Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hour of the Wolf

This is not the Sunday Post – that will appear at noon tomorrow, right on schedule. Earlier this month I promised to stay away from the subject of politics -- and I will -– but the events of this past week had me pondering the “Dismal Science” of economics, about which I know even less...

Did you feel that cold shiver ripple through the country late last week when the stock market finally sank below 8000?

Not that I know anything about stocks or the overheated economic house of cards that seems to have collapsed in upon us, but there was something different in those voices on the radio, the faces on the television news, and even in the oddly narrow and taller headlines of the LA Times -- a note of strain and tension that once lay below the surface, but now has burst out into the open: the first whiff of real panic over our current economic situation.

Those unlucky enough to have already lost a home or job in this unfolding mess know all about the tailspin of despair. The rest of us have been peering over the lip of the abyss watching them tumble into the darkness, clucking our tongues and shaking our heads in sympathy. Up until this past week, there was always a remote quality to this spiraling disaster, as if it was just another show on TV – something we could turn off when the images became too disturbing. Until now, we could always look away and make The Fear go away.

Not anymore. This isn’t happening in Darfur, Somalia, or Indonesia. It’s happening here.

Watching Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson on the news last week, I saw a man – supposedly an expert in economics -- who looked like he was falling apart inside. After blathering on about “confidence” and apparently standing his ground during the early weeks of this crisis, he suddenly performed a series of shockingly swift back-flips and reversals, head-faking Wall Street, the stock market, and the rest of the country right out of our shoes. It seems abundantly – and stunningly -- clear that the adults are no longer behind the steering wheel. Our government has become a headless corpse lurching from one microphone to the next, spewing promises and platitudes the way a suddenly decapitated chicken sprays blood all over the yard.

Nobody in power seems to have any idea how to stop the bleeding, much less pull us out of this economic death-dive.

So here we are in the midst of a lap-dissolve between an outgoing administration whose ideological foundations prevent it from taking any truly effective action, and an incoming regime unable to wield any real power for another two months. I don’t think the Founding Fathers had the foresight to make constitutional provisions for such a dramatic set of circumstances.

As many of us are only now becoming aware, if you’re close enough to look over the lip of the abyss, then you’re in real danger of tumbling over the edge yourself: we’re not peering down anymore, we’re dangling from that crumbling ledge by one hand. If Someone Important doesn’t start making the right moves – and fast – a lot more people are going to fall. This is real, and it's staring us right in the face.

Did you smell the sudden stench of raw fear in the air last week? Did you hear the rumble of dreams collapsing, empires crumbling, and the previously unthinkable vision of everything you’ve always taken for granted now lying prostrate and quivering on the cosmic chopping block of fate?

Do you hear the wolves howling in the distance?

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