Photo essays of visibly distressed landscapes in the urban American West. Our health, and our landscape, is being destroyed by the toxic components of the air pollution we generate. These photo essays, centered mostly in Santa Barbara, CA, and Portland, OR, serve as stark reminders.
Behold a modern American city named after
the Patron Saint of Imminent Doom, but more fitting to a town tied to cash
flow: Eminent Doom. Santa Barbara has its vulnerabilities, and to put the word
imminent before doom is to imply a suicide cult. And though that may be a part of our
story, but we don’t know yet. Let us see.
Anyway, this story is for those that
tend to reject hard facts in favor of soothing lore.
Yes, let us see.
Feeling a bit fatigued from our hike around downtown Santa Barbara, we sat on a
small patch of green lawn underneath an avocado tree just behind the Arlington Theater. As we leaned back to
catch our breath we heard behind us, two loud thuds.
“What the Hell?” we yelled. And saw two ugly and disfigured but large hard
avocados that rolled slightly as they settled into the grass.
“Good god.” We said as we looked at each other in amazement.
Up above us was the leafless crown of a tall avocado tree, where bulbous fruit hung from bare branches. Which is odd because avocados normally grow and ripen in
the microclimate of dense leaf foliage.
“Something is screwy here. It is wrong to have heavy unripe avos fall
to the ground from a leafless tree.” One of us whispered.
“No kidding,” Someone replied. “Holy Azote, the avos are smoldering. I
feel heat like they were charcoal.”
“Also,” I said, “As we can see, there are many dead leaves among the
manicured plants surrounding the trunk of the tree. Some force very strong has
caused this botanical mess before us.”
“Speaking of charcoal, see that narrow palm tree trunk, over there on
Chapala Street? You can see that the side of the trunk facing vehicle traffic
has turned to cinders and plugs of charcoal.” I pointed out. “The traffic dust
from all those cars and trucks is full of shards and chunks of caustic
chemicals. That tree might have enough benzene in it to combust on its own. And
the air current here whips that same traffic dust around the building and slam
it into the avocado tree and kills the leaves and chemically burns the avocados.”
“Right, we better keep moving or we could end the same way.” Someone
I carried the smoldering fruit a few blocks to where I lived and hid
them in some bushes near some other specimens.
A municipal entity that worships its imminent doom as it tries to be a
bastion of commercial paradise will malfunction on many levels.
Or so it seems in America, where money and motors reign supreme.