Sunday, August 13, 2006

Water and Power

If you're in LA right now, you need to head downtown to the Mark Taper Forum and see Water and Power, the new play by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash. This is one play I would pay to see. I love dark comedies (Harold and Maude is my favorite movie), and it doesn't get much darker than this. Tragic comedies for me find more truth in the human condition and spirit than any drama ever could. For me, laughter is the window to the soul.

In Water and Power (for a great story about the making of the play, see this LA Weekly article), the window is shattered with a big brick that fell off the facade of a cheap hotel, and it exposes a big hole in the soul of Los Angeles. From LAPD to Latino Gangs, from powerful Brentwood based developers to the Mayor's office, Montoya opens the can of worms that is modern LA, and sprays the worms all over the audience. And these are sticky worms. This is my fifth day working the show, and I've found little pieces of this play popping into my brain whenever I hear something in the news that relates. Not many plays have ever done that for me.

At its heart, though, this play is about people. The humanity of the two brothers, their love for each other underneath the machismo of political power and street cred, spurt to the surface like blood from a severed artery. And the dark ugly side of power is exposed like the bunions on bare feet.

Things are funniest when they tap into what is true. Truth being such a pliable thing in today's world, it's even funnier when someone taps into it. When the two brothers in this play try to work their way out of the horrible pile of shit they're in, a work of art emerges that goes to the heart of what Alexander Pope meant when he said, in so many words, that true art is what's often thought but never so well expressed.


Santee Life said...

Here's an interesting item on sewer spills.


August 21, 2006

Aging sewer pipes must be replaced
The Issue: Oil giant BP begins repairs on corroded parts of the Alaska Pipeline.

Our Opinion: There is justifiable concern about the corroded oil pipes, but little attention is being paid to the decaying sewage pipes across the country.

Corroded oil pipes, such as the one owned by BP in Alaska, understandably get a lot of attention for a number of reasons, such as the danger they pose to the environment and the higher oil prices they cause when they have to be shut down for any length of time.

But as worrisome as corroded oil pipes are, there is another kind of decaying pipe that poses an even greater danger but seldom makes international headlines.
They are the pipes that carry sewage.

This lack of attention to a growing problem that is literally right under our feet has Thomas Rooney, the head of Insituform Technologies, Chesterfield, Mo., concerned and rightly so.

Insituform Technologies repairs all types of pipes all over the world, and from his experience, Rooney said that as bad as oil pipes can be, they are in far better shape that the average sewer pipe found in an average commu-nity, such as Reading.

For years, Reading residents have been told that the city’s sewer pipes are decaying. But there has been no comprehensive effort to tackle the problem other than dealing with breaks as they occur.

The repair of the city’s outdated treatment plant, which has been fined several time for discharging raw sewage into the Schuylkill River, is a high priority, but the estimated cost of $150 million is financially daunting.

Although the world’s attention may be captured more easily by scenes of oil spills that saturate pristine flora and fauna, Rooney said ruptured sewer pipes cause more damage and illness and are more costly to repair.

One sewer spill that did get international attention occurred earlier this year in Hawaii.

After more than 40 days of rain, Honolulu’s aging sewer system no longer could handle the load. The system sprang a leak, and 48 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into a large drainage canal and eventually found its way onto Waikiki Beach.

Officials predicted that repairing the system would cost $48 million — $1 for each gallon of sewage spilled.

Of course, the spill got the attention it did because of Hawaii’s status as a tourist Mecca. Rooney pointed out that for the most part sewage spills get far less scrutiny than oil spills.

Perhaps its because unlike oil, sewage is filthy and disgusting. Not something people want to read about while their are eating breakfast.

Whatever the reason, Rooney said more attention needs to be paid to decaying sewage systems.

While the damage done by oil spills shouldn’t be minimized, Rooney had a point when he said sewage spills pose a far greater danger to people, wildlife and the environment.

For one thing, there are a million miles of sewer lines in this country made up mainly of pipes that are 60 years old or older. Most were meant to last only 50 years.

The result is not surprising. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency reported 73,000 sewage spills, said Rooney.

In the past several months, more than a dozen places, including Honolulu, have had the worst spills they have had in decades, if not their history, he said.

The cleanups, repairs and health-care costs have amounted to billions of dollars.

Rooney noted that a few months from now, BP will have replaced the corroded pipes, the oil will be flowing again and the problem, for the most part, will have been forgotten.

But across the country, sewer pipes will continue to be on the verge of collapse with little being done to head off the catastrophe that could ensue.

Posted by readingeagle at August 21, 2006 01:00 AM

wake up people --- we can fix these things now.. or wait till all hell breaks loose when they break... rooney is right... so let's stop ignoring the pipes ... they won't go away.

Posted by: tim kowalski at August 21, 2006 11:32 AM

Supak said...

Thanks. You chose an interesting post to put this on, but I appreciate it. The infrastructure of this entire country is going to hell in a shit basket, and voting Republican will never get it fixed. They want private enterprise to do these jobs, and to charge a bundle for them. People better wake up soon.