Saturday, January 3, 2009

It’s Happy New Year, with Good Cause, Really

The words that ring down the curtain on the holiday season are clanging a little hollow this year wherever I turn. I returned home from the Land of Lincoln-—where Blagojevich’s actions are reaching surreal proportions--to be greeted with the New Yorker’s cheeky affront to the spirit of the new year with its “Everything Must Go” cover.

Mercifully in a Christmas Eve sentence from James Wolcott I find the perspective that I want to embrace: “And yet I listen to the Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Jack Benny Christmas specials on Sirius Radio Classics, broadcast and taped during the daunting depths of WWII, and the tone of those shows is unbombastically upbeat, confident, and determined, a cool reprimand to gloom-mongering and self-pity prevailing today.”

Huzzah for “the cool reprimand” wherever we can find it today. Striving to be “unbombastically upbeat, confident, and determined” is a great New Year’s resolution.

I know one guy who naturally achieves these adjectives: Tom Watson. He is launching a new business, CauseWired Communications, as the economy swirls the drain while he continues to infuse newcritics with his enthusiasm for cultural conversation. (Tom’s year-end roundup of newcritics writing is a particularly rich post.)

With eyes wide open, we’ll take it as it comes. We’ll be witnessing history with a capital “H” on Jan. 20, 2009, which by happenstance ushers in the bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln, born Feb. 12, 1809. I learned many things on my Christmas vacation in Springfield, Illinois, including a renewed appreciation for what Lincoln achieved during the chaos of the Civil War. He’s a “cool reprimand” to look up to as well. More about that later.