Birds Of The Green Nile

In the late summer of 2001, a peculiar assembly gathered in the urban wilderness of Griffith Park, a locus carved within the sprawling expanse of Los Angeles. The occasion, a reunion of sorts, a parade of the unseen artisans of Hollywood’s mirage and the Valley’s eclectic seers, epitomized the city’s irresistible incongruity. The players? They were the less celebrated, the quiet creators whose labor breathed life into fantastical celluloid dreams, and their more esoteric counterparts whose reality was steeped in crystalline vibrations and the unseen healing of reiki.

The tableau was termed the Green Nile Society, a title as enigmatic as the assembly itself. This was no whimsical game of live action role-play, but a genuine communion, a sacred gathering of human oddities, each integral to the city’s profound paradox.

The day bore the sweetness of a ripe peach, its effervescence mirroring the camaraderie that swelled within the park. Bicycles, like metaphors of simplicity and self-reliance, leaned against canopies, and shared a space with the rusty charm of jalopies and pickup trucks. The frivolous crackling of beer cans punctuated the air, their frothy contents a cold contrast to the warm Los Angeles afternoon, a ritualistic dance of contradictions.

As the sun dipped behind the Observatory, painting the horizon with broad strokes of twilight, the gathering held its collective breath, waiting for the inevitable denouement. The oracle, a woman with raven hair and hawk-like eyes, stepped forward, her gaze tethered to the rapidly fading day. Her voice, a fascinating cocktail of gravel and silk, weaved into the silence a prophecy of cryptic riddles and vague omens.

My notes from that moment:

Birds, free and wild, streak the twilight sky with patterns only she can read. Our augur, her voice a mix of gravel and silk, breaks the silence. "The winds are speaking," she murmurs, more to herself than to us. "There's a convocation in the west," she gestures to a roiling mass of eagles, their silhouettes stark against the sunset. "Something mighty will soon tumble, crumble, and turn to dust." Next, she points out a solitary hawk, slicing through the southern sky with a hunter's precision. "A bird of prey, alone and determined, rushes towards an unseen target," she says, her voice barely above a whisper. "And in the east," she says, her arm sweeping towards a flock of birds ascending, "the phoenix rises from the ashes. A rebirth, a resurrection from the silence." We're stunned into silence, the weight of the prophecy pressing down on us. It's like we've been handed a puzzle with no clear image, left to decipher the jumbled pieces in the days to come. The augur's words, cryptic yet laced with a sense of impending dread, hang heavy in the air, an echo fading into the nicotine-and-gravy haze of the evening.

In her words, the cosmos had convened, speaking through the avian patterns strewn across the twilight canvas. It whispered of mighty structures crumbling in the west, solitary pursuits in the south, and a hopeful resurrection in the east. The prophecy, as elusive as the city’s own identity, hung heavy in the air, leaving an aftertaste of dread that lingered long after the words had faded.

The intimate spectacle of the Green Nile Society, a microcosm of Los Angeles, echoed the city’s inherent dichotomy. The attendees, the unsung heroes of Hollywood and the eccentric visionaries, were as much a part of the city’s fabric as the celebrated stars and moguls. The prophecy itself, laden with uncertainty and dramatic tension, could have been plucked straight from the script of a noir film. Yet, beneath its abstract veneer lay a potent reflection of the city’s state of flux, a city in a perpetual cycle of construction and deconstruction, of solitary pursuits and shared dreams, of death and rebirth.

In the aftermath, the prophecy was met with varying degrees of acceptance and dismissal, reflecting the city’s own struggle with its fragmented identity. Los Angeles, much like the cryptic prediction, is a puzzle with no definitive image, a city where reality is as fluid as the dreams that it so tirelessly births. The Green Nile Society, with its diverse congregation and its prophecy, serves as a metaphorical lens through which we can glimpse the city’s elusive soul, a reminder that beneath the glitz and glamour, Los Angeles thrives on its contradictions and its enduring capacity for reinvention.

In the searing aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I found myself returning to the Green Nile Society, seeking out the resident augur whose cryptic words had echoed through Griffith Park just days before. I found her in her usual haunt, a serene alcove nestled within the chaos of the city, her raven hair pulled back from her face, her hawk-like eyes gazing into the distance.

“Did you know?” I asked, my voice unsteady, as if my words were treading on hallowed ground.

She turned her gaze towards me, her eyes reflecting the sorrow that had engulfed the nation. “In specifics? No,” she replied softly. “But in the grand scheme of things, there was a sense of something monumental, something cataclysmic about to unravel.”

“Your prophecy on Labor Day,” I pressed on, “the mighty tumbling, the solitary bird of prey, the phoenix rising from the ashes. Was it all…a forewarning?”

She sighed, her fingers playing with a small quartz crystal. “Prophecy is a delicate art,” she began. “It is not about pinpoint predictions or prophetic precision. It’s about reading the currents of the cosmos, deciphering the signs. There’s a fluidity to it, an openness that leaves room for interpretation.”

She paused, her gaze returning to the horizon. “The cosmos doesn’t reveal the future. It merely gives us glimpses of possibilities, of potentialities. It’s up to us to interpret these signs, to decide our actions.”

“But don’t you think people deserve to know?” I asked, my voice barely a whisper. “If such tragedy was on the horizon, don’t you think we should have been warned?”

Her expression softened. “My dear,” she said, her voice gentle, “even if I had seen the specifics, who would have believed? Who would have listened? We are all, in some way, victims of our own disbelief until reality shatters it.”

She turned to face me again, her eyes searching mine. “But remember this,” she added, her voice steady, “just as there was a warning of a fall, there was also a promise of rebirth. We will rise from this, just as the phoenix rises from the ashes. It is the way of the cosmos, and it is the way of humanity.”

“Rebirth,” I echoed, my voice carrying a tinge of bitterness. “But isn’t that just a palatable narrative we cling to? A softening balm for the harsh realities?”

She regarded me silently, her hawk-like eyes reflective.

“Los Angeles, 1992,” I continued, the memories of the riots still vivid. “The city was supposed to heal, to learn, to ‘rebirth’ itself. Yet the racial and economic disparities only deepened. Or the stock market crash of ’87. It was supposed to be a wake-up call, a lesson. Instead, it was a precursor to a decade of economic imbalance and growing wealth disparity.”

I paused, feeling the weight of my words. “And now this,” I gestured vaguely, the specter of 9/11 looming between us. “How can we talk of rebirth when we’re still reeling from the shock, when the dust has not yet settled, when the echoes of the fallen are still resonating?”

She sat silent, her gaze unblinking. I could see her grappling with my words, her beliefs challenged. Finally, she nodded slowly, a sigh escaping her lips. “You’re right,” she admitted. “We’re in the aftermath of a monumental tragedy. It’s not the time for platitudes or hopeful metaphors. It’s a time for mourning, for facing the reality of our collective pain.”

She paused, her gaze lowering. “But,” she added, her voice barely a whisper, “that doesn’t negate the concept of rebirth entirely. It’s just that… perhaps it’s not as immediate or linear as we’d like it to be.”

There was no comfort in her words, no promise of better days. Just a stark acknowledgment of the pain, the uncertainty that lay ahead. As I left her, I felt a chill settle over me. Her prophecy, once an enigmatic riddle, now bore the weight of a solemn warning. The promise of rebirth seemed distant, overshadowed by the impending chaos that was about to unfold.

The history of California, my home, is not a tale of endless sunshine and golden opportunities. It is a saga of illusion and paradox, of dreams spun from dust and despair. It carries the weight of disillusionment and the echoes of promises broken, of a paradise that often descends into purgatory.

Consider the Oakies, swept up by the winds of the Dust Bowl, their lives uprooted, their dreams tethered to the mirage of a fertile Eden on the West Coast. They were met not with abundance, but with exploitation, their dreams withering in the unforgiving sun of the Central Valley, their lives a testament to the cruel paradox of the Golden State.

California, the land of Steinbeck, the realm of Chavez, is a land that enriches as often as it desolates, that promises as often as it disappoints. Its valleys and mountains, its cities and towns, bear the scars of this history.

There’s a saying that California is the place where America leans into the future, but the truth is far less romantic. California teeters, precariously balanced on the edge of promise and ruin. Fires ravage our lands, earthquakes shake our foundations, droughts parch our fields. We are a people constantly on the brink, living with the knowledge that at any moment, we could be wiped from the map.

It’s fitting, then, that Moses did not lead his people from the Green Nile but from the Nile itself. The Green Nile, once a symbol of life and prosperity, had long since faded, its verdant banks turned to dust, its waters a faint memory. And so, too, does California feel at times like a faded dream, a paradise lost.

We live with the ghosts of those who were here before us, the indigenous tribes who called these lands home, their cultures and traditions erased, their people wiped from the map. We are haunted by the specter of the Gold Rush, the promise of wealth that brought many to ruin. And we are marked by the legacy of Hollywood, the dream factory that churns out illusions, its glittering facade hiding a darker, grittier reality.

And so, here we stand, in the aftermath of another tragedy, our illusions shattered, our paradoxes laid bare. The prophecy of the augur, once cryptic and distant, now feels uncomfortably close, a chilling omen of the chaos yet to unfold. California, the promised land, feels more akin to the desert through which Moses led his people — a land of trials and tribulations, its promise of rebirth an oasis that always seems just out of reach. The Green Nile is a memory, and we are left to navigate the harsh reality of the desert.


To declare the “end of history” is to assume a culmination, a final point beyond which no further significant events can occur. It is to assume that we have reached the apex of our journey, that our narrative has found its ultimate resolution. But as history itself teaches us, such conclusions are mere illusions, a false sense of finality that is as elusive as it is seductive.

The notion of ‘lost finality’ operates on the same semantic plateau. It suggests a once tangible end that has somehow slipped from our grasp, an elusive terminus that recedes even as we strive to approach it. Yet, is there truly such a thing as ‘finality’ in the human experience, or are we forever caught in a cycle of beginnings and endings, of rises and falls, of progress and regress?

Consider the history of civilizations, the rise and fall of empires. Each believed itself to be the culmination of human achievement, the ‘end of history’. Yet each was eventually supplanted, their ‘finality’ lost in the sands of time. The same holds true for our personal lives. We may perceive certain moments as conclusive, as endpoints in our narrative. Yet, life invariably goes on, the story continues, the ‘finality’ we perceived is lost.

The ‘end of history’ and ‘lost finality’ are thus twin illusions, mirages in the desert of human experience. They offer the comfort of resolution, the promise of a neat, tidy narrative arc. Yet, the nature of life and history is anything but neat and tidy. It is a chaotic dance, a ceaseless ebb and flow of events, a tapestry that is forever being woven.

In the aftermath of 9/11, we find ourselves grappling with these illusions. The world as we knew it seemed to have come to an end, a finality that felt all too real. Yet, here we are, navigating the aftermath, the history we thought had ended continuing to unfold in ways we could not have anticipated.

In the end, perhaps it is not about reaching the ‘end of history’ or grasping at ‘lost finality’. Perhaps it is about acknowledging the fluid nature of our existence, the reality that our journey is one of constant flux. It is about living in the present, understanding our past, and accepting the uncertainty of our future. It is about embracing the dance, the ebb and flow, the weaving of the tapestry, even when the pattern seems chaotic and the threads tangled. For that is the essence of our human experience, the true history we are all a part of.