By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Thomas Kinkade -
like you couldn't tell!I was a little leery of driving into the blizzard: I've driven off a cliff. I've been smashed in the face with a rock that took out my eye. I've bled internally, my brave little ovaries on a suicide mission against their occupying cysts. It would be just like me to get trapped in a deadly Tsunami of Snow!But my friend is a real man and, as such, has a Jeep with real-man tires. We would be fine.
And since it was New Year's and I've got a long-standing tradition (like all my other traditions, a terribly fine one) of waking someplace beautiful to watch the sun rise on the new year, it was necessary that we drive into the mountains. In the blizzard. And like Maryand Joseph or something, without any reservations at the inn.
But Jesus loves us, as you already knew, and after we drove into Wrightwood, where Honda CRXs were attempting to drive the icy highway in the blizzard sans chains, and where there was no room, and after we went into Crestline, where there was no snow and they not only wouldn't let us smoke in the rooms, but they also wouldn't let us smoke outside them, and after we went to Running Springs, which was like the goddamn city, all dirty snow and traffic-jammed, where a man stopped his car to let his wife out at the grocery store, and she stood and changed her shoes with the car door open as people waited to turn behind them, completely unaware she was blocking traffic on a highway (I don't think she was overly entitled so much as totally clueless that other people exist in the world; had she known—had my friend allowed me to explain it to her, gently and politely—I'm sure she would have been very apologetic indeed), well, then we said, "Let's try this here Green Valley Lake." And we did, four miles out a stupidly beautiful, icy road, through virgin snow and past leafless trees whose every branch and twig were frozen, the sun shining gold through icicles blown up by the wind until they looked like birds in flight.
And there had been a cancellation, and we could have the very last cabin for a price that wasn't too terribly dear, and people waved from their yards (there was a snowman in every yard and a chicken in every pot), and our little lane had snow piled on both sides of its steep little self (till it seemed we were on the Canadian luge team every time we drove it), and our cabin was the dearest thing you've ever seen, homey and kind and embanked in the snow, and the owners had left some black truffle oil from Trader Joe's, with which we marinated our New York steaks, and we were very well-pleased indeed.
So as everyone is bitching that Jan Egeland of the UN dared to call America "stingy" vis-à-vis our tsunami relief—and actually, outraged and bombastic AM radio personages, he didn't; he said rich Western nations were stingy when it came to relief for third-world nations in general, and we are—well, let us know that we are pure in our hearts. After all, I gave Doctors Without Borders a hundred clams this week—or precisely one-fourth of what I spent on my fabulous New Year's getaway two days later. So that's good, right? Isn't it?
William Makepeace Thack-eray, in his timeless Vanity Fair, excoriates pitilessly the greedy and the selfish and the weak and the vain as though 1800s London and Brussels were latter-day Newport Beach; but there's nothing wrong, he says, with a well-cooked roast and a good claret. Everyone should be so comfortable, what ho. So enjoy your steak and your small mountain cabin; but don't fall in love with your own generosity while you're relaxing by the fire.
In our little town, where we witnessed a man stop his SUV to pluck a stray piece of garbage from a slush puddle, there was a little pizza place. It would have music and dancing for New Year's Eve, a sign informed us, and so we went. But the band didn't make it up the mountain ("They're from Long Beach," the manager told us, but he couldn't remember their names; still, they must be flakey Long Beach friends of ours, but when we called a few, none of them copped to it), and so the evening's entertainment was a tinny boom box playing Willie Nelson. It was fine by us, as well as the other five customers, until a bunch of OC kids in Angels caps trooped in at 11:15 p.m. It was, in a word, delightful.
The next day, after we sledded and tobogganed and played and cavorted, we went back to our little Kinkadian cabin (so Kinkadian it should have had a trademark symbol and the title Hearthlight), stuffed ourselves again and watched movies all night long.
And it was while I was watching Dirty Dancing—"But it's sexy!" I told my friend, who wouldn't watch; "They're sexy at each other!"—that I began to wonder if it wasn't, as he had claimed, the bad writing, bad acting and bad '80s music when they're supposed to be in the '60s, etc., that were bothering him, but the main plot twist: an illegal abortion.