Monday, October 2

Escape from L.A.

On Saturday I did a "fly in/fly out on the same day" trip to Ontario, California make a presentation at a conference.

I think I'm still not quite recovered. It's not that I'm tired. Sure, it was a long day, but I was home before 10pm and I slept in on Sunday. It's not that the presentation was that difficult or stressful - the presentation went off without a hitch, It's my sinuses, you see.

I haven't been to the L.A. basin in more than 10 years. The last time I was down there, I recall cresting the hill at the top of the Grapevine on I-5 and looking down at the ocean of brown, cruddy air lapping at the crest of the mountains. I distinctly recall thinking, "Ugh! I'm voluntarily going down to breathe that crap?" Fast forward a decade. I'm sitting on an airplane flying south over the mountains looking out the window. Oh, look. What a pretty lake. Nice trees. I bet those houses down there are expensive. About then, I notice the ridgeline that separates the north side of the mountains from the slope leading down into the valley. Lapping right up against the ridgetop is a veritable sea of smog. The exact same thought popped into my head, "Ugh! I'm voluntarily going down to breathe that crap?"

Once I stepped out of the Ontario airport terminal, my sinuses swelled up and I started sneezing. I could see the air. It's one thing when one can see the air on a misty Portland winter morning or the air on a sultry humid summer Boston afternoon - that's plain old-fashioned (and harmless) dihydrogen oxide floating around up there. It can be a bit unpleasant, but at least it's completely natural. But when one looks out and can see the man-made pollutants clogging the air ... well, that's a wholly different thing. Apparently my sinuses think the same thing. They responded rather violently. Forty-eight hours later, they're still trying to flush out the crud I sucked in while trying to breathe that artificial soup.

Why on earth would however many million people choose to live in that?


  1. I SO agree. I cannot stand the notion of living in Southern California for that and so many other reasons.

    Maybe after 50 years of hydrogen-powered cars. And if they do something about that endless, infernal, boring, ridiculous sprawl. Oh, and the traffic. And freeways. And shallow people. Maybe then.

    (I'd consider San Diego, actually.)

  2. I don't want to trash L.A. ... I'm sure there have to be many desirable qualities to the region, but ye gods, people! Learn a little urban planning would you? There's more to life than strip malls, freeways, plastic surgery, and empty-headed pop culture icons.

  3. I was in L.A. during an El Nino year. Everything was green and the air was clear.

    My friends stressed that this was not L.A.

    I love cities. I even love them when they're dirty, like New York and Paris. They're rich and dense like a good cake. But these sprawling messes like L.A. (and to a lesser extent Houston and Columbus)... no thank you. What's the point of putting everything in the same place if you can't walk there?

  4. I was only in LA for a couple hours, several years ago. The weather was merciful, and the smell of copious amounts of Mexican food (we were in a market plaza near the train station) drove off most of the pollution.

    Cleveland was terrible, though. My digestive system began to rebel after even a few minutes outdoors.