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California

Photo by Ryan Bradley.

The Air Keeps It Interesting

1. In the darkness it was nothing but a thin low thrum, moving to a higher pitch as it neared. The Goodyear Blimp was somewhere out there. I stared into the sky off Venice Beach, California, trying to locate the thing. A woman in a polo shirt (Goo [...]

Illustrations by Jen Renninger

Total Loss

Fire does not abide by reason. In its destructive trail, there are empty bank accounts, unreturned voice mails, FedExed checks, hours upon hours of smooth-jazz hold music, fine print written in inscrutable jargon, and the summary Laurie learned to say for expediency’s sake: “My house exploded in a catastrophic fire. Can you please help me?”

Illustration by Andy Omel

Bull Shipping

We all owe our lives to someone’s vision and someone else’s blind spot, but it’s seldom quite so literal: I owe my existence to that tumor and the sight lines that developed around it.

Illustration by Amy Friend

Late-Night Bloomers

Evelyn watched as Lawrence put the plastic bag over his head, snapped the terry-clothed elastic around his throat and affixed the tube to the helium tank beside him. She sat quietly, neither interrupting nor egging him on. She was simply there so th [...]

Jungle Jangle

sic on it, the cameras: witch-green greasepaint canopy—
pan down: the thick bamboo lattice
twine-bound—pan down: dirt with rags to gag up,

California Sun

The pool whirrs suddenly, and the bluebottom stirs, like the blue in the sky when clouds sail across its seas.The tangerine sapling may be dying, hasn’t grown in two months. Frondson palms are limp and brown. Paradise is thirsty this November. [...]

Furious 7. Directed by James Wan. Universal Pictures, 2015.  137 minutes.

Driving Off Into the Sunset

The rest of the world eyes the lives of Golden State tribes—Hollywood “movie people,” surfers, gay San Franciscans, Silicon Valley programmers—with a mixture of fascination and longing. What is the powerful appeal of the California subcu [...]

The Neighborhood

Here and there occasionalas navels and avocados droppedby the path, scarlet cardinals,puppies, squirrels, and dodo birds pop on front yards—pressed resin, pressedtin, all kinds of acrylic from China.Someone loves them no lessthan the animals tha [...]

Carol Muske-Dukes and the Art of Empathy

Muske-Dukes has written poetry, fiction, and essays addressing a broad range of subjects—from John Keats’s “This Living Hand” to Hollywood life on the inside—but what concerns her most is discovering how language used with precision and accountability can effect transformation. 

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