Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rush Hour

Short post today because all I can think about right now is how tired I am after the air travel experience from Camden (Hell doesn’t even begin to describe how annoying it was). Rather than bore you with the details of that, I’m just going to jot down a few observations about driving to and getting around LA (in car and on foot).

There’s hardly anything more annoying that being clogged in traffic (even when it’s moving) and look over to see not one, but two empty carpool lanes. Really, two? People in Orange County don’t even know each other, let alone drive together.

New rule: If the gap between you and the car in front of you is growing rather than shrinking, you have no business in the far left lane. My own personal rule is that I try to catch up to and drive about two car lengths behind the car in front of me. That way, if a line does form behind me, it’s his fault rather than mine.

Despite the carpool lane and the moronic left-lane drivers, driving through “The OC” is infinitely better than it was when I lived here in the 90s. The DoT finally realized that no one wants to spend one minute longer in Orange County than is absolutely necessary and they’ve upgraded the freeways that go through it.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for LA. Almost immediately upon crossing the line into LA County, traffic comes to an abrupt halt. Now, much of the traffic in Los Angeles is terrible; but most of it is also explainable. Not so this phenomenon (at least not to or by me). You basically go from six lanes to four, which would explain some amount of slowdown. But this is an actual stop. And then it is stop and start for the next few miles – until right before you get to the 101 (and stop again).

Once you’re in LA, you’re really screwed unless you drive these streets every day. On parts of Melrose Ave, there is no right lane because cars are parked there. Then, when there are two lanes it’s anyone’s guess which one is better to be in. I’m constantly stopped in whichever lane I choose while the cars in the other fly by me. You’d think I’d choose the correct lane occasionally but if I do at all, it’s a statistically negligible (I’m so sleep-deprived that I wrote negligent instead of negligible initially) number.

On Santa Monica Blvd. they’ve installed pedestrian cross-walks at different points. They aren’t at intersections. I suppose they finally realized that the intersections are so far apart that it is absurd to think anyone in the middle of the block would walk to one to cross the street. Here’s the thing though. It’s really a complete crapshoot as to whether the cars will stop for you. Most of the time, the car in the lane closest to you stops but the car in the next lane comes flying through and tries to knock you into next week. I can’t be angry when it happens however. I’ve been on the other side. They are really unexpected and it’s not really a natural instinct to look for pedestrians in the middle of the street. I’m as lucky to not be the perpetrator of a vehicular homicide as I am to not be the victim of one.

Finally, I experienced my first paparazzi flash mob today. As we left the restaurant after lunch, about 12000 photographers were in a cluster in front of some store that I didn’t see the name of. We were too far away to see who got out of the car and went into the store, but it was funny to watch these guys literally abandon their cars in the middle of the street to get the shot. I also loved that the employee charged with guarding the door hustled about six of the guys into the store as we were walking by. The only thing worse than being mobbed by paparazzi is not being mobbed by paparazzi.

When I got to Starbucks my friend from lunch called to tell me that the mob was because whichever Kardashian (I think Khloe) is getting married on Saturday was going into be fitted for her gown by none other than Vera Wang. Fancy, huh?

I’m pretty sure it’s Khloe because she tweeted about it. Yup. That’s right. I follow Khloe (and Kim and Kourtney) Kardashian on Twiter. And I’m still not sure which of them is getting married. Sad.

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