First it was Gustav, which swung wide of Houston but ran right up through the Hub City, where we sat in the dark with our 81-year-old mother while winds howled (they actually did---like a goddamn dog at midnight) and we kept a weather eye on the towering, antediluvian oak in the back yard (which made it through, somehow). Gustav felicitously chose the Labor Day Weekend to come ashore, permitting us the leisure to spend 8.5 hours---we timed it---cleaning the mountains of leaves, branches and limbs it left in the yard. Afterward, we realized that we are old. There was no electricity that Monday night and we slept as soundly and for as long as we did back when we were a hirsute young man and gave nary a shit about anything. The electricity came back on early the next evening, by which time the city had cleared the surrounding streets of fallen trees and debris (they seem quicker on the uptake in the Hub City than in Houston---and this is Louisiana, my friends---but it’s probably just a matter of scale). We felt it was OK to leave our mother to her bridge and books and Turner Classic movies and beat a hasty retreat home.
Then came Ike, and we all have our Ike stories so we’ll bore you no further with ours except to report that the oak that once covered much of our front yard is gone, thanks mostly to our own spindly self and two guys named Jose who had a small tractor with a rusty claw that did not open but was useful as a battering ram. Jose No. 2, who, strangely for a Mexican, was the size of an NFL linebacker, rammed and rammed and rammed in a harrowing, hour-long round of attack and regroup … until, as promised, he and Jose No. 1 had nudged the stump, and half of our front yard, aboard a goose-neck trailer. We paid them the requested $300 in cash (most of the Americanos---white, brown and black---asked for at least three times that), shook their hands and bid them adieu, without inquiring as to their legal status.
Oh—we also must credit the contractors and subcontractors hired by the city to cart away the fallen timber. From what we’ve seen and heard in our neighborhood and other parts of town the haulers have done an expeditious and relatively thorough job (of course, the city’s under a FEMA deadline to receive federal reimbursement, but still … ). This is an example of government marshaling its resources and rising to the occasion, and for that we would like to thank whomever needs to be thanked.
But even this salutary development brings us no lasting joy, for the financial crisis that came ashore the day after Ike (as we in the locality will always remember it) still lurks overhead, casting a dark pall on what should be the cool, crisp, up-and-at-'em days of early autumn. This certainly was the most anticipated, most predicted and most written-about-in-advance “crisis” in recorded history. And the most-analyzed after the fact. In the past month we have read countless stories in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other publications positing this or that cause for the debacle. Each seems to be describing a different part of the elephant for the blind man, and all we feel is the pressure of the beast’s massive, wrinkly leg on our chest.
Then we stumbled across this piece by one Patrick J. Deneen, who writes the second-best-named blog in the
We inhabit a world which we have made obscure to ourselves. The height of our civilization has been to render the world unknown to us. The modern project seeking the conquest of nature has resulted in the imperative that we become ignorant. We know much, but little of substance or based in the reality of the existence we inhabit. We are distant from where, what, and who we are.We read this, heed the resonant bell of truth, and feel our burden lifted. We believe we can make it through without the false comfort afforded by modern pharmaceuticals. At least until Wednesday.
*Say what you will about James Kunstler, and we know he’s an acquired taste, but the man has been dead-on in predicting each stage of the implosion---save for the total collapse of the stock market, and it’s still early---and he was doing it two years out.