Imagineering an oil disaster

I drove my wife and daughters to Florida to see relatives and have a little holiday in the sun. Tomorrow we’ll visit Disney World, where we’ll delight in sterile fantasies and admire the Magic Kingdom’s “Imagineering”. Don’t worry. We’ll take a lot of pictures, just in case.

In the meantime, I wanted to recommend this Sports Illustrated piece on the oil disaster. Please read it in full, if you haven’t done so already. It skillfully weaves important larger facts about the disaster into a personal, human narrative which puts the “world of sports” into its proper context. For me, the most gripping passages concerned the plight of 94-year-old Eugene Barthelemy, who catches and sells 15-cent minnows each day. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Mr. Eugene was one of the five happiest people I’d ever met, and he’d lived for 94 years, he said, because he’d found a recipe.

He worked all day catching minnows. He sang and laughed to himself on the water. He called to the pelicans and fed them porgy. He held no anger, not even toward the oil company that had made the big mistake.

“BP’s nice people,” he said. “Accidents happen to anybody.”

He made just enough money, selling minnows for 15 cents each, to go to Boomtown Casino on weekends and do the alligator dance to Jambalaya. All of that, linked together, was what kept an old man alive, he said, and to prove it he hooked his thumbs in the waist of his jeans, grinned and did a Jambalaya jig right there beside the marsh.

A few days earlier [Eugene had] seen a pelican coated with oil sitting on a marsh isle, and he’d crept up to it.

“It’s O.K., Honeydew,” he cooed, offering a porgy. “Calm down, Honeydew… . I won’t hurt you.”

He reached with a rag and tried to rub off some of the oil, then returned a few hours later to check on the pelican. Honeydew was dead. Mr. Eugene dug a hole in the mud with his bare hands, tucked the pelican’s head under its wing and buried it.

The metaphors speak for themselves, and it only gets worse from there. Go read the article, and I’ll see ya real soon.

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About Mark Moseley

Mark Moseley blogs at Your Right Hand Thief. Until mid 2014, Mark Moseley was The Lens' opinion writer, engagement specialist and coordinator for the Charter Schools Reporting Corps. After Katrina and the Federal Flood he helped create the Rising Tide conference, which grew into an annual social media event dedicated to the future of New Orleans.

  • It bugs me that Disney calls it “imagineering”. It is already a made up word, so why not call it “imaginearing” (since the mascot for the place is known for his EARS).

    Just sayin… 🙂

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  • I took a trip out to Grand Isle the weekend before July 4th. No dead animals. No discernable oil-or hard work from BP’s “army” of cleanup workers going-on the beach.

    I’ve got some good pictures on my Facebook from the whole thing. I was shocked…at how little surface damage had been done out that way. Obviously, I know there are much more ominous issues at stake beyond the beaten path, so to speak, though.