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Monday, Jun 5, 2023

Terrible Trio Takes Its Toll but This Too Shall Pass

The sky really is falling, Chicken Little! Our north-of-Mulholland and slightly-south-of-Paradise community is being tested mightily with a trio of trials. Two of the three are strictly local, while the third is running rampant around the globe. The crash of Metro 111 in Chatsworth, the disastrous fires in the Porter Ranch and Lake View Terrace areas, and the international economic meltdown combined, they are enough to give the staunchest Valley heart a measure of misery. The ever-larger TV screens that sit in our living rooms, with the every-blemish-revealing clarity of high definition, only enhance the horror of twisted metal and the mountains of flame and innocent-looking-but-deadly showers of embers occurring but a few miles from our homes. It was less than two months ago, on September 12, that a Metrolink commuter train hurtled down the tracks and plowed into a Union Pacific freight locomotive, killing 25 people and injuring 135. It was the nation’s worst train accident since 1993. From all preliminary reports, the head-on accordioning of the two trains was the result of the passenger train’s engineer texting instead of engineering. Will it serve as a wake-up call for all those people who still misuse their cell phones while operating vehicles? Don’t bet on it. And almost exactly one month to the day after those two trains collided in a mechanical kiss of death, the northern end of the Valley exploded in flame. Our annual fall recipe of Santa Ana winds, end-of-summer heat, and low humidity once again whipped up an unwanted desert of destruction. We heard not the Snap! Crackle! and Pop! of Rice Krispies, but of dry chaparral and brush exploding into fiery flame. Displaced residents, terrified horses, property in peril we’ve seen them all before and no doubt will again. And yet, amidst the heat and hell of both disasters, our emergency responders police, fire and paramedics did their jobs, not just well, but consummately well. The third of the Terrible Trio we have had to endure is the national and international financial meltdown. The eyes glaze over, the brain atrophies, and the hands go clammy when trying to understand the complexities that caused the precipitous decline of the stock market. Look at the empty storefronts along the Valley’s commercial streets, notice how non-profits are scrambling more than ever to overcome shortfalls in contributions, listen to the sounds of your investments hitting the floor with a sickening thud. And the struggles Mr. Everybusinessman faces are exacerbated by the unconscionable severance packages and buyout bonuses departing failed corporate executives take away, not the least being this column’s favorite whipping boy, the former honcho at Countrywide Financial, as well as the likes of Merrill Lynch’s Chairman and CEO Stanley O’Neal and Citigroup’s head Charles Prince. Our collective angst is only exacerbated by the seemingly-never-ending Presidential race, with its tinges of racism and sexism, and overt negativism. Depressed yet? Well, don’t bet against the resilience of the Valley’s businesses and residents. After the Northridge Earthquake and many other fires and traumas, we picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and started all over again. The film from which that song came was a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers bit of fluff from 1936, Swing Time. That was the height of the Depression, a time in which Americans faced rougher times than we now, or will, face. These Dorothy Fields lyrics are worth thinking about, 72 years on: Now nothing’s impossible I’ve found, for when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Don’t lose your confidence if you slip, be grateful for a pleasant trip, And pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start over again. Work like a soul inspired until the battle of the day is won. You may be sick and tired, but you be a man, my son. Will you remember the famous men who have to fall to rise again, So take a deep breath, pick yourself up, start all over again. The Metro trains are running again, the vegetation turned to ash in the fires will regenerate itself, and destroyed property will be rebuilt. Even now, we can hope that the Economic Alliance, UCC, the Valley’s Chambers, VEDC, and other organizations, are working, individually and in tandem, to help rebuild the economy in our little corner of the world. We still have the word’s greatest weather, a diverse business base, and a hard-working and well-trained workforce. All we have to do is pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. All we have to fear is fear itself. President Franklin D. Roosevelt Martin Cooper is President of Cooper Communications, Inc. He is President of the Los Angeles Quality and Productivity Commission, Founding President of The Executives, and Vice Chairman-Marketing of the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley. He is a Past Chairman of VICA, Past President of the Public Relations Society of America-Los Angeles Chapter, and Past President of the Encino Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mcooper@coopercomm.net

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