L.A. gridlock

When this photo was taken in May 1972, Los Angeles was choking in smog (catalytic converters hadn’t been installed) and the traffic situation was considered to be pretty bad, especially during rush hours. Today, 35 years hence, traffic in this town is beyond any reasonable concept of toleration. I remember reading a news story in the mid ’90s that by 2010 the average driving speed in Los Angeles would be 11.2 miles an hour. That’s only two years hence. The situation feels pretty close to that now.

A drive that used to take 30 minutes in the early ’90s now takes at least 45 to 50 minutes, if not an hour. The only way to get around these days is to ride a scooter or a motorcycle. Otherwise you have to surrender to constant confinement. Cars are like little isolation cells that people ride around in, talking on their phones and listening to NPR and podcasts and getting more and more frosty and burrowing deeper and deeper into their ticks and fears.

A friend recently passed along an observation from screenwriter and longtime Los Angeleno Robert Towne to the effect that L.A. will soon be a town of absolute gridlock, and that during high-traffic hours the travel time from, say, the Pacific Palisades to downtown will eventually take just as long as it used to in the pre-World War I horse-and-buggy days. In this town and in this respect, cars have completely cancelled out their value in terms of speed. Ten years from now it’ll be almost like Blade Runner.

The only thing to do in L.A. these days is to stay indoors and not go anywhere, ever, unless it’s after 10 pm and before daybreak. It’s a city choking on itself. Travelling from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back on the subway is a much faster proposition these days. If I could clap my hands and move to Manhattan into a comparable space without the grief, I would clap my hands.

74 thoughts on “L.A. gridlock

  1. Whining Wells, support public transit and other alternatives to traffic: flex time, working from home, transit-oriented planning, bike lanes, HOV lanes, etc., etc. Guaranteed you’d rather whine and be a part of the problem instead of shutting up and being a part of the solution.

    This is your soapbox. Use it.

  2. The transit alternatives are being rejected whoelsale out here, and not just by the SUV driving elite. NO ONE is participating. And in a city that expects to increase its population by another 7 million people in the next twelve years, nuclear annhilation seems like the simplest solution. For Chrissakes, there are even ballot measure being considered that would return the HOV lanes to normal traffic patterning – as if that would solve anything! The answer nobody wants to hear is more freeways / lanes, because it would eventually grow the beast to larger proportions, and no one in creation would want to have to exist here during the decades-long period it would take to build the things.

    MGMAX – I agree with you whole-heartedly about Chicago. I lived there for nearly a decade, but over thirty years of midwestern winters drove me out into the shake and bake tinderbox I’m in now.

  3. That was a good read. I get a kick out of reading about LA traffic nightmares. If it’s any comfort here in St. Louis they are shutting down a major highway for re-construction which I suspect will create LA like gridlock. Also like LA, our public transportation system sucks. Oh well, luckily I currently only work ten minutes away.

  4. I have to say Jeff you should clap your hands. I lived in LA for 20 years and it made me near crazy. I moved to Brooklyn two years ago and I LOVE it so much. It’s just great. I can hop on a plane if I have to to get to LA but I live in an actual community where there are few chains and people walk and it’s just great.

  5. MathewM…. I heard about the shut down of Highway 40 (highway farty)… of course in typical St. Lou efficiency the project will probably go deep into the 22nd Century…(remember the 40/270 cloverleaf fiasco?)

    The subway in L.A. kicks ass and I’d use the shit out of it if it ran more places… specifically, I need a station beneath the Virgin Megastore on Sunset and Crescent…. and a new line that runs through the Strip, Bev. Hills, Century City, Westwood and on to Santa Monica….

    And of course nobody wants to take a bus that sits in the same traffic as cars….

    I tried to drive from Laurel Canyon to Beechwood Canyon last Wednesday around 6:00 pm…. okay, it was rush hours, but still…. it took us an hour and a half!… tried Hollywood, Sunset, SM and finally Melrose, cutting up Vine…

    it sucked

    and NO you DON’T want to move to Chicago… it’s a horrible place… Nobody should move there….
    (shut up, Chicagoans! Do you want a bunch of annoying L.A. and N.Y. people moving there?)

  6. Just to bring Michael Medved into this for ridicule’s sake, he constantly prattles on about the insanity of public transportation. He’d rather families be deprived of their parents at least 2-4 extra hours and the sky fill with beautiful smog. Tool.

    Is LA is the only major city in America without a decent subway/train? But I do use it all the time. Just carry us to the ocean…

  7. There’s actually a simple solution to LA’s problems. Level the hills. You could put all kinds of high-speed roads between things if you had that space, and much of the travel time spent getting around them would be eliminated.

    Chicago’s flat and you can visit half a dozen different parts of it in the same day. LA, whatever you choose to go is where you have to stay for the rest of the day.

    You could take the dirt from leveling the mountains and use it to build more things like the Grove and City Walk offshore from Santa Monica, too. Or fill the Salton Sea and put some malls there.

  8. So how do any of you LA residents make the time to go out and see a movie if you’re sitting in traffic for 2-3 hours a day?

  9. My drive from work is cut in less than half if I wait it out in a movie theater (usually the AMC in Century CIty or the Landmark on Pico) and head home around 9:00 or 9:30.

  10. Make no little plans, Buckzollo.

    I’ve never lived in LA but I have known enough people who did to realize that they were always kind of staggered by how willing a Chicagoan like myself was to zip all over town in search of lunch, etc. People who live in Santa Monica never go east of Crenshaw. People who live in Koreatown only see the ocean a couple of times a year. No Anglo seems to know that the best Chinese food scene outside of China exists in suburbs like Monterey Park, a short distance away on the 10. I suppose there’s some of that everywhere– the south side of Chicago is a great mystery to many northsiders, with Comiskey and the Museum of Science and Industry existing in a sea of nothing– but geography seems much more deterministic in LA.

  11. north hollywood to wilshire/robertson for a screening this morning — 1 hr&40 min because of accident on 405 and all canyons backed up…. another 45 minutes for return…. more time in the car than in the theater….. thank god gas is only 3.28 a gallon…..

  12. Well if no one else is going to defend Los Angeles I will. Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach. There’s more to do here than anywhere else in the country, if you’re willing to look for it.

    As far is traffic is concerned, it’s certainly bad, but I’ve never had a problem arranging my life around it. I used to commute from Echo Park to Sunset and Fairfax and it never took me more than 20 minutes to get to work, or 30 to get home, and I was working 8am to 4pm. When I’m at home on a weekday, I just don’t go anywhere between 3:30 and 6:30. You can see a film at the Vista or Los Feliz, and not have to deal with too much on the way home.

    And brooklyn, we have a nice community here on the Eastside, in Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park (not to mention downtown, which is on the rise again), where you can walk around and go to places other than corporate chains. You’re not special. Just don’t judge Los Angeles by all the bullshit on the other side of town.

  13. lazarus: “Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach.”

    Denver, Dallas, and Miami.

    “There’s more to do here than anywhere else in the country, if you’re willing to look for it.”

    That’s the point: We shouldn’t have to look for it. We should be able to find it.

    “I used to commute from Echo Park to Sunset and Fairfax and it never took me more than 20 minutes to get to work, or 30 to get home, and I was working 8am to 4pm.”

    Emphasis on “used to”.

    “When I’m at home on a weekday, I just don’t go anywhere between 3:30 and 6:30.”

    That’s because you can’t go anywhere during those times.

    “And brooklyn, we have a nice community here on the Eastside, in Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park”

    Too bad no one can get to those places.

    “(not to mention downtown, which is on the rise again)”

    If gentrification via forced evictions can really be considered on the rise, then sure.

  14. lazarus, I just moved to Los Feliz from Brooklyn and there’s no comparison. This place is a shadow of that wonderful town.

    As for traffic – I still don’t have a car, and I really don’t even want one. A bus ride to the Fox or Sony lots takes me about an hour, hour and ten minutes. A drive takes me about forty five minutes and costs more, all things considered. I agree about the subway – it’s great, it just doesn’t GO anywhere.

  15. lazarus: “Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach.”

    Denver, Dallas, and Miami.

    What the hell, D.Z.? That’s your answer? Where can you ski on a mountain that is less than 2 hours from Miami? What beach is less than two hours away from Dallas or Denver? Answer these questions under the assumption that you don’t have access to an SR-71 Blackbird.

    As for downtown L.A. ….. Bring on the gentrification!

    It’s a drag looking up at these magnificent art-deco, 1920′s era buildings, evoking the hey-day of downtown, only to scan down to street level where it looks like a Tijuana street fair… No, I don’t want to buy a glow in the dark Mother Mary…

  16. Walter: Lazarus didn’t say I couldn’t name one city for each locale. Also, regarding the gentrification, don’t go crawling back to me when you can no longer afford a house/apartment.

  17. “lazarus: “Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach.”

    D.Z. Denver, Dallas, and Miami…Lazarus didn’t say I couldn’t name one city for each locale.”

    Lazarus asked you to name one city that, like L.A., provided relatively quick access to each locale. “Another city” = 1 city. “Two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, AND the beach” indicates that all three criteria must be met by the ONE city.

    So, I guess he didn’t actually say “D.Z., don’t name 1 city for each locale,” but he also in no way asked you to name 3 different cities that each satisfied only one criterion. You simply invented that question.

  18. Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach

    Sacramento?

  19. lazarus I lived in Los Feliz. It’s lame. There is like one dumb street with a few second rate places to eat scrubby trees and an okay bookstore. Brooklyn has great cinemas, tons of art, great resturants a huge great park people actually use. I could go on and on and on. I lived in Silver Lake and Santa Monica and stupid Los Feliz for years. LA it a pathetic joke of a city. FYI – It takes me just under 2 hours to get to Hunter MT in the Catskils to ski. It’s great there and the beach on LI and the shore is less then 40 mins and you can actually swim in the warm ocean water in the summer.

  20. Matthew M: Lots of the traffic problems in St. Louis are not happening on the east side of the river. I lived in Belleville, right across the river, for three of my 4 years in the area, and the Metrolink, buses, and general traffic were SOOOO much better than the year I lived on the St. Louis side of the Mississippi. Except for downtown, Forest Park, and the airport, the “west” counties suburb folk in St. Louis said no to expanded public transport that would have relieved some of the I-40/270, etc. problems there.

    That being said, now that I live in Atlanta after 4 years in the St. Louis area, I have no doubts that Atlanta will be like LA in a couple of years. We have basically no public transportation, everyone has 2 cars it seems, and there is construction on every major roadway and interstate right now, all at the same time. It is madness all hours because they do the roadwork on non-peak hours and weekends on I-75, I-85, I-20, and the “bypass.” Yes, let’s get that monorail!

  21. Hmm, desert, mountain and beach – Malaga, Granada and Seville are all within a couple of hours drive of all three locales (but then they’re not US cities so you’re probably not looking for that answer), and I’m pretty sure I could think of more if I cared.

    As for traffic woes, the average speed in London now is the same as it was 100 or more years ago. Yay progress. This is why you take the tube, or the bus (bus lanes, people: learn it, live it, love it) or better yet bike.

  22. There is no comparison between Los Feliz and Brooklyn. I lived in Austin TX and that small city has more soul and flavor than L.A.

    Mr. Wells I agree with you 100%.

    After almost 9 years of living here I have had it. I just spent two months in Toronto producing a movie and I finally saw the light. I do like my job but I hate this city. I’ve tried to do things outside the business but at the end of day I have a problem living in a major city where I must drive everywhere.

    I actually miss those crazy humid summers back in NYC. At least there was always something going on and you could get to some of the nicest beaches on the east coast within 2 hours.

    As black woman, I don’t like how segregated this city is, something that I really noticed when I was in Toronto. I have to figure out the work thing. I would like to write full time instead of being an exec who writes before work but we’ll see what happens. I do know I am out of here next year.

  23. Does anyone actually LIKE living in LA? All my times visiting for work I always got the impression everyone would rather live anywhere BUT Los Angeles. It seems the people that live there, do so because they have to, rather than want to. I’m not trying to bash LA as I do enjoy visiting it, but am loath to move there myself.

  24. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

    Same with the rest of you who live here but can’t stand it.

    There are plenty of people I know who love living here and are trying to make it a better place.

    Also, I don’t know why everyone’s making these direct Los Feliz to Brooklyn comparisons. For one, Brooklyn is gigantic, of course LF can’t stack up (and brooklyn, LF has two streets with w whole lot of shit, Hillhurst is just as booming as Vermont now). What I was trying to say is that THE WHOLE of the East Side, which includes Silver Lake and Echo Park (both now cooler than the totally bougie Los Feliz anyway) is filled with independent stores, music venues, and eateries to WALK to, and there’s a thriving community here of musicans, artists, writers etc. that make it a pleasant place to live.

    Also, for the record, D.Z., when I say I “used to” have that easy commute, I’m talking like 6 months ago, not 5 years. I got a new job that I couldn’t refuse. And “no one can get to” the East Side? That’s strange because the 101, 5, and 110 are all less than 5 minutes away from me.

    Did I also mention I can walk to Dodger Stadium in like 15 minutes?

  25. Yes, I plan on moving next year too. I can go back and forth so there’s no need to be stuck in the smog anymore. LA was re-tagged most polluted city in America which comes as no surprise. The city is still in the grip of oil and auto rulers. But I have this thing for oxygen.

    This can be a magical town but I fear I’m going to get run over by a Prius anyday now (it’s almost happened a few times). I’m certain that people who were driving SUV’s a couple years back switched them in for Prius and remain the same rude, self-centered speed racers texting and talking. Well, at least I can beat up a Prius.

    And Walter buddy, if you don’t want a city looking like a Tijuana street fair, you might want to consider moving from a town called LOS ANGELES…I’d prefer people engaging their trade to a row of StarbuckGapPotteryBarnPinkBerry aka Blandsville USA. Minus the rats.

  26. Um, I like Los Angeles. People are forgetting the weather. It has been lovely this week, as it was the week before, and as it will be next week.

    As for the traffic, yes, there are times when it drives me nuts. But there are always shortcuts if you bother to look for them. For instance, taking National Blvd. instead of the 10 freeway cuts my drive home in half. San Vicente Blvd. is still, surprising, not that congested, and is a great way to diagonally cut through the city.

    There are always ways to avoid the traffic. It just takes a little bit of effort.

  27. If all the people who say they hate LA would fuck off somewhere else, this would be a nicer place to live.

    The only problem with the public transportation system is that it’s too limited. People use it just fine, the subway is usually pretty crowded and the buses even more so, it’s just that not enough people can take advantage of it. People who don’t see that they directly benefit from mass transit tend not to support mass transit and it becomes a vicious cycle.

    At least they’re finally going to start continuing the Red Line down Wilshire. It’s a start.

  28. Sorry, I live in LA, and I love it. The weather is great, and my commute is perfectly reasonable. I’m fortunately able to dodge the freeways most of the time. And, yes, our proximity to different

    I would never live in New York. Too claustrophobic, no horizons, and way too damn cold in the winter.

    Level the hills? What kind of idiocy is that? Not only is it logistically impractical, but you are aware that a hill itself has much more surface area than its base, right? That’s fairly basic geometry.

    Invest in audiobooks. People should read more anyway.

  29. “It has been lovely this week, as it was the week be”

    If you didn’t count the fires engulfing So Cal that turned the sky into a soot factory. They issued health alerts because of it. I even had to leave town because of the air.

    “the subway is usually pretty crowded and the buses even more so, it’s just that not enough people can take advantage of it.”

    CJ, I dunno. I take the subway everyday and there’s plenty of room. BART up north is far more crowded along wth the NY subways. One problem is that that the bus stops here are pathetic, uncovered and unlit.

    Where’s the People Mover Disny promised us?

  30. Sorry – got cut off.

    …proximity to the mountains, deserts, and beach is very appealing. I was honestly floored when I moved out here and discovered how a fifteen-minute drive could put me out in the middle of some real country.

  31. The appalling traffic in LA, more than anything having to do with the geography or the population, is more than anything a result of the culture. The way people think less of you for riding the bus or the subway… what’s up with that? When LA Story came out in 1991, it was funny when Steve Martin mocked Victoria Tennent for suggesting they go for a walk in LA. Not so funny now.

  32. This sounds like a cliche, but ultimately you have to take the highs with the lows here. If you’re willing to put up with the smog and the traffic and a lot of crazy and nouveau riche assholes, there is more to do here, recreationally and culturally combined, than any other American city I can think of. There’s also a very wide range of cultures you can expose yourself if you choose to.

    Los Angeles isn’t a place that’s easily described as a tourist destination like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago. It’s about the pleasures of daily life that you can fashion if you’re willing to meet the city halfway (okay, maybe more than half). And unlike some other big cities, it’s really growing right now. Downtown is going to be very different place in 5 years, and while you can bemoan the gentrification, that area never should have turned into a shithole in the first place. And wouldn’t you rather have the city center return to downtown instead of being in some nebulous point between Hollywood, Century City & Beverly Hills?

  33. LA’s great. Where else is there where when you want to go down to the corner bar you hop in your car and drive five miles to do so?

    San Francisco may not be two hours from the beach , desert (I love the inclusion of the desert, btw, because A. I guess everybody loved to go to the desert and B. it conveniently eliminates places like Boston), and mountains but it’s pretty close to all three and is ten times the city LA is. And, personally, I much prefer the East Bay to SF.

  34. The desert is a bogus criterion…it eliminates Boston, New York, Philadelphia right off the bat…I don’t know, I’d rather live in a place where I could ski, swim, and visit all three of those places (in addition to Toronto, Montreal, DC, et al) on a whim than a city that’s close to the desert, and where the only cultural advantage is being able to turn right on red (kudos Woody Allen for that great line)…and I happen to like the seasons…

    …for natural beauty, you’d be hard to find a state as diverse as New York or a city with as much close by as NYC…beaches, mountains, lakes, water falls, river valleys, and real tits…

  35. Christian. I won’t claim to riding every day, but in my experience LA public transportation is used much more than people who never use it give it credit for.

    Also I admit, “being near the desert” doesn’t rate very high on my list of reasons to live in LA. Joshua Tree is lovely if I’m in a Gram Parsons kind of mood, but I can take it or leave it.

  36. *shrug* I like the desert. But then again, I was raised out in the desolate Texas plains. I guess I also equate the desert with Vegas, which is my frequent road trip destination.

  37. This is truly one of the funniest, dumbest, idiotic threads I’ve seen here in quite some time.

    Just a few points:

    1. You don’t like it here? WEll then, what the hell are you still doing here? When I read the comment that you don’t like it but you’re still here (a comment that permeates this thread from many), that tells me all I need to know about you: you are weak. You’re telling me you aren’t even grown up enough to do something about your pathetic little self. Poor LITTLE you.

    Grow some stones for god’s sake.

    2. Some geniuses here want to compare little Los Feliz with Brooklyn. Quaint, lovely little LF has about what, 50K living there? Brooklyn has 2 and a half MILLION people living there for crying out loud. That is one of the absolute lamest comparisons I’ve ever read, EVER.

    And by the way, go see a show at the Greek Theater on a late summer evening, or spend an evening at Griffith Park, and keep on telling me about how shitty the area is. I got a friend that lives there, right down the street from Aimee Mann, you gonna start bashing her next? Give me a break. What are you going to do next, tell me there aren’t any good restaurants in Los Angeles? Grow up.

    3. I drove home the last two nights in a row from the Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concerts at the Sports Arena, downtown, last night the Lakers had opening night right up the street at Staples Center. I couldn’t stay at my LA place this week, and I had to go to my OC home instead. I drove the 40 miles home to my Huntington Harbour house in about 40 minutes. And that was AFTER I’d driven a few miles north after the show to power down a Tommy burger and chili fries after the show last night.

    Yeah, traffic sucks during prime time. But if you’ve spent time here you know every inch of your route, and GPS exists for a reason and gets the job done.

    3. The old chestnut “my city is better than yours, my state is better than yours” is a pointless time waster. New York has some beautiful places. So does California. New Yorkers, you wanna argue that your state has beautiful places, do you really wanna get in that argument with California? Have you ever been to Yosemite, Big Sur, Mammoth Lakes, etc.? Both states have elements of beauty in them. Both have filth as well.

    One other thing: You wanna crumb on the desert? Pray tell, where do you take the motorcycles and go dirt riding near Brooklyn? Don’t go getting the river rats pissed off, they bury people in that big Mojave people. The desert is far from bogus, it’s a beautiful place for the soul.

    Everyone that’s “planning on moving next year”: pick up the pace, you’re slacking again.

  38. “Feel free to name another city where you’re less than two hours away from skiing on the mountain, the desert, and the beach.”

    Try Downtown San Diego. Okay, slightly more than two hours from L.A., but brushfire free and WAY higher quality of life. Been here 12 years. Originally was intending to live/work in LA. Never left here, but still hit LA for all my key concerts and premieres.

  39. Silverlake and Echo Park suck. Flat out suck. They’re crammed with the kind of shitty hipsters Brooklyn has managed to keep quarantined to a few blocks in Williamsburgh and the Lower East Side. And the neighborhoods are UGLY.

  40. Up yours, Devin. I don’t know if you lived in either neighborhood before or not, but if you did you probably were an asshole here too.

    Hipsters can get on my nerves as much as anyone else’s, but better here than living around a bunch of tools or corporate whores.

  41. I’m not a hipster so wherever I go I’m surrounded by people who think they’re way cooler than me. And they are. And it doesn’t bother me any more in LA than it does anywhere else I’ve been.

    That’s a BS argument.

    Seriously. Pick up your shit and go back. We don’t need you.

  42. One thing I note is that if you live here and dare acknowledge problems, you get the whole WELL FUCKING MOVE ASSHOLE! speech from the podfolk. It’s the same thing when you point out problems with America: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT BEATCH!

    So please, don’t ever complain or suggest solutions. You must simply leave. Or use your GPS. Bcause y’know, everybody here has GPS…

    Oh, you mean you don’t? WELL THEN MOVE ASSHOLE!

  43. Pointing out that LA is imperfect is different than “Brooklyn Rox, LA Sux!” Or cheap shots about fake tits from people who don’t live here.

    I bitch about LA all the time. For example, if I never saw antoher ratty palm tree again for as long as I live…that would be fine.

  44. I couldn’t stay at my LA place this week, and I had to go to my OC home instead

    Unnecessary, sloppy exposition.

    I didn’t perceive any of your bombast directed towards me, but you just told us everything we need to know about you…Because strong people seek validation in comment sections of entertainment blogs.

  45. We all just want to be loved Delbomber, is that so wrong?

    Speaking of things that do not suck about LA, am I the last one to find out the The Silent Movie Theatre has reopened and it looks like they’ve got some cool shit going on? They’re only silent one day a week, but it’s better than another Starbucks or Pink Berry, right?

    Check it out

    http://www.silentmovietheatre.com

  46. To quote Randy Newman: “I love LA.”

    It ain’t perfect. Every bad thing you’ve heard about it is true. Traffic sucks and the public transit system is woefully inadequate. Sometimes when I’m tooling around, I can spot tracks from the old trolley system that was abandoned in the 1950s. It kills me that you could once ride a trolley from downtown to the beach.

    But if this place speaks to you and fills your heart and soul, you find ways to deal with these things. Just like folks do anywhere. I love to visit NYC but there’s no way I could imagine living there. But my friends there seem incredibly happy.

    And friends who visit me here, when I show them a few of the things I list below, are always taken aback by how much fun they’re having. “I didn’t know LA was this much fun,” is one thing I hear often from my guests.

    I avoid traffic by working a 6-2 shift (my choice, and not one that most folks have — then again, others telecommute). This lets me drive 35 miles of freeway in less than half an hour and preserves my sanity (though I’m not the night owl I once was).

    I live in Los Feliz which is a wonderful walking neighborhood (a sad rarity in LA). The Greek Theater is a short jaunt up the hill. There’s a great movie theater, the Vista, just a few blocks away, and a trio of lesser theaters one mile down. Excellent public library, great bookstore (Skylight), crazy gift store where I do all my holiday shopping (Wacko). Food: excellent Mexican, Sushi, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, Thai … none more than a 15-minute walk from my stoop.

    If I’m really hoofing it, I can hit Sunset Junction in Silverlake in 30 minutes. Yes, it’s hipster-ridden, probably where Los Feliz will be in another 10 years, but I like it well enough to visit once or twice a month. Great coffee shop (Intelligentsia), a couple of great cheese stores, an upscale comic shop, great thrifting.

    Did I mention the 260 days of beautiful sunshine each year? Maybe you don’t suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, but for those who do, this place elevates your mood to Paradisical.

    Oh yeah, one more thing: legalized marijuana. Proof that you can regulate it, remove the criminal element and make a ton of money. The feds don’t like that but their hollow Drug War has fallen away to make room for the War on Terror, so their token raids don’t really matter. A prescription guarantees you won’t be prosecuted by the city, county, or state. For those of us who believe THC is no more dangerous than alcohol, this is a major cultural and political step forward.

    Finally, here’s one of the best essays I’ve seen on how it feels to be captivated by LA. Not everybody feels this way and that’s OK. It’s a big world and there are plenty of places for you to find your happiness. But this guy nails how I feel:

    http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/greater-los-angeles.html

  47. “legalized marijuana.”

    Now that’s all you really had to say.

    And the Cinefamily screening will include KING KONG ESCAPES, so that’s two fer two…

    PUT ME DOWN, KONG!

  48. Nice to read your words, Clark, but a little clarification: Los Feliz is not going to be Silver lake in 10 years; it USED to be like Silver Lake 10 years ago. No offense to LF, because it’s a great little community, but the hipsters moved further SE down Sunset because it was becoming too bougie and expensive to live there (hell, the 2 bedroom apt on New Hampshire I was paying less than a $1000 a month for back in 2001 is now charging twice that amount). Then the same thing started to happen to Silver Lake, which is how Echo Park became what it is now. If anything, Silver Lake is going to become more like LF than the other way around.

    While I’d like to have a movie theatre closer to where I am, I’m close enough to the 5 and 110 that I can speed out to Burbank, Glendale, Highland Park, or even Pasasena if I want to see something. And I’m a 10 minute drive from the ones in your hood. Of course, there’s always the Grand 4-Plex downtown, which I can walk to in less than a half hour and not have to worry about parking downtown.

    I imagine in the next year or two there will be a huge multiplex near the Staples Center where all that other shit is being built, and hopefully it will have ample (and free) parking.

  49. “If all the people who say they hate LA would fuck off somewhere else, this would be a nicer place to live.”

    If all the people who say they hate LA would fuck off somewhere else, it would be The Omega Man.

    I always enjoy visiting LA, but EVERYONE I’ve ever known who lived there hated it and whined like crazy about it.

    Overall, I agree with Goodvibes, or with Stephen Stills– love the one you’re with.

  50. nola: “After almost 9 years of living here I have had it. I just spent two months in Toronto producing a movie and I finally saw the light.”

    Having visited family members in Toronto, I know how you feel.

    “As black woman, I don’t like how segregated this city is, something that I really noticed when I was in Toronto.”

    I’m white, and I feel out of touch here! L.A.’s become a playground for yuppies with souped-up, gas-guzzling cars who want everyone else to think they’re famous. Anyway, I had to post this random message thread about the city, too. http://messageboard.tuckermax.com/showthread.php?t=4007

    lazarus: “There are plenty of people I know who love living here and are trying to make it a better place.”

    Antonio Villaraigosa’s one of them, but people are too busy bitching about his affair…

    “What I was trying to say is that THE WHOLE of the East Side, which includes Silver Lake and Echo Park (both now cooler than the totally bougie Los Feliz anyway) is filled with independent stores, music venues, and eateries to WALK to,”

    Yes, but it’s not where the jobs are, which means a longer commute.

    “Also, for the record, D.Z., when I say I “used to” have that easy commute, I’m talking like 6 months ago, not 5 years. I got a new job that I couldn’t refuse.”

    It’s gotten just as bad in six months as it has in five years…

    “And “no one can get to” the East Side? That’s strange because the 101, 5, and 110 are all less than 5 minutes away from me.”

    Wonderful. Now try using them during rush hour.

    “If you’re willing to put up with the smog and the traffic and a lot of crazy and nouveau riche assholes, there is more to do here, recreationally and culturally combined,”

    Dude, all we got are a couple museums and a stadium with no football team.

    “and while you can bemoan the gentrification, that area never should have turned into a shithole in the first place.”

    It’s not like the poor had a choice in the matter. All the manufacturing jobs got outsourced long before either Bush.

    christian: “This can be a magical town but I fear I’m going to get run over by a Prius anyday now (it’s almost happened a few times).”

    Christ, they let anyone drive here nowadays. And the only thing they got cameras for are people crossing red lights; but drivers get away with so much more annoying shit here.

    “Minus the rats.”

    They’re in the subway tunnels…

    John: “Um, I like Los Angeles. People are forgetting the weather.”

    You mean the drought, the heatwave, and the blood-red sun from the Malibu fires?

    cj: “The only problem with the public transportation system is that it’s too limited.”

    It’s limited in the sense that there aren’t enough buses, and they’re rarely on time.

    “it’s just that not enough people can take advantage of it. People who don’t see that they directly benefit from mass transit tend not to support mass transit and it becomes a vicious cycle.”

    They benefit when it works, which isn’t the case here.

    Darth: “I would never live in New York. Too claustrophobic,”

    It’s called interacting with other people, something you can’t do in L.A.

    “no horizons,”

    I’ll take that over getting lost and navigating a bunch of one-way streets for an hour just to get on my regular route…

    “and way too damn cold in the winter.”

    At least they have a winter there…

    goodvibe: “You don’t like it here? WEll then, what the hell are you still doing here?”

    I can’t find work to get me out of this hellhole, much like most people here.

    “And by the way, go see a show at the Greek Theater on a late summer evening,”

    I will, if I can make it through the traffic.

    “or spend an evening at Griffith Park, and keep on telling me about how shitty the area is.”

    I will, when it’s not on fire, and I don’t have to take four buses to get there…

    “Yeah, traffic sucks during prime time. But if you’ve spent time here you know every inch of your route,”

    And if that route has some nasty accidents on it, you’re still fucked.

    Clark: “Oh yeah, one more thing: legalized marijuana. Proof that you can regulate it, remove the criminal element and make a ton of money.”

    Bill Richardson’s gonna make it happen in New Mexico, soon…

  51. People are forget that when there isn’t traffic (and that’s more often than people will admit), L.A. is an extremely navigable city. You can travel what is the width of Manhattan in less than 2 minutes.

    Sydney Pollack answered in the same way when he was asked about his best and worst freeway stories:

    “The best is how you can get five times the length of Manhattan in five or six minutes when there’s no traffic, the worst is trying to get anywhere in rush hour.”

  52. John: “People are forget that when there isn’t traffic (and that’s more often than people will admit), ”

    It’s not often anymore.

    “You can travel what is the width of Manhattan in less than 2 minutes.”

    But I can travel the width of Manhattan without a car.

  53. Yes, you can travel the width of Manhattan without a car, crammed next to a pack of potentially smelly people. I’ll take a comfy air-conditioned car anytime.

    But, whatever, if you want to piss on Los Angeles, D.Z., go ahead. I don’t care about your happiness, or lack thereof.

  54. “Yes, you can travel the width of Manhattan without a car, crammed next to a pack of potentially smelly people.”

    I’m talking about on foot. But at least when you’re crammed on a subway car in NY, it doesn’t take as long to get to from point A to point B as it would with a car.

  55. There’s a difference between “acknowledging problems” about your town and saying things like “I’ve had it with this place”, or “I’m leaving next year”, or if i could snap my fingers I’d move” or shit like that.

    Acknowledging problems is one thing. Saying you’re so down on the place that you’d do just about anything to get out is different. And if you don’t have any kids you’re raising, and you’re not married, then once again I would say “What’s wrong with you, why are you here?”. To me that’s a completely legitimate question.

    I love New York as well. Whenever I visit friends I normally don’t get to stay in New York, cuz they all live in Connecticut (Why is that anyway?), but I love being out there, and I think I’d enjoy living there as well. But L.A. is one of the greatest cities on Earth, and living here holds many great opportunities for the heart and mind…

  56. What’s missing from this equation is that many people here came for a reason, probably industry oriented. So there’s a whole other process of getting beat down or frustrated while you’re trying to ply your trade, which leads to the anomie summed up fairly accurately in “The Day of the Locust” or Bukowsi or even films like THE PLAYER. So there.

  57. Christian, having come through the anomie and emerged on the other side into a happy place, it’s easy for me to forget how miserable I was the first couple of years here.

    Even now, when the first hot day of the year comes and I realize I’m not likely to see another drop of rain for like 8 months…I have to steel myself.

    I meant what I said about the hills though.

  58. I can’t even drive behind ONE car w/o a catalytic converter without getting high.

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