Updated: Sep 2
I came home from Los Angeles on Sunday. It’s taken me until Wednesday to be able to talk about it. I feel like I’ve been soul-raped, even though I don’t believe in a soul, nor its susceptibility to any sort of violent crime. I’m going to be honest with you LA-dwellers: what in the good goddamned fuck?
How. Do you. Get anything. The fuck. Done?
I’ve been to Los Angeles many times in my life. I’ve driven in it, around it and through it and each time I think to myself, why didn’t I learn last time? The last time I was there, it was 2007. I had a severe ear infection, for which I had to see American docs. I learned that American doctors like to hand out narcotics like they’re candy, so I was pretty fucking high the entire time I was in Los Angeles. I guess gobbling vicodin like popcorn made everything look rosy and palatable. I don’t recall the traffic in LA, because I was stoned out of my heathen gourd.
This time, it all came rushing back to me. There was that trip in 1999 where I sobbed behind the wheel of my 1991 golden Ford Taurus on the I5 North because I had been in the very same spot for nearly six hours and the only people around me were enraged Americans I imagined all had guns in their glove boxes. There was the year I went with my parents and their transmission dropped out in the middle of traffic in Pasadena on a Sunday morning, when all the tow truck drivers and mechanics were all at mass en la iglesia. There was the year we almost missed my cousin’s wedding because the act of yielding in Los Angeles, apparently, is an admission of weakness. I don’t live in L.A., but I’ve probably spent a good fraction of my life in L.A. traffic.
This past trip, I’d estimate, was at least 60% traffic. I really wish I was exaggerating. I really do, but I’m not. We spent most of the trip in the car reading license plates. It took just one day before my lovely, polite, quiet stepdaughter who was visiting L.A. for the first time in her life, exclaimed, exasperated,
“Why do people live here?”
I had no answer for her. The freeways, where L.A. residents appeared to spend most of their time, were lined with trash. It wasn’t even pretty to look at. All we could see was a congested trash pile dotted with pretty palms like lipstick on a pig. Why, indeed, do people live there?
Are you aware there are places in this world to live with affordable costs of living, job opportunities and very little traffic? Didn’t anyone tell you that these places are not mythical? They exist and you don’t have to waste more than half of your fucking life looking at coke-soaked Carl’s Jr. bags blowing in the Santa Anas alongside the eleventh lane of standstill traffic in which you’ve sat for the past two hours? What the fuck, people? What the actual goddamned gridlocked fuck?
Here are a few of the questions that came up in our car as we sat, dead still, in the middle of an endless sea of cars,
“Are people actually expected to work a full eight hour day, here?”
“Do they just go to bed at 2am and get up at 3am?”
“How do these people have time to sleep or enjoy life?”
“Are they not aware there is another way to live?”
I don’t know what it is, that’s got millions of people convinced there is no better way. It felt like the entire metropolitan center suffers from a cognitive dissonance more powerful than that of people who believe in the transubstantiation of wafers to Christ. It’s sad, a little terrifying and a ton frustrating. I love some of the things you have to offer, L.A., but I’m afraid next time we take the kids to Disney, it’ll be Disney Paris. I got my Grimes/Dixon 2016 shirt at Universal, and that’s where my love/hate relationship with the city of Angels will come to a long-awaited end.
Goodbye, L.A. you evil mistress of illusion. I’ve finally learned my lesson.