to the reservation harbor shortly thereafterrnand float a stone’s throw from thernbeach. From that point on, the two sidesrnwould exchange insults, often aided byrnbull horns. The Makah generously employedrnthe f-word and referred to thern”eco-colonialists” as “walruses,” which tornthem is evidentl}’ some kind of putdown.rnThe whale saviors held an obvious educationalrnadvantage over the Makah. Betweenrnear-shattering blasts of taped whalernscreeching over a ship’s speaker system,rnthe environmentalists belittled thernMakah with such insults as, “You speakrnlike an eight-year-old. Blah, blah, blah.”rnThough the two sides detested eachrnother, the confrontadon didn’t degeneraterninto a full-scale bloodbath. The worstrnday came on November 1, when thernMakah captured an inflatable Zodiacrnthat had ventured too close to shore. Therncrew was ceremoniously dunked in thernwater to the cheers of over a hundred hidians,rnand then hauled away bv police. Arnprotester who came ashore to save hisrncomrades was wrestled face-first onto therncement by tribal police officers. Amongrnthe rewards for his braxerv vvas a frontpagernpicture of his bloody face on a Seattlernnewspaper and a scar across the foreheadrnthat will probably be regarded in hisrncircle as a status symbol.rnThe Makah never mounted a seriousrnhunt in the fall of 1998. Fierce weatherrnkept the hunting party close to home.rnThe next opportimits’ to bag a gray whalernwould not come until spring, when graysrnmigrate from their breeding grounds offrnBaja to their feeding grounds in the watersrnaround Russia and Alaska.rnA week after the Makah brought homernone of those migrating grays —and thernscorn and abuse that accompanied it—rnword came that gray whales were destroyingrnfine beachfront propertv up andrndown the western coast of the UnitedrnStates. Naturalists called it an unprecedentedrndie-off, but those who found theirrnfavorite beach planted with a rotting grayrnwhale carcass called it disgusting.rnIn the first six months of 1999, 83 deadrngrays washed ashore, compared with 38rnduring the whole of 1998. StephaniernDorenzas, a spokeswoman for the NationalrnMarine Fisheries Service, said thatrna government committee was studyingrnthe problem. She refused to speculate onrnwhether the whales were starving torndeath. But other naturalists aren’t waitingrnfor committee reports. They pointrnto the burgeoning gray whale population,rnwhich stands somewhere betweenrn25,000 and 30,000, as evidence thatrngrays are overwhelming their ecosystem.rnSome naturalists claim there are morerngray whales today than ever.rnIt’s common practice to thin land animalsrnwith selective hunting. Yet if a personrnin downtown Seattle proposed selectivernhunting as a way to trim whalernmmibers, he would be in immediaterndanger of being lynched. Many peoplernhere have the sort of moral fervor forrnwhales that mullahs have for Allah. ThernMakah are aware of this. Wherr theirrnhunting parhes venture into the PacificrnOcean looking for grays, they’ll rememberrnthat not a few people here would preferrnseeing a crew of Makah Indians floatingrnin the water over the sight of anotherrnharpooned whale.rnJonathan Ellis writes from the PacificrnNorthwest.rnLetter From Venicernby Andrei ISavrozovrnThe Lagoon and the AbyssrnWhat Exile from himself can flee?rnTo Zones, though more and more remote,rnStill, still pursues, where-e’er I be.rnThe blight of life—the demon, Thought.rn—Lord ByronrnThus a previous occupant of our palazzo.rnRomantic rubbish, you say? Venice notrnremote enough for him? Should haverntried some other zone, freezing rain inrnOctober and 40 below in March, shovelrnin hand and memories of a cigarette asrnhis main divertissement? In the vulgarrnidiom of a less fortimate generation:rnNext morning the fog was all gone.rnThe furious waves calmed down,rnBefore us arose Magadan,rnThe Kolyma zone’s head town.rnAs I write this, with the gentle voice ofrnItalian winter for a soimdtrack v’himperingrnpitifully somewhere beyond the Arsenalernjust as the 20th century has alwaysrnbeen meant to whimper in farewell,rnthere is but a single thought in my head,rnnamely, that the Christian world as wernknow it is going to relive the histor}’ of totalitarianrnRussia in our lifetime. I look atrnthe demon thought this way, and that; Irnturn it over in my mind, and look at itrnsideways, and then again in the face; Irnlook at it in unaccountably frequent momentsrnof happiness and during bouts ofrndepression; dead drunk and stone sober;rnalone and in conversation with friends;rnbut no matter how I look at it, I see no escapernfrom what appears to be unavoidable.rnNot historically inevitable, mindrnyou, because I am not fool enough to getrnworked up over theories of histor}’, or entanglernmyself in ontological disputation;rnnot divinely predestined, for roughly thernsame reason; but simply unavoidable, inrnthe sense that an egg will surely crack ifrnthe huge leather)’ bottom of an adult hippopotamusrncomes to rest upon it.rnI am not talking politics, either. Evenrnif I came to believe, against all evidencernto the contrary, that the ruling junta inrnRussia will suddenly terminate its continuingrnnuclear, chemical, and biologicalrnarmament while the West will curtail itsrnown strategic disarmament, with the resultrnthat the United States, France, andrnBritain will retain some viable deterrentrnagainst global blackmail in the years torncome; or that Pat Buchanan, despite ha’-rning neither campaign funds nor a politicalrnmachine nor a fair press, will be electedrnpresident by a landslide, neither torninvoke Averell Harriman in his inauguralrnaddress nor to lunch with HenrrnKissinger the day after; or that the tomatoesrnoffered for sale in a supermarket inrnBirmingham will become as real as thernhomegrown produce of Sant’ Erasmornwhich I can still find on some morningsrnat the Rialto; even if I came to believe allrnthat, and in the tooth fairy besides, Irnwould conclude that the bad news balancedrnthe good 1:1 in the sense definedrnb’ the seller of sausages with a filling ofrnhorsemeat and partridge in an old Russianrnstory, meaning one horse to one partridge.rnOver Christmas I bought the “NumerornMillennium” of the Italian current affairsrnweekly Panorama, mainly because thernmagazine’s cover story, entifled “Welcomernto the Twent)’-First Century,” wasrnlargely taken up with European Unionrnstatistics. Obviously, nobody with a deskrnjob in Italy v’as going to v’ork over thernholidays, not even in Milan, and the issuernhad been printed well in advance, somerndesperate journalists having hit upon thernploy of publishing raw data in feverish anticipationrnof skiing in Cortina d’Ampez-rn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn