West of Phoenix, there were lots of shredded tires beside the I-10. Did I see condors hovering overhead? or just big-ass vultures? Why were they watching the closed rest areas and abandoned gas stations?
At the first rest area in California there were flies all over the men’s room walls. A Tejano kid smiled big while getting his picture taken by the CAUTION: RATTLESNAKES sign. Welcome to California, may your reptilian dreams come true.
Soon we were cruising down the Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway, and back under the smog where I was born.
West Covina, my hometown, has become comfortably alien. The cramped courtyard of our hotel, with its swimming pool and palm trees peeking over the building, could be used to shoot a scene for a spy movie set in Latin America. West Covina is simultaneously morphing into a franchise megasprawl and a Neo-Latin America.
Later, as we headed for the La Brea Tar Pits, I saw a sign to the Byzantine-Latino Quarter. The Tar Pits Page Museum was a wonderland of Ice Age skeletons. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art offered PreColumbian ball game artifacts, and human skulls -- Aztec and Asian Pacific -- with beautiful decorations. My imagination erupted all over the place as we ate in the Farmer’s Market.
Is it me, or has L.A. -- this place that people from West Covina talk about as a foreign country -- gotten relaxed? The Yuppie Era is over, along with anglo domination. And it’s still the world’s most luxurious disaster area.
My parents took me to the opening of Disneyland while I was still in the womb, and I can’t get away from it. Besides, I need to pay homage to the Animation Gods. I was glad to see that the guy selling shrunken heads in the Jungle Cruise is still there. Waiting in the many lines was a woman in a Goth Virgin of Guadalupe T-shirt -- the halo was a cobweb. Other gals dressed to show off their ample cleavage. An old man didn’t bother to cover the tattoo of a bare-breasted beauty on his arm. Do special demons lurk in the smoking areas of the Magic Kingdom?
Disneyland is a masterpiece of crowd control. And civilization begins and ends with crowd control. But the real fun starts when you break free of both the crowds and the control.
Under the starless, reddish-grey SoCal night sky, I dreamed that I was coughing up tiny bats, lots of them. I wasn’t disturbed. The LACMA had reminded me that bats in Asian and PreColumbian cultures are considered to be symbols of good fortune.