Thursday, October 9, 2008
The state budget boondoggle long ago devolved past pathetic. The stock market and Congress just showed Courtney Love how a real meltdown looks. And Sarah Palin lurks within a swing state and some natural causes of becoming president.
Only nobody around here seems overly itchy. There is a reason for that: The last 20 years, which started with the devastation of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, have provided Monterey County with an Old-Testament-type tolerance for the disastrous.
Floods? We braved a 1995 El Niño that, as one emergency services official put it, turned the highways to rivers, ruined $223 million worth of roads, and destroyed 20,000 acres of farmland– not to mention landslides that isolated the South Coast with 25,000 truckloads of soil and rock for weeks in the summer of 1998.
Locusts? Kids’ play: We managed to cope with an insect made most vicious by the massiveness of its mindf*** (the Y2K bug)– and a brown apple moth that moved our leaders to rain us with sex-inhibiting countermeasures.
Hades-strength flames? Kirk Creek in 1999, the Basin Complex Fire this summer and the Chalk Fire raging right now remind us our fire seasons are an annual odyssey into hellish situations starring danger and loss.
Disease? One genetic predisposition toward war pulled (and still pulls) a number of our nation’s brightest members of the military from the Central Coast’s higher learning hubs to the sands of Kuwait and Iraq.
In short, this is not a land and time for the faint of heart: Our local tides are burping up oiled animals, the sea beyond them is growing more acidic and our fishermen are struggling to make it through the season solvent. On land, the army accidentally burns the bejeezus out of hundreds of acres of Fort Ord hillside– twice (the not-so-“controlled burns” happened in 1997 and 2003). Later, downtown Monterey’s Alvarado Street goes up in its own plume of partially insured smoke after Quizno’s got too toasty.
It’s enough to prevent our population from ignoring tremors where the earth doesn’t open, or so-called tsunamis, or national disasters by way of dryness: Nobody blinked at a 5.4 mover-and-shaker a year ago this month, or the two tsunamis that Paul Ireland, emergency services manager from the Office of Emergency Services, says hit local shores in the last 10 years, or when Monterey County was declared a federal disaster area as a result of low rainfall. We need fully formed Acts of God to interrupt our instant messaging.
So happy birthday, Monterey County Weekly. Your native land’s acceptance for the extreme is something to be proud of. May you continue to live in interesting times– after all, with the menace of mudslides near, the rising ocean and longer fire seasons signaling chaos on the way, it’s all but a sure thing that the next 20 years will enjoy some eventfulness to eclipse the last score’s store of ruin.
(But should your morale tremble like the ground beneath your feet, simply cue a picture of a kitten.)