I will never complain about traffic again.
I just got back from a wonderful vacation with my daughter, Frances, in Los Angeles. I had lived there many years (and a million people) ago. While I was there from 1974 to 1980, I saw this exciting and vibrant city through the eyes of a longhaired wanderer. It was great.
Now, 40 years later, I saw the "City of Angels" through the eyes of a balding, cranky 60-something. Oh sure, LA has perhaps more to offer the visitor than any other city in the world: the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills, great weather, Malibu, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Dodgers, the beaches, and more stars than even the biggest galaxy. And great Mexican restaurants. And Universal City. And UCLA. And the Santa Monica pier. All are wonders to see and experience.
But the traffic. That is the deal-breaker.
I was in LA for a total of five days last week. If you added up all the time I spent in a car there, I actually only had about three days to walk around and see the sights. I must have spent at least 48 hours total sitting in a car on some anonymous freeway or another. The 405, the 101, the 240, the I-10, it made no difference. LA is in the paralyzing death grip of its automobile population.
Last Saturday, Frances and I were snailing our way for a visit to downtown Los Angeles. We were in bumper-to-bumper traffic coursing through the San Fernando Valley on our way to our destination. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Ad nauseum. I held my tongue for fear of ruining this father-daughter reunion, but about an hour into our seven-mile trip I had to say something to Frances.
"Boy, this traffic is really something, isn't it?" I said vaguely, kind of to myself, as I nervously thumbed the edge of her unmoving GPS screen.
"Yeah, Dad," she chirped. "It really moves right along on a Saturday, doesn't it? The traffic is so much lighter on a weekend."
Oh my God. My mind tried to imagine that if this was "moving right along" what do Angelenos have to endure on a Monday morning? I imagined cars and trucks inching along in an assembly line of slow-motion claymation vehicles, melting under the glare of a 105-degree sun, seemingly on a road to nowhere. The prehistoric dinosaurs clawing their way out of the bubbling La Brea tar pits were action figures compared to LA traffic.
But they deal with it out there with great aplomb. I never saw a hint of road rage or uncivil activity on the highways. It was as if some demented judge had "sentenced them to drive in LA for eternity" and everybody was just shouldering their punishment with stoic, suntanned fortitude.
A couple of months ago, when construction on a major overpass bridge on the heavily traveled 405 (or was it the 286, or the 101, or the 210?) caused the closure of the entire freeway for the entire weekend, they dubbed it "Carmageddon." People stayed home. People fled Los Angeles. People stocked up on food like they do during a hurricane warning around the rim of the Gulf of Mexico. People held their collective breaths. Residents searched for their rosary beads. No cars on a freeway? It's the end of the world! Well, no it really wasn't.
Carmageddon. Sounds like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, doesn't it?
Oops. You can't mention him out there anymore!
When I was younger, in 1967, I used to drive from Sidney to my college in Albany on old Route 7, before I-88 was built. I remember always getting stuck behind a milk truck around Otego, right around where a woman would stand in the middle of the road each morning with her housecoat on holding up a handmade stop sign while her husband crossed a herd of cows across the road behind her.
It was just me and the milk truck, in tandem, skirting an eternal solid line until I would finally be able to pass him somewhere up around Worcester. I remember that when the solid line finally broke up, I would goose my old '63 Dodge Polara and pass him swearing under my breath that I would never, ever get caught in traffic like that again. Ever!
I gotta tell you. After driving through the lingering aftershocks of Carmageddon this past week in LA, I'll take that old milk truck any day of the week.
I'll catch you in two ...
'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
I will never complain about traffic again.
- Big Chuck
1965 Oscars? Thanks for the memories
Well, the 86th Academy Awards are over. And for the record, I did a pretty good job in my Daily Star Oscar picks. I got them all right except one. Cate Blanchett was the spoiler in my clean sweep. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
There was just no telling about snow days
Winters get harder as we get older. Things change. It snows more. It snows less. It gets colder. It's a lot milder. It all changes as our knees start to creak and the thought of shoveling a foot of snow seems positively daunting.
And the music goes round and round
The day has finally arrived.
When did pranks turn into vandalism?
I was a teenage vandal.
Happy and sad memories of Jan. 7, 1966
Jan. 7 is always a big celebration day in the D'Imperio family. My twin sisters, Teri and Mary, plus my youngest daughter, Katie, all share it as a birthday. The date, however, is not without a dark significance.
- Monday, December 30, 2013
Lesser known greats that passed away in 2013
The year 2013 is drawing to a close and as it does I would like to give a tip of the hat and a fond goodbye to a group of famous people who left the world stage. Their departures will be noted here in this column although they may have missed a final adios in the major media outlets. Letâ€™s give them their moment in the sun.
- Monday, December 16, 2013
Reunions all the sweeter amid WWII
There is nothing like running into old friends in the most unexpected places. Like on a vacation, or in a mall or even in the supermarket. It is always a time for a â€œHail and how are you?â€� moment.
- Monday, December 2, 2013
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.
- Monday, November 18, 2013
Vroman's Nose hike is no walk in the park
I haven't gone on a hike since 1961 when President Kennedy asked all Americans to take a 50-mile hike for physical fitness. I did it then. With a large group of my schoolmates and friends. We walked from Sidney to Oneonta and back.
- Monday, November 4, 2013
Being a grandpa will be better than just OK
I am going to be a grandfather.
- Monday, October 21, 2013
Some hits from the soundtrack of my life
As most people know, I wear two hats at my radio station.
- Monday, October 7, 2013
Some book picks from an avid reader
I came to reading begrudgingly. I was an impatient student easily bored with books. Finally an eighth-grade English teacher in Sidney, Kay Jester, figured out my problem. She told me that I had an inquisitive mind and had an affinity for storytelling. She also told me I was reading the wrong books.
- Monday, September 23, 2013
Swapping stories with a sweet centenarian
Marge Mathews is one very special lady.
- Monday, September 9, 2013
Farm honor system can grow on you
What a difference the flip of a calendar makes. I love September and the produce stands!
- Monday, August 26, 2013
My brush with a future president
President Obama came to town!
- Monday, August 12, 2013
Colonoscopy isn't much of a pain in the ...
When a professional looks you in the eye and says, "Sit down, I have something I want to talk to you about," your normal reaction is a flexing of the gluteus maximus and the appearance of sweat drops on the palms of your hands.
- Monday, July 29, 2013
An easy way â€¨to be a hero
It is not much to ask. Plus they give you a cookie and a glass of juice!
- Monday, July 15, 2013
Digging up memories, one box at a time
My Dad kept everything.
- Monday, July 1, 2013
Moms, girlfriends and wives of TV history
I recently saw on TV a birthday salute to actress Betty White. It included many archival videos, celebrity interviews and reminisces from her early days on television. There is no doubt that Betty has found the magic pill. Into her nineties she is still starring in a hit sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland!"
- Monday, June 17, 2013
Upstate theme parks offered affordable thrills
I saw in the news last week that Disney theme parks are raising admission prices to almost $100 a person. Children (who Uncle Walt considers 10 and under) are now $86 a day.
- 1965 Oscars? Thanks for the memories