The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

10 THINGS ONLY PEOPLE FROM LOS ANGELES WILL UNDERSTAND

1. NO DISTANCE IS TOO SHORT TO DRIVE

It’s so true. Us Los Angeles folk, or “Angeledelics” as we call ourselves, drive EVERYWHERE. Just now, I went to the refrigerator to get a soda, or “Calorie Fizz Potion,” as we Angeledelics call it. I hopped into my car, which I leave running by the couch, and drove 9 feet to go get it. It took 45 minutes, because traffic was murder. But it was all worth it when I poured myself a tall glass of Calorie Fizz Potion, and was able to enjoy it for the few seconds of air I had left before the car’s exhaust silently choked me to death.

2. WE ORDER OFF THE SECRET MENU AT IN-N-OUT

OMG, ANIMAL-STYLE FRIES FTW!!!

3. WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF THE WORD “COLD”

You have to help me. You have to help me understand the meaning of the word “cold,” because I stare at it and I stare at it and the more I stare at it the more it looks like ancient symbols, etched on the side of a ruin of some sort. And I want to know the meaning of the word “cold,” because I think that ruin and I are the same, crumbling before the world, possessing only the knowledge that have been scraped into us, nothing more. If I knew what that word meant, maybe the crumbling would cease for just a minute, and I could announce to the world, “I KNOW A NEW THING. I HAVE VALUE. YOU CAN LEARN FROM ME.”

People who don’t live in Los Angeles speak of this “cold.” Sometimes they are angry at it. Sometimes they speak of it like it is an old lover. They talk about “bundling up.” They talk about “seeing their breath.” They talk about “being cold.”

What an amazing thing this “cold” must be. I hope to meet it one day. I will shake its hand, should it have one. I will tell it that I know what it means. And then it will whisper into my ear that I was wrong all along, and it will tell me what it really is. What it really means.

And under the weight of that knowledge, I would crack. I would shatter. I would crumble.

4. WE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THE OUTDOORS

We have buildings and houses in Los Angeles, and we drive in and out of them to keep up appearances. But they are facades. Once we are safely behind them, there are naught but vast stretches of land.

And we walk around them. We walk with our arms outstretched, shouting, “THIS. GIVE US THIS, AND MORE OF THIS, AND THEN GIVE US ALL OF THIS. AND THEN WHEN WE SEEM LIKE WE’VE HAD TOO MUCH, TEAR US OPEN AND FILL OUR INSIDES WITH OUTDOORS.”

And The Outdoors obliges. It slits us from scalp to nethers, cracks us in half like a butterflied chicken, and enters every iota of our being. And for that moment, we are part of everything. We are the sun, we are the grass, we are the flora and fauna, the searing hot day and the something something night. And then just like that, The Outdoors leaves us, taking care to sew us back together. And we stand there, arms still outstretched, begging, pleading for it to return, to free us from the prison of ourselves.

Then it’s time to get in our cars and return to the facades we call our houses.

5. THE WORM LIVES SO THE CROW MAY DIE

If you are from Los Angeles, only you will understand what this means. You will know that you have been “Activated,” and that it is time for “Stage Seven.” Get in your car and drive, you know where to go, you always have.

6. WE DON’T GO TO THE BEACH, EVEN THOUGH IT’S RIGHT THERE

This is not strictly true. The fact is, we cannot go to the beach. If an Angeledelic gets within five feet of the beach, our noses start bleeding, and a tremor takes us over. Some say that many years ago, The King Of Los Angeles made a deal with Old Scratch that his majesty's city would be bathed in sunshine 365 days a year, Vitamin C-bearing fruit would grow plentifully, and people who looked like gods and goddesses would flock to here, and in turn, be seen and envied the world over.

Old Scratch stroked his beard. “That seems like it would be a right nice place to live. It would be a shame if on one side of that right nice place was water, water as far as the eye could see. Salted water that washed up on rocks so tiny, they were almost like a powder. That’s all, just powdered rocks, salted water, and the many strange and wonderful plants and creatures that live in and around it.”

“Well, that sounds lovely,” The King Of Los Angeles opined, “Why would that be a shame?” And Old Scratch laughed. “Because I’ll give you your golden city. But its people will never set foot on this paradise where powdered rock and salted water embrace. The only people who will set foot on it will be people from other lands. Your people will stand at the edge, bloody-nosed and tremorous, and wonder why their God has forsaken them.

Old Scratch paused, and realized he was alone. The King Of Los Angeles had to take a call that was super-important. “Jesus, these fucking people,” Old Scratch cursed as the earth swallowed him back to his unholy domain.

7. EVERYONE WORKS IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY

Every person you see in Los Angeles works in entertainment. Every person you see in Los Angeles is here to entertain you. Turn to the person next to you, and just say, “Sing,” and they will sing like the rarest of songbirds. Say, “Act,” and they will perform a soliloquy about the meaning of existence itself, and the words that pour from their mouth will make you realize that we are all alone and afraid, but at least we all have that in common.

But never say “Disappear.” For if you ask an Angeledelic that, they will have no choice but to smile sadly, look you straight in the eye, and dissolve into nothing in the time it takes you to blink. The need to please, to fulfill, to bring pleasure into another human being’s life is so deeply entrenched in us, so deeply permeated in our atoms, that we would rather be nothing than see someone go un-entertained.

Open the grave of your favorite deceased entertainer. Whether they died last week or last century, the only thing you will see in an otherwise empty coffin is their final outfit. Pressed. Neatly folded. Pinned to it is a small note that all Angeledelics have on their person at all times. The note reads, “Thank You.”

It could read many things. It could say, “I gave everything, and you asked for everything else, so I gave that too.” It could say, “I have never cared about anything more in this world than you, whoever you might be. I care about you so deeply, I would have danced for 100 years to bring a smile to your face.” Or maybe it would say, “Damn you. Damn the light that emanates from your every pore, bathing me in your perfection, making me your jester, your confidante, your partner, your master, your servant. Damn you for making me that, and damn you for making me want to be that.”

But instead it just says “Thank You.”

8. TRAFFIC IS WORSE HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE

I am writing while stuck in traffic. All I have ever known has been traffic. My high-school yearbook photo is me in traffic. I was married in traffic. I grew old and died in traffic. I am in Heaven, and I am stuck in traffic. All of us in Los Angeles are in Heaven, and we are all stuck in traffic.

9. WE KNOW WE ARE PHONY, AND WE DON’T CARE

Are you so great because you are “Real”? Because you can “Feel”? Because you know the meaning of the word “Cold”?

(Oh please, oh please tell me, I promise I will not tell another soul.)

I am a pile of old trades, crumpled-up legal pads and typing paper shoved into a shirt and pants like a child’s scarecrow.

When I walk around in the vast desert behind my fake house, and let the outdoors fill me, I hear the sound of that paper rustling, and I wonder if that’s what it sounds like to be alive. Is that the sound that breath makes? Is that the sound of a heart beating?

Am I envious of you? Maybe. But my head is no different than my shirt and pants. It has been filled with stuff, and somehow granted life. Just like my Angeledelic brethren, I am a phony person, and a phony person, ultimately, cannot feel envy. A phony person cannot feel anything. A phony person cannot care if they are phony, or if others around them are as well. Besides, we have shit to do.

All we can do is rustle around, going through the motions of personhood, wondering if we’re doing it right, but not caring. Never caring.

10. WE ARE SCARED OF THE RAIN

Jesus, I just said we’re all filled with paper, give us a break.