A serene silence enveloped Los Angeles this weekend. For two days, the nation's second largest city felt like a Medieval village on the feast day of its patron saint: quiet, reflective, almost like a prayer.
This sudden solitude grew out of a near-catastrophe half-jokingly dubbed "carmageddon." Construction and repair forced the closing of one of Southern California's main freeway arteries, and for weeks now predictions of disaster have flooded the media: frantic drivers pushed off the 405 would choke adjacent neighborhoods and streets. Emergency vehicles would be mercilessly trapped by the traffic; lives would be lost.
By early last Friday afternoon, an urgent exodus had begun -- workers, many let off early by nerve-wracked companies, darted home a heartbeat ahead of the inevitable disaster.