In his Monday afternoon commentaries on KCRW, Marc Porter Zasada takes more creative chances and fashions many more gems than a certain other radio talking head I could name. Today, he perked up my drive home by comparing the decline of the Roman culture with what he sees here. "Lately, I can't help watching the way we hold up our chins, the bearing of our bureaucrats, the tone of our collective laughter. I note the changing purposes of our great families and I measure our growing obsession with the personal whims and tastes of our leaders," Zasada writes. He hooked me by reading from the Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martialis — while walking on Melrose and intertwining their observations. He concludes:
As evening falls, the Urban Man takes Martial into the Urth Café and over my decaf cap I say to modern friends, "Don't worry, we aren't becoming Rome anytime soon. We have far to go before we treat enemies or undocumented aliens in such a brutal manner. Our disparity in wealth has not become so great. We are not so very uncareful of our democracy. Not so driven by our desires. Not so wasteful of our wealth. And surely, we will never be so unwise as to spend our life's blood trying to control the resources of far-off lands.
The actual tag line is here. Tuesday night at Book Soup, I just noticed, Zasada reads from his book, "The Urban Man: Staying Human in L.A." I barely know Marc, but for the record, he did interview me in 2006 for The Politics of Culture on KCRW.