Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On With Autumn!

I’m sure you’ve heard about the horror that is Los Angeles traffic. I won’t wax poetic about the loneliness of being stuck in traffic alone, but I will affirm that the traffic in LA is just as bad as you’ve heard. The old chestnut that it takes twenty minutes to get anywhere in LA is still true, but a little different than it used to be. While you used to be able to get from Beverly Hills to Hollywood in twenty minutes, now it takes twenty minutes to get to and from the ATM at your bank around the corner and that’s on a Saturday afternoon! Forgot milk at the store? Do you really need it that bad? Don’t even ask about how long it takes to get to the beach! That’s what it’s like in many areas in the city. The most congested street traffic has always been in Hollywood and West Hollywood, as these are very desirable places to live and live it up. Recently, Hollywood has undergone a major transformation. Normally, we’d call it gentrification, but it’s much more than that. There are many brand new condominium towers being built, and that’s on top of the many that were built in the past six or seven years. There is even a brand spanking new W hotel going up at Hollywood & Vine that also features a separate condo tower of its own! [can you imagine living at a W?! you can count on finding me at their pool, by the way.] These buildings often take the place of what used to be vacant lots or old abandoned buildings, so each one raises the total population of Hollywood and West Hollywood. All that boils down to more cars on the street. Sounds exciting, right?

Sometimes, LA traffic is even worse than what you’ve heard. What makes things more complicated six months out of the year is a little secret called The Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl really is an amazing place to see a concert, and is right smack in the middle of a major traffic area in Hollywood. Pretty cool, right? It’s nestled in the hills so while you’re in this amphitheatre you’re surrounded by a beautiful canyon which is surprisingly cozy. If you’re not going to an event at the Bowl you will know one is happening because it affects the traffic in all of Hollywood and West Hollywood. This place has 17,000 seats and let me tell you that all those cars make a difference. I used to think I was going crazy until somebody told me that it took them an hour to get home from work when it usually took him fifteen minutes. And that’s when there’s accidents to deal with. Dag! There have been many after dinner drinks planned simply because we knew traffic would be awful. Last week was the end of the Bowl’s season and I knew about it because I live so close to the Bowl that I need to have their calendar at the ready: The final two nights were Neil Diamond. Most people did not believe that Neil could sell out two nights at the Bowl, which admittedly is a little surprising. I just hunkered down to wait for the season to end like I always do. I will say that the traffic was just awful, definitely the worst I’ve seen all year. How bad was it? So bad that many a facebook status was devoted to Neil those two nights, and an acquaintance even vented to me about it two nights later! It almost began to seem as if people did not think Neil Diamond was worth that much traffic… That sentiment was a definite subtext to much of what I was hearing. It’s not that people were being insensitive, you just can’t mess with folks’ traffic without getting a visceral reaction. Oh, Neil. Congratulations on selling out the Bowl two days in a row, you still got it!

And thank god it’s the end of the season so we can properly get on with Autumn! Octoberfest, anyone?

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