Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Night Out With My Friend Samantha

Samantha (not her real name) and I have been having excellent adventures for decades. If I told you how many decades, Sam would have to kill me. She's still working in the fashion/entertainment industry where how you look really really matters. I don't, thank god.

Late yesterday afternoon, Sam called and asked me if she could drop by around 7:30 for a glass of wine. A friend of hers, Missy Goldberg, had produced a documentary that was premiering last night at the Tower Theater the old art house theater that figures prominently in my strange adolescence.

Hell yes, I said. I seldom get to see Sam because she is now working harder than ever juggling as many production jobs at a time as possible. This keeps her buried in work and traveling a lot. She worked four jobs during the Sundance Film Festival. And that's where she heard about the documentary film, A Snowmobile for George.

Sam knows I don't like to go out, so it's unusual for her to invite me anywhere. But the Tower is three blocks from my house. So we spent an hour and a half catching up and laughing our asses off, losing track of time. We ended up sprinting to the Tower. The film had just begun when we got there so we entered a darkened theater. But it soon became clear that there were only two other people in the theater and they were two men in the row in front of us.

The film is every bit as good as Michael Moore's best documentaries. It's written and directed by Todd Darling and takes the deregulation of the BushCo years from the monumental fuck-ups of deregulating everything, especially everything in the Environmental Protection Agency to the dismantling and neutering of the EPA by filling it with Bush toadies. And Todd's symbol of this is the snowmobile. It's a very effective symbol. It's a very smart way to show us just how awful an idea it is to put lobbyists from the industries the EPA is supposed to regulate and oversee, in charge of the agency.

Todd begins the film with the purchase of a snowmobile and then takes us from California to New York. From the snowmobile and it's enthusiasts and dealers and industry advocates to New York and the environmental catastrophe of 9/11 where the EPA's Big Lie that the air and dust was safe for first responders and office workers to breathe. Thanks Christie Todd Whitman! The film starts light heartedly and builds effectively toward the absolute horror of what the Bush years have done to us in the name of corporate profit at the expense of the public health and welfare.

The two guys in the theater with us were Todd Darling, the writer/director of A Snowmobile for George, and Tim DeChristopher, the man known as bidder #70 who single handedly stopped the Bush administrations plan to quietly sell off cheap drilling rights on public lands set aside as part of the Canyon Lands, Arches, and other national parks lands in southern Utah for oil exploration. Bidder # 70 outbid every single bidder on those drilling leases. He's now being sued by some very heavy hitters who are feeling like chumps. Bidder # 70 was not a well financed or wealthy environmentalist. He was an outraged citizen betting on President Obama to stop the last minute national parks lands for huge profits for the oil industry at the expense of the rest of us. It was a good bet. And he's got great lawyers representing him and willing to hang in there no matter where it goes. It was wonderful getting to talk to these two talented, passionate, interesting men

If you get a chance to see A Snowmobile for George, see it. You will discover another layer to the dark underbelly of the BushCo years that you never saw or even imagined.