BARSTOW, CA -- I was in the middle of the Mojave Desert on my way home to Venice Beach after finishing NSFWCORP's grueling 24-hour radio show, when I remembered something I've been meaning to check out in this neck of the desert: a massive new shit-processing facility near Hinkley, a poor town about 40 miles west of Victorville.
If the name "Hinkley" sounds familiar, that's because it probably is. The town was immortalized in Steven Soderbergh's 2000 Oscar-winning docudrama "Erin Brockovich," in which Julia Roberts played a sassy LA lawyer/legal clerk who successfully sued California utility giant PG&E for poisoning the locals' underground drinking water. Turned out that for years a local PG&E pumping substation had been dumping a highly carcinogenic anti-rust agent called Chromium-6, which had then seeped underground and mixed with the town's water supply. Scores of people wasted away from cancer and other mysterious maladies as a result, while PG&E attempted to buy off the locals and suppress information about this from leaking out.