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Death to 2020; Happy New Year!

Death to 2020 meme

I didn’t know anyone who had died from Covid-19, until during the holidays I spent in Los Angeles. Shortly after arrival to the California town that has been heavily hit by the virus this past month, we got the terrible news that old and dear friends who we were hoping to see had both been taken seriously ill with the virus, both in the hospital. The couple’s son kept us up-to-date with their progress. Sharon went home after a time to recover, alone and in confinement—Marshall did not. He died on December 29th in the ICU.

Photo of Marshall McKay courtesy of The Daily Democrat

Photo of Marshall McKay courtesy of The Daily Democrat

I can’t stop thinking about him and I can’t stop crying. These are people I have talked about often because of all the joy they have brought into our lives for more than 30 years. Sharon is an interior designer extraordinaire. She loves to take care of people and animals, two sons of her own and two adopted daughters, not to mention a brood of Chihuahuas—as many as 10 at one time—who follow Sharon everywhere and love to be next to her in bed…all of them! Marshall we jokingly called “her big Indian,” because he was a Native American with a big stature, a big presence in the Indian community and an even bigger heart. They were art collectors and philanthropists who never stopped doing good things for whomever they favored. They hosted our going away party in 1994, poolside at their beautiful Los Feliz home, when we were about to move to Paris. They came to Paris to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2000 with me. Their son was born within days of my daughter and they remained close friends. I could tell a million stories to illustrate why they are both so special and how terribly sad this loss is, to me and to all their family and friends.

Marshall and Sharon MCKAY with Barack Obama

Marshall and Sharon with Barack Obama

Their son, Alexander, wrote to us before Marshall died:

“2020 has been quite the year. On too many levels, unfortunately. This is normally the season when we come together with friends and family to celebrate. For many, this is a hard year to celebrate. Even though everything is scaled back, it’s a good time to reflect upon all the blessings that we do have and all the blessings that we have had. If anything positive comes from the Covid crisis, hopefully it’s that we are able to focus on the important things: the people in our lives and the memories that we share.”

The Los Angeles Times ran this obituary in the Entertainment and Arts section on Saturday.

I got on the Air France flight back to Paris on Friday carrying all this sadness—thinking of Marshall’s passing and the hell that Sharon must be going through. I was already missing my daughter after having spent two weeks virtually in solitary confinement with her, traveling through Arizona and then working and eating at home. We spent New Year’s Eve together over a home-cooked dinner, a bottle of wine and dumb stuff on TV. The flight was uneventful and only about one-quarter full—I had four seats in a row all to myself. I didn’t board without proof of the Covid-19 PCR test. Once in Paris, authorities checked it four times before going through passport control.

Some people I know in the U.S. and in Israel have already gotten their Covid-19 vaccinations. France is starting to roll out their nationwide campaign, with Nice having already begun last Wednesday, December 30th. I registered online to take it in Nice and have been informed that I am eligible during Phase II within the first half of this year…although I’m unsure if I will take it.

I’m not the only skeptic. Over 50 percent of the French say “they have no intention of getting the jab.” National news channel France24 reported that “It might seem paradoxical, but France, the home of Louis Pasteur’s pioneering discoveries in immunology, is also one of the most skeptical countries in the world when it comes to vaccines.”

Skepticism of the Covid vaccine in France24

(See their full report here)

My daughter is strongly opposed, yet I am on the fence. She’s half my age and believes in putting only natural substances into her body, so that makes a difference for her. But, I am in that higher risk category and have been used to western medicine and chemical solutions my whole life, so the decision isn’t so easy.

People questioned the safety of the polio vaccine

If you do your own research, you’ll find many more reasons why we should be taking the vaccine than not…from the medical professionals, of course. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right decision—we really don’t know what side effects we might face in the future with such a short testing period.

Questioning if vaccines are safe

I know one thing for sure: I do not want a repeat of the year 2020 in the year 2021. If that means inoculating as many people as possible, then so be it. Consideration of the risk is most important. Ask yourself if the chances of catching Covid-19 are greater than the side effects of taking the vaccine? Likely yes. And if Marshall McKay had had the vaccine, he might still be alive today.

I’m still on the fence, and we all have to make up our own minds…but while you’re at it, if you want a seriously good laugh at 2020, be sure to watch “Death to 2020” on Netflix. It’s a British “mockumentary” by Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones that received a lot of negative criticism. I found it absolutely hilarious and a “must watch.” If nothing else, it will bring some humor into these otherwise dismal times.

A la prochaine…and Happy New Year 2021!

Adrian Leeds and Erica Simone December 31, 2017

Adrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®


Adrian and Erica together


P.S. So much is happening in the first month of this new year. Be sure to have a look at our HHI and Après-Midi pages for two of them right off the bat!



  1. Mark Mandell MD on January 4, 2021 at 9:59 am

    Everyone over 60 should be vaccinated. I’m an emergency physician and all of my friends have vaccinated. I am 69 years old and I was vaccinated and had no side effects whatsoever. My main concern is how effective the shot will be, not whether there will be side effects. So far they have dispensed millions of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations with minimal side effects. I have had three colleagues become deathly ill from Covid, of whom one was a previously healthy, marathon runner who died. It’s a miserable death with weeks of illness, improvements, relapses and finally death after much suffering. It’s reasonable for a 30 year to postpone given the very low risk of death, though I know of several people around 30 who have died; it is rare however. I might add that I have taken care of a bunch of 30 year olds with Covid and they were miserable.

  2. Lynne Caulkett on January 4, 2021 at 10:08 am

    So very sorry to hear of the death of your dear friend. I lost my daughter on December 4 ( cancer, not Covid) so I know the heartache Sharon and her family are going through. Praying that 2021 will be a year of healing, joy and health for all of us. I also share your concerns with the vaccine. Not sure what to do but I think Ii will wait and see before I choose to get it. Stay safe! Happy New Year to you, Patty and your staff.

  3. Kris Maita on January 4, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    I sincerely hope that you will get the vaccine. The more people who are vaccinated the sooner we can hopefully see an end to this dreaded pandemic. I have a son in law who is an ICU nurse and thankfully he has received his first shot. There were over 8,000 new cases in Arizona alone yesterday. Scary, sad times we are living in right now. Take care and stay safe. ❤️

  4. Goodman Peter on January 4, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    I’m getting vaccinated as soon as possible… polio, small pox, influenza, etc., terrible diseases are preventable.. rejecting science is both foolish and life threatening.. and .. I would miss living (virtually) in France .. slurp a Belon for me ..🤣

  5. Leslie in Oregon on January 4, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Dear Adrian, Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the death of your dear friend Marshall McKay and the illness and isolation of his wife Sharon McKay. From what you have told us, it is clear that they were true givers, and I mourn his loss. I also understand something of what Sharon may be going through, as my husband recently died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of cancer, and I have been existing in isolation from people in real life (but with Bob, our 15-year-old long-haired dachshund) since then. My hopes and prayers will be with you and Sharon. … I hope that you will decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations when they become available to you. Whatever risks of side effects are involved, they pale in comparison to what will happen if a significan people decline to be vaccinated. Being vaccinated against this virus is something that we do not only for ourselves but for each other. And having watched a close (young and formerly very healthy) friend go through the COVID-19 illness-and-death cycle Dr. Mandell describes in his comment above, I will do just about anything to minimize the risk to myself and others of becoming sick with the virus. Wishing you a happier new year, Leslie

  6. Linda Tabor on January 4, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss. Personally I blame the incompetence of the current administration and gave the highest hopes that the Biden team will act swiftly and with empathy and get the vaccines out to the people. Gd bless us all as we navigate the new year, hopefully further than our nearest grocer. ❤️🤗🎊🥂✌️😷

  7. Harry Whitehouse on January 4, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Adrian — I so enjoy your articles — they are always “from the heart” and chock full of useful information. I was saddened by your report on the loss your friend Marshall. The picture of him in the field is majestic — he must have been a very unique and proud man.

    Regarding the vaccine, there is risk to everything we do. But we don’t yet have effective treatments for folks who are heavily impacted by the disease and the pandemic has brought our health system to its knees. On the plus side, the new vaccines are so scientifically-based and so targeted. We are benefiting from decades of basic research in cell biology and sequencing. I’m hopeful that this approach will serve not only to deal with this pandemic, but future ones and the annual “flu” as well.

    Stay safe and keep up your wonderful articles.!

  8. Handlebar Henry on January 4, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    In our area so many people have covid-19 now…it really hits home when people you know die from this or have serious complications that will last a lifetime. About two weeks ago the neighbor two houses to the north passed away from this horrible plague. I wanted to say I found your story on your friend to be very interesting. While my wife and I don’t like in Southern California both of us have spent a lot of time over the years in the area..and we know the Los Feliz area you speak about…we drove through it countless times over the years going to an from places all over the area. So sorry on your loss. Regarding the wife and I will be very happy when we can obtain ours. We’re both seniors with health wife is disabled and I have a few issues too.and we are in the age group..she is 66 and I am 68 so we hope it won’t be long before we get these shots. I am aware of the is something everyone has to weigh..cost versus benefit. I suggest taking it but do the research and make your own decision. Wishing everyone a better 2021!

  9. sharon on January 5, 2021 at 1:00 am

    I am delighted that I and all my 60+ year old friends here in Israel have received our first vaccination. Within a few weeks of getting our second jab, we’ll once again be able to socialize with our friends without fear of getting sick. Social contact is what sustains so many of us and the lack of it is what I’ve suffered from the most in 2020.

    I was born and raised in Canada and thanks to excellent public health and all the vaccinations I got in my childhood, I did not get smallpox, polio, whooping cough, rubella, etc. I really don’t understand why people are reluctant to get a vaccine that doesn’t even have any actual diluted virus in its contents. My 30 year old son, who is immune-compromised also got his first shot. Thank goodness for the Israeli medical system! The level of distrust in medical science, especially among Europeans, is amazing and disturbing.

  10. Christina Creveling on January 6, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Have enjoyed your vacation reports because you got to go somewhere, have an adventure, be with your family while most of us did not. So, thank you for our vicarious trip to the American Southwest this holiday season. Was very interesting to hear of France’s vaccination phobia (as you say, despite Pasteur!) which explained a friend’s attitude which had surprised me. Here’s to a new year which we hope will be so much better, but which may be more of the same for months to come. Thank you for the pleasures of your reporting ( and your opinions!) for all these months–I signed on at the beginning of the shelter in place in the SF Bay area in California, having lived in Paris in the ’70/80s and still having in-laws and friends there.

  11. Christina Creveling on January 6, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you also for the terrible news about the death of Marshall McKay and the reference to the obit from the LA Times. It was personal to me because I have read Greg Sarris’s book about his mother Mable McKay many times and look forward to reasding it many times more. She was an extraordinary person and reading about her life never fails to hearten and center me. If you have not read it, I would urge you to–its a small but powerful work. It changed the author’s life to have known her, led him to discover his own Native American heritage. But for any reader it is a rich experience.

  12. Anna on January 27, 2021 at 3:38 am

    Well said, Adrian! How refreshing to read a well-expressed opinion on the unknowns of this “vaccine”. I share your view. This is not a conventional vaccine at all but an experimental, first-of-its-type model that sends instructions to your DNA to produce elements of the virus which in turn trains the immune system to attack. It’s been rushed through (“warp-speed”); has no long or short-term data on safety; and has no liability. I am a fan of informed consent and don’t want politicians telling me what I must inject into my body.

  13. Anna on January 27, 2021 at 3:44 am

    Pressed send too early on my previous comment! I meant to add: Happy New Year to you – and let’s hope that in 2021, we can enjoy once again the beauty of travel and human connection .

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