Maya mask. Stucco frieze from Placeres, Campeche.

DOOMSDAY DENIERS: I understand that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012 – except in Santa Barbara.

That’s because nothing ever happens here unless we put it on the ballot. And not even then, most of the time.

I hear that millions of people in the outside world believe predictions – something to do with the Mayan calendar – that Earth will die in some horrible cataclysm that day. But I have not found one Santa Barbaran who believes it.

Barney Brantingham

That’s probably because we feel so insulated from the worldly woes we read about, see on TV, or come upon via the Internet. We firmly believe that nothing bad can happen to us. We are golden, a chosen city.

Oh sure, a major earthquake hits every century or so. But that chiefly serves as an impetus for urban renewal. You know how many people died in the last Big One, in 1925? An unlucky 13. Okay, we do have wildfires, tragic ones that torch many homes. But the town has never been wiped out or even come close to it.

We don’t think Santa Barbara could ever be wiped out, because, well, nature wouldn’t dare. Maybe L.A., and we’d feel very sorry, the humanity and all that, and the movie studios. But it couldn’t happen here, just because.

Now you may call this elitism, the height of arrogance. To think that the entire planet could go blooie and we alone, this lucky stretch of the Southern California coast, would survive. I don’t quite understand it, but the attitude’s out there.

This is a small section of the glyphs carved into La Mojarra Stela 1. The left column shows the Long Count date of, or 156 AD (June 23, 156 AD by one calculation). The two right columns are glyphs from the little-known Epi-Olmec script also known as the Isthmusian or La Mojarra script.

Now I also read that there is some question among scientists whether the world as we know it will be destroyed by floods, fires, and utter collapse of the Dow Jones stock market index on that day. It has something about the Mayan calendar ending. (So the rest of it was lost in the jungle and that’s supposed to mean we have no future? Maybe the calendar workers just got hot, went to the beach, and forgot about the whole thing.) I refuse to believe these Doomsday predictions because I have been to the Yucatan numerous times and I never saw anyone preparing for Doomsday.

If the Maya don’t believe it, why should we? Let the whole world tremble and start settling their affairs. I think many people are just using this as an excuse not to pay their bills. Stall the credit card scum and mortgage leeches for a few years and live it up. Thumb your nose at them on December 21, 2012.

Actually, there seems to be little or no evidence that the end of the calendar signified disaster, but may have instead indicated the beginning of an era of great enlightenment.

Of course, we Santa Barbarans, being the most responsible people on the whole blasted earth, besides maybe the English and Scandinavians, would pay our bills, property taxes, and mortgages until the very last day. Even if we believed that runaway nature was soon going to put the kibosh on the Arlington Theatre, La Super Rica Taqueria, Stearns Wharf, and every coffee shop in town where masses huddle every morning.

So how should we behave on the eve of December 21, 2012? I suggest gathering with one’s friends, family, sworn enemies, even those who voted the other way on the Measure B height limit ordinance, build a roaring blaze in the fireplace or driveway, and drink a toast.

Party until midnight and look to the heavens. If nothing happens, keep on partying. Rejoice that there’ll still be a Rose Bowl, Super Bowl, and other cherished traditions to live for.

Until then, remember, there’s only 1,088 shopping days left, plus or minus, depending on when this column appears. Make the best of them.

Happy New Year.


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