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,