A good friend forwarded this blog, which spurred an angry response from me (below). Angry at the reporter, not the friend. I did a little editing of my original email for mass consumption (some profanity, kids).
Used to be a town
by Jasmina Tesanovic (Link here)
We just missed a twister. We saw its black cloud in the sky, lit by lightning. In Louisiana, some miles after Cameron, a small tornado has toppled trees into the road. Police blocked the highway, workers cleaned the branches away and cool people sat on the porches, watching it all happen. Mostly old people. Why do people stay in disaster sites, living under the volcano? Why do they watch?
We enter the tourist center at the border of Louisiana. We want to go to Holly Beach, we say. Holly Beach isn’t there any more, says the clerk, politely smiling.
But yes, the road to Holly Beach still exists. We see this: tall trees snapped in half, house-trailers blown by the hurricane, landing in the most improbable places, upside down. Dead cars strewn like corpses, rusting anywhere, mangled as if crushed by specialized machines. Wind-shredded American flags. Where beach-houses once stood there are only bare poles. Instead of churches, there are the statues of saints… The trees which survived the storm have weird wind-tattered shapes. New leaves are growing out of their trunks.
Marshlands stretch all around us. My American friend is devastated. He laments loudly: the future belongs to this indestructible marsh-grass.
The houses we see, what’s left of them, have roofs patched with blue plastic, and some, even people living in them: ten months after the storm… why didn’t they rebuild the roofs?
Some empty sites still have street numbers and names: and hand-lettered signs that promise, we will be back…
As for the beach itself, oh well, it has seagulls, brown mud, a lot of fish jumping high in low water in the blazing sun. A massive heat wave is striking the USA.
The graveyards have no fences left, the churches have no windows. These people here are all Catholics, and the state of Louisiana is divided into parishes, not civil counties.
I have seen dead towns before, destroyed by war, not nature. My friend argues. The oil of Louisiana is pumped and produced all over these desolate marshlands as if nothing else matters; fossil fuel is like heroin, selling like crazy since the price is soaring worldwide, and bringing the damage of climate change back to the marshland. The refineries smell of pollution, putrid fish, putrid capitalism.
I am interested in people, not things. But there are not many people around here any more.
The new upright billboards, beside the older broken billboards, urge the local people, who are nowhere around, to sue their old insurers for the homes and possessions they have lost.
The mass grave of a city appears, gated by barbed wire: RITA DUMP SITE. It used to be a town, Cameron… the heaped debris of the dead town is colorful and futuristic… made of all sorts of materials, without shapes, without traces.… What did these objects used to be?
A big house on wheels is blocking the interstate highway. This huge metal mansion simply cannot fit over the narrow bridge. The tide of traffic grinds to a halt. One of these days the world we know will disappear. The rusting wheels and wires and tortured trees and marsh grasses will survive. Unlike the pyramids, this debris will not testify of a lost civilization, but of our lack of one.
My Reponse :
Jasmina Tesanovic and her Bruce Sterling are not invited to Vermilion Parish. What the hell does she know? Nothing. Uses the hurricane devastation as her pass to get on a soapbox and preach about how shitty “our” civilization is. A good rule of thumb is that anyone who comes from a culture that participated in ethnic cleansing in the last generation or so foregoes their right to comment on other people’s culture.
The future belongs to the marsh-grass? The past and present of Cameron parish was and is marsh grass. The city of Cameron her “friend” (cute to put up a straw man…’I didn’t say it, he did’) lamented inhabited 900-1000 people. Most likely her “friend” is her husband Bruce Sterling, who is supposed to be some hotshot Sci-fi writer.
There were 0 casualties of this hurricane. Fifty years ago a similar hurricane hit the same spot, and 400 people died. Remember this parish has about 5000 people living in it, and it is the size of Rhode Island. I think that is a testament to the improvement of “our civilization” if anything. Back then no one blamed “putrid capitalism” for the “climate change” that caused the hurricane. Another exercise in self-flagellation. I know, I know, we should regulate energy use for Americans, like France, so when a heat wave hits thousands can die. Or maybe we should have slaves build pyramids, or perhaps we need ethnic cleansing like they do in Serbia.
The people down there don’t need her or Bruce Sterling’s pity. And the oil companies are going to rebuild the town faster than the government will. There has always been a glorious lack of civilization in Cameron parish. The oil companies brought some semblance of civilization, in the form of paying jobs, to people who are used to roughing it. A few people down there can and do still “rough it”…no electricity or phone, fish all day, etc.
She also doesn’t mention that over half the parish is wildlife sanctuary, but that would mess up her thesis, wouldn’t it?
Anyway thanks for sending this, if only to give me a chance to rebut.