Somehow the heavens have conspired to place my e-mail address on the list-serve of a bunch of people who call themselves the Order of Interbeing. Every day I receive 15 to 20 messages from people with names like Lynette True Wonderful Fulfillment. I admit, at first I was fascinated by the content of some of the e-mails. While Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, these enlightened people exchanged communiqués about good books they’d read or movies they’d seen. Or they wrote things like this: “Can we collectively look into ways of acknowledging the existence of Fire while firmly establishing ourselves in being a Lotus?” Finally one enlightened member gently chastised the rest for continuing to discuss books and movies while millions suffered. Eventually I grew tried of these messages clogging up my e-mail in box and I tried to get off of the list. First, I simply hit the unsubscribe e-mail address. No luck. I tried a few more times. The messages, encrypted with “oi” in the subject space, kept arriving. Then I added this message: “Please, please, please get me off this list—unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. Remove this e-mail address.” Still no luck. I feel like a nursing home patient in St. Bernard Parish watching the water rise and waiting for the help that’s not coming. The interbeings continue to haunt me with their e-mails. Somebody contact the Red Cross.
Speaking of the Red Cross, I drove with some friends to the Grass Valley Red Cross office last week for a meeting of potential volunteers willing to spend three weeks helping victims of Katrina. I was just along for the ride. I wasn’t going to volunteer. I’ve got my own problems to deal with here at home, like the invasion of the interbeings. About 20 people gathered in the parking lot behind the Red Cross office, sat in plastic chairs and listened to the harsh realities of what lie ahead. The man in charge of the volunteers looked and sounded like Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, only a lot more sincere. He said the main concern of the Red Cross is helping the victims. Volunteers must stay neutral and are told not to discuss politics while on the job or wear T-shirts with logos, such as Tommy Bahamas labels or “Life sucks.” These folks, if they got through the interview process designed to weed out the insane, would constitute a second wave of help rotating in to replace those who’d been on the front lines since just after Katrina blew through. Volunteers who made it through the initial screening process, the Larry David guy said, would receive a phone call, asking if they could be ready to go within the next 24 to 48 hours. They would be provided a one-way flight to any number of possible destinations—Louisiana, Alabama or Bakersfield. They’re shipping the victims to Bakersfield? Haven’t they suffered enough?
Ali Sarsour works at Radio Shack in the Mangrove Plaza shopping center. Last week he was appointed to the city’s Parking Place Commission, narrowly beating out former City Manager Fred Davis. I saw Sarsour a few days later. He told me it was sort of awkward for him to be picked over Davis, who, to some, is sort of a civic legend in Chico. The night he was picked, Sarsour told the City Council that he had served on the commission before and really enjoyed it. “I would love to come back. I think it is part of our civic duty.” This city could use a few more Ali Sarsours.
I recently received the following e-mail plea from a fellow interbeing: “I would very much appreciate being removed from the mailing list of the discussion group. I have tried to remove myself before without success. If there is anyone with computer whiz capabilities who could remove me, I would be most grateful. Thank you so much. Penelope True Dharma Thompson.” A day or so later this: “Dear oi discussion members, please be so kind as to take me off this mailing list. I have tried so many times to accomplish this, but to no avail. Thank you. Penelope Thompson.” Notice Penelope has dropped “True Dharma” from her name. As the water rises, she tosses the unneeded baggage.
On Sept. 1 a million people caught the wrath of the vengeful god conservatives love to worship. A week later those same conservatives send their prayers to the victims. Go figure.