Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rub It in

If you didn't know, that is where I grew up. Although there is no place called "Destin Beach." Maybe he meant to say "From the beach in Destin." But I wander from the topic. This isn't just near where I grew up, or like where I grew up. Nope, this is it. I can tell you how to get to that spot on bicycle from the batch plant on Joe's Bayou. That is local. Or should I say, that is hitting close to home.

I suppose this video has been making the rounds recently. The reason it is so popular, I would guess, is that it features an irresponsible mother allowing her children to swim in an oil spill. That is pretty dumb, but it isn't the dumbest thing I have seen on that very beach. Tourists swim when red flags are out and snow birds jump in in the dead of winter. Spring breakers take videos from their hotel rooms of people swimming with sharks, unaware that they are present, and laugh. This of course before they get drunk and fall off of balconies. I figure these people paid for their vacation and are by God determined to have them. I don't like them but I can understand them. Driving down to the Gulf is one of the vacations that fit into their budgets. They save up and they come down and they want to buy cheap t-shirts and splash in the water. Sharks and currents and temperature and oil be damned.

(A brief aside to this woman's raw stupidity: For a brief few years when I was young, the house next to ours was rented to a bunch of real south Alabama rednecks. The older brother would practice juggling hatchets in the front yard and they all had ADD and wanted to grow up to be Baptist preachers. One day the youngest son, threw a rock, which must have been when they rebuilt the street because we don't have rocks in Florida, and hit me in the eye. I ended up in the hospital and sported an eye patch for a week or so. But, as I lay their collapsed and crying, the father ran out of the house and said in all earnestness, "Rub some sand in it." So no this woman doesn't surprise me.)

But there is dumber by far than any of these things going on in this video and sadder by a long shot. As the Michael Jackson movie says, "This is It." This is what years of saying no to drilling and "Save our Shores" gets you in the end. No more cutting school to head to the beach. No more welcome home shrimp boils or church fish fries. No more saying to people, "Yeah, this is a nice beach, but I am spoiled, mine is the best in the world." No more "hey look there are dolphins out today." Or giant manta rays. Because, even the most ardent, carbon conserving environmentalist can have that part of their lives cut out like a rotten wisdom tooth if someone else, someone with more power is willing to gamble all of those things for a private jet and a yacht to race.

My grandmother always talked about how it wasn't as rough for them during the Depression because they always had the Gulf. It wasn't like the economy was going to stop them from catching fish. So people with enough pluck and mobility moved to Destin and started over, or at least got by. And now, in our new Depression? Well, our patrimony was confiscated and sold on credit to people who didn't need it anyway. I have always argued that even though I believe in cost benefit analysis and environmental economics, I am, when it comes down to it, a Sand County Almanac environmentalist. Water parks aren't fun for me and I don't mind a long walk if there is something to see. I don't think I am that special in this respect. I just wish people with power would realize that oil spills aren't an excuse to stop drilling, they are a reason. That pollution isn't a silly buzzwords that hippies mutter between joints, it is something that gets in the way of our weddings and our homecomings and our funerals and our church benefits and our jobs and our futures.

If someone told people that they had to burn a sea turtle or shoot a dolphin to get their SUV to start they wouldn't have the guts to do it, but Americans are cowards by proxy, we are good at a distance. I can't understand that abstraction but I am sure I have made it myself. Me, who doesn't own a car but will fly across the Pacific and throw away plastic bags. Maybe I should do my penance and walk down to the river and strangle a duck. "Just rub it in." She says laughing.


The Morholt said...

Though this is all sad, i am very glad to hear your commentary; been waiting for some perspective from a local. i have been pissed about all this, and saddened and revolted, but it takes someone who is watching not just their national patrimony and the environment assaulted, but also their person history and life affected to put real perspective on things, imho. I hope this disaster gets as least as good a documentary treatment as Spike Lee gave us in New Orleans after Katrina. Maybe its partly preaching to the choir, but sometimes even the choir needs to get a little fire in their bellies.

Caitlin said...

That's absolutely horrifying. I feel so helpless when it comes to the oil spill. I tried to get hair to together but BP turned us away. It seems that I have exhausted all of my options and that is so frustrating.

Great pirate story. by the way. It made me think of this: and my old neighbors in New Cumberland. They were probably from Alabama or Georgia, they had really thick backwoods accents. The daughter was about a year younger than I and I used to play with her when I had to. She wasn't very nice and I was always afraid of her. She used to get me to give her my stuff because I was scared to say no. Well, they happened to have squirrels living in their attic. Once when Autumn came to play, I noticed a big bandaged area on her arm. I asked about it. I don't every think I will forget the way she looked at me and said (in a really thick accent that I always found funny), "I got bit by one of dem squir-els in my attack (attic)". Hilarious, still makes me laugh 13 years later.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.