“There is a curse. They say: may you live in interesting times. ‘May you live in interesting times’ is the worst thing one can wish…”

― Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times

The news this week is bleak. The nation is still shaken by the January 6 Capitol coup attempt by supporters of Donald Trump that left five dead, including a police officer. 

COVID-19 continues to spread at an alarming rate, with nationwide fatalities rapidly headed for the 400,000 mark. Hospitals in California are struggling to supply oxygen, and growing numbers of the dead are stored in refrigerated trucks because there is no room for them anywhere else. Los Angeles County remains the epicenter of the crisis in the state. New recommendations include staying close to home and not traveling more than 120 miles. Californians who must travel out of state are asked to quarantine for at least 10 days on their return, and travelers from other states are discouraged from coming to California, except on “essential” business. 

This is life in interesting times, but just because it’s a dark time doesn’t mean there isn’t still light, or that we can’t neutralize the curse by learning from current events and working to change our trajectory.

In this issue of TNT, contributor and novelist Diana Mathur shares a dark chapter from her fiction series The Linden Tree and the Legionnaire, about the horrors of life behind the Iron Curtain in Latvia in the early years of the Soviet regime. It’s a fictionalized account of real events and it is timely.

On a less grim note, we have two columns that reflect on our power to change the direction of history for the better. Jimmy Morgan makes the case that life isn’t so bad, in his look at evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker’s refreshingly positive take on modern life, Enlightenment Now: The Case For Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Suzanne Guldimann reminds us of the future we narrowly avoided in the Santa Monica Mountains, one with wall-to-wall development instead of a national recreation area.

We also take a walk on the beach as an antidote to stress, and meditate with life and business coach Olivia Pool, finding respite from the perpetual barrage of technology that defines life in the 21st century. It’s a welcome reminder that we aren’t helpless, that we all have agency, even if it’s just the willpower to stop doomscrolling and remember to breathe for five minutes.

TNT has a new feature this issue: Newsbeat, a place for local news and information. It’s an optimistic feature, one that looks towards the eventual end of the pandemic and the return to community events and activities. It’s also a place for organizations and individuals to share their news, whether it is a new book or a new baby, an award won or a reward offered. Submissions are welcome. hello@topanganewtimes.com

We were saddened to learn of the passing of longtime Topanga resident Nadine Bozon-Vialle. Nadine was a multimedia artist and graduate of the Beaux-Arts Academy in her native France. Beginning in 1987, she worked with husband Ron Corona at their company, Environmental Sculpturing, and was responsible for much of the design work of the company. Nadine loved hiking, nature, animals and local history. She volunteered for many years at the Adamson House Museum in Malibu, sharing her extensive knowledge and helping to develop and organize tours and docent programs. She was kind, funny, and generous: a good neighbor and a bright light.

Stay safe, be well.