In 2013, as part of Pacific Standard Time, the Getty had an exhibition (and book) called Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future 1940-1990. Exhibition details and images are still up on the Getty website, including this video:
Ed Ruscha’s photographs of Hollywood Blvd. 1973 vs. 2002
The Overdrive site has this to say about “car culture“: “Los Angeles’s identity is inextricably linked with the automobile. During the mid-20th century, cars were strategically transformed from convenient modes of personal transportation into rapidly produced, gleaming symbols of self-expression.”
Since I am once again commuting in Los Angeles after a good 10 years of not doing so, I have the authority to say this of my experience of driving in Los Angeles:
I feel no Didionesqe (Didiontic? Didionian?) “rapture-of-the-freeway,” but time is distorted. Since most forms of travel are utilitarian and not the “main event,” it’s disconcerting to find you’ve lost several hours simply en route. So instead of completely losing that time, my mind has begun to construct car time as its own little world. I experience my days in three parts: Time at home (or thereabouts), time at work, time in car. My brain plans activities for the car (what to listen to, what to snack on) just as much as it does for work or home. My car doesn’t even constitute a “third place” since it’s not social. It’s just a place I am for two to three hours each day where I can’t do anything but listen and sometimes eat (and drive). While public transit has its own set of frustrations and is a surreal mix of public/private space (where you’re overseen and overheard), at least it allows you to get other things during non-main-event time.