EcoPunk #74 - alternate

The Tijuana River is little more than a crystalline stream as it trickles down from the mountains outside Tecate. Trout splash around in small pools and for much of its upper reaches, it's clean enough to drink out of. But then the river drops a few thousand feet and weaves its way back and forth across the border with the graceful curves of a drunk driver. Destination? A sultry, brackish rendezvous with the ever so sexy Pacific. Along the way, it picks up shit, slime and chemical yuckiness from maquiladoras, oil refineries and a few hundred thousand people with too few resources to dump their trash and sewage anywhere else. By the time the river enters the concrete walls of the city bearing its same name, it's one of the most toxic bodies of water to be found anywhere in North America. I mean for fuck's sake, you can smell the water from 40 feet up on any bridge in downtown Tijuana. But just outside the perpetual light of the city, the river takes a sharp bend North into a different world. A thick mat of native weeds and grasses replaces diesel stained concrete and billboards advertising stripclubs and nasty dentists. The sounds of drunk Marine Corp fuckheads and chicle peddling kids are replaced by the warbling of migratory birds and oyster crunching sea otters. A serenity hangs over the small, undevelopable piece of land where the river meets the sea in a brackish estuary orgasm; a serenity I have yet to see anywhere else here in this urban sprawled hell called Southern California.
This particular morning the serenity is particularly intense. It's an hour before dawn and this redneck surfer guy and I are hiking South along Imperial Beach to a series of isolated reefs. The sky is still dark save a few lingering stars, while an ominous mist clings to everything, giving the entire situation a feeling of dark intimacy. A huge stationary low pressure system is stalled 200 miles off San Francisco and is bombing the entire area with rain, floods and huge West swells. It feels like we're standing on the brink of the apocalypse. Red and I share not a word as we slump down the beach dodging clumps of decapitated kelp and the occasional dead seabird. Words, gestures or even anarcho-primitive grunts would break a spell of natural silence and potentially offend our hosts. Those pre-dawn hours are the domain of spirits, specters and powers, those unseen, yet ever present forces who govern every event on Earth and well, bein' a melodramatic, superstitious  dramaqueen, I'm on my very best behavior.
A mile and a half of footprints trail through the sand to our rear as we arrive at the mouth of the river. The sky is just now starting to come alight with another day's solar radiation and my guts are throwing tailslides across my throat. To our West is a series of reefs, affectionately known as First, Second and Third Peaks. The first two are completely overwhelmed by the 14-18' swell. Massive wave after massive wave pitches over onto itself, compressing billions of cubic pounds of water into liquid explosions. Scientists reckon each wave is capable of producing enough energy to power Los Angeles for a week. Me? I reckon each wave has enough power to level a hundred Baptist churches or the White House, Congress and Pentagon in a single fell swoop. Like I always say, "Too many Christians and Politicians, not enough vengeful deluges."
    But the third peak, the barely discernible line of peeling waves on the horizon, is completely cranking for the first time all year. We stare at the river, following its currents to sea. The only safe passage to the anomalous reef is a rip current that rides along the river channel. The anxious nod is followed by a dark smile and we slide into the water. I close my eyes and paddle, letting the water pull me out to sea in the Path of Least Resistance. What a great name for a strict-determinist doomsday straightedge band! I think I'll start it up if I ever quit drinking and smoking and slutting. Imagine, a bunch of tough looking suburban kids in hoodies getting Fs and Ds tattooed on their hands (for Fate and Destiny).
    By the time my fantasy of crew cuts and tough guy lyrics decrying the complete hopelessness of the humyn condition wore off, me and Red were sitting out beyond third peak riding up and down on each two story swell passing beneath us. As always when I'm scared shitless, my mind starts tweaking in order to take attention off the very real threats to its mortality. I think of Blitz and Gloria Gaynor performing a discoi! duet called "I Will Survive with Razors in the Night." A bigger set comes in and I see Red paddle into a wave well over thrice his height. A salty rain pelts me as the wave pitches against the morning offshore winds. Red disappears. I hold my breath 'til I see his redneck ass go flying out the back, a huge grin on his face.
I look back West to see a wave darkening as it morphs from a convex to concave wall of water. Years of learned behavior kick my personal autopilot into gear. I turn, paddle and drop in. My stomach leaps into my nose as I make the initial drop and surge South as fast as I can. I think of my bro Burke carving up skateparks with his dreadymullet poking out from his helmet and how strange it is the Dead Kennedys are touring without Jello and…. I bury my rail trying to do a cutback. Like a deer caught in headlights, I realize my folly all too soon as Fate deals a pair of twos. The wave speeds up as it sucks water off the reef, sweeps me up in its talons and throws me down. I feel my chin and chest skip across the water then, nothing but clouds of bubbles and dark, cold saltwater. Were I a mathematician or other smart person, I would mentally note my speed, height from which I fell, and cumulative power of wave energy to draft some nice equation predicting which direction was up and just how long I'd be flailing around in the water. Me? Not knowing which way was up or how long my poor battered lungs were gonna hold out, I instead drafted the first and last lyric to Path of Least Resistance's  only song. "I'm drowning, I'm dying in cold water and there ain't shit I can do about it." ChuggaChuggaChugga.
    OK. It wasn't that bad. Before I even got to the mosh part of the song, I popped back up. A few more waves pummeled the living shit out of me before I made it back to shore. I plopped my ass down into the warm sand and watched a gang of thugly looking pelicans swoop down along a breaking wave. My whole body radiated that cozy sense of impending doom that can only follow getting your ass completely and totally kicked by something way stronger than you. I looked out at the sea and thought of all the hundreds and thousands of mariners who have vanished into its depths in the past five hundred years. I thought deeply about what it must feel like bobbing alone in the ocean with nothing but waves and water as far as the eye could see; no chance of rescue, no chance of survival. Just the kicking of your legs as they grow heavier and heavier with each attempt to keep the head above water. Nothing but the comfort of inevitable and inescapable death to occupy your mind.
    Sounds crazy right? Maybe it is. But I've always thought that a masochistic relationship with Fate and Destiny was the best way to face the impending clouds of doom who swirl around every moment of our existence. Ever since the Romans drove our honkey ancestors off the land back in the 800s, us melanin-less bipeds have had somewhat less than an honest relationship with the forces of the World. Sure, we have science and technology and religion and all sorts of other false promises of power, but when it comes down to it, we are all completely and totally impotent in the rugged hands of Fate.
    That's why I'm so infatuated with Wild Nature in all its blood stained glory. It is completely and totally impossible to fabricate a realistic cosmology with science, technology, religion and six billion or so commiserating cohorts around us. Only alone (or in very small groups) in the Wild can we ever truly understand our place on this Earth; our place in history and the universe. Sounds woo-woo right? Like I'm sitting here jerking off onto crystals while Yanni plays the sounds of mating whales in the background?
    Sure. But try spending some QT out in the Wild. Drive as far as you can from the lights of the industrial death culture. Run off the path and ditch the trail. Head for that unnamed lake up in the hills or that hidden arroyo back off the third canyon West of the river or that massive body of water lining every border of the US. Dive right in and purge the voices and advertisements from your head. Let yourself go limp as you float in the primordial soup or stretch out under 6,000 years of tree knowledge. Go to the circumpolar regions of Canada and Alaska or the barren expanses of desert in the American Southwest and hike dozens of miles away from the nearest human. Hit the blank spots on the map where no roads exist, where no humyns exploit. Watch the stars and listen to the wind. They may not speak English to you, but with your senses open, you can sense their tireless power as the cycles twist on and on. You'll probably feel incredibly small and insignificant, but at the same time, a part of a much larger organism. It is at once disconcerting, as well as immensely comforting. Try it with an open mind and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
mike antipathy
somewhere on the pacific

PS- Speaking of needs, my dear friend Nohand Dan is locked up in an Arizona State Prison and after three years of being around dudes all the time, is really craving some female energy and conversation through the mail. He's sweet, smart, funny as hell and one of the best guys I've ever met. He also writes awesome letters. You should write him at: Dan Norris #140770  B6 B5, AZ State Prison Lewis, Barchey Unit, Po Box 3200  Buckeye, AZ 85326. You won't be disappointed.