This just in from "Dafoo" ….

Dear Tracy, I thought I would write New Year thoughts on your blog, but Mom and I could not figure out how to do that, so here it is: We’re working on resolutions here in Santa Fe, where it is colder than you could believe. It is so cold that there is no temperature, as in zero. A good time to stay bundled up, inside, and ruminate. So, I ruminate on What Can I Do to Support You on Your Next Film Project? The one that maybe is about How I Tried to Save Transylvanian Villages When I Could Do Nothing to Save My Own Hometown from  Government Policies Favoring Factory Farming, Meth Labs, and WalMart. My fantasy of somehow saving or transforming Gallatin MO is perhaps best left in the realm of fantasy. I don’t think folks there want much transforming going on. Premium Standard Farms and right-wing Republicans rule. There is little economy and no opportunity left—leaving a population of people who, to say the least, probably do not share my values or vision. (Values: work for the common good, progressive policies, open minds, innovation, reverence for higher culture and liberal education; Vision: Bring back the days of small North Missouri towns as bastions of populism, the Arts and Crafts Movement, maybe with a re-opening of Gallatin’s Grand River College, gone now for about a century, attracting a professional class to the town, doctors, lawyers, independent merchants, organic farmers, and a nationally-renowned restaurant. For a start.) Such towns do exist, not far north, in Iowa, which was not a slave state, and which correspondingly seems to have a higher regard for those things which make for a livable and progressive community. Which brings to mind my interest in the legacy of slavery in Gallatin, the aparthiedt in which I grew up—a microcosm of racial issues in America—all the issues that still swirl and have a fair amount to do with small-mindedness, fear and the ‘clinging to guns and religion’ of which then Sen. Obama injudiciously spoke. I partly grew up in the First Baptist Church of Gallatin, which then, as best I can reconstruct it, gave fair latitude for private judgment, personal interpretation of a religion of wide breadth. It was neither fundamentalist nor evangelical. The graceful old church building has been torn down, replaced by a harsh modern structure with no grace, no soul, no character—much like the religion inside, from what I hear and read: Cookie-cutter Evangelical, shallow, and focused on being right, religiously and politically. At Gallatin High, I discovered Jean Paul Sartre, and Sinclair Lewis (who had a famously dim view of small town America circa early twentieth century. If Lewis were writing today, he would not likely find much worth writing about on Main Street), discoveries that I suspect are seldom made there today. And oh yes, it was a small-minded place fifty years ago, no sense letting nostalgia run away with me. Conformity was the rule, and sexism, racism, and patriarchy were so commonplace as to go nameless and unnoticed. But there seems to be a huge difference between small-minded and mindless. Or perhaps I am  being too harsh, and need to go back there—talk with the few folk remaining whose discernment I would trust. Learn, perhaps, where the growing edges might be, and how I might help them to grow. Such is one New Year’s resolution