Some chick dies--finally--and that's the news. That's the news? Meanwhile, desperate prognostications that we are all in for it, that the earth's feeding tube is about to be unplugged, woosh by unnoticed, like that flock of birds that should be gliding overhead, but isn't, because the species went extinct.
Mother nature--our mother--what is the phrase? She isn't quite herself today. We've ripped her apart, stuffed her full of sawdust and stitched her back together, propped her up in a chair. She looks pretty bad, and it's hard to pretend anymore. Maybe once she has become totally dessicated and...well, she has smelled really bad for a long time now, but we stopped noticing... but maybe when her head falls off and rolls past our feet, we will think... huh... we killed her... and then we watched her rot... Prolly shouldn'ta done that. :(
Nature again rears its hideous head with scythes for teeth and takes a bite out of humanity's side. Though, frankly, earthquakes don't kill that many people. I mean, really, let's blame the manmade objects that fall on top of them, okay? Ouch.
What can one do about this business? According to the news, offer condolences. That's what Americans do best: offer condolences and canned creamed corn, a little pocket change. Oh, and prayers. Prayers are the glue that bind the sticks together that make a house in Indonesia. Of course they use other materials; you can see, too, they live just like us! Crap everywhere.
Purists say thatched works best. Thatch crushes less people. There's a rat problem though. Rats like old thatch. They like barbecues on balconies in south OC, too, my friend Robert says. He could use an owl. Should we send owls to poor and impoverished Sumatra? Won't help prevent an earthquake, you're right. Wasn't thinking. Just tossing out ideas.
Too much work. No time. Besides, very few--two--readers last week.
Rode last night under an irrelevant moon and the perpetual day that exists in southern California anyway. Have a bicycle headlight, but what fer? The rule, essentially. Won't get run over, and if I did, who would notice...no one right away, except the boss. I watch the rings of the soft light smooth out the pavement in front of me, as the orange lamps make my bike into a crisp silhoutte for traffic to squash.
Then it took a long time to drive to LA today, what they call a looooong time. Sixty miles is relative; I think I could have traveled it by horseback long ago and camped under that moon. It hasn't changed much except for some 35-year-old footprints and a flag, and maybe a few more dings and dents from meteors opening their doors too carelessly.
But I don't have that option of traveling slowly and under the moonlight now; everything is rush-rush at a slug's pace, no matter what time of night or day. Price of gas? No problem. Just waste money. Go. I had to; I'm down here and doing crazy things like riding my bike at night. Gotta go back to the city once in a while and eat Thai.
Out of town a few days along the (rainy) Central Valley, over a couple blossoming hills, through a few muddy canyons, beside topped-off lakes, along flooded orchards. Banners say "Food grows where water flows." Water is flowing.
At the base of the mountains, acres of purple flowers look like a tilted pond in the near-drowned sun; on the way back, cattle swims in the clover. The water in San Luis Reservoir is as choppy as broken glass churning in a tumbler. A tornado hit south SF, but missed me by an hour or two. I was already east of Gilroy, a garlic town seemingly owned by Con-Agra nowadays (based on the signs beside old farms) following an RV through Pacheco Pass. All this open space to the untrained eye looks undeveloped, but it's being worked: migrant workers, stored water, wine and cows. Some is "saved." Early last fall if I remember right I stopped at Pinnacles and hiked; one day I'd also like to visit a mysterious place quite a bit south, and possibly Henry Coe St. Pk. higher up...all by myself.
In the City Friday morning to kill an hour I got soaked walking from my parking space to the book shop to Mission Dolores, which I guess is a religious establishment. I only wanted to see it because of its relevant history. It was, coincidentally, built at the base of a bunch of empty hillsides, too.
No, really, that's okay, no fish, please. Too smelly. Oil prices are NOT sky high. A gallon is still cheaper than other stuff, and if we'd stop driving so much, we could save enough Lincolns to buy another DVD or make some more cell phone calls while stuck in traffic. I have a novel idea; move closer to work. In another kinda non-sequitor, China sucks. Or does it? I don't care. Used to be my stuff was made in Japan. It was a little sleeker, maybe. Can't remember. I love oil, like to scramble eggs with it instead of butter fat. Also it's good in lip balm and plastic bags, cuz ya know they don't even axe if I wants paper or plastic no mo', just load everythin' up in plastic; takes the worry out of it, saves me about three seconds so I can wait at the stop light a little longer and burn some more of that expensive petroleum distillate I love to read about. Oh, it's all just too much.
Our Chancellor and his oil Nazis want to go Krystalnacht on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and plan to propose a final solution next week. Undeveloped wilderness is forever the put-upon minority, but in this case America will not be there to fight the war in its defense. In fact, nature is an unwilling ally, part of the coalition of the willing strong-armed into the fight against terrorism, Iraq and all things great and Arab.
The so-called elite du jour made much of their money by sucking up oil like a mosquito on the frontier's neck. If you found it in your backyard you became rich overnight, bought more land and kept on drilling. If you never found anything, God didn't like you. Tough beans!
Texas, the Germany of America, dried up years ago, and OPEC has had a one-up on the oil lottery by being in the right place and the right time for far too long, says our President, friend and whipped slave of Herr Moneybags. Backdoor deals in the stealth of night and roundabout politics make for interesting history, but for now they mean gobs and gobs of gooey cash for guys already living in more than one mansion.
This leads us to the essay question part of the exam:
1) Why do people complain about gas prices when they drive trucks three times the size of anything they reasonably need?
2) Why are people willing to listen to anyone with a quick fix to their diminished McBudget when the plan is neither quick nor a fix?
On the beach there are more people than gulls; waves filled with human flotsam, not kelp, surfboards hide the sharks. Everywhere I go someone else is already there. We have a dearth of empty places, open spaces; climb a mountain, someone's up there on her mobile telling her husband how, like, beautiful it is and that maybe later he should pick up something to eat from Baja Fresh or should they order out from Papa John's? Nowadays something that seemed inaccessible even 20 years ago is not; you can go there if you want to and you're totally entitled; you can fly there, rent an SUV, drive up to it, climb with high-tech shoes and a squeeze bottle and chatter about how great an accomplishment it is the whole time. You don't have to be serious and plan ahead much; National Geographic Adventure spells it out for you and with precision. Besides, you can't get lost, you have your GPS and you could always call and ask for help if you trip and knock your head against a rock (but that will never happen because nature is so feng shui). Wilderness as sport has made the only way to get away the Kevorkian way, and that's no fun, who wants to do that? Hmm.
My brother wants me to write about seeds. I don't know about seeds. I think most people don't. That's why they can take seeds out of our hands. They shouldn't, but they want to. Who are "they"? I don't know. Aren't all seeds genetically modified? Not in a lab, but by breeding and select cultivation? For thousands of years people altered plants and animals (chihuahuas and Granny Smiths aren't exactly nature's way), but suddenly a company can patent a gene. Explain.
My friend Marie sent an email that supports a petition to warn Warner Bros. against bastardizing decades-old cartoon characters that by all logic should have become part of the public domain years ago (their creators having all died by now). But in this case, the "they" still exists in corporate form and so "it" can do whatever the heck it wants. Frankly, I don't see why the WB shouldn't be allowed to devil-up already devlish characters. I think we should all have access to Bugs Bunny and do whatever we want with him because he shouldn't belong to anyone. Maybe secretly Time-Warner is adapting because eventually it will lose ownership of the original. Of course, that eventuality is upwards of 120 years from when Bugs was born, so maybe around 2050 we can start putting him in a suit instead of a dress.
Meanwhile the President in his ad nauseum way talks about an "ownership" society where people "own" their own money (in contrast to social security where the government, "belonging to the people," watches our money for us, which, in a sense, turns out to be "us" watching our own money). But we can't "own" anything unless we have tons and tons of $, which we don't. We have a few thousand dollars culled from our paycheck over the years, and the money still won't be ours--it will be invested for us, into the very corporations that don't want us to own anything. We can't buy land and protect it from them; if we do wrestle a parcel away from agribusiness or real estate developers, we won't be able to plant with "their" seeds, and if we turn on the TV in the afternoon--which we shouldn't--we will only see what they think we want them to think we want to see.
The collective child in our heads
gains exit through our fingertips,
wildly developing an illicit web
of quiet rage.
Wrapped inside such warm cocoons,
we sleep awake,
trapped within this cyber stage
content, alone, "communicating,"
distracted from our age.
And yet the welcoming refrains
create abstract online alliances;
these encounters, so unlikely,
so remote, in any case,
are like the stars we seem to think
we could carve right from the sky:
a thousand light years from our eyes.