Mitch Earle is KCRW’s local host and news anchor for NPR’s All Things Considered. Mitch is now also the author of occasional Freeway Funnies for Shortcuts.
Unlike a number of other major cities, Los Angeles doesn’t have one loop or beltway freeway that encircles the city, unless you consider the combination of taking the Eastbound 10 from the West side to the Northbound 110 in downtown L.A. to the North/West 101 across the valley to the 405 South through the Sepulveda Pass back to the 10 to be L.A.’s “singular” circle freeway.
As I reflect on a visit to my former hometown this spring, I recall that Atlanta is one those cities which has a beltway freeway. Interstate 285, a 64-mile circle, is known locally as “the Perimeter.” It even has a mall – Perimeter Mall – named after it. Most Atlantans, even recent transplants, know that two major interstates criss-cross in the Georgian capital, and that I-285 forms a circle around the “X” created by the intersection of I-75 and I-85. But one famous Atlanta transplant in the 1980s never got the memo.
Pascual Perez was a lanky major league baseball pitcher from the Dominican Republic, better known for his on- and off-the-field antics than his pitching prowess. Pascual, who was newly acquired by the Atlanta Braves, was scheduled to make his first start for the team during the heat of a pennant race. Unfortunately, in giving him directions to the stadium, no one told Pascual that Interstate 285 was a circular freeway. So he just kept driving and driving and driving, eventually circling the city several times, running out of gas and missing his start. The Braves did win the game, but more importantly, Pascual Perez earned a freeway nickname which persists to this day: Mr. I-285.
Know any nominees for a Ms. 101?