Friday, May 16, 2014

flashback friday: hellfire style

It has been a crazy-nuts couple of days around these parts. I think the worst is behind us, and conditions are expected to improve throughout the day on Friday, then the temperature will blissfully drop by about 20 degrees for the weekend. Someone new to San Diego recently asked me: "These Santa Ana winds, does anyone like them?"

In a word? No. Especially when they burn down our pretty city. 

Here's a piece I wrote a few years ago about the Santa Ana phenomenon:


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out of Satan's Ass

Living in Southern California, there are days in the fall when you wake up and know, even if you missed the meteorologist’s moment in the spotlight as the lead story on the previous night’s 11:00 news, that it’s going to be one of those days.

“Well,” you think: “at least it will be warm,” although it’s absolutely frigid as you leave the comfort of your toasty bed. Your skin is reptilian, your lips are cracked and dry, and your hair is standing on end and charged with electricity. You can’t get enough water into you. Everyone is being an asshole. Someone finally groans and says it out loud: Santa Ana.

The Santa Ana winds have always carried a leaden load of folklore with them on their way down from the mountains. Just as we tend to accept the full moon as the legitimate root cause of unusual behavior and extreme emotions, the Santa Anas can be blamed for your edginess or ennui on a day when the air is thick with gusty heat.

Raymond Chandler once wrote:

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen.” Red Wind, 1938
Aside: Lou Grant once recited that passage to Mary as an example of how to write prose, and Chris Stevens read it to his radio audience on Northern Exposure.

Many Californians describe the heavy, dry stillness that precedes a Santa Ana as “earthquake weather”. Others claim an increase in homicides, although I can only vouch for an increase in my own homicidal intentions.

In the last several years, the Santa Anas have brought a more intense foreboding to this area, still singed both literally and metaphorically by devastating wildfires. It’s not that the winds will necessarily bring bad things, but it sure feels like if bad things are going to happen, these blustery days do create the perfect karmic backdrop.

This week we had a full moon and a Santa Ana. And PMS.

Anyone wanna see my shiny sharp knives?


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ach, be careful out there, you San Diegans. We're following those crazy-ass, scary fires closely. Fly *away* Santa Ana.

Love you. Be safe.


Beth said...

I guess I am the lone loony bird -- I DO like the Santa Ana winds, I do. I do NOT like when they are a part of the equation that produce wildfires that harm people and homes, but they can only be partially to blame.

I love knowing that it's going to be HOT, especially when it's December or January. I like that weird energy. And I like the way you write about it, Jacquie!

(C'mon, you gotta admit and extra beach day on a Thursday in May is not all bad!!!)