On Wednesday night, I had the honor, and pleasure, of attending The Nation Magazine's 140th anniversary party in the crystal ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The event was to celebrate The Nation, as well as acknowledge the contributions of Robert Scheer, journalist maudit, provocateur, and the Los Angeles Times columnist whose firing attracted national attention and will, to my mind, forever cast a long, dark shadow on that paper.
What an extraordinary mix of activists, actors, writers, lovers of writing, and elected officials including John Dean (former counsel for Richard M. Nixon), Warren Beatty, Gore Vidal, Mike Farrell, Arianna Huffington, Jerry Stahl, Tom Hayden, former Oakland mayor Jerry Brown, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Larry Flynt, yes, Larry Flynt (who appeared to even remember me from my early days, in the late 1980's, when I moved to Century City, and worked for him), and yes, yes, yes, it was a spirited, magical evening, and one that renewed by affirmation, as well as a sense of solidarity engendered by all this energy sharing the same finite space.
Having spent a few evenings in the Polo Lounge, over the years, I was struck by how majestic, and constant, the Beverly Hills Hotel remains in spite of the metamorphosis of the larger metropolis in which it resides. I think of the term, "classic beauty," and think this is, after all, what is meant by that phrase.
In an age of me-first, where vindictiveness is second only to godliness, with ongoing news of battle, death, and dying, whether it be that of Al-Zarqawi, or civilians in Haditha, it is healthy, and heartening, to spend even one small, and seemingly infinite, moment, thinking about what little time we have on this planet, how best to play the hand destiny has dealt and, most of all, how to leave this world in better shape than we found it.