OPINION: Coming of the roads

By Mitch MacKay of East Jordan


Billy is considered a country musician but, in the 1960s especially, the crossover from country to folk and pop conflated in amalgam of audience further to the fifties when country integrated with many forms in rock n roll creation. 

Roads of course came about with horse and buggy days, Conestoga wagons, stagecoaches, leading ultimately to motor vehicles, hence paved roadways, one of the very first being Woodward Avenue northwest from Detroit, which ended in Pontiac as “toward the woods” acclaimed humbly “Woodward” by Judge Augustus Woodward himself.

Whence came Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, John Paul Getty and all who reacted to the industrial call for wheels and petrol.  And money.  After Ford’s death a formerly unknown bank account was discovered to have $12.5 million available funds. 

Detroit naturally spawned the coming of the roads but this quickly spread ubiquitously to the coasts via two-lane pavement dubbed US Principal Highways that purported to traverse state lines, still maintained but superseded by the Interstate System inaugurated officially with Eisenhower in the 1950s, coincident with the coming of Rock n Roll and Middleclass arising.

The enthusiasm was so great that the US even managed multiple moon landings with crews in the 1960s-early 70s, though Russia came first with an unmanned touchdown in 1959.

Wherefore, the US was not about to absorb that indignity, not with American ingenuity at hand.  That time was not like now. 

Concomitant to all that, the want and need of gas and oil was integral to progress, riches bursting forth yearly like Beverly Hillbillies.

It appeared and still does to many that the supply was inexhaustible.

Geologists know otherwise.

Biologists and chemists know of the insidious results that chemicals afflict upon mankind.

Billy Edd Wheeler bemoaned the very roads that led to the demise of his relationship with the object of his affection, dusty roads where once wildwood bringing unrequited love due to Fancy Dan and taverns via roads soon paved over.

And gas stations.

They’re still with us, every stretch of highway, every small town, every freeway intersection, worldwide intrigues emanating and festering over the almighty black goldmine.

Pollution and lawsuits forthcoming regularly, renewable energy resources creep in unwanted by financiers of any nationality, no less US. 

This raises the question of renewable.

We all know intuitively, well, many of us anyway, that the access to black gold is becoming less available, the low-hanging fruit mostly having been plucked.

Though not exactly scarce at present the viability of harvest, i.e. drilling, conveying, refining, delivery, final-mile is far less than in Getty’s day.

Getty, BTW, actually inherited a million bucks from his father to start his own drilling enterprise, in contrast to reverberations of another who claimed same but actually received some $400+ million for grubstake and spent it like a wastrel and didn’t even get to taste the wine as did his elder brother who died of overindulgence.

Getty Junior and contemporaries made use of the jumpstart and turned it into mega-millions then billions as technology went gonzo fast-forward in reaping the harvest and disseminating it worldwide interactively.

There’s still a lot of that stuff underground, just harder to extract now with depth of deposits, political chaos, ocean spills, medical concerns and more running interference all the while and gaining.

Billy Edd Wheeler bemoaned the barest tip of that iceberg, love lost, yet emotion has a lot to do with this.

It is emotion that won the Erin Brockovich lawsuit regardless legal-political-medical points.

In fact, that’s all the legislature awaits in the fulminating ascendance of righteous indignation at the contemporary blasphemy of Constitutional law: dithyrambic public uprising when once the full story is known, not 448 pages of academic rote, the finale which tells the real story to We the People.

It’s a syllogism, a tripart: 1.)problem, 2.)ramification, 3.)conclusion based on logic (1+2=3).

Illogic is involved too; that’s what makes for debate.

Or debacle.

Billy Edd blamed the roads which were subsidiary to the composite that made for the problem which was also the solution, or conclusion albeit tenuous.

It ain’t over till it’s over.

This is penultimate, though, the disappearing quantity of non-renewable energy resources.

Another syllogism might be: 1.)business travels by jet plane, 2.)hence no roads needed but for McMansion to tarmac, tarmac to hotel and conference suite, 3.)let the road infrastructure disintegrate.

Post conclusion: already happened.  We in outlying way-beyond-exurbs flyover country still have some paved roads because we still vote and buy gasoline and oil, but dirt roads still exist, lots of them.

Seems Billy was down on dirt roads too, even two-tracks, but viscerally he was referring mostly to city-slicker hucksters infesting the mountain-eviscerating tavern-enticing “dusty roads.”

Regrettably, neither non-nor-renewable energy requites pathos.

Leave a Reply