the efficacy of lighthearted humor: “We wanted to make a point,” Dimos says,  “and since all that we’re going through, we’re making light of it.”

To the extent that we’re all God’s creatures, this sculpture fairly hollers, “Mask up, Critters!”

That mean’s all y’all, too.                                                          

For more on Clyde Jones, see:

For more on Capt.John’s, see:

For basic mask-wearing 101, check out:

And also retired UNC Ed School Dean Don Stedman’s new public service announcement:

Jock Lauterer began selling newspapers for Jim Shumaker and Roland Giduz on the streets of Chapel Hill at the age of 8. For the last 20 years, he has served as a senior lecturer and adjunct professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media, teaching photojournalism and community journalism.

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