Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hurricane Katrina Fifth Anniversary part 5

Po Boy Views
Beethoven’s Fifth
Away We Go
I reckon that it’s only fitting that I squeeze a fifth installment out of this subject; after all, I’m sitting in the shop that we opened five years ago without the benefit of customers or cash, just me and my computer.
Business in The Big Easy is anything but easy; Summertime and the livin’ is anything but easy, there are no fish jumpin’ unless they’re already heavily oiled.
After the ‘event’, naturally business was bad enough, prospects were dim enough and economic hopes were not springing eternal enough so, the light at the end of the tunnel was extinguished. We came back to more than half of businesses closed and moved or moving away. The city was a shadow of its former shadow and rather than picking up the pieces and moving on a lot of folks just pulled up their pants and moved out. It didn’t help that landlords were doubling rents and in some cases people came back to find their belongings on the street; FEMA worker’s rent money was being planted in town and the landlords were eager to harvest. The bars and restaurants that were able to open quickly enough did very, very well. When I called from our exile to see about re-employment the question that I had was about whether the beer trucks were delivering; when I was assured that they were, I knew that I could come home and that the city’s recovery was a possibility.
Yes, we did make it out of New Orleans after the storm and flood, albeit six days afterwards, and we left like the proverbial bats out of hell. Literally.
On that Saturday morning after Kevin had it settled in his mind that he could leave his three dogs with a friend that was determined to stay here and after Kevin gave me the keys to the car, Debbie, he and I set off to see if the cars actually existed and whether it was able to be driven as an escape vehicle.
We reached the garage where the gates had been left unlocked and on the first four levels we saw cars that had been vandalized. At the fifth level with Debbie waving and yelling that we were not looters to unseen forces we found some cars left intact and among them was the 2005 Corolla which opened with the keys that Kevin had provided, the engine started right up and the gas tank read full. Getting the car out of there was going to be an ordeal of different magnitude, the street was littered with debris and the water was calf deep all the way to the Canal St. median.
We walked back to Canal St. thinking possibly that we could push the car through the water if worse came to worser and let the engine dry off enough to eventually start it.
I had noticed a water line on the walls of the buildings higher than the level of the standing level and I was assuming that the water was in fact receding; we were told that the level of the water rose and fell with the tide in the lake, ‘swell’, I said, ‘all we have to do is wait for low tide’. A policeman informed us that this was, in fact, ‘low tide’.
We went back to the car and plan b. The pushing plan. I drove the car down to the first level and to the sidewalk wondering if I could just drive the sidewalks where it was more shallow. Too narrow. I put the car into drive and took my foot off the gas. I racked my brain for someone reliable to send up prayers to.
As we all know, the depth of a street is lower by the curb and higher in the center so that rainwater might travel from the street to the drains. The car, with me at the wheel and Kevin and Debbie scooting debris out of the way ( to prevent tire punctures) dipped into the street up to the grill and my heart sank from my chest to my stomach and I felt the need to void my bladder. With still my foot off the gas petal and the car in gear and moving on impulse power alone, she came out of the water and kept on going, like a frigging ship of state at sea. Tears came to my eyes; and ever the pessimist, I allowed the car to roll, on its own, to the middle of the street where it sloshed through water that was higher than the hubcaps, up to Canal St. onto the median where Kevin and Debbie got in and we drove to Royal St. and up Royal, the wrong way, to Conti where we let Kev out so that he could pack and then up to Dauphine where we were already set to get going. My heart had re-inhabited my chest and was singing the Ode To Joy.
We stashed the car behind the locked driveway fence to pack the trunk; the day before we had been warned by police not to be on our bicycles because of jackings taking place aimed at anything with wheels for transportation out of town, and we were taking no chances. Wouldn’t you know it that at that precise moment the National Guard finally made it into our neck of the woods.
Animals are easy to pack, all seven of them, critter food was ready as were our belongings and we were wearing the traveling clothes with the money sewn into the waistbands; we bid adieu to our sanctuary within twenty minutes, picked Kev up and headed down Decatur towards the bridge to freedom with the National Guard waving us toward our destination which was anywhere but where we were. It was then that I knew that if we had been young and black we might not have had such an easy way out. On the way out we saw the body bags.
We were headed towards Shreveport where the safe house had been set up for us by Gallivan and where we would reunite him with his dog; I was following any road sign the said that we were headed north and west. We were dirty, we were weary, we were motley. We were crowded. We were ecstatic. Kevin wanted a Carl’s Jr. burger, Debbie wanted to use a lavatory. We stopped at a filling station and Kevin got something in a large cup that had ice in it, he had the smile of a child as he enjoyed ice for the first time in almost a week. Debbie took a long time in the rest room and I was beginning to worry until she emerged with the explanation that she had been mesmerized by the flushing and re-flushing of the toilet, and that she had washed and rewashed her hands just to feel the running water.
We eventually, that night, made our destination, which was only the first leg of our exile that took us all the way to San Francisco; on the way we had many more adventures that some day over a couple of cold ones, if you get me in the mood, I’ll relate. Right now, I’m exhausted just finishing this thus far… say goodnight, Gracie.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More on the oil spill 6/25/10

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Greasy Kid Stuff
So Who's Counting?
Okay, now it’s over two months and the oil is still vomiting into the Gulf of Mexico as rapidly and at such a great rate and in such the volume as it ever has or ever will. It, the oil, is spewing out of the well at such a rate that there is now oil within the oil and more oil to come and the toxic rain of oil and dispersants to follow.
Yes, we have rumors abounding here in River City and all that oil to back them up. Over 1,250,000 gallons of dispersant laid out over and under the spill, the reports posing as rumors posing as reports ask us to consider that this dispersant when warmed will become acid rain that will affect the east coast of the country as well as us here; and the effects will be with us for years if not decades. Some fun, eh?
How many gallons of oil in a barrel? Forty-two. How many barrels have been noted as gushing into the Gulf? BP says that the flow rate was never important; “its focus is stopping flow, not estimating it, exec says” –our newspaper further goes on to say that “estimates have steadily grown- starting at zero in the wake of the spill, and inching up to an early estimate of 1,000 barrels per day, then 5,000 and most recently up to 60,000 barrels a day” !!!!!!!
Pilgrim, that’s over two and a half million gallons a day. Want to see that in numbers? 2,520,000 GALLONS A DAY!!!
If you want to measure that in the familiar size of the quart of oil that you put in your engine to keep it running smoothly…. How does ten million of those puppies sound? Ten million quarts per day.
You’re probably not privy to be close enough to get accurate information because the press is not allowed within five miles of the site; however, if you worked in a restaurant and a couple instances of off duty Coast Guarders in uniform were to tell you that you have absolutely no clue as to the extent of the spill, it might give you great pause. You may ask yourself ‘where is that ten million quarts of oil a day going?’
The answer, of course is, it aint going nowhere but up our coasts, in our marshes, on our beaches and even some into the air that we breath. It’s killing organisms from the microscopic to the sea porpoises and turtles and air birds and nesting sites and it goes on and on. And BP never considered the flow rate important?
On the news earlier this week a reporter broadcast from five miles away and added to his report that even at that distance it was difficult to breath.
What BP IS interested in is capturing and processing oil from the well and there in lies the rub. When we asked why we couldn’t just blow the sucker up we were told that if we damaged to well it may just fall apart and explode with oil, for years into the waters. Hmmmm. What is more prudent, they told us, since nothing else has worked, is to wait (and wait and wait) for the relief wells to be completed. Then they will be able to capture it all, if it works, and it’ll be back to business as usual.
In the meantime, there is hue and cry against a moratorium on deep-water exploration and drilling for more oil costing jobs and I suppose if we can no longer put our fishermen to work we might as well put the offshore drilling teams to work and damn the consequences.
Do you know about Nigeria where this type of spill is commonplace and that protesters are beaten and sometimes lose their lives, all thanks to Shell Oil Company?
Are you following this at all or is the oil crimes and criminality only dredging up in your mind a ‘better in their yard than mine’ attitude?
Here’s what I’d like you to do for me: go purchase a quart of oil, the same kind that you put in your car engine, and pour it into your bathtub which you’ve filled with water. Now picture yourself cleaning that up ten million times a day. What, you say that you cannot do that all in a day? Well, give some to your neighbor to clean up and his neighbor and the cute couple that has just moved in across the street. Would you believe that you could give everybody that lives in New York City that task and still have enough to put the entire city of New Orleans to work also... every day. Think if it then as BP thinks of it; it’s not 10,000,000 quarts a day, it’s not even 2,520.000 gallons a day. It’s 60,000 barrels a day, except that it might be 35,000 barrels a day or maybe there is so much oil going into our life, livelihood and lives than we could never hope to shake a stick at it. BP has not considered that worth measuring.
Here’s more from the Times Picayune: “Ultimately, the flow rate will be important to the company, whether it wants to focus on it or not. The federal government is charged with imposing fines under various environmental laws on parties responsible for spills, and those fines will be based on total barrels spilled and range from $1,100.00 to m$4,300.00 per barrel.” Maybe it is time for them to count the barrels, what do you think?
And, this in the other day, one of their little robot submarines ran into the little thingy that was in place to capture spewing oil and knocked it off so that the flow of oil was unabated.
Oh, I tell you, it’s a barrel of laughs down here, or is that forty-two gallons?

Fifth Anniversay Hurricane Katrina part 4

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Waltzing Matilda
Escape from Dogpatch
In the six days that we had post Katrina, there was one thing that we had plenty of. Time.
We had time to walk and bike the near empty streets, to view where tornados had ripped up fences, taken off roofs and knocked down walls. We had time to hurry past looters breaking into a convenience store by ramming the door with a newspaper vending machine while a police car sat idly by, the officer inside busy looking everywhere but where the action was. We had time to marvel at a city bus abandoned after not being able to make a turn on a street that it definitely wasn’t supposed to be on.
Time to walk streets where rubble abounded and witness enough foliage down on Esplanade Avenue that it resembled an abandoned lumber camp. We talked, or rather listened to the ravings of citizens, some armed, about the collective confusion as to exactly what the hell was going on: police snipers stationed to prevent looters from torching the French Quarter as they had Saks on Canal St. after looting Gucci, Brooks Bros and Pottery Barn, the possible deliberate flooding of the Quarter to alleviate the Ninth Ward and the rantings of the mayor yelling over the AM airwaves to anyone who was listening to get their ass down here, about him being pissed off at the Feds response- or lack of one- and about how we had a city of people “off their meds”. I was wishing for some meds myself.
Some time during each day was allotted to the sweeping of our all but abandoned street, foraging for supplies and fortifying our small balcony facing the street to look like a dangerous place for trespassers to consider. At night we would bang on sheet metal to simulate gunfire, hopefully keeping bogeymen at bay. Oh, what a time we had.
When I went to release a Pit Bull in the Treme armed with nothing but a screwdriver and a hammer I naively assumed that we were talking about a regular dog leash type chain. What greeted me after wading into an alleyway, was a male Pit Bull chained by the neck with the type of chain used to secure chain link fences and park gates. He was chained to a metal spiral stairway and was perched on a milk carton to keep him out of the water.
Surprisingly the dog did nothing but regard me with anxious eyes while I tried, with no success, to put the screwdriver through chain or padlock. After accomplishing nothing but the denting of the screwdriver and the working of the poor dog’s nerves, with heavy hearts, we returned to Dauphine Street; defeated.
On reaching Dauphine St. we passed one of our remaining neighbors, a young saloon owner with resources, who asked about our mission; when I relayed our impotence against the shackle, he called back: “why didn’tchu SAY somethin’? I got a bolt cutter!” Debbie and I waded back, found the woman who let us back in the alley and snipped the animal free. The cur shook itself, gazed up at us and without animosity or appreciation walked calmly away. We, of course, were too late for cocktails.
It seemed to us, at the time that there had been no contingency on any level for the care of pets and critters. Debbie, on Canal St., on a couple of occasions tried to get media to pay attention to the plight of animals that had been abandoned or left behind. It’s interesting to note that the SPCA here has a policy in effect to evacuate all in their charge thirty-six hours in advance of an impending storm. It’s also interesting to note that they had no contingency to leave anyone behind to help any animals that had been overlooked or left here in need of care.
Debbie likes to tell people that we had to leave because we had run out of wine. That is making light of the facts and our emotions at the time, it’s a good way to gloss over and cut short the need for full disclosures and explanations. The simple reason that we stayed is because we didn’t have a way to go and did not consider that it could and would get as scary as it did. The reason that we left was that we were presented with a way out.
Neighbors upon leaving left us food and keys to their apartments; for access to land-line telephones, rubbing alcohol, peroxide or other supplies to be foraged. One neighbor left us his battery powered radio, another left us a fast warming cooler with foodstuffs that perished before we could eat them. Our saloonkeeper neighbor sent over hot soup one night. The family run grocer down the block stayed open for a couple of days before calling it quits and leaving. Another grocer opened his doors and let people take whatever they needed and only asked that they consider paying for stuff when they returned; he remarked that he considered the circumstances were god’s way of getting him to stop drinking and smoking. One friend that was leaving gave us a key to a courtyard where five-gallon jugs of water were stashed.
The man around the corner told us that he had been to the Convention Center where looters had set up tables to sell their ill gotten goods and that the mood was festive, needless to say, that was going to change as the numbers of refugees rose, heat, thirst and conveniences dwindled and security got tighter.
There were reports of bodies left to rot in the streets, one just around the corner from us; naturally Debbie refused to go gawk with me, so I didn’t see it myself. We found some adult diapers in our landlady’s apartment and tried to donate them to the old folks home that had not been evacuated, thinking that they could use them. We were met at the door by a petite elderly woman that carried a shotgun taller than herself and were told that nothing was needed and that we should leave the premises.
One afternoon on the radio, two commentators were talking at each other when one of them says: “you know, these people have been crowded up on that overpass for thirty hours in the hot sun and I suddenly thought to myself: ‘they have no food, no water, no shade and no bathroom facilities’; where are they going to the bathroom?” No one would answer that question, we all knew.
Actually, after the first twenty-four hours, we all became campers in the waste elimination department and we went where we could, when we could; with no water to flush a toilet, we went wherever we could.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hurricane Katrina Fifth Anniversary part 3

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Hurricanes Rock
Okay, where were we five years ago in the first days of September? Where were we when the sun went down? Where was Moses when the lights went out? In the dark.
After the first effects of the hurricane had passed, the electricity was cut off; we still don’t know why, but, the city became… powerless. That meant no lights, no fans, no air conditioning and no radios. The storm had knocked out cell phone usage as well. And then, our water supply was cut; again, we didn’t see the why or wherefore. We were left… in the dark… dry. Anyone left here by choice or circumstance was left, literally, in the dry dark… without the ability to bathe.
Us veterans of past storms didn’t sweat it much; a couple of days without amenities and we’d be back on the grid, eh? “Let’s go get some coffee and a newspaper and find out how bad it had been”.
Too bad nothing was open and the only thing I found outside was the quiet and the heat, that plus a tree that had crashed onto the front of the building that I was living in.
We did have gas, so one would assume that we would have heat and hot water; but with the temperatures being hotter than hell outside and the water supplies at nil we could only use the gas to cook whatever was left unspoiled in our powerless refrigerators or of a dry ingredient unused until that time. It was like camping in hell. The toilets are useless if you can’t flush, eh? Minute by minute it became increasingly clear that we were not prepared.
Before the storm hit, and just before the storm hit, the mayor checked with his lawyers to see if he’d get into much doo-doo ordering a mandatory evacuation, so no one thought it was going to be very bad; I mean, if there is no mandatory evacuation order… Besides, the storms always turn at the last minute and miss us, right?
Wannabe writer that I am and with not a small amount of ego, I started keeping a journal of our days and nights stranded from America. It wasn’t until I looked down and saw that I had written the words “I am very scared” did I accept the fact that us, I, we just might not make it through this one; that this was an adventure that was spiraling out of control; that it was just dangerous enough to take my life and the lives of my loved ones and those that I had become responsible for.
Added to that, the biggest damn explosion that I ever heard was in the early (still dark) hours of Thursday morning; it turned out to be a facility that housed propane tanks. The sky was on fire and Boom! after BOOM!!! had me assured that we were being bombed and that we were all but doomed.
We now know that that did not happen. I did not know that then; at the occurrence of that epiphany I went into a different gear, a survival gear. We began to go into the ‘we have got to get out of here’ gear and without the prospect of hope of any kind we began packing, consolidating, planning.
When Kevin (Debbie’s neighbor) said those words (“they left me the car and they know that I can’t drive”) I was already ready.
The car was a Toyota Corolla, 2005, white and it was parked on the fifth level of the Hotel’s garage. To get to it we had to walk the block past Canal St. which was ankle deep in water to the garage where the street was calf deep in water. We did not know if it was even there or in what condition we would find it in if it was.
We had been advised earlier, by one of the uniformed guys that had started to occupy the Canal St. zone, that the water that we were standing in was becoming “noxious” due to human, animal, chemical and petroleum waste matter. He intimated that rotting carcasses and bodies did nothing nice to standing water. The water was waist high on Rampart St. and we could see black people wading away from the projects with bundles balanced on their heads, water chest high.
We had seven animals in our care by then and as a lark I had painted and nailed to what was left of the tree in our front yard a sign that announced us as ‘DOGPATCH’. In some kind of moment I must have thought it cute or catchy or something, I don’t know.
Thursday of that week that sign had attracted a young woman to us that wanted us to take in another puppy or two, which of course we couldn’t. She then asked if we could come release a dog that had been left by its owners who had split after the storm leaving the dog stranded in water chained by the neck. She had already taken into her care a female and pups. I, fool that I am, took up a hammer and screwdriver and told her to lead me to the unfortunate canine; it was almost time for cocktails and the bar that we had found still in operation had a curfew just like the rest of us.
Debbie had insisted on being part of the escapade because as she well knows, just her presence will keep us safe; we started off. The woman turned the corner up Saint Philip St. toward Rampart St. and I asked what our destination was: she replied “Treme”. A little further up the street and I asked what breed of dog we were going to rescue and she replied “Pit Bull”. She spoke in a matter of fact voice as if we were going to the bakery for a King Cake. I, on the other hand, saw my life flash before my eyes; Treme was where there was a lot of trouble of a violent type even in the best of times and releasing a chained Pit Bull was quickly becoming the very last chore that I wanted on my plate. I thought of that nice cozy tavern, Molly’s At The Market, and the warm beer that awaited me among friends and fellow strandees and began to regret my mission.
By the time that we reached our destination the water was knee high and we were deep into the Treme neighborhood, an area that I wouldn’t have dared enter in any earlier juncture of my life approaching a task that I would have surely thought more than once about volunteering for had I been in my right mind.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Katrina fifth anniversary part 2

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The Crowning Miss Adventure
Are We There Yet?
Well… last month, by request, I wrote a fifth year anniversary article on Katrina. Aaaaand…. a thousand words was just not enough, so I ended with ‘to be continued’. Our Katrina experience was BEING IN the French Quarter for six days into it which coincided, oddly enough, with the first sign of responders to make it into our neck of the woods (I know some folks on Esplanade that say that they are still waiting); bringing us well into September, which is more of an anniversary for me than August. Go figure.
As you know, my lead time for publication is six weeks, so my first question is: “Are we still here?” Did the mud and the sludge and the grunge and oil; a hurricane, a tornado, hail as big as tombstones, acts of god or man do us in again or are we all still just waiting to inhale? Did we make it back up off the mat or were we sucker punched by unseen powers…again? Has it rained BP oil on our parades? Are cruise ships braving the slick to dock in our port again?
If we’ve taken it blindside again, then this, like the September article five years ago, might never get any further than my blog; so here I come: five years later and you have to pay a buck to put air in your tires; how’s that for blowing goat? Five years in and prices are up and wages are down and baby needs a pair of shoes.
Five years in and a plan to issue all children life jackets so that “they get used to them” is the best we can do.
Remember that closing scene in the movie “San Francisco’ where Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy are coming back into town, comrades in arms. Singing? Well, that’s us guys! Except that we’re covered in oil and for every three steps forward we take two steps back. I’ll tell you what, Cap, we all deserve a frigging medal for our mettle, a tall one for our tenacity and a second line for our sincerity, just for the fact that we have chosen to still live here, and that’s just for starters.
For us, September is when the situation that we’ve come to know as the ‘Katrina incident’ really hit home; it was September when we awoke to a stream of refugees washed from their homes by flooding conditions not of their making or consent. The citizens passing us with their meager possessions were going to what they were told was ‘the refuge of last resort’. What they did not know that it was was a situation better described as ‘the end of humanity as you’ve ever known it’. It was the Super Dome and later the Convention Center that became our face of misery, neglect and abandonment and once there there was no way back to nourishment, kindness or sanity.
People’s pets that were brought to shelter were not welcome; they were turned loose in the street, abandoned and separated from their humans. In some of the lower parishes, on the rationale of the possibility of the animals forming packs, they were shot on sight. Having a pet did not necessarily exempt a person from being forced to evacuate either; authorities had the authority to shoot your pet as incentive to get you to leave, in fact authorities had the authority to do anything they damn well pleased including shooting innocent citizens, looters or criminals of and by their own determination.
Not all uniformed personnel in charge of keeping the peace and maintaining order were Gestapo-like. Only a portion abandoned their posts or went rogue; but it’s important to note that girlfriend and I had three things going for us: our age, our skin color and our ability to converse intelligently. Those attributes gave us an even break and playing field.
We stayed for six days mainly because we were not prepared to evacuate in the first place, we had no vehicle, we had no money, we had three cats and three dogs and we had no plan. We holed up at a second story apartment on Dauphine St. that had minimal damage: two chimneys collapsed, roofing, siding and gutters ripped off and a sizable cypress tree fallen upon the front of the building; but, as I tell people, we were the lucky ones.
It was real real quiet in our neck of the woods, most had evacuated early to spend days on the road not getting anywhere; of the ones who had stayed, most left by mid-week. We had taken into our care another dog whose owners were opting for the Convention Center, we were running low on supplies and had only an AM radio for information. The only thing we know for sure was that there were a couple of taverns still open to commiserate with those of us left and that with no electricity or water things were getting worse.
We had been in touch with the owner (Gallivan Burwell) of one of the canines in our care via the telephone land line of a neighbor’s and had a safe house set up for us in Shreveport should we be able to escape. People hoping to get out by walking across a bridge to the other side of the Mississippi River were turned away at gunpoint by police, there were bodies in the street, there was lootings, gunfire and disorder. There was no cold beer.
Gallivan had left us the keys to his apartment on Saint Philip St. where he alerted us to a stash of cash that he had kept for emergencies, like fugitives we sewed the money into our clothes and gathered and consolidated our supplies to be ready for a break to come to us. It was flood conditions all around the French Quarter but pretty dry for the most part within its boundaries.
Six days in and we’re over at girlfriend’s apartment to check for anything else helpful in an escape. Eight in the morning and her downstairs neighbor (with warm beer and cigarette) explaining how his womenfolk had been evacuated leaving him and his three dogs and the keys to a new car, fully gassed and “they know that I don’t know how to drive!” he happens to say to me (!!!!!).
Thus ends another thousand words but there is more

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oil Spill in the Gulf

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Gulf Oil Spill
And Not A Drop To Drink
Okay, here we are on day fifty four, day fifty four and the earth is still hemorrhaging vital fluid of a poisonous nature into waters that supported life… once. I find myself in a Costnerish moment, but I believe not even Kevin in all his psycho-environmental weirdness could have imagined this ass kicking. An epic adventure of a monumental catastrophe without a hero, plot or frontal nudity scene. This one is rated WFN (We’re Fucked Now) and is not suitable for impressionable minds. Watch nonstop, via video-cam, the world turning to pitch and washing up on a shore near you.
Fifty-four days in and it’s like a Grateful Dead set, we’re caught in a ‘no way forward and no way back’ conundrum. Fifty-four days in and there is no relief in sight; the oil is spewing, gushing and vomiting from a depth of over four miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and not all the kings horses nor all the kings men can slow or stop the calamity.
Does it seem like I am using many words of the doom and gloom nature? You bet your sweet ass I am. In a few short days our oysters will be a thing of the past; the great Louisiana oyster, a hybrid of indigenous stock and Croatian implants cross-cultured and bred over a century to produce the gustatory sweet soul sensation that we here were so proud of. The banning of our bivalves across the country met with sneers here, whoever these people were that shunned our supplies just because of potential health hazards could just go without, period. The call to process the oyster by some kind of sterilization almost caused riots; how dare someone tamper with perfection. We do not eat our oysters for any other reason than they taste wonderful and they are ours. If you have health issues, we say, don’t eat ‘em. Simple.
But, there goes the oysters, there go local shrimp, there go any wild caught seafood; the abomination that pollutes the Gulf, insidiously is creeping up the coast, into Mobile Bay, up onto Florida’s beaches and rounding the bend and heading into the Atlantic coast, how’s that for tragedy? This one is not getting swept under the rug, my friend, and we’ve got the seabird, turtle and dolphin carcasses to prove it.
What is being done? Not much; we’re promised, for sure, that the completion of the drilling of the relief well will solve everything IN AUGUST!!!!
Word around here is that if they pour enough concrete into the sucker it will stop, but then the valve that has become a piece of evidence will be sealed and no-one will ever know what happened. Another thought around here is that if they did stop the flow it would cut off the access to a lot of income; most of us don’t give a shit, we want the disastrous leak sealed. And the prevailing opinion is that it has taken too long and gone on too far and we are really screwed this time.
“Well, what about hurricane season?” you may ask. And well you may ask; this season is supposed to be a rip-roarer and there is no way to prepare for that except to keep your perishables at low inventory and your vehicle tuned and gassed. “What if a storm picks up the oil slick and dumps it on you, is that a possibility?” Who knows, the gulf waters are now in the eighties, El Nino is coming in and it’s hot as hell here; the levees are not up to the pre-Katrina levels and WFN!
Now it’s day fifty-five and headlines of local newspaper articles include “Thousands of people, vessels already in Gulf to combat oil”
“Dredging to create sand berms in Gulf may start this weekend.”
“Rig owners waiting for next step.”
“6- month moratorium called too short.”
“Vessel carrying oil from the leak arrives in Mobile today.”
“Grand Isle mayor plans to deploy barges in two passes.”
“Petition seeking shorter drilling moratorium gathers steam in Louisiana.”
“Some say hurricane would flatten berms.”
“Animals go into labeled containers, frozen.”
Yeah, about those animals. We now have an ‘Animal Collection Report’ in the paper.
Birds: collected 1,183 alive 504---dead 679
Sea Turtles: collected 351 alive 55---dead 296
Mammals includes dolphins: collected 39 alive 2
Other quotes in today’s paper are:
“IT’S LIKE A CLOUD OF WORRY” which means that we’re in a world of hurt down here. “Seafood supplies are dwindling”, “The Coast Guard tells BP: too little, too slow” and “Cleanup crews appear to be one step behind the spill.”
Meanwhile our President is making up to the Prime Minister of England while our mayor is spatting with his counterpart in London. Oh boy, I know you’re saying, why is God so mad at them poor crackers and coloreds in Louisiana? Well, to tell you the truth we really don’t know; it’s as if we are under siege by the sirens leading us to our demise. We are flummoxed by our fates as the cosmic whipping boys and who, just who do you complain to? It’s another case of the Department of Happy Endings being closed to those that are the most in need.
Oh, and by the way, we can smell oil in the air here when a good breeze blows in. There are people down here that are getting chest pains, shortness of breath and headaches. Oil? Airborne ‘dispersants’? Our imagination? For the record, I don’t feel so good myself. More later.
I’m posting this, unfinished, to get your reactions, I’ll be adding to it later today, tomorrow and on and frigging on……..stay tuned