Summer Musings


Summer, with its extra-long days (and unfortunate adherence to DST, so that it doesn’t get dark until close to 9:00 p.m., like Alaska) used to be a lot more fun.

Back when I was still in school, summer vacation meant an opportunity to escape from something — as in, oh, thank goodness I no longer have to get up for that stupid 8:00 a.m. class with Mr. Schlap.

The best I can say about the season — since I don’t surf or tan or climb rocks or swim — is that summer is a very good time to lay concrete.

It’s too hot in this city of L.A. for outdoor activities, that is, if enjoying them matters to you. Lolling in the one of the many parks (N.B.: that’s where the trees are) is out of the question. The parks, long ago, were taken over by homeless people. Angry homeless people (can you blame them? it’s so hot).

In Koreatown, where we live — with its dearth of shade trees and abundance of sidewalks, asphalt, bus exhaust and barred windows — the streets are empty of human beings who travel on foot. That rare species tends to emerge right before dusk, and only to light up cigarettes.

Asian women in the neighborhood favor surgical masks or tinted face shields — the former has nothing to do with observing Michael Jackson’s demise, in case you were wondering; the latter, basically, is a plastic welder’s mask. Both serve as brilliant conversation deterrents.

So, what else is there left to engage in, besides work? A little so-called “summer reading”?

I’ve never exactly understood the concept of “summer reading.” Why are some books a better read in summer than during other seasons?

Are they meant to be pored over at the beach while lying flat on your stomach getting burnt and spitting sand as pounding rays of hot sun cast a blinding glare onto the page causing the print jump up and down?

Or are they just crummy, unreadable books that are meant to fill in a boring, sweaty day at the shore?

Whatever the case, I know it’s not for me. I prefer my reading a bit darker, just like my weather. I know we’re less than half-way there, but the most disturbing thing about summer in L.A. is how very much I wish it would end.

What I’m Reading:  Man Gone Down (Michael Thomas), The Situation and the Story (Vivian Gornick).

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