This is an excerpt from a post on the Liberty on the Rocks – Los Angeles blog.
I first met Judd through a friend at the Reason Foundation who invited me to the most interesting party I had heard of: a cocktail party for Peter Schiff. This was in early November 2011.
Liberty, always something I valued and thought about as I read the day’s news had been on my mind a lot at that time.
I had been active in the liberty movement in college – rolling with the College Libertarians at Berkeley from the fall of 2001 to graduation in the fall of 2003. Interning at the Cato Institute between Junior and Senior years. Obsessively opposing the Iraq War. Failing miserably at stopping the Iraq War, I graduated and focused on a career in opinion research.
I let my libertarian leanings suffer silently through the W. Bush years. I moved from DC to LA. I worked in entertainment market research. I started eating #paleo, and hoped, like many other millions in 2008, that Obama would do good things for civil liberties and peace.
By November 2011 I realized how terribly wrong I was.
That September, a 16 year old American citizen named Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. In July of that same year, a mentally ill homeless man named Kelly Thomas, a white man, was beaten to death by the Fullerton Police Department. There was gruesome video and audio and yet, I knew, because I had been following the writings of Radley Balko and Gene Healy since meeting them at the Cato Institute in 2002 that the police were likely to get away with it, unscathed.
Occupy was out around America and had recently taken up residence in DTLA. Later that month Occupy around America and in DTLA would be crushed with a show of force that disturbed me. An empire abroad and police state at home. All powered by massive surveillance.
Judd Weiss’ party in Los Angeles was my first opportunity to connect with other libertarians since moving to that city in 2007.
Ron Paul was picking up steam in his run for President in 2008. After years of quiet despair, I felt like it was happening. A libertarian moment.
And it turns out, it was exactly that.
Judd’s sleek home, nestled in the hills of Bel Air with an astonishing view of the Getty Center and West L.A., was a magnificent introduction to the Los Angeles liberty movement. Not only that but Judd Weiss has a way of talking about liberty in a persuasive manner, crafting his message to persuade and motivate rather than to belittle and decimate the non-believer. This tact Judd deploys when talking about liberty is a mark of his background as a salesman.
At the same time I saw libertarian populism pick up steam, I saw started to notice a refinement in approach – once exclusively the domain of the Cato Institute, there were organizations like Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty and individuals like Judd starting to appear on my radar – a broader and more accessible message of liberty emerged.
At Judd’s parties, for Nathaniel Branden (my personal guru), the Ayn Rand Institute, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (fantastic anti-drug war police people), and liberty-minded speakers I met individuals who were part of Ayn Rand’s circle, work for Objectivist think tanks, make films and media with libertarian themes, write blogs, run massive activist enterprises and through this network I met Melinda McCrady who founded Liberty on the Rocks – Los Angeles in January of 2013.
I am not an activist, I am not a politician. I pursue happiness and want to network with other liberty-minded individuals in this great world city that is Los Angeles. This is why Liberty on the Rocks appeals to me so much. You go and you meet and have cocktails with interesting people. Sometimes you listen to an interesting speaker. But speaker or not, I know that I am providing a platform for other liberty-minded individuals to interact and meet each other. Who knows what could come of that? These are some seriously crafty and bright folks who need to meet others and make stuff like businesses, manifestos, media ventures and political campaigns.
If we were to get maudlin and terrible – like that Frank Capra movie and imagine a world that did not have Judd Weiss:
1: we would see the liberty movement as a bunch of neckbeards taking crappy iPhone photos in dank bars and neon-lit conference rooms around the country.
2: I wouldn’t have ever been inspired to seek out Liberty on the Rocks to replicate, in some small way, these grand salons that meshedlibertarianism, social networking and the joys of living in this magnificent city of Los Angeles that Judd Weiss hosted in his home.
Thank fully A is A and Judd’s body of work exists. We have this awesomeindividual who has the visual genius to capture the warmth, intelligence, humor and depth of a growing movement of people who believe in the strange notion that people are not the government’s property.
Los Angeles, the world, rejoice. It’s happening. Judd Weiss is awesome, and has the photos to prove it.
-Liberty on the Rocks!