the breathing in fumes remix

metropolis, has nothing on this
you’re breathing in fumes
i taste when we kiss

— depeche mode, “stripped”

My mother remembers when the smog started in Los Angeles. Almost. There was one day in October in 1943 when the smog suddenly – appeared. My mother remembers days without smog, and adults discussing it as a novelty, as a new problem.

Yet most of our major freeways in L.A., not to mention the dismantling of the Red Car mass transit system, antedate the smog. Apparently, although the city knew why smog was a problem (Los Angeles is a sort of basin), they didn’t take steps to fix it.

I take it for granted. There will be smog. It’s much better than it was in the 1980s, since car emissions and industrial environmental laws have greatly reduced the amount of sheer crap in the air. But it’s still an amomaly for me to see the hills as dark green, rather than faded blue through the pollution.

This is part of why I ride with Critical Mass. I’d like to be able to see Los Angeles as my mother saw it growing up here. And – shocker! -bikes don’t cause smog. I have this crazy vision though, a vision of a Los Angeles where cars are used sparingly, because bike-compatible public transit, bike lanes, and bike paths allow people to get everywhere they need to go. I have a vision where people wave and ring bells at each other on their commutes, instead of sitting on the 10 emitting carbon monoxide into the air. Most of the time, it’s dry enough, and yet not too hot to bike, and with the smog gone, a cyclist like me could gaze at the pretty green hills and mountains in the distance, instead of down a road clogged with cars and pollution ending in a sort of yellowish haze (and all this while snuffling from the pollution in the air. My nose was running the whole time I was riding home Thursday, thanks to re-adjustment to L.A. air.)

Most of this ranting is becayse I went hiking in Runyan Canyon today. It’s one of the most famous places to hike in L.A., just above Hollywood. It’s highly popular with Hollywood residents and their dogs, and today was a gorgeous day with high traffic on the trails.

However, the air quality wasn’t as good as it was yesterday. Here’s the shot of downtown as seen from the top of the canyon:

And here’s the Photoshopp’d version of the same shot (contrast added):

But looking away from downtown, towards Griffith Park, with the San Gabriels behind it, was amazing:

And here’s the Hollywood sign with the obligatory Hollywood Hills homes just below it:

It’s my city. I love it, smog and all. And I love that I can go hiking THAT CLOSE to a major metro area. I’m just hoping & riding my bike towards a day when the air’s clear more days than not, and I don’t have to use the contrast settings in Photoshop to see downtown Los Angeles.

Whole set of photos on Flickr:

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