Written by Verbal Kensington
It’s early Saturday morning, and my phone is already blowing up. Tonight we launch the Lost Horizon Night Market, in true Los Angeles style – but even at 9am, there are difficulties.
Hey, Verbal – I’ve had a delay with my truck. Just wondering if I can pick up my box of props?
This is my first message of the day – though I have no box of props, and I’m not sure who does. With gear spread between several vehicles, and delays at virtually every truck location, we launch into the day. Los Angeles is a large city, and as each driver scrambles to make sure the right materials, tools, gear, and people are in the right place when the need arises, everyone is busy, indeed.
Throughout the day, I receive periodic messages regarding the relocation or transfer of a hacksaw, a sawzall, duct tape, a lab coat, and a 100ft extension cord. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this team had nefarious purposes in mind…
As we near sundown, Yaasika Quist and I complete a last-minute shopping expedition – the search for a khaki skirt, needed to complete my Junior Rangers costume – and head towards the build location, to rendezvous with the rest of the team. When we arrive, the street is empty. Two box trucks are still present, but our team members are nowhere to be found.
A spattering of text messages and a few phone calls later, we are headed towards the previously-unreleased location for tonight’s event – a quiet cul-de-sac, located on the border between L.A.’s blooming arts district, and the neighboring industrial area. We’ll be the first to arrive – about an hour ahead of the others, and eager to get this show started.
As we round a corner close to our destination, Yaasika points out a cloud of smoke, hovering over the buildings ahead. “Is there a fire up there?” she asks. “Because, that’s where we’re heading.”
We turn onto the street which leads to our chosen location, and suddenly find ourselves face to face with oncoming traffic – but this is no one-way street. We are smack in the middle of an L.A. drag race – an illegal underground event which involves fast cars, screeching tires, and way more cajones than either of us have brought along tonight.
We dodge down the closest side street, only to find ourselves flanked by a line of cars racing in the opposite direction. More than a hundred dragsters have come to compete – from drop-top classics to tricked-out Hondas – these whips are made for speed, and they aren’t fucking around. The air is already acrid with the smell of burning oil and smoking tires, and the queue of cars stretches further than we can see, in one direction.
We bug out – and quickly – driving into a close-by residential neighborhood, in order to regroup. I send a group message to the team:
There’s a drag race just starting to pop off in our location – I recommend choosing another spot.
At first, the crew is enthusiastic, responding:
Tell them to hold off until we get there!
but after subsequent protestation by yours truly (which includes descriptions of my own teenage drag racing experiences – defaulting, eventually, to the summary “Have you ever seen The Fast and the Furious? It’s like that – only the bullets are real.”), the logistics team assigns a new location.
With less than one hour until showtime, we’re under the gun. We’ll need to be fast and furious, ourselves, to get this event up and running before the crowd arrives…