On Thursday, I was forced to drive in the Westside of L.A. during rush hour, an area where I lived in for 15 years until moving four years ago. The traffic, which was bad then, was appalling. A drive which normally takes fifteen minutes took nearly an hour. All my sneaky shortcuts, the ones that used to be traffic-free, were bumper to bumper.
People I asked said, yeah, that’s what traffic is like now. If, like me, you’d rather be set on fire than drive in such traffic and deliberately organize your day so you don’t, then when forced to do so every six months or so, you can easily see how hideous and dysfunctional Westside traffic has become. And how it continually worsens, never gets better.
Jim Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation has any number of wondrous rants on this subject, on how U.S. over-dependence on the automobile coupled with decreasing oil supply and rising prices will, sooner rather than later, create massive social dislocation and chaos.
But the problem is not going away. It’s not five or ten years down the road — it’s here, now. We’re in the zone. We’re entering a world of hurt. The pain will ebb and flow, as the pain of a fatal illness ebbs and flows over the days. The price of oil and gasoline will ratchet up and down, but along a discernable upward trendline.
Can we bust out of this narrow tunnel of fantasy? Can we imagine living differently? Can we turn more fruitful imaginings into action before the American scene becomes a much more disorderly place?