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Memories of Carmaggedon Weekend

The light traffic and abundant camaraderie make for a good time for residents.

Friday Evening: Brentwood resembles Christmas Day. The streets are completely unpopulated. Parking spaces are in abundant supply throughout the area between Wilshire and San Vicente, from Federal to Bundy. Certainly an exodus took place late Thursday evening and Friday morning.

I take a drive up Barrington, east on Sunset to the Hotel Angeleno and drive up to Getty Center Drive on Sepulveda then back down to Wilshire. Clear sailing with hardly any traffic. This was at 9:45 to 10 p.m.

Earlier at 9ish, Katsuya was packed as was Pizzicotto across the street. FrontRunners had a weekend special—$20 bucks off every $100 spent.

Three people are standing on the Sunset Bridge snapping pictures. Skateboarders are congregating at the Whole Foods parking lot. A complete nonevent thus far.

Saturday Afternoon: The town of Brentwood continues to feel like Christmas Day with a surplus of parking spaces and empty roads. Traffic is uncommonly light. More pedestrians are evident and the stroller brigade is out in force.

The Brentwood Library has taken the opportunity to capitalize on the pedestrian traffic by holding a 50 percent off book sale booth on the sidewalk and at its second floor bookstore. Browsers have been plentiful. Also at the Brentwood Library there will be a 2 p.m. performance of Michael J's Tribute to Johnny Cash. The performance showcases the music, roots and history of the legendary singer- songwriter.

I take a drive up Barrington again from San Vicente to Sunset with clear sailing. Sunset is deserted with three people on foot crossing the bridge at the sleepy 405. The intersection in front of the Hotel Angeleno also remains completely empty.

Many residents mention the near constant drone of helicopters traversing the corridors of Brentwood making it either sound like a police action or the Green Zone of Baghdad. 

Saturday Evening: Brentwood remains a sleepy little burg. Traffic has remained silent. I decide to ask a couple of businesses whether the closure had affected them.

The wistful Asian hostesses at Katsuya say that business has been completely normal while adding that the clientele seems more local. Valet parking is down.

Pizzicotto business is up. Karen, the evening manager, says that Friday night was brisk and actually picked up after 9 when meals usually are winding down.

"I travel here from Beverly Hills every Friday night at 5 p.m.," Karen says. "It mostly takes me 28 minutes to get here and last night it took me 12!"

Reservations at both Katsuya and Pizzicotto are robust for Saturday evening.

The coffee shops along San Vicente are a different matter. Peets' baristas maintain that business has been sluggish thus far over the weekend. Across the street, a barista at Starbucks who wants to remain anonymous said that traffic has been sleepy.

"I wish it could be like this every weekend," he says.

Attendance at the Johnny Cash Tribute at the Brentwood Library is solid and book sales have been brisk throughout the afternoon.

So Judgment Day came and left in June without a ripple and Carmaggedon seems to have followed in the same footsteps. Is it fear that has kept the masses at bay or sheer common sense?

Sunday Afternoon: The Gretna Green Farmers' Market is bopping this morning. Strollers, joggers and foodies are out in force. Certainly the best surrealistic sense of the market was hearing the Eagles' "Hotel California" played by a musician on steel drums: part parody, part Muzak. People also report several bars in the neighborhood serving $4.05 cocktails. Why wasn't I told about this?

I also keep hearing victory stories of people traveling longer stretches in shorter amounts of time. And then the 405 reopens almost 12 hours early. And the entire exercise is over.

Thea Klapwald July 19, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Wow! Thanks for the play-by-play of the weekend. It reminds of me of Y2K and all the scare over that. No one missed much, except for the cheap-o cocktails of course!
Joy Jalapit July 22, 2011 at 04:37 AM
Total play-by-play! Did you hear about the guys that took a "dinner" photograph on the 405?

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