The Other End of Sunset

Sunday, September 11, 2005

When did LA become New Jersey?

OK, I just got back from a week in my favorite city. LA. Yes, I mean it, and no I don't want to hear about the traffic or the smog or the riots.

Anyway, I noticed a new, awful trend. People honk now. That sucks.

I moved to LA from Chicago many years ago, and one of my favorite things was ... the silence. Yes, that's right, the silence. No horns, nobody yelling out the window at other cars, aah peace. Completely unlike what I was used to. It was (almost) heavenly.

OK, there were sirens, and the (occasional) gunshot, but no horns! Awesome!

And yet, time passes, and people move to LA, and it (apparently) becomes more like northern NJ. Horns. Not lots of them yet, but some of them. And idiots yelling out the window. The horns, are unfortunately, standard equipment, but the idiots behind the wheel are extra cost options.

How did this happen?

So, I'm in the car driving down Centinela, and the person driving missed the left turn lane, and so paused with her turn signal on to move over. A balding, ugly dude in an Acura honked -- not even just a beep, but a complete lean-on-the-horn noise -- and leaned out the window to say "Nice move!" Let's see, dude. Maybe you should move back to the East coast. You're older, balder, and fatter than I am, and you want to yell? OK, I thought about getting out of the car and helping him understand that he was simply a mistake-in-a-proto-luxury-car. Suddenly *I* might as well be a Right Coaster. Sigh. But I didn't honk at him...

BTW, for those of you keeping score, Centinela isn't near anything cool, or any studios, or much of anything that indicates that you are anything other than a car salesman. Or a consultant. Well, there are some internet companies nearby, but not, like SONY Pictures or whatever. Why the attitude, man? And, also, for those of you who drive regularly, there was another lane into which he could have shifted with no fuss, no muss.

But he had to honk. Sigh.

It gets better.

I was driving down Ocean Park later in the week, and I looked up to see a dude in a white H2 -- no, not the original Hummer, the H2 is the one that has the cheesy GM plastic interior. OK, that's not uncommon -- it is LA, after all -- but the interesting part was he was driving down the turning lane. You know, the lane in the middle of the street, designed for people to, well, turn. So, this guy was driving down the lane (making better time than I was, granted). OK, odd, but not unheard of. The best part? Well, somebody the other way pulled into the lane to turn -- again, that's what the lane is for, right? -- and the H2 poseur-dude *honks*! Like, "get out of my lane, can't you see I'm driving here?" I couldn't hear him yell, but I'm sure he was yelling. Hmm. Perhaps it's a trend. Like antibiotic-resistent TB.

Clearly, I need to rethink the traffic laws.

Or perhaps, I need to come to grips with the fact that my beloved city is becoming more like an arbitrary East coast city, and buy into the whole thing. Get a new horn, and carry a weapon.

OK, the "weapon" part was just a joke.

But not the part about the horn... maybe one of those air horns that go on top of semis? What do you think?

There are so many serious things I could add to the end of this diatribe. It's almost hard to choose today. We are contemplating forcibly evacuating people from parts of the Gulf Coast. I wonder if the soldiers in the Southern states will feel like those in Gaza, or if the causes make the effects feel different? There have been people arguing for years that we needed to rebuild the levees. They were right. Do they feel smart now, or like failures -- if someone, anyone, had listened, lots of folks would be alive now.

A prophet in one's own land, indeed. Who else are we ignoring right now? Where are we spending the money that might save lives? Are we killing people with that money, instead of making the world safer and better?

Today is the fourth anniversary of a great tragedy, a terrible crime, that has defined our era. I wish we had used our tremendous power and strength to lead the world away from hate, and towards freedom. Have we done that?

Perhaps we should all pay attention as we pass somewhere in a taxi...