zembla goes south, part1: la freeways


It's Friday morning, July 11. I, Gene, and Gene's German freunde Christian have just exited Sunset Boulevard, just past UCLA. Christian takes a picture of an LA Unified School District bus, while I silently wave to Cassie Wu, hard at work at the Getty Center. The San Diego Freeway is at a dead stop. Gene pulls onto the shoulder, gets out the CD player and puts on the excellent "405" by Death Cab for Cutie.

I like it when bands write songs about freeways and bridges. I think people often have close relationships, sometimes even sentimental, with the roads they drive all the time. It can be a very direct concrete association for listeners. Though the the Death Cab song is not about the Southern California 405 - its another 405 that loops into the suburbs of Seattle - I'm glad Gene put it on, because otherwise I would have had the song running through my head at least until Manhattan Beach, if not Irvine.

One thing the song confirmed for me was that the Southern California fashion of referring to highways as "The #" has taken hold in other states as well. Death Cab for Cutie, natives of Bellevue, Washington, are clearly misguided by the 405. In Northern California, the song would simply describe taking _405_ straight down into your center. You can hear this any time you ask for directions in the Bay Area. Going to the Oakland Coliseum? Take 24 to 980 to 880. Wondering the best way to get to Stockton from Berkeley? 24 to 680 to 4. In Southern California, it's different. To get from Redondo Beach to Redlands you take the 405 to the 110 to the 91 to the 215 to the 10.

This naming convention stems from the great number of highways in Southern California. Southern California is like a devoutly Catholic Irish couple with 15 children. Yes, Southern California loves all of its children, but there are an awful lot of them. All of the freeways are strong, wide, and clearly marked. True, they can get a little congested, but what state's major thoroughfares don't have their growing pains? It's not surprising that Southern California takes its freeways for granted a little bit. I bet when the 10 is misbehaving, Southern California often calls it "the 110" or even "the 15" by mistake.

Northern California, by contrast, is like an older couple that was unable to have children until later in life. They don't have as many children, and maybe they're not as well-designed as the freeways in Southern California, and maybe half of the on-ramps are clover leafs that require you to accelerate from 25 to 65 MPH in 2.5 seconds on your merge, and maybe 580 East and 80 West run concurrently for 20 miles, but they still love all their freeways. The highway from Richmond to Albany isn't just the 580, it's their 580.


The convention of placing "the" before the number seems to be creeping into the Bay Area, actually. Very regularly now I hear the traffic reporters refer to The 101, though I don't hear them say "the" about any of the other roads. It irks me everytime--how dare they let L.A. sneak in here!

moan. i spent so much time on the renton 405 highway in WA last week. moan groan moan groan. gagging reflex.

It makes me sad that 280 didn't get a shout-out in this blog. Due to its scenic beauty, incredibly rare traffic jams and the fact that it connects SF with San Jose and then magically turns into 680, it is by far the best Bay Area freeway... I mean, the only thing you can say against 280 is that it runs past Stanfurd and as they say in the north bay, "Fuck Stanfurd."

what the hell? you fools are in town and i get nary a smack-me-bum? e-mail me! we'll hang.

ah, but i see you used my two hometowns in your southern california freeway example. mad props on that. i knew you cared.

apparently southlanders are no longer saving their articles to put before the freeway numbers. a new show about orange county teens is shaking it's fanny (in the british sense) this week. what's it called? THE OC.

They're from Bellingham, not Bellevue.

Though it wouldn't seem like a big deal to an outsider, but Bellingham and Bellevue are completely opposite places. Bellevue is Washington's yuppie capital located just outside of Seattle and Bellingham is a nice college town just south of the Canadian border.

How happy is the CH blog owner's lot!
Spam neutralized, Gene hates the bots
Eternal spamming of the spy'drous kind!
In his absence, is this the fate to which we're all resign'd?

Fear not, good citizens! I'm on the job.
I'll tirelessly monitor your blogs.
Spam, be warned! I really cannot stomach you!
Gene gave me admin rights. I bite my thumb at you.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

About This Site

Sean Keane on Tumblr

Sean Keane Comedy Dot Com
Short posts, better name-branding

Backup Blog

Friends and Associates

San Francisco Comedy

Fine Sporting Websites

Local Bands


Sean Keane's Internet Famousness

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on July 12, 2003 8:36 PM.

ward street week, part the last: why don't you come out here? was the previous entry in this blog.

zembla goes south, part 2: the short conversation is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04