Leaf Blower Nation

The leaf blower is all our loves rolled into one on techno-erotic package. It's a dumb, loud, powerful, waste of energy that doesn't really do anything -- it is the American version of the royal family. If you think of it that way, we ought to be able to live with our problem, if England can live with theirs. Still, both our countries are suffering from frazzled nerves over these anachronisms.But like everything else stupid we do, it starts at the neighborhood level and trickles up. There is an ordinance war in some of the richer neighborhoods of the U.S. which are trying to get rid of these cacophonous mechanical blow hards. They were designed to be the lazy man's leaf rake; the only difference being that they have a pro-rated decibel level that's greater than an F-15. Leaves only fall once a year and lately I see leaf blowers being used just to blow dust from one person's property to the next. This of course causes a neighborhood chain reaction until everyone just starts blowing all their dust to the left or the right until all the dirt ends up on the East or West coast where the whole cycle starts over again.These machines fly in the face of the theory of conservation of dust. "You can rid yourself of dust, you can only move it to another location." I think this theory was first posited by Albert Einstein's cousin Hoover. This is the real reason we have switched from albums, to eight tracks tapes to Compact discs. As each preceding technology become dust laden, we get rid of it and move on.This is what's happening with cigarettes on a much larger scale. As our nation of volunteer cancer rats is finally waking up to the reality that -- just maybe -- that pellet of rat chow satisfaction and momentary high that burning chopped, dried leaves in you mouth brings is no longer worth it. That so succinctly said, there are billions of other non-American folks around the world lining up for a Marlboro to go with their Coke and Big Mac.The everything-but-leaves-blower is just a smaller version of our nation's "master plan." We always blow it somewhere else ... nuclear waste, cigarettes, pesticides. We can't really get rid of it, but we can move it. The up side is that if we export enough sugar, red meat and nicotine we may not only balance the trade deficit, we may no longer need to need a national defense budget as the rest of the world becomes fatter, slower and more anesthetized than us.

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