Ripped rom the Blog Headlines: True Detective, Season 2

Aug 6th, 2014 | Posted by

I’ll get back to writing about HSR news tomorrow, but today I couldn’t pass up the news about True Detective Season 2.

No, I’m not kidding. Get ready to hear a lot more about that show on this blog, because it’s going to focus on California high speed rail – and will star Elizabeth Moss as a Monterey County Sheriff:

The Wrap is not only reporting that Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) is being considered for the female lead, but that they also have an informative breakdown of the main characters who will try to make us forget all about Rust Cohle and Marty Hart….

Ani Bezzerides (Elisabeth Moss): Monterey sheriff with a troubled past that has led her to a gambling and alcohol addiction….

Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn): The central antagonist. Not a murderer, per se, but a shady businessman and former thug who is trying to use his influence with local politicians to put a railway in place between Northern and Southern California and reap the financial benefits. The California setting and the idea of a businessman using public works for corrupt financial gain calls to mind John Huston’s great villainous character in Chinatown. The idea of Vaughn using his patented charm offensive for nefarious purposes is downright delicious.

Already California pundits are all over the news that True Detective Season 2 will focus on California high speed rail, and surely the haters will love that the story suggests nefarious dealings around a bullet train project linking Northern and Southern California. Of course, it’s entirely fictional, as there’s no evidence at all to suggest there’s anything even remotely corrupt about the real HSR project, which after all bypasses Monterey County entirely.

It won’t be the first time that California HSR was the subject of a TV plotline. In January 2010 Fox launched “Human Target” with a pilot episode focused on a plot to bomb the inaugural California high speed rail train. I wound up liveblogging that episode here at the CA HSR blog as it became more and more evident that the writers had used this site for at least some of their research. I suppose I should go check the visitor logs for this site in recent months!

I will not liveblog True Detective Season 2 episodes, but I will post a recap each week, focusing on what the show says if anything at all about high speed rail in California. Cultural stories can reveal a lot about public attitudes towards a major project, as anyone who’s seen Chinatown or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? knows.

  1. Paul Dyson
    Aug 6th, 2014 at 16:06

    August? it must be the “silly season”.

  2. synonymouse
    Aug 6th, 2014 at 16:37

    No fiction could approximate this farce.

    It is strictly third world satrapy or the Camorra poaching funds designed to protect Pmpeii and Herculaneum.

    Maybe the Bayconic Bridge boondoggle, slowly seeing the light of day.

    The irony of “Chinatown” is that, as grinding as was the Depression and the ordinary citizenry grasping for survival, there are those who treasure the place and don’t want to see it trashed by crooks. Nowadays could it be so far down the toilet as to who should hope to care. They just gutted it after the war.

    Seeing as it is the “silly season”, here is a depths of the Depression era story told to me by Charlie Smallwood. Be it apocryphal, humorous, or urban legend, the picture was a really bad accident on the Market St. Ry. with the motorman seriously hurt and off people hurry to the corporate office to see if there is an opening.

    EJ Reply:

    Yes, California sucks. It’s just awful. Why don’t you leave? Obviously, since everything in California is terrible, the economy is about to crater, so you better sell your house now while you can and move somewhere else.

    Eric Reply:

    The weather.
    Your current job.

    Plenty of good reasons for staying in a place with a horrible political culture.

    Scramjett Reply:

    Also, that the political culture of most of the rest of the country is worse.

  3. slackfarmer
    Aug 6th, 2014 at 18:54

    A blog post about a TV show. Nonetheless I expect 200 comments rehashing Altamont vs Pacheco and Tejon vs Tehachapi. God I wish they’d build the thing already.

    Joe Reply:

    “The next season of “True Detective” will be about “hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system,” says series creator Nic Pizzolatto.”

    David M Reply:

    It will be based mostly on Syn’s blog comments.

    woolie Reply:

    Half the show will be arguments about alignment and the meaning of 9600 seconds.

    JJJJ Reply:

    The worst part about blogging is that the posts that take 5 minutes to put together get more views than the ones that take 2 hours. Its why the internet is stuffed to the brim with crappy clickbait and gif collections.

  4. Michael D Setty
    Aug 6th, 2014 at 19:26

    Who plays the Rod Diridon role?

  5. john burrows
    Aug 6th, 2014 at 22:35

    Connect Northern California to Southern California by way of Monterey County. Sounds like an upgrade to the Amtrak route used by the Coast Starlight. Los Angeles to San Francisco on a 220 mph version of the Starlight—That would be a trip worth taking.

  6. Reality Check
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 02:14

    High-speed rail meeting draws concerned homeowners in Santa Clarita

    One problem is how to get from Palmdale in the Antelope Valley to the San Fernando Valley, a 45-mile journey. Originally, the Authority planned to bring the train along an S-curve paralleling the 14 Freeway but residents from Sand Canyon and Santa Clarita council members objected, saying these two closely related routes would take out homes, churches and come too close to schools.

    Now, for the first time, the CHSRA has proposed an alternative. It will study a tunnel under the mountains for a more “direct route” from the Palmdale Transportation Center to the Burbank Airport. The tunnel route is supported by the city of Santa Clarita and Fifth District County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

    Michael Hogan, a member of a committee formed with the help of the city to organize resident concerns, said the city and residents prefer the alternative tunnel route. “Yeah. That would be fantastic,” Hogan said.


    Susan MacAdams, the former High Speed Rail Planning Manager at Metro, said the tunneling proposal would cost 10 times as much as the surface route and that tunneling would be problematic because large, boring equipment must clear a path beneath the 5 Freeway and major flood control channels.

    “Like all other ancient river basins throughout Los Angeles County, there is a mixed face of debris: large boulders, soft sand and occasional deposits of tar and oil. Not good for tunnel boring machines. Not recommended,” MacAdams wrote in a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration.


    [Michelle Boehm, CHSRA Southern California Regional Director] also said the project could link in the future to a proposed bullet train from Palmdale to Las Vegas.

    “So you can take the high-speed rail not only from L.A., San Francisco and San Diego but you could also take it to Las Vegas,” Boehm said.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    “MacAdams, the former High Speed Rail Planning Manager at Metro, said the tunnelling proposal would cost 10 times as much as the surface route”

    Michelle Boehm, CHSRA Southern California Regional Director, said she did not know how much a tunnel under the mountains would cost, only that a possible alignment would be examined as an alternative to going through Santa Clarita

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Meet Santa Clarita, the southern PAMPA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the Cheerleaders love Sta. Clarita and loathe PAMPA.

    Jon Reply:

    The presentation from this meeting has been posted:

    I like the Palmdale “Golden Spike”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Golden Shower

    Is Las Vegas mentioned once in Prop 1a?

  7. Reality Check
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 02:30

    DiFi: Rail industry must get on board with life-saving PTC technology

    The San Francisco Chronicle ran an excellent story July 28 under the headline “Getting train safety on track” about the life-saving technology known as Positive Train Control.


    I’m pleased to report that Metrolink is leading the charge to deploy this technology. Today, more than a year before the deadline for railroads to install Positive Train Control, Metrolink already has started to use the technology on a daily basis and will fully implement Positive Train Control well before the deadline.

    The Bay Area is also well ahead of the curve. Caltrain will implement Positive Train Control on its line between Gilroy and San Francisco by the end of 2015. And a project under development, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, will have Positive Train Control fully installed when it begins operating.

    I am proud that California is serving as an example for the rest of the country. Unfortunately, many others are lagging dangerously behind. This is problematic because without full implementation of Positive Train Control nationwide — allowing all trains to communicate digitally — the system will not be fully effective.

    In addition, it is especially important that all companies adopt Positive Train Control expeditiously in areas where trains traveling in opposite directions share a single track. In many cases, there is just one signal light standing in the way of a deadly collision.

    Another issue that argues for deployment of Positive Train Control is the continued risk of shipping crude oil by rail. The California Interagency Rail Safety Working Group has reported that the amount of crude oil imported into the state by rail has increased dramatically. By 2016, the California Energy Commission projects this will increase to 150 million barrels, up from only 1 million barrels in 2012.


    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps PTC could be implemented faster if it were exempted from Buy American rules. There are more or less no domestic PTC suppliers right now, but overseas there is a huge marketplace of inexpensive and operationally tested products. I don’t think private freight railroads are required to buy American but it would certainly help public agencies implementing PTC on their own tracks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Railroads spending their own money don’t have to follow buy American rules.

  8. JB in PA
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 06:57

    Sparks, Reno, Carson City, South Lake, Folsom, Sacto, Davis, Vacaville, Vallejo, Oakland, SJ Galactic, Salinas, Monterrey HSR?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    For True Detective or the San Gabriel tunnel?

    I mean why not Lahaina, Flagstaff, Moab, Spokane, or San Angelo?
    At some point, efficiencies will be reached and we can run HSR from Miami to Vancouver…

  9. Trentbridge
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 07:47


    Initiative and Referendum Qualification Status as of August 6, 2014

    1651. (14-0001) High-Speed Rail. Future Bond Sales. New Transportation Technologies. Initiative Statute.

    Initiative Failed to Qualify.

    So there was enough money to gather signatures for “Six Californias” but no-one was willing to pony up for the “Kill HSR” proposition? As they say in Texas: “All hat and no cattle”

    synonymouse Reply:

    The big money “conservatives”, such as the Koch Bros., secretly support LAHSR as it is strictly a development project and they are developers.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    Six Californias collected few enough signatures that it might not quality. So far 1.08M signatures have been counted, which I figure will work out to about 1.13M signatures once Alameda turns theirs in. So about 71.5% will need to be valid for the measure to get on the ballot. It seems like petitions generally get 65-75% valid signatures, so it’s really a toss-up whether we’ll ever vote on it. So far it’s only running at 65% valid, though, which would actually not even be enough to mandate a full count.

  10. Scramjett
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 08:38

    “Of course, it’s entirely fictional, as there’s no evidence at all to suggest there’s anything even remotely corrupt about the real HSR project…”

    Except that most people, especially with shows like this, have the ridiculous notion that these shows are “based” on reality. In their minds, there may be some “creative differences” but the general plot comes from something that really happens, even if in the real world, it’s complete bunk. This is actually bad news.

    (My apologies if you think I’m overreacting. I am generally cynical and expect that everything good for society will ultimately be destroyed due to the actions of REAL nefarious businessmen and corrupt politicians, of which there are a majority…of both types).

    Eric M Reply:

    I actually agree with you. People think these shows are real and factual. Wonder who came up with this.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t get your panties in an uproar. Hardly anyone will watch the show just as you would be lucky to find any kid who has ever heard of “Chinatown”.

    “no evidence at all to suggest there’s anything even remotely corrupt about the real HSR project…”

    – PB gets all the jobs de facto and just spews disinformation.

    – Tutor gets all the jobs and, well, remains the king of change order.

    – PG&E blows up San Bruno and tries to deny any responsibility, financial or otherwise, and gets rewarded by Richards replacing Van Ark, the smartest guy in the room.

    Yeah, no corruption. Sure.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Tutor will be able to do “change orders” with Design-Build.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    SURPRISE! You’re wrong.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    It sounds to me that it depends on the source of the change order, but the design-build process reduces the exposure of financial liability for changes.

    The general principle is that a bid represents a contract to perform specified work for a given cost. Change orders are demanding work that was not specified in that bid, and are therefore not covered by that cost. Most of those change orders are due to changes in design, not changes in project specification. But in a design-build project, as the design work is the responsibility of the bidding party, that party becomes liable for the cost of any design changes.

    If, for example, CAHSR had to change an alignment or require that a section be tunneled that was previously left to the discretion of the designer in the original bid, TPZP could claim that is a change order, and bill for the cost of deviating to accommodate that request.

    synonymouse Reply:

    See you in court.

    Joe Reply:

    The occult-transportation theme and satanic killing that kicks off the show are more in keeping with the successful character driven formula from season one.

  11. Lewellan
    Aug 7th, 2014 at 13:27

    “There’s no evidence that suggests anything even remotely corrupt about the real HSR project.”
    Nothing to see here. Move along folks. Leave your wallets, credit cards and personal beliefs behind.
    Soon, a blisteringly fast train will pass, carrying the upper-class on pleasure jaunts far away and back to resume mobility by the more common means, inside self-driving autonomous cars behind darkened windows, staring at i-pads and going nowhere. The $42 billion project promised voters was shortened in length and more than doubled in price. How is that NOT evidence of corruption? Ooops.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Wow, have you considered professional help?

    Lewellan Reply:

    Have you considered STFU?

    Zorro Reply:

    The project was not shortened, it still goes from SF to LA, it’s being built in segments, so you are a LIAR Lewellan.

    Lewellan Reply:

    The original proposal voters approved included the San Diego and Sacramento extensions.
    Don’t call me a liar, you f’ing jackass.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    You are a LIAR.

    Zorro Reply:

    The ballotpedia says the following on Prop1a:

    The train, if built, will run between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with Anaheim, California, designated as the southern terminus of the initial segment of the high-speed train system.

    So how would you like your crow, Lewellan? Baked or Fried?

    Eric M Reply:


    You complain about what was promised voters, yet you keep pushing a slow Talgo train which is not even remotely high speed rail that Californians voted for. Can’t have it both ways buddy!

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s cause Lewellan is a Whiner.

  12. Lewellan
    Aug 8th, 2014 at 13:24

    If it weren’t for Peninsula and LA County communities approving the ‘slow-speed’ option, the project would be dead and this discussion wouldn’t be happening. California voters were dishonestly misled to believe a 200mph system was possible at an affordable price. A Talgo-type system would afford a 5-hour LA-to-SF trip; not bad. This forum is filled with corporate stooges.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t many people who want to take 5 hour train rides in place of a 6 hour drive or a 6 and half hour bus ride. Or a three hour flight from the time they cross the curb at their origin airport to the time they cross the curb at their destination airport.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Are you kidding? Who wouldn’t rather take the train and save an hour, sitting, sipping, reading, enjoying any view (actually) at the more sensible speed? Yeah right, whatever dude. Rail line “expands” in heat and will in the Valley. Increasing situations where speeds WILL BE LIMITED, therefore, plan for a bit slower for that reason and of course too many others to mention, as if their mention guarantees their honest understanding. The heavier locomotive at the slower speed is more apt to remain on curves. The lighter faster all-electric cabs are more apt to leave tracks. Anyway, that’s my perspective on things and too many jerks here haven’t responded, in my professional opinion, honorably.
    Just don’t stretch the truth too much. HSR is going to happen. California’s got it nailed. YEA BROWN!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I forget that California is special and that things that happen all over the world, like people driving or flying instead of taking the slow train, don’t apply.

    Lewellan Reply:

    You forget, dacker, that your opinion isn’t necessarily the majority viewpont among engineering professionals. Talgo-type HSR is applicable to more corridors than Bombardier 200mph.
    I’m dialing back on any opposition to Tehachapi. Tejon should be kept as an option, if necessary.
    Because the HSR Sacramento extension will reach and serve to connect Stockton/ACE/Altamont,
    I’m still against Pacheco.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes those silly Frenchmen, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Spainards, Brazilians, Morrocans, Saudis, Turks, Italians, Belgians, English, Dutch, Russians going out and building HSR instead of poking along at an average speed that’s not as fast as driving.

    Eric M Reply:

    Wow, really? You may need to educate yourself.


    “Rail line “expands” in heat and will in the Valley. Increasing situations where speeds WILL BE LIMITED, therefore, plan for a bit slower for that reason and of course too many others to mention, as if their mention guarantees their honest understanding.”

    Google Continuous welded rail stressing to “rail neutral temperature”.


    “The heavier locomotive at the slower speed is more apt to remain on curves. The lighter faster all-electric cabs are more apt to leave tracks. ”

    Please, Google super elevation.

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