by Big Dummy and DIB
Though media and criminal investigations have recently cast a shadow over the industry, a new partnership announced Sunday between Sydney Torres’ SDT Enterprises, FEMA, and the Army Corps of Engineers promises to spark a renaissance of the waste disposal industry in Louisiana – while simultaneously saving local wetlands. The daring new project was revealed in a Urban Studies convention at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Sunday afternoon by Sydney Torres, flanked by Corps of Engineers leaders, former St. Bernard parish president Henry ‘Junior’ Rodriguez, FEMA officials, and rock / rap crossover artist Kid Rock.
As Mr. Rock performed a rendition of his famous hit Forever, Lieutenant General Robert L. van Antwerp of the Army Corps of Engineers presented the case to citizens, experts and members of the Press of the scheme to fill in the eroding wetlands with a mixture of garbage, sewerage and medical waste. The first stage of the ambitious plan started Monday as SDT Waste Inc. begins dumping huge quantities of unspecified garbage into the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet or “Mister GO” which critics have accused of funneling floodwaters into the Industrial Canal, flooding St. Bernard Parish and the lower ninth ward during Katrina, as well as threatening the French Quarter and Upper Ninth ward yet again during Hurricane Gustav.
“Everyone knows the wetlands are receding, we are losing miles of coastline and billions of tons of mud and filth every day.” Former President Rodriguez interjected, mid-presentation. “The Corps of Engineers has had so much trouble finding material to make levees they’ve been using pine needles and newspaper. Meanwhile, we have a massive pile of garbage, trash, filth, rubbish and sewerage which is perpetually growing and spilling out of our landfills.” Mr. Torres picked up: “It’s literally a no-brainer, I can’t believe no one’s ever thought of this before. Our ingenious plan literally kills two birds with one stone, and instead of a receding coastline, we will soon have a perpetually expanding coastline – a coastline made of garbage.”
General Van Antwerp continued with his presentation: “The sort of fill we’re talking about here isn’t like the types of fill the State has used in the past. The previous fills, such as discarded Christmas trees, had to be bound with wires and stakes to keep it in place. Our Stage I fill here, which will be distributed to critical areas via pre-existing oil and gas infrastructure and delivered via a system of solar powered spigots, has viscosity, is nutrient-rich and will naturally sink to where ever it’s most needed. At this point the project will go Stage II, and heavier, more durable fill will be brought in by truck and rail. I might add that although we will be utilizing the waste assets of the entire nation in this endeavor, all this technology was produced in the State of Louisiana.”
Environmentalists and others have criticized the plan, pointing out that garbage is toxic and could possibly damage the environment and harm wildlife. Arriving late to a levee photo-op in New Orleans East Tuesday in his characteristic glossy black chrome-rimmed bus cum mobile command bunker – and flanked by an intimidating thirty vehicle escort of tiny Bull class sidewalk sweepers – Torres bristled at the accusation. “What do you think a wetland is? Go smell the swamp and tell me it smells better that” he said, incredulously, pointing to his lemon scented fleet of satellite traceable sanitation units. “What do you think it’s made of? We are talking about Louisiana here – St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Assumption parish. That’s not the French Riviera out there, trust me I know, I have a house in Cannes.”
Noticing a bag of medical waste lodged against a discarded tractor tire and partially submerged near the muddy bank of the MRGO canal, Torres expanded upon his theme. The bag, containing tumors, liposuction fat, used catheters and a severed hand, was being gently teased open by a gathering flock of crabs as a snowy egret perched elegantly atop it. “You see? Nature does not have the same prejudices as man. Meat is meat, mud is mud. Everything has its place. Garbage is natural. Before you threw it away, it was part of your life. Now it will be part of our wetlands.”
PLAN POPULAR WITH LOCAL BUSINESS LEADERS
Edward Diefenthal, prominent philanthropist, GOP contributor and owner of Southern Scrap Recycling, was one of many businessmen who were openly enthusiastic about the new plan. “Let me tell you something: that Sydney Torres is a genius.
Scrap is a huge growth industry in Louisiana. Over ninety percent of this State is ready for the scrap heap, including half the major buildings in the CBD. If the Coast Guard would simply stop harassing honest businessmen with their stifling regulations we could get something done and bring good jobs to this region collecting, dismantling, and scrapping everything around us.”
“The State of Louisiana is shooting itself in the foot with vicious, socialist regulations that are killing business. I had a bungee cord on every single one of those god damn barges in the Industrial Canal; it was an Act of God they all got loose. I can’t stop the wind from blowing. Now they want to put me in jail instead of letting me and Sydney Torres bring some good garbage jobs to this State. Over a few bad apples in a scrapyard? Dumping trash in St. Bernard? Isn’t that like dumping water in the river? This kind of communist nonsense could never even get off the ground in China.”
CRIMINAL ALLEGATIONS THREATEN TO DISRUPT
But criminal allegations haunt the industry, and it is possible that the bold new initiative will be disrupted by ongoing criminal investigations which threaten to jail many of the key developers. At a rare press conference outside a Violet, LA. landfill, former St. Bernard Parish President Henry ‘Junior’ Rodriguez reflected on family, his recent criminal indictments, and the possibility of serving prison time.
“You see this dump? Do you see this dump? My grandmother built this garbage dump in 1957 and it was the first female … women owned business in this parish … in the State of Louisiana. So we know something about civil rights. She opened this dump in defiance of the Eisenhower administration the minute she started throwing trash in her own backyard. Pretty soon the whole neighborhood was doing it. Now I call that community.”
“Prison? Of course I know I’m going to end up in prison, just like my father before me and my grandfather before him. You think I’m stupid? I’ve been planning for it my whole life” he said, dunking a spam muffelata into an almost-empty 64 oz. eggnog daiquiri go-cup. Tossing his cup into the landfill behind him, he continued, eating: “The fact is, every person born in Southeast Louisiana is going to end up in prison. Everyone here ends up in prison, except the ones that die of heart or liver disease first. Everybody and everything here is totally corrupt. Everything. Even little puppies are corrupt here. But I’m not going to end up in Angola cutting sugar cane like most of these idiots, I’m going to Club Fed after making a lot of people very rich along the way, like my dad before me and his dad before him. They weren’t stupid either. And let me tell you something you little punk, some people come here a few years and think they are above it all, stay long enough and you’ll end up in prison too you got a lot less of an idea how many different ways you can get in trouble. We’ll see which one of us is wearing lime kool-aid eye shadow and the speedo drawers ten years from now.”
ACTIVIST YOUTH MAY RESIST THE NEW PLAN
But there is a new presence in New Orleans, politically active and educated young people from many northern states are moving in increasing numbers to the hip “Back of Town” neighborhoods of Tremé, 7th Ward and the Upper Ninth Ward where they participate in a radically alternative lifestyle. Their fierce dedication to political activism threatens to turn the Ninth Ward into the kind of battlefield Seattle became in 1999 or Athens in December 2008.
“I only drink Soy Milk,” Howard Irving Pierson, formerly of Seattle confided, in an impromptu interview conducted after slamming into reporters while staring at his iPhone. “I have an awesome super-tall fixie bike and I never drink beer that has whey in it” he added, putting aside his gadget for just one damn second. “New Orleans is awesome! I mean look at how wrecked everything is! Isn’t that awesome? What state of decay! I went to an underground burlesque show in an abandoned funeral home last night, how cool is that? It’s like being in the third world except with running water and electricity.” Howard struggled to re-mount his contraption and rode off abruptly as an SUV with tinted windows and over sized rims prowled by, filling the street with a rhythmic clicking sound and a booming bass line.
Atrocius Kozmosis, a slam poet and puppeteer originally from Philadelphia, and interviewed from inside the dumpster at Hank’s Grocery on St. Claude Avenue, had other ideas on his mind. “Her” he said, stroking his multi-colored beard and adjusting his gold lamè halter top and jingle-bell / faux ostrich feather skirt ensemble. “I reject all of this in toto. Garbage is a bourgeois concept in the first place. I – we – rely on found items for sustenance. If they keep moving the, uh, ‘garbage’ farther and farther south, where will we go?” he inquired, raising his dripping hands to place a set of indignant air quotes around the word “garbage.” “I’m supposed to live out there, exposed to the elements? This is just another facet of civilization opressing me. How am I supposed to hustle change out there?” Added Kozmosis, “Hey, do you have any anti-biotics you can spare?”
GOVERNOR JINDAL PROMISES TO FAST TRACK LEGISLATION
After unanimous approval in both Louisiana houses, some were worried about executive approval of the two page Save Our Wetlands IV: A New Hope Act. Governor Piyush Jindal assured business leaders Thursday that nothing could be further from the truth.
Speaking from a newly privatized parking lot just outside the Capitol Building, Governor Jindal expressed his renewed faith in business leaders and markets and addressed doubts many hold concerning the various criminal indictments surrounding the project, including Mr. Torres’ alleged dumping of raw sewerage in City Park or Mr. Rodriguez’ nephews alleged retaliatory burning of one of Mr. Torres’ landfill properties in New Orleans East.
“Let me calm all doubts: this administration is fully prepared to use the power of pardon to further the interests of the consumers of this State and its coastline – excepting the case of elected officials who violated the public trust. The answer is, as always, less government. Government is not the answer to the problem. Government is the problem. It’s time for government to get off the backs of these people and turn them loose to do what they do best!” Amidst thunderous applause, the executive stepped down from the podium, gave a short dedication to the new stewards of our coast, and then led a candlelit march towards the river where he ceremoniously set alight a towering forty foot pyramid of waste. In a surprise recapitulation of his earlier performance, Kid Rock descended the burning pyramid performing a new song Garbridge to Miami as Mr. Torres slowly circled the proceedings in an armada of black garbage trucks, tiny bulldozers, street sweepers, self-propelled industrial drills, mobile bikini car wash stations, and his new DHS supplied six-wheeled amphibious contamination units. Edward “Ned” Diefenthal, CEO of Southern Recycling, added to the festivities by using every spare blower unit in his employ to scatter over 1.5 shredded tons of his companies past citations, subpoenas, affidavits and other pending legal documents over the crowd in a celebratory makeshift ticker-tape parade. All this while one of the largest fireworks shows ever discharged at the Capitol left most bystanders in a state of awe. Henry ‘Junior’ Rodriguez, the only elected official embroiled in the scandals, was almost unavailable for comment. “Pretty much how I expected” he said when asked about the ceremony, caught trying to tiptoe through the darkness. “We all have our role to play, I’m not worried about it. Now, who is gonna clean up all this mess?”
NPR interview with Sidney Torres