I may not be a rocket scientist, but the word on the street is people here in Scottsdale, Arizona don't need to worry about other disasters spreading like contagion across the globe. On the day of the earthquake in Mexico, however, I did some low-tech scientific readings. Based on these readings, the ground was rolling. Later that day, I sat at the bus stop, not even playing my harmonica to mock the honking vehicles like I often do at Scottsdale and Shea. I just sat there, staring, taking it in, in a kind of simple-minded bliss, thinking to myself: "Hmm. This stuff all around me all looks pretty damn solid to me."
But that is falsehood. Everything is porous. Everything. It's all atoms and molecules, brothers and sisters, and the world we see is a mere illusion based on our limited censors perceiving it as stable.
The late Edward Abbey once wrote he lived in Arizona for, among many other reasons, this one: Nothing bad ever happens here. It's solid as a rock. Wrong, Everything is in flux.
Things change. Perhaps because of this: Experts in the field will tell you there are no natural disasters, only human errors. Build by the sea, pay the price. Build on the desert, make sure you have enough water. And in the heat, in Arizona? C'mon man, just look at what happened to this place in June, with temps going over 120 and records going out the window. Live on a mountaintop, look out for lightning. You get the picture. But let's set that aside, for now.
Nuclear war is a kind of cheap answer to this question of immunity from the apocalypse. Mostly because of its unthinkability. There is no rational reason for their use, since mutually assured self-destruction is always going to be the posture. But a nuclear accident? Yeah, that's out there. So are acts of terrorism with nuclear materials. Worrying about that, though, is the job of highly paid paranoids in the fear-is-security-industrial-military complex, and I'm just going to let those folks stew in their own sweat, hatred and self-loathing of all of the mosquitoes out there looking to bite us, hitting America where it ain't.
Arizona is, nevertheless, about as safe as it gets in terms of all thing militaristic. The economy depends on the military. War is Arizona's lifeline, courtesy of the U.S. government. I won't bore you with the stats. But from end to end, this state is armed to the teeth, with everything but a navy. Air assets. Ground assets. Space assets. Probably even men-who-stare-at-goats assets. If war comes, the Southwest is bank.
In addition to that, for example, just Scottsdale alone is loaded with human shields. The international elite mutton here like locusts. They drive drunk, do their coke, bring their slave women here. It's party, party, party in Scottsdale for the uber rich. Which is what inspires this little sermon, I suppose. Watching their dance of indifference on these days when earthquakes, hurricanes and all the rest are turning the planet inside out, I ask myself, what do these people know that I don't? They are building a new Egypt in Scottsdale, and the architecture is state of all arts. The masters of the universe, as Tom Wolfe called them in "Bonfire of the Vanities," have big plans for Arizona. They have access to all the data. The ears of the governments and the corporations. The run the big money seas as they swell and burn. Why?
Well, that one thing not being considered is this: Human error. And arrogance. Incredible arrogance. See the greed? Yep, arrogance.
So I know this couple. Two of the smartest, hardest working, motivated, tuned-in people you can possibly ever know, and they are ready to book, as in flee Phoenix because they are completely convinced the gig is up ... in a matter of days. They are getting survival gear. They are dialing up both mobility and wireless techno. They are thinking about food and water and where is the best air to breathe when the shit goes down. Their conviction is infectious. And I look at this and go, well, where do you run, really, when you don't really know what's going to happen from moment to moment, much less tomorrow or the next day or month or years to come. I think about such films as "Mosquito Coast," with Harrison Ford taking his family to some far off place in South America, all geared up to build their new Jerusalem. All I can think is, you wanna take all of that off-the-grid American know-how and take it where, to make what part of your lives and the world better? With that kind of approach, aren't you just bringing the Beast with you?
But like Roland Emmerich, who did all of those disaster films like "2012," "San Andreas" and "Independence Day," I will now consider several Arizona-based scenarios because hey, it's fun to think about.
Numero Uno: Did you know the San Francisco Peaks, mainly Sunset Crater to the northeast of Flagstaff, are still active volcanoes?
Numero Dos: Public officials in Flagstaff live in fear of what might happen to the downtown area if a 100 to 500 year flood were to come, since even during the monsoons right now the amount of water running through there is unreal.
Numero Tres: The Grand Canyon. Period. One big gash in the earth capable of doing anything, at any time, it wants. Floods. Earthquakes. Dinosaurs or new races crawling out from beneath the Earth. Anything.
Numero Quatro: Native American legends tell of biblical floods. It is glued to their beliefs, and even if some of it was morphed into by the Spaniards and the Jesuits "civilizing" the Southwest. They say the white band on top of Superstition Mountain is from that flood. They say the Apache Mother landed in a little hollowed out log after the great flood in Boynton Canyon, outside Sedona, Arizona.
Numero Cinco: Dinosaurs. All over the place. Bones. Tracks. Dead. Quite Suddenly, it seems.
Numero Six Six Six: Trump.
Numero Seven: Solar storms. Let's just say the same kind of solar storm that hit America in 1859 struck again. Lights out. Electronics bursting into flames. Even paper caught on fire. Imagine the Valley of the Sun with known of its wonder-tech in working order. Fountains running on electricity, done. Traffic lights, dull, leading to panic and gridlock. Looting. Shooting because the place is loaded with both guns and economic disparity. The polarities of social and political angst are just as on edge in the Valley as it is in Los Angeles or New York. A powder keg. Take away that one thing holding it all together, electricity and communications, and, well, could get pretty wild around here.
Numero Eight: Water. This is a fucking desert. When is this place going to get serious about its usage, now that yet another huge influx of refugees are headed here after the torments on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico?
Numero Nine: Aliens
Ten: The Great Wall. Interesting thing about walls. While in Mexico, heading north, they are mere impediments to be gone around. However, in Arizona, going south, We the Sheeple aren't so well-trained in getting through them, if, for any reason the need to go southbound were required, en masse.
Yep, This One Goes to Eleven: Boy, Arizona is really becoming such a diverse place. People from all over the world come here. In fact, I think I caught a cold from one of those people who came from someplace else. Good thing it wasn't anything worse. Like some zombie plague or anything. Whew!
OK, that's all for now. Personally, I like what the Buddhist monks once told me. There is no need for an end-of-the-world myth or story or fable or prophecy. As long as we are at one with the Creator, all else is irrelevant.
Happy dancing, Scottsdale.
Douglas McDaniel is a graduate from the University of Arizona, where for one fall semester he majored in creative writing, mostly writing poetry. In fact, the only "A" grade he got at that school, other than for flag football class after breaking his wrist, was in poetry. A grade given by poetry teacher John Anderson, who said, "Every poem you write should be in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Now shut up."