PCR past banners Nolan's Pop Culture Review--now in our fifth calendar year!
PCR #233 (Vol. 5, No. 37) This edition is for the week of September 6--12, 2004.

Deadguy's Dementia

LA FLORIDIANA
Double Book Review: "Tangled And Dark" by Patty G. Henderson
"Florida Curiosities" by David Grimes and Tom Becnel. Plus...Happy Anniversary Sunshine Skyway
 by William Moriaty
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEW
"Napoleon Dynamite"
 by Mike Smith
COUCH POTATO
Chappelle's Show....Fanzine Memoirs
  by Vinnie Blesi
ODDSERVATIONS
Oddservations Spotlight: Largo's Comic World owner Pat Potter
 by Andy Lalino
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Guided By Voices CD review
 by Terence Nuzum
"The Rock and Soul Revue" concert review by guest reviewer Michael Smith
DEADGUY'S DEMENTIA
Powerless
 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott
NICHOLAS REX
A Rant About Bush
 by Nick King
MATT'S RAIL
The Yankees Suck....Latest Kerry Rumor....Masters of Horror
 by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Happy Birthday....The Shame of The Yankees....Why Even Try....Is That A Guarantee?....What?....Meet The Beatles, Part 33
 by Mike Smith
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Powerless

Since most of the other writers are going to write about the recent storms or the upcoming one, I thought I'd write about something different, but then I thought...what the hell, who am I kidding?

This past weekend was interesting, if nothing else. Prior to losing power on Saturday, I watched the news radar, and just watched hurricane Frances creep across the state towards us over here in Pinellas. Oddly enough, I found myself making comparisons to Jason Vorhees, of Friday the 13th fame. It seems like a lot of folks that complain about Friday the 13th movies have a core argument relating to the fact that Jason just walks after victims, and they never just run away.

Here's a situation where, not ONLY could you outrun the hurricane, but at some points you could even outwalk it. However, unless you left the imagined safety of at LEAST your county, you weren't going to get away from it, because it simply wasn't going to stop. It never got mad, it just kept coming.

My mother-in-law came over to ride out the storm with us, due to mandatory evaucations of mobile homes. Not a bad deal, we all get along pretty good. We alternated between playing with my son, and getting the final preparations in order.

For lack of anything better to do, once my preparations were completed, I grew tired of the endless radar views and "hunker down" advisories, so I took a nap. When I awoke, it was quite like a new world.

This was a world where silence reigned, except for the howling wind. It wasn't exactly dark, it was more like a light twilight. The windows seemed to continuosly get pulled against their frames. Looking out past the duct tape that was simply flapping impotently in the breeze, I watched slack-jawed as the monstrous trees across the street swayed back and forth, seemingly doing some kind of demented calisthenics program; twisting, leaning, bending, throwing twigs and leaves.

"Power's been out for an hour," my wife informed me.

I wandered over and got out the cheap little radio I'd gotten from Walgreens. It was kinda cool, with a built-in speaker and optional headphones. I'd picked it up as an afterthought, never really imagining that I'd get any use out of it. I brought it to life and tuned in a station.

Basically, it was endless streams of commentary about how bad the storm was, hunker down, and stuff like that. I listened dutifully for awhile, but finally gave up on it. It's still coming this way...that's all I needed to know. I turned it off, and went out into the carport to better experience what was going on around us.

The wind alternately gusted and then eased. My five-year-old son followed me outside, as he usually does when it rains. The rule is, he's got to stay in the exact middle of the carport if there's any lightning, but as the rain stopped, and I noted that only twigs were blowing of the trees, I brought him down the driveway with me.

I stopped and looked beyond the house at the powerlines hidden within the massive oak behind us, and watched as small twigs spiralled to the ground while the tree swayed impatiently. My son broke the reverie by saying "Hey! It's Christmas!" dancing over to pluck some spinning twigs off of my car.

I smiled at that as my neighbor released her small little "yappy-type" dog. The white little Jack Russell Terrier ran gleefully after some larger leaves until it spotted me, and then ran at me, growling and barking as though he were a much bigger dog, capable of scaring-off any would-be adversaries. My son laughed and ran over to get the dog's basketball. They chased each other around until exhaustion. All the while I kept a wary eye on the treetops and an ear to the wind.

We weren't powerless, we were just without power.

Then a large THUNK from across the street, where a palm tree suddenly threw itself to the ground informed us that perhaps it was finally time to go inside and stay there. I put my son inside, and then got the neighbor's dog inside. I wondered what the place was going to look like tomorrow.

Later that night, everything calmed to stillness. Upon looking outside, I could see that the palm tree was the only damage to our little cluster of houses. It was a relief, but I knew this was just a part of the eye. I listened to the radio, to see how long the peace would last, but for whatever reason, there wasn't any clear discussion on the topic. They'd say where the edge of the eye was, but I guess they expected me to know where the other edge was. It was a little frustrating, but at least the storm was now a tropical storm, rather than a hurricane.

As the weather remained calm, we got a cellphone call from my mom's neighbors. Apparently her mobile home was not only fine, it also still had power. Mom decided to go home, and my wife decided to send my son with her. I let my wife make decisions like that, concerning my stepson, but I had to voice my opinion.

"The storm's not over, hon. This was round one, Round two starts when the storm starts re-energizing in the Gulf in a few hours. You guys think it'll be alright to be in a mobile home during a hurricane?"

They weren't going to change their minds, apparently mom has had some hurricane experience, and decided that it'd be fine. Against my better judgement, I let them go. Then I fell asleep. We had a couple of windows open to try and cool the place down a bit, but at about 3am, I was awoken by papers being blown off the dinner table.

I closed the windows and listened. Apparently things were worse outside. In fact, they were FAR worse than the storm had been since it started. The sky outside was illuminated, perhaps by the moon reflecting on the clouds. It seemd as though the trees were kowtowing to the ground. I suddenly felt like the worst parent in the world.

Were they asleep? Should I call and risk waking them up? Is there anything I'd be able to do? Should I just drive over there and get them out? I'd just allowed my son to ride out a hurricane in a mobile home! Then my wife's cellphone rang, and although I ran for it, it stopped ringing. She's just gotten a new phone, and I started pressing buttons, trying to see who had called, but it dialed my mother-in-law's house instead. It rang about three times, and I hung up. I woke up my wife and asked if I should call, but she suggested that I shouldn't. So I waited, and with nothing more to do, I tried to get back to sleep.

I rolled over and tried again, then later, I tried again. Four hours later I gave up and called my mother-in-law. She told me that everything was fine, and that the phone had awakened her last night. I sheepishly explained my concern, and then noticed bright lights coming from the folks across the street. I got off the phone, and went over to visit.

Nope, no power there either, they just had a propane powered camping lamp, and offered me some hot coffee from a propane-powered stove. When my wife woke up, she was hungry. I sent her over for some coffee while I noticed that one of my other neighbors were starting up their grill.

So I grabbed an ice-filled cooler with a bunch of hamburger patties, cheese singles, and buns, and headed over there to share. We're all friends, and in no time at all, the five nearby houses were all headed over to talk to each other. We immediately began talking about the neighbors that we don't get along with, etc. It was a nice little impromptu picnic.

As the day wore on, and our houses began heating up, we discovered that a mere ten houses away, everyone still had power. It was somehow easier to imagine that EVERYONE had lost power. Our neighbors indicated that a local dollar store was open, so we decided to go check it out, not only did we want candles, we wanted some air-conditioning for awhile, and a change of scenery. We drove past some minor debris, noticing some very large uprooted trees.

Anyways, it turns out that the grocery store was open too, and they had ice. We picked up 4 bags of ice, and a series of Little Debbie snacks. The air-conditioning was wonderful, but I was keenly aware of the people around us. I was sweaty, and dirty, from yardwork, and I noticed that although there were a few folks that appeared a little unkempt, it looked more like a conscious fashion decision. This was confirmed when I noted that just about everyone had perishables in their carts. We were also the only folks in there making a fuss about finding ice.

Driving home, we could see that just about everyonee around our little area had power.

The day just went on and on and turned into night. Our two cats hate us now....not only is it hot in the house, but one of the cats are black, and virtually invisible against the living room carpeting in the dark. She was accidentally stepped on and kicked a few times, and now attacks our legs as we come into the room.

A year later, or so it seemed, Tuesday rolled around, and I went to work, bracing for the possibility that it might not even be there, it's basically a warehouse with a quarter of it reserved as office space. Not ONLY was it there, but it was fully intact. Power, phonelines, etc, were all fine. I listened to everyone's stories about the storm, and heard quite a few people saying stuff like: "It was awful, we didn't have power for almost 12 hours!" I didn't feel like "one-upping" them, so I only mentioned the power situation to a few people.

Word got around though, and by lunchtime people were joking: "Hey, you still living like the Amish over there?" It was no big deal, I chuckled with them.

Upon getting home, I discover that my neighbor had cut herself with a chainsaw. She'd been cutting down small branches that had taken down a fence she shared with one of the neighbors that we didn't like. He'd gotten mad, yelling at me that he'd TOLD them to get rid of those branches, and now it had destroyed two sections of fence. Whatever, the guy is a real jerk.

Anyways, she'd been chainsawing the branches, and the guy ran outside screaming that they needed a permit to cut the tree. They didn't need a permit, hell, the branches were only a couple of inches in diameter. He wouldn't listen to reason though, and as my neighbor stood on a section of his fence (on the ground) and was chainsawing the branches, he decided to yank out the fence section out from under her.

She nipped her thumb on the chain as she fell over. She sat there in disbeleif, and examined the thumb for damage, but it was a pretty minor wound. She decided to go clean it, and get a bandaid for it, but as she tried to get up, she suddenly discovered that she'd also cut through an artery in her leg. It was squirting blood all over the place. She got 14 stitches and is fine now. She's contemplating a possible lawsuit.

The next day without power, I went to work again, and it was strange to just be sitting there in the air-conditioning, working on stuff like nothing had ever happened. I listened as a coworker spoke on the phone to out of state clients, saying things like "Naw, everyone's fine, no problems here, hell we didn't even lose power!".

It just seemed strange, although, to be entirely honest, by that point the lack of power didn't really bother me anymore. It was just weird to see everything else going on as though nothing had happened.

I spoke with my neighbor's fiancé when I got home. He worked as a driver for trash pick-up. He'd been working late and described the immense piles of debris that they'd had to pick up. Apparently, during the course of his rounds, a little old lady came up to him and explained that not only was she without power, but she'd lost half of her roof, and didn't know anyone, and didn't know what to do, or where to go. She had nothing. My neighbor gave her a bottle of Gatorade and she was overwhelmingly thankful for it.

Today I'm going to get her address, and tomorrow (payday) I'm going to put together a care package of sorts with stuff like ice, water, non-perishables, flashlight, radio, batteries, etc. and I'm going to go give it to her, and help her determine a plan of action for getting her roof repaired. I can't even begin to help everyone over there, but I just figure that I'm gonna help someone.

For many people, the situations created by Frances, and indeed, even Charley is far from over, and I think perhaps because of my position, with regards to still being without power, I'm more aware of that fact. The nightmare continues for a lot of people.

There are folks without homes, without water, without power, and with horrendous damage that they don't even know what to do about, and are without friends and relatives or support of any kind. People with flooded homes that have no flood insurance. People at their wits' end because the flood water is on the brink of filling their homes, and sightseers race through the floodwaters, pushing it into the houses. They want their lives back, just like you've probably managed to get yours back.

These people are your neighbors, despite not living right next door. These people are your families, despite not sharing the same blood. These people are you, merely in different circumstances.

You can't save the world, so just pick someone and help them out. It's not hard to be somebody's miracle, hell, my little care package is gonna run about $30.

Besides, for the self-serving, who knows, maybe when Ivan's done with you, or a loved one, you won't be forgotten either.

'Nuff said.



"Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2004 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott.  Webpage design by Nolan B. Canova.  The "Deadguy's Dementia" header graphic and background tile are creations of Mike Scott.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.