Carmageddon came and went and as usual, thing in LA are overhyped. The end of things passed and it didn’t make a difference.
Except that maybe it did…
Driving on the 101 Sunday night, I saw a notifier on the road said “405 is now open. Thank You Los Angeles.” Well, that was a nice thing to say. How strange. I kind of felt… good.
I participated in the hype that was the 405 shutdown-also-known-as-Carmageddon. I had family in town and we made sure to hit the Westside during the week and stay east on the weekend. References to the event were inescapable, though usually clever and beneficial; Jetblue’s $4 flights to Long Beach (and the Wolfpack Hustle bike race to beat them), really neat photo ops, and, to my enjoyment, Golden Apple comics had an awesome Carmageddon 20% off discount on Saturday.
When it was over and the city provided its citizens a Thank You, I couldn’t help but feel a sort of solidarity with Los Angeles. During September 11th (a much more tragic event really) New York came together as one in a way previously unrecognized, but thats almost expected. New Yorkers have that in them, culturally, a pride in oneself and the city and the people that make it, be they friends or foes, they all make up a soul for the city. Los Angeles is disjoined, full of spite and passive-agressive frustration, where smiles are actually facades. The city itself is a blank slate, unidentifiable, which is both a detriment and (and this is important) it’s greatest asset. Literally, the city is what you make it. Unfortunately, the independence required here is often what drives a lot of people away.
But at this strange point, Angelenos came together in a pop culture phenomenon, however manufactured, and had some fun with it. There was little controversy, only playfulness and unity, a giant game to involve all locals and tickle the nation.
When it was over nothing had changed and nothing was really different, but for a moment Los Angeles felt like a unified, proud, and collective whole. We all knew, we all participated, and we all laughed at the joke as one.
And that was kind of cool. Yes, I felt like I was being personally thanked by the city by that road sign.
Except if you were trying to get to LAX from Malibu. This whole weekend was probably a different story for you.