Highway space is shared between dozens of lanes that are constantly spiraling off and joining on to the thoroughfare like one of those swinging-ball office toys. The motion is ceaseless, except when it isn’t, and the traffic lights at on-ramps admit one car at a time. I had never before considered the length of time one car needed to get on a highway, but in this case I was forced to, over and over again. Yet the drivers in and around L.A. were improbably kinder than their east coast counterparts. I thought that they wouldn’t be given the stereotypical traffic, but instead as I coasted down long stretches of tarmac into the setting sun thinking only about how L.A.-as-fuck this experience was I felt a sense of mutual well-being with my fellow pilots, like how I imagine individual fish feel in a school as they traverse some ocean current, or maybe that’s just Nemo. And turtles. Cars sped up or slowed down to let me switch lanes with impunity, which I did because I had no idea where I was going.
In fact despite the confusion of unfamiliar highways, the best times I had in L.A. were on the road. For the story I was doing (TK next week), I had to drive north of the city into the scrubby desert hills and intermittent jagged piles of brown rock that make the landscape so different from New England. The road moves with the ground. Driving is less like mountain biking and more like slaloming down a ski slope. If urban L.A. has a mediocre density that feels uncomfortable given the welcoming, walkable crush of New York City and Brooklyn, its outskirts are immediately and impressively empty. The environs allow room for the cars; no forest need be cut down for roads. So we drivers are in our element.
The cover of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s essay collection Pulphead has this terrifically cliche photo of a rear-view mirror, outside the windshield a blurred-out vista of trees and, presumably, road, soaked in the warm yellow light of sunset. It’s a great cover because it speaks to Sullivan’s intrepidity. The writer will go anywhere! Despite the symbolic heavy-handedness, you want to follow along on whatever Great American Roadtrip unfolds between the covers. Writing equates to travel equates to driving equates to cool, a formula heightened by the hand-scrawled lettering of the punky title. Yet this was how I felt driving in L.A., or how L.A. driving made me feel: a witness on the road, moving toward the light.
Amy Qin on the latest cinema trend emerging in China:
The new “bullet screen,” or danmu, model of movie-watching that has recently been introduced in select theaters in China can perhaps be most pithily summed up with the title of the 2010 Chinese action comedy “Let the Bullets Fly.”
In this case, the bullets don’t refer to actual bullets, but to text messages that audience members send via their mobile phones while watching the film. The messages are then projected onto the screen, so that at any given time the scene may be overlaid with multiple “bullets,” or comments, scrolling across the screen.
Pop-Up Video. But in a theater. With content populated by the crowd. Of teens. What could go wrong?
A haiku from the article: In Liberia’s Capital, an Ebola Outbreak Like No Other