Magazine Article


The Digital Imaging Scene

Is this the real Ted Falgout pointing to the approaching Hurricane Rita, or the actor portraying his role in the movie “Oil Storm?” Hint: there’s no Hurricane Rita in the movie. Now the big question: how many other of its predictions were wrong—and how many right?
Don Sutherland

On the day I visited Mr. Falgout’s office, gas even there in southern Louisiana, where there was a run on the stuff because most people were trying to leave, was barely over two bucks per gallon.

And here it is almost a year later, and it’s up to only three-fifteen. That’s not even half of eight bucks. So what do we have to worry about, as we sit in the middle of Hurricane Season ‘06?

After all, PTN is a trade publication, and we feel up on everything. Like a trade publication is supposed to. Your sales will be taking off like a rocket. Hey, gas may be up, but did you see the Fourth of July traffic? Nothing comes between Americans and their cars. Nothing comes between Americans and a lot of things.

So it would be only a “what-if” if we wondered, what if anything like the movie’s depictions develop after all? With gas, say, hitting eight bucks a gallon, not just for cars, but for the planes, trains, and boats that deliver everything, the generating plants for lighting, heat, and refrigeration, cooking appliances, and waste-removal systems, and of course, home theaters. What if they all cost four times the price, over and over, every time you used them?

What if we got into a pinch? What if everyone’s disposable income remained the same, but everything they bought cost more? Maybe they’d buy less.

They probably wouldn’t stop buying food, nor enough heat in Boston to keep from freezing. But if something’s gotta give, what’s it gonna be?

The Recessionary Hit List

What will be the first to go? Evidently not SUVs. Although there are a lot more small cars on American roads than once before, we still like big cars. They cost twice as much to run today as last year? Alas, but also, ho-hum. We’ll just have to get through it.

Maybe we’ll have to cancel the Caribbean cruise. The time’s better spent at home.

We can’t skimp on Junior’s college fund, but maybe we can skip the Metropolitan Opera subscription this year. Meanwhile it’s time to renew AAA in case we need roadside service (and don’t forget those rate reductions at participating hotels). We’ll eat out less, but we’ll still wash it down with premium beer.

We’ll trim away the fat in our lives, leaving us to run on lean. If we get through it—and even “Oil Storm” says we will—we’ll have something to talk about, like the 1930s generation had the Depression.

That’s if our “what-ifs” are no worse than the movie’s.

And after devolving a bit into a soap opera, departing the real Ray Nagin to join in the heartache of a fictional wife who sees her marriage turn sour due to the pressure of a world neither she nor her husband asked for and who, wracked by the demands of it all, says a dirty word. Something like that. Well anyway, she saves her marriage.

The movie paints a happy face on the outcome of it all, not wishing to depress its audience after ninety minutes of plausible doom. And in the constellation of what-if’s, saving a marriage is as likely a what-if to pick as everyone going back to the stone-age.

Or, here’s another what-if. What if real life turned out to be somewhere between going back to normal and going back to the stone-age? Well, people would still probably keep buying cameras.

The Social Fabric

Driving big cars all we like, everywhere we want, is part of our birthright and heritage. It is America. The government still calls it a privilege, not a right, but all that does is manufacture illegal drivers. Driving big cars is what we’re about, like life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and there should be a Constitutional Amendment to ensure it.