song: Only Shallow

artist: my bloody valentine

album: Loveless

year: 1989

You must learn to observe the world yourself because no one is going to save you from yourself. You must learn to live with yourself and with your decisions. 

There is a new sense of place in this city. A new sense of time. A new rhythm.

Our protagonist Nova finds herself thinking along these lines as she observes the Eastern light reflecting off of the arches on the 6th street bridge, dusting them gold. We meet her on the road, the charcoal concrete flowing West into the city, far enough away to appear as if the core of skyscrapers all lived on a single plane, dark and pregnant rainclouds far behind them, and it reminds her of a piece of old film clarified by the light of the sun. 

After an early morning at the gym – running, stretching, some light weights – she drives to work on 3rd street in the direction of 110 freeway. At a red light on 3rd and Main, she stares blankly at the decrepite structure of the 5 Star Bar on the other side of the street – Beer, Buds, Music, Food – and she remembers a time when she used to play bass in a band with Ryan for drink tickets on nights in the middle of the week. An occasional Saturday night if they were lucky. 

Those times were exciting and raw, but now they’re gone, dissolved in the ether, and the excitement has shifted. She’s not even sure if she knows what excitement is anymore. She’s forever glad that those moments happened, sealed in memory. A universe of stories of strange and marvelous times and she reminds herself to write them down one day. Maybe for posterity, but certainly for glory, even if only a vain attempt at it. The bar doesn’t look open anymore.

The lights turns green and she accelerates across the intersection and down the street, through the underground tunnel and past Fig, and then merges onto the 110 South. Bret Easton Ellis wrote that, “People are afraid to merge in Los Angeles,” and he was absolutely right. He actually still is. The fear is astounding and it saturates the cool morning air. Especially today, after the rain.

Faster than the blink of an eye, the day blurs forward in time and passes swiftly like a shadow in midday, and Nova drives back into the city and now it’s raining and the road is wet and she’s listening to Albert Hammond sing that it never rains in Southern California and he couldn’t be more fucking wrong right now. The spray of color across the spires up ahead becomes more dense as the lights from building windows slowly turn on, each like a small cell in a battery, and the flow of red taillights snake into the space halfway between those colors and the snow covered mountains in the distant background.

There are blue light windows above the concrete world of 7th and Los Angeles that seem to her to be carefully watching over the slow revival of the world below.

She thinks about techniques to archive collective memory and wonders if she know of any, and does it even fucking matter.