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Transcript of interview with Jack Levine by Suzanne Becker, June 28, 2007


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Jack LeVine offers a narrative as a real estate agent and a gay man who has lived in Las Vegas since he was a young adult in the 1980s. He first started visiting Las Vegas whenever his truck driver routes allowed him to visit his parents who had moved here in 1977. They owned a downtown sandwich and catering business called Your Place or Mine. Then in 1985 Jack and his life-partner, J.J., decided to relocate to Las Vegas. Jack soon launched a real estate career that began with the purchase of a 13-unit apartment complex. Over the years he became knowledgeable about the history of the greater community and the individual neighborhoods; including John S. Park—"the earliest suburb in Las Vegas. Jack and J.J have lived in a 1954 Mid-Century Modern home since the mid-1990s. Jack is a strong believer in re-gentrification and mentions other cities where this has been successful. His philosophy includes an explanation of the sense of community that is derived from those who invest of themselves in that community life John S. Park.

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[Transcript of interview with Jack Levine by Suzanne Becker, June 28, 2007]. Jack LeVine oral history interview, 2007 June 28. OH-01106. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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p w L3S L<M M16 An Interview with Jack LeVine An Oral History Conducted by Suzanne Becker Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 1 Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries 2010 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries, Director: Claytee D. White Project Creators: Patrick Jackson and Dr. Deborah Boehm Transcriber and Editor: Laurie Boetcher Editor and Production Manager: Barbara Tabach Interviewers: Suzanne Becker, Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White 11 Recorded interviews, transcripts, bound copies and a website comprising the Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Oral History Project have been made possible through a grant from the City of Las Vegas Centennial Committee. Special Collections in Lied Library, home of the Oral History Research Center, provided a wide variety of administrative services, support and archival expertise. We are so grateful. This project was the brainchild of Deborah Boehm, Ph.D. and Patrick Jackson who taught at UNLV and resided in the John S. Park Neighborhood. As they walked their community, they realized it was a special place that intersected themes of gender, class, race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality and gentrification. Patrick and Deborah learned that John S. Park had been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and that original homeowners, local politicians, members of the gay community, Latino immigrants, artists and gallery owners and an enclave of UNLV staff all lived in the neighborhood. Therefore, they decided that the history of this special place had to be preserved, joined with the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries and wrote a grant that was funded by the Centennial Committee. The transcripts received minimal editing that included the elimination of fragments, false starts and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the narrative. These interviews have been catalogued and can be found as non-circulating documents in Special Collections at UNLV’s Lied Library. Deborah A. Boehm, Ph.D. Fulbright-Garcfa Robles Scholar 2009-2010 Assistant Professor, Anthropology & Women's Studies Patrick Jackson, Professor John S. Park Oral History Project Manager Claytee D. White, Director Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries iii Interview with Jack LeVine June 28, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Suzanne Becker Table of Contents Youth in Columbus, Ohio, work in the trucking industry 1 Parents Sam and Rita LeVine move to Las Vegas (1977), open Your Place or Mine for Lunch at Seventh Street and Carson Avenue downtown 2 Move to Las Vegas (1985), parents and siblings 4 Las Vegas in the 1970s: outskirts of the city and the Strip 5 Transitioning into real estate in Las Vegas: television show Vegas and influence on fantasy of the city, acquiring and renovating apartment building downtown (1985) 7 Creation of community in early Las Vegas and today 9 Long-term relationships of gay couples, importance of building community and neighborhood, and philosophy of life 13 John S. Park Neighborhood: history of a community 16 Nellis AFB (1942), World War II, and the growth of Las Vegas 17 Very Vintage Vegas: history of Las Vegas to 1970 19 Transition into real estate: work on 1894 Ohio farmhouse, passion for Mid-Century Modem architecture, regentrification of neighborhoods nationwide 20 John S. Park Neighborhood: people move to the suburbs during the 1985 boom, buying a house in the neighborhood (1995), improvements to homes in the neighborhood, formation of neighborhood associations and Neighborhood Response program 23 Delineating the downtown neighborhood boundaries, and formation of various neighborhood associations 26 Influence of gay community in development and home improvement in downtown Las Vegas, creation of the Arts District (ca. 2000) 29 Reflections on tolerance of gay community in Las Vegas, their importance in building Las Vegas, dilution of Mormon power and influence 30 Importance of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Usonian home 34 Huntridge Neighborhood: first tract houses built in America? (1942) 35 Significant events in the downtown neighborhoods: recreation and subsequent closing of Circle Park, housing boom (1985-2005) 35 New momentum: ownership, historic preservation, curb appeal. Negative effects: economy, historic run-up in home prices, foreclosure crisis. New dynamic: people moving from suburbs to downtown. 37 Importance of historic designation of John S. Park Neighborhood: pride of place, tourism 38 Personalities and stories of people who lived in John S. Park Neighborhood 40 IV Preface Jack LeVine offers a narrative as a real estate agent and a gay man who has lived in Las Vegas since he was a young adult in the 1980s. He first started visiting Las Vegas whenever his truck driver routes allowed him to visit his parents who had moved here in 1977. They owned a downtown sandwich and catering business called Your Place or Mine. Then in 1985 Jack and his life-partner, J.J., decided to relocate to Las Vegas. Jack soon launched a real estate career that began with the purchase of a 13-unit apartment complex. Over the years he became knowledgeable about the history of the greater community and the individual neighborhoods; including John S. Park—“the earliest suburb” in Las Vegas. Jack and J.J have lived in a 1954 Mid-Century Modem home since the mid-1990s. Jack is a strong believer in re-gentrification and mentions other cities where this has been successful. His philosophy includes an explanation of the sense of community that is derived from those who invest of themselves in that community life John S. Park. VI ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV Voices of the Historic John S. Park Neighborhood Use Agreement Name of Narrator: Name of Interviewer: S, V LA lAi? We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded intervicw(s) initiated on 7__________as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall he determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. 'This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. T here will be no compensation for any interviews. Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7010 (702) 895-2222 Interview with Jack LeVine June 28, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Suzanne Becker So, if you want to go ahead and state your name for the record. I’m Jack LeVine. And where are you from, originally? I actually grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in the Midwest, and on the far edges of the Midwest, and I actually followed my parents [Sam and Rita LeVine] here to Las Vegas, and they came in ’79, and I came in ’85.1 grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and my first career out of college was in the trucking industry. What did you do? I drove tractor-trailer trucks with a variety of different moving companies, Allied and North American Van Lines, and we drove around the country and had a great time and learned a whole lot of interesting job skills. Had you moved a lot of people out to Las Vegas? I did the household part of it for a very short period of time, and the majority of the time with them was actually in what we called the Special Products Division, which moved medical equipment and computers and trade shows and historical things, and I personally was handpicked to move the Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian House from New York City to Phoenix, where it was set up and on display in downtown Phoenix for about two years as a major event in Phoenix. I handled a lot of big art exhibit movements for the Smithsonian and we had quite a varied history of fun tasks that were assigned to us as well as a lot of mundane ones, and a lot of trade shows that came into Las Vegas in the early days, and some of the first computers that arrived and some of the first banks were 2 brought in on my truck. So we did actually have a Las Vegas history even before we moved here, and those were the days when an entire semi-truck was filled with a computer for a bank, none of which couldn’t be done on my laptop today, but it filled an entire semi-truck and it filled an entire room, twenty-five-hundred-foot room, of a bank building, to be able to just process their business, and that’s the progress that we’re in right now. And like I said, my laptop will do the same thing that those things will do. And take up a lot less room. So you did that. You said your parents moved out to Las Vegas. Was that for retirement? No, my parents actually moved to L.A. first, in 1975.1 misquoted the date. The moved in ’75 to Los Angeles, spent two years there and actually pretty much hated it. They had friends there, there were things they liked about it, but they hated the traffic and they hated the distances and the commutes and the noise and the smog, and in ’77 they moved to Las Vegas, which presents another whole chapter because my parents, Sam and Rita LeVine, opened the Your Place or Mine for Lunch [& Catering] sandwich shop at the comer of Seventh [Street] and Carson [Avenue] downtown, which is still there today, and is operated by Renee Jacobs who bought it from them and was an early, early delivery driver for them back in the early Eighties. When my folks were ready to retire in the late Nineties, [she] actually bought the business from them and continues to operate it today. And what had they done in Ohio? My dad was always in sales. They were basically both always in sales. And they were both very much a personality like I am, very concerned about customer service but also very concerned about the relationships with people, and sales is about relationships and who trusts who. And, you know, I know when I teach as a real estate agent here, that 3 people do business with people they know and like and trust. And if they don’t like you or they don’t trust you or they don’t know you, they’re not going to do business with you, and so my parents were always very successful in the sales of whatever it was they were selling. My dad sold carpets, appliances, chemicals to factories throughout Ohio and West Virginia, big barrels of fifty-five-gallon drums of stuff that, you know, he went out as a salesman and took the orders. So it sounds like he’s good. He was very, very good at what he did, and my mother was very, very good at it, and we had quite a few adventures and opportunities that we did together. Were you involved at all in their shop downtown here? Even when I moved to town and even while I was in the trucking business, whenever I was in town I would invariably get called in for lunch at 11:00 and said, We’re swamped, come and deliver sandwiches. [Laughter] If I was in town, yes, I was put to work and loved it. I guess I’m not too familiar with it. Is it a delivery place or can you carry out from there or dine in? Oh, no, no, it’s fully a sandwich, deli— But you also did deliveries for them downtown. And we did deliveries, and we delivered to most of the lawyers or at least their secretaries, most of the government people and at least their secretaries, most of the— So you had good connections. We had very good connections. And my mother was just well known and famous downtown as Rita, and the two of them had a dynamic that my father and mother, Rita 4 and Sam, had this wonderful dynamic with people, and a great loyal, strong customer base, many of whom became my first customers when I did real estate. So what eventually brought you to Las Vegas? Well, my parents ended up here. I was already traveling the country in the trucking industry. My parents had gone to L.A., they came to Las Vegas, and of course I was already coming to Las Vegas on a regular basis as part of my trucking business, but now my parents were here and then it became the place that we always tried to get to, and ask for loads or ask for shipments that would actually take us to Vegas or through Vegas, and we fell in love with Vegas, like so many people did. So I really first started coming here in ’75 in the trucking business, ’77 when my parents got here, and actually moved here and followed them in 1985 after a fire at our house in Columbus, Ohio. Do you have siblings? I have three brothers and a sister. There’s five of us altogether. We’re all still very close and all very family-oriented, fun people. We enjoy each other’s company, for the most part. Do they live in the region? My sister and my one brother is here, and one brother is still left in Columbus, Ohio, and no matter what we say or do we haven’t been able to get him to leave there yet, and my other brother left twenty years ago and went to Georgia for a while, and Florida for a while, and then landed in Austin, Texas, and has a very successful, fun, and interesting business as a professional photographer in Austin, Texas. And that’s them. And my parents retired five years in ’99, and then we lost my father, God, it seems like yesterday but I believe in January of 2002. Yes, January of 2002 we lost my father, and my mother 5 is still here and just an amazing woman that should be interviewed by lots of people, because she’s got stories to tell and she’s got a philosophy on life that’s just amazing. So that’s how I got to be in Las Vegas is that, when, after the fire and OK, where do we live? Well, we got friends in Portland and we got friends in Seattle and we got friends in Dallas and we got my parents in Las Vegas and where do we want to move to, and I’m never going to live where it snows again, and back up, thirty-year-olds coming to a new city, go to where the parents are, seemed like a good choice at the time, and certainly nobody could have said it then and nobody could say it now but if you want to go to the land of opportunity Las Vegas is a real good place to get to. So tell me what it was like. You said you started coming out here in 1975. What was it like? What was the city like when you first came out? Well, I know that in ’77 my parents bought their house at the edge of town. Which was what at that time? At Decatur [Avenue] and Edna [Avenue], Which is halfway between Desert Inn [Road] and Sahara [Avenue] is where Edna is, and Decatur was far out. I know my eighteen- year-old brother and I got on his dirt bike on two different occasions. I was twenty-one and he was eighteen. And we rode one time from my parents’ back yard clear through the desert, across the sod farms that were on both sides of Rainbow [Boulevard], and rode all the way to Red Rock, undisturbed through raw desert, from Decatur Road [Avenue], in about 1977 it would’ve been. And then, the other trip, he said, I know a place where I can get beer, and we rode out the old [Highway] 93, which is now Rancho [Drive], and we rode and we rode, and I thought he took me all the way to Reno. And on a dirt bike, with no helmets, in the middle of the night, to go to, I think it was called the Roadhouse, 6 which is still there on Rancho, approximately where the Santa Fe [Station Hotel and Casino] is right now, where Rainbow crosses what is now Rancho. I think it was the Roadhouse. I could look it up. But anyway, we rode all the way out there to go get him a beer. Which seemed like forever, with nothing but desert. On a dirt bike it was. On a dirt bike and nothing but deserts and there was nothing after Twin Lakes, and that’s where the Santa Fe is right now, and I remember even when they built the Santa Fe, saying, Who in their right mind would build something way out in the middle of nowhere? But it’s not the middle of nowhere anymore, it’s still suburban but there’s a whole lot of Vegas that goes on way past that. What was the Strip like when you got here? Did you spend much time checking it out? A little bit, but it was the Stardust and the El Rancho and Caesars [Palace], It was nothing [to] what it is today, and there was no Bellagio, there was no Wynn [Las Vegas], there was nothing that Steve Wynn had done, there was nothing that the MGM had done. The old MGM, which is Bally’s, where the fire was, I mean we went there. Those were the kind of places that we went to. And there was miles of gap between things. Unbelievable. And it is. And we’ve watched all that grow and change. And it’s so funny, as a real estate agent who’s out in the field every day, still astounded every day, where did that building come from, where did that building go, where did this neighborhood come from, where did this part of town, where did this road come from, where did this freeway come from, where did this bridge come from, when did they open this, when did they expand that, 7 when did they widen that, I haven’t been here in a month and there’s a whole building that wasn’t here. It happens still to me, to this day, every day. And you’ve seen a lot of change. And I’ve seen it all. I can’t remember it all, but I’ve seen it all. So how and when did you transition into real estate? Well, I knew that my back and my knees weren’t going to [last], and I was done with the driving part of trucking. I still enjoyed many of the business aspects of it and the nineteen different hats that I had to wear, because people just think of a truck driver as a truck driver but I was also, you know, the scheduler and the mechanic and the truck driver and the truck loader and the truck unloader and the flat fixer and, what do I do with myself for the weekend and where do we hang out and find and make yourself a party or an event. So a jack-of-all-trades trucker. I enjoyed every bit of that jack-of-all-trades, change hats every five minutes. And we were doing all that scheduling and all that doing and all that on pay phones in truck stops. We didn’t have cell phones. How we ever did it, I don’t know, but we did. The trucking business actually continued on well after I got my real estate license. And my partner J.J. actually continued driving the truck during those years. And a part of our story that actually led us into real estate, was that when we actually came to Las Vegas in 1985, we wanted to buy some rental property and we wanted a garage. In reality, I came to Las Vegas looking for Dan Tanna’s Vegas TV show loft building that I could drive my car right into the living room, and I have still never found it to this day, and I have been 8 looking for it for twenty-two years that I’ve been here in Las Vegas. And that’s what I want to see get built, here in Vegas, is that kind of loft living. So they were really ahead of their time when they made that show, with that concept. Oh, yes. But it had an influence on my fantasy of Las Vegas, and I came here looking for that building. What I ended up with, was thirteen units of apartments on Stewart Avenue, between Tenth [Street] and Eleventh [Street], about five blocks due east of City Hall. So a little bit different than what was on the TV show. A little bit different than the [TV show]. And what we inherited with those apartments, because we bought the apartment but we inherited ten little old ladies. So we were talking about, you came out here looking for the cool kind of futuristic loft space that was on the TV show— That still doesn’t exist today, no matter how hard we try to build it. But we’re getting there. But what you got instead was? What I got instead was thirteen apartments, all little one-bedroom apartments, on Stewart Avenue between Tenth and Eleventh. They’re still there. They’ve just been repainted, they’ve just been re-fenced. It’s the one piece of real estate that I regret ever having sold. But we lived there for eight years, and when we moved in, we inherited ten little old ladies, who lived there on their fixed-income budgets, and, with few exceptions, were pretty much all estranged from their children, for whatever reason, and their grandchildren. But it was a very interesting diverse mix of ladies because there was this little black lady named Dorinda who was thirty years a hotel maid at, oh God I don’t remember, I believe at the Stardust. And worked there for thirty years, and retired, and 9 she had SI 12 a month pen won from Culinary (Union), and the had S512 a month Social Security income And there mss Eunice. who had lived at the other end of the building, clater to us. and Eunice was on about $700 a month fixed income, and they were paying us $275 a month rent foe these little one-bedroom apartments And these rundown, slummy , scummy places that we proceeded to start to fix up and clean up and make their Uses better And all of these people immediately fell in love with Psyche, who was the mixed- breed Border Collie dog that had traveled the whole country with us and had a million miles under her belt and had nev er had a leash on in ten y ears of traveling the country in a tractor-trailer truck, and never was on a leash And Psyche came to live with us at these apartments and of course the truck was gone, and back on weekends, and at that point that we did that, we ended up doing a whole West ('oast route for Allied Van lines, and JJ. and | were taking turns as to who went out for a week, and then one of us was here for a week and one went for a week and then we traded places for a week and did our route, hauling antiques and computers and always trade shows every week in and out of las Vegas Had a great lime, it was a great setup for us. And we proceeded to fix these apartments up and get them clean And there were ten people there And the first person who we rented to was a gentleman named Paul Mdiregor He only just passed away Uus last year And Paul Mdiregor was a professional poker dealer, and very, very famous in the (united poker world, which is nothing like the poker world today But there was a poker world and a whole senes of the Doyle Brunsons and the sixties, seventies, eighties professional poker players and the old world senes and Paul was well known in all of those circles, and he was ooc of our first 10 neighbors that we hired into. He was six-foot-nine, 450 pounds, an enormous, enormous man. Very, very interesting. Stayed friends with him all through the years. But we stayed in those apartments till all the little old ladies had died off. And we actually paid for their funerals and we actually took care of their estates and we actually called their children who could’ve cared less, and we don’t understand how these wonderful ladies could’ve been estranged from their children. But I know they knew to the penny every month, every one of them, how much bingo money they had left over. And they had a little community there, and many of them didn’t even hardly know each other, till we got there, but we all became family. And then Psyche, we had to put dog doors in four of the ladies’ apartments, because Psyche spent her day visiting each and every one of them, traveling back and forth, up and down the row of apartments. And Dorinda and Eunice on the two opposite ends became the neighborhood watch because nobody could even come close to either end of the property that everybody’s phones didn’t go buzz. And a great deal of every day was spent deciding on what they were going to cook Psyche for breakfast or dinner. And Psyche ate way better than we did. But that was some of our early life in Las Vegas. And it was a great setup. And four blocks away was my parents’ sandwich shop, at Seventh and Carson. And we would run over and deliver sandwiches. I’d be hungry at midnight, I had a key, I would just go in and raid my dad’s icebox. He never knew where that pastrami went. But we kept ourselves fed out of my folks’ sandwich shop and we kept the little old ladies and we cashed their checks and we took them to the bank and we took them to the grocery and we took them to their doctors, you know, and Eunice drove way longer than she should 1 11 have but she did a lot of the chauffeuring and we had to do a lot of that after we actually had to take the car away from her and she didn’t talk to us for three weeks, but we weren’t ever going to be the one that had to come and identify her body or who she took out with her, and we had to do that. She was eighty-four years old. Lived another three years after the car. So, I mean, that’s such a great story, and one of the things that Las Vegas is accused of often is lacking community, lacking neighborhoods. Do you think that that’s true or do you think that that experience that you guys had would happen today, in the current Las Vegas? I know that every community needs a leader, and a personality, and a group of people to follow that personality. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a whole city following a mayor, or one wacko crazy gay guy with a whole bunch of little old ladies in a thirteen- unit apartment building, or, in reality what I’m doing right now, or the world that my mother built around her little sandwich shop downtown, of a community of downtown workers who had a place to go for lunch, where they were greeted by name and were introduced to whoever else was in the building at the time, and it created a whole different world, it created job opportunities for people, because people moved around because of contacts they made at a sandwich shop downtown. Those kind of communities is what the whole world has always run on, and no, they’re very wrong about that. And what we have done is hidden in the suburbs, behind our block walls and our gates, and that reputation is [community today]. But we’ve had a downtown community here for years and years and years and years. And when I finally sold the apartments in 1995 and moved into the house that 12 we’re sitting in today, which is an amazing Mid-Century Modem post-and-beam construction, beamed ceilings, on a pie-shaped lot at the end of one of the few cul-de-sacs downtown, and I moved out of one really scummy part of town into what was also a scummy part of town, even in 1995, what I’m out selling right now as the cool place to live, was covered in graffiti and covered in junked cars and eight out of ten homes were rentals, and the other two were original owners who hadn’t moved out yet but wanted to. They wanted to flee, and for whatever their reason was, they didn’t, but everybody else had. And it was a period of time when we had new construction homes all over the valley in a huge circle, only still five, six, seven, eight miles out, without the kind of traffic, at the point when Las Vegas hadn’t even turned to a million yet, nevertheless about to turn to two million. And at that point in time you could actually live in the furthest house out, the same way my mother did in 1975, at Decatur, you could live in the furthest house out in 1995 and that only took you out to Durango [Drive]. That is still amazing, because in twelve years, I mean that’s a very short time for what’s happened here in Las Vegas. It is. No, there is no city in the world that is literally a brand-new city. When I say I live in an old house in Las Vegas, it was built in 1950s. Yeah, I was going to ask you when this was built. This house was built in 1954. OK, with so many other houses in different parts of the country are built at the turn of the century— 13 Oh! But people who grew up in St. Louises and Columbuses, and J.J. and I cut our teeth on an 1894 farmhouse in Columbus, Ohio, that we bought when we were twenty-one- year-olds. There’s another interesting part of the story here, and I know I want this recorded for posterity, is that J.J. and I have just finished thirty-two years together and we’re both only fifty-three years old now. And we’ve been together for thirty-two years, and I picked him up hitchhiking in the truck. And we’ve been together ever since. And you asked about building community. We have built a community around ourselves and a family around ourselves, with our own peripheral families as part of the bigger family, but we have built our family, wherever we’ve been and whatever circumstances we were in, and so do most of the people that we know, have built their own little families and their own little communities. I mean I’m very proud that we’re a gay couple that have been together thirty-two years, since 1975. It’s an amazing thing. But it’s not amazing that we have lots of friends who have been together thirty years, and twenty-five years, but they’re mostly sixty-and-seventy-year-old men, and women, and they mostly got together when they were forty because that’s what always happened was, in reality, gay people finally settled down at thirty or thirty-five or forty, and very, very often stayed with their same partner for the next twenty, thirty, forty years, probably even at a similar rate, as the straight couples who got together and stayed together, like my parents who, you know, my father died when they were already married fifty-four years. Would’ve come up on sixty years this year. It’s not an unusual occurrence. And community, and neighborhood and bonding and friendships, is what makes the whole world move around. And I wish some of our governments would get an idea of 14 that because we could behave that way with other countries, too. And we often don’t, and they often don’t, and it turns into wars and it turns into ugly and it turns into bad reputations and it turns into failed children and failed relationships and foreclosed houses and homeless populations, when it doesn’t work. But it is the model that’s real for America. It is what we’re supposed to be. I think it’s a great model. And when it doesn’t work, it turns into homelessness and it turns into prison cells and it turns into all kinds of things that it doesn’t have to be, and it turns into bitter divorces and screwed-up kids. But when it works, it works beautifully. And every marriage that comes together is supposed to be that. It’s supposed to be people joining together for mutual benefit. Not only for the benefit of themselves, but in my world, in my way of thinking, to come together for the improvement of the world around them. And I don’t have any influence over Iraq or influence over Russia or influence over George Bush, but I do have influence over the small world that I’ve built for myself. And I wake up every morning saying, I’m making my world a better place. And I don’t want to be here anymore when I have to wake up and say, I’m contributing to making it a worse place. That’s when I don’t want to be here anymore. That is a great attitude. And as long as I can do that every day. We need more. And I try. I preach it, I teach it, you know. I mean I’m an atheist, I’m a Libertarian. I’m not doing it from any moral thing, from any religious coming and goings. It has nothing to do with all of that. It has to do with humanity, and who I believe humans are and what 15 we were really meant to be here on Earth, which is, small groups of people coming together and those small groups combining with other groups and those groups combining with other groups to make bigger groups, and that’s what creates society. And really that’s what different neighborhoods and different communities are: groups of people coming together. It is. But it has to start in each person’s individual life. Because it’s funny, there’s an old, old joke, I think my dad told it to me when I was a little kid, about the two barbers cutting hair and one guy in one barber’s chair is saying, I’m new to town and everybody’s mean and nasty and ugly to me and everybody’s unfriendly and nobody will—OK? And in the very same next chair over the guy is saying, I’m new to town and everybody is fabulous. They wave, they say hello, they smile, they’ve offered to do things for me. And the barber looks at the two of them and says, Well, what kind of place did you come from? And the guy with the great experience said, Well, where I came from was just li