March 29, 2008

Una Noche Oscura: Tonight I Shall Be the Only Point of Light In a Vast Sea of Darkness

lightdark.jpgThey 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
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Me too. I came here in 79 and for a time lived on Queen Anne. Time to go. Prescott AZ? Fairhope AL? Somewhere else?

Posted by: Skookumchuk at March 29, 2008 10:23 AM

Time to discover Cape Ann . . .

I'd say.

None of that sound stuff - Puget, that is - that Seattle features.

We have the honest-to-God thing right here on our doorstep.

The North Atlantic.

Try it.

You'll like it.

Posted by: Everyman at March 29, 2008 10:46 AM

I grew up near Renton. The Portland, Oregon region has somewhat better weather.

Posted by: Morenuancedthanyou at March 29, 2008 2:42 PM

I'm in NJ but we're considering relocating to the South, possibly Georgia or the Carolinas. Better weather, in all the meanings of the word.

Posted by: Fausta at March 29, 2008 3:14 PM

We're turning all our lights on from 8-9pm as well. Hee.

Posted by: Obi's Sister at March 29, 2008 3:41 PM

I moved to Seattle from SoCal in 68 as a lad of ten. While the area has always had a leftist bent from way back, it was of a different sort then. A tough working class leftism consisting of dock workers and fishermen and other blue collar types personified by our Senator Henry M. Jackson. Even then this more muscular liberalism was on the wane, to be replaced by the flavorless, gelatinous mush represented by the likes of Patty Murry, Chistine Gregoire, Greg Nickles, Jim McDermott.
I held out as long as I could as an urban dweller all the while adhering to the lazy conformity of Seattle style liberalism as it developed through the 70's and 80's. A few years on Queen Anne, a few in Westlake then Belltown and I realized I had had enough. Post 9/11 I started reading a little, discovered blogs and found that my lifelong identity as a democrat just sort of evaporated away little by little.
No great loss. I moved to the other side of the Sound about five years ago and have found a friendlier environment for diverse views.
Can't help you with the weather however.

Posted by: anybodyinpoulsbo at March 29, 2008 4:08 PM

Consider if you will, the Texas panhandle. That's the "square" part of the state. The sun shines over 300 days a year, the sky is so clear you can almost reach out and touch the stars, and in a good year, it rains about 20 inches.

Posted by: Deborah at March 29, 2008 5:05 PM

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place by Eric Burdon and the Animals:

In this dirty old heart of the city
Where the sun refuse to shine
People tell me there ain't no use in trying

Now my girl you're so young and pretty
And one thing I know is true
You'll be dead before your time is due

Watch my daddy in bed and dying
Watch his hair been turning grey
He's been working and slaving his life away

We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
Cause girl, there's a better life for me and you.

Posted by: Fat Man at March 29, 2008 8:30 PM

I was born here and about half my time on this planet has been spent here. It's true that only the relentlessly cheerful and those immune to light deficit disorder can thrive in the endless grey. Oh, of course there are the sanctimonious proles of the Puget People's Party, happifying themselves by shoving the rest of us around. Seattle is a GREAT place for them.

Tanning booths and my huge, wonderful family have made it a break-even proposition for me, but I'd hate to see a genius writer/social critic like our Gerard lost forever in the fog.

The oleaginous liberals in charge locally are just the slumped icing smeared over the rain-soaked cake, and moving is a viable way to dump the whole mess. I've been trying for a decade to coordinate a mass exodus from here. At last that may be happening, and it would add to my delight to read Gerard's reports from some other, saner, sunnier haven.

Posted by: askmom at March 30, 2008 7:42 AM

What Deborah fails to mention is that it gets VERY HOT in the Texas panhandle and the wind blows 40 mph every single day.

Posted by: ffeblemind at March 30, 2008 9:34 AM

Alas, there is no perfect place or climate. I have friends who have the means to be "Snowbirds" - Summers in Puget Sound, winters in Arizona. Near perfect, yes? But I hear they had a cold winter in Arizona this year. (Comparatively speaking.)

I try to make do with a coupla weeks in February in a sunnier clime. Gives me faith that old sol is still up there.

It snowed this morning and it was quite beautiful on the trees near mi casa. Something about the purity of the white and the stillness.

From 38 years of blasting through the sky in aluminum tubes, I learned that the weather is what it is, but only you can make yourself miserable.

Would hate to see any conservatives or libertarians who reside here leave. It's lonely enough for us now. And we need to elect Dino Rossi as governor.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 30, 2008 1:28 PM

I think Jimmy J. means RE-ELECT Dino Rossi.

You see, us conservatives can play the Florida whiner card too :)

Posted by: askmom at March 30, 2008 7:39 PM

Utah. Or Idaho. Heck, even northern Nevada.

The character of Utah is in flux right now. I thought the same thing through the nineties, in the first five or six years we were here.

Now is different, though. There is an edge that wasn't there back then.

It's become the norm, this sharp tang of unpleasantness hiding just behind the doings of any given day.

I don't like thinking ahead. But I believe the government stopped doing that years back, so I guess I owe it to myself to keep on looking and planning.

Come on, summer...

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 30, 2008 8:48 PM


Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 30, 2008 9:16 PM

Once upon a time, only a few decades ago, a history of the Middle Ages was published authored by William Manchester title "A World Lit Only By Fire." The vast majority of at least semi-educated people understood why Manchester chose this title. How far we have fallen in so short a time.

Posted by: boqueronman at April 1, 2008 2:27 PM

Ooooohhh! A darkened Seattle. Shades of "Dark Angel," when Jessica Alba was not yet famous or obnoxious.

And where'd you guys dig up a boob-ninny like Nickels, anyway? Man, I thought Bloomberg was a prissy little old lady, what with his trying to turn his entire city into The Cloisters, but Sissy-Pants Nickels has got him beat.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at April 3, 2008 12:29 PM