Oilpocalypse Now: Hairycane Hosiery

In oilpocalypse by summerburkes4 Comments

Yesterday morning, in our little slice of Holy Cross heaven where the Mississippi River meets the Industrial Canal, I walked out the door thinking about something besides the oil spill for a change … and that’s when it hit me. In the face. The day’s first breath of “fresh” air oiled the inside of my nose and mouth with the unmistakable smell-taste of petroleum.

An oil refinery sits a couple miles down the road in St. Bernard, but I’ve never smelled oil in my ‘hood before, not in the year and a half since moving home to Dixie. I’ve been hacking up black and brown stuff too — but it remains to be seen whether that’s airborne oil ooze or human- and dog-hair dander. I’ll get to that part in a minute.

the hair … the horror …

So there’s oil in the Gulf Coast, pouring out from the Earth’s crust into Mother Ocean at an incomprehensibly alarming and apocalyptic rate. We all know that. But what we DON’T all know is that BP, while dragging their feet in every area of cleanup, not having prepared at all for such an “unlikely” situation, is now flying planes overhead 24 hours a day and SPRAYING CHEMICALS onto the oil to “disperse” it and/or make tar balls. They won’t say what chemicals they’re spraying. On the ocean. Our ocean. OUR OCEAN.


(Sorry Momma for swearing. It’s unladylike. Yes. Unbecoming. But I feel stabby.)

The Sierra Club is trying to get the important information out of B.P. and all the rest of the Spillionaires — what chemicals, dude? — but they’re blowing them off. Blowing off the Sierra Club. Not budging. Sorry but, is it okay if we start ARRESTING PEOPLE NOW?

Ya heard me? Does anybody else hear a swishing cape, canned-heat mouth-breathing, and the footsteps of Darth Vader behind us?

Rather than use hay or any other proven cleanup technique which sucks up oil real nice and does no more harm to the environment, the Dipshit Horizon fatcats are flying planes over the “spill” site 24 hours a day, spraying God knows what into our ocean — to congeal the oil into tar balls that sink.

So we can’t skim the oil off the surface, because they’re making it coagulate and drop, where it will hang out on the ocean floor for all time, and eternally wash up ashore on the beach. For the rest of our lives — which may be shorter than we think — kids will be picking up tar balls, throwing them away, believing they’re doing something good and helpful, but they’re tossing toxic waste into public trash, and besides, there’s MILLIONS more tar balls where that came from.

When B.P. could have used hair.

hair from alllllll over the world. A little gross, but also very sweet

The manliest miners of our great goo, Herculean in both their flub and their lack of foresight, could have been saving — saved by — scraps of hair from off the floor of barber shops and grooming salons. Rather than buying tons of slick plastic half-effectual boom made of PETROLEUM FOR FUCK’S SAKE (from whom? I’m guessing Halliburton) they could have been packing hair into pantyhose.

Hiring the wives of the fishermen whose livelihoods they permanently destroyed. Putting out the all-call like the military did for nylons in World War II. Calling on us to help, because we will, because it’s OUR OCEAN.

Nothing soaks up oil better than hair. LOOK.

That’s where we come in. That’s where the car-driving, plastic-using, air-conditioned and central-heated public could throw some real karma in the coffers, and make prayer into action, if nothing else. That’s where we slap ourselves out of Chicken Little mode and go get Natalie so we can ride down the street to the Lower Ninth Ward Village and try to put our hands on something that may help.

neither of us will ever look at a pair of pantyhose the same way again

It may be a drop in the bucket, and perhaps we are polishing the brass on the Titanic, but at least it’s something besides weeping and lamentation, which is not productive, and no good for liquid eyeliner.

Hair and pantyhose! The girliest solution to the apocalypse EVER! We’re doing it. We got the first boxes of hair into the Lower Ninth Ward Village.

thankfully we are the kind of people who see exposure to other people’s voodoo bits as an opportunity to build up immunity superpowers. Instead of grossing out. Although sometimes we do. But don’t tell

It’s now been two hours since I stepped out of my air-oil-conditioned apartment into the thick New Orleans afternoon. I’ve got a headache, my throat burns, and I taste petroleum. Psychosomatic? Possible, but probably not. I hardly ever get sick, knock on wood, never get headaches either. Built Cyclecide tough, which is only semi-tough, but definitely not whiny and complainy and headachey for no reason.


It’s raining again. Out there in Gulf Fish Armageddon, black stormclouds are pushing all the oil and tarballs around, aerating everything, bringing the ooze ashore. Amidst lightning and still-clean sheets of rainwater, Nat and I just cleared out of the Village yard on this Oilpocalypse thunderstorm afternoon and ducked back in the sticky room with clouds of strangers’ hair flying around. To build giant scary hairy oil-sop turds with it.

It makes us feel better.

Wanna help? Live in New Orleans? Holler at us.

Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.


  1. you go girl! You want we should send you more hair? And everyone reading this should call Washington. Get them on the program. And then get Paul Stamet’s mushrooms to bio-compost the gook. It works, we did it in San Francisco in our last big spill. Nothing, compared to yours, I know, but the (low) technology works. Here’s one for the visually inclined. Visualize clean water with every hair sock you stuff….if you are close to the gulf, go down and help your neighbors. We are with you, and you are not alone.

  2. Hell yeah girl! I’m thinking we need to have a PROTEST: a la NOLA STYLE. A big parade protesting everything BP is doing. We can dress up as oiled wildlife and wear masks and hold signs protesting the use of chemical dispersants, them NOT using hair booms and hay, AND the fact that they aren’t letting Universities conduct independent research. FUCK THEM! Time to RISE UP. Check out these articles, too… eeee…..
    AP: Worries that Oil from Gusher may Spread to Major Ocean Current

    NY Times: Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf

    National Geographic: Gulf Oil Leak Could Gush for Years http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100513-science-environme

  3. Thanks girl! We got hair, but no people to do it. Either the word isn’t out properly, people are too squirrelly about coming to the lower 9th ward, or the magnitude of the tragedy is forcing people into denial (my guess is all 3).

    I checked into it, and the Paul Stamet mushroom thing is not going to work in this instance. The woman from Matter of Trust says that in order to bio-degrade that many hair booms, because of the 9 to 1 soil ratio involved in the composting process, we’d need a plot of land the size of Texas. So instead, I’m just going to look at what I got in front of me, keep stuffin’, and pray.

  4. Summer, you are a total bad-ass and don’t forget it! Your writing and photos are mind bogglingly inquisitive and articulate. Chin up, girl. Keep us posted. Sending love and respect -amybean, ex rodeo clown

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