Obama Boulevard? In Los Angeles, the new street name is fitting

The news accounts are oh so breathless about Rodeo Road in Los Angeles being grandly renamed 'President Obama Boulevard.' Here's the Associated Press, for one:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A stretch of road in Los Angeles will be renamed after former President Barack Obama during a festival and unveiling ceremony Saturday.

Obama Boulevard will replace Rodeo Road, a 3 ½-mile street that runs from Culver City to mid-city Los Angeles, passing the city’s historic black neighborhood. The street honoring America’s first black president will also intersect with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

A couple who proposed the name change told the Los Angeles Times say they wanted to raise the profile of the road, attract more funding for the community and honor the 44th president.

...and here's Deadline's account of the hoopla:

With music, food, thousands of excited residents and VIP guests, Los Angeles renamed a street after former President Barack Obama Saturday evening, replacing Rodeo Road.

Not to be confused with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Rodeo Road is a 3 ½-mile street that runs through the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw neighborhoods in South L.A.

Among those attending the ceremony were Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and other elected leaders.

But if you actually know the place, you might have a different reaction. This is a rather desolate and unpleasant part of Los Angeles, the sort of place that sees nasty gridlock in some places, lots of cement, and nothing inspiring to look at. 

It isn't anyone's idea of a nice street. Here's one picture from Google maps.

Image credit: Google Maps

Not the worst road in the city, but not one you'd go to unless you had to, either. It's kind of a relief road from the truly nasty gridlock of Jefferson Boulevard around the center of the city heading into South Central and downtown. It's got junkyards, fast food joints, cement-y cross roads, along with junkies, needles, trash, and beggars. Not exactly the scenic route.

It's possible to surmise that the place was chosen for a renaming because the Los Angeles area has two other streets named Rodeo - the more famous Rodeo Drive a few miles away, as well as slightly closer South Rodeo Drive, which also has nice houses. As I recall, Rodeo Road had a historic claim, but Los Angeles people don't exactly care about those things, so not a problem. Who knows, maybe the animal rights activists who don't like 'rodeos' were after them, too. Bottom line, this one had to go - so they decided to recycle it into Obama Boulevard and get that bone to the activists out of the way.  

As they say in L.A.: Whatevs. In any case, it's a weird choice because it's also not the sort of place President Obama likely ever visited - when he came to Los Angeles, he headed to Beverly Hills for campaign fundraisers -- with the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Ed Buck, and other charmers in his circle -- he was Rodeo Drive all the way. Rodeo Road is hoi polloi territory.

As for Reagan country conservatives still lingering around SoCal, well, actually it's not as bad as it might seem as the press bangs the drum about how great it is to get Obama's name on public spaces. Naming this street after President Obama is actually kind of analogous to his presidency, so maybe it was really unintentionally fitting. Obama's was a failed presidency, so now he gets a homely road named after him, kind of to remind everyone what his economy and stacked scandals looked like. Naming Rodeo Road after him is therefore rather like that leftist bid to name a sewage treatment plant after President Bush a few years ago. That lefty-led bid failed, but this one didn't, and lefties now are happy. Good for them. Conservatives can be happy, too, given the look of the place. Perhaps the road renaming then is something we can all agree on.


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