Four Years is a Lifetime

Arab Spring

The first post of this blog was exactly four years ago. It’s been a long strange journey and yet I’m struck by how much I feel the same mixture of hope and foreboding. As to hope, I am still struck by the creativity of my family and close colleagues. I am still in awe of a few artists who seem to be able to make music or films with a passionate commitment to truth and beauty. And despite the disappointments, I still have an essential faith in the humanity and intelligence of Barack Obama. And the foreboding that I felt four years ago, before the Great Recession had struck, still is in place.

And then you ask–so where does the aforementioned dread come from? It comes from a sense of profound economic peril. We have lived as a country off the rich inheritance of past generations and now the party may be coming to a close.

This has been a revolutionary year. Some would compare it to 1848, 1917 or 1968. Look at the Pictures of the year as organized by the New York Times and you can’t ignore the interregnum upheaval we are experiencing. I chose the photo of the young Egyptian revolutionaries at their computers as the quintessential image of “the old is dying and the new is struggling to be borne” that defines the Interregnum. These kids give me hope and I was struck by the words of their young Russian counterpart, Aleksei Navalny at the massive anti-Putin rally in Moscow yesterday.

“Where is this man?” Mr. Navalny asked. “Can you see him? Is he here?”

He added: “These days, with the help of the zombie-box, they are trying to prove to us that they are big and scary beasts. But we know who they are. Little sneaky jackals! Is that right?” The crowd roared. “Is that true or not?” Another roar.

Of course we have our own battles with the forces that control “the zombie-box” in America. For all our idealistic belief in the liberating power of the Internet, most of our citizens still get their information from television–Fox News, CBS, ABC and NBC. And of course there is the large minority that gets no news at all, but rather sits like Mr. Navalny’s zombies zoned out on the fake spectacle of Wrestling or the lives of the Kardashians. Near the end of a presidential campaign all the advertising goes to reach these zombies–people who for some reason in late October of a Presidential race have been paying so little attention that they are still “undecided”. WTF! These cretins get to decide a close political race?

And you can bank on it that Karl Rove’s $500 Million Super Pac will have some killer ads to wake these moron’s out of their stupor just long enough to get them outraged enough to drag their sorry asses to the polls on the first Tuesday in November. Somehow, I can guarantee you that Obama will be painted as “un-American” and the Know-Nothings will drink a couple of Red Bulls and be driven to the polls to pull the lever of Democracy.

So let’s hope we can be inspired by the young activists in Cairo, Moscow, Damascus, New York, Oakland and all the points around the globe where citizens are trying to make the word “democracy” have some meaning. For me, that means going back to Localism. Trying to make Los Angeles the most livable, just, optimistic and creative city on the planet.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,


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9 Responses to Four Years is a Lifetime

  1. Will says:


    I have seen someone trashing you by trashing your generation and demanding that you apologize for your generation. It is true that there are people of your generation who have reaped more than they have sown. However, it is most certainly not true for you. You have sown more than you have reaped to a high exponent, as evidenced by these pages in which you have so generously and selflessly shared your point of view- your self- the extraordinary work and contribution to our culture you have made for decades, and the modest and honest way in which you live.

    The tactic being employed against you is reminiscent of those employed by the Catholic Church in one of its most ignominious periods. It is spurious and frantic and attempts, in an old, scandalous contrivance, to put you to the question. It comes from someone from a generation even more profligate than your own, a generation absolutely riddled with larceny and self-seeking, a deeply self-serving generation. Every generation is corrupt. It is a junk argument from a frustrated and angry person who appears mostly to be jealous and seems to claim joy in making other people miserable. What kind of person is it to whom misery is joy? Not one you’d want to spend much time with. By no measure do you owe the future an apology. That is a desperate argument from someone who has realized that he has revealed too much and attempts to defend himself through an attack, no matter how idiotic that attack may be.

    I don’t come here often, but I wanted to come by and say thank you, that I have enjoyed your classes and your work, and send you best wishes this Christmas.


  2. Morgan Warstler says:


    Math is simple:

    1. Overall Jon’s generation is a net loser. Fact.

    2. Jon doesn’t admit it, think it is true, or want to accept it.

    That is a bigger problem than ANYTHING he can personally be, it is bigger than ANYTHING anyone in his generation can personally accomplish. They are all guilty.

    Anyone in his generation that wants to be a overall personal winner, must admit it, and spend their aging days PUSHING THEIR OWN CROWD to give, give, give give…. actually chew less food, pass on more resources, work longer for less… Beg forgiveness for the sins of dirty yuppie / hippies.

    Read Christopher Buckley’s BOOMSDAY. Life just imitates art. Comedy has to hurt.

    Really truly, Jon’s a very good guy, but the larger project of BLAMING his generation justifies redefining him – the greater good and all that.

    Merry X-Mas!

  3. rhbee says:

    Morgan I say this to your shallow little worldview.

  4. rhbee says:

    Guess my link to this

    “Now that x-mas is done, and everyone is in a swell mood, let us pause to contemplate our status quo. Actually, make that status quoth, as in Poe’s the Raven. Here’s what I think we should do. Stop!

    Lets see if you can do it, Stop striving, stop pushing, stop making people pay to live. Stop trying to finish, to win, to lose, to earn our place in the sun, our moment in Youtubia. Think about taking a time out. Not a strike with all its attendant pushing shoving posturing. No, I mean a regular vacation for all of us, all of earth’s human beings. Let’s take some time off and just think. Lets Occupy our space. No media invited. Just the crashing of our own tumult into the reality of all of our situation.

    JUST STOP, NOW! That’s our motto.

  5. Fate says:

    That’s right. Jon is a good guy. You are not. You are a bad guy. You are smug and self-involved. And you are a loser. Anyone who writes “Fact” for emphasis is a loser. But you are an uber loser. You exhibit typical disturbed adolescent behavior, blaming your parents for your problems. And you have managed to do it into middle age. Why don’t you accept responsibility for the lousy life you have and stop trying to drag other people down into your hole.

    Meanwhile, here is an anthem for you from your lost generation, a lame freestyle that is still more lucid than your weak rap.

    In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey
    Butane in my veins and I’m out to cut the junkie
    With the plastic eyeballs, spray-paint the vegetables
    Dog food stalls with the beefcake pantyhose
    Kill the headlights and put it in neutral
    Stock car flamin’ with a loser and the cruise control
    Baby’s in reno with the vitamin d
    Got a couple of couches, sleep on the love-seat
    Someone came sayin’ I’m insane to complain
    About a shotgun wedding and a stain on my shirt
    Don’t believe everything that you breathe
    You get a parking violation and a maggot on your sleeve
    So shave your face with some mace in the dark
    Savin’ all your food stamps and burnin’ down the trailer park

    Yo. cut it.

    Soy un perdedor
    I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me?

  6. Fate says:

    Oh, and one other thing. You may be rolling on the floor, but you aren’t laughing.

    Are you, Loser?

  7. Morgan Warstler says:

    Boomers ate more than they planted. And we’ll write their obits.

    Don’t take it personally! We simply blame their generation.

    Admit. Repent. Beg Forgiveness.

  8. Fentex says:

    I’m confused; at the top of these comments MW says Jon’s generation are nett losers, yet later writes boomers ate more than they planted (which would make them nett winners at others expense).

    I think Jon is of the baby boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), so how does he both nett a loss yet reap more than he sowed?

    Speaking of generations and the political process in the U.S I was just reading an interesting article on Techdirt that highlights the pernicious influence of money in the process.

    It’s description of Congress as

    535 independent contractors all arbitraging fundraising opportunities

    nicely encapsulates the nature of it’s inertia against improving governance.

    Libetarians argue that removing power from Congress solves all the problems of it’s intransigence but that seems to me little more than everyone elses wish that the problem would just go away in the absence of a credible mechanism to fill the power vacuum and block the power seeking from re-establishing their positions.

    I would credit selecting government by ballot rather than beheading it as likely more effective in improving it’s performance.

    I muse that picking a number of random citizens (of a quantity neccessary to effectively represent the nation or state) and pay them five million a year for four years would be effective. I suspect such a pool of generic citizens would be as capable, and paid so well less corruptible, than professional politicians for a nett improvement.

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