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Los Angeles, December

A change is coming, slowly. I’m wearing ripped jeans and it’s 85 degrees. My shirt, hot white, blinding in the parking lot. Little Armenia. I’m drinking a personal six-pack of Banquets. Powerful squint.

Maybe 75, 76 degrees. It gets darker earlier in downtown. The buildings all plopped down in scatter, few straight lines of sight, fried gold inklings of sun sneaking around the corners, spilling out the seams of the skyscrapers, like the razor light along the Ritz-Carlton.

Low 70s, still hot in the sun. For two days a tired fog crawls around. We sit at The Study, a prefab cocktail bar in Los Feliz, and talk about splitting California with an ax. “San Franciscans hate Angelenos. Angelenos don’t care about San Franciscans.” I have a cigarette; it’s good to walk. If it weren’t for the fog I could see the Christmas tree on top of the Capitol Records building from here.

65 and the city is draining, all the gentrified parts of town emptying out for family, frost, a colder coast. Sometimes, in the middle of the street with ample parking, a coyote. The Americana all dressed up, crowded, lonely and stoned. The few bulbs lying around the city light up a bit brighter, so they can see each other.

Mid-century modern and mid 50s in Silver Lake. I make a mistake at the Cha Cha and wonder why I still go to the Cha Cha. Can’t escape a comforting hill, call it backdrop, call it Christmas card, call it setting. Carny families down from Tahoe run the tree lots, sprinkle Glendale, Eagle Rock.

Cypress trees sure look mean when it rains. A Salvation Army Band plays a glacial “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” inside Union Station. Easy to miss New York. Easy to shrug some pains. “You can love two dissimilar things at once, you know.” A beat. “Dualities,” someone says. The Golden Gopher is as dark as I need it to be. There’s a shadow in every eye.

Cold and cockeyed at the Formosa, I see all the ways it could be. Star map of option, city of angles. Filaments. Clammering to keep a hold on its fertility. Every person, passing through, is light and cable, my fist unclenched in the middle of the hum.

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