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1. Breathe. If you are unlucky, you will inhale some spores
of Coddidioides immitis. It is endemic in our soil. An ordinary case
of resulting Valley Fever is not much worse than the flu, but the disseminated
form is catastrophic. It causes meningitis as well as gruesome symptoms reminiscent
of tertiary syphilis. A Valley Fever epidemic in the aftermath of landslides
and dust clouds caused by the 1994 Northridge earthquake led to several deaths
in Ventura County.

2. Write a dissertation on sodomy in the Mexican Mafia. Those
ultimate “values voters” — the EME — took profound umbrage at homosexual-rape
scenes in Edward James Olmos’ 1992 movie, American Me. Two of the film’s
Eastside consultants were punctually murdered, and Olmos sweated out several
years as the target of angry veteranos. According to Hollywood gossip,
the actor-director ultimately mollified his critics with handsome contributions
to the cause of traditional values.

3. Succumb to the “Mothman Curse.” But the Mexican
Mafia aren’t the only pissed-off moviegoers. Paranormal researchers claim that
Mothman — the weird winged demon from West Virginia — is now stalking Hollywood.
Since the release of The Mothman Prophecies in 2002, several film associates
have perished under strange circumstances. One fell off the stage at the Burning
Man festival, another died of food poisoning at a Mexican restaurant, and a
third was killed in a plane crash. According to knowledgeable occultists, the
film’s stars — Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Debra Messing — may be in mortal
danger.

4. Drown in the desert. The late-summer monsoon dumps 2
inches of rain on the flanks of Mount San Gorgonio. Two hours later a 4-foot-high
wall of water drowns an unwary camper in the “dry” bed of the Mojave
River near Victorville. Alternately, a dying Mexican hurricane or El Niño–driven
superstorm briefly refills the high desert’s Pleistocene lakes. In August 2003,
such flash floods washed away part of I-15 near Baker and drowned three people
near Twentynine Palms. True desert rats wear life preservers.

5. Challenge the LAPD to a nude wrestling contest. Over
the years, the LAPD has killed several nude people. The most notorious case
was the shooting of Echo Park resident Ron Burkholder in August 1977. Ramparts
Division officers encountered the naked, unarmed and clearly hallucinating chemist
raving on a street corner one morning. After a brief scuffle, Sergeant Kurt
Barz ended Burkholder’s PCP trip with six bullets. As usual, the department
ruled the shooting “justified.”

6. Have unsafe sex with an alien in the Valley. As famously
chronicled in The Tujunga Canyon Contacts (1980), the Valley has long
been the epicenter of extraterrestrial lust. And the saucers keep coming. Here’s
where the $105 million that the Bush administration is spending on “abstinence
education” might make some sense. After all, you never know where that
Thing has had its dirty thang.