Ahhh…Mississippi. It seems strangely appropriate to be in the most obese state in the nation on Fat Tuesday AND Super Tuesday for what can only be described as – Super Fat Tuesday. Unfortunately, for our little YERT krewe here, today was best characterized as Super Sick Tuesday. Both Mark and Julie are laid up in bed with fevers and coughs and all manner of nastiness. Somehow I have avoided the bug – maybe I hadn’t been breathing in that Louisiana air quite as deeply this past week (I knew there was a good reason I’d been putting off exercising). So, we have spent the last two days recouping and regrouping at the Best Western in Biloxi – that is, Mark has been hibernating, Julie has been blogging and coughing, and I have been editing and making food runs…and I’m still waiting to see a part of Mississippi that isn’t the inside of this hotel room or the inside of the Ruby Tuesday’s down the street.
Today I had my chance. Around 1:30, having just finished putting together the latest Bag Monster video, I was commissioned by Julie, who has recently taken the mantle of “sickest YERT member” from Mark, to go on a food run for something “soupish”. Mark, whose fever has finally dipped below 100 in the last day or so, ventured out with me for some grub and a side of fresh air. As we walked out of the hotel we were greeted with, among other things, 40mph gusts of unseasonably warm fog and a giant parade of floats with people flinging pounds of flying plastic necklaces. Driving was not an option. Apparently our little Best Western sits nicely in the path of one of the largest Mardi Gras parades on the Gulf Coast. Too bad none of us felt like partying.
After wading through the masses and dodging flying necklaces for half an hour, we finally managed to hunt down the only open food option in town – Waffle House. Happy Super Fat Tuesday! I got some soup for Julie (which took me twenty minutes to deliver to her and another twenty to return) and then enjoyed slightly suspicious eggs and hashbrowns as Mark polished off his chicken noodle soup. We left Waffle House not long after they had started charging the throngs of increasingly inebriated revelers a dollar to use the bathroom – we could see where this was headed and were eager to get back to the relative sanity of our respective rooms.
As I fought my way through a sea of delirious revelers and witnessed the tons (literally tons) of brightly painted beads being gleefully flung through the air into the thousands of outstretched arms, I couldn’t help but see it for the giant redistribution of plastic detritus that it really was. For how long would any of these people keep their beads? A day? A week? A year? A decade? And then what? Undoubtedly into some landfill somewhere for most of eternity. Or better yet, the ocean where it kills all sorts of sea life – that would be a “sea” of plastic becoming a literal sea of plastic. And what was in the paint on these beads that, in most cases, had been fabricated in China and shipped over here? Surely not lead. Right? I could only hope as I saw a small child struggling to carry a neck full of beads that weighed more than she did. It was a truly surreal experience. I’m all for celebrating life and the spirit of Mardi Gras, especially here in an area that’s been so devastated by hurricanes (and, more specifically, am totally in love with much of New Orleans at this point – it truly is the soul of our country), but throwing around thousands of pounds of pointless plastic in a beer-induced frenzy from atop enormous floats tethered to giant diesel big rigs – that’s a petroleum party, not a celebration of life. Sometimes, it certainly seems like we’ve got a long road ahead of us before we even begin to sniff anything like a sustainable existence. Which brings me to the weather.
Oh the weather. I spent most of this evening watching Anderson Cooper covering Super Tuesday on CNN and then flipping over to Jim Cantore covering Tornado Tuesday on the Weather Channel, beside himself with disbelief at the army of warm weather destruction marching as far north as the Ohio river valley in the dead of winter. It’s weirdly funny and alarming to see such a respected weather man with his proverbial jaw on the floor. Thankfully we are slightly south of the “action” down here in Biloxi, but northern parts of Mississippi are getting hammered. February 5th. Tornadoes. Tennessee. Kentucky. Are you freakin’ kidding me? Julie’s mom says when she was a child 50 years ago they used to ice skate all winter long on the ponds near her house in Louisville. Now they have to worry about tornadoes in February. Something is SERIOUSLY wrong. This planet is changing…rapidly. And don’t even get me started about Arkansas. This is the second rash of tornadoes they’ve had in as many months – we were in the area when they got hit in early January. Winter tornadoes ALL winter? DUDE! Excuse me but WTF!?!? I grew up in Kansas and I know from tornadoes. You’re not even supposed to have to think about that stuff until April.
So here we are in America’s Super Fattest state, Mississippi, on Super Fat Tornado Tuesday returning from Mississippi’s petroleum party outside to watch more global warming-induced natural disasters hit Mississippi and wondering all the time if this state (and the rest of the country) will ever elect a president who can really help us deal with all of it. Hmmm. Here’s hoping this country starts connecting the dots.