Verlyn Klinkenborg’s latest editorial-page impressionistic L.A. vignette has some scratching heads, but the paean to Inscrutable L.A. deserves praise for limning the National on-ramp.
Not once, but twice, does Klinkenborg allude to what must be an obsession with L.A.’s most awesome freeway entrance
The iconic glimpses don’t help me in my quest — not the sudden view of the Hollywood sign I get from the Hollywood Freeway, not the view of downtown almost floating in the sunset from Pasadena. Every now and then, I turn a corner and think that something essential is about to be revealed. The feeling intensifies all the way up Venice Boulevard into Culver City, and then I’m on National taking one of those curious hidden freeway entrances and suddenly the feeling vanishes.
If I had an extra lifetime to live, I’d live it here. I don’t mean one lifetime lived, in the usual way. I mean a lifetime living within a block or two of the insurance shop on Venice Boulevard with the wrap-around neon facade. Another watching cars turn off National onto the 10. Another sitting by Santa, seeing who comes and goes. Perhaps then I could grasp what always escapes me here. Then I’d know whether it was worth looking for in the first place.
To anyone still innocent of the on-ramp in question, this must look like an odd refrain for such a short column. It’s not. The National on-ramp is wicked cool, Airwolf cool.
Your approach disorients you three times over: once, by virtue of being anywhere near the baffling Overland/National/Motor/Palms mess, where streets turn into one another and then back, confounding any sense of gridded stability; twice, because the on-ramp is actually on Manning, not National; thrice, because you are trying to get on the freeway going east, but you must drive west (technically northwest) alongside the westbound 10 to approach it.
It doesn’t look like much — you’re going up a hill into a residential area, and then —
boom! you’re making a 90-degree turn on a flyover, crossing eight lanes of traffic and swooping down onto the 10 East.
Good call, Klink.