Friday, July 8, 2011

Carmageddon? Open Your Eyes...

Back in the 80's an alternative type of Rock n' Roll became popular, it was known as New Wave. True Rock had become a bit staid, had lost its edge; the best of the New Wave bands incorporated a bit of the Punk ethos into their music. Like the Punks and like the best of the 60's bands they railed against blindly following authority, the status quo, inequality, and various other socio-political themes. One of the bands I gravitated to was Lords of the New Church, and one of their songs was titled "Open Your Eyes". That title was also the chorus and they repeated it until you became nauseous and yelled at the radio "enough already". The rest of the song though, had a political message and a drive that appealed to me.

Every time I read or hear reference to the impending carmageddon in Los Angeles, the weekend long closing of Interstate 405, aka the San Diego Freeway, I think of this song. A lot of the hysteria can be attributed to the media doing what they do best - blowing things out of proportion. Most people will simply not drive between the Valley and the Westside; one weekend, no big deal. There may be less traffic in these areas as a result, and people may notice how nice that can be; they may rediscover their own neighborhoods, the restaurants and parks they have forgotten about. Walks and bike rides may lead to conversations with neighbors they rarely see, or have never met; they may reconnect with their communities.

As for the hype - Carmageddon, really? Open Your Eyes. We have been living and dying with camageddon for how many decades now? Deaths and maimings, pollution, the paving over of vast tracts of land, obesity and poor health, laziness, massive amounts of time lost in congestion, fragmentation of communities - this could be a competition, how many ill effects can you list? The point is that carmageddon is nothing new, and one short weekend of inconvenience is but a blip in the grand scheme of things.

... They scare us with all the threats of war
So we forget just how bad things are ...
Open your eyes to the lies right in front of you
Open your eyes ...


  1. Well said. It's almost amusing to see the level of hysteria over the possibility of losing a few miles of freeway for two days. Maybe instead of viewing it with anxiety, people should see it as an opportunity to learn how to get around the Westside using alternative modes of transportation. Who knows, we might just learn that we don't need our cars as much as we think we do.

  2. John, how very true. I was almost going to go back into the post and use some of those exact words. Instead of looking at this as something that will limit people's options, it needs to be looked at as an opportunity to expand them.


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