This weekend, the world is ending. That is, the part of the world that is the Westside of Los Angeles, also known to its residents as the center of the universe.
In case you haven’t heard, a 10-mile stretch of the all-important Interstate 405 is closing down for 53 hours, beginning Friday evening. How important is this highway? Here in La La Land, we refer to it as The 4-oh-5. Do any of your freeways have an article in front of its designation? I didn’t think so.
This roadwork is so noteworthy that is has its own name: “Carmageddon.” Sounds apocalyptic right? Well, this is no ordinary roadwork. The 405 is a vital piece of concrete. Any time of the day or night, it is the parking lot of choice for the city. Thousands of people do a lot of sitting in their cars on The 405. That we will be deprived of this for 53 hours does not seem just, particularly in the same weekend we are forced to say goodbye to Harry Potter. It’s all so painful.
The 405, you must know, is the city’s great divider. If you live west of it, where the beaches and best climate in Los Angeles are, you can never think of a single reason to travel east, hence the bestselling “I’ll never move east of The 405” T-shirts. If your home is on the Eastside, you view western dwellers as uppity, high falutin’ bores. And who wants to socialize with those types?
It’s all very complicated, and something Oprah should have tackled before she went off the air. But she didn’t, and now the Westside must cope with the biggest traffic disaster since the beginning of time and put up with snotty, unsympathetic comments. Being entitled is not as easy as it looks!
To those telling us to chill and spend quality time in our neighborhoods, which by the way, we are glad to do, I pose questions: What if you planned a wedding near The 405 this weekend? What if you had tickets to see Les Miserables downtown? What if you are pregnant and go into labor or become violently ill? What if the closures prevent you from seeing Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2?
See? It’s not just our favorite latte that we might miss. People, we might be missing out… on life.
Some have attempted to devise solutions. The mayor has suggested that we all go on vacation. Jet Blue quickly sold out of its $4 fares from Burbank to Long Beach—that’s a 35-mile car trip. (Never mind the carbon footprint that will leave on the otherwise eco-friendly Westside.) Farmers not wanting to miss out on the 30th anniversary celebration of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market are spending the night in the homes of customers.
And you mock that this is big?
Presenting more evidence of the scope of this problem: The City of Los Angeles has deployed its minions in the name of the cause. No, not the National Guard, silly! We’re talking about our greatest natural resource—celebrities.
Tom Hanks, William Shatner, Demi Moore, and other stars have been doing what they can—that is, typing—to lend a helping hand. “This weekend, LA! Avoid Carmageddon, Gas-zilla, 405-enstein, Gridlock-apalooza!” the Oscar-winning Hanks tweeted to his 2.2 million followers. “STAY HOME Eat & shop local!”
OK! I feel I must tweet back. I promise to stay on the psychological island that is Venice Beach. I will not add to the pollution caused by unnecessary 35-mile plane rides. And I might even let a needy farmer sleep on my couch.