Friday, May 14, 2010

A job for Superman?

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — It was one of those flying dreams.
I nodded off watching coverage of the Gulf oil spill, volcanic eruptions, terrorist attempts and more economic collapses. In the anything-is-possible transition to dream time, it suddenly hit me.
This is a job for Superman.
Oh, Superman, where are you, now that we really, really need you?
I know Spider-man, Batman and Ironman have attracted more attention in recent decades, but frankly, we need more than boffo box office numbers at this stage in human history.
Spidey and the Bat and Iron guys are pretty good with criminal masterminds, but frankly, they’re all homeboys and their terrestrial superpowers are too puny to deal with the consequences of corporate supercrimes and our burgeoning pile of manmade messes.
The Man of Steel could simply gather all that pesky vocanic ash clouding the jet stream and screwing up our weather and flight plans. With his super strength and high-temp gaze — or whatever super skill sets the occasion calls for — he could melt the ash into some kind of super-strong ceramic dome and use it to cap the oil leak.
As I learned from inventive Pacific Northwest ceramics artists who used Mount Saint Helens volcanic ash in their creations, such a superdome might even be beautiful, an artistic underwater tourist attraction.
And, of course, there are other great reasons to rely on the Man of Steel, who wouldn’t have frittered away precious time making excuses for fail-safe systems that in fact, did fail, or hauling in impromptu Rube Goldberg contraptions and wistful funnel devices, days after the first waves of oil had already begun to poison the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile marshlands and estuaries.
Superman could suck up all the oil, spit it into a refinery that separates oil from seawater, then inhale all the air pollution caused by the refining process, as well as pollution from cars, cows and coal, along with radioactive waste and other unsavory industrial biproducts, and maybe fly it all off to some distant and more advanced planet where they know how to detox it safely.
And speaking of planets, if we can decide banks and car companies are too big to fail and worthy of extraordinary bail-out measures, why can’t we recognize that our ecosystem is too fragile and precious to fail? Maybe we’re supposed to figure out that it’s a job too big for Superman, too important for magical thinking and too late to put off any longer.
Actually, we may be just as much in need of a mild-mannered superhero journalist these days. Would we have listened if Clark Kent had warned us about financial shenanigans, terrorist threats, ill-advised military actions, corporate arrogance and greed, and the consequences of our wasteful and violent environmental pillaging?
Oh, Clark, where are you? We know you were always a print journalist. Did the Daily Planet go under, along with so many other once-great metropolitan newspapers? Were you fired because your exclusive relationship with Superman was no longer enough to keep you from being scooped by online streaming MoJos (Mobile Journalists)?
Is that why Superman has been keeping such a low profile, because there’s no place for his secret alter ego on the planet these days?
Or maybe Clark took refuge online and has taken the Superman brand with him, and is now lost in an oil-slicked cybersea of bitter bloggers, a cacophony of Facebook and MySpace chatter and frantic, ineffectual Twitter alerts. Look, up in the sky, or at your iPhone or iPad! It’s a bird, a plane, or maybe Superman, who was trying to tell you that the Big One is about to knock California into the ocean, but was jammed because you were texting the coast about your breakfast pizza that morning.
Maybe this is the way Superman and the world end, not with a bang, but an unheeded Tweet.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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