Pins and Needles


EarthSourceMedia Reports for December 9th, 2008

Pins and Needles

For those who depend on EarthSourceMedia, we apologize for missing a few daily blogs, but there is good reason; EarthSourceMedia is on the road for a 2 month whirl-wind tour of these United States, currently reporting from Gallup, New Mexico. The ESM RV -or the ‘Skacciabong’ (skasha-bong) as it is known- is sited at KOA Campground in Navajo Nation, weather calling for below zero and 4″ of snow. Currently it is 60 mph gusts and snowing heavily. We’re headed for Florida via Red Bay, Alabama, but expect to be in San Diego for the January 21st meeting of the Regional Water Quality Control Board to warn them about the consequences of the EPA allowing the City of San Diego yet another 5-year waiver from section 301(h) of their own Clean Water Act. Complicating matters, the San Diego chapter of the formerly environmental group Surfrider Foundation apparently signed some retarded agreement with San Diego to never fight the waiver. Further complicating things is the fact that I and my California Ocean Outfall Group (the activist arm of EarthSourceMedia) have not, nor would we ever, sign any such agreement.  -ESM

On with the show-

Needles, California:

Many folks from Southern California talk constantly about their next trip to ‘the river’. By ‘the river’, they mean the Colorado River, she of the dwindling waters, lost to developments in 5 states, and polluted by PG &E with Hexavalent Chromium, or Chromium 6, as Erin Brockovich could tell you.  As a matter of fact, last year, an underground plume of the nasty stuff was observed by monitors to be passing the last checkpoint well before invading the river, which supplies drinking water to 5 million people in Los Angeles. No wonder Edward Abbey’s characters hated PG &E so much in his book ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’.

Of course, to Southern Californians, ‘the river’ means nothing more than a place to drink Budweiser, drive their racing boat drunker than a sailor, and yell out things like, “Wooohhhhhhh- show your tits!” In this context, I managed to visit the area during the merciful ‘off season’, when only the tell-tale litter, chipped cement curbs and billion-plus beer bottles offered mute testimony to the kind of savage ignorance detailed in the last ESM blog. I set up the campsite for the evening and took the dogs for a walk. Needles is an interesting area. Situated on the California-Arizona border, the land is nothing but stones, rocks and boulders. No soil at all. The bushes, -few and far between- are of the heartiest breeds. With two dogs to a leash, and a leash in either hand, we trudged along toward the once-mighty Colorado to do our duty and sneak a peak at the agua. The first sign that something was amiss was the sound of jingling glass, such as that of the broken variety. I looked down in time to see my dogs shuffling through an inch of broken glass particles of every size, shape, color and kind!

“Over this way, whoa, whoa..”, I called to them. certainly didn’t need a bunch of difficult paw pad cuts. We zigged this way and zagged that, up a hill and down a slope, over a rise and down a gully, but to no avail- there was nary a square foot without shards of pointed broken glass- this, the lovely desert of Edward Abbeys beloved Arizona. I dreamed back to the rear cover of his immortal book, which said, “Oh my desert, yours is the only death I cannot bear”. The late afternoon sun shone low on the horizon, sparkles betraying a desert smothered in a sea of glass. A tale of a thousand coyotes licking their paws, a hundred thousand shards of pepsi, coke, and 7-up.

It wasn’t ’till we returned to the RV that it all dawned on me; I had seen the tell-tale signs- tire tracks over, across and through the most beautiful areas, the most sensitive of habitats. The final clue was when I saw the sign on the fence saying, RV park ends here- no trespassing’. On the other side of the wooden fence that carried the sign, the rocky floor was literally covered in broken glass, while none was in the park. Bad for tires, of course. And precisely that- bad for tires. Those motorized maniacs, three and four wheel weasels, internal combustion ball-busters, must have driven these old folks absolutely crazy. “Ahh, Betty, isn’t it beautiful? Just you and me and the quiet desert songbirds singing their-”

Browm! Browm! Broom-broom-Browm! Vroom-Vrowmmm!

“What in Sam Hill’s tarnation..? Hey you kids! Get outa there, can’t you see it’s Sunday and people are tryin’ ta-”

Breeeeen! breeeeeen! Broooowm-browmmm!

…So I walk into the ‘Wagon Wheel’ restaurant and order breakfast to go, and notice a shirt the old lady waitress is wearing. It says, : Welcome to Needles California, Known for Absolutely Nothing’. I say to her, “I know what it should be known for- broken glass! I have never, ever in my life seen more broken glass anytime, anyplace. But I think I know why.”

“Oh yeah, and why’s that?” she asked.

“Because of the Off-roaders. Everybody hates ’em so much, they’re willing to throw glass all over the place. It probably gives ’em flat tires!” Further strengthening my theory was the fact that the glass was of all kinds- broken coffee cups, glass window panes, bottle-bottoms, everything. People were tossing that stuff regularly in what appeared to be a concerted effort to make the place unrideable. And even the enviros (like this editor) knew that the Off-roaders will destroy everything over which they traverse, so what did it matter if you wreck some of it- anything’s better than squealing, peeling tires!

“Yes, that’s why they do it alright. But over at our place, they throw nails! Do you know how many tires my boys have gone through?” she admitted. Yikes, I thought. “Solid rubber”, said a man seated nearby- “Why ain’t them boys using solid rubber tires then?” He flashed me a quick smile. Well, for us here at EarthSourceMedia, I guess the moral of the story is, it’s a fairy tale when folks try to tell you that off-road ‘enthusiasts’ are the majority, that everyone loves to ride on the environment. No, they turn out to be a very hated minority- so despised that people who love the desert -and other people who just love peace and quiet- hate those dam things, those four-wheel widowmakers, those rough-riding spinal injury machines, those ‘make-sure to make short work of shore-birds’ life shorteners. To all of you off-roaders not yet in the emergency rooms of America- here’s a toast to you! *Crash- smash- tinckle*tinckle*tinckle*.

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 For EarthSourceMedia, I’m joey racano saying, “goodnight, and go with grace”  -ESM   


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Tags: navajo nation, shore birds, off road vehicles, colorado river, emergency rooms, spinal injury, needles, california, motorized vehicles, shore bird habitat, edward abbey, arizona, koa campground, gallup new mexico, florida, red bay alabama, surfrider foundation, epa, clean water act, san diego, regional waterboard, ocean, outfall, environmental group

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