CSI: American Mammoth, R.I.P.

The immense woolly mammoth needed a drink badly. The sheen of water beckoned to the mammal but something made her pause, some sixth sense that warned her to beware. One of the largest land mammals that strode the earth, she stood not far from where modern, downtown Los Angeles stands today, breathing deeply the odor of future industrial might. Yet, the smell--pungent, acrid, oily--forced the animal to pause.

Beside her, a calf waited patiently. The adult cow raised her trunk, her gaze falling upon scattered bones that lay at the edge of the mire, a brown sludge neither water nor soil at the base of stunted trees. The dark water appeared calm, except for where bubbles broke the surface near the middle of the pool. Still she hesitated. A pair of vultures studied her and the calf before the adult stepped into the water, first her forefeet and then her hind. The water welcomed her, cool yet pungent, and her calf stared as she sank to her knees.

Welcome, America, to the tar pits of the Persian Gulf, where we are the immense yet slow-witted mammoth, thirsting for oil instead of water, sinking slowly into the mire, befuddled and bewildered, our might and power slowly ebbing away. You and I are that helpless calf, equally doomed. Better judgment--and the bones of earlier victims--hardly swayed the prehistoric mindset of those making decisions, then or now.

Presently, television abounds with investigative shows like "NCIS", "Cold Case" and "CSI: Miami." The actors dig, literally, through evidence and then solve some heinous crime. They diligently scrape at the decay, take samples, unearth bones and resort to all manner of forensic analysis. Too bad there is no national crime scene investigators to dig into the mammoth crimes littering the American landscape. Aside from the bleached bones of the war in Iraq, huge deficit spending and exoneration of culpable officials, there lies the carcass of 911, unanswered questions scattered like fossils for any amateur paleontologist to examine and catalogue. But as Jesus once said of his sanctimonious critics, "Blind guides, you strain at a gnat but swallow a camel."

The great crimes of the world go ignored and the petty crimes--and criminals--are diligently pursued. Imagine if some paleontologist arrived at the Page Museum and proclaimed that birds of prey killed all the trapped animals, rather than slow starvation, suffocation and exhaustion. Imagine the ridicule. But that is exactly what happens when the US Senate confirms Condoleeza Rice and a Senate committee approves Alberto Gonzales. And that is how we conduct our foreign policy. The obvious is ignored for a clever veneer of fakery. "Terrorists"--like those cardboard characters seen in the True Lies--cause all the mayhem in the world, while our imperial foreign policy has neither cause nor effect. Meanwhile, the tar pits quietly swallow the elephantine former republic known as the USA.

"Behind every great fortune there lies a great crime," wrote Balzac. The American bureaucratic mammoth has expended an estimated $300 billion in the Iraq imperial adventure. Understandably, for the doomed animals of the La Brea Tar Pits, thirst drove them to their death. For the dinosaurs in Washington, the thirst for power, dwindling natural resources or prideful religious domination drove the mammoth American state unwisely into the oily bog. To anyone with eyes, the outcome was predictable. If you step into a sinkhole you will undoubtedly sink..

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 136

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.