Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So I'm downtown to pick up Joanne and I'm flipping around the radio and I come across the end of Johnnie Cochran's first night of closing arguments right as Camp OJ appears in front of me.

Camp OJ is the shanty town that's sprung up around the County Courthouse, and it looks like something straight out of bad cyberpunk. Platforms, creaky scaffolding, tower up out of an empty parking lot across the street, tattered sheets wrapping each level. One high-rise climbs four stories above the ground. Trailers, presumably full of cloistered and sweaty technicianss, are lined up like neat little blocks below.

And it's lit up -- blindingly bright -- even the upper levels of the scaffolding. The wind whips the highest sheets around, casting crazy, angry shadows, making each look like the site of some very bad magic, of something evil. Which, I suppose, they are.

I continue down Spring Street and take a quick look up Temple where the front door of the court house is. There's a throng of people out front, a third carrying TV cameras, a third carrying mikes and a third carrying signs or t-shirts or Instamatics or some random delusion.

And I pull by, up one block to First, and turn. The County Law Library is another block, at Broadway, but I'm a little early and Joanne isn't out on the steps yet.

So I pull around -- there's no parking out front -- and take Forth back to Temple. I take a deep breath and plunge in.

And... nothing. Downtown LA is almost deserted after sundown and the four-lane wide street is empty. Even as I pass right in front of the courthouse, the throng is well up on the sidewalk, with no cars parked in the outside lane, no people randomly dashing across the street, no crazys shouting angrily for the cameras.

By now, the participants should be about to emerge...

But there's no frenzy, no pushing, no churning, nothing like you see on TV. Just a bunch of people standing on either side of the courthouse door, quietly waiting for something to happen.

It's been over a year, but even the OJ trail can be civilized.

There's some hope in that, I think.

So the woman who used to live in my apartment was a dental hygienist and she occasionally still gets mail.

It's amazing how much you can unnerve people by wearing latex gloves to work.

So Irvine is Hell, I'm sure of it. And not just because it's where I work.

Irvine, California, is a "planned community," meaning that everything here is nice and clean and organized and totally and completely awful.

Irvine is seductive, in a creepy sort of way. And it's at its most seductive after you've been hit up for a buck six times during a half-hour walk along Santa Monica Boulevard in LA the night before. Which, often, is always.

Irvine is the Answer. It's got Rules that prevent that sort of thing. The Irvine Company owns the land the city is built on, and, from there, makes the Rules. You'd be surprised how much of your Constitutional rights you can sign away by moving into this place.

The Rules: Keep your garage door closed. Don't wash your car in the driveway or on the street. Get approval for the color you want to paint your house. Don't grow -- or cut -- that tree. Keep the lawn tidy. Don't park on the street. Move along. Don't question authority. Ignorance is knowledge. You Are Being Watched.

But the worst thing about Irvine -- the thing that leaves a cold, writhing knot in the pit of your stomach -- is that you slowly realize, driving the wide, easy-access streets, that there are people that belong here. People who should live in Irvine.

Today there was a car in front of me at the light at Pacifica and Barranca, right where I get off the freeway. It was a shiny new Lexus, dark, dark blue. The little gold highlights glinted in the clean, approved Irvine air.

The license plate read: ISELPWR.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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