A question was posed to me some time ago. One to which has been posed many times over between friends and associates, from the beginning of more civilized thought to right here and now.
If you could have dinner with anyone from history . . who would it be?
I answered the question then in the same way I answer it now. It depends. My reply isn’t meant to be contrarian or irreverent. It’s just that, to my way of thinking, history doesn’t possess a static quality. History is fluid. When we talk about the past, we usually do so within the context of our given time.
So it stands to reason that my dinner with a famous person would grapple with the issues of the day, these days. See, comparisons are useful if you’re willing to apply the education they provide to current events in order to cull a better understanding of ourselves and our time. I think people dismiss history because they’re looking for the encyclopedic resemblance rather than the spiritual resonance.
By the late seventies, I was applying my favorite Dickens novels to inflation, gas lines, a hostage crisis and the death of disco. There was a post-Vietnam ennui whose creep seemed everlasting back then. So I’ll start from back then. Imma give you a guest list, by decades, from all the way back there, to here.
1970’s: Andy Warhol. I would have asked this genius where he parked his time machine. Because he not only predicted our future, he colored it in all the provocative tints of a man whose brilliance was a stardust driven thing.
1980’s: Ronald Reagan. Because he presided over the new age of Hollywood politics. He was a middling actor who somehow forged an empire of political ambitiousness that is replicated by both sides to this very day.
1990’s: Prince. His reach is something our grandchildren’s grandchildren will still be lip syncing to if humanity is still around. His timing was masterful, his lyrics doctorate level and his talent was the gift that my generation got to feast on . . . daily.
2000’s: George W, Bush. Strange one, right? Not really. For as much vitriol as I heaped on this man back in the day, perspective has been kicking my ass over the last year and change. He was more complicated, and human, than we ever gave him credit for.
2017: Martin Luther King. His example feels like the most necessary of things inside these increasingly divided times. I would love to hear his thoughts on the chasm that exists between people of different races, creeds and colors inside of this supposedly advanced age. And I would really love to hear his blueprint for hope and peace and better days Because I really need someone like him right now.
We all do.