Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday's Wash Day

We picked on Monday
Because it's wash day,
And we'll wash
Our blues away.
-- From Monday On by Harry Barris/Bing Crosby
For some months, now, we've come to dread Mondays. That's the day the Pensacola News Journal slims down to a featherweight in its vain effort to survive. The paper "boy" -- who looks to us more like a 65-year old "Trucks Gone Wild" driver in a dirty trench coat -- can't even fling the thing into the flower bed; he just drops it out the window and the paper separates itself in mid-air and flies away to share itself with fifteen neighbors.

Not today. Lots of news today, none of it particularly cheery. Let's wash those blue away:
While the 2009 season didn't officially begin until today, the first tropical depression of the year formed last week over open water in the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina. The formation of this tropical depression should be a precursor for all of us to get prepared for another season of storms.
For all of you younguns' out there who don't know how to read dead trees, Derek Ortt and the PNJ's Hurricane Guide will be useful resources for the new tropical storm season. In past years, Ortt has shown himself to be a sober, reliable, and largely accurate storm forecaster. Unlike the Chicken Little news culture being nourished by Cable TV News, the Weather Channel, Rush Limbaugh, and certain politicians, he doesn't indulge in scare-mongering every five minutes. He just gives the facts, ma'am.
A friend and reader who didn't much like our take two weeks ago on the annual Fort Pickens mob scene called this item to our attention this morning by sending it via email. "At least this article doesn't seem racist to me - does it to you??" she sneers.

In a word, no:
At least 2,000 people, many of them high school students, gathered in the Casino Beach and the Fort Pickens gate areas, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. * * * There were similar problems in the Fort Pickens gate area.

“Teenagers (were) blocking traffic, getting loud and kind of being threatening and intimidating to residents,” Morgan said.

The incident is deplorable. The PNJ's news coverage, this time, is spot-on. This is one of several disgraceful events that typically happen on Pensacola Beach over the course of a year, with a rhythm almost as predictable as the tides. Want a list?

Start with the Mardi Gras Parade, where lots of Bubba Stumblebums set out to prove that mankind hasn't evolved that much, after all, and litter is your friend. Then, there's "Spring Break," when thousands of college students visit the beach to demonstrate the side-effects of testosterone poisoning when combined with an excess of alcohol. The so-called "Mobile Graduation" weekend we've already mentioned. Soon, we'll have the Bushwacker Festival to look forward to, an entire weekend named after a drink mixed with bad music. And, intermingled with all these official 'celebrations' there are the episodic public misdemeanors and felonies by Navy cadets, high school jocks, road rage crazies, drunks, druggies, rapists and thieves.

Knowing the race of miscreants who deport themselves in such deviant ways does not add any useful information. It's the cultural distress signals they send that should capture our attention. Who raised these people to act this way? Why? How should we as a society respond?

We have lots more questions, few real answers. What we do know is that race is no more relevant to true understanding of such events than the hair color, height, or right-handedness of the perpetrators.

Kimberly Blair gets the Pulitzer of the day, as far as we are concerned, for a well-balanced, short, but fact-filled article on beach rebuilding. As well as we know it by heart, it's still hard to read about the brief, expensive, and ephemeral sand renourishment efforts on Pensacola Beach without concluding that it's a fool's task.

Only one quibble. What gives with this curiously passive circumlocution, buried deep inside the article?

The beach has a history of replacing what Mother Nature takes away. Since September 2004, the beach twice has been renourished to replace sand lost during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in 2005.

"The beach" has a history of "replacing" Mother Nature's wondrous works? Here, we've been supposing all along it was developers, business owners, government pencil-heads, chamber of commerce promoters, and, yes, beach residents who were behind it.

If we had a nickle, we'd bet the original sentence read, "Mother Nature has a history of taking away what the taxpayers pour onto the beach."

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