As long time readers know, this column advocates a period of clarity in celebration of the New Year. This cleansing, a vacation from one’s own bad habits, serves as a tribute to hope, prosperity and Good Luck. It is a period of reflection and redemption, a time to reconnect to the nature of the universe around us.
Over the years, the duration of this action has varied. The month of February has been popular since it is the shortest. Other times, the pressure of world factors has squeezed this event into a fast eleven days.
Today, in the dawn of 2009, we recommend a succinct and commemorative thirty minutes. Bad habits are one of the few cherished items we will have time to pack as the evacuation sirens of Armageddon begin to blare.

In true American style, we have embraced Change. Not with a nod, a handshake or a hearty hello, we have assaulted Change with a full bear hug and wet, sloppy kisses. We Americans wanted Change and we are about to be swimming in it. This is not the kind of Change where we get to put our toe in the water to test the temperature as we ease into the pool. This is the psychic equivalent of a callous father teaching his kid to swim the hard way.

The Buddhists and the i-Ching remind us that change is inescapable and pervasive. If change is a constant, then why did we have to vote for it?
Change. If Barack Obama hadn’t been so fresh and charming, we would not have been so dazzled into seeking political change. He made reform exciting and we got dizzy. We forgot that reform is hard work.
What kind of ‘work’ is it gonna be? Will it be like volunteering a couple of afternoons a month or is this the hardscrabble, Tom Joad, backbreaking kind?
Reform makes me nervous. Let’s not forget, the new management after the Russian Revolution was severely short on customer service.
I fear it’s a personality change. Obama doesn’t want me to be so selfish. Does this mean I have to pay my brother’s rent or does he pay mine? He ain’t heavy but my brother is dull, ill mannered, a poor dresser and cannot tell a joke. Frankly, I’m not even sure that I’d like to have drinks, let alone dinner, with him.

Have we really thought this ‘change’ business through? If we had taken a deep breath and a step back, America might have been just as happy with Jay Leno moving to the ten o’clock slot. The bumper sticker on the back of my truck reads ‘Keep America. Change Hollywood.’ Our antsy shuffle for change could have been a simple plea for a new Pop Culture. God knows we need one. We’re bored across the board. Maybe we just wanted clever, un-recycled entertainment with fresh, admirable celebrities. Until Brittany gets recruited by the CIA, I doubt anything interesting and new will ever happen.

Change. Changing your oil every 3,000 miles is sound advice and does not require much effort. Regime and policy change does. It’s a lotta work. It demands skillful thinking, a thoughtful reasoning and a virtue of principle. Cause and effect must flower a ‘job well done’. There must be a benefit to the cost.
A change of course can be hazardous. Shuffling the same old deck produces little. In our democracy, every decision at the helm is anchored to a founding principle: Does this empower or denigrate individual liberty? The seduction of popular opinion and modern theory often cloud the truths found in history. Here lie the best answers to the eternal arguments for the questions that have never changed. Don’t forget the baby in the bathwater. Who would you rather listen to? Tom Jefferson, Ben Franklin or Nancy Pelosi?

There is no turning back now. The eyes of the world are upon us. The ball is on the three-yard line in the final two seconds of the fourth quarter. I’m not quite sure how we got here, but when you’re snuggly, it’s too cold to think outside the covers. The devastating effects of ancient sins, such as greed and hubris, have called us to action. We can no longer wait until next week to get organized. Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, feared that he had ‘awakened a sleeping giant.’ Today, we’ve had the warm blanket ripped off the bed. Our saucer-wide eyes are the question marks to: How did it get so cold, so fast?!?
Who is waking up? What do we show the eager world? An American ideal or a gangrenous, pablum filled baby? The cadence is ‘hut, hut, Hut!’

The world shuffles its deck. This last year started at a quick jog and ended in a frantic sprint. There’s a twitch in my eye. It flutters from exhaustion, anxiety and fear, like a desperate fly glued to a cobweb. In his race to circumvent the globe in eighty days, Phileas Fogg, the Jules Verne character, buys the wood ship he has chartered and strips the decks and cargo to make fuel for the fire-burning steam engine. I can think of no better analogy. Our assets have been squandered and now we must cut our comfortable chaff. A Minimalist philosophy must replace the extra foam of the latte in our lives. It is time to go back to work.

A New Year holds the hope and promise of a better world, of prosperity, harmony and love. Unfortunately, these values are now taxable.

GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at His current show Fortuna Rising is presented by Western Project.