The final story, the final chapter of western man, I believe, lies in
.” Los Angeles
This past Saturday, I had an all-day meeting scheduled for downtown
Over the last year, we have had several Armageddons that never materialized in
L.A. Probably the most famous was the weekend closure
of Interstate 405, known locally as the San Diego Freeway. This was the event known as “Carmageddon,”
and had the entire country enthralled, if the coverage on CNN and MSNBC was to
be believed. We were warned that L.A.
fire units and paramedics would be unable to reach calls in the hills above
Sherman Oaks and west Los Angeles;
LAPD would be slow to respond in the area of the closure. It was all doom and gloom, and none of it
materialized, thank God. Carmageddon was
a bust. Everything proceeded normally,
and the construction company even finished the scheduled work early. The California Department of Transportation
(Caltrans) reported lighter than normal traffic across the region. The closure did result in a funny photograph
of a dinner party in the fast lane of the empty freeway. The group managed to clear out before
California Highway Patrol ( CHP) showed up to
|Photo courtesy of Jesse Glucksman|
It still seems odd to me that so much of
Los Angeles history is cast
in terms of the end of the world.
Earthquakes, fires, floods, crime, pursuits, and sporting events all
seem to come with the “Armageddon” tag, as if we expect that the Book of Revelation could only come true in L.A. The thing is, we survive. We recover. May be it is just our Hollywood
sense of drama that makes us blow the prophecies of destruction and
annihilation out of proportion. However,
I feel our wails of trepidation might make the rest of the country think of us
as cowards, and that would be a shame.
Citizens in this city do have resilience, probably to a greater degree
than we think.
The Sunday Los Angeles Times did a front page story about the revitalization of the downtown area surrounding the
and L.A. Live. It is “No longer the 9-to-5 area its once
was…” said the headline. New lofts and
apartments have gone up, some of them in old refurbished buildings that had
been empty for a while, and businesses anticipated a busy weekend with all the
traffic headed for the sporting events.
But the article also points out that just a few blocks north, west,
east, or south, things are rather dull.
Only the usual locals come out to hoist a few in the bars and
restaurants. In short, the crowds for
events stay localized in the streets around Staples. In many ways, Staples
Angeles lacks a heart.
The city center does not hold, unless there is a reason to go
downtown. Great dining can be had in Pasadena,
Santa Monica, even the San
Fernando Valley. There is
Citywalk at Universal, Disneyland in Anaheim,
in Magic Mountain Valencia. The question must be asked: is Los Angeles
a city or as Dorothy Parker said, “seventy-two suburbs in search of a city?”
For the record, I made it to my meeting a half hour early in light traffic. Coming home, I hit the usual congestion going through downtown on the 110, but once I hit the 101 I was home free. And according to the news naysayers, traffic was light throughout the area all weekend. Things were absolutely normal, at least for
L.A. But tomorrow, tomorrow is another day.