🛣 Headlines About California Highways – November 2021

Eleven down, one to go. Perhaps 2022 will be better than 2021 was. We went into 2021 with so much optimism after 2020 and its craziness. It looked like things were going better, but then we were slammed with supply chain woes, and people that seemed more concerned with themselves and partisan political positioning than with making the world a better place (Tikkun Olam). But we can make 2022 better. You can do your part. Get vaccinated (and get a booster if have your first shots). Put your vaccine card in your digital wallet (it makes things easy). Wear your masks. Let’s keep beating this virus down until we can get that R0 to 1 or below. Right now, the R0 is at 1.1, so we’re getting closer. This chart visualizes how infectious SARS-COV-2 is without the vaccine, compared to other diseases.

But November has been crazy in other ways. On the plus side, theatre is coming back and I saw two shows in November: Hamilton and Head Over Heels. That’s the good. The bad is that I saw the last show with a friend, not my wife. That’s because my wife fell in a store the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and has been in the hospital since. They repaired the broken kneecap and tib-fib fracture, and now it is just rehab until mid-December at least. That sees me on the roads more, but not for a good reason.

But at least I can give you something fun. Here are the headlines I collected for November. As always: Ready, Set, Discuss, and get your vaccine or booster.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For $ paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Goodman urges California officials to widen I-15; Caltrans says not so fast (Las Vegas Review-Journal). After an end to any busy weekend in the Las Vegas Valley, you can almost count on two things happening: a miles-long traffic backup on Interstate 15 southbound, and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman tweeting about it. With the interstate going from three lanes on the Nevada side to two on the California side, traffic can back up more than 20 miles on some busy holiday weekends. Last week’s EDC music festival drew hundreds of thousands of people, with many driving in from Southern California. The backup on Monday, after the festival ended, got up to at least 15 miles long, according to Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada traffic alerts. Goodman took to her Twitter account to urge California transportation officials to help ease the congestion.
  • $$American Canyon looks at gas stations and hotels on Highway 29 (Napa Valley Register). American Canyon’s main drag of Highway 29 could get another hotel, though adding gas stations beyond an upcoming Circle K looks doubtful. This week, the city Planning Commission had two discussions that could affect the Highway 29 ambiance. It recommended the City Council allow a Hampton Inn and favored a ban on new gas stations, pending a few details to be worked out. American Canyon’s highway stretch is the first look at Napa County for many visitors. It is a mixture of new shopping centers, old buildings and vacant lots. A three-story, 112-room Hampton Inn with such features as a fitness center and meeting room would be just south of Donaldson Way. It would replace, among other things, a house with a windmill in front of it on a 2.5-acre lot that is largely vacant.
  • Who killed L.A.’s streetcars? We all did (Los Angeles Times). Suppose you’re thinking of moving to Los Angeles, and you ask your friends, what movies should I watch to learn all about the place? Easy, they say. “Chinatown,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” That’s fine — if you’re willing to let movies teach you history. But do remember, please, that “Chinatown” is a brilliant but truth-adjacent film and that “Once Upon a Time” delivers a happy grisly alternate ending to the Charles Manson saga. And as for “Roger Rabbit,” do you really want your source material about L.A.’s electric streetcar system to come from a cast of animated lagomorphs? Next to the Black Dahlia, that is probably L.A.’s favorite murder-conspiracy whodunit: Who killed the Red Cars, once the grandest electric streetcar system in the nation?
  • Phase 2 of the Route 70 Safety and Passing Lanes Project (District 3/FB). Caltrans and its partners celebrated the completion of Phase 2 of the Highway 70 Safety and Passing Lanes Project in Butte County this morning. The new roadway improves safety along Highway 70 corridor by providing continuous passing opportunities for vehicles from East Gridley Road to the Butte-Yuba county line. The project is the third of six major roadway improvement projects completed on Highway 70 between Oroville and Marysville.
  • South Fresno Corridor Project (District 6/FB). District 6 will host a virtual public hearing for the South Fresno Corridor Project. The hearing will be held on November 4th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. You may access the virtual hearing through the project website: https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-6/district-6-projects/06-0h240
  • Golden State Bridge Inc. Delivers Unique Reconstruction Project (Construction Eqpt. Guide). The new $18 million Klamath River Bridge, a 300-ft. long, one lane in each direction, arch structure located north of Yreka, Calif., constructed by Golden State Bridge Inc. for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), was fully delivered on Oct. 1 of this year. The complex project dealt with many environmental hurdles, which required a unique falsework system envisioned and implemented by Golden State’s Project Manager Paul Lukaszewicz, Superintendent Jim Banbury and Project Engineer Evan Huber to meet all concerns of the permitting agencies with no temporary structures in the flowing water. An engineered bridge removal plan also was required to dismantle the old structure and prevent debris from falling into the river.

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🎭 A Joyous Break | “Head Over Heels” @ Pasadena Playhouse

Head Over Heels @ Pasadena PlayhouseBack in late 2018, I happened to listen to the Little Known Facts podcast episode with Bonnie Milligan. Bonnie, at the time, was starring in a new Broadway musical, Head Over HeelsHead Over Heels tells the story of … well, we’ll get to that later.  The podcast interview impressed me a number of ways; most particularly, it made me curious about a musical where one of the main leads was being played by a larger woman. The musical was built around the music of the LA band The Go-Gos,  so the music was fun and bouncy and it just sounded like it would be a great show. I got the cast album, and looked forward to it eventually going on tour.

Then it closed quickly on Broadway after 36 previews and 164 performances. This made a tour unlikely. This would be another musical like Big Fish, Tuck Everlasting or Bandstand that had great music, but no official tour. I resigned myself to probably not seeing it. But, like with Big Fish and Bandstand, I happened to luck out. In this case, the Pasadena Playhouse announced a regional reimagining and remounting as their first show, post-pandemic. Just like with Big Fish (Musical Theatre West, 2014) and Bandstand (Broadway in T.O., 2019), I’d get to see it. Tuck Everlasting, I’m still waiting for you.

Head Over Heels is primarily a jukebox musical, as noted above. The story they chose to pull the songs together Book 1 is The Arcadia, a prose pome by Sir Philip Sidney. Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes the original Book 1:

In Book I, the Duke of Arcadia, Basilius, journeys to the oracle at Delphos and receives a bleak prediction: his daughters will be stolen by undesirable suitors, he will be cuckolded by his wife, and his throne will be usurped by a foreign state. Hoping to preempt this fate, Basilius entrusts the Arcadian government to his loyal subject, Philanax, and retires to a pastoral lodge with his wife, Gynecia, their attractive daughters, Pamela and Philoclea, his boorish servant, Dametas, and the latter’s repulsive wife and daughter, Miso and Mopsa. In a nearby city, Pyrocles and Musidorus pass the night; they are cousins, princes, and best friends, and are famous throughout Greece for their heroic exploits. Pyrocles, upon seeing a picture of Philoclea at a gallery, is overwhelmed by a passionate desire to see her in person. To that end, Pyrocles disguises himself as Cleophila, an “[Amazonian lady] going about the world to practice feats of chivalry,” and heads for Basilius’s pastoral lodge, accompanied by the skeptical but loyal Musidorus. Deceived by Cleophila’s feminine disguise, Basilius falls in love with her, and invites her to stay with the family. While Musidorus covertly observes this meeting, he is overwhelmed by a passionate love for the elder daughter, Pamela, and decides to disguise himself as a shepherd, Dorus, in order to gain access to her. When everyone congregates in an arbor to hear the shepherds sing, a lion and bear attack the party. Cleophila kills the lion, saving Philoclea; Dorus kills the bear, saving Pamela. Cleophila’s manly puissance leads Gynecia to suspect her secret male sex, while Philoclea forms an intense “sisterly” affection for Cleophila.

As I said, that’s the original story. As transformed by Jeff Whitty‘s conception and original book, and then adapted by James Magruder, the story takes on a decidedly modern feel. This was made clear in the original casting by a number of ground-breaking and gender-bending selections beyond the casting of Milligan — most notably, the casting of a non-binary performer, Peppermint, as the oracle. You can find a synopsis of the Broadway production on the wikipedia page; but it is essentially the same story.

For the Pasadena Playhouse production, Jenny Koons and Sam Pinkleton Direction, Choreography, Updated Conception reimagined the show a bit more. They knew that, post-COVID, audiences wouldn’t want to sit for 3 hours in a small building. So they cut the story down to a single 80-minute act, mostly by cutting extraneous story bits. They knew the audiences wanted fun, so they moved the show from a standard proscenium presentation to an immersive presentation (similar to what was done for Pirates at the Playhouse in 2018). They covered the orchestra seats with a dance floor, making it level with the existing stage. They put bleacher seating on the stage, and organized the audience into three groups: one group standing and dancing on the dance floor, interacting with the actors; one group in the stage seating; and one group up in the balcony as an upper mezzanine. They encouraged the audiences to dress up and dance and have fun (although no open bar, as with Pirates); I think a lot of the fun of the show was watching the audience. This, of course, while making sure EVERYONE was vaccinated and had their masks on.

They then cast the show in the manner of the original production: gender bending all the way. What a shock that must be for the Pasadena Blue Hairs, but it was fabulous. The cast consisted of Alaska 5000 Gynecia, the Queen; Lea Delaria Basilus, the King; Yurel Echezarreta The Player; Freddie Pythio, the Oracle; Tiffany Mann Pamela, the elder daughter; Shanice Williams Philoclea, the younger daughter; George Salazar Musidorus, the sheperd; and Emily Skeggs Mopsa, the handmaiden. If you just look at the cast, you’ll see a number of drag performers; this element of cross-dressing continues into the show and — I’m pleased to say — isn’t being used to play up the laughs in a Bosom Buddies sense, but as an integral part of the characters and the stories. So in Head over Heels, it is appropriate and it works.

The performances themselves were strong. It is clear that the cast is having a hell of a good time and that sense of joy is clear in their performances and audience interactions. Every show will be a bit different because of the interactions — they dance with the audience, they pull them on stage. The singing is strong, and the performances are stellar. Personally, I was most impressed with Skeggs look and voice, Mann’s singing, the playfulness of both Williams and Salazar, the wow factor of Echezarreta, the voice of Freddie, and the … everything of Alaska 5000.

I think the most telling thing about the show was that the mood was infectious — and in a good way, not a COVID way. I went into the show feeling a bit down. My wife (who was supposed to go with me) fell last Saturday and broke her kneecap, tibia, and fibia, and has been in the hospital for the last week — and she’ll be there at least two weeks more for in-patient rehab. Finding someone to go with me made me realize how few friends I had (luckily, a friend from my synagogue’s mens club joined me). So I was down. But I left this show happy and feeling good. Especially right now, this is what theatre needs to do. We need shows that bring us joy, and Head Over Heels at the Pasadena Playhouse certainly does that.

Music for the show was provided by an on-stage all female band: Laura Hall Assoc Music Director/Keyboards; Nikki Stevens Guitar 1 (Electric / Steel-String Acoustic / Mandolin / Ukulele); Hisako Ozawa Guitar 2 (Electric / Nylon & Steel-String Acoustic / Banjo); B. B. Kates Bass; and Nicole Marcus Drums / Percussion. Eric Heinly was the contractor that assembled the band. Kris Kukul was the music director. Simply put, the band rocked!

Turning to the production side of the equation: David Meyer Scenic Design warped the playhouse. He transformed the physical space into a dance club, with an upper mezzanine, lower bleachers, and a dance floor with risers (including the names of the Go-Gos painted here and there), with a metal structure surrounding the sides and in front of the balcony for the actors. It was remarkable, and must give the actors quite a workout. But it made for a fun show. This was augmented by the work of Hahnji Jang Costume Design, who had this odd modern mix of costumes: classic 50s style for the Queen, suit and cigars for the King, playful sweatpants and dresses for the daughters, and just real imaginative stuff for the rest. The costumes were supported well by the work of Christopher Enlow Hair and Wig Design , some of which were classic (like Alaska 5000), some were playful (such as the Players or the daughters), and some were so unique to the character (like the King’s). About the only weak point was Stacey Derosier Lighting Design design that at points left the actors in a deep shade, making them hard to see. This may have been an artifact of the warping of the space screwing up the possible lighting lines. Danny Erdberg and Ursula Kwong-Brown‘s Sound Design sound was generally clear, although on the lower bleachers a bit of the volume was lost.  Other production credits: Jenny Slattery Assoc Producer; Brad Enlow Technical Director / Production Supervisor; Sara Sahin Stage Manager; Lydia Runge Assist. Stage Manager; Davidson & Choy Publicity Press Representative; The Telsey Office, Ryan Bernard Tymensky Casting. The program does not give a credit for a COVID safety officer; that’s too bad, as that role deserves acknowledgement right now. However, the production team does deserve credit for strong back-stage diversity that mirrors the diversity on-stage. Danny Feldman is the Producing Artistic Director.

Note: You don’t get the program for the show until you are leaving, and — starting what is sure to be a trend — there are a limited number of printed programs. They encourage you to visit an online interactive program instead via a QR code. This, in my eyes, is poor. Twenty-five years from now, will this online site be available? I still have programs from when I started at the Playhouse back in 1988 (Down an Alley Filled With Cats … I’m looking at you). Yes, it saves paper, but they could just as well print on recycled paper without as much color or clay.

Head Over Heels continues at the Pasadena Playhouse until December 12. Tickets are available through the Playhouse; discount tickets may be available on Goldstar.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member (modulo the COVID break). I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted (or I’ll make a donation to the theatre, in lieu of payment). I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB), Broadway in Hollywood (FB), the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and we have a membership at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB). We were subscribing at Actors Co-op (FB) and the Musical Theatre Guild (FB) prior to COVID; they have not yet resumed productions. We have also been subscribers at the Soraya/VPAC (FB), although we are waiting a year before we pick that up again. Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups. Note to publicists or producers reading this: here’s my policy on taking comp tickets. Bottom-Line: Only for things of nominal value, like Fringe.

Upcoming Shows:

For right now, we’re pretty much sticking with shows that come as part of our subscriptions or are of interest through our memberships. That may change later in 2022. December brings The Bands Visit at Broadway in Hollywood (FB) and A Christmas Carol at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Turning to 2022: January brings Everyone’s Talking About Jamie at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). February brings Something Rotten at 5 Star Theatricals (FB); lastly, March brings The Lehman Trilogy at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB), and Ann at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB).

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarOn Stage 411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget (although I know it is outdated and need to update it). Want to learn about all the great theatre in Southern California? Read my post on how Los Angeles (and its environs) is the best area for theatre in the Country (again, I need to review this for the post-COVID theatre landscape)!

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Where is Barney?

My wife is in the hospital, after falling and breaking her knee, and this is leading me to a stark realization: I’m friendless. That’s not saying I don’t have friends — I do. But I don’t have a Barney, and its troubling. Let me explain.

My wife (who is my best friend) is going to be stuck in the hospital for at least the next week. We have tickets to the Pasadena Playhouse for Saturday night (Head over Heels, The Go-Gos Musical). She will not be able to make it. So I’m trying to figure out who to go with. My daughter is going the next day, so she’s out. That leaves… I don’t know. In discussing this with my daughter, she “arranged” a possible person: the father of her best friend. That just seemed off to me, I don’t know the guy and have no idea if we have anything in common. However, one thing he said got to me: “Saturdays are for the guys”.

If I were Fred Flintstone, I’d have a Barney. A best bud. A pal. A guy who has been a friend most of my life, who has a number of shared interests. If I were Fred Flintstone, I’d call Barney. But I don’t have a Barney. Racking my brain, I can’t think of a single close male friendship. I had some as a kid, but post-college … not really. I tended to form strong friendships with women; but even at that, the truly close female friends I’ve had are either dead or have moved away from the area. This is familiar, I think: I tried to think who filled this role for my dad, and I can’t think of anyone after my Uncle Ray passed: they were usually friends of my mom whom my dad grafted on to. I’d say that my dad’s best friend, beyond his spouses, was his brother.

As I lay in bed this morning, I was raking my brain thinking who I might ask. The basic parameters would be:

  • Shared experiences: Someone I’ve known a reasonable amount of time
  • Shared interests: Someone with some congruity with my interests (roadgeeking, theatre, boardgaming)

There are perhaps one or two, but most of the potential candidates no longer live in the area. I’ve drifted away — either in distance or social circles — from many of my childhood, high school, or college friends. It’s making me realize I have no “best buddy”. Friendship is a partial ordering, and I’m realizing I don’t have a least upper bound. My best friend is my wife, and beyond that … I’m not sure anyone achieves that closeness. That’s worrisome. My wife has some friends who do. Do women form relationships like that better? I don’t think so — at least not if I read the literature.  I think it is just introverts like me.

But this still leave me wondering: What do I do Saturday night? I can think of a few possibilities, but no one nearby. That’s troubling.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering September-October 2021

Time for the penultimate update to the highway pages for 2021. Before I paste in the change log, I should insert enough text so that folks don’t get bothered by the masterpiece of an introduction that I’ve written. So suffice it to say that these changes include updates from my usual review of headlines, AARoads posts, and material sent to me, as well as bills and resolutions approved by the legislature and actions of the California Transportation Commission. Read it, enjoy it, and you’ll find it a real “shot in the arm”, if you get my drift. Oh, and “Ready, Set, Discuss”.

Here’s the change log:

Welcome to the penultimate update of 2021, capturing happenings in September and October. Whenever I write up these things of late, I’m always including a reminder for people to get (noun), I also advise people to (action). I’ve made comments about (event in the past), and even have expressed my opinion about (political figure). Invariably, when I share this on AAroads, some (noun) makes a comment about how I’m injecting politics into the forum. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: My highway pages are about the truth, without opinion, and discussion about the pages and these updates should be focused on the highways.  But (noun) is real, and measures must be taken to reduce its spread and get us out on the roads again — and those roads must be safe and not filled with (plural noun) waiving their (plural nouns) and driving their (plural nouns). Oops. Did I say that with my public voice?

I thought about making the paragraph above in the form of a Mad Libs, but it was harder to format. Those who know me should know how to fill in the words. Those who are offended by the above, well, it is your mind that is filling in the blanks, and I think you should (anatomically impossible action).

As for the real introduction: September and October were interesting months. Newsom survived the recall attempt, and it will be interesting to see the impact of his survival on the roadbuilding and road rehabilitation programs of the state, as well as the future of High Speed Rail. There have been massive wildfires in the Northern and Eastern parts of the state that have impacted roads. I normally don’t note fire damage here because it will be repaired, but these fires have resulted in major closures on roads such as US 50, Route 88, Route 299 and much more. Let’s hope for their speedy and complete repair. As road lovers, we are all too aware of the impact of (noun) on highways, be it flooding on Route 37, fires on the roads in the Sierra Nevada or other forests, or damage from flash flooding out in the desert. This is one reason why emphasis of transportation programs is changing from building more roads and getting more vehicles from place to place faster to increasing capacity and improving the movement of people.

For those reading this on AAroads: Go over to the 2021 Changes page ((web page link)), and you can read the incredibly clever and witty introduction that I wrote, but decided not to post here because I didn’t want to deal with (username)‘s reaction this time. Trust me, it was really good.

On to the updates:

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers in September and October 2021 (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the California Highways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(ℱ), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from PDERocco(2), Tom Fearer(3)HeyNow415(4), Rick Kelly(5), Michael McThrow(6): Route 1(ℱ), Route 2(ℱ), I-5(ℱ), LRN 5(5), I-10(ℱ), Route 11(ℱ,2), Route 24(ℱ), Route 26(ℱ), Route 49(ℱ), US 50(ℱ), Route 73(ℱ,3), US 97(3), Route 99(ℱ,3), US 101(ℱ), Route 107(ℱ), Route 108(ℱ), Route 113(ℱ), Route 133(ℱ), Route 139(3), Route 148(ℱ), Route 154(ℱ), Route 161(3), Route 190(3), Route 213(ℱ), LRN 232(ℱ), Route 238(4), Route 239(6), Route 241(ℱ), Route 299(3),  I-580(ℱ,5), Route 710(ℱ), Route 905(ℱ), County Sign Route J4(6).
(Source: private email, Highway headline posts through October 2021 as indicated, AARoads through 11/13/2021)

Thanks to a question, I learned that there is an online version of “2020 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California“. Did an audit against my names list. Discovered that Caltrans has errors in their document :-).

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. Noted the passage of the following:

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