Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Red Wind Blowing

Los Angeles, CA

Santa Ana winds kicked up yesterday. Kind of wind you feel in your teeth. Suck the moisture right out of you, every molecule of water blown away to points south.

I've yet to see a better description of the Devil Wind, as it's sometimes been called, than Chandler's description of it from his short story "Red Wind".
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.
If you know L.A. you know that the Santa Anas can really fuck with your mood. Felt it myself, yesterday. Feeling it now, in fact. Little edgy. Little off.

I've always wondered if, like the full moon, the Santa Anas actually make things worse. Running my morning slog through stories of murders, shootings and generally fucked up happenings around the Southland, I'm not seeing anything out of the ordinary, which in and of itself is depressing.

Gang violence is up in the Valley. A biker gets busted for $8K in meth found under the seat of his bike. A woman shoots a home invader with her .38 in Palmdale.

But nothing that grabs you and says that the wind's got people jumpier than normal. Maybe it's because we're jumpy to begin with. We don't notice that extra jolt we're getting. We're all so goddamn caffeinated, medicated, nipped and tucked out here, that we can't see when the shit hits the fan. Because, well, the shit hits the fan every day. Why bother to take a closer look at it and see if maybe this shit has a slightly different texture, maybe a different stink? It's all just shit, right?

It's an ill wind. Always is. Funny thing, this is my favorite weather in this town. When the cold hits at night, it bites, digs under your skin. When the heat hits the morning, and the orange sun wobbles just over the horizon, I feel a little more alive.

How about you, dear readers? What does this Devil Wind have you thinking about?


David Terrenoire said...

I've never experienced the Santa Anas except second hand. I love that Chandler opening and I love what you wrote here. Very nice.

How's that book coming, by the way?

Ooh, you are touchy.

Break_n_free said...

Make me remember I have to water my Garden.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Book. Yeah.

See, some of us have day jobs that don't involve blowing sailors for candy bars and small change. So, we're a little busy.

That said, I'll have a completed rough draft by the end of the year.

Fuckin' Nominee.

anne frasier said...

ooh, yeah. very moody. love it. i've heard about the santa anas, but never really knew what they were exactly.

We're all so goddamn caffeinated, medicated, nipped and tucked out here, that we can't see when the shit hits the fan.

nice. :)

Kelly Parra said...

In White Oleander, Fitch begins with the Santa Ana winds and it's really strong how she describes the scene with the girl's mother. How it seems to change her.

Once you've felt the wind, I don't think you ever forget how it feels or how it makes you feel.

Great post. =)

Lorax said...

Wind is always unsettling for me, but because we don't get much here (SoCal), when it blows, we snarl and pace and piss off a little more. It doesn't help that the Santa Ana is no polite breeze, but God's hair dryer, the harbinger of more fires (and we moved here why), floods, flipped-over tractor-trailers and flipped-out behavior. Maybe.