As you enter the blighted zone just East of Moorpark College, that withered necrocracy called Simi Valley, it’s understandable if a certain malaise might grip your heart, if spectres of damned Reaganites might whisper into your ear, “leave, leave this place!” until at last they quiet down with your vehicle safely making it over the Los Angeles County line. You hopefully have a luckier lot in life than that of your humble narrator, whom God has cursed with the need to drive back and forth through Simi daily, to gaze upon the sun-blasted youth hooked on heroin, or the embalmed old guard hooked on Fox News. But perhaps you, too, have to make the journey of shame through this forbidden land on a regular basis, you may notice a fairly new addition to the landscape; a pair of signs, one on Madera and one on Tapo Canyon, which proudly state “Simi Valley Supports Our Cops” over a clip-art graphic of a thumbs-up.
The existence of these signs seem to be proof positive that old white people are crazy. There have been no recent police scandals within the town. Indeed since most of the inhabitants are the same brand of clannish and mean, the temporarily inconvenienced millionaires Steinbeck mused about, everybody tends to get along in that sort of if-you’re-not-with-us-you’re-against-us way. Really, the preponderance of police living in the town is stifling: on any given avenue one house in three might contain the family of a policeman. Who, then, are these signs supposed to convince? Are the police of Simi Valley so neurotic that they need to remind themselves daily of their greatness? Does the government of the town feel the need to visually pat themselves on the back, to remind themselves that no matter the trouble in other places in America, here we get along with our police? Was there really a town hall vote, a people taxed, a printer hired, a crew contracted to put up these smug reminders of echo-chamber greatness?
Simi Valley is a town with three Wal-Marts and no bookstores. It’s a haunting enclave to white, elderly, suburbanite tunnel-vision that is encapsulated so perfectly in a pair of signs that exist only to reinforce a belief that you could never convince the populace is anything less than a universal truth. Maybe that’s what they’re for: in “Simi Valley Supports Our Cops” you have a microcosm of the town itself, a statement of purpose from a hermetic world where the thoughts and worries of the rest of the planet are muted without a care. Perhaps one day, after the apocalypse, the signs will remain standing among the blasted landscape around them.