Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



Normally, when a city closes road for repairs, it's not headline news.  However...LOS ANGELES is by no means a normal city...so last weekend's freeway closure became a top national story.  For those of you lucky enough not to have heard about this, here's a quick summary:  In order to widen the 405 Freeway to twenty-six lanes, (exaggeration) a bridge needed to be demolished first.  This meant...gasp!...closing the crucial artery for an entire weekend.  Instantly, ten million people began to panic, thanks to media-fueled frenzy predicting the worst.  No...it would be even worse than the worst...Los Angeles would be engulfed in deadly CARMAGEDDON!

Just how did this all get so out of hand?  Well, it's a simple fact that in America, and particularly in L.A., local news stations are in a constant competition for higher ratings.  While feel-good pieces about firemen-saving-cats-in-trees are sweet, it's a fact that FEAR-BASED stories get higher ratings.  Within days of L.A. county supervisor ZEV YAROSLOVSKY's initial press conference, the minor story mushroomed into headline news.  Prognosticators painted a dire picture of a gridlocked city, with motorists trapped in their cars, gasping for air.  Of course NONE OF THIS HAPPENED, because by the time JULY SIXTEENTH came, everyone in L.A. was too terrified to walk outside. 

But don't worry...this being Los Angeles, there were a number of really wacky things that actually did happen.  You see, Californians are notorious at finding a way to CASH IN on just about anything, and CARMAGGEDON was a perfect opportunity to do just that.  Naturally, T-shirt sales skyrocketed, because that's what people wear in L.A. (We like: "I'll tell you my alternate route...if you tell me yours!")   Local businesses also got involved.  The Santa Monica Pier gave free passes to anyone with a San Fernando Valley Zip code.  Gladstone's restaurant in Pacific Palisades served up special $4.05 entrees.  Body Wellness offered a gridlock-relief yoga class.  It was...like...oh my god...totally bitchen!

However, there was one crazy CARMAGEDDON caper that had everyone here at the DUNER BLOG laughing so hysterically, we simply must share it with our readers:  One airline, JET BLUE, offered to fly folks over the freeway to avoid the traffic altogether.  Flight #405 ran only two days and was a mere 29 miles, from LAX to Burbank.  The in-flight meal was an L.A. favorite: Vietnamese spring rolls, chicken skewers, pitas and hummus.  Yum!  The fare was $4 for coach, $5 for business.  JET BLUE airline lost a bundle of cash, but gained a ton of FREE PUBLICITY...another L.A. favorite!

Finally, environmentalists also saw CARMAGEDDON as a vehicle to get their message out.  Activists reminded residents about how other great metropolises like London and Paris have "car free" weekends...why not L.A.?  Public Transport reported record ridership, especially on the Red Line subway that connects downtown to the valley.  But the most creative activists were the handful of bicyclists who decried to environmental waste of the Jet Blue publicity stunt.  (It did use a lot of jet fuel.) Anyhow, a dozen cyclists gathered at Los Angeles International airport and proceeded to race the plane across town.  And they won, beating the Airbus A320 jet to Burbank by fifteen minutes.  NOTE: The rollerblader racers lost.  WE LOVE L.A.!

BONUS JOKE: "So in the end it wasn't CARMAGEDDON after all.  More like CAR-DASHIAN: A whole lotta hype, but nothing real happened." -Jay Leno

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