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Spaceships. Jet packs. Laser guns. 

No. 

Fifty years from now, the future will still be shaped by the mundane, the stupid, and the petty, living side by side with the Big Ideas. Dirty, shining, poor, glorious, filthy, and wonderful. 50.YFN is where we tell our future's story, hangover and all.

In its short life,
50.YFN has already become a very sharply defined setting, with unique language and history. Because of the ongoing storylines and broad geographical setting, we strongly recommend using the archives and category tags before throwing yourself in the deep end. Read the guidelines, take a look around. There's a truly talented pool of creators breathing life into our world Fifty Years From Now.

You are welcome to be a part of it.

And remember:

This is not a land-grab. There's no turf.  If you're a new writer, you have the same access to Brooklyn as I do, and as much an opportunity to leave your imprint on it. Don't be intimidated. Leave your brand on the future alongside everyone else. It's your world too. 

7.25.2007

King of the Californias pt II

by Monk, New York City, NY, USA

With the promise of trials at the Hague's High Court of Human Rights, Los Angeles's warlords seem finally to have run aground. Recent captures of narcoterrorist Willis "Grip-Up" Tollridge in his Brentwood fortress, and Ricky "Tweaks" Neuman of the notorious San Bernadino Popular Front have stricken powerful blows to LA's infrastructure of violence. With elections around the corner and international aid pouring into the provisional civilian government, the beleaguered island nation seems finally to have found its footing, after close to thirty years of continual bloodshed. But even with these victories, many claim the war-torn nation of 12 million cannot truly begin its healing, as war criminals such as Kelvin Black, Lucien Cree, Darlanda Stuart, Jesus Cruz, and Rolando Montoya are loose. The infamous 'Inglewood Five' have been sighted as far away as Vanuatu, luxuriating in wealth generated over decades of brutal exploitation and oppression. And while the provisional government works tirelessly to rebuild and reconnect Los Angeles's diverse communities, they do so knowing the funds to effectively perform their job are sitting in banks on the other side of the globe.

Oakland, in particular, seems to have a lot of loose cash these days.

Ask anyone out West, and they'll tell you the monsters of Los Angeles made off with billions, leaving their countrymen in squalid, sometimes medieval conditions. Where have they gone? The nations of CariCom want nothing to do with them. The United States, Alaska, Canada, Brasil, and Quebec have all issued warrants to seize on sight anyone from the High Court of Human Rights' wanted roster. Hugo Ranieri's capture in Buenos Aires last month effectively flushed out the war criminal populace of Argentina. For the discriminating fugitive, the Western hemisphere has all but shut its doors. Yet nestled between Canada and Federal Mexico, the Northern Republic of California has taken a stance that has made it enormously attractive to Los Angeles's oligarchy-in-exile. With no official stance regarding the upcoming international tribunals, nor any existing extradition treaties with their neighbors, Prime Minister Benny Pivens has eliminated even the possibility of extraditing admitted war criminal against their will. And so Oakland, NoCal's largest functioning metropolis, has become haven to some of LA's wealthiest absconders. Paramilitaries, gangsters, murderers, narcotics cartels, and slavers have found new homes in any of the twenty luxury hotels to spring up in downtown Oakland these past three years. With all this new money pouring in, new banks pop up almost daily to accommodate new offshore accounts, and the Californian peseta is currently one of the most traded currencies on the international market.

Money, they say, makes the world go 'round. And that is the topic du jour as evening falls on Oakland's Palma de Baía hotel, where we watch the sun set from Cecilio Goncz's private rooftop suite. Overlooking the gutted shell of Goldengate Bridge Memorial, Goncz has set aside his trademark sunglasses, revealing milky white eyes behind nictitating membranesm installed for protection against pepperspray (and worse).

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages," he says, inhuman eyes set on the Bay. By the time it dawns on me that he's quoting Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, he's facing me, looking for some kind of response.

The worse part about his eyes is you can never tell exactly where he's looking. When the silence becomes awkward, he chuckles, grafted alligator teeth adding signature menace to his smile. Goncz's mythology swirls with tales of missing journalists. I sip my mochatini and smile back, trying to look impartial, unshaken, never happier in my life than for the tracking culture injected before I left Chicago. I ask about his money.

"Money?" he smirks. "Homey, I don't have two centavos to rub together. Money implies income, and baby, I have none. I spread it around. Charitable causes. Rebuilding efforts here in Cali. LA didn't want me anymore, hey, peace. Move on. That's life. But this?" He motions to the Bay. "This is California. Home."

I remind Mr Goncz politely that by his own admission he technically only lived in California for a few years before the Little Big One separated Greater Los Angeles from the continent, and devastated the rest of the West Coast. And that one night at the Palma de Baía costs two weeks my salary.

"You don't get it, do you?" he asks sadly. "California, that was the American Dream. 'Go West, young man.' Cowboys. Indians. The Gold Rush. Hollywood. Blondes. Money. Fame. Live fast, die young. All that shit. When you reached the Pacific, you knew you'd achieved something, you'd made it. The earthquake broke something fundamental, you know? In people's hearts. We felt that shit in LA, homey. Believe that. When the Little Big One hit Cali, that was the American Dream got strangled right there. Now, I can't fix things in LA like I want to, so I brought my money here. And yeah, I got a nice pad, but like I said, I'm paying to fix a lot of broken things."

I mumble something about nobility, which I hope isn't taken too snidely as I want to live to finish my drink. Then I ask how that relates to his quoting Smith.

His trademark smile resurfaces, tone reminiscent of the journalism professor at Northwestern who flunked me. Twice. "No one cares how the job gets done, homey, or where the money comes from. Just so long as it gets done, and the money's there."

4 comments:

IKE MALVO said...

Your nomenclature is on point. You're almost Chester Himes with it. I think I'll name my kids after some of the characters. If not my kids, at least an online profile or two.

This piece illustrates how America is its own worst enemy. Individual greed was supposed to be the invisible hand facilitating the common good, but common greed justifies the Go-For-Self come-up. Or some shit.

Zesi said...

i enjoyed the underdog narrator, who's rightfully scared of this tyrant. it reads like a mystery, and i like mysteries, and it reads like a mystery written by a person who likes good words, and i like good words even more than i like mysteries.

Anonymous said...

You have to PROMISE to explain all these terms and what all these people have done. I'm hooked, sure... but give me some bait anyway!

FireBrand said...

I like this series. Just getting around to it.