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The Future Looks Bright

That was then — when the Great March for Peace was about to change the world, when Pasadena was beginning to battle creeping quiche, when the Motels were the band to watch — and this is now. Some glimpses of the future from the past, through the time warp of the present:

From "Hitting the Fan in 2002," by Michael Ventura; January 11, 1979

Prediction One: Psychic Powers Accepted and Cultivated

Within the next 10 years there will be a burst of psychic activity. It will be like jogging — one year nobody did it, the next year thousands are doing it. Thousands will start cultivating their psychic powers with the discipline and energy they now use for running. The techniques needed to develop psychic powers, which have been around for thousands of years, are being popularized in modern terms by various books and by groups such as Lawrence LeShan’s workshops. The changes artificially induced by the drugs of the ’60s will be multiplied a hundredfold, and God alone knows what happens then — for no doubt the darkness in our natures will have its say along with the light.

What will a race with heightened psychic powers mean to government, entertainment and industry? For humankind will be substantially not as we know it. All forms of governmental and corporate secrecy will become obsolete. The medical profession will be out of a job. Every form of media now known or imagined will be hopelessly antiquated.

Even the way we grow our foods will change: It’s well-documented that in the community of Findhorn, in Scotland, huge healthy vegetables are made to grow in the sand and in snow through the psychic power of what the Findhorn people call prayer. If this talent spreads across the world, it could mean the end of Third World dependence on American and Russian support. In short, the spread of psychic powers would be the end of "power" as we know it now.

From "L.A. Bands," by Don Snowden; April 12, 1979

The class of the field is the Motels, the only area band to pick up on and extend the Velvet Underground–Roxy Music tradition. It’s mutated rhythm & blues, as guitarist Fretts Ferrari once described it: music of the heart and soul filtered through the technology of the ’70s. Martha Davis is a star, period; the band a perfect vehicle for dressing up simple melo dies with impeccable ar rangements and powerful playing, the songs still fresh and distinctive. The newest addition to their set, "Celia," is rapidly becoming a crowd favorite, and if "Total Control" isn’t an AM hit in six months’ time, the entire promotional staff of the label that signs them should be summarily executed. See the Motels now (catch a late set if you can, when they’re looser and louder), and in a year you’ll probably be telling your friends you saw them when.

From "Jerry on the Road," by Andrew Kopkind; March 29, 1979

It is not only Jerry Brown who sees that politics in America is about to make a leap into the ’80s, that a change is due, or overdue. The early revolt against Carter within the Democratic Party . . . is simply one more sign of instability and the demand for change. So far, the demand is unformed and unfocused, but Brown’s candidacy is one of the most important consequences.

From "The First Americanization of Soccer," by Pattie Freeman; March 21, 1980

While the media sages are sitting around prognosticating what new trend will pop up in the ’80s, let Tony Morejan and Peter Dunn make a prediction: The ’80s will be the decade of American soccer. And if it won’t happen naturally, they’ll give history a nudge. Morejan and Dunn aren’t clairvoyants, they’re promoters . . .

Morejan says that the creation of American soccer heroes is imperative to the growth of the game in this country: "We have to keep kids looking up to an American boy and saying, ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’" "Right now," says Dunn, "the kids can’t even pronounce a lot of the players’ names."

From "At Home With Tom and Jane," by Danae Brook; November 28, 1980

Jane [Fonda] says that if she hadn’t found politics and Tom, her "energies would have had nowhere to go. I’d have been a numb and dumb pill-popping blonde." Tom [Hayden], always more reticent, says, "She gave me a deeper, broader understanding of women, and maybe I gave her a focus for her political viewpoint." . . .

Indeed, if one thinks about it, one realizes they occupy an unusual place in the American political and social landscape. What other couple has dedicated themselves to building a political organization and movement based on progressive political ideas and framed their lives around that very unlikely lifestyle? No others that leap to mind. And yet, to see them together is to recognize as well two adults who, with considerable affection, seem to have accepted that they are each other’s life mates.


From "The Battle for Pasadena," by Rick Cole; December 5, 1980

The area’s cheap rents had always attracted the adventurous and the desperate. Artists and house painters, bohemians and rednecks, sexual outlaws and derelicts — they created a neighborhood that never closed down. They hung out at Jake’s Diner and in the dives, and the bohemians created the café society at the Espresso Bar and the Prufrock Bookstore. They brought scruffy galleries and playhouses, generated countercultural institutions from the upstart Doo-Dah Parade to the avant-garde Filmforum. But in creating a warm place among the alleys, they have made the neighborhood safe for designer jeans.

Ever since the L.A. Times highlighted the Espresso Bar in a front-page View article, Fridays and Saturdays have become Designer Nights for the affluent trendies to slum it. Weeknights, the regulars grumble about the influx and the rehabilitation that is "upgrading" the area. The artists and the rock bands have been emptied out of the five-story building across the street to be replaced by hip architects and dentists. The Aarnun Gallery and Filmforum will lose their lease next year. The old Union Station, which All Saints Church used to run as a free soup kitchen for the local derelicts, has been turned into a boutique called Rhapsody, where seven bucks will buy you an imported wooden matchbox. Creep ing quiche is threat ening to bury the neighbor hood in a gooey consistency.

Such a change will be a while coming, though. Carrie, who runs Jake’s Diner, is philosophical about it. "They want salad and quiche," he told me while flipping one of his burgers, "I’ll serve ’em salad and quiche."

From "The New Silver Lake," by Fran Goodman; January 29, 1982

Silver Lake is on the upswing. Once a quiet, Old World neighborhood, loved by longtime residents but unknown to the larger population of L.A., Silver Lake today is a coming attraction. With new stores, new restaurants, new shopping centers under construction on Sunset, Silver Lake is growing, and its reputation is spreading.

From "The Electronic Terrain of a Networked Nation," by Teresa Carpenter; October 14, 1983

Pressing the return button pulled up a more specific menu, which included news, weather, ä sports and — "COMMUNICATIONS." Entering its number at the prompt, I got the communications menu, which included "electronic mail." In this heavily traf ficked feature, users send what resembles teletyped messages to one another’s electronic mailboxes. More intriguing, however, was option two, the "CB SIMULATION."

The simulator is, as the name suggests, a "citizens band" on which users across America and Canada communicate in rapid one-liners fired in succession. The CBers use "handles" — Loo Loo and Gandal and Super Scooper. This sprawling discourse is conducted with the abandon that anonymity affords. And late at night, these elfish identities convene to chat and play mind games. This generally occurs on channel one — reserved for "adult conversations."

From "David Mixner’s Remarkable Dream," by Jay Levin; May 24, 1985

On the third floor of 8150 Beverly Blvd. is a suite of offices given over to something called Pro-Peace . . . Next March, these offices will send forth the Great March for Peace, in which 5,000 people will walk from L.A. to Washington, D.C. — a trek of 3,235 miles, through 37 major population centers, across the Mojave Desert, over two mountain ranges and the Great Plains. The people in Suite 301 expect the march to "touch the lives" of 65 million people.

If all goes as planned — and it is being planned rather than wish-listed — the Great March will spearhead a yearslong mass civil-disobedience campaign, here and in Europe. In the end it could equal, if not eclipse, the civil rights movement of the ’60s. Which is to say, in the next couple of years you may find yourself thinking seriously of spending some time in jail as your contribution to this bid to save humanity from nuclear war.

From "The Fire Last Time," by Wanda Coleman; August 23, 1985

Today, we are first-class citizens. Today, we have more than 100 black mayors nationwide. Whites no longer stare at black hair in its natural state. Our entertainers can cross over if they’re not too Negroid. There is Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital and Drew Medical Center. A long-promised shopping center opened in the heart of Watts eight months ago. But there is still no major restaurant, no movie theater, and insufficient low-income housing. Much of black L.A. has the exact same problems it had 20 years ago, including gang warfare (remember Slauson Village and Watts Village?), police brutality (remember the curfew for young blacks?), high unemployment and inadequate health services (still a problem, depending on who you talk to) and segregated housing.


Black awareness in L.A. was spearheaded by support for Proposition 14. Proposition 14 was the big issue circa 1964, and it went down to overwhelming defeat. The majority white electorate sent a resounding message: "NO FAIR HOUSING!" Anger simmered in the black community for months and was the primary fuel to growing racial tensions — tensions ignited on August 11 when Marquette Frye was arrested for drunk driving . . .

In a television interview this past August 13, Marquette Frye was asked if there would be another riot. "There will be!" was his response — after he hedged. I beg to differ with Mr. Frye. The black community has been defused since Watts erupted. Some of it has "relocated" quietly in search of jobs and housing. Political consciousness is at a significant low, corresponding to all-time highs in gang and drug activities.

No, there will not be a riot soon. Not like the last time.

From "Sherman’s March: The long and likely last campaign of Sheriff Block," by Michael Fessier Jr.; May 15, 1998

It was probably true that no one in the room believed what the sheriff said about his problems being behind him. He would be 74 in July, and among his challengers and closest confidants both, the speculation about his health was constant. As if two successful bouts with cancer — prostate and lymphatic — weren’t enough, or the rumored but always denied stroke, now came the kidney failure and the three-times-a-week, several-hours-at-a-time hemodialysis. It had become the number-one issue concerning his bid for another four-year term. Many saw him as a man who had fused with his job and the immense power that came with it, a 100-hour-a-week workaholic who could not bear to leave a job held a mere 16 years. Many had the old soldier’s view of Sherman Block, and said, "He wants to die in office."

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