When Communities Erode

07.12.13

Thanks to William for another spectacular guest post. You can follow him on twitter at @willibaldoea

We live in a time when no one wants to remember. We pretend we are where it starts. Look at the way we live—we build houses on cliffs, on fault lines, in the path of things, and when something happens, we don’t learn history, we build it again, right on the same spot, bigger, better… Fallout accumulates. What we’ve got now is a blend of fact and fiction that we’re agreeing to call reality.

– A.M. Homes, This Book Will Save Your Life

There’s a fantastic article titled “From Coast to Toast” in the August issue of Vanity Fair. It looks at two communities, one in Malibu and another in Nantucket, that are facing serious erosion problems and the increasing possibility of disappearing for good. I’ll let you read it for yourself, because I think it’s a fairly interesting and involved piece that merits attention and thoughtful consideration. Besides, I can’t tell you what the right answer is.

What I can say is that moments like this reveal something that goes beyond who’s rich and who’s not, which the debate here appears to be about. Admittedly, the debate is also about man and Nature, and we can’t seem to untangle the issues long enough to know what the most pressing facet of the problem is. Or what the most pressing facet is at this moment. That’s the real problem, in my eyes, and also the saddest part about this entire debate.

I can’t help but think about The Bling Ring, a film that’s simultaneously lauded for its beautiful direction but critiqued for its lack of anything resembling a moral stance. Sofia Coppola lingers among the teenagers she depicts in all their delusional and raucous splendor. She doesn’t say much about them, but her lingering instills a sense of discomfort. Or at the very least it did in me, because I recognized those teenagers. They were the same ones I went to school with who are now detoxing from heroin and cocaine addictions, removing tattoos they grew to regret, and dealing with the legal consequences of lives they put on the fast track long before the time was appropriate.

I can’t say my friends made the wrong choices and that I made the right ones. That all remains to be seen, really. What they do with their lives from this point forward, and what I do with mine, are the only true indications of what successes we’ll be able to claim later in life. So as Coppola did, I invite you to linger with the people you meet in the Vanity Fair article. Don’t judge them – because you’ll want to, and there are two sides that are equally understandable but also infuriating.

Just sit with them. Listen. And hope, for everyone’s sake, that this is something we can figure out.

If you want my opinion, I’d say let nature takes it’s course. It seems like the only humble approach possible, and maybe it’s what will ultimately save us from ourselves.

 

Fact Checking: LA Beaches are to Remain Fun

02.9.12

Last night I saw a story on the KPCC Website entitled No fun: L.A. county beaches to levy $1,000 fine for throwing footballs and Frisbees. Because KPCC is my local NPR affiliate and a trusted news source I assumed this was true. KCAL which is a less trusted, but trusted site nonetheless ran a similar story.

I trusted these news sources and became agitated. Los Angeles does NOT need to lose any of it’s tourism dollars. We cannot afford this sort of debacle. So I picked up the phone.

Tony Bell who is with the LA County Board of Supervisors assures me that county is not banning football or Frisbee playing on the beach. The real story is that there was an existing law in place that banned all sorts of play on public beaches and that it was recently revised. Essentially this is a modification to an existing law wherein IF you are playing ball or frisbee on the beach and the ball is repeatedly hitting people on the head or presenting danger the Lifeguard can issue you a warning — and then, if you don’t stop, you could receive a fine of up to $100. — NOT $1000!

A local news outlet ran the story without fact checking and the public was led to believe that there would be a thousand dollar fine for kids playing football.

I called the County Offices, less as a blogger and more as a ticked off citizen, starting with “I’m pissed.” and I got the above explanation. Further there will be motions on Tuesday that will eliminate some of the poorly worded language so the public can be assured that the beaches are, in fact, for families.

In reality someone presenting that sort of hazard could probably also be arrested for battery.

It seems that this is much ado about not that nothing, and in the future I will be sure to fact check even when reputable journalists break the story. I cannot over emphasize how disappointing it is to have been the first person to call the city and ask for details.

On Tuesday there will be a motion to reword some of this.

The following is the text of the ordinances that seem to be confusing are below. Out of context they appear to be rather Draconian. In context they appear to be written in legalese, which as we know is not meant to be easily deciphered.

UPDATE: Here’s another blogger who gets it.