We attended a party, held in a backyard, in a small, modest, clean and quiet community somewhere northeast of Glendale.
It was a breezy summer evening and the hosts had set up, under a lantern-bedecked canopy, a big feast. A lavish buffet of food inside silver serving platters: shish kabobs, rice, tender sliced brisket; plates of bruschetta with backyard tomatoes, cole slaw; and buckets of chilled beer, wine; bottles of bourbon, vodka and whiskey.
An international crowd of Poles, Chinese, Thai, Persians and Pasadenans mingled, laughed and drank over a Jazz Party CD soundtrack.
The host, a blue eyed, well-built former actor, now working drafting blueprints for kitchen remodels, had recently divorced his former wife and was now engaged to someone new and thin, young and leggy.
At the long table, people told stories that one hears these days at California parties. They were out-of-work, looking for work, cruising Craigslist for jobs.
A graphic designer, born in Egypt, living in Westwood, told of a potential client in Pacific Palisades who had her draft up plans for his home remodeling, and then said he could only pay her $12 an hour.
A musician and physics teacher held down two jobs and said he played in four bands and that the teaching job paid “barely enough to survive”.
A man from Poland, well educated and articulate, left early because he had to go to work in a bakery at 3am the next morning.
Near the fire pit, people cuddled on benches and on plastic lawn chairs.
In the flickering flames, the host told us about his anger over illegal immigration and how it had to stop. He predicted that our country was coming to some sort of violent confrontation that might involve civil war. He owned some land out in Joshua Tree in case he had to escape the impending urban warfare.
His backyard garden, he told us, was part of his survivalist plan to grow his own food. He said that cameras might be installed on lights throughout his community to keep track of people and activities.
“The American Empire is over,” he said. “Our nation is no longer able to provide for its citizens.”
In the backyard of his little home, with its neatly tended dirt garden full of corn, basil, tomatoes and eggplants; his mind packed with fears, sensations, warnings and hellish foreboding about America; he spoke with certainty and without doubt.
Somewhere up in Montrose, and down in Glendale, and across the nation, there are many just like him who believe in the damnation of their nation and the salvation of their soul.