Listen to/Watch entire show:
Waiting for the Red Wind<br> By Marc Porter Zasada<p> TODAY, THE URBAN MAN heads up the tight, dry curves of the Angeles Crest Highway on my way to Buckhorn. I like the way this road sneaks out the back of the city and lifts suddenly, like a chase scene in an old movie. If I were a G-Man driving a Studebaker, I-d cradle my Tommy Gun in my lap and squint suspiciously down these ravines. Those days are over, and I-m driving a Taurus. But halfway up, the Urban Man does pull over to perform a ritual on behalf of the city, and you might call it a -stake-out.- <p> I-m watching for the red wind. <p> In L.A., Labor Day does not mark the end of summer. No, it kicks off a curious two month vigil. Elsewhere, say on the East Coast, summer has ended, and soon a cool morning will blow September. Elsewhere, we-re sure they-re throwing on sweaters and kicking their lives back into gear. Plans are being made, urban men are knotting ties and hailing taxis on crisp Mondays. But here, the summer simply will not end. No, like a vaudevillian who refuses to leave the stage, it goes into cruel self-parody with a too-dry, too-hot, too-easterly blast. The skin crawls. Raymond Chandler named it the -red wind- and it got his characters itchy and irritable and dangerous. Joan Didion, bathing in the Santa Anas, painted our whole city with a red brush of anxiety. <p> When poets make their case for the -strangeness- of life here; when they identify a mysterious or apocalyptic foreboding in our streets -- they-re basically talking about September and October. <p> The Urban Man fears no poets, cowers before no Noir Film Festivals, and regrets no local meteorology. I defend the city against anxious metaphor. I say, -these two months only sharpen the edge on our famous edginess.- <p> And yet, like most, I do keep the vigil. I wait for sulfurous nights to trouble the boulevards. Listen for a sharp rattle in a high palm. Watch for a line of midnight flame along the ridge-tops. Sniff out still afternoons of -earthquake weather.- And, like most, I long patiently for a cool November rain to bless the city with much-delayed and much-desired-Autumn. <p> Up on the crest, I stand shading my eyes against a rusty afternoon sun. I look past a fold of canyon to the great anticipatory haze that lays on the city. I break off a dead branch of laurel sumac and roll the crackling leaves between my fingers as if I were no urban man, but a wise woodsman. -Dry,- I say, -Dry as an old man-s pipe on a long summer night.- Then I squint up the passes, not looking for hidden gangsters in saloon cars, but desert winds. <p> I-m sure they-ll try to slip through, just here. <p> Copyright - 2004 by Marc Porter Zasada, all rights reserved. <br>
Click the Full Details link to view the complete transcript. Tapes are not available.
Engage & Discuss
BROUGHT TO YOU BY