Transit Dream

Photo courtesy of The Figurehead

It was sometime in the future, I had recently returned to Los Angeles after a long absence. I was pleased to discover not only had the Gold Line been finished but I was told the subway to the sea was also completed. I entered the Gold Line station at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights hoping to get to the ocean. Around me the station teemed with thousands of Brown folks. I followed the masses down escalators, assuming they were headed to the platform where I could catch the train to the beach. The escalators kept going down, down, down and then I ended up wandering through a complicated Escher-esque maze of escalators and tunnels. Finally I could see this intense bright, light coming from the floor I was heading to. As the view became clearer, I see the ocean, so brilliant blue, the sand, the palm trees swaying and I can feel the ocean breeze. At a railing, Latino families stand admiring the vista and smiling. As I get closer, I make a shocking discovery. It’s not the ocean at all but a giant hologram, an extremely realistic simulation of the beach. No one around me seems to notice and I feel like that character in the Twilight Zone episode where a woman is yelling to the humans boarding a spaceship to another planet that the alien book titled “To Serve Man” is a cookbook not a manual for the betterment of humankind. I feel incredibly disappointed and let down. Worse yet, I look over and notice in between the teeming tunnels and escalators are stands for every fast food chain and long lines of people waiting to order.
Keep dreaming Los Angeles.

I know it’s totally self-indulgent to share dreams but I was reminded of this one after reading a subway to the sea discussion on LA Eastside.

3 thoughts on “Transit Dream

  1. human says:

    i’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. i have generally seen technology as solutions to problems in the world. lately, i’ve even felt like getting into alternative energy, since i see the climate problem as one of the major ones we need to deal with, and soon.

    but the more i thought about it, the more i came around to the same vision you had in your dream. technology and infrastructure given to people to enable them create problems faster than they solve them. if we come up with alternative energy, humans will find a way to fill up all our new capacity and we’ll be right back where we started. this has happened with freeways (no matter how many you build, there’s always traffic) time and time again and is now happening with computing and bandwidth (no matter how many ghz or mbps, people find a way to use it all).

    i thought about this with cars. they should have made everyone’s life easier. we can get places faster and take more with us than when we only had buggies and buses. but rather than make people’s simple lives easier, people decided to create harder lives. people now travel farther than ever (50 mile roundtrip commutes are common), eat week-old food that would have been considered stale in the past just because it fits in our trunks and spend huge amounts to fuel these habits.

    i may still go into alternative energy if i can find a place for myself there. but instead of dreaming for a better world, i will dream for a world filled with better people.

  2. Chimatli says:

    human, thanks for your comment!
    it’s important for us to develop all kinds of alternative technologies to the ones we have now. i would argue it’s not the various technologies that are the problem but the people who control them and who use them to further their economic goals.
    i would like to see a more grassroots approach to technology where we decide on a practical level what kinds of things we need – not have things foisted on us. in my opinion, the only solution for a somewhat decent future is to take back control over our lives and communities.
    hope that makes sense!
    about my dream, i often feel like decisions are made in this city with the illusion that it is for the betterment of the citizenry when usually it’s only benefiting a small group of wealthy/privileged people. access to the beach, parks and other public places for latinos in los angeles has always been somewhat restricted and often times, discouraged. sometimes i see los angeles latinos falling for the switch and bait tactics that keep the community divided and chasing after sparkly carrots. i.e. pining for a wal-mart in their neighborhood while the infrastructure around them crumbles. it’s kinda why i think there hasn’t really been a push for a real subway to the sea because those on the other side of the line are not gonna be too happy when the train brings all those people west.

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