Los Angeles has found itself at the epicenter of what’s been dubbed the “hot labor summer.”
Though we commenced this issue, Eternal Flame, with notions of love everlasting and fire’s beauty, then self-satisfyingly set the editorial assemblage therein to the sounds of Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” The Boss’ “I’m on Fire,” Stevie Nicks’ “Room on Fire,” and considered standing next to Jimi Hendrix...the ember jumped the pit, as it were, and sparked some brittle undergrowth, and the next thing we know, SAG-AFTRA had joined the WGA in its strike, some several thousand LA hotel workers walked off the job (some of whom report working excess of full time, yet are sleeping in their cars to make ends meet), and some 11,000 LA City workers—from traffic officers to lifeguards—didn’t show up to work during a 24-hour walkout.
July was the planet’s hottest month ever recorded. Canada is reporting its worst fire season on record. Lahaina, Maui was burnt overnight to nearly nothing. Rhodes, Greece saw evacuations of some 30,000 residents and tourists, and the world’s only Joshua Trees were burning by the hour at the non-mercy of the Mojave Desert’s York Fire a couple weeks back.
Suffice it to say, the coziness or sentimentality anticipated in building this issue went up in smoke.
Herein is the reminder: humankind is inextricable from fire. The literal, the metaphoric, the incendiary, the reactive, that which few possess and many don’t.
FLAUNT stands in solidarity with those suffering dramatic livelihood upheavals due to wildfires, as well as those 100,000 plus persons across the city who are demanding fairer treatment. And while our mission is not necessarily a political one, we do feel strongly that posing questions through the lens of the creative community might offer some answers, or at the very least a little reprieve from the tireless heat of this existence.
Thus we asked: Who, in this dizzying diorama, is the keeper of the flame?
We spoke to a pyrotechnic concert maverick, paid homage to early 80s cult classic, Quest for Fire, chatted with a contemporary artist whose primary medium is fireworks, spent time with the honorable smokejumpers of the US Forest Service, those critical folk who jump out of planes into fires to save our forests and towns, and encountered the Hammer Museum’s new exhibition, Full Burn.
I suppose the flame has always played a role in our lives, be it that of enticement or antagonism. What’s important, perhaps, is that we do what we can to keep the fire contained, tend our inner flame, and time and again, embrace spicy food.
Enjoy the Eternal Flame Issue, and perhaps consider offering a little shade to others in need.