Stories

Warm Sun: Los Angeles – Jiv Johnson

Everyone is so sad, actually. I think, maybe, we should go outside more. In Los Angeles, when I go outside, my happy girlfriend gets sexually harassed. It’s always this one homeless guy. A homeless guy near the park, always throwing cans into the lake. A bearded guy, tan lines that don’t make any sense. Seems to be in his 40s. It’s okay because he’s homeless, but we just wanted to go outside. Last week, in Los Angeles, the city bulldozed the park for health reasons. They needed to clean. I felt dirty about it but walks in the area became easier. My girlfriend seemed safer. 

The other night, someone on crystal meth went up to my friend’s apartment and, intoxicated, spoke dead languages and secret soliloquies into his open bedroom window. My friend told me he’s heard voices since last month. It’s the voice of an old woman, speaking dreams of death. She’ll talk to herself until he wakes up for his telecommuting job, at 8am, and tells her to stop. Sometimes I feel bad for her, but everyone in this city should be getting more sleep. She should eat three different kinds of mushrooms. She should go on walks, alone. She should take ashwagandha supplements. These types of daily activities can be hard, I think.

I’ve been reading cancelled literature. I read Mike Ma’s Harassment Architecture. I reread Tao Lin’s Richard Yates. I read a short story by an anonymous Nazi from 8chan. I laughed too much at some of these writings. I’m concerned that I’m beginning to relate to the bad guys. I don’t know. On my porch, I’m on my third cigarette for the day. I get to a funny part in a cancelled book and laugh too hard. I laugh too hard and the lit cigarette is on the ground, next to some dry grass. These cancelled guys have me committing arson, I think. It would be good to burn down parts of Los Angeles. Only the parts guys like me live in.

Sometimes, in Los Angeles, I pass someone with an expensive outfit at a SoundCloud rapper’s party. A SoundCloud rapper’s party is just a normal party with more mutual followers. Sometimes, in Los Angeles, I’m able to do trivia recall on the prices of certain items in any clear imageboard coordinated fit. Rick Owens SS14 trench is $2000. Raf Simons Solaris-1s are $500. A plain cotton t-shirt that is more than my rent. It’s all black. It reminds me of certain school shooting aesthetics, but I know nobody here would laugh at my school shooting jokes. I wish everyone at this party was naked, standing around. I wish we had tossed all of the apparel into a corner, unguarded. I wish this. I want to steal their clothes. I’d like to see myself in a Facebook marketplace mirror, in their outfits. In Los Angeles, I’m really concerned about how I appear.

On my road trip here, I stopped in God’s Country, in Kansas—I drove ten miles from the interstate and stopped at a gas station labeled ‘The Corner Store,’ at a flat intersection. I like to stop at gas stations on road trips. When I went in, I found a camo hat, with a black/green camo American Flag on the front. I thought it was silly, maybe slightly ironic, but I sincerely liked it. I bought it for $5. In Los Angeles, I’m afraid I’ll be antifa punched. At the gas station, I smiled and bought a ham sandwich at the attached deli. The little old woman wore a shirt that said, “Guns Rights Are Civil Rights.” In Los Angeles, this is not true.

Something about the modern Nazi has always felt off in an aesthetic fashion. Yeah, I guess Nazis growing up were always kind of cringe guys. They were always in anime club after school. Posting from their gaming computers. Hanging out. Working at McDonalds. They went into their shifts, they sold me a McGangBang (a McChicken patty in the middle of a McDouble). They run futanari pages. They admin my favorite gaming groups. They have fake accounts to influence elections. They’re joining the military just to kill. My childhood friend Jake, a Nazi, told me that he wanted to play the new Civilization game with me. He said he thought about hotseating the game, in his mom’s trailer, a decade ago. We would sit beside each other and take turns, drinking ginger ale. His dog would shit in his room and he wouldn’t discipline it. His mom would cook fried potatoes and pork chops. The combined smell made me sick. Someone in Los Angeles mentioned that these types of guys could end modern society as I know it. That might be true. I don’t know. Back then, Jake called our mutual friend Josephine an ‘ugly wetback whore,’ (not true, she was 1. beautiful 2. Filipino, like me). Everyone laughed at that kind of thing, back then, with the Nazis.

They’re dangerous now. That’s what everyone says. I was speaking to a friend the other day, a friend from my worker’s league in college, who was at the Charlottesville car incident, in 2017. He remarked that everyone was on edge that day, like they couldn’t sleep, like there was no hope, like the Nazis had won. He told me it felt like Stalingrad, in 1942. I stared at him. He stared at me. We were sitting inside of a coffee shop, my last week before I moved from Kentucky. He said he felt like he was really fighting for something. In Stalingrad, over 1 million people died fighting fascists. I thought about Katyushas in Virginia.

In Los Angeles, I felt golden hour collapse onto the walls around me. Sitting on a thrifted couch, trying to find something to do.  In Los Angeles, in the reflection of my phone screen, I feel like a background character in some video game—animated and defined by raytracing: I see my face light up, presumably, from actual beams of light from an actual large star, from an actual absurd distance away. I feel made of little pixels getting rearranged, as if each time the sun disappeared behind a cloud in California, I run 20 frames slower per second as my face redefines its relationship with the surrounding brightness adjustments.

In Los Angeles, it’s hard to think on any of these concepts. So here: it’s a warm Sunday afternoon and the Sun is creeping back into my apartment. I decide to go on a walk. When I pass the park, the homeless guy had just moved his tent across the road. He was still in my life, except a little displaced. He asked me where all my hot bitches were. I smiled and laughed. It’s hard to take things too personal, these days.