Los Angeles, the Car Culture: Dude, Where’s My Exit

“Los Angeles is a car culture.”
— Brent Blair, madman/maestro of Theatre & Therapy at USC

That is what has been driving me crazy about this city.
Please, dear egos, no offense to the wonderful Angelenos that have blessed m’life since I came to SC two years ago. Regular mortal rules apply here: What I say here is not divine law.
But there’s no coincidence that some of the best people I’ve met in LaLaLand:
A. Aren’t from here, and/or
B. Don’t want to live here.
Why?
Because Angelenos live in their cars.

.
397928327_3c0d94a263Imagine with me, if you will, Los Angeles traffic. I know, right, that was easy.
See the bumper-to-bumper steel orgy. The soundless expressions behind rolled-up windows. The pensive, the stressed, the people who seem to think their windows are walls and I didn’t catch ’em digging for gold & wiping it on the steering wheel — your typical traffic crowd.
You reflect in your car, you build your mental to-do list, you recharge — your car is essentially your mobile womb before being shoved into the working world. Aside from the awkward trucker-to-driver glances, you’re on a friggin mission and you’ll be damned if that Student Driver gets in your mo’fuggin way.
A to B.
Period.

Such is Los Angeles.

You did not come to LA to build a community,
you did not come to make friends,
and you certainly didn’t come to settle down.
You come to schmooze, you come to sing, you come to suss out competition.
You came here in a car. You came here with a purpose.

You came to Los Angeles to get somewhere else.

And as it is on the 110 at Rush Hour, it’s dog eat glammed-up-chihuahua. You shove to get where you need to go and you leave the courtesy wave to the out-of-townies. You glance condescendingly at the Hondas from your Escalade throne, but you do not make eye-conversation lest you get your cap popped. Or at least, you’re cut-off with a mumble of, “They must not be from here.”

I constantly walk away from regular human interactions here in LA thinking, “Will you remember this in 10 minutes? Did I even happen to you just now?” It’s because, ultimately, we aren’t here for that. We’re here for fame, we’re here for money, we’re here for better, we’re here for more.
We’re not here for you, or for us — we’re here for me.

There’s something in the eyes of so many people I’ve “met” here that tells me, I won’t be in their lives for long.
That I’m just another passing car.
And above that mildly interested smile, there’s a certain and very familiar glaze in their eyes.

The shiny, glassy glaze of a rolled-up window.

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7 thoughts on “Los Angeles, the Car Culture: Dude, Where’s My Exit

    • bernadetteanat says:

      Thank youuu, Ernie! Art thou gracing us with your presence soon? Filling the hole that is the artful Kuya Ernie anytime in the near future?

  1. Lauren says:

    This past week I just had my first real experience with LA traffic and it suuuucks. It’s been bittersweet starting my awesome job but now I have to sit hours in traffic to get there! I’ll also add that when someone cuts me off, I’m actually thinking, “they MUST be from here.” Cell phones, no use of turn signals, foot glued to the brake pedal = typical Angeleno (from acute observation). It’s nuts out there man.

    • bernadetteanat says:

      HAHA — true THAT. Whenever someone’s particularly aggressive, I always wonder how long they’ve been here, and if that correlates to how balls-out they maneuver. Thank ya for sharing, Lauurren!
      Where you working?

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