Driven to distraction over ‘the’ freeways in Los Angeles

I guess you could call it “road reference rage.” San Jose Mercury News columnist Gary Richards recently polled his readers on whether they should “use ‘the’ in front of freeway numbers like they do in Los Angeles” (i.e. “the” 405). Here are some of the angry replies he received:

“Creeping L.A.-isms are invading our airwaves. . . . Adding the word ‘the’ is superfluous and annoying.”

“I remember a TV commercial on a Bay Area news program that mentioned traffic on ‘the’ 101. . . . The commercial must have been written and produced in L.A. I thought, how dare those carpetbaggers come up to the Bay Area, steal our jobs in advertising and try to force their funny language on us.”

“My son moved to L.A. when he went to college. When he came home to visit, he started using ‘the’ to refer to freeways. I told him I wouldn’t tolerate that language in my house.”


Whew! Not sure I’d want any of these excitable people in the lane next to me on the freeway.

The final tally was 246 opposed to the use of “the” and 11 in favor. Funny, but in my 62 years I don’t believe I’ve ever heard an Angeleno gripe about Bay Area folks NOT using “the.”

Funny language (cont.) . . .

Bay Area radio reporter Joe McConnell theorized that the difference in terminology “stems from the fact that many of the freeways in SoCal have actual names, like the San Diego Freeway. . . . In more recent years, (SoCal) people have made the transition from using those names . . . to the numbers. But they haven’t gotten out of the habit of saying ‘the.’ In a shorthand sort of way they end up saying ‘the’ 405 or ‘the’ 10, etc.”

In any event, I still love to visit San Francisco.

I especially enjoy driving on The Embarcadero, as it’s called.

Back to THE 405

Jack Nelson and Julie Harris each found further evidence that few things are truly permanent in this world of ours (see photo).

Hey, we’ve got a drought going on here!

In West L.A., Stewart Given chanced upon a listing for a house that would seem to have a very high water bill (see accompanying).

Dueling Signs Dept.

Marty Goodman, who had his camera ready, and my colleague Christian Berthelsen each noticed a Marina del Rey vessel whose name was contradicted by a placard in the window (see photo).

What happened to honor among thieves?

Cops were trying to question three men suspected of smoking marijuana in a car in L.A. when they saw one of the suspects remove a handgun from his waistband and conceal it in a sweat shirt he was holding.

The man then “attempted to give the sweat shirt and handgun to one of the other suspects,” the Thin Blue Line, a police publication, reported.

What happened?

“It was immediately handed back to him” by the other suspect, the magazine said.


Columnist David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin spotted a casting call for a low-budget movie musical titled “Suburban Rhapsody,” whose plot was described this way: “Set in Fontana, it is about a struggling, dysfunctional, working-class family caught in the subprime meltdown of 2008.”

Yes, a musical.

Says Allen, “Why not call it ‘Loan’? It could be like a sequel to ‘Rent.’ ”


Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LATIMES, Ext. 77083; by fax at (213) 237-4712; by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012 and by e-mail at steve.harvey