The City Of Industry / 27 September 1997

So this weekend our old friend Jim Park got married. Regular readers of this space will surely know the proverbial Jim by now, since we’ve linked our two sites back and forth so much that pretty soon they’ll merge into one giant gelatinous mass of text-heaviness. The point is, though, that he got married on Saturday down in Southern California in a town called City of Industry which, at first blush, sounds horrid and inappropriate, but I kind of like the name “City of Industry” for a city because it’s blunt, it’s honest, it’s upfront, it has no illusions about what it is. It’s not like “Greenland” or “The Garden State” or anything. And plus I think an argument could be made that there is no more industrial institution than marriage, being the epitome of mergers and production, etc., but that’s evidently not an argument that I can make right now.

The City of Industry is almost exactly as you’d imagine it, except there’s maybe four times as many minimalls as you might originally think. The air is smog-blasted and the ground is cement-laden, so you feel no sense of a horizon, just one endless sphere of hot, blinding emptiness (tee-hee, I should be reading this garbage at Gen-X coffeehouse open mike “poetry slams”). The wedding itself was at the Sheraton which was atop a hill (admittedly, a nice, grassy, pastoral hill) which in theory would overlook the town but said town was obscured by the aforementioned air quality. The sun was merciless, the sweat that pooled in my already wrinkled job-interview suit was alarming, to put it mildly. The entire wedding was in Korean so I’m assuming that nice, supportive things were said and I guess I’m also assuming that the engaged couple actually said “I do” and not “I can’t go through with this, I’m really in love with Josh, this has all been a lie, a damnably ugly lie, I tell you.”

Jim Park is now with his wife on his honeymoon in Maui. Does that strike anyone else as a little disturbing?

So anyway, I was at this wedding with my writer’s group friends, the group I was in while at school in LA, of which Jim was also a member. We were the only white people there so everyone knew instantly who we were. Between the reception and the evening party-like thing in the hotel’s lounge were like seven hours that we had to kill. We decided to throw ourselves into the City of Industry and see what that crazy little town had to offer six nutty kids on the go. Here’s a complete list of what it offered us:

  1. Aimless driving up and down the endless series of minimalls
  2. The aforementioned ungodly heat
  3. A beautifully surreal 45 minutes where the writer’s group, all decked out in suits and party dresses (we all seemed to be wearing black, for the most part, for some unknown but probably deducible reason), hung out in front of a cellular phone shop in a minimall, taking photographs of each others’ shoes and dueling with plastic swords (don’t ask what they were doing there), but usually just standing there, separate from one another, unconsciously striking cool poses as we soaked in the heat and tried to think of what to do next
  4. A strip club in yet another minimall where we drank four-dollar sodas and watched vaginas open and close
  5. Several hours in the bar of Acapulco’s, a chain Mexican restaurant, where we ate chips and drank and argued about Princess Diana and pride and disco, etc., and at some point it became a good idea to take Dawn’s mini tape recorder into the bathroom and record the sound of our peeing (Vlad and I both did this but the tape didn’t record successfully so those magical moments are forever lost to history)

We then returned to the hotel lounge where the younger and more spry wedding guests were whooping it up to the funky grooves of a cover band known as Sound FX. Bitterness, tiredness, and headacheness pummeled me. I figured the City of Industry had defeated me. Then Sound FX started the timeless opening notes of “I Will Survive” and I was pulled onto the dance floor (a place I have studiously avoided since the prom) and the writer’s group, including the newly-married Jim, this second family of mine, danced together in one of those giddy, sweaty, free, exuberant moments where you just go for it because there’s plenty of noise, alcohol, crowd, and friendship to make it all OK.

On the way out I kissed the new bride, whom I’d just met that day, on the cheek. It seemed like something I should do, for some reason.

Joshua Green Allen

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