If you Google “Culture11” you’ll find a ton of entries that say “My article at Culture11”. That’s because, in addition to tons of content from established (and David Brooks approved!) writers, the editors went out of their way to find young or undiscovered talent and give them a forum to write in. It made for a much livelier and more complete discussion, and was a real credit to the imagination of the architects of the site and to the willingness of the editors to let quality rule and give whoever was honest and well-spoken a shot.
I say this today because, sadly, Culture11 is shutting its virtual doors. It’s a damn shame, and yet another casualty of this terrible financial affliction which is decimating our economy and depriving people of their jobs by the thousands. In addition to lots of great features and profiles, they had grown a truly top-notch blog stable. And, though it amounts to little in the grand scheme, they were the first to ever say to me, “Freddie, we’d like to trade you legal tender for your incoherent ramblings.” For that I’m forever grateful.
Not much else to say, I’m afraid. Among the people who worked there were many talented, smart and friendly folks. Plus there was Joe Carter. (I kid! I kid!) All of them, no doubt, will surface in other fora, better than ever, and I’m looking forward to it. But it still sucks, and it sucks for more deserving people to be out of work. I’ve written many times before; large numbers of unemployment is more than a problem for our democracy, it’s a fissure in our fundamental social contract, that if you are willing to work, you can earn some small slice of security and American abundance. People think I’m an anti-capitalist, but I’m really not; I just have always felt that our largesse and consumption had swelled the distended belly of our American ideal to such a degree that fault lines had sprung up all over. Now many of those cracks have spouted gaping leaks, and what we have made of our American dreams is threatened. You’ll forgive my melodrama; difficult times lie ahead for this country, and we as a culture will soon be getting back in touch with need. The people who worked at Culture11 will move on and thrive. Will our country? Night after night, lately, I’ve come to wonder whether my quiet invocations of the lost America of my youth are odes, or elegy….