They call it "Rain City" but sometimes it feels like I'm doing time in Oz, and I don't mean the Emerald City. Exhibit A:
Seattle Turns off the Lights To Fight Global Warming
Cities worldwide flip the switch at the same time on March 29
SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels announced today the city of Seattle will participate in Earth Hour this Saturday, joining dozens of cities across the globe that are encouraging people to turn off the lights and consider the small steps that can reduce climate pollution. On Saturday, March 29, from 8 to 9 p.m., Seattle City Hall will go dark, along with the Seattle Municipal Tower, the Central Library and Seattle Justice Center, except for those areas that must remain illuminated for emergency and public safety reasons.
Well, my little house is going to remain illuminated for public sanity reasons. In fact, I'm going to make sure that for that one little hour tonight, every single bulb in my place is turned full on. Damn the dimmer switches, full speed ahead.
For one hour, it will be dead easy for spiritual search and rescue craft high overhead to spot my house. It'll be that single dot down there in the pool of dark, dark Kool-Aid being slurped by the privileged citizens of this city who never met a nanny-state stipulation they didn't like.
And yes, at times like this, Seattle is like doing time. Last week I talked about it with a native who had been here for 20 years. "Exercise. Brisk exercise and vitamin D3. That's the answer," he told me. Sounds like a prison regime to me, especially when the exercise yard is drenched with slush and rain most hours of most days.
Most mornings you wake up in your house that has become your cell and you look out the window with the last shreds of hope and.... nope, the damp gray canvas has been nailed to the sky again.
If you really want to torture yourself, you switch on one of the three NPR stations that thrives in the area and you hear the passionate reminders to everybody to show they are really good people by turning off their lights. More instructions to the inmates on how to behave. And the strange things is that most of the inmates have had their minds so completely colonized, they obey.
Tonight, all across this odd city in the upper corner of the country, there's going to be a lot of people watching their clocks and, at the stroke of eight, turning off their lights. And then.... then they'll sit in darkness for an hour doing..... doing what? Feeling good about themselves and bad about the planet and the future.
How sad really. Sad when you think that for every night except in the last inch of time the whole struggle of humanity has been to beat back the darkness; to increase the light, to deny the night, to take it back. And now, when that has finally - after untold millennia - been done, the fat and the privileged and the preening choose to sit in darkness. Not only that but they elect a mayor who makes it into a civic duty.
It's a strange time in a strange city amongst a strange and spiritually blighted people; a people feverishly plotting their own demise as if they are "half in love with easeful death."
I think of a long ago panel in an obscure comic book which said, "Meanwhile, in the castle, guards carried absurd objects from room to room." I think that and I turn to search the scriptures in the sacred book of Bob Dylan. Ah, there it is:
Now the bricks lay on Queen Anne
Where the neon madmen climb.
They all fall there so perfectly,
It all seems so well timed.
An' here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Seattle
With the Asheville blues again.
The other day somebody asked me why I came to Seattle from Laguna Beach. I answered, as I always do, "I came for love, but after I got here that love left." And I thought, for the first time, "Then why am I still lingering?"
I gotta get out of here. Will the last one out of Seattle do the right thing and turn out the light? Or has that already been done?Posted by Vanderleun at March 29, 2008 8:13 AM