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Halloween 2011: Coastline Retreat Is Scary, Kids!

Swear to God if you say I look like an Oompa Loompa, I will whip you with this towel.

It started with me walking across the family room in a nude bathing suit and D looking up from his laptop with a “What the …”

“I’ll be right back,” I said, putting on flip flops before walking into the frigid-by-Texas-drought-standards garage. “There’s some makeup in the car that I need.” And D got that look on his face he always gets as he figures out if he has the time and strength to pull me out of this next inevitable crisis. (A few days ago, I washed a new black dress with the gigantic cardboard tag still attached. The look D gave me with plumber’s auger in hand made me cover my behind and vow that no tags will enter this house ever again.)

In truth, it all started with this Texas Observer article: Truly Scary Texas-Themed Halloween Ideas. Rick Perry, forced sonograms, feral hogs – all scary but no mention of the most frightening, politically hot, geo-nerdiest, Texas-tastic (work with me here) costume idea of them all. Coastline retreat at Western Galveston Island.

… a new study from the Rice University Shell Center for Sustainability suggests that the entire west end of Galveston Island should be abandoned in favor of the protection provided by the seawall on the East End.

The study suggests that the coastline is eroding at the fastest rate that it has in 6,000 years, losing between three and six feet every single year. It suggests that the West End would serve better as a location for eco-tourism.

Just so you know, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality censored all mention of climate change and sea-level rise in this Rice University study called the “Atlas of Sustainable Strategies for Galveston Island” that the state itself authorized. It’s the following reactions to the study that completely tickle me, however.

1) Galveston city official on the KHOU evening news a couple of evenings ago: “[Scientific] study is an opinion and should not be used as the basis for planning and development.”

2) To suggest to somebody that where they chose to live and build their home, and have their family is not sustainable, well, I just don’t agree with that at all man, [a visitor from Shreveport, La] said.

Yeah, well, that’s just like your opinion, man.

A New Orleanian never forgets. I remember what these folks were saying about our having to face scientific reality about rebuilding six years ago. Bites when it’s your home, doesn’t it? Seriously, let me hear one person from Galveston say that New Orleans should not be rebuilt and there will be a major asskicking. Also note the current trend to commission independent and all-encompassing studies on topics such as sustainability and global warming only to turn around and censor or ignore them as opinion when they do not suit political talking points of the day.

So, I was all het up and already thinking about a costume idea less tired than Dead Wine Fairy (explain later, I promise) and impulsively tweeted The Texas Observer back, “Planning to go as Sinking Western Galveston Island.” Their one-word response came: “Brilliant!” Which my brain immediately translated into “Challenge!”

Great. Now how to render in costume form a retreating effing coastline.

Among other questions roiling in your head such as “What about a nice zombie costume?” and “Why am I reading this crazy woman?” I am sure you’re wondering what a retreating coastline is. Think of it as a receding hairline. Hair lessens and the hairline moves back as the sea of baldness encroaches. In the night. With a toupee. A retreating coastline is land receding or being reclaimed by an encroaching sea. Here in the southern coastal United States, we have a combination of factors that contribute to coastline retreat, including land subsidence, over-development along the coast, decreasing sand supply and a rising sea level, which results in property loss and an increased vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes. What I needed to depict here is land-water contact, much like a moving oil-water contact in a hydrocarbon reservoir, which put me in mind of my friend TW’s awesome aquifer pressure support costume from a few years ago. I needed blue and brown. And some green.

I knew a green wig, sea-blue opera gloves and a nude bathing suit would come in handy some day. D will never understand that this is why I rarely throw away or donate old clothes; they can always be saved “as costume material.” Here is the costume you saw above annotated with signs of coastline retreat. It needs work like some boxes cut out to represent buildings and you can’t really see the butterfly in my hair and fine green lines painted on my face. What else would you add to it? Besides *cough* sand berms *cough*

“These data do not yield a pretty picture for the future of the island,” says the Rice study’s introduction. My costume and I beg to differ.

What really pleases me is my latest acquisition from Fifi Mahony’s, one of the best fairy wonderlands of wigs and costume accessories on earth. Finally, I got out of the red rut. ‘Twas about time. I can’t wait for Mardi Gras.

And D didn’t have to do anything for me this time other than take the pictures. So there. (Don’t tell him about the green hair all over the bathroom floor.)

2 comments… add one
  • liprap October 29, 2011, 8:33 PM

    Ohhhh, layers! Nice!

    Perhaps label your layers & don a Ms Retreating Coastline Miss America-type sash…

  • Anita October 29, 2011, 9:44 PM

    You just made my weekend! This is utterly brilliant. That last pic, the close-up, is a fabulous shot. Please make an enlargement and hang it on your wall. I think it is your best costume face ever. Happy Halloween.

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