Saturday, December 1, 2012

Orlando - Camageddon (the Hummer Prime Directive)

You know how in every screen representation of the apocalypse, all the major highways are littered with a nation-wide installation art project on gridlock? Patient Zero is the intersection of John Young Parkway and Sand Lake Road in Orlando’s southwest tourist midlands. Who knows who ran which arrow, but apparently the people behind the crash were tired - permanently - of waiting. Everyone from every direction, many of which did not have official roads leading into the intersection, dove headlong into the accidental sculpture and before long the whole city had joined in. All the cars on all the streets have been firmly accordioned.
The resulting shockwave took out a rather spectacularly precise set of supports from the few tall buildings downtown. The hospitals, condos, banks, and government offices all leapt off their foundations at the third floor, then fell backward as very heavy dominoes.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the accident occurred during the middle of several of O-Town’s admittedly frequent monster truck rallies. The clang of this carnage was a mating call to the hick drivers of those 30-foot behemoths. They turned their big wheels out of the arenas and stadiums and unpaved carnival grounds and began an epic romp across the tops of the new forever traffic, assuring a right squishing for the average commuter. They used the toppled structures as ramps and crushed craters into pavement and park alike until they overturned and, having been masters of their own paradise for six or seven hours (meaning they each refueled at least a dozen times), let the carbon monoxide fill their cabins.
Carmageddon is the natural extension of Walt’s grand dream. In the retro-future, no one would have to work on anything important, and so, in Orlando, no one did. The city was an animatronic Potemkin monument, shuffling its citizens on an archaic system of streets in an effort to look busy. Orlando: Where 300,000 people live, work, and play and drive all the goddam time.
Add to this the fact that their whole economy runs on British tourists and old people from New York who’ve never had drivers licenses. Maybe a few more left-turn arrows would have helped. Maybe not so many lanes that end only at certain times of day. Maybe a grid system.
Given this, the autocalypse was inevitable. Musical chairs finally collapsed into the commute simultaneous from and to Hell.
There you have it. What were the survivors going to do, walk out? First of all, you don’t walk in Florida except for brief spurts in October/November. Secondly, these survivors couldn’t walk out of anywhere.
See, anyone left holed themselves up Orlando’s most famous eateries: the Darden chains. Darden food has a salt content ever so slightly higher than the Dead Sea. So it will last some scrappy human remnants for quite some time, but it will also ensure that they don’t remain scrappy very long. Two weeks of feasting on Red Lobster cheese biscuits and Olive Garden alfredo mix while waiting for the power to come back on meant a minimum of 50 new pounds per person and arteries that could cut glass.
So goodbye, Orlando. The swamp will soon take you back. I hope the alligators appreciate a good thrill ride as much as we did.