In the very center of Malibu are 20 or so acres of city owned Legacy Park, perched between PCH and Civic Center Way, which is often alive with ducks, sometimes geese, numerous species of birds, rabbits, squirrels and pigeons all during the day, and at night numerous others including coyotes and other predators. It attracts walkers, bird watchers, families with children, citizens with dogs and some well-behaved homeless. Underneath this virtual carefully groomed rural and undeveloped setting there is an engineering plant that cleans water before it goes into the ocean, which was really the principal raisin d’être for the $25 million (plus probably another $25 million or so in interest) spent to purchase the park by the city. Additionally, the city does a very good, and I suspect rather costly, job of keeping it clean, trimmed up and maintained. It usually is the jewel in the center of the Malibu crown unless something essential is missing. That essential thing is water and lately the park has been dried up; the small lake in the center of the park has vanished, along with most of the wildlife and what we have left is a sun baked arroyo—and quite an expensive arroyo, no different than arroyos all over Southern California. I pass by Malibu Creek every day and I see water in the creek even in the midst of a drought, and I constantly wonder why there is no water in Legacy Park. I’ve heard a variety of explanations told to me by people who have inquired, like, “we only use it when it rains,” or things to do with the water table, or salt in the water, or whatever. It behooves the city council or the parks and recreation commission or the city staff to explain and then to make it happen and get some water into the park. With this amount of money being spent, we’re entitled to a detailed explanation and a plan that will work.
Karen and I just came back from a week in Baja at a hotel called Villa del Palmar in Loretto, which is a wonderful place, on the very pristine Sea of Cortez (the eastern side of the penninsula). This was the first time out of the U.S. in over a year and I’m pleased to say people are beginning to travel again. Of course, most of the Americans were a bit older and I suspect most everyone from the U.S. had been vaccinated. Certainly, we all had been tested before being allowed to enter Mexico and tested again before they would let us back into the U.S. The Mexican government did a good job of fighting COVID-19 and generally the entire Mexican population seems less resistant to following the COVID-19 rules then Americans. It didn’t seem to become a big political issue in Mexico. You have to get away to someplace foreign and just do nothing for a while to allow yourself time to readapt. Until you get away you have no idea how crazy we all have become. The truth is that the pandemic has made Americans nuts. What might have been just an argument before now all too often turns into a shooting. People who were on the edge before are even further away now and almost daily we see these multiple shootings. We need time to recover, turn down the heat, take a deep breath and try to mellow out a bit. The politicizing of public health certainly hasn’t help us recover and, if anything, has driven us father apart.
This year of confinement has also made us all lose our sense of humor. Everyone is walking around with a chip on their shoulder. It’s impossible to make a joke about anything without having people jump all over you. I find myself trying to edit myself before I speak but, frankly, I don’t do it very well, as my wife is prone to point out. A population that lives in a place where everything is terribly, terribly serious, and nothing is funny, is a population that is doomed to be constantly unhappy and feel victimized. Victimization is the flavor of our time. One of the advantages of being older is that I’ve lived through enough cycles to know that cycles do end. I know that zero-interest will end and inflation will increase. That’s not necessarily cause and effect, but I know it will happen. I’ve lived through endless wars and hostilities—WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Balkans, the Middle East—and I know they will flare up and then cool and then something new will spring up, another war in another place for another reason. I’ve seen zero inflation and annual inflation of 17-18 percent. I’ve seen the day when Germany, Japan and Italy were our enemy and days when they are allies. I’ve seen China going from being our poor beleaguered ally to our industrial future and a source of cheap goods and cheap manufacturing and now a growing threat to our workforce and our national security. And often what we do is done in our own empire’s self-interest and not because we are necessarily the good guys. I know that we are an empire, although we are loathe to admit it, and empires are always under threat and challenge. And, most of all, I know that empires are destroyed from within, and if we remain a totally divided country, unable to agree on some of the simplest of things, like that we need to fix our infrastructure, we are doomed to go the way of all the empires before us—the French empire, the Spanish empire, the British empire, the German empire, the Japanese empire, the Dutch empire, the Portuguese empire, the Roman empire, etc. It’s not that we’ll disappear from the earth; it’s merely that we will cease to be an empire and merely become a country, a rich country, but just a country. We are running out of time.