my new Cajun brother Dug

In oilpocalypse by summerburkesLeave a Comment

I have a new Cajun brother. His name is Melvin, but his name is Doug. But his name is “Dug.” I met him in Grand Isle, Louisiana, two days ago.

He and I quickly realized we must have been separated at birth from the same litter of stray dogs, and were meant to be reunited. He said that I might not be from here but that I’m “pure coon-ass.” (Which is the Cajun word for Cajun, and is an awesome compliment for an American-mutt white girl to receive.)

Dug and I have been running around in his truck for the past 2 days, trying to save the world with crab traps, hair, pantyhose, rebar, zip ties, empty plastic bottles, and floaties.

Dug took me on my first pirogue ride yesterday, around the marshes and shrimp-homes we need to shield from the Black Death. So small and flat of a boat is a pirogue – it’s like riding a unicycle. It works muscles you didn’t even know you had. I brought my vintage white paper parasol to keep my over-sunned head out of the 95-degree afternoon, and that accidentally made it one of the most picturesque moments of my life

“The world,” in this instance, is Grand Isle, LA. I voyaged down here with a documentary crew, talking for the cameras about other aspects of the “spill,” and that was all very educational and fun. (Well, as fun as something this sad can be.) On mission for that project, seeing and documenting all this terribleness, we went to Big Daddy’s bar and talked to some people and that’s when we met Doug. I mean Dug.

All the fishing accessories in the Blue Water souvenir shop are on sale. Come to Grand Isle and exercise the lump growing in your throat! Just eavesdrop on any conversation about people born and raised here, losing their livelihoods, heritage, culture, land, food, business, and summertime fun…

Dug drove us around in his boat all day, dropping science as we snapped pictures of hundreds of oily birds. He spoke Cajun English and told us all what’s what, and charmed everyone like Jiminy Cricket. He secured us a place to stay for the night — a giant house right on the beach with a Scarface poster in the master bedroom. I was the only one who stayed. After everyone got all dehydrated in the sun and cranky with each other, they left, but not me, I’m a DPW/Gate desert rat and I know how to eat a little bit of salt, drink coconut water, and get OUT of the sun and sit in the shade on the beach in 95-degree heat … specifically, the shade of the toxic dumpster BP won’t “let” us use to dispose of hair boom along with their waste. Anyways. Dug and I had work to do.

We threw one of the llama / alpaca booms in the water in the slip where Dug's boat lives. It's still floating there, collecting the oil that has just started to gather in the corner of the dock during high tide

We threw one of the llama / alpaca booms in the water in the slip where Dug’s boat lives. It’s still floating there, collecting the oil that has just started to gather in the corner of the dock during high tide

They’re burying the toxic waste from this oil “spill” over by the Florida Everglades. Did you know that? So it’ll go back into the ocean AND the water table, eventually. Instead, they could incinerate the waste down the road in Port Fourchon, where it would still tax the environment but not nearly half as bad, I don’t think.

Or they could get Billy Kidd’s rotary-kiln incinerator, sitting in Columbus, Mississippi, and bring it down here to incinerate everything in a closed-up environment where the hydrocarbons can’t escape back into the air. Why don’t they do that? … Why don’t they do anything that makes sense? That’s the question on everybody’s mind.

Dug left just now to go see about getting his money. He’s owed $9,000 for the work he’s done on the boats for the past 2 weeks for the sickeningly-named “Vessels of Opportunity” program, whereby BP employs fishermen who don’t have anything else to do, because of BP’s negligence, to sit around on standby for an hourly wage. Or if you’ve got a nicer boat, you get $1200 a day to cruise around and check the boom the little boats laid.

Some vessels are out in the water, of course, laying boom and skimming oil into pools to be sucked up and refined and sold by, you guessed it, BP. But they and the workers all clock out at 5 or 6pm, whereas the oil, she don’t rest. If I were running the crews on Grand Isle beach, I wouldn’t have let my workers dehydrate all the way to the ambulance stage (saw it twice already) — I would order a passel of klieg lights and generators and make them clean the beach at NIGHT. It’s the only humane thing to do.

Here are three of the 10 boats in this particular harbor which were sitting around “on standby” yesterday. The luck of the draw in this BP cleanup: Collect hundreds or thousands per day for nothing, or scratch and bite to get an Opportunity for your Vessel. It’s who you know

Let me make a vast understatement: There are not enough people running up and down this coast to contain this spill AT ALL. Meanwhile, giant ships wait around on standby and cash their checks while self-starter guys like my new brother Dug have nothing to do but ride around town looking for their money, and checking their oyster beds in the marsh for oil, which is a hidden enemy thanks to all the Corexit.

Now in Grand Isle, oil is everywhere, coming in with the tide, through tiny little channels that lead to big marshes and fields, both watery and domestic. This is what’s being ignored by the media — while they blather on about loss of heritage, nobody is even trying to protect the marshes — the “office” of all these fishermen, as it were.

Dug should be catching live bait right now to sell at the shops, and feeding his family with oysters and mullet and redfish and whatever else he fancies that day.

Hundreds of snails have jumped from the water out onto the grass and are holding on for dear life, trying to get away from the toxic sludge. Dug says he hasn’t seen this kinda behavior in snails since he was a kid, when the oil industry was polluting these waters the first time

There are three restaurants in Grand Isle, and usually, beaucoup tourists every summer. The Tarpon Fishing Rodeo, a big deal, has been cancelled — the fishing part anyway — they’re still gonna throw the party, with bands and food and a “Ladies’ Rodeo” where they “fish” for rubber duckies in a pool. The tourist dollars are what keep Grand Isle afloat (har) year-round, and those dollars are nowhere.

The media and out-of-town workers can only eat and hotel so much … the rest of the island’s summer houses stand empty. Why are there only three restaurants in a tourist town? Because everyone else who lives here eats their dinner from the ocean and marshes they call their home. AND “office.”

Step one: Find some oil coming into the marsh. Bonus if it’s on Exxon Street. The oil had not come into this culvert yet until that day, and needed to be blocked before it ran under the street and out into the giant marsh across the way where herons were fishing

Here’s the solution: Supertankers in the Saudi Arabian spill picked up 700 million gallons of oil when it spilled out over there. Logically, the oil should float to the surface and get removed AT THE SITE. Freelance pump trucks are waiting on the shore, and barges that accompany them can pick up the oil.

Freelance carpetbaggers are waiting for the gold rush, and they can pick up the oil when it floats to the surface … which it is NOT doing because they are injecting the Corexit “dispersant” into the oilcano at the source, so it spreads everywhere and hides from the cameras at the bottom of the ocean, instead of floating up to the tankers that could suck it up and fix the problem. They want to sue the ex-CEO of Shell Oil for opening his mouth about it. This is the talk around the coffee maker at the Grand Isle Port Commission today.

Step two: Zip-tie four booms together. If they’re made of human hair and not alpaca, they will sink, so you can zip-tie empty water bottles to the corners and the middles to keep them afloat. Contain the oil and sop it up with alpaca in the middle of the square. Don’t touch it though; call someone official.

Grand Isle is the bottom edge of Louisiana. This might all be in vain. If a hurricane comes and raises the water 10 feet above where it sits now — which is what happens — the oil will be everywhere. But if it doesn’t … if somehow this oil is stopped, contained, and cleaned up, the channel filtration systems Dug and I are trying to MacGyver might save at least one or two oyster beds on Grand Isle from contamination. And that’s really all we can do right now.

The Grand Isle Fire Chief thanked us for helping to contain the oil before it spread out into the acres and acres behind us. A BP supervisor, who also lives here year-round, told us to call him again if it happened. They weren’t mad at all. They’re trying to protect the same place we are

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