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A Curmudgeonly Return

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Sandy is back on the Scenic Route

In spite of my warnings and admonitions, the Calm Center of Tranquility (CCOT) has decided to continue The River Journal (TRJ). Because I’m a sucker for the underdog and always have been—a sucker and an underdog—I will continue also. The deal stands that I made with Dennis Nicholls a billion years ago in a galaxy far, far away; before GW, 9-11, and the Tea Party; before Congress and corporate America began to exhibit blatant terminal cranial analitis; before I became a curmudgeon: I get to write anything I want. 

Since suspension of operations, a number of people asked if TRJ was going to restart and I told them about my warnings and admonitions to the CCOT. Most have gone away nodding their heads and saying, “I understand,” or something like it. But, they weren’t happy. Nobody was saying, “Well, it’s about damned time.” 

But it is about damned time, the CCOT tells me, to get something written if I want to be in the reborn TRJ. In accordance with the deal I made with Nicholls a billion years ago, this doesn’t necessarily have to be good. But, I will try my best.

Since Nicholls and I made our deal, the planet has become even more of a place where the arrogance of the few threatens to destroy the planetary home of the many, and theirs as well. “Screw the future. Let’s get rich now!” should be emblazoned on their corporate flags. It reminds me of stories of what happened in the bunkers of Nazi leaders of Germany as the Allies closed in. When it didn’t matter any more and the end was apparent, morals fled and obliquity reigned (yes, you may pause to look that up). 

“Anything goes,” became the order of the day.

We seem to be in a similar place. Big Energy says, “We don’t care what the global effect of our actions is. We don’t care that continuing on our current trajectory dooms the planet. This generation, which will be rich and comfortable to the extreme, doesn’t give a good Goddamn about the rest of you or the future. We have it. We will burn it. Screw you—and our children.”

Those last little three words goes unsaid. But it doesn’t go undone. 

You stupid, arrogant, self-serving bast...—uh, I mean, “knotheads.”

“Knotheads” is the kindest word I can use here. It’s a word I use when I don’t want to offend children with my speech. It’s a word inherited from my father. It’s a word that prevents me from using others that are more inflammatory and denigrating and abusive. It’s a catchall word for “idiot.” 

The executives at Peabody Coal (Powder River coal mines; Gregory H. Boyce, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer); ExxonMobil (Canadian tar sands: Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO); BP Global (Global oil company famous for exploding oil platforms; Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman); Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads (Bakken oil and Powder River coal transportation; Carl Ice, Chairman and CEO); and a host of others are not, by definition, “idiots.” 

They are plenty smart when it comes to doing what they do (find it, mine it, ship it, sell it, burn it), but when it come to thinking about a real future... they are idio... uh, knotheads. By their actions, if they don’t change direction, we are all going to die. And our children and their children. Future generations—including their own descendants—don’t stand a snowball’s chance in you-know-where if these four guys get their way. And there are a whole bunch more of these guys. And gals. 

Want to have some fun? Google “board of directors ExxonMobil” and see who’s connected to what. Try not to get angry. If you don’t get a little pissed, you may apply for sainthood. Or maybe it’s just me.

A great newspaper editor once told me that if I point out a problem in a column, I had to suggest a solution. So, what’s the solution? If we look at the big picture, we may not see one. But there are smaller pictures that might be helpful. 

Check out 350.org. Learn why investors should divest from energy companies that aren’t looking at renewables. Join a group that’s making a difference on a local level. Join Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeepers. Join Idaho Conservation League. Join Montana Wilderness Association. Become a Friend of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. You can find all these organizations with Google, too. And, they probably won’t piss you off, unless you’re down with what big energy is trying to do to the planet.

Welcome back to The River Journal. I will attempt to be less curmudgeonly next time. In the meantime, buy an ad or a gift subscription. We’ll send your paper anyplace you want; even to the chairman of ExxonMobil.


When Sandy Compton is not being curmudgeonly, he writes books. His latest are available at local bookstores and online at amazon.com

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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The Scenic Route

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