All Fires Have to Burn Alive To Live
by Molly Lambert
When I try to quantify what I’m afraid of, it always ends up being more abstract things like “aging” and “autonomy” or “rapists who kidnap young girls.” The last one, by the way, was almost certainly the result of Polly Klaas.
Actress Winona Ryder, who had been raised in Petaluma, offered a $200,000 reward for Polly’s safe return during the search. After Polly’s death, Ryder starred in a film version of Little Women and dedicated it to Klaas’s memory, the Louisa May Alcott novel having been Polly’s favorite book. The producers at first wanted to remove the dedication. Ryder then said she would not do any publicity for the film if it was removed, so it remained in the film.
I loved Little Women. I pretended to cry when Beth (Claire Danes) died and was really upset when Kirsten Dunst grew up into some other chick and married Christian Bale. I guess it just seemed tacky. Like, you can’t find some other chick who is not also Jo’s sister? Anyway, I digress. “I digress” tends to apply for everything about me.
Yesterday I found out what I’m really afraid of.
I was at work all day, so I kept hearing about it from other people but didn’t really experience it firsthand til about eight when I got off. Needless to say, the sky was all purple there were people running everywhere. I didn’t necessarily realize the extent of it until I was driving west on Sunset to pick up food and it became apparent that the hillside was totally fucking on fire. It looked like a death metal song.
One newsradio eyewitness kept describing it as looking “basically, like hell, with big orange flames and black plumes of smoke.” That is a pretty good description. it also looked to be a lot closer to the observatory than it was. Some people I know were evacuated, but no houses even got hit. score one for the LAFD. I myself was convinced that where humans and nature are concerned, humans are doomed, but they managed to reel it in somehow while I was asleep.
If I were the sort of person to believe in symbolism I might think this fire were emblematic of something else, perhaps the cleansing power of menstruation, or the all-consuming lust for organic products I see demonstrated at work. but I am not one for magical thinking, and I’d like to believe it was a coincidence that it occurred a few days after a friend set an 8 foot long wax boat on fire in the Echo Park lake at dusk.
I had also been thinking then, man fire sure is terrifying, it’s like ice-9 but hot. or prions. Or even controversial crystal-meth/future outer space disease morgellons. It was beautiful, like Waterfire if it were not totally and completely ghey.
Speaking of environmental art installations, for a 9/11 moment, this was our Guantanamo. but sadly, the choppers put it out before we could finally free ourselves from these casketlike bodies and race riot in the streets while our city burns to the ground like The Day Of The Locust at Fahrenheit 451.
Anyway, the world is a terrifying place, and the universe is so much more terrifying that we are lucky we will all be dead before we get to colonizing other planets in space with robots and all that other creepy sci-fi shit that is absolutely going to go down at some point in the future. If science saves my brain, I will totally time travel back and blog about it.
So in that spirit, some photographs by spooky California resident Charlie White that may dislodge something deep inside you:
Charlie White wiki
Charlie White at The Morning News.
Molly Lambert is a senior contributor at this recording. The recipient of numerous playwriting prizes and honors, she lives in Echo Park, California.