Thoughts and images from the semi-fictional city of Los Angeles


“You’ve seen this movie before.

A pair of young city-dwellers drive out into “the country” to explore some remote curiosity. Maybe they’re on the way to visit a relative, or tracking a local legend, or – in the most hopeless cases – taking a “shortcut” to some commercial-friendly vacation destination. Whatever the case, the movie doesn’t end well. They make a wrong turn, pick up the wrong hitchhiker, get trampled by Lady Luck and/or Mother Nature before being tortured and killed by giant insects or an inbred family of hungry cannibals.

Oddly, this type of movie frequently gets shot in Antelope Valley, about sixty miles north of L.A. Driving through, it’s not hard to understand why. The high desert landscape is naturally forbidding. Strong winds stir up dust devils in the rocky sand and the only signs of life are Joshua trees – which don’t grow big enough to provide shelter from the sun. Here, a person is completely vulnerable to the elements. The population of the valley – concentrated mostly in the western cities of Palmdale and Lancaster – is growing fast, but settlements to the east still appear inhospitable. One gets a profound sense of loneliness on the empty roads, and hopes that this is not the day the radiator overheats or a tire blows out… because, as Hollywood has proven, this is the perfect place to disappear.
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