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Posts Tagged ‘los angeles’

I like driving fast. And no urban freeway rewards the skilled, fast driver more than the historic Pasadena freeway, the  section of the 110 north of downtown LA .

In many ways, the Pasadena Freeway is an anomaly. The oldest freeway in the US, it connects the business district of Los Angeles to the city of Pasadena. It is a narrow, winding 8 miles long stretch of concrete road with several features to strike fear into the heart of the novice driver. The lanes are narrower than usual, the curves unrelentingly sharp and the traffic always heavy. The exits have a 5 mile speed limit, the entrances have stop signs and neither have any acceleration or deceleration lanes. The maximum speed limit is 55 miles per hour, yet traffic on the faster lane often goes at 80. Every aspect of the design of this freeway is outdated: the curves are underbanked and designed for traffic no faster than 40, the shoulder nonexistent. And fierce lane changes are the norm.

All of which makes it the most fun urban freeway to drive in probably all of US. Going fast on empty interstates is a joke; you just have to press the accelerator. To drive fast on the 110 safely requires real skill. I need to take the 110 two to three times on most weeks and I know it like the back of my hand. And oh, what a joy it is to pass those fancy convertibles and sports cars everytime: me in my ancient Corolla, veering smoothly from lane to lane, passing all those drivers many of whom are clearly out of their league and just want to get out of there, feeling the g-forces on my body as I conquer those curves at speeds that are about thirty miles faster than the recommended one yet not so fast as to make me lose control in any manner. My driving skills are one of those things I take pride in and the 110 is an arena where it is amply rewarded.

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I exaggerate not a bit when I describe the prevailing politics of L.A. to be roughly as follows: Wal-Mart and big box stores = evil, and need to be stopped at all costs. Also, we need more cheap supermarkets! Mom and pop stores need to be defended from Big Corporations, unless they sell fried chicken or used tires, or get in the way of a big development project.

 — Matt Welch, writing about his experience of dealing with Los Angeles “stakeholders” during his two-year tenure at the L.A. Times.

I highly recommend the whole article.

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I am a big fan of the Los Angeles opera and their upcoming 2008/2009 season is amazing. Hell, it’s breathtaking.

Just consider some of the operas coming up over the next twelve months:

Madame Butterfly, by Puccini; number one on the list the list of most performed operas in the US.

Carmen, by Bizet; in my opinion the opera with the greatest score ever.

The Magic Flute by Mozart; yes Mozart.

Die Walkure by Wagner; full of superb music like the rousing “Ride of the Valkyries“, and featuring Placido Domingo, recently voted the best tenor ever, as Siegmund.

La Traviata by Verdi; which contains this magical, magical duet and some of the most beautiful and popular opera music you will ever hear.

Wow.

 

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