Hiking Blackett’s Ridge and Contemplating Lil Tay: A Short Commentary on American Culture. By: Melissa Koch

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Melissa Koch

I did a bad thing yesterday.  I got up early for a tortuous hike up Blackett’s Ridge, a popular local hike for those who want a challenge.  The views from the small peak make the constant gasping for air and burning quads worth it.  However, this wasn’t the bad thing I am referencing.

The first thing I did in the morning was open the news notification on my phone.  I normally choose to swipe away news…swipe away all the bad, but a headline begged me open it.  It was regarding a 9-year-old cocaine dealer and foul-mouthed rapper with her own Instagram account (not allowed under guidelines for age).  As it turns out, this 9-year-old has 1.7 million Instagram followers.  Her recent video waving 100-dollar bills around in a Mercedes has 9 million views making her an internet sensation.  Lil Tay, as she is called, “disses” on other rappers, makes sure you’re very aware of her fortune, and insults everyone with her dirty Lil mouth.  Apparently, she’s admitted to smoking blunts and moving bricks (of cocaine), has gang affiliations, been on house arrest, and she’s been seen schmoozing with famous music moguls at Cochella.  Not bad for a little potty-mouthed brat, but this is America folks, and we like empty and hollow.  These are the cultural values we live and die by: inspirational memes, strip malls, and literally fighting over two-dollar waffle irons at Walmart on Black Friday.  It’s like eating McDonalds, tastes great in the moment, but leaves you empty and wanting more.  Thus, playing on the ever-increasing need for dopamine hits via commercialism and social media.  I am just as guilty, by the way, but I’m keepin’ it real perusing gardening and trail running sites.  I spend my hard-earned Benjamins on the bling of running gear and plants, a lot of plants (seriously, I mean A LOT).

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Sabino Canyon from Blacketts (Photo subject to copyright)

If this was my child, I’d send her away to a wilderness therapy camp for an entire year.  Via con dios Lil Tay; go eat some dirt and smell some trees.  Maybe get stung by a bee and fall in some bear shit, perhaps be eaten alive by mosquitos; that’s what real life is about.

As I ran to the trailhead and then climbed and scuttled my way up switchbacks past giant ancient saguaros, fishhook barrel cacti, and ocotillos, the scent of dirt filled my nostrils.  The blue sky opened to distant horizons only to be broken by the obtuse mountain peaks of the sky islands.  The sky islands are a series of mountain ranges that rise out of the Sonoran Desert.  They are called home by several localized plant and animal species; relics of the last glacial period. It always astounds me that kids are taught where Zimbabwe is located, but have no clue the names or traits of their local flora and fauna.

Directly down below is the expanse of Tucson, quiet from up here.  The view is peppered with new developments displaying deep cuts in earth, the delicate desert habitat erased forever.  So many species losing their homes to modern convenience and unchecked expansion.  I think about the human population growing exponentially.  Why can’t we stop having kids for a while until things rebalance?  Are we such slaves to our biological imperative?

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A View From the Top: Blackett’s Ridge  (Photo subject to copyright)

Our reward pathways in the brain demand more and more, but only if it’s cheaper, like a grab for the low-hanging fruit.  A helpful adaptation when we hunted and gathered; a detriment to our species in the civilized world.  Onwards and upwards, the march towards our mission to domesticate the entire planet.  Like any system in nature left unmoderated, it is impossible to expand exponentially, and we will go down with the ship in sea of plastic.  We all sense in our guts that recycling isn’t a panacea, but we do it anyway to lighten our guilt.  Nature will outsmart us in the end.  You see, the seeds of destruction are always inherent within the system.  Call it checks and balances or karma if you will, but you, me, and Lil Tay will learn the lesson the hard way, everything is connected.  These are the things I think about as I make the descent. “Better enjoy it as much as possible while it’s here; while I’m here.”

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Thee End (Photo subject to copyright)

 

I didn’t expect my journey to be so melancholic, but it was Mother’s Day and I could tell by the orange peels strewn about the trail (peels don’t decay in dry climates dipshits), not enough of us give a fuck about the mother that created us.  0bviously I’ve let Lil Tay get to me, her influence juxtaposed against the jagged rocks that impede my way down.  “Where is this kid’s mother anyway? Does she know what her daughter is up to?”  Someone has failed this little girl and robbed her of sunsets, tree climbing, and mud pies.  She’s missing out on the sound of summer night crickets drifting in open windows along with soft breezy mysteries ruffling her hair while she sleeps.

Sadly, investigative reporters believe Lil Tay is the 9-year-old daughter of a real estate agent.  Some say it’s her mother behind the recordings for YouTube and the one snapping the pictures for her Instagram.  The Mercedes might be the car of her mother’s supervisor.  They state he was likely clueless the photo had ulterior motives.  He probably thought it was a little girl dreaming of her own material successes.  Apparently, she may live in the suburbs of Vancouver.

This little girl, who’s life is steeped in unsubstantiated rumors, is now the subject of internet lore.  Due to her content, she is exposed to a wide range of insults on her profiles emboldened by internet anonymity.  If this is all true, I wonder how a mother could do this to her own daughter?  As a counselor, I know all too well how this scenario plays out for a child.  In a few years you’ll arrive in treatment, a victim of shitty and uninformed parenting. This is, after all, child abuse to be put simply.  Happy Mother’s Day to Lil Tay’s mom, you are the crown of thorns on the apex of child exploitation.

I make my final descent and run back to my car.  It’s no Mercedes but it gets me to the trail and the job.  I look at my phone and ponder, “I wonder how many likes I’ll get for my photo on top of Blackett’s Ridge?”

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California Poppies on Blackett’s (photo subject to copyright)

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