Los Angeles Prepares for Carmaggedon: Memes to Watch

Next week's closure of a major freeway has a city of drivers scrambling

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Local blogs and newspapers have been trying for at least a month, but no one could think up a better name than "Carmaggedon." The term conjures up a vast, eternally gridlocked metropolis--pretty much what Southern California is expected to be (even more than usual) on July 16 and 17 when the gods (i.e. state highway construction projects) shut down a ten mile stretch of the freeway for the weekend. So, after tinkering with names like "carpocalypse" or "mother of all traffic jams," the Roland Emmerich-esque "Carmaggedon" was decided upon.

In anticipation of the frenzy, we've noticed and collected few pervasive mini-memes spawned by gridlock fears. Here's a few to keep an eye on (readers residing outside of SoCal, just enjoy) as the doomsday arrives:

  • Can Celebrities Help Save Us? After The Los Angeles Times published an article citing the LAPD's desire to warn commuters through notable Hollywood Tweeters with large follower bases (Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher etc.), a few heeded the call. Kutcher tweeted about the dates, and asked for the LAPD to revoke his traffic ticket. William Shatner relayed the news and--in a single tweet--suggested commuters watch his latest documentary. And Kim Kardashian tweeted out the gridlock warning three times--and twice got the July dates wrong.
  • City Officials: The End Is Near -  An out-of-context rhetoric sampling produced these memorable soundbites from officials. From Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: "It will be an absolute nightmare." From County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky talking about the particular stretch of freeway affected, the Sepulveda Pass: "Stay the heck out of here." From MTA spokesman Dave Sotero, echoing a not-so-encouraging sentiment: "You can eat, shop and play within a small radius of your house."
  • The Carmaggedon Wedding Couple - "My mom said, I'm going to tell you something, but don't freak out," said soon-to-be bride Dalia Franco, 25 to MarVista Patch. It turns out Franco will be getting married in Bel Air with guests flying in from Israel, Africa, and other U.S. states on the fateful weekend. "She has sent frantic calls and emails to local government officials, asking for their help. She approached public safety officials at the meeting [weeks ago] seeking advice for her wedding guests," writes Patch. We're sure local news outlets will be following up with Franco to see how the wedding went.
  • LAPD: Please, Do Anything Other Than Drive That Weekend - They've tried flashing highway billboards, TV and radio announcements and multiple press conferences to warn commuters not to drive during the mid-July weekend. And here's the recent suggestions from LAPD spokesman to The Los Angeles Times about what do to instead of drive:

"The whole idea is just to re-message the theme of avoiding the 405 area and that it’s going to be a mess if people don’t stay away," said Lt. Andy Neiman, an LAPD spokesman. "The other message is to take advantage of this weekend to shop, meet some neighbors you never met before, finish that home improvement project you never got around to finishing or have a block party."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.