Mother’s bleeding her dead children
single-celled, invertebrate
born in the water of her womb
after the Word, below the light
amniotic deaths, sand and silt shrouds
mass graves of viscous black rot

Mother’s bleeding, her dead children
finned, feathered, furred
still in the water where life began
anointed by the exhumed hemorrhage
innocent sacrifice of awakening
your sleeping terrestrial siblings

Mother’s bleeding her, dead, children
thin-skinned, thick-headed
water and oil have never mixed
excuses confuse a simple choice
eat, drink, breathe where if her wounds drain dry?
return to her—or return to her
She will welcome you, either way

The Gulf Coast of the United States is a self-contained biosphere. The selection of things you can do to entertain yourself is as unique as the culture, and boats piloted by Cajun sea captains are as abundant as the restaurants selling etouffee and crawfish. Frequently trips leave the Louisiana shores on expeditions out into deep water where adventurers hunt for yellowfin tuna hiding below the waves.

A few years ago I left on one such voyage out of Venice, Louisiana. Unknown until the recent BP oil spill, Venice is a bit removed from the regular, beaten path. If you’re unfamiliar with its exact location, it is seven hours east of Houston and two hours south of New Orleans. From there, you drive to the end of the world, go through a frozen sea, past the dead floating bodies of pirates that have lost their way, and over a giant waterfall.

Venice is eleven miles past that.

My grandfather was an avid fisherman his entire life and instilled the love of the sport in me. From the day I could walk, I can remember standing on jetty rocks and throwing my line into the deep. A cooler full of redfish and speckled trout would accompany me and my grandfather home, where my grandmother would fry them up. My childhood is a collection of Saturday afternoons filled with the smell of hot oil in the air and a pan full of freshly cooked, cornmeal covered fish on the table.

I cannot begin to count the nights that I’ve spent on one beach or another, stoking a fire to burn away the dark’s chill and waiting for the first fingers of sun to reach over the horizon. Mornings spent waist-deep in the ocean with a fishing rod in my hand have always been the most peaceful, even if not necessarily safe. When you’re in the water, it is seldom efficient to walk back to shore with every fish caught. A stringer tied to a belt loop will often suffice, with each fish added to the string until you hit your limit. I vividly recall having had that string hit by a massive force and jerked out towards deeper water before the pressure released. Pulling it in, the half of a fish dangling off the end is all that is needed to remind you that sharks are quite present. They’re usually black-tips though, and I have shared the water with them my entire life.

As teenagers, we used to fish specifically for them, swimming out to the second or third sand bar with a fishing pole and a piece of bloody meat attached to a large hook, casting from the shallower water, and then swimming back with the pole to wait for an indication of a hit. Swimming with blood-drenched chunks of flesh through the murky gulf probably doesn’t rank high on my Brilliant Things I’ve Done list, but it is exhilarating.

And though I’ve spent a lot of my life on the water, I had never been offshore to fish. I knew only of the tales of snapper and tuna that my friends brought back with them when they went out. Venice would change that.

My brother Jeremy called me to meet him at the last minute. We needed a break, he said. He and his friend Scott had chartered a boat and the other two people going with them had suddenly backed out. Our cousin Marshall and I had been called in as replacements. I, though, was the only rookie on the tour. Offshore fishing was a regular pastime for Jeremy, Scott was a lawyer that owned his own boat and went frequently out on the Gulf down in South Texas, and Marshall had worked as a hand on a vessel for most of his life. It was the perfect crew, as long as I could manage to hold myself together.

“You’re gonna get sick,” Marshall said. “It’s okay though. Everyone does their first few times. Just make sure you throw up over the side.”

“And you may want to take it easy on the alcohol tonight,” my brother added. We were sitting on the deck of the house boat at the fish camp and I had just poured another massive glass of Jack Daniels, sans mixer. I’ve always found it disrespectful to the whiskey gods to add anything to it but ice. The three of them had been there for a day already and were well rested. I had just driven in from Texas.

“I’ll be fine,” I said confidently. They chuckled together at my ignorance, then Scott began to brief me on what to expect aside from the inevitable sea sickness. The weather had been bad he said, but a hole was opening up in the morning and that was when we were going. It was January so it was going to be cold, but worth it. On top of it all, he’d found the perfect captain and the perfect boat. Money can’t buy a better trip, he swore, and then he was interrupted by the skipper himself.

Though Scott was a bloodthirsty demon of a fisherman himself, he had gone to great lengths to find a captain that was even sicker than he was. Captain Al was the kind of guy that went spearfishing for mako sharks in his down time; just him, a pointy stick, and five-hundred pounds of muscle and teeth in the water at the same time. I had always considered myself somewhat brave for swimming with the black-tips, but this man chose to virtually French kiss the fastest fish in the ocean for fun. He was a young version of Captain Quint.

“I don’t want anyone in this goddamn boat that doesn’t want to kill stuff!” he began. “You got that? This isn’t a goddamn pleasure cruise! We’re coming back with fish, and if we can’t catch ‘em and reel ‘em in, then I’ll stick raw meat in my pockets, jump in, and bite them to death myself. I’m serious here, people. We’re going to war!

I know where they are, and if they’re not there, I know where they’re hiding. We will hunt these fish down and we will kill them. We’ll kill their families. We’ll kill every one of their goddamned fish friends. We’ll even kill other fish that might owe them money. Nothing is safe out there! I swear to God, if I have to put hooks in my face and swim down there and wake ‘em up, we’re coming back with fish. Now get some sleep. We leave at 6:00 am.”

With that, he slammed a double shot of Jack and went to bed.

Following his lead, the four of us retired as well. Final advice was given to me as we drifted off in our bunk beds. Scott’s multiple offshore trips a month qualified him to brag and explain his strategy for soaking up the sure-to-come excitement of the next day.

“No cameras. That’s the first rule,” he said. “There are a lot of things that not everybody gets to experience and this here’s one of ‘em. I don’t carry a regular camera and I don’t carry a video camera and I don’t carry any of them other kinds of cameras. You gettin’ what I’m sayin’ here?” He was drunk, and his Texas accent was getting thicker.

“I don’t neeeeeeed a camera ‘cause I keep all the pictures right here in my head. Right here.” It was pitch black, but I assumed he was pointing at his head. He continued. “You can’t print it, because it’s all in my head. There’s a lot of stuff up there that no one will ever get to see. Places I’ve been. Fish I’ve caught. Memories that will never go away.”

There was a long pause.

“A lot of fat girls in there, too,” he finished.

We drifted off to sleep with perfectly justified high expectations for the next day, and then somewhere through the night, Murphy’s Law stepped in.

We awoke the next morning to find Captain Al storming up and down the dock and screaming into a cell phone. As we made our way out of the house boat he finished his call and informed us that our plans had changed.

“Someone stole my goddamned gear in the middle of the night! I don’t know who it was yet but I when find that sick sonofabitch I’m gonna cut him the fuck up, eat some of him , and feed what’s left of his ass to the goddamned pelicans! But don’t worry. I got everything under control.”

Not only had all of his equipment been stolen, but the weather was deteriorating as well. Still, Al had arranged a replacement boat and a new captain to take us out in his stead. It was up to us to decide whether we were going to attempt to salvage the trip or not, and like any group of testosterone driven, still slightly drunk males, we did.

The four of us climbed into the new boat and headed fifty miles out to the Midnight Lump, a salt dome in the Gulf of Mexico that is legendary among deep sea anglers. The three of them laughed a bit more at me, satisfied that I was going to lose what little food I had eaten somewhere on the ride out. I wasn’t very confident myself. I had never been this far out on a boat before. I had driven seven hours, slept very little, and eaten even less.

It was forty degrees outside before the spray hit, and when that happened it dropped to absolute zero. The water temperature would not have been an issue had it been avoidable, but the seas were anything but calm, as if Poseidon had been up drinking the night before as well, perhaps playing quarters with Davy Jones. The 2-4 foot waves we had been expecting quickly turned to fifteen foot swells which we were hitting at 140 miles per hour. That may be a bit of writer’s embellishment on my part, but still, 4-6 foot waves in a fast boat sucks.

If you haven’t done it, do this instead. Crawl into a rock tumbler, put that in a clothes dryer, get someone to push the whole thing off a mountain, land on a trampoline, and bounce into the side of a moving train.

While you have to pee.

Charter services usually provide bean bag chairs so the passengers can flop down on the ride out to deep water. They do it because the bags absorb a lot of the impact as the bottom of the boat smacks the surface between swells. That, and who doesn’t love bean bags? I rolled over in mine to see my brother’s face buried in his rain slicker. He looked slightly green. Weird, I thought. I feel fine.

I pulled myself up to the center console to watch the waves as we hit them. As I did so, I noticed my cousin attempting to hang his head over the rail. Every time he tried to throw up, he was launched backward and away from the side. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“I will be. Gimme a bit,” he replied, groaning.

“So when does it get bad?” I asked. “Because this is awesome so far!”

He rolled his eyes upward at me from the deck. “You. Shut. Up.”

Scott was in a similar position on the other side of the boat, retching violently into an even more violent sea. The grey rain ran in ice cold rivulets down his brow as he turned to me. “How the fuck… are you… not throwing up?” he managed to ask, and then his head flopped forward again.

I didn’t have an answer for him. It was a bit disturbing to find that my body didn’t consider any of that abnormal enough to react. Then again, where was the difference between being out on that water and any of the other things I’ve forced my body through over the last two decades? Years of riding rivers, climbing rocks, jumping out of planes, combat landings and sideways helicopters and a million other things probably made my body feel like it was on vacation bouncing around in those waves.

I held onto whatever I could find, savoring every moment of it. The butterfly feeling hit my stomach and left again, only to return as we launched off another wave. I let go of the rail for as long as I could, only to be tossed haphazardly back onto my beanbag, and then I clawed my way back up to do it again. “Wooooohoo!” I yelled as the spray washed over my face.

If there was a letdown at all, it was finding out that you can’t catch big fish without a boat full of people working together. With the sport of it over, I was left to soak up the rollercoaster ride by myself as we headed back in.

“We’ll have to do this again when the weather is better,” my brother said as another plume of icy water broke over us. “It’s way more fun.”

“I don’t know how it could be,” I said. “This was amazing.”

Good afternoon, Matt, how have you been, my man? Great for you to join yourself for lunch at The Mediterranean in Boulder.  Great spot here on the patio with the sun shining.

I’m doing great. Thanks, TNB, for asking me to do my first-ever self-interview. This is a little strange—taking myself out to lunch—but I can roll with it. I just got back from the first part of my tour for my book <i>Dear Dr. Thompson</i>. I kicked it off in Los Angeles at the Chateau Marmont on May 20th, then San Francisco, Book Expo America in NYC, and then Washington DC at the Eighteenth Street Lounge, home of Thievery Corporation.

 

It is good to see you alone again. It’s been a long time since you sat down and asked yourself the really hard questions.

What are those? What is my favorite sandwich?

 

Remember the Hopi Prophecy you quoted so often on your run through the Grand Canyon last summer?

“Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?”

Yes… those questions. I’d say I’m living in a sweet little spot tucked against the Flatirons with my wife Kristin and my two children, Charlie and Amelia, and I’m living the dream in being able to publish a book and tell my story of how one little letter changed a woman’s life—and Hunter’s.

I’m working on banishing the word “struggle” from my vocabulary. My relationships are good and I also have a great crew of friends who continually push me to greater intellectual, emotional and athletic heights. We go on great adventures and have lots of laughs.


Tell The Nervous Breakdown how you got involved with Hunter Thompson and the campaign to free Lisl Auman from prison?

In 2001, I read about Hunter’s involvement in the Lisl Auman case and wrote him a memo outlining a public information campaign about the case. He called me back and said, “Hot damn, son. Let’s do a rally.” We then recruited Warren Zevon to come and play “Lawyers, Guns and Money” on the West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol to call for Lisl’s release. I became the campaign director and her family spokesperson. After almost a decade in prison she walked out a free woman.

I had first read Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in high school in Lafayette, LA, which inspired me to become interested in politics. Hunter wasn’t necessarily my hero—those fell along the lines of my own father, John Wesley Powell, and Huey P. Long.  But if ever there was a person I wanted to enjoy a cocktail with, Hunter was right at the top of the list. After he died, Johnny Depp built a 153-tall Gonzo fist at the compound in Woody Creek where he shot Hunter’s ashes into the ether. Depp hired me to be the communications director and Owl Farm spokesperson. In that role I tried to extend Hunter’s legacy beyond just the elements of guns and drugs; he changed the face of journalism and was one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century.

 

What did you take away from your experience of working with Hunter?

The ultimate lesson from Hunter would be to strive to achieve the highest, most perfect form of your own self. Hunter taught me to be my own person. What he seemed to really dislike was people trying to emulate him. Hunter wanted everyone to cover their own story, write their own book, and play their own song.  Swim the river, dance the dance. “Buy the ticket and take the ride,” he liked to say. Hunter recognized that when we are true to ourselves and our passions—in that space is where the magic happens.

The lesson in my book, besides the fact that we must abolish the draconian “felony murder rule,” is that we should all write our own letters, like Lisl did, or my memo to Hunter. Let’s stir it up and change somebody’s life. As the Hopi Prophecy also says, “Do not look outside of yourself for the leader. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

 

Speaking of the Hopi Prophecy, what about the last question, “Where is your water?”

Right now my water is down in the Gulf of Mexico. I was born in New Orleans and grew up in Lafayette. OnApril 22 I swam nine miles in Lake Pontchartrain with Glynde Mangum and Jonathan Bartsch to raise money to rebuild the New Canal Lighthouse—and then we went to Jazz Fest.

We swam with little dolphins at sunrise while bluesman and Treme actor Coco Robicheaux dipped his drink in the lake because he liked the saltiness it gave his Bloody Mary. He wore a big black top hat and fur leopard skin jacket and around his waist was a little antique Derringer pistol “just to keep off the sharks and alligators,” he said. He was our spiritual adviser on the support crew. Now, over six weeks later, plumes of oil are creating the worst environmental disaster of our time. We might be the last people to swim Lake Pontchartrain for a long time.

Open water swimming is my water and is in my soul. Right now my soul is with the entire Gulf of Mexico and its people.

 

What’s up next?

I’m off to New Orleans on Friday for an event at the Michalopoulos Gallery on June 5th with Coco Robicheaux for a special musical performance of the book. This won’t be your mama’s book signing, I can promise you that. Then I’m off to Lafayette; then Boulder on June 11 at Trident Bookstore; Denver Tattered Cover on June 15; Aspen Explore Bookstore on June 17; and Telluride Between-the-Covers on June 19, which just happens to coincide with the Bluegrass Festival. I will back to San Francisco for a literary event on July 12th and other points in between. Check out my website www.MatthewLMoseley.net for more tour dates.

Then there will be a reading and burning of the original manuscripts of the book at Burning Man in late August.

Okay.  Many thanks to The Nervous Breakdown, it’s been a great lunch (and where do I send that receipt for reimbursement again?).  I was, well, actually nervous about doing a “self-interview,” but it turned out to be an interesting experience. Hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. My favorite sandwich, by the way, is a softshell crab po-boy, dressed.

Check please.

 

 

So, here’s the thing.

I want the very best for the people I care about.

I do. I really and truly do.

And when I say the very best, I’m not fooling around. I want us all to be riding our jet-powered jaguar-shaped hoverboard through the streets on our way to a) have energetic sex with a hot Spanish secret service agent of the gender of our personal choice, b) pick up the keys to our new carbon-neutral Batmobile, c) enjoy a relaxing afternoon of conversation, massage and fine cheeses at Richard Gere’s house, or d) all of the above.

Yes, I recognise and understand the nature of a supply-and-demand economy, and I know that if these options were available to everyone it would decrease their rarity value, and the bottom¹ would drop out of the lucrative energetic-sex-with-a-hot-gender-non-specific-Spanish-intelligence-agent market, but, if you were given the choice between a), b), c), d) or e) going to work tomorrow, which would you pick?

Anyway.

I’ve come to realise that not all of the people I love currently have the wonderful lives I want for them. Perhaps even more heartbreaking, neither do I. And yes, some of the reason is because life just doesn’t work like that, and Richard Gere gets very busy sometimes, but there’s also another factor at play. And that factor is this:

Assholes.

I’ve heard – and lived – enough stories of terrible boyfriends, cheating girlfriends, dangerous drivers, abusive parents, muggers, murderers, thieves, and people who answer the phone in movie theatres that I’ve been forced to stop and wonder: Goddamnit. Where are all these assholes coming from? Is there some portal to another dimension  – an asshole dimension – that someone forgot to shut? Is that where they’re all coming from? Because I’m not that asshole. My friends aren’t those assholes. Who are these assholes?

Well… the truth is that no, actually, we probably are the assholes. All of us². It’s human nature. Everyone, at some point in time or another, has acted like an asshole³. Some more than others, but that’s the way it goes.

Because we’re only human. We get angry and we say things we don’t really mean, or we somehow glide right by the idea of consequences for the split second it takes to think that greenlighting Jersey Shore is an awesome idea, or we wake up in the morning and say ‘You know what California needs? An eighth proposition!’

And I’m not trying to judge, or blame, or make anyone feel bad, with the possible exception of The Situation… it’s just that I don’t think this approach is helping anybody. So maybe we could all tell the demons on our shoulders⁴ to just kinda… take the day off.

June 2 is Saint Erasmus’s Day. He’s the patron saint of intestinal diseases and colics. And that’s about as close as you can get to a patron saint of assholes – so it makes June 2 a fitting time for Hey. Don’t Be An Asshole Today Day. And the wonderful thing about this is that you can do it anywhere you are, and if you bust someone acting like an asshole, you can say ‘Hey. Don’t be an asshole today.’

Not today.’

(Saint Erasmus? He’s that asshole on the left).


I’m not talking about making a play for sainthood. I’m merely suggesting that, for one day – one day! –  we could all take a breath and try to restrain our baser instincts. In terms of logistics, these were the first ideas that came to mind.

1. Hey. Don’t Drive Like an Asshole Today.

Yes, sometimes you want to beat the light. And sometimes the perfect gap looks ready to open up if you just drop the pedal a little harder and cut around that guy in front and bam! Made it! Now to drop right back down to the speed limit and coast… all the way to Subway.

Hey, remember every single time in your life when you’ve suddenly hit the brakes because some asshole swerved in front of you with no warning and you spent the next five minutes in an impotent rage because there was nothing you could do about it except hit the horn, which, really, does nothing, and if the horn is whiny enough, actually makes you more angry? And then on the date you went on that night, which was the third date, and we all know what that means⁵, your date says ‘How did your day go today?’ and you snapped and shouted ‘Some asshole cut me off!’ and slammed your fists into the cheesecake, and your date got weirded out and left?⁶

That asshole?

Yeah, that’s you right now.

2. Hey. Don’t Invade Anyone Today.

Just for one day, K? I know, I know, Estonia’s been looking at you funny, and Malta is just begging for it, and no one will notice if you annex Lesotho because no one’s ever heard of it, but still. Just for one day.

One day.

3. Hey. Don’t Kidnap Three People and Turn Them into a Human Centipede Today.

Because why would you even do that? Seriously, why? There is nothing that a human centipede can do better than three people who aren’t a human centipede. Literally, not one goddamn thing⁸.

You’re a weird guy, Tom Six.

4. Hey. Don’t Commit Adultery Today.

It’s a big ask. But perhaps, just for today, if you want to have sex with someone’s promiscuous wife or philandering husband, you could just… oh, I don’t know. Not commit adultery?

It’s easy to forget and slip up in the heat of the moment, but if you find yourself engaging in sexual intercourse with someone else’s partner, maybe try stopping, or at least slowing down, and saying, in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner ‘Hey! We’re committing adultery!’

Like assholes!’

You could then maybe watch some TV instead, or play a little blackjack, or even take a walk if the weather is nice.

I’m not going to lie. It’s probably going to be awkward.

5. Hey. Don’t Call Anyone any Names Today.

24 hours without a single nigger, cracker, fag, dyke, breeder, queer, chink, spic, etc., etc…  And I don’t even mean just the big ones – any kind of name that might be hurtful, or offensive, or mess with someone else’s head… really, what are you going to lose by not saying them for 24 hours?

Nothing, that’s what.

Absolutely nothing.

Still use ‘asshole’ though.

6. Hey. Don’t Collapse and Release an Oil Spill into the Gulf of Mexico Today.

There is nothing funny about this.

7. Hey. Don’t Steal a Bunch of Money and Fuck Every Single Person in the Whole World Today.

Or this, really.

Wait. This line of reasoning insinuates there’s something funny about #1 – #5. There isn’t. There really isn’t. These arguments aren’t mutually exclusive, is the point I’m trying to make.

The point I’m trying to make is: Bernard Madoff, you are such an asshole. I lost so goddamn much. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get it back.

8. Hey. Don’t be an Asshole Because You Think a Book told you to Today.

No, seriously. If a book – and I’m not going to name names – is the reason why you think that some people can get married and others can’t, or why it’s OK to kill doctors, or kill people in general, or blow shit up, or really, just be mean to anyone and try to take away the rights, the life, or the happiness that you would want for yourself and the people you love, then just stop. Stop for one second and ask yourself: ‘If someone did this to me, would I think they’re an asshole?’

And then ask yourself: ‘And would my own personal God want me to be an asshole right now?’

It’s really simple. He, she, they, or it, totally doesn’t.

Gods hate assholes.

See you June 2.

¹ but not the culo
² especially you
³ but not me, actually, now that I think about it
⁴ the asshole demons
⁵ it means you can start talking about your political opinions now. All right!
⁶ you won’t be having any sexy discussions about Reaganomics tonight.⁷
⁷ or fucking
⁸ except ‘be a human centipede’, and that totally doesn’t count


No one likes alligators, really. Most people appreciate them fried or turned into boots, but when they are real, alive, and sidling up to your fishing boat, they are less enjoyable. When you see an alligator in the water, you keep your distance. You don’t entice or antagonize it. You sure as hell don’t cast your fishing line thatway. In Louisiana, you grow up with a healthy respect for your toothy reptilian cousins. I fear no human being, but an alligator is one force I will not test.


This is where I grew up. I know it doesn’t mean anything to you. It matters to me, though, and all the reasons I can think of for you to care are insufficient. There’s seafood, alligators, oil, and the economy. But then there’s my home.  That blue-brown swirl spilling out of a little wet crack in the earth? Yes, that. That’s where I’m from.

It’s not really a spill. It’s more like a gusher. A deep wound. It’s like being stabbed in the belly while wearing your Sunday best, something your grandmother made for you, something irreplaceable.

It’s like hearing your first love got hit by a train and seeing photos of his mangled body on the news while the broadcasters banter about how this is going to be some awful PR for the railroad business, and there you are at home, sitting in the glow of your TV, screaming inside and unable to act. There you are – watching part of your life die on the evening news while everyone feels sorry for the killer. The murderer. Sick.

Sulphur is the dot where I lived for my first 18 years. From where I grew up, the gulf is about an hour’s drive. You put your boat in the water at Cameron, the grey stone jetties guide you out, until the floor of the Gulf drops off and finally it’s just you and that fine line of a horizon, bobbing along together. Only you don’t really get that kind of intimacy with the sky because it’s interrupted by oil rigs unless you go out pretty far.


When fishing, you may find the rigs useful, as you can tie your boat up to one — they keep you from drifting off aimlessly. And at the end of the day, a pod of porpoises may join you on your way back to shore. They’d swim right at the bow of your boat, just riding along, jumping, escorting you. They’re in the dolphin family, but they’re not the same as the widely loved bottlenose dolphin. Maybe they’re not as cute or as open to being domesticated. Maybe they’re too damn Cajun for that showbiz nonsense. But they, like everything else that makes its home in the Gulf, are threatened by this oil spill.

Every dark dot in the water is an oil rig.  You can see how close they are to the mainland. Close enough that if any one of them sprung a leak, the nearby shoreline would be destroyed.


The rig that actually collapsed was 50 miles from shore, near
Venice, LAThe oil has been drifting away from my hometown and toward Florida instead, and for that we feel lucky. Lucky, but far from thrilled. It’s like feeling grateful when a hurricane turns the other way or when the flood waters rise in someone else’s neighborhood. We can always say that wasn’t our fault. We can call it a natural disaster and say prayers and collect canned food to donate to those whose homes were destroyed in one of nature’s mood swings. This is the kind of thing you’re used to if you grew up on the Gulf Coast.

An oil rig, on the other hand? That’s our fault. That’s straight up, undeniable, human stupidity.

Even the canal in the woods, where my best friend and I used to trek on summer afternoons to feel like explorers, is connected to the oil-vulnerable Calcasieu River. There are so many waterways in Louisiana that some of them don’t even have names. They’re just “the canal” or “that little inlet,” but they are all connected. Every last one of them. Every little blue line on the map goes somewhere.

We human beings have become too sure of ourselves, and we need alligators. We need some animals left that scare the daylights out of us. Do you know what happens when an alligator gets its teeth around you? In Louisiana, we call it a death roll. When an alligator has you in a death roll, there is no escape unless something juicier strolls by. But I’m afraid an alligator has no defense against oil spills.

*Please note: I had help editing this essay from my amazing editor friend Ellie Di. She can be found on Twitter @Ellie_Di. She’s also the founder of The Wholestyle Network.