Henry Rollins: How, and at What Cost, Do People Live in Yuma?
Nothing is out of reach of human exceptionalism. We can do anything we set our minds to, it seems, except - if we are to believe a few bought-and-paid-for scientists and some very angry pundits - affect the planet's climate. That's squishy, elitist, liberal crazy talk, but everything else, like forcing species into extinction (they weren't man enough to survive!) - just watch us kick that ass.
Humankind's ambition has cost the Earth plenty. Of course, the planet has much to lose, but it does have all the time in the world to wait us out (literally). I believe we will check that last box and eventually snuff out all human life. The last person standing - probably a lawyer, or Madonna - will have no choice but to laugh.
A few days ago, I stood on the shores of one of humankind's greatest wereallyImeanREALLYfuckedthatup examples, the Salton Sea. Wow, the stench coming off this man-made puddle of fetid sadness was dizzying. Of course, there were houses. Hey, it's beachfront property - come for the pelicans, stay for the dead fish.
This was the warm-up, if you will, for the two days I spent in Yuma, Arizona. Every single person I met there, and I met quite a few, was friendly and sturdy. I don't think I have seen that much ruined human skin in my life. The place is a damn frying pan! In the afternoon, the streets were almost empty, and hardly anything seemed to move. It made me wonder how much of the Earth would be inhabitable by humans if they were not armed with air conditioning.
As punishing as it was, I was happy, coated in multiple layers of sunscreen, just to get a different perspective on my existence and its awesome fragility. I was reminded of the extreme heat of Iraq and Mali that I had experienced in the past. The seemingly endless amounts of water I consumed made it clear that, without well-considered shelter and supplies, this weather would kill me quick.
It occurred to me how utterly ridiculous we are. A lot of human life is such a torture fest. Many of us wreck our bodies and the environment with each passing day. Don't get me wrong, I am quite a fan of Homo sapiens and have the John Coltrane records to prove it, but damn, we are the crudest, most obnoxious critters in the food chain. Blotchy, stunted, melanoma magnets with the balls to redirect rivers and fracture the Earth, still believing there would not be a price to be paid.
If you took all the land that humans could live on as naturally as a wolf or a bear, it would hold a few hundred people and even then, existence would be tenuous at best. Of course, we're in freakin' Yuma!
By the second afternoon of outdoor location shooting, I noticed that I was having difficulty forming sentences. 116 Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit! What the fuck was I doing out here? The same thing I do anywhere else - existing at great expense.
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