Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why do mollusks hate our freedoms?

Par for the course, the 100-year drought and looming water catastrophe for the metropolitan Atlanta area, is turning into a political mud fling (no pun intended). They did this and they did that, they said this and they said that. That’s the cream that is rising to the top. Meanwhile, Lake Lanier is dropping 1.7 inches per day. Rains are forecast for tonight, Thursday and Friday so we shall see if a drop of cool water will fall on us.

All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water,
Cool water.
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry and souls that cry for water,
Cool water.

Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water, verse 1

This problem has been brewing for years, long before I was born and possibly before you were born. The problem can be read about in James Dickey’s novel Deliverance, it can be seen in the distinct shift in Georgia politics since the flawed Governorship of Joe Frank Harris and it can be told when you talk with a person who lives in Georgia regardless of what town or city they live in regardless if they are native or transplant. The problem, to be blunt, is hatred, hurt feelings and selfishness. We are all to blame, native Georgian and Yankee transplant living in Buckhead. All of us are to blame and no one wants to tell the truth about it. I am to blame as well as I have been apathetic to the fights even though I do not waste water.

The story should really start back in the post-war days of the mid and late 1940’s. The south as a whole was still in the process of coping with being an agrarian society that was converting to an industrialized society. The major cities of the south such as Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, were all growing and basic resources were needed. Birmingham, along with Chattanooga, were the great industrial cities of the south, with steel being king. TVA was creating electricity for every type of manufacturing plant you can think of, and the horrendous flooding of the Tennessee River was a long ago trouble that only your Granny remembered well. Atlanta and New Orleans at one time fought backroom deals and pulled every old boy that could be found into the network to get the Federal Reserve Bank. Atlanta eventually won and got the bank but the bad feelings from the fight are still felt.

The night are cool and I'm a fool each stars a pool of water,
Cool water.
But with the dawn I'll wake and yawn and carry on to water,
Cool water.

Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water, verse 2

Atlanta’s future growth was tied to two things, water and electricity. Atlanta was out of the TVA grid so Georgia Power was tasked with ramping up projects to make more electricity. Water could be provided through a reservoir system, which could also have the side benefits of creating hydroelectric power and provide a new middle-class with recreational facilities. Land was surveyed, families were chased away and before the 60’s arrived, Atlanta had a reliable water supply and power generating capabilities that would last for decades of growth before new plants needed to come online.

Quite literally, Atlanta had positioned itself as a city with growing room. The city had the utilities in place to support the massive population of today long before it even had a million residents or before the Interstate Highway System had snaked it’s way through the city. City leaders, businessmen and politicians recognized this early on and the big push was on. The catchy slogan came out, Southern Bell ran more and more wire out into what was then known as the suburbs and under the gold dome of the state capitol more and more funds were shipped to the metropolitan Atlanta area for projects tied to economic growth.

Keep a movin' Dan, don't you listen to him Dan,
he's a devil not a manand he spreads the burnin' sand with water.
Dan can't you see that big green tree where the waters runnin' freeand it's waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool water.

Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water, chorus

The construction of the I-285 perimeter roadway is the embodiment of what Georgians have felt for generations. There are two Georgia’s, one in the city of Atlanta (Inside the Perimeter, or ITP for short) and one that comprises the rest of the state (Outside the Perimeter, or OTP for short). Old festering grudges have built up over the years. It has been “our way vs. their way” on both sides of 285 for a very long time and the resentment for a long line of real or believed slights has deepened.

In the meantime growth in Atlanta has skyrocketed beyond what anyone had envisioned. The city’s infrastructure is unable to handle the load. In some areas such as the storm water and sewerage systems, the advanced age and condition has been known about for decades but has only been addressed in recent years but is still not fixed. The land use issues have escalated between landowners and local/state regulators. The claims of overbearing laws and regulations are shouted whenever a developer is not allowed to completely cover acres of land or a homeowner is fined for cutting down trees. When real estate developers are told they cannot create massive infill housing in older, established neighborhoods they claim interference from government bureaucracy.

Whenever the serious problems have been discussed and brought out into the open the old and tired chants were given once the cost of fixing the problems was told. "We are taxed to death! We can't keep paying OUR hard earned cash to keep that city afloat." "Why should Georgians pay for Atlanta's luxuries. If they need to fix their system, let them pay for it." "Why should I not have control over my own future and give Atlanta the control over my business, my residential area and my zoning laws?" "No wonder Atlanta has so many problems, it's run by nothing but blacks. Whites moved out to the suburbs in the 60's and 70's and those cities are growing nicely." Yes, we have heard it all and they have said it all. It's the same old excuses, the same old stories and the same old lines they have been saying for more than 5 decades.

The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,
Cool water.
And way up there He'll hear our prayer and show us where there's water,
Cool Water.

Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water, verse 3

Our massive over-development has reduced the amount of land able to absorb rainwater and our water table is not being replenished as a result. The over development is not centralized in Atlanta it covers the whole state. Storm run off is increased and is funneled into the Chattahoochee with pollutants such as oil, fertilizer and pesticides. No water restrictions were put into place until the crisis loomed. There has never been a water conservation and awareness program in the state and no tax incentives are given to home and business owners who do conserve this precious resource.

Now, a triple whammy has hit us. We are in the midst of a 100-year drought and predictions of a drier than normal winter lies ahead. Our growth has taxed the capabilities of Lake Lanier to supply us. The last hurdle is two species of mollusks, which inhabit the down river areas of the Chattahoochee before it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. The Army Corp of Engineers is bound by federal law and federal mandate to supply enough water from Lake Lanier to maintain the species with a specific flow of water every day. Now we have the chants that little old ladies will go without water all because of a couple of stupid muscles down in Florida.

Dan's feet are sore he's yearning for just one thing more than water,
Cool water.
Like me, I guess, he'd like to rest where there's no quest for water,
Cool water.

Sons of the Pioneers, Cool Water, final verse

So here we are. Living through an event we have no control over, the drought; and living under conditions of our own making, a water crisis. The muscles in Florida are endangered in part because of the low water conditions created by Lake Lanier’s construction and other water grabs along the path of the Chattahoochee River. Lake Lanier was constructed to control flooding, create a water reservoir and generate electricity. The people came to the area Lake Lanier supports with no strings attached and they have overloaded the system. Now that a real emergency is just around the corner whom do we blame? The muscles.

Why do mollusks hate our freedoms? I need a drink of cool water.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The skinheads have their foot in the door -- slam the door.

Sometimes memories can come back and seem so real that I can taste sweat and blood in my mouth or smell diesel fuel exhaust on a cold dark morning where any sound rings like it’s inside a glass bell. When it happens an event will come to me in flashes with brief moments of visual and tactile clarity. A flurry of movement and I’m on the ground, a brief moment where I can see a flattened beer can on the asphalt and I can hear the sound of air rush just before the big Doc Martins’ begin stomping me. Another flurry of movement and the sensation of being pummeled followed by a vision of the hair on the side of a young man’s hand, a young man no older than me, just before I sink my teeth into the fleshy part of his hand and the pinky. I feel the resistance of his flesh and with the next two kicks I feel my teeth sink and embed deeply into his hand. Once my teeth have solid bone between them, I smell copper and then remember a flurry of arms and wails as I let go and they leave me under a bright and noisy light.

I remember lying on the ground with two sharp pains in my chest and side. One sharp pain when I inhaled and one when I exhaled, two pains with every breath. Each time I breathed I could feel the sensation of my breath being taken away by the pain. It felt like my side was cut open, but it wasn’t; it was the two freshly cracked ribs scraping flesh and muscle from the inside. I could see my breath and hear the idle of a garbage truck in front of the dumpster behind a business. The diesel smelled comforting to me, almost as sweet as honeysuckle, the diesel meant someone sane was there to help me. An older black man, older for me anyway since I was only 20 and he looked to be in his late 40’s, leaned in and asked if I was okay. His truck scared them away and from his cab and headlights he saw the final moments of my beat down. A half hour later I was in an ambulance and a few hours later I would be in a white duty van, being taken back to the ship with lots of questions awaiting from the duty officer when I arrived.

Yes, I remember skinheads.

They never went away, folks. They have always been with us; the last 6 years of xenophobia and Muslim hate have brought them converts. Now they feel emboldened and they are coming soon to a political rally near you. Stormfront, Aryan Nations and White Supremacists of all stripes are on their way to infiltrate and stand behind Presidential candidate Ron Paul. For the first time since Ross Perot ran for the office in 1992, we have a major not-by-the-books candidate, one that has something Perot never had; experience with the machine of Washington politics, and he’s gaining steam. The problem is the skinheads are out to wreck the party with their support.

It’s easy to say, “Well, I’m not racist and I don’t prescribe to their beliefs and supporting Ron Paul doesn’t mean I’m one of them or support them.” That sounds good but the truth is when you find common ground with groups of extremists as fucked up as the skinheads, it’s time to break that common ground and push the freaks to the gutter where they belong. It’s time for Ron Paul, and more to the point the Ron Paul supporters, to tell the neo-Nazis to go fuck themselves under threat of beating the holy living fuck out of every last one of them. I’m not a violent man, but I am all for beating skinheads shitless.

My experiences with these inbred shitheads were two fold. One was that they loved to show up at punk shows to see if there were any “easy pickings”. Easy pickings were either confused kids that were vulnerable to their recruitment. The other was people they could fight with. I had many physical scrapes with them over the years and only once, the experience I opened this post with, did they do real damage to me. The other area where I saw them was with the Klan. On more than one occasion did I run into Klansmen who were out doing their thing in packs, like wolves. Both the skinheads and the Klansmen have one thing in common. If their numbers aren’t good at the moment, they turn into pussies and won’t dare say shit even if they have guns or knives. Once they see they have the numerical and size upper hand, they’ll start the taunt and the beat down always follows the taunt. It’s like the playground in the 3rd grade on steroids with roid rage involved.

I’m not a large man; I stand all of 5’ 7” and weighed about 150 lbs back in the day, all of it muscle. But I have always “looked” like I can handle myself, which I can, and when they saw the discolored calluses on the ridge of my knuckles back then they looked at me differently, they assessed the situation and my skills more seriously. They always knew I was more trouble than was worth it unless they had a numerical advantage over me.

In the worst beat down I ever had in my life, I was surrounded by three of them, when I was alone and stranded after seeing a Minor Threat show. My old Dodge pickup died as I was leaving and I was forced to walk all the way back to the ship. I knew I was in trouble when I heard a low idling sedan cruising up behind me and low hushed voices inside the car. I stopped, stood my ground and in the end the fuckers might have sent me to the hospital but I can at least guarantee that some dumbass, if he’s still alive, has a God-awful scar and some nerve damage in his good hand, thanks to me. Wasn’t worth it, was it you fuckers? I got my licks in too.

The skinhead movement wants to prey on our frustrations with everything. They want to take advantage that we are frustrated by the lack of action by our government when it comes to immigration and border security. The longer it goes unchecked and the more angry we feel, the better the conditions are so they can start busting skulls unfettered and uncriticized by the good people of America. They want us to become so tired of the bullshit being done to our government that we are willing to jump on the same bandwagon as them when it comes to supporting a Presidential candidate. I’m not going to act all buddy-buddy with those fuckers and I hope you will shun them and point them out for the racist scum they really are.

The White Supremacist and Christian Identity movements have desperately wanted to be viewed in a more mainstream way for a long time. The conditions in this country have gone so far in the toilet that good people are now willing to lie in bed with a bunch of flea ridden shitheads just to get some change out of their government. Folks, if you lie with dogs, you will wake up with fleas. Don’t let the skinheads have a peek at the inside of the mainstream. Shoot them down and expose them whenever you get the chance.

To any skinheads out there who don’t like this post; go fuck yourselves. Fuck the Goddamn skinheads and fuck their bullshit ideas.