Appreciate This Beautiful Freezing Snow Nightmare While You Can

It seems there's a bit of inclement weather on the East Coast, and also around the Great Lakes and the Midwest and (who knows?) maybe even Texas and the South. Please enjoy your blizzards and Winter Wonderland, because snow and cold are beautiful things, and one day you can tell your starving children living underground what it was like to go outside on a crisp winter's day.

This is the time of year when the seven-in-eight Americans who don't live in California begin fantasizing about life in the Golden State, where the wintertime scenes are of aggressively stupid lawyers wearing flip-flops to expensive brunches on restaurant patios that are actually parking lots full of exhaust-belching automobiles, each driven by a single furious dingbat.

The Rose Bowl Parade was created to entice you people as the frigid New Year begins in America's very many Cold Places. I watched a few minutes of this pornography on Wednesday, surrounded by four or five freeways while staying at the stately foothills home of friends, and was newly amazed at the Hollywood trickery of this endless-summer propaganda.

Cameras point at one particular intersection, with the Norton Simon Museum and the very nearby San Gabriel Mountains rising up so close that hardly any of the basin's thick poison smog can squeeze in between. If the cameras strayed just a half-block beyond the parade stands, you would see the full shoddy horror of Southern Californian life: sun-buckled asphalt used-car lots, massage parlors, crumbling 1980s stucco two-story apartment buildings with foil over the south-facing windows, the untreated and unloved homeless pushing their filthy belongings up and down Colorado Boulevard in Ralph's shopping carts, the endless 15-car accident where the Trader Joe's parking lot meets the street, a dozen freeway onramps and offramps and clusterfucks all completely filled with cars crawling along at 2 mph, and the immense awful bowl of brown haze that covers everything from Eagle Rock to Riverside to whatever might be out there beyond the ghostly tops of show-off skyscrapers rising up from the depressing sprawl of LA's downtown.

Yes, it's hot in Southern California this time of year. It's hot in Northern California right now, if you're anywhere except the High Sierra or the marijuana rainforests around Eureka. And in this bone-dry winter of "Spare the Air" alerts and daily news of record high temperatures, the gruesome "built environment" of California's few cities and endless suburbs is revealed as the absolute worst architecture in the world: cheap and cracked in the ceaseless winter sunshine, plastic letters and scorched lawns and strip-mall stucco, and always the snaking lines of grimy cars, always the stench of ozone and leafblower fuel, the hamburger wrappers and Big Gulp cups preserved like Incan mummies along the endless chain-link and barbed-wire fencing, the minimum-wage security guards guarding the fancy places from the underclass, the militarized cops in their siren-tanks and squadrons of helicopters, and the three-hour commutes that cover all of 10 miles.

New York is a garden paradise compared to this baked landscape of hot death, not just because the buildings and public spaces are so much more human and humane, but because that seasonal snow is made of magic.

That snow you're complaining about is water, fresh drinkable water, something our desert Southwestern sprawl only experiences as an import from the California Aqueduct or a plastic bottle from Fiji. It might be cold out, but it's better than sweating in a two-hour line of slobs waiting to ride a fake bobsled that sloshes through a few inches of imported water at Disneyland, as I foolishly did last week.

Enjoy your snow days. When they end forever, in 2027, you can hold up your old smart phone and tell your mutant grandchildren about all the lovely winter photographs you could show them, if only we still had electricity and didn't live in tunnels far beneath the burning ground.

Ken Layne writes Gawker's American Almanac and American Journal. Photo via Getty Images.