by RIP RENSE
ASSHOLES IN CARS
Oct. 4, 2007
I was watching a PBS program recently about
Rastafarians who have returned to Ethiopia to live, and one of the people
interviewed was a self-described poet---from the USA. Asked what prompted
his move, he said (quoting from memory here), “Have you been to L.A.?”
A new description of this
“city” occurred to me the other day: Assholes in Cars. You’ll pardon my
vulgarity (or not.) That’s what it is. That’s what it has become. Anytime
you go out, day or night, any time of the week. .
.Assholes in Cars.
Where do you live?
Assholes in Cars, California. What’s your home like? Assholes in Cars. What
did you see when you visited Los Angeles? Assholes in Cars. What was the
view from your hotel? Assholes in Cars. What did you wake up to this
morning? Assholes in Cars. What did you do after work? Assholes in Cars.
Sleep well? Assholes in Cars.
City of the Angels? City
of Assholes in Cars.
In quainter times, you
could grouse about would-be screenwriters, actor-waiters,
actress-waitresses, gangs, crackheads, obnoxious rich kids, do-nothing overpaid
mayors, do-nothing priapic mayors, embezzling supervisors, Valley dudes,
Valley girls, Huell Hauser, the L.A. Times, no rain, and of course, traffic.
You could bitch about Santa Ana winds and fires and floods and beach crowds
and all that stuff to your heart’s content. Now:
Assholes In Cars.
you see. Nothing else comes close. Not even Assholes on Cell
Phones. The streets---all the streets---are always full of them. Sometimes
it feels like science-fiction. The Assholes in Cars are always driving.
That’s all they do. They have no jobs, no home life, no one calling them
“Honey” and asking them to take out the trash. They have evolved and adapted
to do nothing but drive like an Asshole in Los Angeles. 24 hours a day.
And you know how they
drive. Many of you know because you drive that way, too. You tailgate. You
make right turns in front of cars waiting to make right turns. You make left
turns from the lane next to the left turn lane. You barge through stop signs
and red lights into intersections with the assumption that you will not have
to stop, and you stop only to avoid death (or worse, scratching your
$150-detail-job.) If there are two car lengths between cars, you cut in. If
someone honks at you, you give them the finger, or a smartass wave, or slam
on the brakes, or you stop, get out the car, and threaten to kill them.
You put make-up on,
looking in the rear-view mirror, while you drive with your knees, because
your other hand has the lighted cigarette. You keep an eye on the road every
chance you get between pushing buttons on your cell phone. You dart between
pedestrians in crosswalks because there is plenty of room and they’re so
slow anyway. Okay, so you didn’t see the light change because you were
looking at that guy’s/girl’s ass and you nearly caused a multi-car collision
but so what get over it!You signaled right and turned left but
gimme a break I was on the phone can’t you see my ear clip? You
double-parked in the middle of the block (with no emergency flashers) in
order to: finish your cell phone conversation/pick up a friend/listen to 50
Cent at a volume that (I hope) will make you deaf.
This is you. An
Asshole in a Car. You are the seminal L.A. experience. They should put
up a statue. Next to the Caffeinated Starbucks Asshole.
It’s sort of like this. A
singer starts singing a particular song because maybe he or she finds some
truth in it. After singing it for 20, 30, 50 years, the song becomes the
truth itself, rather than a description of it.
After singing of traffic
and Assholes in Cars for 20, 30, 50 years, L.A. has become that truth
All the streets are full
of it, all the time. If you wish to enjoy any of the fabled attractions of
this town, you must first spend a lot of time dealing with Assholes in Cars.
This requires psychological preparation and an expenditure of energy that
will likely leave you frazzled, tapped out, possibly murderous by the time
you reach the fabled attraction. Of course, the fabled attractions now are
so expensive and crowded with Assholes out of Cars (still behaving like
Assholes in Cars), that they are hardly worth visiting anymore.
You can grumble, and
dismiss this with your favorite words for these sorts of commentaries: cranky,
rant, screed, etc. But you know I have a point. You know things have gone
too far. You know that L.A. has seriously changed, and fairly recently.
Wasn’t it bad enough in the early 80’s? Early 90’s? Evidently not. Mayors
and city councils have done absolutely nothing to stop rampant
overdevelopment, or to hasten citywide light-rail (should have been
installed 40 years ago.) Nothing.
So we have what Gov.
Schwarzenegger calls “growing pains.” I do not jest. Growing pains.
This is his term for what has happened. Two hours to travel two miles?
One hour to drive to work when it took you 20 minutes 20 years ago? Growing
pains. Quiet residential streets frantic with panicked, deranged commuters
trying to keep moving? Growing pains. Tailgated while doing 85 in the
diamond lane on the 405? Growing pains.
solutions for the growing pains are two: tax incentives for people
to live in the city instead of far away where housing prices are cheaper,
and (gasp, cough, choke-on-puke, flush kidneys) double-deck the freeways.
I wonder, Mein Governor,
where those places are that housing prices are cheaper. Homes in Riverside
cost the same as West L.A.. Maybe. . .Tijuana?
As for double-decking the
freeways, this is like Hollywood trying to up film attendance by
making “Me and Dupree II.” Well, that’s an inadequate simile. It’s more like curing brain cancer through decapitation.
Like telling a morbidly obese guy to solve his hunger problems by eating
more. Yes, let’s fix the trouble by doubling it. Let’s cure noise and air
pollution by doubling it. Anyone who imagines this proposal will increase
traffic flow is wallpapering without glue. There are enough cars here to
build a second planet. And its moon.
Double-deck the freeways?
That’s more insane than electing a dumbass Austrian immigrant weightlifter
as governor. You get what you pay for.
Schwarzenegger is an Asshole in a Car (Humvee.) He understands Assholes in Cars,
and that Assholes in Cars like the idea of double-decking the freeways. They
like everything reprioritized to accommodate them and their vehicles. The
last experience they want in life is to have to sit in their cars with
another Asshole---no, that’s the second-to-last. The last is that they would
have to ride light-rail with a lot of common, sweaty Assholes. The kinds of
people that Gov. Pumping Ironboy would term “losers.”
The fix is in, and it has
been in for decades. The various $300 million-per-mile (‘80’s dollars---must
be double that now) subways are for people who cannot afford to be Assholes
in Cars. The Red Line, Gold Line, Chartreuse Line, Polka-dotted line will do
nothing to reduce the number of Assholes in Cars. Why?
Because every sweet,
unassuming house or vintage 40’s/50’s/60’s apartment building is
targeted for demolition by amoral developers who will replace them with
million-dollar-per-unit condo hives for a hundred or a thousand more
Assholes in Cars.
But most of all,
because everyone---okay, nearly everyone---aspires to be an Asshole in a
Car. It’s the ultimate. Assholes are more interested in acquiring cars than
they are in vaginal moisture. Every second commercial on the tube holds
automobiles out as beatific epiphanal quasi-religious wonderment. Get this
Acura and your skin clears up, your orgasms go off the scale, your Irritable
Bowel Syndrome slacks off, and best of all, you can drive like an Asshole.
In a sorry time when
humans have been superbly trained by the corporate media to define their
“individuality” by conforming to popular product acquisition, why shouldn’t
they want to become an Asshole in a Car?
Once you are an Asshole
in a Car, surrounded by other Assholes in Cars, you have made it, and you
can be happy in Assholes in Cars world.
Formerly Los Angeles.
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