There is a brilliant line in an early Bruce Springsteen song that goes something like this: “The poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all. They just stand back and let it all be…” Is it from “Jungleland”? I think so.
I think of this as I go through my little life in Beverly Hills. A few days ago, I was at a four-way stop two blocks from my house. On my right was a white Porsche. Right in front of me was a black Bentley convertible, the required vehicle to be cool as of summer 2015. To my left was a black Rolls Royce sedan. I was in an 8-year-old Caddy with two dogs sleeping in the back. Except for me, not one driver was over 30.
On each street corner was a gardeners’ truck loaded with rakes and blowers and lawnmowers, and leaning against them, exhausted brown-skinned men, sweating, straining, loading branches and leaves and trim into immense sacks.
On the local news, no one can stop talking about Bruce Jenner becoming surgically altered to resemble a woman. Except in the newspapers, there is no talk at all of an insurgency in the cradle of civilization that routinely decapitates Christians, and kidnaps and rapes young girls until they become pregnant. The other big news here is of gowns and divorces of movie stars. No one even talks about Iran, a terrorist state, edging ever closer to having nuclear weapons, which it has promised to use against Israel and America.
At the high end grocery store in West Hollywood near here, men and women scour the organic produce as if the right broccoli would offer immortality. There is not a sound about men, women, and children dying adrift at sea as they try to escape a wretched life in Myanmar or Eritrea or Libya. Those people are not chic, the way organic produce is.
Our German short-haired pointers lounge in my bed under the air conditioning. In China, thousands of dogs are ritually murdered and eaten in what they call a festival.
My wife and our dogs and I are on the very long end of this stick, under the palms and with the swimming pool filter humming all day. When I was 13, my father one day was in a bad mood and told me I would not inherit anything from him but his brains. He was terribly wrong. I inherited being an American. And a lot else. But mainly, being his son and an American passport. The freedom to live in a world of triviality — so far. The people at the helm are supposed to be worrying about The Big Picture. They’re not. They’re having women with green lipstick on TV with them. They’re mountain bike racing as if they were teenagers. It is very late. But day by day, it is still glorious to awaken in the sunlight of California, the uniquely bright lustrous light of America, the sunshine of my life.
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