“If it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping” — Sophocles
New Orleans. Hi. I love you so much. But you have cancer. Again. I know. And this time it’s a different kind. You’ve come out of remission with a newer, deadlier form of cancer. This comes as a shock, because we all thought you were on the road back to health. It’s going to take so, SO long to clean it up.
This is the saddest thing in the world, LITERALLY the saddest thing IN THE WORLD right now. So sad that I’m openly weeping and slobbering on my keyboard while typing you this Dear John letter. But I’m a rat who wants to abandon ship. I do have a heart, and am brave (or tell myself so). But there’s a thin line between pioneering spirit and abject futility in the face of infinitely bad odds … and I don’t want to stick around and watch. I just … can’t.
Oh God oh God OH GOD. Rocking, convulsing, crying, sniveling, mouth-open-red-faced-and-gasping-for-air-like-a-baby kind of crying. “Spill” is to “Deepwater Horizon” as “crying” is to whatever apoplectic weeping and retching I’m doing right now. And have been doing, at least 4 or 5 times a day, ever since the Deep Shit Horizon opened up and swallowed 11 valiant lion-tamers, and maimed several others — good men with families who were just trying to give us all what we wanted.
‘Tis a curious thing to get so upset that I puke. It’s only happened a couple times in my life. Like when people die.
I can feel it coming. What “it” is, I’m not sure, but I aspire to be like the animals who wrap it up and peace out before the cataclysm comes. I don’t want to get stuck in denial when there’s a crude-oil hurricane landing on top of us in a couple months, when Mother Earth sucks the toxic-energy poop-stream up into the clouds with a straw and sprays a black and vengeful spit-take all over the City That Care Forgot.
Like a clown with a seltzer bottle, except not funny. Except the bottle is filled with liquid death. The liquid death we all live on.
I bought a coffee today. It came in a styrofoam cup. Thought yep, this sucks, but what can you do. Selfish twit, why did you forget the glass jar that’s usually in the car, so you could bring it into the coffee shop and argue with the barista AGAIN about whether or not the health codes permit them to HAND YOU A CUP OF COFFEE IN YOUR OWN JAR. What can I do? What can any of us do? Everything is made of petroleum products, and it’s killing the planet. Literally this time.
Remember those Bible stories from Sunday school about how if God got mad at us the oceans would turn black and die? “How ridiculous,” I thought.
How did we get to this? New Orleans, one of the most beautiful and compelling cities in the history of humankind, has always teetered on the precipice of ruin. It’s the nature of the town’s geographic location. But it’s not New Orleans’ fault, not the Gulf Coast’s fault, it’s all our faults … and … and … oh GOD IT HURTS.
Where did our loving, symbiotic relationship with Miss Lady Earth go? Wasn’t that something else the Bible warned us about — being stewards? We’ve turned the planet over, ass up, and reamed her for a couple centuries with no lube. We hammered and hammered and hammered at her without thinking. Now she’s pressing rape charges.
“It’s not failure if you leave, dude,” my friend Dusty told me. “This is a worldwide ecological disaster.” Indeed, I have never grown out of moony-teenager phase as far as emotions go, but I’m not even ashamed of it this time. Not one bit. This is BEYOND TRAGIC. This is the event that will probably simultaneously bring about the beginning of the end and lead us all into desperate uprisings of both fear and higher consciousness. The Age of Aquarius. The Age of Light.
Nothing is hidden, everything is illuminated. Machines will be created which are given the intelligence and autonomy to be able to clean up our mess on their own. Then they will bio-evolve, and we will bio-evolve, and suddenly we’re either in the middle of The Matrix or Wall-E or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Poof, Earth disappeared. Sad, that. We used to love to look at the humans on that rock and watch them play and fight. They were so entertaining.
But … but … worry is negative prayer.
The Dirty South has officially become too dirty, for the moment. Living in such toxic conditions would be folly, especially when I feel so sick and despairing now, and I’ve worked this hard to be this healthy.
Especially since my friend got shot in the neck the other week, and someone else got mauled by dogs, and someone else had to beat up a crackhead. But those things are ancillary. Economically downtrodden urban areas have been home to me ever since leaving the nest, and I haven’t been scared.
I am not scared of the Lower Ninth Ward now. I am scared as shit of what’s out there in the ocean, bubbling up from the deep, bitch-slapping our collective greed for all time. This dragon brings knowledge, but it pulls no punches. It doesn’t care if we die.
Downer![Update: Switching all future posts from New Orleans category to Oilpocalypse category.]
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.