Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cry Me An Ocean

Published in the latest issue of the Ester Republic
Maybe it's something in the innate psychology of a maladjusted cartoonist that will kick somebody when they're down, or in this case, kicks sand in their face - but after weeks of listening to the Gulf spill tragedy it got to a tipping point where some uncomfortable facts begin to really chafe away inside. Perhaps it's a warped way of dealing with the frustration and anger that's been slowly seeping into my brain over all of the upset at the spill, but I see it as somewhat contradictory and misplaced given that the perception of damage, blame-gaming and moronic appeals for help have been focused almost exclusively outwards. Most of the traumatic footage of the Deepwater Horizon's hemorrhaging studiously avoids a particular point of view that this would paradoxically be a good opportunity to consider.

While a few folks have been pointing out the uncomfortable hypocrisy of our dependency on energy that effectively makes disasters such as this an unfortunate part of the cost of doing business, I haven't yet come across the observation that this is more than a little bit like crying over spilled milk oil. Much as my sincere sympathies lie with victims of corporate ecocide, my guess is that if anyone were to tally up all the asphalt and concrete that's been slathered all over the landscape in the region, and account for the accompanying habitat loss as a result of paving over irreplaceable resources which will never be counted on any business ledger, there's not much that can be said about how we as a species have been fouling our nest for quite some time.

First rough on the back of an Ivory Jack's menu

I remember consciously staying away from the Florida keys during my whole tenure in the South: like at many of the more prominent monuments across America, I have trouble seeing the forest parks for the trees crowd. It's been thoroughly well documented how year after year the wholesale destruction of proceeds apace, with environmental groups and agencies fighting a losing battle against development and sprawl, and s.
A personal highlight of graduate school in Georgia was a solo kayak trip across a childhood dream - camping in the Okefenokee was an experience I'll never forget. But it was the total reversal of Alaskan wilderness: a small oasis of Nature, an isolated pocket surrounded by the lapping sea of humanity and its urban encroachment. Many of the barrier island refuges I visited in two years of trekking was to some extent marred by the the little kingdoms of vanity erected by rich people - the real estate companies have collectively caused far more damage to the environment than BP probably could ever hope to do even on purpose

It's much easier to attack figureheads and symbols than it is to honestly re-evaluate our own individual and collective responsibilities. The problem illustrated here is how people have become so aesthetically anesthetized to the shit that surrounds them they no longer think to literally turn the cameras around from the images of dying birds and fouled waterways and look instead at the everyday impact in their our own back yards.

"Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got, Till it's gone… They paved paradise, And put up a parking lot" - Joni Mitchell


  1. If you avoided the Keys, you missed out. Everyone thinks of Key West, but if you stop in the Middle Keys and get away from U.S. 1, or even better yet, take an easy kayak paddle out to one of the uninhabited keys, it's absolutely fantastic.

    Thinking of the Keys as being completely overbuilt is like thinking all of Denali Park is like Glitter Gulch.

  2. Right on – excellent point in perspective, though Denali isn’t surrounded by 18+ million people (yet).
    My impressions were probably more influenced by the country-mouse syndrome of experiencing I95 traffic – but case in point, the best spring break I ever had was a 4-day solo kayak trip across the Okefenokee + many memorable excursions on the barrier islands off Georgia.
    Of course that was during the off-season, or as Southerners call it, “winter.”
    And your comment is also very well taken after just returning from Acadia Nat. Park in Maine (more details in an upcoming series of posts) – can’t wait to revisit A) after the maddening crowd recedes and B) explore the other 99% of the state off the beaten (or in the case of Acadia, cobblestoned) path.