Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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A traffic jam and a parade* (updated)

It seems perverse for a film crew to stage a traffic jam in Los Angeles when there are so many naturally occurring -- it's kind of like painting a forest set in the middle of a real forest. But movie-makers want to control the scene, so to speak. And that's what one company, Park Pictures LLC, is planning to do: stage a 50-car traffic jam in Elysian Park. And in order to have their traffic jam, they are calling for Stadium Way between Elysian Park Drive and Academy Road -- the street many people in the neighborhood use -- to be closed for three days (including yesterday). The other two days are the 12th and 13th of this month. Strike date is "N/A."

That's all well and bad. Except that one of the closure days happens to fall on Saturday, the 12th of December, which is also the day when the annual Echo Park Community Christmas Parade will take place. Sunset Boulevard will be closed briefly for this lovely event, which really is a one-of-a-kind, part marching band and Santa Floats, part Do-Dah, part car club display. It's a lot of fun.

So we have two staged events and a collision of closures, as Stadium Way is the route by which many of the locals would avoid Sunset when it's closed. Lots of uproar on a neighborhood list about the shutting of Stadium Way, with accusations of high-handedness by the film company, indifference by Film L.A., and a possible skirting of the permit process. Oh, and there reportedly are NO promises to pay off residents with $100 cash.

Meanwhile, Chicken Corner can hardly express how tedious it is to watch traffic jams in the movies. (One notable exception is an early Chris Rock movie, CB4, which I believe used a found-in-nature freeway jam -- and the traffic is a hilarious joke. Another notable exception: The movie Traffic by Steven Soderbergh.) It's hard to imagine anyone who isn't a bit bored during all those hackneyed traffic-is-stopped and things are out of control! sequences in so many disaster films. As in a real jam, movie traffic is just something to wait through.

*Eastsider blog reports that the filming is for a German cell phone commercial, and says the $100 offer is untrue.

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