Don Ho died tonight, bringing to the forefront a recent topic of conversation -- famous songs that I don't really know. I've heard "Tiny Bubbles" many times, I'm certain, but I couldn't hum the tune or sing it for you if you offered money. And this is after someone played it for me an hour ago.
Ditto, last night, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" came up -- and again, I'm sure I've heard it millions of times -- but I can't hear it in my head. Maybe this is a problem for Oliver Sacks.
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Since reading "Crack in the Edge of the World," I've developed a kind of weird fascination. Relatively, perhaps, it's not that strange -- I know a girl who's fascinated by Vicks, which strikes me as considerably more bizarre -- but I've become moderately obsessed by the Salton Sea.
It's just an aside in Winchester's book -- an inland California sea created by human error, that became a failed resort, a wildlife refuge, and an environmental disaster. I knew little about it before reading "Crack" (actually, nothing at all; my only points of reference were the film, "The Salton Sea," which I've never seen, and the Hot Snakes song, "Salton City," which is pretty great). After reading those few paragraphs, I couldn't get it out of my mind.
#14 -- "Greetings From the Salton Sea" by Kim Stringfellow
This traces the beginnings and decline of the sea, and goes into efforts to reverse/halt some of the damage. It's quite good -- I feared something overly scholarly/technical, but my shattered attention span was rapt throughout (granted, again, this may be due to the recent obsession).
It's filled with photographs, which are shocking and haunting. Much of the area -- now abandoned -- looks like scenes of present-day Chernobyl, desolate and forgotten. Dead fish and birds, empty and ruined buildings. It's quite shocking that this is just a couple hours from San Diego, rather than in the shadow of an abandoned Soviet nuclear plant.
Didn't do anything to curb the obsession -- I've actually, quite seriously, been toying with the idea of taking a few days to go out there. For some reason, this really is something I need to see.
For further reference: here's the book's website. Lots of photos here. Watch out for the naked dude.
And then, the Salton Sea Authority -- those in charge of restoring the area.