Although the stalwarts have disappeared down the T'pke, unladen with sentimentality about the strange cluster of villages they have left behind, Ho-ho-kus still lies to the north some ways, not far from the King Lumbard Rest Stop. It still lies in their hearts, and they still have its bell.

The Olde language of the pre-Shadow Years has evolved into a vulgar stew of shorthand and clipped words - so many words have lost their context, those words grown obsolete - and a hotchpotch of mix-and-match vernaculars. Scholars have found the same words in technical manuals, legal documents found in safes, and old glamor magazines: How to determine their true meaning?

Ho-ho-kus is thought to be a condensation of earlier forms, much like 'Jerze' or 'Newark' (New Ark). The first word was Hollywood, the others uncertain. True, standing on one of the hills are first four letters from the famous wrinkled photographs: H-O-L-L-

Where the others went is not clear.

The characters grew up in relative safety in burroughs called Burb'nk - where the term 'Burbs' comes from - Bev Hills, and Centuree Cittie.

The top elders cluster around a compound important for its learning, the Hollywood Community College, where none but they pass, other than the svelte, talented young ladies they invite in to take care of home crafts. The wider sprawl is a mix of subdivisions with stray standing houses, the expansive yards trimmed of weedy shrubs and cultivated for small-scale architecture; strip malls used for commerce, such as barrel making and crop fermentation; and old supermarkets converted into town halls or schools. There are a few standing multiplexes converted into song-and-dance theaters where, surrounded by flapped and faded cinema posters, performers embellish stories from the film stills and glossies that still remain. The spirits of the glamorous film stars who used to live here can almost tangibly be felt.

Ho-ho-kus has never sustained attack by the Jersey Giant or the metal invasion from EastWest Point, at least any time soon. However, the police presence has not yet been significant to the characters growing up.

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