A City Discovers Its Gothic Psyche

One hundred miles north of Los Angeles, beneath the snow-dusted mountains of the Tejon Pass, the San Joaquin Valley begins its long, level stretch to the northwest, crisscrossed by moist fields of newly seeded cotton. Dotted across the farm land are the horse-head beams of oil wells pumping riches out of the ground. Water rolls through the locks and valves of a vast irrigation network. The lush valley has been drilled, plowed, fertilized, sprayed and pummeled into productivity by a succession of determined refugees from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas and by a sprinkling...

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