Thursday, September 01, 2005

I'll write more later today, but suffice to say now it's hard to grasp the enormity of the devastation in Louisiana -- a part of the country I've twice had the pleasure of exploring, including a trip through Houma researching Swamp Thing in '84 -- and the crippling blow that's been dealt by the raw forces of nature. It's been a long time since New England saw anything close -- the flood of 1927 (which I studied at length last year, including viewings of all the extant film footage), the hurricanes of 1936 and especially 1938 -- but we never saw anything like Katrina. New Orleans has essentially been swept from the face of the planet (though reports from the French Quarter indicate that venerable core of the city stands intact), and our leaders are busily downplaying the economic consequences with the same indifference they've downplayed the reality of the wars they've so blithely squandered a trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives on. No joke: as a nation, we should have been saving for "a rainy day," eh?

On the home front, my 19-year-old son Dan called home last night with the heartbreaking news one of his friends had died in an apparent drowning accident. Dan's home with me now, and we're going out for some lunch soon; it has shaken him and his circle to the core.

Just two weeks ago, he was at a farewell party for a friend he's known since age three who was leaving for Iraq; I never thought I'd see my son going through these kinds of things, but here we are.

Here we all are, in so many ways.

The warnings from awake economists during Bush's first three months in office that we would be seeing increasing poverty and Dickensian destitution on a growing scale are manifesting in all corners of our country, Vermont included.

On the most mundane level, it's coming home. Driving the eight or so miles to Brattleboro yesterday, I passed our local store at 1 PM and regular gas was $2.59; I decided to fill up on the way home. When I returned at 2:30 PM, regular had gone up to $2.85. A station in town was closed with "NO MORE GAS" signs up and their pumps blocked off; in a heartbeat, I remembered scenes of the 'even/odd' license plate lines in New Jersey in the late 1970s, the fistfights among people waiting in lines for hours, even days, the closed gas stations one would pass in search of somewhere to fill up.

We haven't learned a fucking thing, have we?

Labels: , , , , , ,