How many references for a blog title? Am I talking to self here or just me and Marianna at Hattie's Web? Photo from couple of years ago when we met, walked over to the Pearl Cafe.
"Upbeat vision" is such a delicious idea that featuring the words makes me giddy. Outlandish and in-denial position these days? Some of us grandmothers of young children ponder this often--Marianna and I among them. We both are readers of The Nation Magazine, that not-glossy, picture-free, skinny lefty rag that delights or infuriates us. So much for those claiming we only talk to ourselves in agreement.
As Marianna floats along on a Nation Cruise--an adventure almost unimaginable on my calendar--I question why that is any "more" or "better" than my going to a Nation fundraiser the last day of November. It is not. Note to self: watch that judgmental stuff. Marianna and I were children in complex families where financial and personality issues loomed large. We emerged with with deep concerns on sorting out who we were/are and the lives of others.
In my own family of origin social justice was a keynote. One of the reasons Hattie and I are friends via blogging and real time is our penchant to sign petitions for causes (here's one today), march with signs in public, let others know what we support whenever possible. We understand how lucky we are to have emerged from our darkish childhoods into adult lives to where we are today.
Though The Nation has been around for a long time, sometimes seems the place where aging leftists go to complain, Katrina vanden Heuvel as Editor reminds me how many young activists and thinkers are visible these days. Marianna is a particular fan of Chris Hays of MSNBC; my own is Rachel Maddow at the same network. It's also good to consider how my own "silent generation" has contributed some good to the present times. My contemporary, Victor Navasky, my contemporary, had the foresight to bring Katrina into The Nation.
About the fundraiser. We knew no one there, not a surprise. We're always struck how the left has not discovered that the cause might be better served by a bit of reaching out. Are we too uncomfortable with ourselves, fearful that the person we don't know might have politics a tad lefter than ours or a cause we do not care about? We had a good time after Ron snagged a woman walking by who seemed to have an open demeanor. As a result, had our best laugh of the evening. Originally from New York, she and her spouse who soon came along, spoke about their early days in the City as adjunct faculty for a "third-rate university."
Where? "That's where our son is an Associate Professor, lucky guy!" I replied with enthusiasm. See, you just never know how small a world we live in. Not very experienced with fund-raisers, it was curious to me that the evening was so very low key. After Katrina gave her talk about the importance of readers increasing their support, people went up to speak with her. I took photos.
Shortly after, there was a book-reading at Powells' where Katrina spoke about her latest, The Change I Believe In: Fighting for progress in the age of Obama. Poor woman, she had only a moment to eat, then had to be upfront again--with a far larger and livelier audience. The place was packed; Ron and I split up to find seats.
Mine was next to a friendly woman my age who said she wished there was someone who'd go on a Nation Cruise with her. She'd enjoyed the trip a few years ago. On the other side was a man whose father had been a Wobblie!
Generally though the audience was younger than those at the fund-raiser. Why didn't I get up and shout, "Folks, The Nation needs your subscriptions!" That's one of the points Katrina made, and one electronic readers dodge around. By the way, I never have a link to Amazon, that book-destroyer.
She stays on message: we need to be as pragmatic and clear-eyed about Obama as he is about us....it's important for movements to keep working with the president, and pushing him when needed--criticizing, engaging, and supporting when called for. As with Plan B and the fear of teen pregnancy.
It's invigorating to be the choir preached too--don't care what anyone says. Katrina delighted the crowd. Just before the very, very long line for book-signing, I slipped her another one of those immodest proposals. Suggested that The Nation initiate Teach-Ins around the country about Occupy. Oh, not those Nation reader groups listed in the back of the magazine. The woman next to me, like others, have said she had to quit one because one person came to dominate with his opinions. We had that in Baltimore too.
Could there be a better design: Potlucks for the left? We do need something that gets us to come together in real time, to do the hard work that Marianna and I talk about--for our grandchildren's futures.