Over at the OC Weekly, Red Emma recalls Juan Flores, deals with the heat and reads a new book by Deanne Stillman.
Juan Flores Rides, and Falls, Again: Deanne Stillman's Desert Reckoning
I swear this heat is messing with my sleep, so that when I woke at four the other morning it was as if the accumulated bodily discomfort of the previous day's scorching here in Modjeska Canyon had stuck around, morphing into some kind of itchy psycho-emotional discontent, a near-existential nervous affliction. I gave in, made coffee, paced, couldn't settle down, write, even think, so I read. It's usually a palliative, though in my choice of material, ironically, if found myself in an even darker and more spooky place than my restless angst. Yet the opening chapter of Deanne Stillman's newest noirjournalistic meditation cum regional history of our nearby doomed desert hinterlands brought things into focus, first distracting me and then opening up via its reliable (from the excellent Stillman) clarity, energy and seductive prose a path to appreciating the wider ecology, of fate, fear and un-forgiveness. I read till daylight, fully transported and engaged, and thought later that perhaps the elements had conspired to give me exactly the kind of perverse wake-up call, as it were, I had perhaps needed.
|A peak at violence|
And, in the dawn, I took a gander out my window at Juan Flores Peak on the other side of the canyon, the iconic if historically unreliable and geologically totally unimpressive escarpment where the legendary bandit was, we are told, captured. Apocryphal or not, this promontory is reputed to be the exact spot of violence and violence arrested, but of course it is also the easy psychic landmark where good and evil meet in the Orange County imagination. It's the prompt for the murderous trope that the rural and wild-living locals here like, and a tale retold by Stillman--not gratuitously, for once (!)--but actually toward contextualizing or explaining that her more recent story of outlaw madness and anti-social is, somehow, not so new.To read the rest, click here.