Gone, Gone, Like the Snows of Yesteryear

“The ugly fallout from the American Dream has been coming down on us at a pretty consistent rate since Sitting Bull’s time — and the only real difference now […] is that we seem to be on the verge of ratifying the fallout and forgetting the Dream itself.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

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Turn around, puppy, she’s standing right there.

If you’re lucky in 2016, maybe you’re better off than your parents or grandparents. Maybe you got a better education, or are able to own a home. Maybe you’ve got a pension (ha, Google it). Maybe you’re simply able to negotiate a stroll without being harassed, beaten, tazed, or straight up shot dead. And maybe your own kids will be better off than you are. That’s what most parents hope for, anyway, but look at the rising costs and disappearing opportunity for nearly everything, and that hope might feel increasingly desperate.

Those of us lucky enough to be U.S. citizens have a heritage that’s the envy of the world. Millions of acres of wild land and clean water are bequeathed to all of us as a happy accident of birth, or the fortunate benefit of negotiating a long and costly immigration process. And in the absence of property or money or opportunity, we can at least pass this inheritance along to our kids, as long as we’re vigilant and the well isn’t poisoned.

And, you know, if it isn’t stolen by greedheads like the American Lands Council and their pet politicians, who are attempting to force the divestiture of our public land and water to the states, where they can be, or in some cases must be sold off to private interests who can keep your kids’ dirty feet from soiling it ever again.

Screw that. Start here, and here, but don’t stop there. Raise hell. Don’t be forced to tell the kids that you’re sorry, but you just didn’t do enough. It’s easy to type words about heritage and the home of the brave, but that doesn’t amount to a hell of a lot when they’re willing to set the dogs on you.

Florida is a burning trash heap, but it doesn’t have to be

It should come as no great shock to anyone that the state of Florida, is well, a state of disgrace. We’re not just talking about my good buddy Florida Man lobbing alligators through drive-thrus, or leaving his kids in the care of strippers at Thee Brass Flamingo while he goes on a meth binge; rather, we’re talking about the governance, or rather, malign negligence of the state government when it comes to enforcing, or even just giving more than a passing glance to critical issues like water quality.

The three main pillars of the Florida economy are agriculture, tourism and real estate development. Basically, 2/3rds of the state economy depends on attracting people to the state temporarily, and then convincing them to stay. What’s been going on lately is that entrenched agriculture interests, like Big Sugar and the muck farms around Lake Okeechobee, have been royally fucking the Florida Coast. And by royally fucking the coast, Big Ag is not doing the other two pillars any favors. Normally, issues like water quality should stand on their own, but being Florida, you’ve got to screw with the Mouse and the Developers to get any attention.

The Lake is basically an agricultural sewage system now, and due to decisions made, christ, like 75 years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers, the outflow from the Lake doesn’t pass through the somewhat cleansing system of the Glades. Giant canals are dumping fertilizer and runoff contaminated water directly into rivers and estuaries, causing algae blooms, fish kills, and making life in those areas miserable. Peruse social media and images of algae rafts and fish carcass choked waterways are more common than they ever should be.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and there’s something you can do to help. Go to http://gladesdeclaration.org/ and sign the petition. We’re joining up together to help get state funds to restore natural water flows out of Okeechobee through the Everglades.

Helping Florida out, well, it helps all of us out.

 

Good Wholesome Head Wounds

There was a day when some of us scampered at the rusty, toxic, helmetless edge of the void, turned out there by our parents with just a few instructions, most of which amounted to “shut up and don’t monkey around.” We formed feral bicycle gangs, waded in storm drains, blew up stumps, set things on fire, built tree forts and fell out of them. We were targeted by Mattel and the like with colorful happy diversions, some of which turned out to be highly flammable and/or bad if you swallowed them.

After a few squealers suffered Thingmaker burns and wrecked the fun, the grownups finished their drinks and put out their smokes and decided to look out for us. Let’s see where we are now, shall we?

Jarts

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The Danger: skull piercing, and your brains will squirt out and I’m not cleaning that up.

Result: BANNED

Clackers

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The Danger: whacking yourself in the face or the crotch. Also sometimes they shattered and shrapnel went everywhere. Big whoop.

Result: BANNED

Sticks

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The Danger: blunt force trauma, eye injury, gun/sword/lightsaber wound (true, ask any kid).

Result: not BANNED, but it might just be a matter of time and blood loss. Still the integral component of a game of Stick Quiz.

Rattling Around in the Back of a Pickup at Highway Speed with an Iron Rake and Some Loose Firewood

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The Cordwoods head home after Family Fun Day at Broken Bottle Park

The Danger: occasionally a kid or two would bounce out and you might not find them again. Make some more.

Result: mostly ILLEGALED

Fishing

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The Danger: drowning, skin cancer, hypothermia, fire, dehydration, tetanus, unemployment, bottomless pits, lightning, shark attack, bear attack, tweaker attack, misanthropy, salmonella, choking, chafing, gunfire, stabbing, swamp ass, stank foot, alcohol poisoning, strangulation, blindness, marriage failure, road food, terrible coffee, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, leeches, lampreys, bats, rabies, rabid bats, poison ivy, potty mouth, criminal prosecution, lies, exaggerations, terminal smartassery, low self-esteem, butthurt, blogging, slack, and general sketchiness.

Result:

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WELP!

Free the Collect!

“On the lower end, two fair-sized streams drained the interior. One rose from a series of springs that poured forth from hillocks around today’s 20th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Saponickan band living there called it Ishpetenga. It flowed southwest into the Hudson near the mouth of another trout stream. This one had its origins in a deep, fair-sized pond where Worth and Centre streets now cross. It flowed northwesterly, almost in a straight line, and became the course for today’s Canal Street. The pond was known as The Collect. The Dutch name for this trout pond was derived from one of its beaches, which they which they called Kalk Hoek – Chalk Point or Chalk Hook. It was given the name because the early Dutch settlers came here to collect the shells of freshwater mussels, which were ground and added to the mortar used to build their homes. When the English took over management of Manhattan in 1664 they assumed many of the Dutch words already in use for geographic features. Their inelegant pronunciation of Dutch turned the monosyllabic word “Kalk” (or “Chalk”) into the dissylable “Kal-leck”- hence, “Collect.” The pond’s name had nothing to do with collecting water in the area, as some writers have suggested, although it did have two small feeder streams. For decades, in the 1600s and 1700s, it was the source of drinking water for all of lower Manhattan’s residents. The Collect and its associated streams contained brook trout as late as 1740.”

– from Brook Trout by Nick Karas

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…and a shovel and a fly rod!

Wrung Out and Hung Up

Since ice-out the whole world’s brimful of water and overflows with each passing blow, it seems. Down low the trillium are blooming with wet feet, but nobody can tell whether the Hendricksons have read the memo, and we’re all standing around at the pull-offs looking sideways at each other and not daring to complain about too much water. When the sun finally emerges it’s instantly warm, and we groan and stretch and make note of the fattening buds on the branches, and oh did you see the stickjam blew out up there by the Wall Pool. Yeah, the pool that’s had a standing wave in it for weeks, right, and we’re off to have a look at this meadow or that little feeder, splash-crashing through widening potholes full of the same caramel-colored water that’s now carving off the oxbow up by Bill’s place. It’s enough to make a guy quit drinking just so he can start again.

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Still no biscuit?

On the way home there’s a guy in red-checkered flannel way out in his yard, reclining in a lawn chair next to his burn pile and smoking a cigar. Damned if he isn’t going to burn something. Viking points for hanging tough, flannel man, might not rain tonight.