An Aqua Line to the Sea

Christine Pelisek’s article about extending the Wilshire subway beyond the Wiltern [“Red Line to Somewhere”] reminded me of 20-plus years spent commuting along the infamous boulevard. Perhaps transit theorists think that drivers will abandon driving their autos through the Westside and read their newspapers on the express bus instead. Well, they’re in for a rude awakening, as anyone who lives or works near the Wilshire corridor knows what will likely result if the experimental bus lanes are extended all along the corridor. Soon there will be general gridlock during evening rush hours. A revolt will ensue, much like that which followed installation of diamond lanes on the I-10. A bit of perspective is in order.

Stop and analyze a street map of the Westside: the even distribution of east-west corridors diminishes as one proceeds west from the central city. Traffic is forced to merge onto five overburdened arteries: Sunset, Santa Monica, Wilshire, Olympic and Pico. This alone is reason to seriously consider a more efficient, high-capacity option, separate from the surface roadway.

Any thorough long-range analysis of the comparative efficiencies and impacts of all possible modes of public transit solutions as applied to the livability of the Westside urban axis would mandate only one sensible outcome: That the cities of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica along with the private sector and the state and federal governments work toward implementation of subway technology.

Now we are planning a corridor for light rail, a form of technology that is in no way comparable with the capacity, speed and urban compatibility afforded by subway technology. The planned alignment will run south of the Santa Monica Freeway, bypassing the most vital and dense portions of the Westside. This southerly route does not solve the problem given that a majority of the Wilshire Corridor is not served. Better it would be that the Exposition Corridor is used for a temporary solution akin to the Chandler Bus Corridor in the Valley.

And in gazing westward toward Santa Monica, over what continues to be America’s most aspiring urban corridor, we might also try to imagine a long-range future with more fine, efficient and convenient options in navigating urban terrain. As historian Asa Briggs once said of London, let us take in the entire scene, as in an angel’s eye view, all of the astonishing length and breadth of our great postwar urban axis, the intricate and exhausting interweave of arteries and corridors. Something better must emerge. We need an Aqua Line extending all the way to Ocean Boulevard.

—John Crandell
Westwood Village

Be Outraged, Not Calm

In his piece “Calm Down, Sgrena” [March 11–17], Marc Cooper has succeeded in taking his place amongst the ranks of media intent on discrediting the messenger rather than reporting the story. Cooper charges Sgrena with overdosing on ideology at her “suggestion” that American troops fired with the intent to kill as she and Nicola Calipari were on route to Baghdad airport. This is Cooper’s “hard-nosed critical view of the war”? Why isn’t he examining what we as a nation might have been responsible for to cause this and numerous other unreported checkpoint “incidents”? Wouldn’t that be more journalistically productive than staging further attacks on Sgrena’s assertion of “premeditated ‘assassination’ ” on the part of the U.S.? Why not ask who hands down the policy of shoot first and make excuses later? The Sgrena incident points a spotlight on the administration’s blatant disregard for human life.

It is disgusting and disheartening that an alternative weekly runs Marc Cooper’s condescending comments of Sgrena’s harrowing experience, with ass-covering, vague damnations of the war and one-sided speculations culled from “our own press,” and passes that off as thought-provoking news. I charge you to live up to your column title, Marc Cooper, and report what’s really going on.

And L.A. Weekly — stop being an apologist for the Bush administration, and present us with alternative accounts from those on the receiving end of U.S. policy. Let us be uncomfortable. Let us be outraged. Let us be moved to act.

—Sue Benarroch
Los Angeles

Escape From Silver Lake

In a preview for a show at Spaceland [Picks of the Week, March 4–10], Falling James wrote: “Ten years ago, Silver Lake was still a diverse neighborhood that included musicians and artists who were drawn by the area’s relatively cheap rents and bohemian-friendly vibe.” To Falling James I say, What a tragic story. I hate to piss on your chips, old son, but Silver Lake hasn’t been a diverse neighborhood since the early ’80s. And the bohemian-friendly vibe died for good when the moneyed punk jocks of the just-post-grunge era moved in for the kill. Their hard and fast “Melrose East” arrangements quickly made the remains of sleepy gay, Latino and truly bohemian (I’m talking eccentrics: people who would dress their cats up as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and have little “royal” tea parties) Silver Lake a thing of the past. And if the ’90s crowd couldn’t see their SUV-owning spawn coming, then I say dip them in batter, deep-fry them and eat them. Some people are just greedy and have a need to destroy the world.

I escaped from Silver Lake ten years ago. I’ve never looked back at it or its provincial status. I’m happy here in the center of town, with all of its eroticism and truly talented working artists.

—Chris Lissner
Los Angeles


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