XLVI. Fire Vigil< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >

Hollywood’s on Fire 

When I first moved to LA, my family phoned me frequently about Los Angeles/SoCal fires. It's a large area out here and the fires were never nearby. “Call me if it’s ever in the valley or in the city,” I said. “And if that happens you’ll know because so many people live there that it will be all over the news.”

So, C.Sto just called.

I climbed up on my roof with my camera. There was a slight wind blowing east.

Photo Album

You can see the smoke seeping into the city.

Quick news bits:
At the time of my post, NBC news says the fire is moving favorably and things are looking good. Currently it’s east of Universal City: They are reporting from Oakwood apartments. Also, as always, blogging.la has local updates. No structures have been burned and there are no casualties. 200 firefighters are involved and it's burning toward Griffith Park. (Which means it is, indeed, blowing east.) Fortunately Lake Hollywood is nearby for a water source. The Fire Department is on point: It's impressive to watch.

It's lucky that the conditions were such that what the news has dubbed "The Barham Fire" wasn't much, much worse. If it had blown west, that would have taken us through Oakwood and the movie studios. A few of the lots let out of work early due to the smoke, which is passing as things are now under control. If you've been to any news sites you've noticed that the photo coverage on the fire has been insane: Between the many residents of LA who own digital cameras and the filmmakers living at Oakwood, there’s a lot to look at. A witness even snapped a photo from an apartment one minute after the fire started. In the photo are the two individuals who started the fire accidentally with fireworks. The "two teens" turned themselves in pretty quickly. They are from out of state.

Fire can be cleansing, good, part of the natural cycle, such as in the case of this tallgrass prairie or the symbolism of festivals like Beltane and Burning Man.

On the other hand, fire can be frightening: It jumps out of control so quickly and feeds so very fast. Over St. Paddy’s, the best friend of one of our best friends was caught with her boyfriend in a house fire at UVA. They’ve taken her boyfriend off life support. He didn’t make it. She's just woken up this week.

Fire is frequently on my mind, especially out here. Mostly because here it is a more serious matter than back east (there are no-smoking warning signs all over the hills) and we rely so much on other people being responsible, and I have seen my neighbors do some really irresponsible shit. Like setting off fireworks on the roof. After hearing our friend’s news, fire’s been on my mind even more than usual. How did that happen? How did they get caught in the house? I wanted details: I couldn’t help but wonder why they couldn't escape, and if the same thing could happen to me.

People were worried at first, but the Hollywood sign survived and (thanks to the LAFD) things are
back to normal.

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Gearing Up 

Dear fools,

From the recent lull in comments on this page, it seems that things have been a little quiet in terms of traffic.

I would like for you to know that it’s the night of April 2nd and I just received this:

Your site jessicastover.com has exceeded its
bandwidth quota in the period beginning on 2007-04-01.

Holy shit.

I went over my bandwidth for all of April. And it’s only April 2nd. JSDC has had a lot of traffic in the past, even more than last month, but it’s the second day of the month and I’m already over my bandwidth, and for the first time ever, I might add…

Of course it’s due to the new concept art downloads and links from Digg, i.e. drive-by freeloaders add up. But they’re also improving the world by displaying their new, amazing TSL desktops, so I can’t be mad at them.

Mark this as a JSDC first:

Freeloaders are my heroes,

And my site is officially more expensive (damnit!).

Update: Remarkable for the wind!
In going through all of my referer links, I found one from a Russian forum:

"??? ??? ??????? ???? ????????????? ?????????? ??? ?????!

? ????????? ???????? ?????, ????, ????? ????????

Greg Martin ? Jessica Stover
http://www.jessicastover.com/tsl/ "

I translated it online via one of those free translators (they are always 100% correct):

"Here has still dug out two remarkable artists for the Wind!

To some episodes of the book, ????, very much approaches

Greg Martin and Jessica Stover
http: // gallery.artofgregmartin.com/
http: // www.jessicastover.com/tsl/"

I love it.

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Cleopatra’s Vision 

"Give me my robe, put on my crown, I have
Immortal longings in me."

Did you know that Cleopatra killed herself?

In Egypt, death by snakebite secures immortality. It’s a rule.

Until recently, well, yesterday, most of what I knew about Cleopatra was from Shakespeare, and admittedly I haven’t read The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra, save a few excerpts. Thus, I didn’t know How it Ends. She’s such an obvious historical figure: Her popularity made her common and uninteresting in my eyes.

That has changed.

What does a young queen think before she allows the Asp to strike?

What will it be like?

                                                                  Life goes strange, backward… Rome
                                                                  now rises in the west, Egypt sets to
                                                                  the east—O eastern star! This world
                                                                  is no longer livable.

                                                                  A new vision, wherein I see instants
                                                                  for an hour: Ra’s last lights blaze
                                                                  upon me in the dusk, blind me—
                                                                  His unblinking stare, white-hot, it is
                                                                  noon on the Sahara in his inverted
                                                                  eye—Our day-lives, bound, grow
                                                                  old together—Then sleep. Everything
                                                                  sleeps. Even the sands are tired.
                                                                  Shhh… Do you hear the silent-dark?
                                                                  All calm. Egypt waits for Osiris’ call.

"With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch."

Always a serpent with us girls, isn’t it.

*All italics are Act V, scene ii, The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

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TheProfessor: I mean, this is the issue:
TheProfessor: I thought for a few years about what the coolest thing to be able to do would be.
Jessica: You do know it's a backflip, right?

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New Readers 

The hills ahead are stepped in stone,
The mountain slicked with dew,
The trails, they flow forever on
Where streams are borne anew. . .

. . .

. . .

. . .

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Business, 1896 

“I take this opportunity of announcing that the Nursery ‘Alice,’ hitherto priced at four shillings, net, is now to be had on the same terms as the ordinary shilling picture-books—although I feel sure that is, in every quality (except the text itself, in which I am no qualified to pronounce), greatly superior to them. Four shillings was a perfectly reasonable price to charge, considering the very heavy initial outlay I had incurred: still, as the Public have practically said, ‘We will not give more than a shilling for a picture-book, however artistically got-up,’ I am content to reckon my outlay on the book as so much dead loss, and, rather than let the little ones, for whom it was written, go without it, I am selling it at a price which is, to me, much the same thing as giving it away.”

Lewis Carroll—most-quoted-novelist, well-loved-writer, successful-in-his-lifetime Lewis Carroll—could not sell his quality art, and had to reduce the price greatly in order to increase the chances of doing so.

That makes me wonder.

*Excerpt is from the preface of the 1896 edition of Alice by Lewis Carroll.

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Fire Vigil 


Groggy. Refrigerator. Bowl. Cereal. Milk. Spoon...


Roommate: Hey Jessica, did you start the fire?
Jessica: (crunch, crunch) No; it was always burning since the world's been turning.
Roommate: No, I mean, down the street.
Jessica: What?
Roommate: You didn’t hear? There’s a fire down the street.
Jessica: …Again?

Unlike the recent Hollywood fire, I piddled around before finally turning on the TV to see that the Griffith Park fire was still burning. As with the last time, I climbed up on my roof to see if I could view the beast. My photos this time aren’t as dramatic because I arrived late to the party yet before the fire started burning into the night, which, as I write this at an hour so late that it's the next day, is still happening: It’s still burning and is very close to the first street of houses. There are also reports that a structure within the park has been damaged.

Earlier today they evacuated the carousel. Now, they are evacuating homes.

Smoke creeps over the tree line again… Griffith Observatory stands proud on the hill…

I’m not used to this; fire season, but after only one fire I was semi-desensitized. I went to gymnastics and then Starbucks. Then I was home for a while before it occurred to me to check the news.

Still burning.

Intermittently the sounds of helicopters and sirens. And when I hear the sirens, I hear them both through the TV and my window. That, is quite jarring.

Is this all due to arson?: A “person of interest” is in custody.

As I write this, I again visit the roof. I can see the lights of the observatory, I can see the river of smoke, I can see no stars and at least seven helicopters and the dark part where the power has gone out...

On the other side, extending toward the sea, a neverending grid of orange lights—

And I think about what it means to live here.

Check in with blogging.la for local coverage and flickr for the fire photo stream.

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