Monday, January 03, 2011

LA freeways

One of my favorite passages in THE DEADLY DOOWOP is when Butch, a black artist, explains to Red Trevorak, our hero, why the LA freeway system is being built the way that it is.
"This is the Freeway Grand Plan, okay? They even
published it in the newspaper. Now this here is Watts,
man. So more Negroes have been moving into Watts, so
it's expanding to the west, right? Oo-ee, we got to head
off them niggers at the pass! And so we start building this
here Harbor Freeway to block them off, and this here
Santa Monica Freeway to catch and trap all the ones that
slip over the boundary before we can finish up the
Harbor. But now Watts is expanding east, man, cause it's
got to go somewhere, and so we got to head off them
damn niggers again, oo-ee, baby, let's build ourselves the
Santa Ana Freeway, only this time a whole mess of
niggers got so far east we got to come down with another
one, too, the Pomona Freeway -- look at it, Red. All these
freeways ain't nothing but fences to keep the niggers from
getting too close to good white neighborhoods. You
mentioned South City. Well, what's South City, man? A
town because people want it to be a town? Hell, no. It's
nothing but the part of Watts that got over the Santa Ana                                                                                   
but got cut off with the Pomona. It ain't a freeway system,
Red, it's the walls of a prison!" 
I stared at the napkin. 
"You're saying," I began slowly, "that the purpose of
the freeway system is to contain Watts?" 
Butch laughed. "Shit, man, I think I'd better pay the
check, you so dumb." 

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