It’s strange to be launching a redesign of Newcity without spending a year or more planning and tweaking it. This time, we’re doing it as we go—an evolution rather than a revolution—which should afford us maximum freedom to adjust, to react and yes, to tweak.
It’s strange to be doing this from Mexico City, where I’ve been since inauguration weekend, finishing up post-production on our feature film, “Signature Move.” (We won a large post-production grant that was the only thing that would have moved this process out of Chicago, but the presence of Mexican-American characters and themes in our movie added a special relevance to doing so, and the indefensible words and actions of our new president added a special poignance.)
Spending the first month of this presidency outside of the country, without a television, has offered me a distant, and truly foreign vantage point from which to see it unfold. As an American, I can’t avoid the conversations, which always must start with me apologizing for a man I did not vote for. The United States is now seen as a confederacy of dunces. Folks joke about the latest faux pas, about this week’s or that week’s “Saturday Night Live” sendup. About that wall, the absurdity of which is amplified exponentially once you spend any time in this vibrant, smart, cultural city. Walls work two ways, after all. The jokes are tempered, of course, by the understanding that this particular clown has the power to destroy the world, literally and metaphorically.
It’s strange, in fact, to be covering anything other than the ongoing debacle that our country’s leadership has become, and the threats to existence, progress and even our survival that it represents. But culture is a powerful and nonviolent weapon in the fight against ignorance and the fight for human rights and basic American dignity that is now underway. And so, as we fight the power, we must also fight for the culture.
With this new Newcity, we like to think we’re sharpening our sword for all the battles ahead.