🛣 Headlines About California Highways – March 2024

And with that quarter I just dropped in the slot machine of life at the Tropicana (soon to be ז״ל‎, which is sad news for us Vegas historians), 2024 is down its first quarter. It’s been eventful, hasn’t it (and I’m not even talking politics, which its own form of crash and burn). But the first quarter of 2024 is now water under the bridge, so to speak. Well, something’s under the bridge.

Too soon?

In any case, it is the last day of March. I understand there are some holidays today, but for me, it is a perfect day for a headline post. For those unfamiliar, this post generally contains headlines about California Highways that I’ve seen over the last month. It also serves as fodder for the updates to my California Highways site, so there are also other pages and things I’ve seen that I wanted to remember for the site updates. Lastly, the post also includes some things that I think would be of peripheral interest to my highway-obsessed highway-interested readers.

So what has happened in March with me? There was lots of theatre: One of the Good Ones at the Pasadena Playhouse; Million Dollar Quartet at 5-Star Theatricals; Chicago at Broadway in Hollywood; the Go Jazz Big Band at The Main in Santa Clarita; and Fat Ham at the Geffen. We also got a new 2024 Subaru Forester: my daughter’s 2012 Chevy Sonic with over 100K miles on it is on its deathbed, and she’s getting our 2016 Subaru Impreza (with 43K miles on it). Good timing, as work has caught the “back to the office” bug, meaning I’ll be on the 405 more. Is that friction I’m feeling? Could the relief be retirement? We’ll see, but not for at least a year.

California Highways: Route by Route logoThe podcast continues apace. One more episode dropped in March, and we’re hopefully recording more this week. I’ve started writing Season 3, but it is going close. Route 3 is done, and I’m working on Route 4. Episode 2.07 prompted a friend at Caltrans to offer to do an interview to talk about Fastrak and tolling in California; we’ll coordinate that as a bonus episode during the Season 2/3 break. I’m hoping to talk not just about Fastrak and tolling, but all those fake license plates going around, and placement of the transponder (article in the headlines). Please tell your friends about the podcast, “like”, “♥”, or “favorite” it, and give it a rating in your favorite podcatcher. Yes, the sound quality of the episodes does get better — we were learning. As always, you can keep up with the show at the podcast’s forever home at https://www.caroutebyroute.org , the show’s page on Spotify for Podcasters, or you can subscribe through your favorite podcatching app or via the RSS feeds (CARxR, Spotify for Podcasters) . The following episodes have been posted this month:

  • CA RxR 2.10: Route 1: The Lost Coast (incl. Route 208 and Route 211).  Episode 2.10 of California Highways: Route by Route completes our exploration of Route 1, as we discuss the “Lost Coast”. This area was originally part of the last segment of LRN 56, and was to be Route 1, but some reworking of the state system made the former lateral between Usal Road and US 101 (which in 1964 became Route 208) officially Route 1, and made the “Lost Coast” portion of the route Route 211. This episode explores the Lost Coast, including the history of Route 208 and Route 211.  (Spotify for Podcasters)

The season will conclude with two episodes on Route 2: One on the flatlands from Santa Monica to Glendale; and one on the mountain segments along the Angeles Crest Highway.

Well, you should now be up to date. Here are the headlines that I found about California’s highways for March.

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. See this article for more tips on bypassing paywalls. 🎧 indicates an primarily audio article. 🎥 indicates a primarily video article. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Most Calif. DOT under-freeway spaces failed fire inspections (Gov1). An alarming number of storage sites under Bay Area freeway underpasses failed state fire marshal inspections spurred by last year’s devastating blaze that shut down Interstate 10 in Los Angeles, according to new Caltrans reports that raise questions about the risks of leasing space under California’s highways. Inspectors found combustible trash, vegetation, tires and debris, stacks of wooden pallets and lumber, unsecured compressed gas cylinders, unsafe wiring, motor oil and obstructed fire safety access.  “Inspections of these sites revealed several issues presenting fire or safety risks, as well as other issues and lease violations,” Caltrans Director Tony Tavares wrote in a Feb. 6 report to Gov. Gavin Newsom on the safety of Caltrans’ program to lease out space under freeways.
  • Massive Ventura County landslide shuts down portion of CA-150 (AOL). Recent rainstorms in Ventura County have caused a massive mudslide that’s blocked off a stretch of State Route 150 north of Santa Paula, closing the road. Crews don’t anticipate the stretch to reopen for several months. According to Caltrans, the hillside along State Route 150, also known as Ojai Road, began to slide in early Febrary, as massive storms rolled through the area. Now, more than 150 feet of the road is completely covered by mud and debris. Caltrans estimates that 3,200 vehicles use that stretch of road daily. Through traffic is blocked between Stonegate Road in Santa Paula, south of the slide, and Mupu Road at Steckel Park, north of the slide.
  • What’s in our draft Long Beach – East Los Angeles Corridor Mobility Investment Plan (and how you can weigh in) (The Source). Last month, we released the draft Long Beach – East Los Angeles Corridor Mobility Investment Plan (for short, the CMIP), an comprehensive 255-page document that describes the ambitious community efforts to re-envision mobility within this 18-miles-long and 5 miles-wide area linked together by the 710 Freeway. Bounded by Long Beach and East Los Angeles, this project area includes 18 cities and 3 unincorporated communities. Twelve percent of LA County’s population (1.2 million) live here. It’s home to eleven percent of LA County’s jobs (one half million). The corridor also links the manufacturing district in southeast LA to the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB), two of the busiest ports in the world. In other words, moving supplies up and down this corridor is essential to keeping our pantries full, our businesses open, and our hospitals stocked with supplies. It’s an economic lifeline.
  • Centennial Corridor flyover to open March 5, marking completion of $600 million project (Bakersfield Now). Centennial Corridor flyover, the ramp from northbound Highway 99 to westbound Highway 58, is expected to open to traffic at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5, with weather permitting or as late as Wednesday, March 6, completing the more than $600 million project. The flyover connector ramp was the only outstanding portion of the project left to open. Other portions of the project opened to traffic on Feb. 17 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the engineering work and the impact of the about 1.5 miles of new roadway connecting Highway 58 and Highway 99.
  • Caltrans And Angels Camp Host Public Meeting On Mobility Project (myMotherLode). The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the city of Angels Camp have announced a public meeting to discuss the Mobility Project, an initiative aimed at tackling traffic and safety concerns in the region. The event is open to all community members, local businesses, and media outlets and will take place on March 7 from 4 pm to 8 pm at the Bret Harte Multi-purpose room. The Mobility Project addresses traffic and safety issues along the Highway 4 and 49 corridor, a route heavily impacted by the annual influx of visitors. The project aims to create safer and less congested streets, not only for current residents but also for future generations. According to a statement from Caltrans, the project’s scope extends beyond Angels Camp, impacting multiple economies and communities along these vital state routes.
  • Plan to improve traffic flow on Interstate 15 in Riverside County hinges on ‘smart freeway’ high-tech solutions (ABC7 Los Angeles). Riverside County transportation officials are hoping an upcoming project will improve a stretch of Interstate 15 through Temecula that seems perpetually snarled by traffic. “It gets gridlocked almost any time of day,” said Aaron Hake, deputy executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission. “Not only do you have the commute coming back from San Diego, but you also have a lot of local residents here just trying to get around the Temecula – Murrieta area. “They’re merging, they’re weaving, and just trying to get on the 215. And all of those actions have the effect of slowing traffic down and producing the opportunity for collisions.”
  • Golden Gate Bridge receives $400 million from Biden bill (SF Examiner). U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined Mayor London Breed, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu at the Roundhouse Cafe at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza Monday to celebrate a $400 million grant to complete the final phase of a much–needed seismic retrofit to one of nation’s most iconic spans. The bridge’s retrofit funds come from the Biden administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The first three phases of the retrofit were completed between 2002 and 2014, according to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
  • Skyline Boulevard: A long and winding road through scenic redwoods (Local News Matters). A drive along State Route 35, aka Skyline Boulevard, is a reminder of all the wilderness that the Santa Cruz Mountains and Bay Area have to offer. This is where the redwoods meet the road, where the mountains soar high and open space abounds. It’s a winding road, all 45 miles of it between Highway 92 and Highway 17 at the Santa Cruz County line. So which part should you see before carsickness takes over? (State Route 35 also continues north to Daly City, but for a six-mile stretch it disappears and joins Interstate 280 between San Mateo and San Bruno.)

Read More …

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🎭 The Lyin’ King | “Fat Ham” @ Geffen Playhouse

Fat Ham (Geffen)Going into Fat Ham, which we saw last night at the Geffen Playhouse, I didn’t know much. I knew it had been successful during its Broadway run, garnering some Tony nominations. I guess it might be something like Fat Pig, which we had seen many many years ago at the REP. Note: It wasn’t. The reality: Fat Ham wasn’t anything like I expected (other than it was very funny); in fact, if you knew its source material, it wasn’t what that would lead you to expect.

Fat Ham, at the highest level, is loosely based on Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. This is a continuing tradition in the theatre, and it shows the brilliance of Shakespeare in that his work is so readily adaptable to different forms and eras. The title of this writeup is a reference to yet another adaption of Hamlet: Disney’s The Lion King. Malevolent Uncle marries the widow of the King, who the Uncle had killed. Son has to deal with avenging his father, with the help of friends. Similar story beats in Fat Ham.

Fat Ham transposes the story to one about a black family, somewhere in the south, sometime in the near past. The program states that is is North Carolina or Virginia or Maryland or Tennessee, but not Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida. The time is sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, based on dress and hairstyles and such. It is a blue-collar level (but not poor) house, in a rural area, where the family business is a barbeque restaurant run by Pap and Rev, two brothers. Pap went to prison for gutting a customer like a pig, and while in prison, was shafted. It turns out that Rev, Pap’s brother, had arranged the shafting … and not a week after the funeral, Rev married Pap’s widow, Tedra. The play takes place in the backyard of Tedra’s house, where there is to be a celebration of the wedding.

The focus of the story is Juicy, Tedra’s son. After Juicy’s friend Tio sees Pap’s ghost, the ghost comes to Juicy and asks him to avenge his death. Juicy is conflicted. Story beats of the traditional Hamlet story play out in the backyard, as Rev’s friend, Rabby comes to visit with her two children, Larry (who is in the Marines) and Opal. There are both rough and obvious correspondences: Juicy/Hamlet, Rev/Claudius, Tedra/Gertrude, Tio/Horatio, Rabby/Polonius, Larry/Laertes, Opal/Ophelia. But not all of the character beats are the same, especially as the story goes on and the relationships get … shall we say more contemporary.

There are also some key changes in the characters, beyond the obvious transposition from the Court of Denmark to the rural south, with the “Kings” becoming owners of a BBQ Joint. Juicy is a bit of a schlubsy student, attending the University of Phoenix. His friend, Tio, is a stoner addicted to porn. Rabby is a high church lady, her son Larry is on leave from the Marine, and her daughter Opal wants to go to the Marine, although her mom wants her to be a debutant. Relationships are not traditional.

The play clearly breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges the audience and even interacts with them, with characters commenting about “What are you telling those people?”. There are points where Juicy breaks into soliloquy, even going so far as to quote the source Shakespeare. The interplay with Shakespeare is quite interesting. There are jokes expected and unexpected (I particularly like “Aye, there’s the rub” in reference to cooking BBQ — someone has to use that as a restaurant name). There are many of the lines you would expect (yes, there is “What a Piece of Work is Man”, which (if you recall) was in Hair as well). Yet this isn’t Willy’s story, it is Juicy. It ends up in a different place (although the Uncle is still dead). There is magic, and there are ghosts. But there is also glitter and sparkle.

There are also the black family beats. While I was writing this up, the plot of the recent movie American Fiction. One of the central aspects of the story is the question of why stories about black families are successful only if they are ghetto, involve violence, guns, etc. Why don’t stories about middle-class black families sell. Think about that with respect to Fat Ham. Here’s a story about a black family. It involves prison. It involves murder. It involves shanking. It has characteristic black southern language and dress. It has poor people who can’t afford college; people that don’t have the generational wealth to make that a possibility. It has families with generations of killing and prison. The idea of success is getting a career in Human Relations. But the play was successful. What does that say about what the predominantly white theatregoing audiences expect from stories about black families? Is this just proving the point of American Fiction? Contrast it with the story from One of the Good Ones at the Pasadena Playhouse,  which is a successful middle-class hispanic family (questioning what it means to be hispanic). Why is that context for a minority family accepted? It is certainly something to think about—and perhaps the reason we need more playwrights of color so that we can see a broader spectrum of black and minority families.

Theatre is a reflection of ourselves, and successful theatre means seeing our stories on the stage. The timeless story of Hamlet is successful simply because treachery is part of the human experience, as is the desire for revenge and avenging a wrong. Lust fits in there as well. We see that story play out in all sorts of families: be it a pride of lions, or a lyin’ prideful family.

Fat Ham is a very funny play, although not as hysterical as the recent POTUS. The performances are remarkable and strong. It is worth seeing, especially as the Geffen has essentially brought back the Broadway cast. We don’t often get that anymore in Los Angeles (although we used to, as I noted in my Chicago review last week)

I’d particularly like to note the performance of Marcel Spears as Juicy. Most know Spears as the younger, nerdy son on The Neighborhood. His performance as Juicy made me see how good of an actor this young man is. He’s much more than just the comedy chops we see on TV. His performance here brings out a great range, and is well worth seeing.

The set and creative design was interesting. I particularly noticed the prints used to create the house; the transition for the closing scenes was so fast I didn’t even notice it. The… well, I guess you could call it a smoking jacket … used for the ghost was particularly creative, as were the entrances and exits of the ghost. Be prepared for lots of theatrical smoke, if you are sensitive to that. There is also some rough language, violent themes and sexual references. This isn’t a show for kids. Hamlet never was (well, unless you’re Disney).

Fat Ham continues at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood through April 28, 2024. Tickets are available through the Geffen Online. Discount tickets may be available though Goldstar TodayTix—yes, I just received email that Goldstar is officially changing its name, and my pandemic-time credit for a cancelled show is moving to TodayTix. I guess I’ll never get my Goldstar EGOT now.

A parking note: Although parking is convenience at the Westwood Medical Plaza next door, and much cheaper than the TJ’s lot a block away, the parking lot is really badly designed. It is never clear where you can park until you are deep in the bowels of the structure; there are no clearly marked handicapped spaces (drop your passenger off in the loading zone before the theatre first, then circle back), and at the end of the show, it takes 20-30 minutes before the line to exit even starts moving. You have been warned. It is worse than the El Centro Garage near the Pantages, and that’s equally poorly designed. You would think, by now, architects would know how to design good underground parking structures. But they don’t.

———

Cast: Nikki Crawford Tedra; Chris Herbie Holland Tio; Billy Eugene Jones Rev / Pap; Adrianna Mitchell Opal; Marcel Spears Juicy; Benja Kay Thomas Rabby; Matthew Elijah Webb Larry. Understudies: Jasmine Ashanti U/S Opal; Armand Fields U/S Juicy; Ethan Henry U/S Rev/Pap; Jarvis B. Manning Jr. U/S Tio/Larry; April Nixon U/S Tedra / Rabby.

Creative: Written by James Ijames; Original Direction by Saheem Ali; Directed by Sideeq Heard. Produced in association with No Guarantees, Public Theatre Productions & Rashad V. Chambers.

Production: Marcel Spears Assoc Producer; Maruti Evans Scenic Designer; Dominique Fawn Hill Costume Designer; Bradley King Lighting Designer; Mikaal Sulaiman Sound Designer; Skylar Fox Illusions Designer; Earon Chew Nealy Wig, Hair, & Makeup Designer; David H. Parker Assoc. Director; Lisa Kopitsky Fight Director; Chris Herbie Holland Fight Captain; Darrell Grand Moultrie Broadway Choreographer; Abdur-Rahim Jackson Assoc. Choreographer; The Public Theatre & National Black Theatre Originating Producers; Alyssa Escalante Production Stage Manager; Lauren Buangan Asst Stage Manager; Kate Murray CSA Original Casting Director; Phyllis Schuringa CSA Casting Director.

♦ ♦ ♦

Administrivia: I am not a professional critic. I’m a cybersecurity professional, a roadgeek who does a highway site and a podcast about California Highways, and someone who loves live performance. I buy all my own tickets, unless explicitly noted otherwise. I do these writeups to share my thoughts on shows with my friends and the community. I encourage you to go to your local theatres and support them (ideally, by purchasing full price tickets, if you can afford to do so). We currently subscribe or have memberships at: Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson TheatreBroadway in Hollywood/Pantages TheatrePasadena PlayhouseGeffen Playhouse (Mini-Subscription); 5-Star Theatricals. We’re looking for the right intimate theatre to subscribe at — it hasn’t been the same since Rep East died (it’s now The Main, and although it does a lot of theatre, it doesn’t have seasons or a resident company), and post-COVID, most 99-seaters aren’t back to doing seasons (or seasons we like). I used to do more detailed writeups; here’s my current approach.

Upcoming ♦ Theatre / ♣ Music / ◊ Other Live Performance – Next 90ish Days (⊕ indicates ticketing is pending):

On the Theatrical Horizon:

Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has announced their Mainstage 2024 Season, and it includes Bat Boy the Musical running Sept 28 through October 18. We saw Bat Boy back when CSUN did it in 2014; it is a wonderful musical about how a society treats outsiders. I also just learned about a theatre company in Fullerton, Maverick Theater. They are doing Evil Dead: The Musical , which is a hoot if you’ve never seen it (we’ve seen it twice). They also have some interesting other stuff on their season, and we might drive down for Santa Claus Vs The Martians in November.

The Geffen Playhouse just announced their 2024/2025 seasonThe Brothers Size (08.14-09.08.2024); Dragon Lady – Part 1 of the Dragon Cycle (09.04-10.06.2024); Waiting for Godot (11.06-12.15.2024); Noises Off (01.29-03.02.2025); Furlough’s Paradise (04.16-05.18.2025); and The Reservoir (06.18-07.20.2025). Nothing particularly calls out to me. I like Noises Off, but it’s not worth dealing with Westwood Parking to make the trip worthwhile.

 

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🎭 Welcome Back, Suckers | “Chicago” @ BiH/Pantages

Chicago (Broadway in Hollywood 2024)It’s been a hot minute, hasn’t it, Chicago?

As preparation for doing this writing, I searched and searched online to see if I could find the show in my archive of reviews I posted since I started my blog back on lil’ ol’ Livejournal back in 2004. I couldn’t. So I went to the garage to check my file of programs (which I really need to update with the 10+ years of shows since I last filed programs). It has been a hot minute. The last time I saw this version of Chicago was the first production of this revival in Los Angeles, at the Ahmanson Theatre, May 1998, with Charlotte d’Amboise, Jasmine Guy, Brent Barrett in the leads. The rest of that season, if you care, included Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in da FunkRent, and An Enemy of the People (which I don’t think I saw). The time before that was seeing the original production at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, part of the LACLO 41st Season. Back then, Los Angeles and the LACLO tended to get the original cast, not a touring cast, so we had the originals: Gwen Verdon, Jerry Orbach, and Chita Rivera (and dancing in the ensemble was Susan Stroman). In case you’re curious, the other shows that season were PippinPal Joey, and The Sound of Music (with Florence Henderson).

Chicago has long been one of my favorite shows—the music has the quality to uplift me. I constantly played the original cast album, especially loving the velvet tone of Jerry Ohrbach on “Razzle Dazzle”, as well as the other high energy numbers. A character modeled after Mr. Cellophane was my superhero when we did Superhero 2044 in the UCLA Computer Club. I still remember having to miniaturize weapons so no one would notice my character. When the revival album came out, I love it—especially Bebe Neuwirth’s timing and delivery. But I haven’t seen the show in a long time; with the tour still trudging along, Chicago is one title that has never been released to the regional producing circuits, and so there have been precious few productions since the 1996 revival other than the tour (at least in the US).

By now, I’m going to guess that most folks are familiar with the story of Chicago. The highly successful movie did that, even if folks never saw it on stage. People are familiar with the style of Chicago, which was Bob Fosse at his obsessive peak; the revival attempted to preserve that with choreography in the style of Bob Fosse being done by his second muse, Ann Reinking. What most people today aren’t familiar with is the original conceit of the show: Every number was to be a vaudeville style number, in the style of a different vaudeville performer. There’s a good analysis of that aspect of the show here; here’s a quote from that article to explain things:

Almost every song in the show is modeled on an actual vaudeville act or star. In “All That Jazz,” Velma is playing Texas Guinan, inviting the audience in to drink and have a good time. She is our host for the evening. “Funny Honey” starts out being an homage to torch song queen Helen Morgan’s song “Bill” from Show Boat, a song about an ordinary man, who’s nothing special, but she loves him anyway. Roxie even sits atop a piano, like Helen Morgan often did. But then Kander & Ebb turn “Bill” on its ear, as Amos finds out just who the murder victim is and rats Roxie out. As Roxie gets drunker and drunker, as Amos finally tells the cop how it really happened, the lyric changes its tone and it ends with her calling Amos “That scummy, crummy dummy hubby of mine.” A perfectly cynical Fosse moment. And if that isn’t cynical enough, we find out in the courtroom scene later that Roxie has cheated on her husband and murdered her lover on Valentine’s Day!

In the original, this homage was emphasized in the dress and the staging. But audiences at the time didn’t get it, and the show floundered against its competition, especially this new little show that swept the awards: A Chorus Line. The cast album survived; the show didn’t. In 1996, Encores at City Center revived the show with a minimalize production. No sets to speak of. The cast all in black, surrounding the orchestra (which was on-stage). It was a smash. It moved to Broadway and has been running ever since. 26 years. A tour started soon after, and iterations of that tour are still crossing the country. Back when I saw the revival, in 1998, I wasn’t writing up shows. If I had, I probably would have discussed how I enjoyed hearing the musical after all these years, but bemoaned that the original conceit was lost. That’s even worse today: do “the kids” of today even know who the vaudeville stars are?

Last week, writing about Million Dollar Quartet, I bemoaned how dated musicals about the 1950s really were, and how they didn’t speak to audiences of today; this is especially true for jukebox musicals. Yet Chicago was packed? With young folk, even. I guess that’s because greed and treachery never go out of style; sex and violence always sells. We have yet another politician attempting to win via razzle dazzle instead of substance and truth. The original came out in the post-Watergate era; we weren’t as jaded then. The revival opened in the era of the OJ trial; and the notion of trials that were circuses were in the news. America loves its sex and cynicism.

So how as the tour held up after all these years. I’ll note that this particular tour is a non-Equity tour, meaning younger actors and no real name actors. It’s also been on the road a long time, which can lead tours to get sloppy.

I’ll start with the good news: The Orchestra is flaming hot. You see that during the Entr’acte when they just wail. They are the real stars of this production (probably because they are union musicians). As for the performers, they are very strong vocally and with characterizations and dance.

Alas, for the bad news: The wear is showing. I noticed this first in the casting. Fosse was a perfectionist. He had a look, and he wouldn’t let it be destroyed for anything. The folks casting this tour? They may have picked for talent, but look was problematic. Kailin Brown, as Velma, had a visible tattoo between her breasts right at her cleavage; she also had a tattoo on her arm and stars down her back. This is the 1920s; women did not have tattoos then. Cover them with pancake for the show. Perhaps the kids these days who are in a tattoo world just didn’t notice; I found them a distraction that drew my attention away from the dance. J. Terrell, as Mary Sunshine, had a visible tooth missing in front. Strong vocally, but (again) distracting visually.  Lastly, Roxie is supposed to be a redhead—its in one of the song lyrics. The costumers missed that detail. I also found the choreography not quite as hot as it once was. Perhaps styles have changed. Perhaps it is because we’re in a show where the choreography has been a game of telephone: The Revival was Ann Reinking doing it in the style of Fosse; the tour has recreation of the original (revival) choreography by Gregory Butler.

Long running shows, and long running tours have this problem. I don’t fault the actors: they are trying hard, and doing their best. The problems here are all correctable: pancake makeup, a tooth cap, hair color. But what they demonstrate is complacency, living on a reputation. New audiences to a show may not notice. But there does come a time where a show may need to come off the road; where the Broadway production needs to close to let the show rest. Let a revival come after a few years to see what new it can uncover in the show. Let regional theatres get a crack to bring their own magic to the material. Gypsy is a fine example of this: It comes back after a few years with strong revivals. Hell, look at the current Sweeny Todd about to close on Broadway. Chicago, in particular, is great to keep touring because it is less expensive to tour: There aren’t a lot of costumes and sets; there isn’t a lot of projections and magic to recreate. Orchestra on stage; black leotards; cane chairs, and some ladders. It can fit in almost any theatre; few modifications and no real fly-space required.

If you haven’t seen Chicago on stage before, by all means go see this tour. It’s a great show, and the performers here give it their all. If you had the opportunity to see Chicago when it was fresh (either the original or the revival), then you’ll start to see the wear and the original magic may be lost a bit.

But I still love the music.

[As a PS: I’ll note my enjoyment was also lessened by the fellow sitting in front of me, who was tall and kept moving his head so I can to keep switching from side to side just to see the show. He also smelled. Some things are just out of your control.]

The last performances of this iteration of the Chicago tour at BiH/Pantages are today. I’m guessing they are sold out, but you can possibly get tickets through the website. From Los Angeles, the tour goes to such big cities as Conway AR, Tulsa OK, Dallas  TX, Oklahoma City  OK, and Easton PA. Clearly, this is not the first circuit for this tour cast.

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Cast: Kailin Brown Velma Kelly; Katie Frieden Roxie Hart; Connor Sullivan Billy Flynn; Robert Quiles Amos Hart; Illeana “Illy” Kirven Matron “Mama” Morton; J. Terrell Mary Sunshine; Paul Amrani The Judge, Ensemble; Olivia Lacie Andrews Annie, Ensemble; Bentlei Benak Mona, Ensemble;  Jason Carroll The Bailiff / The Clerk, Ensemble; Ed Gotthelf Fred Casely, Ensemble ; Olivia Greco June, Ensemble; Liz Lester Go-To-Hell Kitty, Ensemble; Joe Meldrum Aaron, Ensemble; Adolfo Ortiz-Feder Harry / The Jury, Ensemble; Lauren Teyke Hunyak, Ensemble; Kodiak Thompson The Doctor / Harrison, Ensemble; Francisco Thurston Sergeant Fogarty, Ensemble; Cait Zuckerman Liz, Ensemble. Swings: Faith Jordan Candino, Austin Taylor Dunn Asst Dance Captain; Chelsea James Dance Captain. At our performance, Asher Van Meter had assumed the role of Harry / The Jury; Van Meter wasn’t even listed in the Playbill! Of course, this is a non-Equity show, so who do they complain to?

Music: Cameron Blake Kinnear Music Director, Conductor; Andy Chen Assoc Conductor; Sean Franz Reed 1 – Clarinet / Soprano Sax / Alto Sax / Piccolo; Brett McDonald Reed 2 – Clarinet / Soprano Sax / Tenor Sax / Piccolo; Ken Fisher Reed 3 – Bass Clarinet / Bari Sax / Tenor Sax / Soprano Sax / Clarinet; Aaron Smith and Javier Gonzalez Trumpet / Flugelhorn; Charlie Morillas Trombone; Alby Potts Piano ; Brian LaFontaine Banjo / Mandolin / Ukulele; Blake Cooper Acoustic Bass / Tuba; Joel Alpers Drums / Percussion; Eric Heinly Orchestra Contractor.

Original Creative and Production: Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Book by Fred Ebb & Bob Fosse. Original production directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. Original NY Revival directed by Walter Bobbie. Original NY Revival Choreography by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse.

Tour Creative and Production: David Hyslop Re-creation of Original Production Direction; Gregory Butler Re-creation of Original Production Choreography; John Lee Beatty Scenic Design; William Ivey Long Costume Design; Ken Billington Lighting Design; Scott Lehrer Sound Design; Robert Billig Supervising Music Director; Cameron Blake Kinnear Music Director; Ralph Burns Orchestrations; Rob Fisher Vocal Arrangements; Bernie Ardia Wig & Hair Design; Justen M. Brosnan Makeup Designer; Peter Howard Dance Music Arrangements; David Thompson Script Adaptation; JP Meyer Music Coordinator; Andy Chen Assoc Conductor; ARC-Duncan Seward, CSA & Patrick Maravilla Casting; Anita Dioniak & Melissa A. Hazek Tour Marketing & Press; Camden Loeser Resident Director / Asst Choreographer; Marc Clemiewicz Resident Company Manager; Taneal Williams Tour Company Manager; The Booking Group Tour Booking; Lauryn Elizabeth Production Stage Manager; Bethany Sortman Production Supervisot; Elspeth Bustard Asst Stage Manager.

♦ ♦ ♦

Administrivia: I am not a professional critic. I’m a cybersecurity professional, a roadgeek who does a highway site and a podcast about California Highways, and someone who loves live performance. I buy all my own tickets, unless explicitly noted otherwise. I do these writeups to share my thoughts on shows with my friends and the community. I encourage you to go to your local theatres and support them (ideally, by purchasing full price tickets, if you can afford to do so). We currently subscribe or have memberships at: Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson TheatreBroadway in Hollywood/Pantages TheatrePasadena PlayhouseGeffen Playhouse (Mini-Subscription); 5-Star Theatricals. We’re looking for the right intimate theatre to subscribe at — it hasn’t been the same since Rep East died (it’s now The Main, and although it does a lot of theatre, it doesn’t have seasons or a resident company), and post-COVID, most 99-seaters aren’t back to doing seasons (or seasons we like). I used to do more detailed writeups; here’s my current approach.

Upcoming ♦ Theatre / ♣ Music / ◊ Other Live Performance – Next 90ish Days (⊕ indicates ticketing is pending):

On the Theatrical Horizon:

Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has announced their Mainstage 2024 Season, and it includes Bat Boy the Musical running Sept 28 through October 18. We saw Bat Boy back when CSUN did it in 2014; it is a wonderful musical about how a society treats outsiders. I also just learned about a theatre company in Fullerton, Maverick Theater. They are doing Evil Dead: The Musical , which is a hoot if you’ve never seen it (we’ve seen it twice). They also have some interesting other stuff on their season, and we might drive down for Santa Claus Vs The Martians in November.

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🎭 Four Men Walk Into a Studio | “Million Dollar Quartet” @ 5-Star

Million Dollar Quartet (5-Star Theatricals)This afternoon, we trudged out to Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza to see the 5-Star Theatricals production of Million Dollar Quartet. Now this isn’t a new show to us: We saw the national tour back in June 2012 when it was at the Pantages. My opinion of the show itself really hasn’t changed: it is a good jukebox show constructed around a real-life incident, and it has appeals to those who grew up on that music. More on that in a minute.

About the show itself: For those unfamiliar, he’s how I described it back in 2012 (any updates are due to links moving):

[…]let’s start instead with the real history, summarized by Sun Records: According to Sun, the jam session seems to have happened by pure chance. Perkins, who by this time had already met success with “Blue Suede Shoes,” had come into the studios that day, accompanied by his brothers Clayton and Jay and by drummer W.S. Holland, their aim being to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, “Matchbox.” Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, had brought in his latest acquisition, singer and piano man extraordinaire, Jerry Lee Lewis, still unknown outside Memphis, to play the piano on the Perkins session. Sometime in the early afternoon, Elvis Presley, a former Sun artist himself, but now at RCA, dropped in to pay a casual visit accompanied by a girlfriend, Marilyn Evans. He was, at the time, the biggest name in show business. After chatting with Philips in the control room, Presley listened to the playback of the Perkins’ session, which he pronounced to be good. Then he went into the studio and some time later the jam session began. Phillips left the tapes running in order to “capture the moment” as a souvenir and for posterity. At some point during the session, Sun artist Johnny Cash, who had also enjoyed a few hits on the country charts, popped in (Cash claimed he was the first to arrive at Sun Studio that day). The event was captured by well known photograph of Elvis Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. The session tapes have been released on CD.

That’s what we know happened. Around this story a musical was constructed. The basic plot elements added by book writers Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux revolved around the following: (1) At the end of 1955, Phillips sold Presley’s contract to RCA to prevent Sun Records from going bankrupt; now RCA wanted to buy Phillips and the studio to get someone who knew how to work with Elvis; (2) Cash had been increasingly absent from the studio, and Phillips wanted to lure him back by presenting him with a 3-year contract; (3) the tension between Perkins, who had written “Blue Suede Shoes”, and Elvis, who made it a hit on the Ed Sullivan Show, and (4) Perkins, who was trying to find his next hit, and the just-hired Jerry Lee Lewis, a brash young upstart trying to prove himself. The songs chosen were some (but not all) of the ones from the original session, plus a number of well-known hits that may have come a little later. This isn’t a true story.

This also isn’t an impersonator show. You want that, go to Vegas. The actors in this show have hints of the mannerisms of the original artists, but are not going for exact impersonations or impressions. They have hits of the vocal quality. What they do have is the musical skills, which combined with the hints makes you see them as the artists.  This is the contribution of the original concept and direction by Floyd Mutrix.

So what makes or breaks this show is the quality of the music talent, as there is no other orchestra. Luckily, 5-Star cast reasonably strong, both in vocal and musical quality. We thought the strongest musical talent was Garrett Forestal Jerry Lee Lewis on piano and Benny Lipson Jay Perkins on bass. They were remarkable. Also strong musically were Will Riddle Carl Perkins on Electric Guitar, and Lonn Hayes Fluke on drums. We were a little less sure about the acoustic guitar work of LJ Benet Elvis Presley and Peter Oyloe Johnny Cash.  It was good, but not as remarkable as the others.

Vocally, the singing cast was strong, most notably the four leads mentioned above as well as Summer Nicole Greer Dyanne (who was a composite for Marilyn Evans). Having listened to all of the original artists, I think they leads captured the vocal characteristics well. Oyloe (Cash) could have used a bit more gravitas in his voice, but this was the younger Cash and that hadn’t fully developed yet. The remaining lead cast member, Adam Poole Sam Phillips really didn’t do any noticeable singing, but gave a strong performance providing narration and stringing the show together.

However, the show did have one major problem: The audience. This afternoon matinee was about 40% full, and that is after closing the balcony and moving the mezzanine subscribers to the back of the orchestra. A company cannot survive with audiences like that. We were talking about 5-Star’s season choices: Million Dollar Quartet, Sound of Music, and Little Shop of Horrors. All of these are shows aimed at folks who were in their teens or later in the 1950s and 1960s. That audience is dying, and with shows like this you’re not going to draw in the kids. I’m at the tail end of that generation (my teen years were in the 1970s), and even I think we need to move past the classic rock being the 1950s and 1960s. That’s like someone of my age being nostalgic for the 1910s.

Regional theatre companies must get past the classics of the 1960s and 1950s “Golden Age” of theatre; they must get past jukebox shows that harken back to the 1950s and 1960s (the recent Wonderettes – Dream On being a good example of that). These theatres need to be bringing in the latest “near Broadway” and recently released to regional theatres that they can. They need to partner and experiment with shows on their way to Broadway with sounds of the 1990s and later. For companies to survive, they need to be bringing in new audiences, and younger audiences. Don’t keep doing the shows that have been done to death; don’t keep bringing in jukebox shows that only the senior citizens will appreciate.

To sum things up: 5-Stars production of Million Dollar Quartet was excellent, and if you like the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, early Johnny Cash, early Elvis Presley, and Carl Perkins, you’re in for a wonderful jam session. But I question the skew of the 5-Star season, and encourage theatres planning their seasons to think about what will bring in younger new subscribers that are needed to thrive, not just the older seniors who (like the companies) are just existing.

Lastly: The TO Civic Arts Plaza isn’t helping. They are now charging $15 for parking. For that facility and location, it’s a ridiculous prices that will also turn away people. The Ahmanson downtown is $9. The Pantages is $25 or more, but that’s a much more space limited area using private garages. A price of $9-$10 would be much more appropriate. Further, the security at T.O. is excessive given the risk. It’s stronger than at the Pantages or the Ahmanson, for a much lower threat target. Again, this creates friction for patrons—something a struggling theatre company does not need.

Million Dollar Quartet plays for one more weekend, closing March 24, 2024. Tickets are available through 5-Star Theatricals, and possibly your favorite discount joints.

———

Cast: LJ Benet Elvis Presley ; Garrett Forestal Jerry Lee Lewis; Summer Nicole Greer Dyanne; Lonn Hayes Fluke; Benny Lipson Jay Perkins; Peter Oyloe Johnny Cash; Adam Poole Sam Phillips; Will Riddle Carl Perkins.

Production and Creative: Book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. Original Concept and Direction by Floyd Mutrux. Direction by Tim Seib. No credit for Choreography. Other production credits: David Lamoureux Music Director/Conductor; Brandon Baruch Lighting Design; Jonathan A. Burke Sound Design; Alex Choate Props Design; Tuacahn Costume Rentals Costume Design; Derek McLane Original Scenic Design; Gail Garon and Chris Steele Wardrobe Supervisors; Phil Gold Production Stage Manager; Cameron J. Turner Stage Manager; David Elzer/Demand/PR Press Representative; Fresh Interactive Marketing.

♦ ♦ ♦

Administrivia: I am not a professional critic. I’m a cybersecurity professional, a roadgeek who does a highway site and a podcast about California Highways, and someone who loves live performance. I buy all my own tickets, unless explicitly noted otherwise. I do these writeups to share my thoughts on shows with my friends and the community. I encourage you to go to your local theatres and support them (ideally, by purchasing full price tickets, if you can afford to do so). We currently subscribe or have memberships at: Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson TheatreBroadway in Hollywood/Pantages TheatrePasadena PlayhouseGeffen Playhouse (Mini-Subscription); 5-Star Theatricals. We’re looking for the right intimate theatre to subscribe at — it hasn’t been the same since Rep East died (it’s now The Main, and although it does a lot of theatre, it doesn’t have seasons or a resident company), and post-COVID, most 99-seaters aren’t back to doing seasons (or seasons we like). I used to do more detailed writeups; here’s my current approach.

Upcoming ♦ Theatre / ♣ Music / ◊ Other Live Performance – Next 90ish Days (⊕ indicates ticketing is pending):

On the Theatrical Horizon:

Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has announced their Mainstage 2024 Season, and it includes Bat Boy the Musical running Sept 28 through October 18. We saw Bat Boy back when CSUN did it in 2014; it is a wonderful musical about how a society treats outsiders. I also just learned about a theatre company in Fullerton, Maverick Theater. They are doing Evil Dead: The Musical , which is a hoot if you’ve never seen it (we’ve seen it twice). They also have some interesting other stuff on their season, and we might drive down for Santa Claus Vs The Martians in November.

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🎭 Family Dynamics | “One of the Good Ones” @ Pasadena Playhouse

One of the Good Ones (Pasadena Playhouse)As the World Premiere of the new play One of the Good Ones (which we saw Saturday night at the Pasadena Playhouse) started, I was cringing. The dialogue and interactions of a white woman overplaying an encounter with a Hispanic worker was just.. uhhhhh. With that opening, I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that this play was completely cringe-worthy, a trainwreck.

But, no, that was my opinion of their last showKate.

One of the Good Ones is harder to characterize. At time, there was dialogue that was completely cringeworthy. At other times, the show was hilariously funny. The thought that kept coming to my mind was that this really was an extended situation comedy. Many of today’s sitcoms are like that. I’ll be watching The Neighborhood or even Abbott Elementary and there will be dialogue and situations that are completely cringeworthy—the “this is stupid and I want to turn this off” level. But then the show redeems itself.

This is that sort of a comedy, which with its length (80 minutes, no intermission) is very much an extended sitcom. This isn’t a theatrical classic. It is just a funny evening in front of the TV. In fact, thinking about this even more, I could see this being a real sitcom. The family presented here is set up and established and could result in many very funny story lines. TV executives down the freeway in Burbank (home to NBC, ABC, and a little down the road, CBS Radford): Are you listening?

So here’s the setup. Father, Enrique (Carlos Gomez) is a slightly hot-headed Cuban American, 2nd generation. Mother, Ilana (Lana Parrilla) is a Mexican-Puerto Rican American, also 2nd generation,  who does not speak Spanish. Daughter, Yoli (Isabella Gomez) is bringing home her boyfriend … make that serious boyfriend … make that very serious boyfriend, Marcos (Nico Greetham). So you’ve got intergenerational conflict, and parents who don’t accept their daughter growing up. And Marcos is claimed to be Mexican… after all he was born in Mexico City.

But then the secrets and truths start to come out, and the meat of the comedy comes out as well. I don’t want to spoil the jokes, but some of them are a bit predictable. Some I didn’t see coming at all. And yes, there were cringeworthy moments, such as the aforementioned opening where the mother, who doesn’t speak Spanish, completely over reacts to a Hispanic delivery person.

As I said: A sitcom. Actually, it would be a great sitcom, once the ensemble settled into the family that sitcom ensembles do.

Should you see this? I’d ask: Do you like sitcoms? If you do: If you (like me) find shows like The Neighborhood funny, go for it. I think you would enjoy this.

I should note that this play—just like some sitcoms—actually makes some deeper points in all of its comedy. In this case, the point is made about the problem with the whole American “Melting Pot” model. For all of the broad ethnic groups, our significant cultural and ethnic past as we melt into the larger group: Italians and Irish and English and … become “White”; “Mexicans” and “Spanish” and “Cubans” and … become “Latinx” (and there are some good jokes about that). Many different African and Caribbean and …. heritages become “Black”; Japanese and Chinese and Korean and …. become “Asian”. We lose the value of those identities. They then get further subsumed when we become the lump label “American”. Further, is what makes you your label dependent on your heritage or where you were born? Is a son of English and German immigrants, born in Mexico and speaking fluent Spanish, Mexican? These are deep and relevant questions today, and they are buried in the humor of this play.

But this isn’t new for a sitcom. Archie Bunker was making us think as he was making us laugh, and as he was saying things that were very cringeworthy. It’s an honored sitcom tradition. It isn’t the days of Leave It to Beaver  or Ozzie and Harriet anymore.

One of the Good Ones continues at the Pasadena Playhouse until April 7. Tickets are available through the Pasadena Playhouse website; they may also be available through the usual discount outlets.

One note for completeness: Last weekend we saw the folk music group Emma’s Revolution at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach. Great show, but I don’t always write up concerts. Here is their future show schedule.

———

Cast: Lana Parrilla Ilana; Carlos Gomez Enrique; Isabella Gomez Yoli; Nico Greetham Marcos; Santino Jimenez Pedro. Understudies: Abel Garcia, Anna LaMadrid.

Production and Creative Credits: Written by Gloria Calderón Kellett. Directed by Kimberly Senior. Other credits: Tanya Orellana Scenic Design; Denitsa Bliznakova Costume Design; Jaymi Lee Smith Lighting Design; Jeff Gardner & Andrea Allmond Sound Design; Rachel Lee Flesher Fight & Intimacy Coordinator; Ryan Bernard Tymensky CSA Casting; David S. Franklin Stage Manager; Brad Enlow Technical Direction / Production Supervisor; Davidson & Choy Publicity Press Representative; Jenny Slattery Associate Producer; Miriam E. Mendoza Asst. Stage Manager.

♦ ♦ ♦

Administrivia: I am not a professional critic. I’m a cybersecurity professional, a roadgeek who does a highway site and a podcast about California Highways, and someone who loves live performance. I buy all my own tickets, unless explicitly noted otherwise. I do these writeups to share my thoughts on shows with my friends and the community. I encourage you to go to your local theatres and support them (ideally, by purchasing full price tickets, if you can afford to do so). We currently subscribe or have memberships at: Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson TheatreBroadway in Hollywood/Pantages TheatrePasadena PlayhouseGeffen Playhouse (Mini-Subscription); 5-Star Theatricals. We’re looking for the right intimate theatre to subscribe at — it hasn’t been the same since Rep East died (it’s now The Main, and although it does a lot of theatre, it doesn’t have seasons or a resident company), and post-COVID, most 99-seaters aren’t back to doing seasons (or seasons we like). I used to do more detailed writeups; here’s my current approach.

Upcoming ♦ Theatre / ♣ Music / ◊ Other Live Performance – Next 90ish Days (⊕ indicates ticketing is pending):

On the Theatrical Horizon:

Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica has announced their Mainstage 2024 Season, and it includes Bat Boy the Musical running Sept 28 through October 18. We saw Bat Boy back when CSUN did it in 2014; it is a wonderful musical about how a society treats outsiders. I also just learned about a theatre company in Fullerton, Maverick Theater. They are doing Evil Dead: The Musical , which is a hoot if you’ve never seen it (we’ve seen it twice). They also have some interesting other stuff on their season, and we might drive down for Santa Claus Vs The Martians in November.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering Jan-Feb 2024

It’s time for the first highway page update for 2024. This has been a relatively quiet period (as the last headline post demonstrated). But still, there’s a bunch of interesting stuff here. So, as always, “ready, set, discuss”. Next up: Starting to write Season 3 of the podcast.

This update covers January and February 2024, and perhaps some of March 2024, depending on how long it takes me to finish the last little bits. Before we dive into the updates to the California Highways site, an update on the California Highways: Route by Route podcast. As always, you can keep up with the show at the podcast’s forever home at https://www.caroutebyroute.org , the show’s page on Spotify for Podcasters, or you can subscribe through your favorite podcaster or via the RSS feeds (CARxRSpotify for Podcasters) . The following episodes have been posted since the last update:

  • January | CA RxR 2.06: Route 1: Pacifica and San Francisco. Episode 2.06 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring everything about Route 1 from Pacifica, just N of the Tom Lantos Tunnels near Montara (in San Mateo Couny) to and through San Francisco up to the Golden Gate Bridge. This includes communities such as Pacifica, Daly City, and of course, San Francisco. As always, we go over the history of this segment of the route, the history of the route through various communities , the freeway plans, discuss relinquishments, names, and some current plans (although there’s not much in the relinquishment or plans area). As part of the freeway plans in the area, we include a discussion of the freeway revolt and some broader plans for San Francisco. (Spotify for Podcasters)
  • January | CA RxR 2.07: Route 1ish: Golden Gate Bridge. Episode 2.07 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1 by exploring an interesting gap in the route: The Golden Gate Bridge (GGB). The GGB is not part of the state highway system, and thus (from the point of view of the state) not part of either Route 1 or US 101. It is part of US 101 per AASHTO, and is run by its own district. We’ll cover what was there before the bridge, the construction of the bridge, and current projects along the bridge (such as the singing bridge retrofit, the suicide barrier, and the earthquake retrofit. We’ll also discuss how one pays tolls on the bridge. (Spotify for Podcasters)
  • February | CA RxR 2.08: Route 1: Marin and …. Episode 2.08 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1. We’ve now crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and are continuing north from the Marin Headlands, up along the coast through Sausalito and Marin, Muir Beach and Stinson Beach, Point Reyes, Bodega Bay, Jenner and Fort Ross until we reach the Marin Headlands. As always, we’ll cover the history of the route, and some current projects along the route (Spotify for Podcasters).
  • February | CA RxR 2.09: Route 1: The Redwood Forest. Episode 2.09 of California Highways: Route by Route continues our exploration of Route 1, as we complete discussing present-day Route 1 in Medocino County from Gualala to Leggett and current Route 1’s end at US 101. Along the way, we’ll discuss the communities of Gualala, Point Arena, Albion, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, Westport and Rockport, and Leggett. As always, we’ll cover the history of the route, and some current projects along the route. (Spotify for Podcasters)

Turning to the updates to the California Highways pages: Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the (virtual) papers and my research for the podcast in January and February 2024 (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 bing101(2), Tom Fearer(3), Will Poundstone(4): Route 1(ℱ,4), I-5(3), US 6(3), I-8(ℱ,3), I-10(ℱ), I-15(ℱ), Route 14(4), Route 17(ℱ), Route 23(ℱ), Route 25(ℱ), Route 33(4), Route 37(ℱ), Route 40 [S Postmiles] (3), Route 41(ℱ), Route 46(ℱ), Route 58(ℱ,3), US 66(3), US 80(3), Route 92(4), Route 99(ℱ,3), Route 101(ℱ,2), Route 110(ℱ), Route 126(ℱ), Route 128(3), Route 134(3), Route 152(ℱ), Route 156(ℱ), Route 163(3), Route 166(ℱ), Route 170(4), I-580(ℱ,2), I-710(ℱ).
(Source: private email through 3/3/2024, Highway headline posts through the February 2024 Headline post, AARoads through 3/3/2024)

Updated the Links pages to reflect the return of ORoads: The Roads of Oregon, and its companion sites the Beaver State Blog and the Beaver State Wiki. Additionally, capture the movement of All Things NC to Gribblenation, and the NCRoads Annex at VA Highways. Added a link to the CSUN Maps library to the Maps page. Added a section to the Maps page about other research tools. Yeah, it doesn’t fit with maps, but it doesn’t really fit anywhere else either, and the maps are also used for research. Added links to the Caltrans Library Digital Collection, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and the San Jose Public Library: CA Dept. of Highways (CALTRANS) Right of Way Assessment (h/t kurumi) to the Useful Research Tools page.

Reviewed the Draft 2024 SHOPP, The goal was to identify new projects that would be of interest to the highway pages. Continuing projects should already be in the pages if they are of interest. Note that Caltrans now has a wonderful interactive project page making it easy to find a project. Hmmm, I should probably add that to the front page of the site. * rummages around *. Oh, it’s already in the FAQ! Caltrans also has an interactive SHOPP dashboard. I added that to the FAQ, under how Caltrans spends its money. Per the 2024 Draft SHOPP: “The 2024 SHOPP is comprised of a portfolio of 617 projects (197 new and 420 “carryover” projects from the 2022 SHOPP), spanning the four fiscal years 2024-25 through 2027-28. More than half of these projects focus on condition improvements across four primary asset classes (i.e., pavement, bridge, drainage, and Transportation Management Systems) (TMS), supporting Caltrans’s progress in meeting the required 2027 performance targets set forth by the Commission and outlined in SB 1.” This review resulted in updates to the following routes: Route 1, Route 13, Route 14, Route 49, Route 72, Route 84, US 101, Route 113, Route 120, Route 126, Route 299, US 395.

Ponly Express Trail SignAdded some links for the National Pony Express Trail. This impacted the following routes: Route 24, US 50, I-80, Route 88, Route 89, I-680, I-780.

Made more updates to pages based on podcast research: Route 2, Route 99, Route 138, LRN 59.

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site, for bills through 2023-12-25. 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 (updated for 2024) to the end of the Pending Legislation page. Mostly, this was new bills being introduced; however, two naming resolutions passed in January:

  • SCR 59 (Ochoa Bogh) Senator Bob Dutton Memorial Overcrossing.Designates the overcrossing on State Route 210 at Archibald Avenue (~ SBD 5.889) in the City of Rancho Cucamonga as the “Senator Bob Dutton Memorial Overcrossing”.

    01/18/24    Chaptered by Secretary of State. Res. Chapter 1, Statutes of 2024.

  • SCR 74 (Nguyen) Officer Jon Coutchie Memorial Bridge.Designates the Aliso Creek Bridge, Bridge № 55-0003, on Route 1, in the County of Orange, at post mile 6.49, as the “Officer Jon Coutchie Memorial Bridge”.

    01/18/24    Chaptered by Secretary of State. Res. Chapter 2, Statutes of 2024.

Reviewed the online agenda of the California Coastal Commission. There was no meeting in January; in February, there were no items of interest for the highway pages.

I checked California Transportation Commission page for the results of the December 2023 meeting of the California Transportation Commission. As always, note that I tend not to track items that do not impact these pages — i.e., pavement rehabilitation or replacement, landscaping, drainage, culverts, roadside facilities, charging stations, or other things that do not impact the routing or history, unless they are really significant. As such, the following items were of interest:

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