By Allen David
WEDNESDAY, MAY 18
When you’re waiting to see whether or not the world is going to end, it’s difficult to categorize the good news from the bad. For example, word has arrived that Hall & Oates won’t be able to make their scheduled Sept. 10 show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage because they are going to be in the studio recording a new album. If the world does not end, that’s a drag—not because of the cancelled show, but because it means Hall & Oates will be coming out with a new album. But if the world does end . . . hmmm . . . guess that’s not so difficult after all—there would be no downside.
THURSDAY, MAY 19
Also, I never got a singing telegram.
FRIDAY, MAY 20
In another sign of our messed-up, blame-game times, Riverside County’s Board of Supervisors declares and impasse in contract negotiations with the Riverside Sherriff’s Association, clearing the way for the imposition of unilateral cuts in wages and pensions for some 2,000 deputies and other public-safety workers. The leaders of the two sides lay out the consequences and you almost cannot believe it. Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Buster says overall compensation to the deputies will be cut by about 10 percent, some through wage decreases, some through increases in the deputies’ pension payments. Sheriff Stan Sniff says his department will have to lay off almost 500 people to close an estimated $35 million budget gap. I mean, what do you think? Bob Buster? Stan Sniff? Can those names be real?
SATURDAY, MAY 21
Wow, they were right! The world really did come to an end today, just as that supposedly wacky set of Christians predicted. Gotta admit, I didn’t expect it. Neither did almost everybody else, which obviously left a lot of finished business and questions. Like, Oprah didn’t get to do her last show—although, honestly, I thought she already did. And we’ll never get to know whether the Dallas Mavericks finally manned-up and won the NBA championship! Was it a waste to spend all that time, money and energy into tracking down and killing Osama bin Laden, when we could have done nothing and gotten the same result two weeks later? Will Bob Buster and Stan Sniff reconcile in heaven? All I can say is, “I’ll be damned.” Don’t think there’s much doubt about that.
SUNDAY, MAY 22
Apparently, we get a do-over.
MONDAY, MAY 23
Construction begins on the first plant ever—we’re talking all of human history, and let’s go out on a limb and say the history of the world, too—designed to biologically remove perchlorate and nitrate from groundwater and then deliver that cleaned water directly into a municipal water system. It ought to make us pretty grateful to live in a time when perchlorate and nitrate can be biologically removed from groundwater. But who can say for sure when perchlorate and nitrate will really start getting biologically removed from Rialto’s water? Anytime tax dollars are paying the bill, people stop giving a shit because the longer it takes the more they get paid, am I right? Don’t kid yourself, it was the price of something that put that perchlorate in Rialto’s groundwater in the first place. The price of freedom? Maybe. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the federal government bought 2,800 acres in northern Rialto to store munitions. But World War II ended, remember? And perchlorate continued seeping into the groundwater for 65 years, essentially because the defense contractors, fireworks companies and various manufacturers who used that land determined that the price of keeping their poison out of our water was way too high—saving that money was worth more to them than our lives. Now there’s a toxic plume down there that’s more than 6 miles long and—if this big plant they’re about to start building doesn’t work or takes to long to get up and running—coming to a kitchen faucet near you. Grateful to live in a time like this? World’s first biological perchlorate removal plant? Except for the past 70 years of human history, nobody ever needed munitions-based perchlorate taken out of their water . . . because for millions of years it’s never been there. When I stop and think about that sometimes I feel like I might as well just drink hemlock. Or a glass of Rialto water.
TUESDAY, MAY 24
And then nitrate. Don’t even get me started on nitrate.