Aaron Robinson: The Hollywood Freeway is L.A.’s Own Glittering Gutter

The Hollywood Freeway Is L.A.'s Own Glittering Gutter

The death screams of a 1948 Buick speedometer evoked the sound of a snowblower clearing piles of hubcaps. The grand broadsword of a pointer suddenly buried itself at 120 mph while the odometer switched to the mileage pacing of an SR-71 over Smolensk. After removing this big grandfather clock of an instrument, I set out for North Hollywood Speedometer, a shop known for working on “the old stuff.” I figured my transition through downtown Los Angeles would be hastened by my 10 a.m. departure, carefully timed to avoid the morning rush and beat the regular evening commuter rush that starts at 2:30 p.m. and lasts till 8. No such luck. Cars were crawling on the Hollywood Freeway like turtles on Ativan. With a sigh, I settled into my usual slouchy traffic brood: elbow sunk into the armrest, chin in palm, one finger hooked on the wheel. Having nothing better to do, I studied the shoulder detritus and the tire skids and paint smears on the wall. Over an endless mile, I passed several bumpers, many liberated wheel bolts, three smashed soccer balls, a red broom, shards of shipping pallets, a flattened cellphone, and bottles and cans of every description. In a city cursed daily for its traffic, this 11.8-mile asphalt-and-concrete Cocytus is a river of tears. READ MORE ››

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