“Where did Austin go?”
Yes, I’m sure many of you have asked that and some may have even rightly guessed it has to do with the new COVID-19 world we’re living in. Well, it is and it isn’t. My problem is not the virus—condolences to all those who have died. My problem is the devastating harm being done to Americans—especially the middle class and working poor—as a direct result of the policies of clueless politicians with delusions of god-hood and so-called “experts.” Those who are the most vulnerable—those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities—are not being protected because politicians are obsessed with the quarantine of entire nations. The virus is killing the elderly, mostly with pre-existing conditions, not the masses. So why are the politicians and the media acting like it’s the Bubonic Plague when it’s not?
This is not a political post because, as many of you know, my author website and emails are always partisan politics-free. You vote for whoever you want to and I’ll do the same. What I am here to lament about is the collapse of my home city and state of 30 years—Los Angeles and the once-golden state of California.
We’ve been in dire straits for a long time here in the “city of angels.” First it was the public schools for which I had joined the ed reform movement to fix as soon as I first arrived from New York back in the early ‘90s. Then there was the slow decline of civic society—faith communities, philanthropic community, and business community. The homelessness issue was also a part of Los Angeles going back to the ‘70s but exploded into every corner of the city back around 2013/2014 because the rich wanted to develop the neglected Downtown LA and the “homeless industrial complex,” both nonprofits and developers, figured out they could make a lot of money off the “homeless.” Homelessness is not about people without homes, but a mental health and drug abuse crisis that we have still failed to properly address across the country.
Then came COVID-19 and the leaders of my city and state took their madness to levels I always knew they were capable of. But what has shocked me has been the blind compliance of average people, even knowing the policies they were being asked to follow were illogical, arbitrary, and likely illegal. That is what has disturbed me. When the dust settles so many businesses will have shuddered forever in my once-great city of LA and so many people will have fled both the city and state that there will be barely anyone left, and certainly not enough to pay the high taxes to keep city services running properly. These city leaders have already chased the middle class out of the city as they did with San Francisco.
I drive around the filthy streets filled with the “homeless.” I drive around streets will with empty storefronts everywhere with “For Lease” signs and I am not filled with despair. I am filled with anger. This is 2020 in the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Why is it that I find myself in what could easily be mistaken for some post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/cyberpunk, dystopian horror TV series, with or without zombies?
To answer the question, “Where did I go?” and “What have I been up to?” I was thinking—and deciding. My writing is powered by my emotions, and they’ve been a bit preoccupied with the anger of watching people lose their livelihoods, everything they’ve worked for, and their businesses. So many people living with uncertainty, and held hostage by the “essential” overlords who run our city and state. (Boy, I do sound like the budding Resistance leader of some sci-fi novel.)
I spent a lot of my life in politics to the point I got so sick of it I walked away from it all in 2011. Two years later I’d publish my first book. This year, I published my twenty-fourth. I should have always been writing, but it wasn’t a priority then. If you’re born with a gift—use it!
Unlike so many others, including many friends, I will not be “Escaping From LA” for Texas, Arizona, or wherever else Californians—politically left, right, and center–are escaping to. Everyone’s running away, but no one is stopping to fight in a serious way. So… that’s what I’ll do. That’s what I’ve decided. I’m going into politics—or back into politics even though I swore, I was done with it for good. I’ll run for office in the city I’ve called home for 30 years. We all know the Edmund Burke famous quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I’ll either win and pull my city out of its dystopian nightmare into a proverbial sci-fi paradise, or I’ll fail, pack up my bags, move to Sussex, and keep bees just like Sherlock Holmes.
Either way…there’s going to be an avalanche of books coming as my emotions have focus again. My creative mind never stops. The books just wait in the queue of my mind until I sit down at the laptop and write them.
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Austin Dragon is the author of over 20 books in science fiction, fantasy, and classic horror. His works include the cyberpunk detective LIQUID COOL series, the epic fantasy FABLED QUEST CHRONICLES, the international epic AFTER EDEN Series, the classic SLEEPY HOLLOW HORRORS, and new military sci-fi PLANET TAMERS series. He is a native New Yorker but has called Los Angeles, California home for more than twenty years. Words to describe him, in no particular order: U.S. Army, English teacher, one-time resident of Paris, ex-political junkie, movie buff, Fortune 500 corporate recruiter, renaissance man, futurist, and dreamer.