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.
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.
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.
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.