Monday, June 14, 2010
THE REAL OBSCENITY
Pulling up behind a line of cars stopped at a red light yesterday, I couldn't help but be confronted with the reality that the car in front of me was a Hummer—it's rear end filling the windshield of my little Prius. I felt the usual disgust I've felt since the first time I saw a Hummer when Arnold Schwarzenegger, who lived in my Santa Monica neighborhood at the time, first introduced them to the world as a civilian vehicle.
I looked away to avoid my anger, out the driver's side window and there was a line of cars coming in the other direction from making a turn onto the street I was still stopped at the red light on. And for the first time in my life I felt a sense of disgust, almost nausea, at these cars as well, and then even at my own. It was like the first time I saw someone smoking a cigarette and it no longer looked glamorous or cool or any of the ways it had looked in Bogart and Bacall movies but instead just looked wrong.
Or like when I eat some heart congesting food I know isn't good for me and then wash the plate and watch grease or fat go down the drain so slowly I realize it's probably clogging it up—and doing the same thing to my arteries. I don't mean to sound self-righteous or holier-than-thou or any of that, but since the Gulf oil infusion just looking at people sticking fuel hoses from gas pumps into their cars is upsetting, like I'm witnessing some kind of mechanical rape. And the whole idea of using all the gas we do seems literally obscene, not like a metaphor or analogy, but truly, obviously, obscene.