JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Dry Madness

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Yesterday afternoon, Jerry Brown, the governor of California, held a press conference to announce that, water-wise, our state is fucked.

For the first time in history, he ordered mandatory water restrictions, insisting upon—according to the New York Times—”a 25 percent reduction on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90 percent of California residents, over the coming year.” Put differently, we are in big, big, big trouble. The state is home to 38 million people, but not enough water to service 38 million people. And their crops. And their lawns. And their golf courses. And …

Again, we’re fucked.

But just when you think that maybe, just maybe, the people here are alarmed enough to take serious action, you visit the homepage of my town’s website—and see the above advertisement. Yes, this Saturday, from 10 am until 2 pm, Laguna Niguel, California will celebrate the most crippling drought in state history by holding a car wash.

Before we moved here seven months ago, I was warned. Yeah, Southern California is gorgeous and amazing and you’ll love it. But, eh, the people are also a bit sheltered. Which, truly, didn’t concern me all that much. Much of my childhood was spent inside a liberal household within the confines of a conservative town—no biggie. I worked for 2 1/2 years in Nashville, land of mega churches and Jesus urgings—no biggie. Truly, I’m an adaptable guy, and people are people, and some of my best friends hold 180-degree opposite beliefs and … and …

This one is bad.

I actually called the town; sent some e-mails. My basic question: How the heck can you hold a car wash fundraiser during this drought? Why not sell cookies? Or ice cream? Or back rubs. Anything but a car wash. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g but a car wash. The response: A pretty big meh. Everyone was polite and friendly, but the interactions were exasperating. To surmise: 1. Hey, it’s for the military; 2. We use a miniscule amount of water (I spoke with someone who attended last year’s event, and said water was streaming down the sidewalk); 3. Hey, um, it’s for the military. Really.

Oy.

As I write this, everything around me is green. Sprinklers still blast, hoses still run, flowers still bloom. Meanwhile, we’re heading for really scary times.

And nobody gives a shit.