Thursday, September 29, 2005

fried my little brains

the santa anas were blowing so fiercely this afternoon. it was hot. following a bad moment at work, i fled to a bench in the shade of the tower to brood. i took my ipod and played the kills' no wow. ate my lunch and drank a huge iced mocha. the sky beyond the shadow was vivid blue, the sun eye-achingly bright. i sat on the bench where the smokers congregate, facing into the arid wind, sunglasses on to protect my contacts. my hair blew straight back. an acrid smell of cigarette smoke curled into my nostrils now and then. across the street, a huge blue tarp billowed like a loose sail from a building being renovated. caught in the gusts, it flapped up and down, exposing and obscuring the blasted guts between a bland facade.

dark tiles on the concrete made a crossroads pattern directly beneath my feet. the music rattled and rumbled and shimmied, and the wind drove on. my sinuses were desiccated; my brain was starting to dry out. it was not a pleasant sensation, but it felt good. i was in the wind. turning to dust.

but the santa anas, famously, have their diabolical side as well. for fires rage all around the city and beyond. we saw one from the window of the ivory tower, far off to the west. later, another column of smoke rose over the hills nearer to us, somewhat left of the HOLLYWOOD sign. as twilight fell, the sky that had been so incredibly clear yesterday -- a rare and marvelous wonder, and a welcome sight to me upon returning from my two-week u.k. jaunt -- was smeared with brown and purple murk. the basin filled up with it. tonight as i waited for the elevator, i caught a whiff of the smoke, on the 22nd floor. at ground level the smell became stronger. the air was cooler, and the wind had died off. but the odor of incineration only intensified as i headed up the canyon.

now the air is thick with the burning smell. outside the street looks faintly foggy, the canyon blurry. the haze is in my eyes, ears, mouth. my steak tasted of ash. it is not too easy, and even less pleasant, to breathe. it is worse to think of what the smoke means. people are losing their homes, businesses ... animals are losing their habitats and probably their lives. they are in the wind. turning to dust.

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