the greatest sunset in history

- by Josh Saxe

it's a normal tuesday evening for the people of L.A. - millions - mostly working folk, sitting in their cars in the choked arteries of the freeway system, necks stiff with exhaustion. the unemployed sit at home feeling empty, harried single mothers prepare simple dinners for their kids who play in the dirty streets. at first almost no one notices the sun descending beyond tired residential low-rises - the sky catching flame, sun jets swimming through salmon clouds in straw rivers that roar down olympic, pico, and wilshire soaking crevices in ghetto sidewalks, bathing stacks of unwashed dishes in rusty sinks, washing cigarette stained carpets, filling thin spaces between glass cups and smudged restaurant tables. streams of amber laced purple sailing from where sky meets sea through sheets of smog, splashing on graffitied walls and ice cream trucks, lighting tarred eyes of little girls on rusty swings, softening syringe wrappers, 40oz bottles and used condoms in macarthur park, spreading over the LA river like an exotic burning oil
then housewives, the unemployed, kids, security guards, homeless people and street vendors take notice, jaws dropping
next drivers glance up -awestruck- producing 4,000 fender-benders on the 10, 5, 405, 605, 210, 710, and 101 freeways, 26 planes crashing; amidst the initial chaos looters and petty thieves in impoverished neighborhoods begin to make off with millions in retail items and set fire to 3 police stations and sections of the staples center, but soon they freeze and stare up in wonder
tangerine lava flows from cloud to drawn cotton cloud in stellar jets and cosmic pulsations igniting the tired westside in miles and miles of sputtering flame, splattering the hollywood hills, flowing like saffron syrup down the flanks of mt. griffith, hardening in ice angels that smile over the vast urban sprawl
now everyone seeks the sky like moths to flame
data-entry workers and clerks hurtling slippery white desks and pushing through carpeted cubicles in a rush on soundproof highrise windows, truck drivers slamming dented rigs over curbs pressing faces to windshields, roofers stumbling and kicking heavy steel buckets of tar that puddle like sky-saturated mirrors on green groomed lawns, spectacled accountants in bank branches hitting beige stacks of 20s that hang in the air as they rush head over heels past red exit signs, the chief of police dropping his phone and gargling under the firey sky in impotence and awe. misogynist men withdraw in mid-orgasm, faces alight in tawdry bed-rooms, waitresses drop greasy chicken caesar salads on stained brown carpets and linoleum floors, collapsing and praying before dusty windows, prayers pigeon-flocking over the long asphalt streets. hundred strong ranks of sewing machines in grey garment district high-rises jam as their central american masters rush to broken windows, sweatshop bosses impotent and terrified. the small children playing soccer and basketball just stop and watch, laughing and shouting, just as fascinated with this as they are with many things
for this there will be no front-page photo-ops, scripted emergency press-conferences, up-to-the-minute blow-by-blow coverage, speech-writing and prime-time specials - all the big-shots want to see this too
everything screeches, winds, groans, crunches and crashes to a halt, the new world above dissolving the vast and precariously balanced web of tensions, compulsions and fears that comprise the city
and pasty neighbors in orange county gated communities jail-break iron cages and hold hands in sterile streets faces aflame, casting out their power-loving angry white middle-class male god who hates gays, labor unions and mexicans
and shimmering streams of molten copper and tin waltz and wander across the darkening face of the sky, breaking and boiling on mountains, people gathered in front yards collapsing together in vindicated sobs as melting fruits and flowers rip-roar and splatter over forts of cloud in a last collective stand against night
and like a hulking wave of deep blue water, darkness extinguishes the inferno
the world of 50 hour work weeks, paycheck advance, road-rage, deadening traffic, dead end jobs, strip-malls, liquidation sales, carpet bombing, tele-evangelists and television wars has tasted something entirely foreign
across the city people wonder together
tomorrow so much will have to change

(To find out how you can help, visit the strikers' website at here)

Josh Saxe is Josh Saxe, 22, lives in Los Angeles and works as an external organizer for SEIU in Los Angeles. He's a member of the Los Angeles Strikers Solidarity Organization. His email address is

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