Los Angeles after it rains
Lana Turner has collapsed!
Los Angeles is different after it rains. It’s windy and brightly blue, it’s hydrangean. The next morning, the buildings glow, as if by getting wet, with all the dirt washed off, they’ve become more porous and able to absorb light. Basketball courts and tennis courts are puddled until about lunch.
While all the clouds depart slowly in stacked rows, like a crowd trying to exit a football stadium after the game.
Rain in Los Angeles can be dangerous. Slippery streets, flooded shops, rising river. After it rains, the sand at the beach looks frumpy and pitted, not to mention littered: the runoff from the storm drains has gone on vacation, anything lying around L.A. that could be swept up got snagged by the runoff and dumped over the basin’s rim.
Tree leaves blaze greenly. Tarp encampments glisten. Fire season is now a little less frightening, and the same wood fires burn in restaurants that burn wood, but suddenly smell nostalgic.
The city is stiller, less chaotic. Highways hiss.
Between rains, weeks run together and our hair gathers dust. I never dream about rain – is that a consequence of living here? Statistics tell us it is sunny in Los Angeles 4,581 days a year. And all of the red-spined paperbacks on my bookshelves have paled to rose. But on the morning after a good rain, I find the skyscrapers downtown standing apart like sculpture in bas-relief, and the air’s sunny-cool. There’s a sense of renewal, even hope.
These days, rain in Los Angeles is a freak; any amount greater than mist seems like a deluge. And between rains, it often feels to me like we’re stuck in an endless sunny night, one of those summer evenings in the upper northern hemisphere that never darken. But then, a few weeks later, benevolence: the skies gray, the clouds spill, and the city becomes one big wet nickel.
In tomorrow’s supplement for supporters
An oldish podcast in tribute to Dolores Haze and a new one about wild chocolate
Selections for new/old/new-old music, with more news about Björk and David Sedaris
Good words about bacteria
What the what
“Meditations in an Emergency,” published Saturdays by writer Rosecrans Baldwin, is a weekly mini-essay about something he finds beautiful, with a longer piece once a month for paying subscribers, written in the woods.
Also for paying subscribers: a Sunday supplement, three weeks a month, with three-plus ideas of things to love, no paid placements 💀
Rosecrans is the bestselling author most recently of Everything Now (2022 California Book Award), now available in paperback from Bookshop, L’Amazon, or your local store. Other books include The Last Kid Left and Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down. His debut novel, You Lost Me There, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.
Books mentioned in this newsletter are featured on a Bookshop list.
Meditations in an Emergency is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.