lundi, mars 20, 2006

I Am Just A Little Concerned About Summer... in Milwaukee. And I think I have good reason to be.

I am a city dweller. Back in the day I grew up in an area the clipboarders came along and renamed "Washington Heights". This is where I still live despite living out of state for college and in Tosa for a short time. I went to Washington High school and picked crawfish out of the pond in the park when I was a kid. I got the crap kicked out of me a few times and figured out that if you've got a big mouth....well maybe you should consider running with a group.

This place has seen many changes... so has this city. But I've got a weird feeling about this summer. In particular, I am concerned about my tradition of heavy use of the lakefront.

Once it hits 55 on a consistent basis along Lincoln Memorial Drive, I may as well live there ...well for at least 1.5 hours (if not more) of the day every day. After work I go right to the lakefront and either bike, run, walk, inline skate, or run the stairs. On the weekends it's not uncommon for me to get down to Bradford beach to watch the sun rise from my blanket. Even at 55 degrees. Sand is some cold cold shit to lay down on, regardless of the material your blanket's made from. It's where I talk to God, it's where I get my sweat on, it's where I push myself.

I've long said that when I die, or if I die young, I should be cremated and my ashes spread out along the shore of Lake Michigan because it's where I have spent countless hours of my life.

This tradition started about 15 years ago. But in the past 6 years in particular, there have been more and more days that I have to take a pass on using the lakefront. I literally get out of my car and seeing what I see or smelling what I smell, I get back in and drive home. If you're not familiar with our problem here in Milwaukee, it's a huge stinking mess of one. I'm talking about the dumping of partially or untreated sewage - millions of gallons at a time - into Lake Michigan. Yes, it's disgusting. How can it happen or more importantly how can it keep happening? There are many reasons and even more excuses, and tons of complaints (a high percentage of these complaints are sourced back to my squeaky mouth - at least the loud and annoying ones). But really folks, every time the dumping goes on it gets reported and sometimes discussed on talk radio but nothing is ever done about it. We simply stop getting pissed off about it until it happens again.

Let me explain what happens after this dumping occurs. And I'm telling you this from the perspective of a citizen who has consistently used the lakefront for 15 years. It rains. They dump. The water is brown (you should see this fro the Firstar building, btw) and it fans out into the lake, down the coasts. We hear about water warnings and how we should avoid using the lake for a few days. Fine. People think after a few days, it'll clear. Well...

About 4-6 days later, gobs of disgusting black slop pile up on the shore. Literally, it piles itself. There are black/brown waves in certain areas of Bradford Beach. Combine this with a few very hot muggy summer days and you've got yourself a horrible stinking mess.

Now I've heard, despite my firsthand witnessing, that this is simple algae and it's not sewage. The algae just happens to call our lakefront home. Last I checked algae doesn't smell like poop. At least not 1/4 mile away from the lake. Someone please remind me why this is ok under the guise of a permissible number of dumps per year.

This past March we had a heavy rain. The local unnamed sewerage district made some estimates on the March dump, and the last estimate I saw was 2.7 million gallons. This may have been updated since then, but come on, this is March. We're falling deeper into learned helplessness and with bigger finanical issues facing the city, I'm afraid this is never going to be resolved. More than anything, I am afraid that I will eventually lose the tolerance to be in a place I love to be.

This summer will be interesting to say in the least. I'll have to update on how much I decide to use the lake. My sense is that on most days that don't heinously stink (to the point that the stink sticks to me) I'll be there.

What I'd really like to do on those days that I can't use the lakefront, is shovel a pile of that stinky crap into a hefty bag and strategically dump it on Washington Boulevard.


Blogger Nick said...

I know what you mean. I like going down to the lakefront normally to train, but it is hard to hold my breath that long past Bradford beach. Sometimes even tanning up at Lake Park overlooking Bradford is smelly. They claim it's the Seagulls... but I don't buy it.

8:33 PM, mars 27, 2006  
Blogger Phelony Jones said...

Mouth breathing doesn't even cut it!

8:38 PM, mars 27, 2006  

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