August 2007

Causing damage for no sensible purpose

By Art Goodtimes

VANDALISM … That’s one of those English words that I love. The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the fifth century. The Vandals may have given their name to the region of Andalusia in Spain, which according to one of several theories of its etymology was originally Vandalusia or land of the Vandals … The Vandals sacked Rome in 455 CE [Christian Era], and so they like the Huns became associated with “senseless destruction,” particularly in the early 19th century, when anything Roman was idealized, and various Germanic tribes were disparaged, like the Vandals, the Goths and the Lombards … While the term may be colorful, the reality is not so pretty. According to Mike Horner, road superintendent for San Miguel County, there’s been a wave of vandalism lately. Maybe it’s just random stuff. And maybe it’s all the war energy floating in the air, as Americans continue to die in Iraq with no end in sight. Whatever it is, it’s upsetting … According to Horner, last month a vandal rolled rocks from the banks of Tomboy Road on to the driving surface. It took Road & Bridge employees about five hours with a loader and backhoe to load the rocks up and ferry them to a safe place to remove them from the narrow road’s surface … Two weeks ago, another vandal shot out all the windows of a county motorgrader on Sawpit Hill, as well as on an excavator and dozer belonging to Downey Construction … And then last week, yet another vandal sawed off road signs into Trout Lake and Ophir. It’s not known if it was the same party that stole a memorial cross in the San Miguel Canyon near the Norwood Bridge at the site where Delbert Ferguson died in a traffic accident (how heartless are these guys?)… What is known is that acts of vandalism have sprouted like late summer boletes after a monsoon rain. “We really haven’t had any problem for years,” explained Horner. “And then all of a sudden we’re getting slammed with them.”

MYTHVILLE … Douglas McDaniel is a poet, writer, journalist – which categorizes us to a very narrow breed. He just gave me a copy of “One Quarter Now, One-Click Wars to Come” (, 2005, $13.14), and it’s a dandy collection of gonzo essays, as wacky and wild as anything I’ve read in a while. Now I’m starting in on “Angel of the Avenues” (, 2005, $15.33), and already roped into a leadoff piece on Indian bidis. Highly recommended.


Morning Rubicon!

Complex chemical components
Give me speed ... Speed!
Important volatiles,
Organic acids, aldehydes,
Ketones, esters, amines,
Mercaptans, el Capitan,
Oh caffeine King
Robust rubiaceae
Everybody is recovering
From something
From sleep, death,
Love's blind dark alleys
Oh come down to me
From the high altitudes
Make me aware, oh agent
First millenia Arabians
Gave the tree to Yemen
Which sent a hot breeze
To Dutch colonists
And French Martinists turned
The Eden of the West Indies
Into the first great coffee
Plantations of Latin America
Oh alkaloid, oh C8H1002N4,
Tamed by H2 oh, oh, oh,
Touch me, taste my Boiling blood,
my mercury rising,
Through the celebratory cortex
Into a computer at the FDA
Spitting out murky evidence:
Everybody is recovering
From something

—Douglas McDaniel

GREEN THUMBS UP … Car-sharing is an idea, like co-housing, that’s finally coming of age. In a time of rising gas prices and global warming, shared ownership is one of the latest urban phenoms … Launched in Switzerland in 1987, car-sharing came to Germany a year later, and made its way to North America via Quebec City in 1993. As of January 1st of this year, 18 U.S. car-sharing programs claimed 134,094 members sharing 3,637 vehicles, and 13 Canadian carsharing programs claimed 21,817 members sharing 994 vehicles … Car-sharing services own fleets of vehicles, from pickup trucks to hybrids. For a monthly fee and with the aid of sophisticated reservation systems, subscribers can get the keys to strategically- located vehicles when they need them. In addition, a carsharing service customer can access a vehicle appropriate to the use at hand: a pickup for hauling loads, a van for hauling the soccer team, or an efficient hybrid for a single-driver urban trip. Often car owners purchase a vehicle which will handle a maximum but rare use, leaving them driving a pickup or van that gets low gas mileage for the 95 percent of their travel which could be done in a subcompact … The concept of car-sharing has now spread to more than 600 cities worldwide. In the U.S., Zipcar, founded in 1999, now has more than 80,000 drivers signed up in 13 states. According to Zipcar, owning a typical mid-sized car will cost $839 per month on average, compared with $301 for one of its frequent car-sharing users (occasional users pay less). The average Zipcar subscriber is estimated by the company to save $5,232 a year in vehicle costs … Flexcar, also founded in 1999, operates in seven metropolitan areas and reports it has tens of thousands of individual members plus 600 companies and public agencies. Flexcar says its vehicles average 30 mpg, and many are hybrids or Partial-Zero Emission Vehicles

BLUE THUMBS DOWN … The percentage of Americans living in extreme poverty was at a 26-year low when Bush took office. It is now at a 32-year high.

THE RED FINGER Roxarsone, an arsenic compound commonly used in poultry feed to prevent intestinal parasites in chickens and turkeys, is turning up in food. The Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy recently found arsenic in 55 percent of the raw chicken they purchased from supermarkets and in ALL of the fast-food chicken they tested … When arsenic is embedded in the roxarsone compound, it is alleged to be harmless to humans. However, the arsenic is bio-converted in the digestive system of the chicken to a form which is biologically active as a poison in mammals. If you want to avoid this, chicken certified as organic cannot be fed Roxarsone or any antibiotic or unnatural substance in its feed … Yet another reason to shop at farmers’ markets.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.