Music We Love

A Good Planet is Hard to Find

"If there's a Hell, this is it."

I WAS a friendly 7th grade student at Precious Blood Catholic Elementary when it happened
when I became obsessed with two disturbing things: (1) Mark Thomson, my drop dead gorgeous 1/2 Mexican 1/2 Scottish paramour one grade younger and (2) nasty old chewing gum plastered underneath restaurant tables. Inexplicably, after being seated at any restaurant beginning around age 12my mind, body and soul would suddenly be seized by a tormenting current of joy and disgust. Joy, because I love nothing more in life than dining out. Especially when the ocean or bean and cheese burritos are involved. And disgust, because the act of sitting down for a meal at any public table grew increasingly unbearablecausing me to unravel from the inside out, Othello-like. On the rare occasion there was a tablecloth present, my anxiety would subside a bit. But like true lovetablecloths were few and far between. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the horror induced when first I learned of our great water holocaust, the biggest singular threat facing mankind right this minute.

As with most pleasures in life, eating out became an icky-blicky double-edged sword. Nothing was ever smooth sailing for this kid. Every happy occasion had to be tainted by some nebulous, free-floating fear that forever threatened my fragile state of mind. I come from a long line of fragile minds. On both sides. This means I could never just walk into Taco Bellorder a bean and cheese burrito, some cinnamon twisties and a medium Mountain Dew, plop my rump in the corner booth by the window and rip into my refried joy, unscathed. No way, no way. There was always some nasty catch hooked into every would-be good time. And the nasty that caught meruining countless middle school meals: vile old chewing gum staring down at me whenever I’d compulsively peek underneath my table in public; dead, stiff whatever the hell it is in a tidal wave of defunct colors and flavors that some phagocyte smooshed up there months, perhaps years earlier. This scenario never failed to unhinge me whenever I dined out. It was a living hell.

Here we are today: Friday, April 22, 2016. It’s been decades since the agony and the ecstasy that was the 7th grade. I’m grown up now, as friendly as ever and still not a Catholic. I’d like to think that I’ve recovered from my obsession with the obscene leftovers of strangers. And I had. I had until that terrible day when I learned of something far, far worse than gobs of Juicy FruitThe Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I’m not gonna lie, hearing the description of it made my dreary life flash before me like a 5 watt bulb. 

For those of you who don't know, the GPGP is a massive (and I mean colossal) vortex of global trash that has collected in the Pacific Ocean gyre halfway between San Francisco and Hawai’i. Over time, the force of ocean currents have moved it all there. And get thisit’s twice the size of Texas. TEXAS! Not Rhode Island. Not Colorado. Motherfucking Texas. And not so much a dense carpet of trash as I had initially imagined, the Garbage Patch is more like a gigantic trash soup gurgling with every piece of floating filth a fertile mind could conjure. In particular: water bottles and other disposable food and drink containers as far as the eye can see. Resent estimations have it at more than a hundred feet deep and growing. What’s worsethe whales, dolphins, sharks, birds and fish that call the Pacific Ocean home are mistaking the debris for food (especially the red-colored debris) and actually eating itmaking it a diet of certain death for them. Scientists and researchers have cracked open the rotting carcasses of countless creatures strangled in the mess and found their bellies overflowing with everything from disposable lighters to bottle caps. O Lord. The bottle caps. These (virtually indestructible) objects, when nobody bothers to recycle them, often maim and even murder God’s children of the sea

Plastic, humanity's "miracle material", is one of the most abundant ingredients in the Garbage Patch. In particular, the raw feed stock of plastic known as polymers or “nardles”. Nardles are tiny translucent pebbles hatched in manufacturing plants throughout Texas and Louisiana and are chemically-treated to be hard, soft, colorful, colorless, ultraviolet or shatter-resistant. In this form, before corporations have melted them into disposable drink containers and bottle capsnardles make up 10% of all the plastic found in the ocean. The world’s largest landfill ain’t even on the land. It’s out there. In the water. What's worse, the GPGP is but ONE OF FIVE of these massive ocean landfills worldwide. What's so bad about plastic? you ask. That’s an excellent question and one that everyone should be asking. The simplest answer? Like certain pesky viruses, it never goes away. Over time it gets smaller and smaller, yes, but forever remains plastic. When we die, we decompose. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Not plastic. And yet, we keep making more and more and more and more of ita staggering 300,000,000 tons more per year. Then we wonder why so many loved ones get cancer, Alzheimer's, etcetera. Because disease and death are the end result when tons of plastic doesn’t get recycled, floats down storm drains and merges with our oceans (and their inhabitants). Bodies of water that cover 70% of this exquisite little planet, our home, Mother Earth, GaiaIn the end, there’s no getting out of this onewhat we don’t recycle, we’ll probably eat. And what we don’t eatthe whales, dolphins, sharks, birds and fish surely willpromising them a painful death. 

Now is that something you want to let happen? 

In many ways I wish I'd remained oblivious to this floating, bloating hell on earth. The mere knowing it’s out there makes me wanna drown myself in sorrow. This whole dirty water epidemic is like suicide on the installment plan anyway. But, by the same token, I’m glad I know it exists. Ignorance, after all, is the greatest sin. I’m the kind of gal who’d rather know the truthno matter how awfulversus stumbling drunk through this toxic dream. I need to know what’s really going on so that I might do something to change it. Before it’s too late. For the children's sake.

When I first learned of this travesty on some idle Friday in April, I found myself flash-dancing back to 1985: a tempestuous year when something inside would force me to flop over sideways and closely examine the underside of Bob's Big Boy tables from here to the Salton Sea. Me making myself face the horrifying truth wedged in petrified patches an inch beneath my unhappy meal. Except this is different. This makes me feel utterly swindled. Heartbroken. Scared shitless. Contemplating thisour great environmental holocausteclipses all that chewing gum and even the awful night in Indio when I learned that Mark was dead

So behold O! monks and monkettes, this is my parting truth for you: Like true love and tableclothsa good planet is hard to find. 

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