I spent last Sunday up in LA, and among other things I went out to Rodeo Drive to take pictures of the beautiful people as the sun was going down. Here was my strategy: I sat down in a chair and snapped a picture of everyone crossing Brighton Way. Pretty simple. Now, some people will tell you that small towns are the real America, but I figure that Beverly Hills is the real real America. What’s more American, after all, than vast, ostentatious wealth in the middle of one of the nation’s great cities?

So here you go: pictures of real Americans, interspersed with images of Americana from lunchtimes past, all set to Kelly Clarkson singing “America” at President Obama’s second inaugural. Happy 4th!

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Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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