Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Get me off L.A. freeway


Guy Clark wrote it and Jerry Jeff Walker made it famous. I’m talking about an outlaw country tune called “L. A. Freeway” that has circled my brain for the past five days. Although my first real visit to Los Angeles has lasted less than a week, Guy Clark had been living there long enough to realize that Texas was the place he would rather be. Here is a chorus from the tune as sung by Jerry Jeff Walker that adequately expresses a deep desire to rid this city from one’s experience:

“If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway

Without getting killed or caught

I’d be down that road in a cloud of smoke

For some land that I ain't bought.”

I have definitely crossed the City of Angels off my vacation list and deeply regret that I ever put it on my “bucket list” in the first place. I even threatened my children, “Should you ever decide to move to Los Angeles, you may never see your father again.”

One can probably find some things about the city that could be called entertaining. My twin nieces certainly have in their four years at UCLA. They actually showed an inclination to stay around and get jobs here, but it appears their mother has successfully lured them back home to the San Francisco area, as far as I am concerned, a virtual paradise in comparison to La La Land.

My twin nieces’ graduation is what got me here in the first place. I wrote in my column several weeks ago about the tortures of sitting through a graduation ceremony. This one consisted of two four-hour sessions. Not because the twins had differing majors, which would have placed them in separate ceremonies, but because UCLA graduates more students than just about anywhere else. Ceremony No. 1 consisted of all the praises and accolades for the department heads and professors and of course those students who achieved above and beyond the rest of their class. Then there came the speeches by more people than I could possibly identify. As I waited in anticipation for the tribute by the head custodian, we fortunately were able to exit the building just moments before my aching back and body turned into a boomerang.

The graduating class just from this component of UCLA was so large that it required Ceremony No. 2, of course on a separate day. This is the ceremony where thousands of names were spoken while students paraded across a stage to receive their fake diplomas. In most colleges, the actual diplomas are given later, only after all the grades and requirements have been proven to be fulfilled.

What could be loosely called the “fun times” were the open-air bus tour through Beverly Hills and a stroll down Sunset Boulevard. This is the tour where a bus driver points out the homes of Hollywood celebrities. What one mostly saw were large gates, massive shrubbery and a glimpse of a few rooftops. Hollywood Boulevard had all the trappings of a Coney Island disguised as a street. As I walked along the sidewalk that showed the names of those honored for their role in show business, I started counting the names I recognized which was roughly 20 percent (and why the Monkees got a star is beyond me).

Los Angeles seems to consist of 90 percent freeways and a handful of palm trees. Despite being located in lush California, this is the least green city in the country with likely the most trafficked jammed freeways in the United States.

“And throw out all those L.A. papers

The moldy box of Vanilla Wafers

Adios to all this concrete

Gonna get me some dirt road back streets.”

“Oh Susanna, don’t you cry babe, love’s a gift that’s surely handmade

We’ve got something to believe in, don’tcha’ think it’s time for leavin’?”

A quick ride to the airport and I can say that I did “just get off this L.A. freeway without getting killed or caught.”


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