I spent the first night of the L.A. riots cut off in a cheap three bedroom Hollywood apartment, about four blocks above where the northern tip of that day's mayhem crested. I remember the smoke from the burning stores down the hill, and watching the horror unspool hour by hour on my TV. I remember self-medicating, with a cheap bottle of wine, a pack of MERIT gold cigarettes, and the only narcotic that's ever really done me any good--a keyboard connected to a word processing program.
The result was a kind of eulogy crossed with a tone poem called LOS ANGELES, YEAR ZERO. The essay was first published two days after the rioting began, and I have re-enacted it for radio thanks to my dear friend John Rabe at Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3-FM.
In a week rightly dedicated to remembering a great cataclysm, I think the piece still has something of its own to say about the intimate aspects of that incomprehensively vast social tragedy from two decades ago. It can be heard online here.