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Michael Seitzman

Michael Seitzman

Posted: September 4, 2007 11:59 AM

Dreaming of Snow Balls: What's the Real Story Behind the Power Outages in Southern California?


Okay, I admit, this is a regional story. So if you don't live in L.A, this might not be for you. But if you're thinking of coming here you might want to read on. Oh, and bring a generator and some ice. I'll provide the limes, the tequila, and the margarita mix.

First, let me say that electricity, the "power grid", blown transformers, and every other energy buzzword I keep reading and hearing in the news is all a giant mystery to me. All I know is that when I plug something in the wall I want it to work. And when it doesn't I get pissed off. I pay my bills every month, I'm not an energy glutton, and I don't live in Baghdad. I live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country, and while the TV weatherschmucks loves to talk about the "record heat," the truth is that triple-digit temperatures in southern California happen every single year and no matter how many breathless adjectives they come up with, nothing has changed since the invention of air conditioning. So why are 57,000 people without power today? New York City is hotter than us and they have power. How about Miami? Atlanta? Birmingham? I've been in Vegas in 120 degree weather and those casinos were lit up like...er, a slot machine. So what the hell is wrong with California? And why is nobody reporting it?

If you read the LA Times they'll tell you that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has reported record energy usage this weekend. Yet all of the skyscrapers downtown and in Century City were all closed. All those lights are off and their air conditioning is presumably shut down, so how is it possible that there was record energy usage on a holiday weekend?

Could the real story be that DWP didn't want to pay holiday wages to their workers so they found themselves with too few crews to handle the well-predicted heat wave? Could the story be that we have our own "Brownie" running the show down there? Or that the mayor is too busy staying out of his own self-made political heat to focus on ours, despite all his campaign promises to solve the energy crisis? And where is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ran on a platform that also promised to address the energy problem?

But most of all, I'm wondering where the press is? The newspapers and the local TV "reporters" simply report the press releases handed to them by the politicians and DWP. But why should that surprise me? Isn't that what journalism has become in America? It's more a community bulletin board than anything else, isn't it? They tell us what those in power told them and we swallow it. But that's not enough for me today, as I sit here in the satanic heat, furiously writing this on the last remaining minutes of battery power on this laptop. I want to know to who to blame, who not to vote for, and who I can bitch about to all of my friends out of state who are probably gloating because of all the winter phone calls they've had to endure from me. You know those calls, the ones where a Los Angeleno tells you how gorgeous the weather is while you're in a blizzard? You'll all be pleased to know that I'm dreaming of that blizzard right now. More specifically, I'm dreaming of snow balls, which is the opposite of what I have right now - Fire Balls, a medical condition caused by 110 degree heat, no air conditioning, and a hot laptop melting on my...um, lap.