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L.A. Is Not La.

Not much to say here from Pasadena, but I have to say what a shock it was to walk out of LAX tonight, coming off of a flight from New Orleans, and to walk into a low-humidity environment. Here is is mid-August, and I thought, “I kind of wish I had brought a sweater.”


Of course I then had to drive on the L.A. freeway, which was miserable, so that mitigated the effect. But still. Man! No humidity! August!

Saw a thing in the airport that has stayed with me, being all middle-aged and pot-bellied. There was this guy who had elaborate tattoos on his arms, but who was about my age, with an even bigger gut than I have, and hair falling out. In fact, he looked like Karl Rove, if Rove were shlumpier. I thought: I bet when you got those tats, Mister, you never thought you would end up a middle-aged Dockers dweeb.

I’m glad the only body modification I did as a young man who didn’t know any better was an earring (those were so, um, out there in the early 1980s). Correction: I’m glad the cool and risky thing for teenagers to do in my day was get an earring. You can take it out when you outgrow it, and the hole grows over. I’m guessing that this traveler was in a rock band in his teens or twenties, and maybe even something of a badass. Today he looks like he sells insurance and worries about angina. There’s so much pathos in fierce tattoos fading on the forearms of a slope-shouldered guy who wears Clarks and probably drives a minivan. If tattoos had been more mainstream in the 1980s, I’d probably be that dude today. Dodged a bullet there. I can’t believe anybody who gets a tattoo ever imagines that they’re going to be old one day.

I read one-third of Dante’s Inferno on the flight out here, the Ciardi translation. It’s terrific. I’ll blog about it next week. What has stuck with me the most so far are Virgil’s words to Dante in Canto 3, describing the disposition of the damned: “they yearn for what they fear.” Think on that. I’ll write more about it later. Goodnight from California.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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