Yahoomans in Paradise — Where the Weird Things Go

Last week in “Yahoomans in Paradise” we went to the Channel Islands National Park. This week we trade the dolphins, the island foxes and the thrill of seeing the largest creature to ever live on Earth (the blue whale) for the scraggly place where the weird things go — the desert.

Most of my friends don’t like the desert. They feel it’s ugly, depressing and uninteresting. As a lover of the waves, cliffs and redwoods of California’s central coast I was surprised when I started really digging the desert also. I love the vistas, the openness, the crazy rock formations, the funky spastic Joshua trees and all the creatures who are scraping out a living here.

Forget about UFOs, atomic testing or Jim Morrison’s desert acid trips. What about this: One time I was hiking alone on the Lost Horse Loop in Joshua Tree National Park with no cell service when my iPhone started playing instrumental music I’d never heard. I took it out of my pocket to find a slideshow playing with pictures of me and a friend and the word “TOGETHER” stamped over the production. (Especially weird because I was just thinking about this friend.) I didn’t create this and I’d never seen it. A call later in the week to Apple cleared everything up. It was explained to me that my iPhone does whatever it goddam well wants to do, including choosing photos (through facial recognition) and music for a slideshow and ringing me up about it when it thinks I should see it, even if I’m in the middle of nowhere. It’s possible that bumps from my car keys played a role too.

Anyway, the point of “Yahoomans in Paradise” is showing people the natural wonders of the LA area and reasons to not be bothered about things like the traffic which is only a four-hour annoyance every day anyway. Very timely, the Oscar-nominated documentary “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” shows us there are also other ways of looking at traffic.

But now it’s Sunday morning comin’ down and time to go to church in Joshua Tree National Park. We might start with the Barker Dam watering hole in hopes of seeing the free-roaming Big Horn sheep herd. We have to get here early because by 8:30 am the yahoomans will be climbing all over the rocks and screaming for someone below to take their picture which keeps the sheep away.

Like every inch of the Earth, it’s a human playground. There isn’t anything sacred, mysterious, inherently worthy or “above human” about it. If it has any meaning at all, it because we human Gods give it meaning. We didn’t create it but we own it and that’s as God-like as you can get under capitalism. That’s good enough for kakistocracy work.

The yahoomans aren’t done yet, either. Yahoomans are characterized by always bringing their shit with them — it might be boom boxes on the boulders or simply defacing ancient petroglyphs along the Barker Dam trail.

From the Keys View overlook we can see the otherworldly stillness and metallic sheen of the Salton Sea, the stegosaurus-like humpy San Andreas Fault, Mt. San Jacinto (not pictured) and Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in southern California.

Regarding the Salton Sea, by “otherworldly” I mean human-created craziness involving long-standing theft of the Colorado River by Los Angeles, irrigation canals, silt build-up, industrial and municipal effluent from the Imperial, Coachella and Mexicali valleys, high salinity, enormous algal blooms and high phosphorous content from agricultural runoff from fields, feedlots and fish farms (!). Oftentimes the fish kills in the Salton Sea are in the millions in a single day. It takes a lot of yahooman “artists” to make the Salton Sea look like the alien landscape it does.

A hike to the Lost Palms Oasis goes over a ridgeline and narrows between canyon walls, ending at a jungle on the desert floor — but no visible water.

Climate warming, the lack of water and the demise of the giant ground sloth 13,000 years ago — who spread the Joshua tree seeds in dung — lead scientists to believe that Joshua Tree National Park will be devoid of Joshua trees by 2100. By 2100, God’s most blessed people might be leaving their shining cities on the hill in their RVs and camping in the newly-named Creosote National Park. Rest assured, it will all seem normal and inevitable and they’ll still make time to drop bombs on brown-skinned children thousands of miles away to demonstrate their “greatest political experiment in the history of the world.” This 240-year experiment can be summarized as: letting the wealthiest, greediest, most racist, alienated and violent people in society have their way indefinitely and see what happens. The dearest belief of yahoomans is that capitalism must be preserved even if it destroys the earth.

Whether you’re a lizard, a jack rabbit, a cholla cactus or a possessed artist (Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain, Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum), you have to be fucking tough to live in the desert and be crazy by American standards, i.e., you have to be satisfied with not a whole lot.

Speaking of American standards… As human waste, wasted humans and the waste of humans are all big problems, I close with a sculpture from Noah Purifoy:

Quoth the aforementioned 24-year-old Jim Morrison from 1967’s When the Music’s Over:

What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down

The music’s not over but every day more notes are missing, the timing is off and it’s slowing down.

More articles by:

Randy Shields can be reached at music2hi4thehumanear@gmail.com. His writings and art are collected at RandyShields.com.

March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography