LOS ANGELES – A highly-evolved strain of tuberculosis has spread in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row district,and is threatening the surrounding areas. While it has public health officials and scientists scrambling to find ways to contain the outbreak, local hipsters and writers have used the news to talk about one of their favorite Romantic poets, John Keats.
“In America, we don’t get the chance to talk about the Romantic poets very often,” said one struggling writer, who refused to give his name. “There’s Bukowski and, well, that’s about it for writers in L.A. these days. But with the TB outbreak, there’s an opening to talk about other important poets, like Keats.”
John Keats, the English Romantic writer, was born in 1795. After watching his brother Tom die of tuberculosis, Keats himself caught and succumbed to the disease at age 25.
Hubert Humdinger, the exiled cultural philosopher, said of Keats, “The man’s compendium of work is this thick…” Humdinger, who talked over the phone from his undisclosed location, could be imagined holding up his thumb and first finger with about a quarter of an inch space between them.
“Keats, for only a twenty-something year old, produced some of the finest poems in the English language,” Humdinger went on to say.
The unnamed struggling writer said he’s been taking advantage of the “bad situation” downtown to spread the news about Keats’ poetry. “Everybody should read it, but there’s no interest unless you can attach it to a current event that everybody is talking about. So the next time,” the writer suggested, “you hear somebody talking about this outbreak downtown, I’d suggest you recommend Keats’ poetry, and mention how he, too, died from the same disease.”
The Los Angeles County of Public Health is calling the outbreak the most serious in a decade. The particular strain, responsible for 11 deaths since 2007, is unique to the downtown L.A. area. Their spokesperson refused to answer whether or not she’d ever read Keats’ work.