I've been looking forward to sweat shirts. I'll be wearing one before long. But cool gusts of wind do not blow into my car window. I have not bought any new shirts or pants. There is nothing to rake, no early semester determination not to miss class. No walking down a brand new road. My lawn doesn't need raking. I don't even have a lawn here. I expect that everything will stay the same color.

At 8 am, the sky below the Hills hasn't yet emptied of pea soup, and Hollywood doesn't seem healthy. No, strike that--Hollywood never seems healthy, but at least it's normally consistent in its hopeful array of sunshiny sprawling annoyances. Shadows sharply cast on pavement. Palm trees leaning in parallel. The familiar slow pace of impatient traffic. Stoplights where there should be stop signs, impossible left turns, the non-flickering neon presence of Fatburger. Street-sweepers. Students in asspants, dog-jogging with head-nodding producers. Benches smuggling bodies, still sleeping in bunched blankets. And air eddies with the usual mingling smells of gasoline, omelets, and flowers that never manage to go out of bloom.

A single parked luxury car. I enjoy describing this part of town to myself, though it tries hard pretty hard to defy the written word. These are bits of indulgent language. Hollywood is a driving contradiction: an unsightly, beautiful eyesore entangled with a community that flaunts its mostly visual vocabulary. Dreams coming true and whatnot, the taste of developed emulsion. Get some action. Speed:

While lying in bed one morning, my girlfriend and I overhear a man speaking into a portable phone just outside her bedroom window. We are barely conscious. In a thirty-somethingish voice, the gentleman asserts himself clearly and confidently "So help me god, Lance, I didn't give her any pot." We giggle, in our pillowy blinkiness, and at that moment I realize that I want every morning to begin with a girl and overheard snippets of absurd dialogue. A different bit of dialogue every morning.

But 8 AM and overcast, the magic is mixed. Fog rolls in from the ocean and smacks against the mountains. Smog floats up from the asphalt and sits just below the tips of the tallest buildings:

in·ver·sion ( n-vūr zh n, -sh n) n. Meteorology. An atmospheric condition in which the air temperature rises with increasing altitude, holding surface air down and preventing dispersion of pollutants. Still, overcast days are a welcome change, if you ask me. Casual early-morning thoughts diffuse into a zero-point sky of bright light white. Shadows go nowhere, and for a waking, walking minute I could swear I sensed some semblance of autumn in this unseasoned dessert. For that moment, Sunset Blvd seems almost... clean.

[Fade in. Scene: A young, lanky gentleman appears walking down a middle-class residential area of Los Angeles. The usual variety of trees, apartment stacks and small pastel houses hover in the background. The camera catches him just as he turns the corner. As the shot tightens we see that he is singing to himself, bobbing his head side to side. He's wearing glasses and a faded red tee-shirt, and his hair is all mussed up. The close-up follows him from across the street, and we come to realize that he is quietly rapping to himself. He reaches into his left pocket, but finds nothing.]

MAN: Damn.

[He reaches into his right pocket. He pulls out his car keys and attempts to open the driver's side door of what appears to be a white 1979 Ford Granada. Then he is suddenly, and without warning, assassinated by monkeys. As the furry murderers scurry into the shrubbery around a nearby home, the man falls dead over the hood of the vehicle, softly spurting blood onto the windshield. A yellow leaf flutters down, alighting on the back of his head. Fade out, roll credits.]

Who's to say what thrilling, boring, intriguing or appalling thoughts went through the man's head during the brief moments of screen time that led up to his hideous but almost certainly inevitable assassination by primates?

(who are these people? are they related, or in love? who is sleeping with whom? my life and times are packed with people who i know intimately who i care about but what about these other people? where are they all going? if i got to know them, would i care about them? do i like everybody that i meet? why is lance concerned about whether the girl smokes pot or not? does lance have a mustache? who the fuck names their kid lance anyway? will every morning start to seem similar, every year just the same cycle, scaled? )

Were the monkeys angry, or should we just accept it all as the law of life? Do I wake or sleep? Is it September? Would a Nightengale be tasty, floating down from the warm wind?

I remember the film grain of fourth and fifth grade fall. When no one was around to play during those autumn afternoons, I used to push all the soft leaves into giant piles, raking part of the yard if necessary. I would toss them all together towards the edge of the woods near my house, at bottom of a small hill. And with my jacket and my jeans buttoned tight, I would climb into the big orange leafstack and hide, with only my head peeking out. I'd lie motionless for hours, alone, waiting for dusk, my mother's voice (never responding too quickly), and Square One TV.
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