Southern California environment news and trends

Song of the Week: "Wild Horses," for the BLM (literally)

Bureau Of Land Management Rounds Up Wild Horses

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

No one story dominated our news here at Pacific Swell. But I read a pretty great profile of Joan Guilfoyle, the Bureau of Land Management's new chief of wild horses and burros, by Greenwire's Phil Taylor. Guilfoyle's the one tasked with figuring out how to cull about a third of the wild horse herd from public lands in the west.

So this week's unusually on-the-nose song of the week is "Wild Horses," the Rolling Stones' tune.

Except I picked the Guns n'Roses version from the live recording in Tokyo. Sometimes GNR crazily gets things right, as in this case, which is mostly instrumental. My least favorite part of the song are the verses; the melody's the haunting part. Gilby Clarke's intricate guitar work carries that most of the way, and one chorus reprise from Axl never harmed anyone. 

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Song of the Week: "Superfund," by the Lower Echelon

The San Gabriel Valley Superfund site is a group of reservoirs and aquifers contaminated with degreasers, solvents, compounds, and other cancer-causing chemicals. We've been talking about it on Pacific Swell for several Mondays. This week the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Northrop Grumman to spend 20 million dollars to install wells and filters for contaminated water at the Puente part of the site, in the City of Industry. 

Dedicated to the EPA, this week's song is "Superfund," by The Lower Echelon.  

It's a great mental degreaser, and it's non-cancerous (in my limited exposure so far; not tested by the FDA or on lab rats). 

The Lower Echelon is a band I happened upon by accident in some google search action. They seem to be active around northeast LA in the last couple of years (Mr. T's Bowl in Highland Park on Figueroa, Universal Bar & Grill, Tangier), so they're a home slice of post-punk incendiaryness. 

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Song of the Week: "Ridin'," by Chamillionaire, for Air Pollution

Chamillionaire cares about ozone.

Okay, maybe not. In fact, probably not, but here at Pacific Swell we use a special algorithm to pick songs we like to listen to and match them with the news of the week. And this week it's all about air.

Start with last Friday, when President Barack Obama rolled back EPA's efforts to tighten up a long-contentious smog rule in order to match scientific research about ozone and its health impacts with regulatory action. Then today in Riverside, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is announcing that the state is stepping into a dispute about diesel based air pollution around Mira Loma Village. This week, the EPA announced it proposes to approve the 8-hour ozone air quality plans for the San Joaquin Valley and South Coast (they're called SIPs - state implementation plans). Even though Senator Barbara Boxer is agitating for environmental groups to sue over the separate-but-related national ground-level ozone standard. 

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Song of the Week: 'Shame,' by the Avett Brothers, for social proof and your electric bill

This song of the week goes with a conversation I'm having with The Madeleine Brand Show tomorrow morning about a new way some utilities are using to encourage people's energy use. Which is shame.

So the song is Shame, by the Avett Brothers.

Technically, it's a song about being wrong and apologizing to someone, something these boys do often, well, and for a variety of wrongs (though none are, in substance, energy efficiency). But listen to the chorus. It's right on point:

Shame

Boatloads of shame

Day after day

More of the same

In the last three years, academics have found that shame works. Though the guys in the field call it "social proof." It's a phenomenon by which people assume that other people are doing the right thing, and so they compare themselves, find themselves lacking, and experience a range of emotions, including shame.

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Song of the Week: "California Earthquake," some advice for the Best Coast

I think Chris Christie just jumped into the race. (credit @pareene). Quake hit near Charlottesville where I went to school. Can confirm some there are familiar with feeling unsteady and falling down. (credit @jdickerson) Pray for DC to recover from the devastation. 

My favorite on my Facebook: We don't get out of bed for anything less than a 6. 

I have lived on the east coast, several times. I've taken plenty of mockery from the Northeast for California's floods, mudslides, wildfires, quakes, and other assorted pestilence. "Oceanfront Property in Arizona" played in my college newspaper office for me from some mid-Atlantic types. "You're all going to fall into the sea," they laughed. 

Still, as for mocking the way people tremble in the fact of weather, I'm equal opportunity. I've also poked fun at the terror of a .5" "blizzard" in Washington, D.C. (Quick! Buy all the toilet paper in Harris Teeter!) And snickered at the thought of "hunkering down" during Carmageddon (across town, because the freeways were empty). 

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