Doc Martian's Lounge: Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea - a Metzler/Springer doc

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea - a Metzler/Springer doc

The Salton Sea. It lies about 30 miles southeast of me. I haven't been to it in nearly 30 years. Sometimes though, It comes to me. On hot muggy afternoons when the wind shifts just right. P.U. Smells like the oldest toilet in the world just backed up somewhere near you. It'll stink until late in the evening... then... the temperature drops and the smell drifts away. Used to do that about 10 days a year back in the 90s. Now? It does it about once every 3 or 4 years for a day or so. A lot of that has to do with the restoration started by Sonny Bono and continued with federal funding. The dead birds and fish get cleaned up by fish & wildlife officials instead of being just left to rot. Look, if you want the blow-by-blow of the Salton Sea and its ecology, pick this movie up. It'll tell yah all the whys and wherefores about the sea's creation and failure as a resort as well as federal response to the ecological disaster it became in the late 80s and early 90s. It also will give yah a good picture of the plucky folks that lived on down there or moved in since that mess. A wild bunch, from born again modern-day mountain men, to land barons out to make a fortune in one of the last open markets of land in America, to working-class heroes living on in a place that God forgot. Heck, one of the guys selling land down there I even used to do flyers for, a guy named Manny Diaz aka The Landman, who is now the Crazy Gideon's of real estate, back then he was just a laid back real estate guy moving land in a place where the fish die-offs and avian botulism were out-of-control. Now? I'd say he's got a chance. Not just of selling to folks looking for cheap land, but a chance of actually building a community down there. Some of the nation's top ecologists have been batting away at making the place liveable. There've been changes in laws regarding agricultural run-off, the dead things are getting picked up instead of left to rot, and the folks there are actually showing some hope that it'll become a place to raise families; even if it probably never will become a tourist mecca again.

This film tells it like it is, including artful narration from the little filmmaker that could, John Waters, it features a mixture of archival data, human interest, 60s promotional films, and community action footage from the restoration project. It also features groovy background tuneage by the band Friends of Dean Martinez. Lots of extras including a 60 minute Environmental Version of the Theatrical release just right for a biology/natural resources/conservation classroom session. Pick this up if you're a fan of John Waters, David Lynch or have an interest in the southwest, water utilization, ecology, the brown pelican, ecological disasters or people who have had their dick knocked in the dirt a few times and still came up swinging. Available through Amazon, Tower or the filmmaker's website which ALSO sells lacquered and mounted dead tilapia fish harvested by the filmmakers at the Salton Sea.


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