Sunday, April 5, 2009

SLICK MOVE: The petroleum industry’s foiled plot to keep me from Atlantic City

I know it was you. I saw the letters on the side of your van as you sped out of the Lighthouse parking lot. They quite clearly said “A.P.I.” or “L.N.G.” Maybe it was “B.E.E.L.Z.E.B.U.B.” Whatever the acronym was hardly matters, because your little plot to keep me away from Monday’s public hearing on offshore oil has failed.

On Saturday, I made a 5:30am hail-Mary mission toward Buxton in hopes of squeaking in a last session before my three-day blitz to AC for the East Coast Offshore OCS rally. Despite several checks, I was foiled; the wind had knocked the swell down and my would-be barrel-fest down south became little more than a big U-Turn by the Lighthouse.

That’s when I saw you, right when I was checking the groin (I love saying that). As you raced away, I assumed you were merely down for a meeting with the NPS and Audubon, handing off a little payola to keep people off the beach and laying the groundwork for future goal of polluting the coast. But you had more insidious plans - - plans that involved my truck.

Because another hour later – just past the bridge, thank God – my trusty ‘Yota shit the bed (literally from the sound of it) when my transmission failed. I managed to massage my way to the beach road another 10 minutes, but alas couldn’t get ‘er home. By the time I did, I had less than three hours to figure out how I’d get to NC. There’s one rental joint in town, it closes at noon on Saturday, and it had nothing on the lot but a Dodge Ram V8 pick-up, guaranteed to burn about as much petroleum in eight hours as awaits off of our shores. Oh the iron-clad irony of it all.

But then salvation: my good friends Patti Hook and Andy Tyler said – insert holy orchestra sound affects here – “why don’t you borrow one of our cars? It’s only a couple days?” Now, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Andy and Patti both surf – hell, Patti’s a two-time East Coast Women’s champ. She’s also from New Jersey (go Bruce!). And, more importantly, their son Grant surfs, too, so they’ve got lots of reasons to keep the ocean clean. Still, I was impressed.

“Wow,” I thought. “How generous. And what a perfect metaphor for how all of us are in this thing together, and that even if we can’t be at the rally Monday, we can all do things to help the glorious struggle…” (Not really; I just made that up. My first response was actually, “Woo-hoo! I saved $250!”)

The even better news? My so-called buzzkill of a trip south was actually the best thing that could happen. Because I broke down here, I didn’t break down between NC and NJ, forcing me to spend the big day on the side of the road. Instead I’ll be there. And I may be spewing less C02 in terms of engine exhaust, I’ll be spilling plenty in terms of hot breath saying “no drilling off the East Coast.”

So to Patti/Andy/Grant, thanks again. (And don’t worry, there’s not enough oil out there to affect your motocross gas tab, whatsoever. ) And to my ‘friends’ at the petroleum institute: nice try, suckers. From now on I’ll be checking my brake lines.

P.S. And thanks to Mickey '2M' McCarthy for the photos -- see, we really are in this together and every little bit counts...sorry, i'll stop with the metaphors for now..

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