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  • Writer's pictureMatt Levin

'Politician' Doesn't Have to be a Dirty Word

My mom dug up this photo and it has so many memories and stories that converged together, I thought I'd share. To set the scene, it was March of 1990 in Washington, D.C. I had just turned 22! I was trying to channel Stop Making Sense David Byrne with my way too large blazer! My mom and I were on a cross country train trip. While on our stop in DC, we met with our Congressman from California, the awesome Henry Waxman, who’s still going strong at 80 years old!

We also got to witness the Freedom of Expression Day rally at the Capitol steps that included a speech by Václav Havel, the first democratically elected President of Czechoslovakia in 44 years at the time! The wall had just come down and hope was in the air. Mr. Havel was a dissident playwright turned politician who spoke beautifully on the subject of a free press and free speech, he said: “Let us admit that most of us writers feel an essential aversion to politics. By taking such a position, however, we accept the perverted principle of specialization, according to which some are paid to write about the horrors of the world and human responsibility and others to deal with those horrors and bear the human responsibility for them.” Those resonate even louder today.

Lastly, that trip wasn't all about politics! We had to throw some rock & roll in there as well! My mom and I planned it out so we could see The Jesus & Mary Chain at different stops along the way! It was the Automatic Tour and the Reed brothers were at the height of their powers! A very memorable trip indeed.


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