Huston & Tujunga

The oven belches gas, sullenly but dutifully to obey orders and only mildly singe its project. Its flames whisper and crawl through the exposed sides, like any cook wanting tastes of what they’re preparing. Guiltily, hastily, after falling lazy for a few moments, the embers rush to reignite, to maintain, popping and crackling and grinning. Together they clang and complain at the task before them; together, they produce a masterpiece.

The world in a different shade: tinged and jaundiced but the picture of health, backlit and glowing and glamorous. Beautiful and alien. Heavy trees lean over, tired and rejoicing, as a woman after giving birth: both exhausted by but enamored with the fruits of their labors. Vines creep around iron stakes which punctuate the limited space between flowers, overcrowded in June. Air hangs golden and heavy, having shape and body and presence; an effervescent heft.

It is the same each time.

The same cars remain, invariably shuffled like a deck of cards, squeezed alongside the curb, tightly packed next to each other in the tiny streets of the magnificent, boundless West. It is hard to grab breath, I imagine them thinking, but despite all that (and in some ways, because of that) the air is intoxicating. The congestion, the horns drivers employ to shoot darts of rage and annoyance and fear, all in one ubiquitous package, because power—especially over inanimate objects, especially if that object weighs thousands of pounds and can crunch through concrete and skeletons with just a light touch on the gas pedal—generates both audacious adrenaline and the fear that it will all be taken away, whether by you or by someone else who is also delighting and despairing in the capacity of modern machinery.