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Under Construction
At a lunch Friday, in Oakland

May 15th, 2005

Pull Up The Covers
Sunday. I read a review of Foreign Babes in Beijing, a book by Rachel DeWoskin in the paper this morning over breakfast, and then a review of The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler on when I got home. The one, Babes, describes, according to the review, the real life experiences of DeWoskin as a Chinese speaking non-Asian American woman working in the marketing department of an American company located in Beijing selling donuts, who landed a role in a Chinese television sitcom (“Foreign Babes in Beijing”) that became the hottest thing around.

China, evidently, going through their economic and political revolution, a revolution more wrenching, one assumes, and no less disruptive than our own out sourced America, became enthralled with DeWoskin's character who plays an American “babe”, working in China, who “steals” a Chinese husband away from his wife and family, a not so subtle parallel with whatever realities and clashes are currently troubling China's rapidly changing culture.

Kunstler, on the other hand, is predicting problems for the good old USA when the world runs out of oil next week, suggesting other flavors of turmoil that are no less unpleasant. Both of these revolutions, one assumes, will make for excitement, Chinese and American, over these next decades.

Kunstler is evidently known for two earlier books debunking the American suburb. I'm not familiar with either of them, but my own suburban phobia warms me to his perspicacity without the need to actually read them. What happens to cities and suburbs when gasoline costs ten or twenty dollars a gallon? People change their commuting habits, one assumes, but we will also have more pain putting food on the table as oil is the base ingredient in the manufacture of the fertilizer we use to grow all that cheap food in the first place (not to mention being required to deliver the food to our cities and tables). And all of those no cost Chinese products being shipped to Wall Marts everywhere float in on oil. Trouble is predicted by Kunstler right here in River City.

Of course who knows? Certainly not I. Not anyone, one suspects, given the many interconnections between goods and services, terrorists and governments, coal fired furnaces and cancer clinics. He's predicting a degenerative slide that becomes pretty horrific by 2020 when people will finally come out of denial and notice the shit hitting the fan is real, but at my age 2020 may be forever. Be interesting to watch, though, providing I can watch it on television safely at a distance. And shoot a couple of pictures when local Oaklanders decide to remonstrate. All this excitement and it's not even nine in the morning yet on a Sunday.

And so we're seeing the end of the world on the horizon?

I am tired of seeing the end of the world on the horizon. It's only in retrospect, I realize, how close we all navigated along the edge of the abyss when I was a youngster: the Cold War, the Cuban Missle Crisis, Vietnam, Three Mile Island. Between the real estate bubble, the twin towers tumble, Bill Joy's prediction of doom and disaster (also by 2020) through run away computers and nano-something or others, not to mention far right born again Christians, fanatic Muslims and the looming shadow of legalized same sex cohabitation, I'm frazzled. I'm going to shoot my pictures, write my journal, send money to the ACLU and pull up the covers. Tonight. Here in Oakland.

The photograph was taken at lunch Friday with a Nikon D2x mounted with a 17-55mm f 2.8 Nikkor lens at 1/30th second at f 2.8 at ISO 320.