Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Aceh Ache


You can't outrun the angel of death. –‘less'n you're in really great shape or have a muscle car or a nearby hill......


Is there REALLY an Aceh Province? Never heard of it. A Meulaboh? Pronounced how? Goofy names. How do I know they're not putting me on? Is this scifi or geological/oceanographic nonfiction? How bad should I feel for the drowned Aceh-ans (what ARE they called?) whose existence I never knew of until they were already lost? Should I feel as devastated as the President of Indonesia says he feels? Or should I just SAY I feel devastated? Is this like mourning the lost and possibly mythical kingdom of Atlantis? Do I have a big enough heart to grieve for the Aceh-ans AND the suffering Sudanese AND the Mess o' Potamians? Should I temporarily prioritize and stuff some of my concern for Iraqis, Sudanese, and American welfare mothers and nearly extinct blue whales and concentrate for now on Meulabohans? Or ALL Aceh-ans? Or Sri Lankans? Or Phukettians? Or Phi Phi Islanders? All of the preceding? None of the preceding? One of the preceding? Should I save some room in my grieving heart for drowned islands which have not yet been counted? Estimates of the drowned have doubled in the past few days. Should my sorrow correspondingly double? How grateful should I feel that I'm not a Meulobahan? Did Bush cause this tragedy, too? I'm more than willing to blame him for it even if he didn't.

The Great Earthquake of Lisbon inspired Voltaire to write Candide. Will Sunday's Sumatran Tsunami similarly some day give rise to great literature? If it does, will that in any way redeem it? I can answer THAT one right now: NO. It happened on Sunday, the Christian God's day of rest. Does that mean some other evildoing God did this dastardly deed? What did these folks do to piss Him/Her off? Why them and not me? Aren't I, this very moment, doing, wittingly or unwittingly, something to piss off an equally cantankerous and powerful God? Is it just a matter of time till I get mine? How do the Aceh-ans know there won't be another tsunami tomorrow? Would they stop doing what it is that's displeasing the Earthquake/Tsunami God even if they DID know what is they were or are doing wrong? Maybe He/She squashed them for just being themselves. Maybe He/She mashed them into the beach and sucked them out to sea for doing the RIGHT thing, for pleasing Him/Her. Maybe He/She squashed them for no reason whatsoever.......just whim. And how do I know I'm not just another whim to Him?

Hundreds of German, Swedish, & Norwegian tourists in Thailand are missing and presumed drowned. Some of those were bound to be international sexual predators looking for Thai child prostitutes. Did an Angry God engineer this event in order to nail them? --Like that time he downed a plane full of besotted German tourists returning home from Bangkok? Was this a watery Sodom & Gomorrah number? This time, did he drown all the tens of thousands of others as a cover for his retribution against 1st World Eurotrash sex criminals?

Which major studio will be the first to produce an Irving Allen style tsunami-disaster Summer blockbuster? In which theme park will the new tidal wave ride debut? Will a waterpark beat the others to the punch by converting an in-place surf pool into a tsunami plunge by next summer? How long must a theme park corporation pretend to mourn before breaking ground for its inhouse mega-wave?

I live in a very low lying, barely above sea level, floodplain in the earthquake-ridden Ring of Fire, hard by the Sea of Apathy. There are more faults under my feet than there were wrinkles in W. H. Auden's face. There could be a big ol' quake tomorrow morning, or tonight, or in five minutes, which would sent a huge chunk of Palos Verdes tumbling into the Pacific, thus generating a 500 MPH 50 foot high wave which would roar up Ballona Creek and drown me as I sit here typing this. Should I therefore forthwith & post haste find housing on higher ground tomorrow or sooner? What if I can't afford anything better or cheaper than what I'm in now? Should I remain in place and risk taking the Palos Verdes tsunami right in the face? If I do get flattened and drowned, should I expect folks halfway around the world who never heard of me & my neighbors until we got swept away to grieve our passing? If the Earthquake/Tsunami God is planning to drown/squish me for being who I am, who else should I be? What if I switch identities and he doesn't like the new guy, either? If he's planning to to take me out on a whim, and it doesn't matter how naughty or nice I'm being, should I let down my ethical guard? How do I know my naughty & nice corresponds with His? I could break my ass trying to be righteous and just end up pissing him off more and more because he's got a different idea of what "do the right thing" is all about. Or maybe he hates righteous dudes worst of all. Should I consult Spike Lee about how to do the right thing and about exactly what the right thing is? Or should I ask Spike Jones? Or would I be better off asking Chuck Yeager about the right stuff? Righteous dudes and dudettes Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Timothy Leary, and Tiny Tim are all dead, so I can't ask them. I could ask that Book of Virtues guy what the Right says is right, but he turned out to be a gambling addict. I could ask Rush how to do right, but he's an oxycontin addict. I could ask Bill O'Reilly, but he's a phone sex pig. I could ask Billy Graham, but he's an anti-Semite. I could ask Jesus, but I like to think I already know: What would Jesus do? Drop that cross and run like hell for the hills, even if that hill is Calvary. Should I be afraid, very afraid, or just go with the flow? If only I could afford to live on a hill I wouldn't have to worry about this shit. If I lived high enough on hoghill, I could live any damn way I pleased and no 50 foot tsunami could reach me. On the other hand, the Fire God could roar out of the Santa Monica Mts. and barbecue my ass. The Earthquake God could send my cantilevered mansion, with me and my Swedish au pair girl in it, tumbling down the cliffside. The Nuqular God could vaporize me in a snap of a terrorist's detonator. The Coyote God could eat my cat and then eat me. The Cancer God could eat me from the inside out. The Mugger God could pop a cap upside my funky white head. And the Old Age God is a lock to get me if one of the others somehow forgets to. I can try to cut the odds,/ but there's no getting away/ from ALL of dese Gods. Therefore send not to know for whom the sea roars: It roars for me. AND thee.