July 18, 2011

Carmageddon

In L.A., you can't talk about the weather because it's boringly nice, so the main subject of small talk that binds people together is complaining about the traffic. So, when it was announced a few months ago that the San Diego Freeway from the San Fernando Valley to West LA was going to be shut over the weekend to knock down part of the Mulholland Bridge as part of widening the freeway, it became an instant source of obsession. Massive traffic jams! Chaos!

So, of course, everybody stayed home and the freeways were empty. It was exactly like the 1984 Olympics in LA, when everybody knew there was going to be Terrorist Attacks! Killer Smog! Giant traffic jams! No parking!

And, so the rest of the world fled Los Angeles, and locals had the place to themselves for two weeks. No smog (which was rare then), and you could drive 80 miles per hour to the Coliseum, where we found a free parking spot on the street ten yards from the new statue of giant naked athletes at the peristyle entrance. (Granted, my friend was driving a 1960s VW Bug and spent 15 minutes parallel parking it into a spot two inches longer than his car, but I have the picture to prove it.)

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not Sailer. Not that it matters but why do you do this? Topic is days old too.

Le Sigh said...

Ah, LA and its complete lack of walkability.

If you lived in NYC, steve, you wouldn't even need to know how to drive. :-)

theslittyeye said...

The transportation system in LA is insane. Way too many cars everywhere, at the same time, there's little opportunity to take public transport system since everyone lives in the suburbia concrete forest and the existing pathetic public system sucks big time. Of course then traffic jam in LA is equal to the shitty weather in London, people whine and bitch everyday.

Tscottme said...

You never go wrong dismissing the media's latest hysteria. If more than 2 reporters are talking about the same story for more than a few days, it's probably nothing worth listening to.

Nuclear winter
population bomb
SARS
bird flu
heterosexual AIDS epidemic in America
Y2K
Audi/Toyota unintended acceleration
silicone breast implants
anti-vaccination/autism epidemic
suitcase nukes

Daniel said...

Call it like it is, brother.

Anonymous said...

California would be better off in every possible way if it had fewer people. The quality of life would be higher.

AllanF said...

So then where's the picture? Pretty sure blogger allows one to embed photos.

Marlowe said...

Staging an Olympiad seems an expensive solution to traffic congestion.

Anonymous said...

Nice weather? Isn't it absurdly hot all the time? My brother-in-law says he prefers to live here in PA because of the awful heat.

Anonymous said...

I keep hoping there'll be that one big earthquake that will sink California into the sea.

Perspective said...

I've never understood why people in a city that basks in 300 days of sunshine combined with comfortable temperatures spend so much time in their cars.

Too bad, in the 1950's they made highways the prime (and basically the only way)mode of transporting and moving around the city. They should have built the city by making it into a North American version of some Mediterranean European cities. As a major plus, enforced and restricted immigration to have prevented it from becoming a Mexican city in the US.

green mamba said...

"I keep hoping there'll be that one big earthquake that will sink California into the sea."

California/Tumbles into the sea/ That'll be the day I go back to Annandale.

But seriously, this blog and its author would no longer exist if that happened.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it absurdly hot all the time?

No, it's mostly comfortable but too much sun for Northern Europeans.

Anonymous said...

"But seriously, this blog and its author would no longer exist if that happened."


He could always consider the nightmarish extra expenses of living in an earthquake, mudslide, forest fire and killer bee plagued state and MOVE to one of those relatively boring states with affordable family formation. No doubt he'd live like a king.

Not my fault if the big brain doesn't think his way through this before the big one hits.

Anonymous said...

"No, it's mostly comfortable but too much sun for Northern Europeans."

Guess my Mexican brother-in-law is lying, huh?

Anonymous said...

Can't be as bad as TRANSFORMERS that Hollywood LA dumped on everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Does the debt crisis signal Obamageddon?

ATBOTL said...

Traffic IMO is worse in the NYC area because of the choke points at the bridges and tunnels. Every bridge or tunnel you attempt is an hour spent not moving during rush hour(and much of the rest of the time as well. The effect is that the Eastern, Northern and Western suburbs are like separate metropolitan areas that don't interact with each other.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

No, it's mostly comfortable but too much sun for Northern Europeans.

That's been my reaction to coastal California when I've visited in the summer: Pleasant temperatures but too much relentless, inescapable sun, made worse by generally cloudless skies and the absence of proper trees. (I enjoyed a few instances of "June gloom" just because I could be outside without feeling like a shrimp on the barbie.)

Otherwise, I'm glad you commented on this, Steve. I thought about you when I heard the story and immediately concluded it would be No Big Deal. I couldn't figure out why anyone expected massive traffic jams when the closure happened on a weekend and with ample warning. Unless you work on the weekend or are getting married or something, who HAS to go anywhere? If you expect chaos on the highways, you just stay home, thereby preventing chaos on the highways.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

He could always consider the nightmarish extra expenses of living in an earthquake, mudslide, forest fire and killer bee plagued state and MOVE to one of those relatively boring states with affordable family formation. No doubt he'd live like a king."

Yeah, one of those places that suffer floods, tornados, hard frosts, hot damp moldy summers, termites, carpenter ants, and all manner of other house-destroying stimuli.

Mr. Anon said...

"Get Off My Lawn! said...

That's been my reaction to coastal California when I've visited in the summer: Pleasant temperatures but too much relentless, inescapable sun, made worse by generally cloudless skies and the absence of proper trees."

They have this thing there called "night". The sun generally doesn't shine during that time.

If you grew up somewhere else, I can understand why five months of rainless, sunny days with a dry, warm shirt-sleeve climate could seem wierd. But if you grew up in California, you would consider it normal, and judge the climate there to be the standard by which all other climates would be judged.....and found wanting.

Antioco Dascalon said...

"Nice weather? Isn't it absurdly hot all the time? My brother-in-law says he prefers to live here in PA because of the awful heat."
Apparently, he lives far from the coast. I think California has the best climate in the country, objectively speaking. What I mean by this is that the natural climate most closely resembles the artificial climate that businesses and homes most desire. Compare this weather chart of Philadelphia with Santa Monica and the contrast is stark:

http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USPA1276

http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USCA1024

With Philly, the average June-August highs are all in the 80s and the lows are below 50 7 months out of the year, below freezing three of those months. Note the extreme shift in seasonal temperature.
With Santa Monica, the average never goes below 50 or ever above 71, meaning you could probably do without heating or cooling year round, since in winter the daytime temp will still reach the mid-60s and in the summer the nighttime temperature will still drop to the low 60s.
The difference in Philly between the average high of the hottest month and the average low of the coldest month is 61 degrees. For Santa Monica, it is 21 degrees.
And I didn't cherry pick. If you get closer to the coast, such as Virginia Beach (45) or Nantucket (41) the spread is reduced, but look at La Jolla (29) or San Francisco (25).

You may object that you said hot, not the spread between hot and cold. Maybe the spread is so wide because the East Coast gets much colder than the west. But look at the average temps again. The summer average highs in San Francisco are 68, 68 and 69 degrees. If that is absurdly hot, then how about the summer highs of Pittsburgh, which are 80, 85 and 83. And that's not even factoring in the heat index.