It's been a confusing few weeks here in hollywood. Disorienting, taxing, if often wonderful. Surfing in the morning with pods of dolphins breeching and leaping delightedly over the waves is hard to beat. And then there is the relentless sunshine and the delightful distractions of eating well, meeting people and having fun in a new city. The work is exciting too. Breaking stories and working for the first time with a group of talented writers is a challenge I've warmed to. And of course, working for Steven B is a dream.
But in the quieter moments, stuck in LA traffic, or listening to the comforting white noise of the waves, I do wonder about the legitimacy of this entire enterprise. It's so far from the lives I used to touch, the people I used to know, the succor I used to provide that it's hard to reconcile with my life long goal of living well by giving more than I take (and of course being me, taking abundantly). There is an immediacy that is lacking. The artistic enterprise as end in itself has never been a particularly persuasive philosophical point of view, and I don't think I'm much closer to adopting it then I was when I came out here. All of which begs the question of what is the point of doing what I'm doing?
I haven't answered the question for my self, but two things in the papers today helped a lot. The first was this spectacular piece from the creators of "The Wire." It leverages their work in a radical and inspiring opinion piece published this week in Time.
In it they say "This is what we can do — and what we will do. If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens."
It is a manifesto of Jury Nullification written by people who for five years have brilliantly helped to shape the public understanding of the drug war. And it's the sort of convincing statement it takes a platform like theirs to publicize.
The other piece was the NYTM's cover story this week. It discussed the outsized (and rather absurd) influence of pop culture on real philanthropy, the way in which celebrity, even of the fleeting or secondary sort nonetheless provides opportunities for real world influence, particularly in the philanthropic universe. The artistic enterprise as radical reform.
The sun is setting, Catalina is swathed in an luminescent pink haze. The last surfers are staggering wet, and happy from the lineup. Even taken together, I'm not sure these articles provide me a convincing answer, but on day marked by reflection and sometimes even bafflement, they sure felt like good omens.