It smells like a campfire outside. I try not to enjoy it because it's the smell of people's lives going up in flames. I see the vivid, cartoon-like sunsets and attempt to refrain from marveling at them. Thousands of people have lost their homes so I don't complain about my watery eyes and choked-up sinuses. I feel a bit guilty that it's less shock and more awe in my case. This place has turned upside down.
In Los Angeles, brushfire season is in autumn. The summer bakes our land until it's dry and crispy, then the hot Santa Ana winds sweep in and cause a ruckus.
The fabled Santa Ana winds have been romanticized for centuries. Known to Indians as The Devil's Wind, the Santa Anas are said to have their origin in old Spanish, Santana's Wind, which translates to Satan's Wind. According to research, the winds are electrified by a high dose of positive ions that make people act a little funny. These winds explain a laundry list of phenomena, from dizziness to depression. Serotonin production increases and people cry, they fight and they get it on.
In the cult films Less Than Zero and White Oleander, the Santa Ana winds are major dark forces behind the plots. The winds are mentioned in L.A. Story, the song L.A. Woman by The Doors and even in the original Beverly Hills, 90210 series.
Every single year when these mysterious winds sweep in, I always anticipate mood swings and sudden bursts of passion. But it seems the only drama brought on by the Santa Anas are injured firemen, flying cinders and a surge in homelessness. This is not the kind of drama Hollywood likes to feed on. All the Nazis behind A Smoke Free California are fuming they can't control this one, or at least make people feel guilty by sneering and spouting rude comments. And with our air clouded by free radicals, hysterical starlets are scampering for appointments with their facialists.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this, except for the starlets and Smoke Free California Nazis.