Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"USE OIL?" "USE WIND?" HOW ABOUT “USE LESS?": Thoughts on changing our energy habits after the April 6 rally

Reduce, reuse, recycle, indeed.My journey to April 6’s Atlantic City Public Hearing last week — you can read about what happened here and here — began with a stop at Jon and Ann Coen’s house in LBI, which quickly segued over to Mark Tesi and Julie Goldstein’s home for an afternoon of beer-drinking and dumpster diving. Yes, dumpster diving.

For those who don’t know Mark and Julie -- as I didn’t until Sunday -- they’re artists and former owners of Pine, the gallery/surf shop that burned down last year to the dismay of the Long Beach Island community. Instead of screaming “lights out” (intentional Angry Samoans reference for all the hardcore punkers in attendance) the couple seized the day and bolted west to Cardiff to start anew, returning last week to finish moving out of their home with the help of friends -- who were more than willing to help themselves to whatever wouldn’t fit in the van.

Mark explained he’d gotten used to Spartan living over the past couple months and figured to continue the trend. So, as a gallery of onlookers watched, the less proud of us poured over the contents, ripping through bags, trying on sunnies, and generally goofing off while digging for gold. There were swim goggles. Boogie fins. Record players and bass guitars. Plus heaps of music and books. There were also some super nice examples of Julie’s painted woodwork, many larger than life.

I managed to snag some of everything. I got books by Joyce, Wilde and Lucas -- as in George Lucas. (My a son’s a Jabba-sized Star Wars fan and Episode IV is surely the series classic, even in “Golden Book” form.) I snaked iconic VHS titles like “The Search”, “Loose Change” and “Minor Threat Live.” I also nabbed a floral printed skate deck and sweet wood frame collage composition. But the big winner was Brian Strahle who drove off with an original Greg Noll longboard. Reward perhaps for not being quite so greedy as the rest of us.

It was hardly the way I expected to begin my New Jersey mission to scream about the push for East Coast oil exploration. But it was fitting. After all, part of our insane energy demands comes from the fact we throw so much away and conserve so little. In fact, my biggest disappointment while attending Monday’s meeting was while you heard lots of people scream “Use Oil!,” “ Use Gas!,” “Use Wind!” or “Use Solar!” Nobody yelled “Use Less!” (One exception being 12-year-old Christian Regan, who played the “from the mouths of babes” role perfectly – including calling out an oil exec to his face while voicing his comments.)

Read all about him on Coen’s blog – he’s Jon’s new hero. What’s funny, is Jon’s kind of my new hero. And not in a gay, Perseus from Clash of the Titans way, but in a Gandhi living his personal philosophy kind of way. (Yes, I know, they both wear loin cloths but work with me here . . .) What I’m saying is, lots of people bitch and moan, few people do. And Jon does. This is a guy with a veggie oil car on a strict pesco-vegetarian diet. Who brushes his teeth with Tom’s Natural toothpaste after he eats his Natural-brand cereal. A guy so straight edge, even his mouthwash is alcohol-free — no shit. But he still grilled our tofu dogs and burgers on a propane grill.

Goes to show: try as we might, we can’t escape our energy addiction; we can only change how we feed our habit. And one thing was clear at the end of the meeting in Atlantic City: wind or oil, gas or solar, if we don’t elect change for ourselves, someone will do it for us. Or more likely they won’t.

So make sure you attend the meeting in San Francisco on April 16. And if you can’t, file a written comment here.

And for those of you who think one person can’t make a difference, dig this: last week, with the help of Surfrider’s John Weber I got an “op-ed” printed in the Asbury Park Press. On Monday the Raleigh News and Observer ran another. Most importantly, at the OCS meeting itself, I directly addressed Ken Salazar, the head of the Department of the Interior, with comments, some of which ultimately ended up being referenced in a third piece here. And while the first articles may be a product of writing experience and contacts, this final opportunity only presented itself because – except for fellow Outer Banks surfer, Bob Oliver -- I was the only NC resident in the whole room. It happened because I showed up. Period.

P.S. There’s been waves the past few days – at least on the East Coast. If you ain’t taken the Surf-First survey, do it now.

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