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Ten Scenes From Across America

September 9, 2011

September 3, 2011

5:53 p.m., Asheville, NC: A bald and shirtless thirty-something has painted his entire head red. He has devil horns sticking out of his forehead and a beer in his hand. He sways sloppily on the street, a goofily maniacal spirit.

September 4, 2011

7:05 a.m., Knoxville, TN: At the Holliday Inn, a tray of sausage gravy is brought from the kitchen to replace an empty one. As it is lowered onto a rack it steams and jiggles, glossy in the fluorescent light like a white paste.

10:05 p.m., Oklahoma City, OK: For a moment there are no other cars on the road, so that the only illuminated bit is what’s right in front our car’s headlights. The entire landscape, all the way up to the tops of tall trees, is black. Meanwhile, the sun, setting in some unseen location ahead, casts the whole sky orange (then blue).

September 5, 2011:

4:45 p.m., Tucumcari, NM: A bite is taken from the corner of a sopaipilla-this plain, unassuming pillow of puffed bread-the corner having been drizzled judiciously with honey from a clear plastic squeeze bottle just seconds after the waitress had set the plate down on the table at this near empty cafe on a glaringly bright, near empty street in New Mexico; steam spills out.

September 6, 2011:

4:05 p.m, Scottsdale, AZ: Yours truly steps out of a car and is pummeled by heat. Just squished flat.

September 7, 2011:

3:15 p.m., The 210 toward Pasadena: Smog nestles at the bottoms of the hills. To the north, sparse clouds cast shadows on the valleys.

September 8, 2011:

1:30 p.m., Los Angeles, CA: At an upscale shopping center, a movie star answers questions in a white dress. Her daughter, round faced, tugs on the father’s leg.

3:00 p.m., Thin men in all black gracefully navigate hair-sprayed shoppers, asking, “Chardonnay? Perrier?”

9:05 p.m., Old Pasadena, CA: Under slight covers, over white tablecloths and glasses, noise rises from people at outdoor cafes. Their collective sound blends with the traffic.

September 9, 2011:

6:05 a.m., Valencia, CA: Sunrise over familiar hills. Hours from now, this entire place is covered in light. Kids lounge, smoke, walk briskly. The air is tight with the anticipation of the coming year.

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