I'm in the middle of making a movie, with the above title. It's pretty much going to be a direct rip-off of Escape from New York, but without the special-effects budget (think Carnivore). I'm currently scouting locations, with an eye towards post-collapse survivability (I'm thinking Pacific Northwest, for some odd reason). Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, it will not star Adrienne Barbeau, Sandahl Bergman, Mary Woronov, Pia Zadora, or any other B-movie goddess. I can't even afford Bruce Campbell, which should give you some idea of just how little in the way of financing I was able to scare up (hell, think Carnivore 2).
The place I'm escaping from is Nacogdoches, Texas' answer to Mayberry. A small college town northeast of Houston, Nacogdoches is host to Stephen F. Austin State University. It has everything you could want in a small town, that is, if you want your small town to die a quick, painful death when collapse hits. An artificial water supply completely dependent on cheap energy, lousy public transportation, no provision for in-town travel by means other than the automobile (you can ride a bike here, but you're taking your life in your hands), a brutal climate that would be unbearable if not for our friend the air conditioner, the list goes on and on.
Perhaps worst of all is the utter cluelessness of the inhabitants about the state of their world and the prospects for their town's viability in the coming decade. Among the town's indigenous population, these are divided into two groups, old money rednecks and poor people (mostly black). The former group has great faith in our perfect God-given system of free-market capitalism to pull things out (I haven't actually asked, but I think this is a safe assumption on the basis of their total lack of action), and the second couldn't do anything about what's coming (beyond the odd kitchen garden, which you don't see here) even if they were aware of the problem. And then there is the transient population of college students (“our future”) who appear to have a never-ending supply of money to feed the local business establishment. One wonders how much they have put themselves in hock in order to obtain degrees in such vital fields as Communications and Theater.
Here is a typical view down North Street, which is perhaps best described as something James Howard Kunstler might see in a fever dream. Ninety precent of this stuff seems to exist for no other purpose than to separate college students from their loan money.
I was a little shocked at the reaction of the people I knew that I called for help. I was looking for another place to live myself, but I felt I couldn't leave my friend to die here. I was told that they were too “busy” to do anything (and probably they were, frantically bailing water to keep their middle-class lives afloat during the current storm). I eventually was able to persuade the office management to allow me to install a window air conditioner (purchased with my own funds), and the crisis was averted. But I can't stop thinking about the irony of all these churchgoers being utterly unwilling to do the Christian thing while I, the Village Atheist, found myself bound by conscience to do something. Oh well, another story for the grandchildren I'm planning never to have.
If the above poetry doesn't bring tears to your eyes, try living here
I'll be providing you with a guided tour of the place in a future post, partly because I think Nacogdoches is an excellent specimen of pre-collapse unpreparedness, but also as a public service. You see, the highways of East Texas are littered with billboards urging travelers to visit “The Oldest Town in Texas,” despite the fact that there is almost nothing to see here. This cynical ad campaign apparently works, as my friend Diane tells me that people call her RV park to reserve space for their “tour.” This amuses her no end, and she tells me that she is always honest with these unfortunate PR victims. “You don't need three days here. You can see the whole thing in ten minutes.”