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4.19.2010

a broken heartland

We drove on streets that never ended and I learned that it's true what they've been saying.
I've heard about that place of open freeway, asphalt jungles. People told me about it, and to some extent I live in it, but at least I'm surrounded by mountains, and escape is only minutes away. The Truckee might be broken, crippled; but at least it's flowing. At least birds still nest on its banks; fish still swim in its channels. A bike ride can get you out of the city. But I've heard about other places. Flat boring places. Places where strip mall follows strip mall follows strip mall. Where the only foliage sprouts from concrete sidewalks and manufactured landscapes. Trees are planted where they shouldn't be planted. Grass grows where a tough little sagebrush should be. And humans are sucking the aquifers dry. Where nature is an after thought.
I heard about that place. I always wished that it didn't exist, but it's tangible and it is there. We drove through it in the dark last night, thank god. If we had seen it in the daylight I think I would have cried.
People live in places like that. In fact our society thrives in those places. What a disgusting manifestation of our values. Huge malls and the same store, after store, after store for miles. People get there therapy there. Shopping has turned into a cure-all. Like a new pair of shoes could ever cure a life completely detached from Earth's reality.
The only distinction between cloned town after cloned town was a sign post.
It's like the only landscape was what man created. Stop lights and Wal-Mart signs illuminated the night. There were no stars, the moon was a shadow.
Somehow we've managed to pave over southern California. We've given her natural beauty a grotesque make-over and it's about as ugly as Heidi Montage's new set of boobs. It is supposed to be a desert, but instead they've turned it into some kind of freak oasis.

And then we hit 395 and nature started coming back. It finally started to look like how a desert is supposed to look. Barren, scrubby shrubs, rolling hills and rocky slopes. Little trailer towns every now and then. Ponderosas and Jefferys. An antelope. Stars. A shiny moon.

We drove for miles. Snacked and slept. And I thought about the audacity of human creation.

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