NOTE: Yesterday in Welcome to L.A., Gisele had a typical morning at La Petite Coquette as she waited for rush hour traffic to subside before heading out to the airport to pick up her sister visiting from Paris. Little did she know that something worse than bumper-to-bumper cars was waiting for her on the freeway.


Gisele’s stylish CleanCar is crawling along the San Diego Freeway. She tunes into KNX AM to find out what the holdup is.

“A bridge collapse at the Marian Freeway is causing a backup on the 405 as far back as the Santa Monica Freeway. Emergency crews are on the scene. It’s going to be a hot and smoggy parking lot today! Hope you have some extra filters in your glove box.”

“Why did I move to America again?” Gisele mutters. She landed in New York first, then moved to California just 3 years ago so she doesn’t have memories of L.A. before the attack of the brown soup nazi, and certainly no reference point from the 70s for a qualitative comparison. If she did she would soon realize that the city has come full circle.

Few people alive today remember the disco days and its suffocating haze hanging overhead. They more likely remember those years as a Purple Haze (a little smoke on the water perhaps?) but nothing worth tripping about.

Gisele eyes the signs for the Santa Monica Freeway about 400 yards away. She should be able to head west to highway 1 and still make it to the airport in time. It’s the 3rd time this month a bridge got fracked.

Well, the bridges don’t literally get fracked, rather repetitive mini-quakes eventually weaken them to the point of failure. However the Freedom Frackers, a derogatory termed used to describe the industry lobbyists who continue to push for removing the “scheduling” constraints from Senate Bill 4-B, deny there being any connection.

The 2012 Climate Action Plan essentially gave carte blanche to the exploitation of shale beds across the country as a matter of national energy security and economic prosperity while at the same claiming to provide a cleaner alternative to coal and oil. Not!

Gisele may not have any proof to tie the successive destabilization of the L.A. basin but she’s French and as such has déjà-vu psychic powers of course.

“Mais oui!” She smiles to herself as she counts the cars ahead of her— 20 to go and she’s back on track. In the meantime she entertains herself spying through the windows of the non-airtight vehicles surrounding her.

The gas mask industry has become quite lucrative and creative. There are animal snouts for kids of all ages, famous masks from Hollywood horror flicks, Halloween inspired creations, and even more risqué leather and chain versions.

For the most part, people have taken a necessary atrocity and turned in into a respectable fashion accessory, except for so-you-think-you-can-design hopefuls like the ones in the car next to her. The family is wearing creepy home-made alien-looking contraptions with multicolored hoses plugged into sockets on a rooftop air filtering system. Even their dog is a part of their little Borg collective.

Gisele laughs so hard she leaves a gap between her and the car in front which father Borg slips right into. The kids turn around and flip her the finger. It’s like watching a scene out of a low-budget futuristic trailer trash sitcom.

All of a sudden, their car shifts into reverse, smashes into her, and heads back up the 405 in the emergency lane. More follow suit in mass exodus fashion, but those who are blocked leave their cars in a panic.

Thousands of B-movie humanoids start rushing past her and towards the hills as hundreds of rescue helicopters whiz by heading for the airport.

Gisele stares at her phone. Manon’s plane should have landed by now. She whips on her gas mask, grabs her phone, purse, and all the filters from her glove box, and ditches her CleanCar. She is not waiting for whatever is headed her way…

… to be continued in Bye-bye LAX.