Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dusky Bonneville

Most of the night Nelly and I were going to be running the room alone and even in a town as small as Key West you can't run a police/fire/rescue communications center with less than two people. It's hard enough some nights with just two dispatchers but we still can't find enough people to keep our communications center fully staffed so needs must. So in order to get a break at all I had to leave work before 9pm which meant the sun had just set, and the city, coming on to summer, looked lovely. Casa Marina.Earth Day comes at a poignant time for me, I was twelve when the first one happened and I doubt I will be around for the eightieth Earth Day in forty years from now. I am not planning to live much past my Biblical three score and ten, so when I learn that by 2050 the Southernmost Point may be underwater I hope that everyone else's children are ready to cope. I know I'm not.
I have no idea what my carbon footprint is but I suspect most Keys residents who drive improbably vast cars have less impact than do I with my 43mpg Bonneville that I ride incessantly. It has 37,500 miles on the clock since I bought it in October 2007, which mileage doesn't include driving or riding my wife's Vespa ET4.
When I was a youngster politics was the name of the game and changing the world was the game and until the need for material wealth overwhelmed all other considerations my generation made some important changes. And failed on a lot of counts which leaves one vulnerable to the same charge we leveled at the ones who went before, a lyric that went something like "... boy, you lot sure balled things up for us!" I find the old Navy warehouse on Truman Waterfront evocative. It should be gone soon, when the city commission stops wrangling over what to do with the 34 acres they were given by the military. A park, a gift to developers for a rich yacht marina, an old folks home, a water slide, you name it, they are at each other's throats over this. I like it as it is but entropy is bad I am told.
This ship was built in the Great Depression and is sitting out it's second Great Depression in retirement, soon to be a new floating museum. How lucky we are to have these night skies, and to be able to ride around under them helmetless, in shirt sleeves at nine o'clock at night in April.
I have no idea what climate change will bring to my life though no doubt it will be worse in the delta of the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh where brown people will drown as always, in their tens of thousands to general indifference during regular monsoon season. In the face of the dire predictions of youthful agitated activists it seems rather absurd and more than a little ironic to start pondering the value of an electric motorcycle at my stage in life. Pollution reduction depends on wealth and wealth has shrunk, even though that simple truth is not being accepted or even acknowledged most places I go. How are we, the newly poorer, to spend more money reducing an invisible carbon foot print? It is a conundrum, and when you throw the oil of politics on the scientific bonfire you might as well give up altogether.
Simonton Beach boat ramp. Will the floodwaters menace us from here?Environmental activism is promoted nowadays in Key West, amidst the clanging unrecycled beer bottles and screaming two stroke scooters, used as toys by the tourists. I used to think the green living idea was a good one but it is a status quo organization, a rich person's pastime, a conscience salver. It isn't a group dedicated to the paradigm shifting of my more youthful days. We don't see the promotion of solar electrical generation. Keys Energy would be threatened. Using rainwater cisterns to reduce our dependence on the South Florida Aquifer would wreck the Florida Keys Aqueduct's billing cycles they think so we never mention such environmentally sensible radicalism. We ride middle class bicycles and don't promote bike paths (they would cause controversy God forbid) and we drift along in the same old manner driving a Prius instead of a Pontiac.
Earth Day- may it make you feel good as you daub body paint and worship Gaia and commit your all to saving this or that. Me? I'm riding my Bonneville, drinking my rainwater, recycling, composting, growing my vegetables and developing my sense of ironic detachment. And I play with my camera to enhance my feeble attempts at seeing the world through the eyes of Art.God, I love my internal combustion. And in a country that is seeing essential services cut back and the mantra of no new taxes entrenched in the public psyche I am glad to see Key West, the improbable trend setter, forging ahead with no talk of cuts, no talk of unbalanced budgets, no threats of changing the status quo. Indeed, Fire Station Two may get a whole fresh building for the 21st century, and after they twice saved Duval Street from burning down this past year, you'd think they've earned it. At public expense.My night time walk is out on the White Street Pier. The sun has set, it's closing in on ten pm and time to return to work, at my unionized, taxpayer funded job, sitting up all night and being grateful for the chance to work in a world where nothing seems certain except perhaps, that more people will be alive to call 9-1-1 and ask for help. Other people's misery is my job security. Key West at dusk is a lovely place, but it wouldn't be the same without the dead dinosaurs that power my ride around town to see it and photograph it.

"How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!"

I'd have gone easy on the "beauteous" had I been William Shakespeare, but Aldous Huxley's soma? I could use some of that.

"All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects."

Happy Earth Day earthlings.