Archive for January 20th, 2011

Golden Arches

It has occasionally been said, most recently by somebody who dropped by to grouse in the comments of Alexa’s “For Just One Day” piece, that things are too dark on this blog. And—who knows?—maybe this is so. Jeebus knows we do try to be shiny happy people here. But in a world too often owned and controlled by Mr. Ha-Ha, tales of Badness will, inevitably, out.

Take the Golden Gate Bridge. Pretty in the sunlight, but pure hell to drive. I regularly negotiated the thing in the late 1980s, and was gratified to open my San Francisco Examiner one morning in January of 1987 to read that Hunter S. Thompson had aptly expressed the experience:

Driving the bridge has never been safe, but in recent years—ever since it became a sort of low-tech Rube Goldberg experiment for traffic-flow specialists—it has become a maze of ever-changing uncertain lanes and a truly fearful experience to drive. At least half of the lanes are always blocked off by flashing lights, fireballs and huge generator trucks full of boiling asphalt and crews of wild-eyed men wearing hard hats and carrying picks and shovels.

They are never gone, and the few lanes they leave open for what they call “civilian traffic” are often littered with huge red Lane Markers that look like heavy iron spittoons and cause terror in the heart of any unwitting driver who doesn’t know they are rubber . . . . Nobody wants to run over one of those things, except on purpose, and in that case you want to take out a whole stretch of them, maybe 15 or 18 in a single crazed pass at top speed with the door hanging open.

People often accused Mr. Thompson of exaggerating for effect, and even outright lying. And it is true that he frequently and unashamedly reveled in those sins. But there are no lies or whoppers in the passage above. There is only Truth.



When I Worked

January 2011
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