by Angeliska on May 7, 2010
(Paintings by Myrtle Von Damitz III ,
a New Orleans artist and amazing lady. Her work is prophetic, and speaks to me about
what the elemental spirits might be whispering about what we are doing.)
Tonight, my grandfather, my sweetheart and I went to eat oysters.
We wanted to taste the last fruits of the Gulf before they are gone,
possibly forever. Succulent, roly-poly shrimp and fat loaves of catfish
all crisped in batter, two-dozen raw and glistening grey jewels on a
bed of ice. Our waitress at the Shuck Shack answering our hard
questions about the future of seafood restaurants, the future of
the ecosystem with a tremor in her voice and that weird, fucked-up
nervous laugh that I keep hearing from people when we’re talking
about the bleak and monstrous thing that we have done. Yes, we.
We are all complicit in this. We are all a part of this. A book came
in the mail for me today, and as I came home hunting already for
the words I want to nail down here, I took a minute to crack it open
and take a quick look. This is the first thing I found there:
“It’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
Tonight, I’m up late. Like Drew, I cannot sleep —
though I am very tired. I’ve never felt so helpless
to do anything useful in the face of such a vast
spoiling. I’ll re-shave half my head, my lover’s head,
my fluffy dogs and bag it up and mail it in hopes that
a part of me and those I love might soak up a tiny bit
of that poison. The poison that fuels my world, that
gets me to work everyday. I sit here hallucinating that I can
smell a whiff of crude on the breeze, knowing that folks
in Mid-City (NOLA) already can. The fertile delta is being
getting kicked in the cunt, repeatedly. Have you ever been
to the coastal wetlands? Do you know what a flock of egrets
looks like? White-white shaded red against the black and twisted
cypress castles in the sunset, the sound their wings make rising up
from the swamp, all at once. Rails, gallinules, and snipe slathered
in oil, eyes blistering. It makes me think of the first trip I made to the
Gulf when I was small. Port Aransas family vacation desperation,
scrappy sad sea-town with sad sea-shell shops that stunk of brine
and pina-colada. Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory on every radio, stirring
the first throbs of pubescently painful longing. I was the fetal shark
stuck in the jar at the front desk of the scab-hole, flea-bag motel we stayed at.
Noisy old mold-smelling air-conditioner and sand in the carpet, MTV on every
minute. Walking the apocalyptic beach every day, and finding nothing
but death. Sting-rays, countless fish and birds, and the pulsing, hypnotic
cobalt jellyfish. All rotting, rotten. I was thinking something must’ve happened,
but no one could tell me. I tried overcoming my fear of something sharp touching
my leg in the water and then tugging me down, and let myself be carried out far.
The brown water too warm, like salt-coffee, mud-sea. The bobbing and tar-smell
made me nauseous, but the sight of men fishing off the pier nearby reassured me.
Later, I walked up to see what they were catching so many of. Hammerheads, big ones.
The most pre-historic and vicious of fishes, pulled up from right were I had been
dumbly treading water moments before. Blackout Beach is what I’ve been listening
to over and over while writing this. The perfect soundtrack for my heart’s bleak moments,
and for dark nights in general. Really, really good stuff. It’s Ass Saw the Angel on Ketamine.
Carey Mercer‘s lyrics make me wish he wrote books as well. More albums will suffice
for the nonce, though. I’m doing what I always do in times like these: I stay up late reading
everything I can find, poring over diagrams, fretting, wishing I had a whiskey, being glad
I don’t smoke anymore (because I’d be through a pack by now) and trying desperately to
write. To get it out of me, and out to you. An exorcism, and a hope that even through some
awareness, there could be a chance at helping. So, here’s a slew of what I’ve been reading
and looking at. Check it out, and at the very least, focus some of your consciousness on what’s
happening right now — and while you’re at it, please spare a thought for poor Tennessee,
seeing the images prickles my neck, it’s so familiar. Drowned cities. This earth, she’s a snake.
She’s being pierced with arrows, curled into a ball, biting her own tail from the pain, and now
rising up in anguish, her back rippling and knocking askew settlements nestled into her corded
muscles. Her hips buck up, and she’s thrashing, drooling and panting, tears and blood streaming
out in great gouts and overflowing the banks. How long until she shakes us off for good?
✸ The Gulf oil spill blame game
“If you are searching for the perfect metaphor to describe humanity’s 21st century plight —
an energy-hungry and energy-dependent civilization occupying a resource-constrained planet —
then you need look no further than at a satellite photo of the giant spreading oil slick in the Gulf
of Mexico. That massive hydrocarbon stain is our collective scarlet letter, the price we pay for a
lifestyle of extraordinary affluence and comfort — at least as compared to most of the humans
who have ever lived.” – from Salon.com
✸ Sunset, Mississippi Gulf Coast near Waveland, 2008
“Katrina. The plight of poor working people. The Great Recession. The BP oil spill.
These aren’t just incidents, or accidents, or unfortunate circumstances.
I’m not saying they’re a conspiracy either. I’m saying they’re all a byproduct of a system
which is deeply, fundamentally broken, and increasingly can produce no other results.”
-from Clayton Cubitt’s amazing blog
✸ Photographs of the oil spill approaching Louisiana coast
✸ Tracking the Oil Spill
A map of the extent of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, day by day.
(Photograph by Karen Glaser)
from her breathtaking Springs and Swamps collection)
I can’t stop myself from thinking about what’s going to happen when this shit permeates
the bayous. No more crawdads, man. Looking at these gorgeous underwater shots from
Karen Glaser makes me weep for places that were far from pristine a month ago — now
soon to be poisoned beyond all saving. I’m really not sure if a lot of people are comprehending
how majorly fucked we are. This is going to have far-reaching, and long-lasting effects,
and the ripple’s going to touch you at some point. Next time you put a piece of seafood
into your mouth, consider where it came from. Consider the water it lived in. Even if you
don’t eat animals (which I respect, but can’t quite manage), or never considered the Gulf
of Mexico or its wetlands as important (they are), this is going to affect you. A good friend
of mine drove down to the Gulf coast the other day, to see it with her own eyes, and to
say goodbye before it’s ruined forever. She says denial is the general state of mind of
the people she’s met down there. What are the 5 stages of grief? When are we going
to get angry? I’m there, but what will it do? Help me write all this out, I guess.
Or, here’s some things we can do to help:
✸ Oil Spill Volunteers
“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.