Christmas lights have gone up on a couple of houses nearby. Across the street, a string of unblinking red bulbs surrounds a window. They remind me of the red bulbs that marked the emergency exits of old, early 20th century hotels and apartment houses in Los Angeles. These lights could sometimes be seen from street or alley windows that gave onto fire escapes. I don't think that Christmas lights are meant to call to mind such places as those, with their grime-streaked windowpanes, wood mullions and sash and frames flaking layer after layer of paint, maybe some brown tatters of sheers which once made an attempt at bringing the place a bit of respectability, but, aged to little more than dust, serve only to emphasize its decay, and all dimly bloodied by the red light. I wish I hadn't noticed those lights. Now I will likely dream of spalled brick walls, narrow corridors, creaking floors, random sounds bespeaking failure and despair, and the smell of dry rot and stale bedding, whisky and smoke, and worn, cracked linoleum lately mopped with diluted Lysol. Jingle bells, holy night, fa-la-la-la-la- not to mention ho, ho, ho.