By Bob Ferris
Forty years ago tough-guy character actor Richard Jaeckel appeared in the movie adaptation of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion along with Paul Newman and Henry Fonda (see above link). On many levels it is a fairly forgettable film but Jaeckel’s last scene is still etched in my mind. He played a logger whose lower body was pinned under a log next to a rising tidal river. He was not in unbearable pain, just pinned. But the water kept creeping up and in spite of the best efforts of Newman’s character, he simply could not free himself and the water was still rising. The scene was perfect and went from almost comical to deadly serious as Jaeckel’s upper body and then head slowly and steadily became submerged beneath the surface of the water.
Forty years later, Richard Jaeckel is played by all those who make a living from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And the rising water is played by the BP oil spill which is roughly at the halfway point towards becoming as large as the Exxon Valdez disaster. The scene is such an apt metaphor for our current situation both in the Gulf and in our lives.
In the movie, Jaeckel dies laughing. Hopefully, we can pick and execute a better path in the Gulf and in our lives. But to do that we have to make radical changes and end our addiction to oil and fossil fuels in general. A tall order for sure, but better than watching us killing one supportive ecosystem at a time.