Southern California environment news and trends

Song(s) of the Week: "Orca," by deadmau5, "Orca," by Wintersleep

Photo via mrmritter via Flickr Creative Commons

Orcas at East Point Saturna Island, July 19, 2008, working against a strong flooding rip current, going slow.

I'm not entirely comfortable with anybody's position about the rights of animals in the lawsuit PETA has brought on behalf of 5 orcas. So I picked two songs I'm not entirely comfortable with to represent that. 

The first is deadmou5's "Orca."

The second is Wintersleep's "Orca." 

Only the Canadian band's song has words:

I'll be a killer whale, when I grow up,

I'll be a vulture

I'll be an animal, a carnivore, 

I'll be a monster

Clenching my jagged jaws over the captured

I'll be a killer whale when I grow up

I'll be a monster

deadmau5 has the sort of speed I imagine of a deadly pod of orcas. But the thing that's intriguing about the lyrics of Wintersleep's song is that they've got the menace. Dolphins are outstanding pack hunters, after all. 

Both of these songs imagine, in their way, what it's like to be an orca. But the imagining is done by people. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. It's making for interesting law, and legal theory, and ethical discussions. There's something valuable in trying to see the world from someone else's point of view than your own; why not some other species? I guess I'm doubtful about what we're hearing straight from the orca's mouth, as it were. 


Song of the Week: "Last Train," for BNSF, UP, NRDC

Molly Peterson/KPCC

"Last Train" is an Allen Toussaint song from his 1975 concept album, Southern Nights. Allen Toussaint is a dapper, classy New Orleanian. (Even his Katrina-evacuation was classy. He spent it in the Crowne Plaza.) In a wide world of train songs, I chose Toussaint's song to go with this week's resurgence of interest in railyard air pollution. 

Last train running between the waters with the power line

Last train running around the hill

Last train leaving on the quarter out of time

Last chance to get your last trip

In "Last Train" the New Orleans legend compares himself to a train, trying to keep going. Toussaint wrote and produced successful songs for, um, everyone in town, and then worked with The Band, Lee Dorsey, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton. Like a lot of New Orleans guys, they love sampling him in the hip-hop world.


Song of the week: "A plastic bag in the wind" (self-explanatory)


A single-use bag ban is again alive in Los Angeles. Yesterday the Board of Public Works, by a four to nothing vote, sent the idea forward for the city of LA.

Plastic bag manufacturers object, vociferously. Here's what one told the board, as reported by Rick Orlov in the Daily News:

"A ban is not the right answer," said Kathy Brown, general manager of Crown Poly in Vernon. "Consumers have the right to make choices and the government is there to help educate them. The choice should be left to the consumers." 

At the same time, the list of places that have already enacted a ban has grown: unincorporated L.A. county, Calabasas, Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach; San Francisco, Marin, Oakland, up north. Pasadena, our hometown here at the Raymond Street fortress, is considering one. They're growing in popularity as people are seeing bags out in nature, weathering where you wouldn't necessarily expect them to. I saw ancient ones on my recent LA River paddling 'venture.


Song of the Week: "Photosynthesis" (you know, for kids)

Molly Peterson

"The Seas of Science" aims to teach kids about photosynthesis and plants with a girl, a robot, a puppet, and a boat.

Hey, so this week we've been more than a little distracted by pledge drive (give now!). As you know, we pick a song of the week to go with the news of the week, and we had more than a few candidates for top news events that merit songs. The third CicLAvia is an obvious one. Another is the Greenpeace-APP-Mattel news. And the last is the debut of Tabitha Esther's Seas of Science in the Doll Factory in Filipinotown in just a few days. 

Perhaps you're thinking: what the heck is Seas of Science? It's a very DIY, independent, come-on-kids-let's-put-on-a-show, show. It's got a boat, a robot, an alien king puppet, and original music. So for this song of the week, I choose Photosynthesis, penned by Ben Davila. 

Like a lot of people's, my science background is pretty DIY too. At therisk of encroaching on Adolfo Guzman-Lopez's beat, I checked out what we call STEM standards: science, technology, engineering and math. A never-ending stream of CEOs and science writers and science teachers and women in science all argue that we need kids to test better against those standards if we're going to have science writers and teachers and women scientists and CEOs in 20 years. (Maybe a good idea would be to stop forming new groups and just make one big one!) Everybody's got a guess about what would solve the problem: including Tabitha Esther, with whom I talked for air on the radio tomorrow. 


Song of the Week: Mr. Mister for CEQA & Farmers Field

Gov. Brown To Sign Football Stadium Bill

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

"There are too many damn regulations, let's be clear about that."

One story this week was kind of about how to go faster. Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that set limits on the timeframe for challenging the quality of environmental review for major projects. They came together fast. SB 292 applies specifically to AEG's Farmers Field project in downtown Los Angeles. AB 900 attempts to set similar speeding-up rules for other big projects.

The decision was a slam dunk for Governor Brown. (As he told a booster-packed crowd, "There are too many damn regulations, let's be clear about that.") But environmental groups are staying skeptical of the long term consequences of speeding up challenges. 

All that means Pacific Swell was looking for a song of hotly debated value about speeding things up. Obviously, then, this week, our song is "Don't Slow Down," by Mr. Mister.