I live a block from an urban lake on which “personal water craft” are a regular feature; during the summer, it can be like living within earshot of a motocross arena, the growl and scream of two-stroke engines our constant soundtrack.
I’ve never ridden a Jet-Ski or a Ski-Doo but I can understand the appeal. I like machines; I like speed; I have some residual childhood nostalgia for the perfume of old time bus exhaust, that good sweet, high sulfur, black cloud—a touch of which is the magic ingredient in street food, from New York pretzels to roadside Mexican tacos.
Never dune buggy’ed across the sand or ATV’ed through the woods, and those things seem a little more odd to me somehow, but the basic formula is the same:
Hydrocarbs + Speed = Adrenalin
Of course lots of things make you temporarily feel good—and I'll succumb to PC timidity here and specify no particular act or substance—but, both individually and collectively, we recognize that some of them should be avoided anyway. The downside cost, sometimes to ourselves, often to others as well, is too high.
So, never mind the fact that I may be aging into a Hey-You-Kids-Get-Off-My-Lawn! attitude toward my neighborhood and my neighbors, why isn't there more reaction against forms of recreation that are primarily centered around the burning of hydrocarbons?
Lots of reasons, I suppose.
But it seems to me that one of them is the successful perversion of (or perhaps a basic flaw in) the modern tendency toward (ostensible) relativism: you don't judge me, I don't judge you.
I have yet to see people sporting t-shirts or baseball caps identifying themselves as Hydrocarbon-Americans, but it's just a matter of time. Burning fuel is a necessary evil for some; for others, it's on the continuum between fun (which I get) and a fundamental right (with which I take issue).
Yup, here comes the Nanny State and the dour judgmental Greenie.
If it's 1900 and you want to go out on the arctic tundra with a backpack full of high explosives and spend your weekend blowing holes in the ground, well that's an odd form of recreation but, “to each. . .”
In 2009, it's not too much of a stretch to think of the population of the world as living on a shrinking ice sheet. If your idea of a fun weekend is setting off explosions that cause the space we're all living on to shrink, as pieces calve off and either sink or float away. . . It's not Luddite prissiness to say this is no longer just private business, or a values-neutral argument about “lifestyle,” in which the Green Killjoys are trying to bring down the Speedy Exuberants and who's to say what's really right or wrong?
Yes, I am judging the lifestyle and life choices of the Hydrocarbon-American tribe.
Hey-you-kids stop making a racket out on the water! Wanna burn something on the lake? Get a rowboat, a canoe, or a kayak, and burn some calories!
Am I gonna tell your parents?
No, I'm listening to your children: they're gettin' pissed at you for shrinking their ice sheet.
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