If you were seeing lush grass in Death Valley, then I’d wonder. But the two dragons, which seem to be fighting over a large white pearl atop the Chinatown gate, do take a smoke break every 20 minutes. Built in 2001 on 25-foot steel pillars, the mythological beasts were designed by architect Rupert Mok, who says they are protecting the community. Their smoke is water vapor, like the mist that cools sidewalk cafés in Palm Springs. Not long ago the monsters started suffering nozzle congestion. The city Community Redevelopment Agency replaced the clogged plumbing in February, just before Chinese New Year.
Illustration by Zohar Lazar