Caution: Lifestyle detours ahead
A Sherman Oaks couple plan to make the best of “Carmageddon” weekend by lounging poolside at home and detoxing with a fruity homemade cleanse.
Another couple, in Brentwood, will hold a “you can’t get there from here” party with the invitation to “share the kvetch with friends.”
After weeks of “EXPECT BIG DELAY” warnings on electronic billboards and elected officials’ doomsday prognostications of an epic chokehold on mobility, Angelenos are adjusting in anticipation of this weekend’s shutdown of heavily used portions of the 405 Freeway.
The severing of one of the region’s most vital arteries, prompted by partial demolition of the Mulholland Bridge as part of a $1-billion highway widening project through the Sepulveda Pass, has become the grievance du jour at dinner parties and beach clubs. As much as commuters love to hate the 405, the prospect of having to steer clear of it might be even more maddening than the typical bumper-to-bumper grind.
Although many Southern Californians say they plan to heed warnings to stay close to home, others — out of necessity or defiance — are plowing ahead with birthday parties, food festivals and nuptials.
The wedding of Dalia Franco and Moshe Shmuel, a year in the making, will go on as planned Sunday at a private home in Bel-Air, even though key streets in the tony neighborhood could be clogged with frustrated motorists seeking shortcuts. With 130 guests coming from as far away as Israel and South Africa, the couple felt they had no choice but to stick to the schedule.
Franco’s mother sat them down two months ago to delicately deliver news of the closure. “Don’t freak out,” she began. “But I have something to say about the wedding.”
“We freaked out!” said Franco, 25, of Marina del Rey. “Can you imagine? Of all the days of the year, they chose my wedding day.”
Jacqueline Brand, a violinist with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra who lives near the 405 in Brentwood, also is forging ahead with plans for her daughter’s 10th birthday party Friday evening. The girl’s father lives in the San Fernando Valley and is already dreading the drive home. Other invited guests have begged off, citing the freeway closure.
“I don’t think it’s possible to let her birthday go unmarked,” Brand said. She’s less valiant about the drive to Santa Barbara the next day to meet up with childhood friends. “I’m not completely convinced I’m going to end up doing this,” she said.
The Santa Monica Farmers Market couldn’t put off its birthday celebration, either. The popular bazaar, which marks its 30th anniversary this weekend, has asked customers to put up out-of-town vendors, sparing them potentially day-long traffic jams.
Many others have decided to suspend business — or pleasure — as usual.
The Westwood Recreation Center canceled a Friday night hoops session and a Sunday pickup football game. The Riviera Tennis Club in Pacific Palisades moved a summer college tournament to Azusa Pacific University after some players threatened to pull out over traffic worries.
Bowing to the freeway overlords, the Studio City hosts of a reunion of UCLA Daily Bruin staffers decided to postpone the party.
So many clients of Beverly Hills hair stylist Bruno Meglio canceled their Saturday appointments that he decided to take the day off and head early to LAX for his evening flight to Italy.
For some go-go Angelenos, the prospect of a weekend of enforced immobility has given them an excuse to chill out. “We’re going to be drinking beautiful juices and sitting by the pool,” said Carrie Zivetz, the Sherman Oaks resident, who said she and her husband, Charles Hannah, intend “not to worry about the fact there might be insanity going on the freeway.”
For others, it has thrown their social metronomes off-kilter.
Lynn Crosswaite of Sherman Oaks is at loose ends, having to forgo her usual gym-rat drive down the 405 to Sports Club L.A. on Sepulveda Boulevard near Santa Monica Boulevard.
“What to do?” Crosswaite said in an e-mail. “Go door to door asking neighbors if I can swim laps in their pool? Risk a heart attack power-walking in the extreme hills near my home? Or simply stock up on organic cookies … and eat my way through the weekend?”
Defying the adage that nobody walks in L.A., Ari Rutenberg, who works in the film business, plans to hike two miles from Westwood to Westfield Century City shopping center on Saturday to catch an 11 a.m. showing of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” the final film in the boy wizard series.
“Carmageddon” caught on as the descriptor for the weekend. But not all observers have embraced the title. Susan Taylor Mills, a soprano with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, launched a naming contest with her Facebook friends. Among the entries: Ay CARamba!, Commuticide, the Wreck-oning and Seppukulveda (look it up) Pass.
For those who can’t abide the prospect of inertia, several popular attractions are looking to make it worthwhile to venture out. Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier is offering free unlimited ride passes to guests who can verify their San Fernando Valley ZIP Code. Visitors who purchase an unlimited ride pass will get free cotton candy the color of an orange construction cone.
And then there’s the Dale LaDuke Group, which is promoting its Saturday night gig at the Rumor Mill, off the 405 in Mar Vista, as “The Great 405/Sepulveda Pass Closure Concert.”
Shmuel, 26, the Israeli-born bridegroom-to-be who plans to wed Sunday in Bel-Air, said organizing around the freeway shutdown has been a challenge for him and his fiancée, but also a lesson.
“We had to calm each other down and find comfort in each other,” he said. “Planning a wedding is a test for marriage. And we passed this one with flying colors.”
Times staff writer Dan Weikel contributed to this story.
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