Here's the Things About Shortcuts
Yesterday, another LAister, Jessica Pauline asked about Hollywood shortcuts. A few people gave suggestions, such as the now "not-so-much-a-secret" Fountain but other commentors plain old said, "I'm not giving up my secrets to you greenie." I was reading over the comment and got to thinking...
In a town like Los Angeles, a good short cut is like a good dive bar. You don't want the hipsters to take over your secrets and blast them out of the water! So while I'm not going to give away my favorites, I am going to share my secrets for how I found them. I hope they help and if you have any tips of your own, please share!
1) Ask the host of a party you're attending for tips. I tried this once by accident years ago to get over by Lake Hollywood from Mid-Wilshire in rush hour traffic and the route she told me was amazing. It's not my neck of the woods so I doubt I would have found it by chance. Now, I use it to get through Hollywood frequently, whether or not I'm headed over the Cahuenga pass.
2) Work/live in different parts of town. I know, duh. But seriously, the best training I had was my first six months in LA when I was a PA with my Thomas Guide sitting on my lap. I've since had jobs in Mid-Wilshire, West Hollywood, Burbank, Downtown, Van Nuys, Brentwood and nothing says finding a shortcut like having to do something day in and day out. If you want to find a quicker way, start asking around and try them all out. When I start working somewhere, I'll drive ten different ways in both directions for a few weeks until I feel like I've found the best and quickest route. I then have those other routes in my back-pocket for rainy days (which in LA really means when the President comes to visit and everything is shut down for three hours, a holiday weekend, or crazy accident on the freeway.) You'll have those tricks for ever.
3) Be present. This isn't some yogi thing. Really, when I'm a passenger in someone's car, I see how they drive and what road they take. When I've been in cab (I know not that common here, but still) I pick up on their tricks or ask for more. Cabbies have to drive all day long! I know some cab drivers suck, but if you get a good one, milk 'em for all its worth. I cherish my secret "Oh my god I'm going to miss my flight" shortcut to the airport that works every time thanks to a cab driver.
4) Lay off the navigation system. Really if a computer is telling you how to get everywhere, how much are you processing? I agree they're great, but nothing beats having to figure it out on your own. Don't let your navigation rule your driving! Even if the voice does sound like it will reach through the car and turn your wheel for you.
5) Shhh. Take everything I've said and then keep your secrets to yourself! Share only with people you really really like and wish you saw more if only they weren't running 30 minutes late to every place you meet them at. Then you maybe can give one away.
Don't drive like a maniac because you're late. Don't run red lights and make lefts across traffic that come a little too close for comfort. Don't risk others peoples' lives because of traffic. Don't talk on the phone complaining about traffic while you're trying to beat it. Don't put on makeup or pick your nose while driving. Just DRIVE. This might boggle some people, but it saves a lot more time just focusing on what you're doing. I might drive fast and aggressive, but it is also actively and defensively (and accident free for over 6 years) which I think saves me more time than any shortcut in the whole damn town.
And as for the rest of the passive and lazy LA drivers who think my tips are pointless, I say good. GOOD. Take Sunset and Santa Monica. Take the 10 East. Take La Cienega to Hollywood and the 110 through downtown. Because you know what? That leaves a whole world to be unturned by the curious ones like me. That leaves a lot more leg room for me to stretch out and find my little tricks and secrets about town. In fact to everyone I say, keep doing what you're doing and ignore me completely.
Photo by Sloane Berrent.