Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thoughts while bathing (the mayoral election in Los Angeles)

This morning as the water beat down on me in the shower, my mind ran to politics and conversations that I've had in the car with my sons. Just last night, as I maneuvered through godawful traffic with Oliver and Sophie, we heard the atrocious story of the black mayoral candidate in Mississippi who was brutally murdered in what sounded like the 2013 version of lynching, and when Oliver asked me what happened, I told him that perhaps someone extremely racist and/or homophobic didn't want him to run for mayor. Oliver asked me what homophobic meant, and I told him that it meant one is afraid of gay people. AFRAID? Oliver said, incredulous. Why? And I told him that some people thought gay people were bad or unnatural, even evil, and Oliver just didn't get it, so I told him that sometimes people are profoundly ignorant and might not even know a gay person and so were afraid of anything different, and he seemed to get that so we dropped it. As I shampooed my hair this morning, I thought about the mayoral race today in Los Angeles and whether or not I'll vote for a Republican for the second time (I believe I voted for Guiliani in New York City a thousand years ago) in my life. In doing only cursory research I find the mayoral candidate Kevin James sort of, kind of,  interesting but only so because I'm tired of politics as usual. The fact that he's a libertarian does not excite me (I know it's simplistic, but I can't help but equate libertarians with Ayn Rand and that dreadful novel I read in my late teens, The Fountainhead, which even then, when I knew nothing about anything, made me feel as if my blood was draining from my body), but because he's fiscally conservative and socially liberal, my interest is piqued. Still, I probably don't know nothing from anything, and James makes all kinds of claims as politicians do, and they sound pretty good, but then there's the gathering for him that was held on Sunday that I didn't go to because I knew it would be a bunch of rich people from the neighborhood adjacent to mine whose politics I find smug when I'm feeling charitable, and I won't tell you what I think when I'm feeling like myself. I'm not sure I can vote for someone that they all support. Honestly. As the water ran down my body, I thought how there's a part of me that just doesn't care who the next mayor is, but by the time the water rounded my hip and streamed down my leg, I had jettisoned the cynicism and decided that if I'm going to live in a democracy I should vote for the person who best represents me, and that person probably isn't going to be a former attorney and right-wing radio shock jock -- is that what they're called? I don't know about this libertarian thing -- it sounds all sensible and logical but there's something about it that leaves me cold, and that thing is money. Or maybe it's government as Other, devoid of community. I think. Have ya'll read George Saunders' brilliant satire of libertarians from the New Yorker last fall? Here's the link. When I stepped out of the shower, I remembered my favorite line from the essay, words that evoke -- exactly -- the opposite of what voting in the Los Angeles mayoral election feels like. He wrote it as satire, but I'm feeling it for real, today.

Some days we would stride about, feeling violently alive.


  1. Your showers are far more productive, intellectually speaking, than mine are.
    But I can just come and read what you write and then I have things to ponder all day so thank-you.
    Good morning and love.

  2. Oh Elizabeth, you sure do make me think. And what Ms. Moon says. This is a brilliant internal monologue. I am absolutely convinced there will be a book with writing such as this between its covers. You've already written the entire book here on this blog! All you need now is to selected the pieces to be included. And it will be a bestseller because it will feed not just the soul of its readers, but it will also enrich the mind.

  3. hey, no problems posting my comment. usually i have to try two or three times because it gets erased each time. wow. no word verification either. i wonder if that's what solved the problem. (and now you will be deluged with comments from me because i no longer have to compose them two or three times lol!)

  4. I agree with the 'coldness' evoked by Libertarianism. There is something about the notion that we are all so separate, not inclined to work together in community to help each other out (even if that is facilitated by - dunh, dunh, dunh - Government) that feels backward and isolationist to me.

    I love, love, love that Oliver didn't know what homophobia was. I wish my kids didn't. I wish nobody did.

  5. I confess I don't really know what Libertarianism is, at all, and I never read Ayn Rand so it wasn't until a recent conversation with my brother-in-law that I saw why everyone kept drawing comparisons between her books and the Republican party during the election. So, my simplistic understanding of it makes the blood drain from my body as well. That's a perfect description. But goodness, all the young people in the world. Mine and yours. Who needs Obama for an emblem of hope when we have our own children.

  6. The shower is such a good place for thinking. And what's better to think about than George Saunders. That short story--the title story in the new collection--"The 10th of December" is something of a masterpiece. Oh, and of course, yes, there's politics....

  7. Libertarians. Aren't they the people who work in libraries?

    When you compile the book (of which Angella speaks), "Showerhead" should be (or be in) the title.

  8. It's amazing how much thought goes on in the shower, isn't it?

    How did I miss that George Saunders piece? I loved that.



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