Weekend in the Wasteland

by on November 26, 2009 · 10 comments

in Energy, Environment, San Diego

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by Larry OB

I recently attended the Road Warrior Weekend up in the Mojave Desert. It was a costumed campout for fans of the Mad Max movie trilogy. Sort of a post apocalyptic renaissance fair. The costumes and vehicles spanned all three movies. We had the good cops of the MFP (Main Force Patrol), and the bad cops of the Gay Boy Beserkers. The wearing of a metal-studded cod piece was usually a good way to quickly judge the threat level of an approaching cop.

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The gathering was generally well behaved. The event organizer prudently forbade live ammunition, but there were enough real homemade weapons to give things an element of danger. Axes made from sprocket gears, and knives welded to steering wheel clubs. Even a pneumatic dart gun made from a paint sprayer. There were also some humorous defenses, like a large compressed air cannon that fired stuffed toys. Death by Hello Kitty or Kermit the frog hung over our heads like the sword of Damocles. It could come any time, so you might as well enjoy yourself. Take your chances in the Thunder Corral, or maybe climb up into a hanging metal cage with one of the biker babes. Yes, we even had grinders and fire performers. It was strictly an adult event. Not even feral children were allowed. Some secrets will have to stay in the wasteland.

There was a fortified bus broadcasting by both speaker and radio signal. The sound system was awesome. The DJ even cleverly inserted phony news broadcasts, like biker gangs sighted and heading our way…stuff like that. My main beef about the weekend was a lack of variety to the music. After a while the booming trance music started to bore me, and I couldn’t help myself comparing it to the sound of a tire tread flapping against a fender. In my view a post apocalyptic DJ would have scavenged his music collection from numerous wrecked vehicles. We could have and should have had Willie Nelson, Men at Work, Elvis, Springstein, Tom Waits, and (gasp) Olivia Newton John. I would have also liked to see a snake throwing competition, or maybe a bad breath contest. Perhaps the event will come around again, and evolve a little. Only time will tell.

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We were fortunate to get some excellent interceptor replicas, and even a gyro-copter that was actually flown. On Saturday we were visted by a couple of stars from the 2nd movie. Vernon Wells who played the the Mohawker Wez, and Virginia Hey who played the Warrior Woman. There was an interesting Q and A session, and at one point Vernon climbed up on top of the bus to prove that he could still do crazy Wez. At some point the conversation veered us back to reality, and the scary thought that we are getting closer the collapse. The “pockeyclips” could be closer than we think.

Later that night as I lay in my tent listening to the tire flapping music, I got to thinking about the pig methane in the 3rd movie. That was how the wastlanders tried to pull themselves out their dark age. Gas from manure was their big hope for the future. And of course I couldn’t help but think about how the excess methane at the Point Loma sewage plant has been such a problem for our local politicians. They wanted to compress the gas and truck it out through a residential neighborhood. Now a pipeline option is being studied. God forbid we do something simple like having the Navy generate electricity from the methane. Hell no, because that would require the cooperation of federal and city governments.

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I don’t suppose many of you OB Ragsters have been following the current glut of natural gas in this country. New horizontal drilling and fracturing methods have vastly increased our ability to get gas from shale. We are nearly at glut maximus, because we are running out of room for underground storage of natural gas. We could thumb our noses at the oil producing countries tommorrow morning, but our politicians can’t seem to get together on the issue. Obama’s new energy secretary has even said that he’s “agnostic” on natural gas vehicles. We are putting a lot of parts makers out of work so we can redesign and lighten cars, when we could simply convert them to run on a cleaner fuel. I don’t want to drive a 900 pound aluminum pickup truck that gets good gasoline mileage. Give me a big old heavy truck that runs on natural gas. Ford and GM already make stock NG vehicles, but most are shipped to sensible 3rd world countries. Pakistan…lowly Pakistan leads the world in natural gas vehicles.

Let’s take a moment to revisit the opening narrative to Mad Max 2:

My life fades

the vision dims.

All that remains are memories.

I remember a time of chaos

ruined dreams this wasted land.

But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior

the man we called Max.

To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time

when the world was powered by the black fuel

and the deserts sprouted great cities of pipe and steel.

Gone now swept away.

For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war

and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all.

Without fuel they were nothing. They’d built a house of straw.

The thundering machines sputtered and stopped.

Their leaders talked and talked and talked

but nothing could stem the avalanche.

Their world crumbled the cities exploded.

A whirlwind of looting

a firestorm of fear.

Men began to feed on men.

On the roads it was a white-line nightmare.

Only those mobile enough to scavenge

brutal enough to pillage would survive.

The gangs took over the highways

ready to wage war for a tank of juice.

And in this maelstrom of decay

ordinary men were battered and smashed.

Men like Max

the warrior Max.

Okay, I’ll admit that politicians talking and failing to accomplish something useful is a slam dunk in the prophecy business. And I’m trying hard not to sound like one of Franks disenchanted progressives, but I have to ask, “who run Bartertown?” Our recent cash for clunkers program only reinforced our addiction to gasoline combustion engines. We could have just as easily given $4000 to every American that wanted to convert their vehicle to run on natural gas, and still have money left over to purchase a refueling compressor for their home use. The warning prophecy from the Road Warrior is nearly 30 years old. It’s not carved in stone. We can’t say for certain that the bridge ahead is washed out, but the bridge ahead might be washed out. Our leaders talk and talk and talk while we continue to stumble pell mell toward the pockeyclips. Perhaps crazy Wex was right…you can run, but you can’t hide.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie November 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

Can’t wait to see the slap down between Shawn Conrad and his medieval buddies and Larry OB’s mad max guys and dolls.

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avatar Patty Jones November 26, 2009 at 10:56 am

fabulous larry! looks like roaring good time!

i love my old chevies and am hanging on to them until i can convert them to run on some other fuel. hopefully it won’t take ’til the pockeyclips.

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avatar Editor November 27, 2009 at 10:06 am

For those who have already read this post, be advised there is a new ending, so check it out.

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avatar Shawn Conrad November 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

Finally some intersting news up in this byyyyaatch. Dear copy and paste journalists: Take lessons from Larry OB, he is a reporter.

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avatar OB Joe November 30, 2009 at 8:42 am

Okay, Shawn – when’s the battle of the beasts?

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avatar Shawn Conrad November 30, 2009 at 9:06 am

OB Joe,
My friends are SCA so the combat is full contact. When you are approaching one of our warriors, your armor had better be good, because they are hitting you in the head with a rattan stick as hard as they possibly can.
I suggest we get the two groups together to party. The battle should be fought around a 15 gallon barrel of beer near an open fire in the field of thirst and liver practice.

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avatar Larry OB December 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I think the sense of fair play and rules of engagement are just too different. Maybe we could fight for a place in line at the next Mad Max movie…Fury Road.

Besides…it’s not all about fighting and mayhem. If I squint my eyes, and tilt my head, then I can see a bit of Casablance in the road Warrior. Sure Max is more of a reluctant hero than Rick Blaine, but that I think that reluctance makes him seem more real.

Here’s some more photos for you fans:

http://www.laweekly.com/slideshow/view/28836900/6

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avatar Shawn Conrad December 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I would love to hit up the Road Warrior event.

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avatar bodysurferbob December 3, 2009 at 6:45 am

larry ob – these costumes are simply great. we’re ready for the apocalypse now! hopefully most of these dudes and dudesses are fighting on the good guys’ sides, you know the side that mad max was helping.

it sounds like a great gathering of folks who want to forget their mundane, ho-hum lives in reality, and i don’t mean that as an insult. most of us do have stupid lives and jobs and places to live in the sense that we put up with a lot just to get by.

so why not dress up in faux-violence-enabling and sexually-provocative gear for a weekend and get away from TVs, freeways, crowds, lines and the mundane.

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avatar J August 25, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I realize this is an old post, but I just found it. Great write-up about the event!
Just so everyone knows, there is another event happening this year (put on by some of the same folks but not affiliated with Road Warrior Weekend).
It’s called Wasteland Weekend and it’s going to be awesome! Check out all that’s happening by going to http://www.wastelandweekend.com
Hope to see all you post-apocalyptic lovin’ folks back out in the desert Oct. 22nd – 24th, 2010.

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