Monday, May 30, 2011

Weather Report

Southern California

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

There's another deadline for the end of the world coming up this Sunday, June 5, according to my guy on Hollywood Boulevard. The Armageddon came the day before yesterday, May 30. After that, he says, you'll be hoping for the end of the world, what with the flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, and all the other plagues that'll be descending on us for the six days to follow. Funny thing, though, the big news here is the sameness of the weather. Sunny, highs in the mid 70s to low 80s. The calm before the storm? Maybe the bad stuff isn't going to happen until the last second.

Which reminds me. All of us are aware of the latter-day phenomenon of weather hysteria, in which even the tiniest hint of impending inclemency causes the local weather folks to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with dire warnings or at least to put a little box in the lower corner of the screen with the word "warning" or "watch" on it, diverting our attention from the picture. Some blame this on the advent of the Weather Channel, but I think it was part of a nationwide coup by weather people, always in the past relegated to third-place behind the news and sports people, to wrest time and attention from them by making the weather the news as often as possible. Another theory I heard for the increase in weather presence on TV is the advent of more sophisticated satellite weather tracking equipment. I do not believe this for two reasons. First, modern weather tracking equipment is no better able to predict the weather more than a day or so in advance than whatever old shit we had before. Now, as then, the best way to find out what the weather will be tomorrow is to call someone who lives a couple of states west of you. Second, the weather hysteria that grips the nation's local stations is most of the time not about actual storms, but about the possibility of storms. Rumors of storms.

You might be asking, why is he off on this tangent? Well, here in southern California they've taken weather hysteria to new and (perhaps appropriately) more dramatic levels. Here virtually any possibility of rain, even a gentle rain that droppeth like the quality of mercy, is deemed to be an impending storm. The other day it was raining outside, just like it does half the time throughout the nation. No high winds, no hail, no frogs, no blood. Just plain old rain, and not much of it, at that. The 11:00 a.m. newscast led with the story. They had a roving reporter stationed in a suburban town, interviewing people about the rain, for Christ's sake.

"Hi, I'm Rachel Hairspray, reporting from downtown Monrovia, where I'm talking to people about the rain. Sir, how is the rain affecting your day so far?"

"Well, I was, like, going to take a bike ride, you know? But dude, now I guess I'll have to do it some other day."

"Well, there you have it. This is Rachel Hairspray reporting from Monrovia, where the rain is turning out to be having a pretty big impact on lots of folks. Oh, and they say it might be raining this afternoon for your commute home, so be careful and expect some slow going. Back to you, Nancy."

Had you seen that telecast you would know that I wasn't exaggerating a bit. And telling people in the greater Los Angeles area to expect slow going during their afternoon commute is a little like telling an Eskimo to expect snow. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that by the middle of the afternoon it had stopped raining.

Shifting gears again, Armageddon is an interesting phenomenon, subject to quite a bit of variation, depending on one's interpretation of the scriptures. For most it is the battle between Christ and Satan, following which Satan will be put in his place for a thousand years. For others it is whether their particular religion will be persecuted, or will triumph. It's a mishmash, at best. For many Armageddon is just shorthand for the day when the shit hits the fan, or at least begins to fly in the general direction of the fan. My guy in Hollywood's slim period of six days is a drastically truncated version of things, and suggests that he's of an independent turn of mind, although I suspect he might have broken away from the Jehovah's Witnesses at some point. This is just speculation, partially based on the text of his rambling handwritten manifesto, running to about thirty pages, in which he makes his predictions, all the while pointing out that the Antichrist is chiefly represented here in the U.S. by his minions in the Republican Party. My kind of guy.

Assuming his predictions don't come to pass in any readily discernible way (I wonder if it could all come to pass and be missed by practically everybody, like the posting of the order to destroy the earth to make way for a galactic highway in that Douglas Adams book?), I plan to go to Hollywood next Monday and try to find the Only Begotten Son of God, and seek out an explanation. Who knows, he might have one.


Anonymous said...

Accuweather has been pretty good with 5-day ahead hour by hour forecasts according to my experience and anyone living in a big city knows that rain is going to make traffic bad, even the kind my grandfather called "not rain, that's just drops". One comment: where I live, the weather forecast seems to bad for the last afternoon of any long week-end, just to get people on the road early and avoid heavy end-of-holiday traffic and the ensuing risk of accidents...

Peter Teeuwissen said...

People here are a bit spoiled by the generally mild and sunny weather. Half of them have moved here on purpose to get away from winter and the other half never knew anything else. Your comment illustrates well the tendency of the media (worldwide, apparently) to try to manipulate behavior via weather forecasts, something I find rather heavy handed.

Anonymous said...

Weather, like just about anything is relative. Your proximitry to it colours your view, and in any case gives you something mundane to focus on when you should be paying attention to the social condition. A wise person said it like this: I will try to respect everyone's reality, and to remember that much of the world lies outside my range of vision. Lighten up dude.