Moving all that stuff while cleaning out my father’s house this past weekend had a painful price. Yesterday the pain radiating from my sacrum was so intense it was impossible to jog across the lawn when the city worker opened the fire hydrant and started flushing water toward the couch I’d moved out to the curb in order to mow around it. I ran two steps and then stopped, catching my breath as the tightness clamped down.
That’s the cost of lifting six or seven gigantic tube TVs that my late father had purchased at garage sales. He paid three for four dollars for each of them, and had his caregiver load them in his Volkswagon Routan van to bring them back to the house on Patricia Lane.
As you can imagine, people were all too glad to sell my father these outdated TVs. It saved them hauling those 80 lb. dinosaurs to the recycling events where dozens of other people bring their tube TVs. My dad simply failed to realize the tube TV era had passed. He worked for RCA and Sylvania in his younger years and to him, the world of televisions remained ever amazing. He never owned a flat TV. I’m not sure he knew they existed. He was buying those old TVs to give to his sons as gifts. Some gift. Now my back hurts like hell. It was the gift that keeps on giving.
Last week I tried taking my father’s collection to two separate recycling drop sites. Both were full. So many people are trying to get rid of their old TVs there is no longer any capacity to take them all. What a symbol for America, huh?
As my friend Monte describes it, most of these electronics are packed up and shipped overseas where barefoot kids tear them apart to extract the precious metals and reusable parts. We can only imagine what happens to the rest of our TVS. The plastics and metal are probably dumped in some crevasse in the Himalayan mountains to block the Dalai Lama from his mission.
Monte knows about these things because he knows about many things. Whenever I need to know the meaning of life I call or write to Monte and he explains it, often in fine detail. Sometimes he theorizes and that’s the fun part. Other times he simply finds the links and lays out the potential facts. Then we discuss it. I’ll get to the point of how this all relates to running and riding in a moment, but first, let’s take a moment and consider what Monte shared recently about the fucked up situation in the Pacific Ocean. Here’s what he discovered:
Here’s what American and Japanese citizens have NOT been told. Fukushima (along with other TEPCO nuclear plants) was/were/are producing weapons-grade plutonium.
The reactor wasn’t just producing energy with your run of the mill strontium and other nasty radiated byproducts/waste. The Japanese have been online producing weapons-grade plutonium — against non-proliferation agreements — out of sight from international inspectors. The US gave them the technology years ago.
So you remember right after the earthquake and tsunami, America steamed its carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Fukushima at full speed? And nuclear specialists dressed in astronaut suits were choppered into the site immediately? And many, many sailors aboard the ship became ill?
The ship and the nuclear specialists were picking up enriched plutonium rods to A) hide the evidence of the fact the plant was illegally producing weapons grade material, B) limit the radioactive fallout to nearby Tokyo, which would have been devastated had those rods gone unrecovered for any extended period of time.
(Note the cover story here was the ship was covered in snow — snow that fell after the tsunami and therefore covered the vessel in nuclear waste until the snow was washed overboard. And now the entire vessel is contaminated, deep into the steel, in the pipes, its planes, etc. And it’s nuclear powered, so this ol’ tub has been reduced to a $6 billion floating tomb.)
However, further reading provides this little gem, “The detection of war-grade plutonium residues sparked rumors of a nuclear strike on Fukushima in undeclared war by an unidentified power…”
So you see, my friend Monte is an intense buddy to have around. He’s a keen observer of world events, has a cynical eye and the intellectual chops to discern patterns where others see only flavors and colors.
He’s also talked me off more emotional ledges than Tommy Lee Jones in one of those movies where everyone is out of control but him. Monte was there for me through all that cancer shit with my late wife. He kept me sane in the face of some insane days. He’s helped me through job loss and through existential terrors of my own imagining. He’s nudged me through anxiety and depression, through joy and irrational dreams. Through family issues and fervent wishes. Through deaths and life encounters intertwined with the DNA of the universe, where there is no extracting yourself from the process except by holding on until the cords unravel and you can step out into the light, changed perhaps, but alive.
We share a love of the writings of Hunter S. Thompson and John Irving, and we thus hold mutually deep suspicions of the propaganda shunted on the public as fact and fictions accepted by the religious, political and Facebookers of the world. All are equally damaging to the public psyche.
He’s one of the smartest guys I know and does some of the craziest shit imaginable. He once drove all the way to South Dakota during fall hunting season even though he was sick as fuck and should not have left his own home. On the way back from his trip, a state trooper noticed him leaning exhaustedly on a gas pump at a rest stop. The Trooper insisted that he accompany Monte to a hospital right then and there. Where Monte stayed, for three days, because he was so goddamned sick the doctors would not let him leave. But you know, if you don’t try shit like that, you really don’t know your limits. Tell me you don’t believe the same thing. Because I know you do. You run. You ride. You swim. And do some fucked up shit in the process.
I helped talk Monte into getting back onto his bike a few years back. He rode around for a year on a hybrid and then bought a nice Jamis road bike at a local bike shop. Things were going swell with his riding, and it turned out to be a bit of a rediscovery process for this Friend of a Thousand Gigs. He had ridden like a maniac back in his Florida and Colorado days a couple decades ago. He’s also been a scuba diver, a bow hunter, and has been confronted by a mountain lion while sitting in a tree stand. For years, he has also faced down the idiocy of the American auto industry one direct response mailer at a time. I don’t claim to know which of these adventures was the most dangerous or soul-chilling, but it doesn’t matter. Monte is Monte. And I love him.
The cycling came about because Monte needed a little escape tool come mid-life and his bike turned out to be a great partner in that regard. It worked well until the day he was cut off by a band of workers piloting a beat up pickup truck. They cut in front of him on a section of bike trail through a parking lot in downtown Elgin. The near collision sent him sliding into a curb sideways, where both his wheels hit the curb at the same time. He popped off the bike at a weird angle and cracked his back on the sidewalk. Little did he know at that moment his sacrum had been fractured. Because in true Monte style he jumped back on his bike and rode home. With a broken back. A broken fucking back.
It hurt quite a bit (as you might imagine) but he kept on going to a friend’s house. Eleven miles he rode. He had a goal in mind. His (our) friend happened to be an emergency room doctor. The guy’s wife helped Monte off the bike and from there the story became one of treatment and recovery. Monte ultimately got back on the bike again, but complicatons from a previous hip injury (another entire story) have made riding difficult the last couple years. Secretly I bet he’s been riding nights on his mountain bike. Because that’s how he rolls.
So while my sacrum hurts a little bit from lifting TVs bound for China, at least my lower back does not have a big ol’ crack in it. I’ll leave that kind of work to friends like Monte, the real heroes in the sacrum saga.
Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner
But he knew it wouldn’t last.
Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona
For some California grass.
Get back. Get back
Get back to where you once belonged.
GIVE FULLY. TRAIN HARD. COMPETE WELL. LOVE LIFE. SEEK JUSTICE.