Oakland got to be the place where all the satellite trucks parked this past weekend. On Friday night, there was a party, a concert, a rave inside a warehouse not too far from my home. It happened after my bedtime, so it was no surprise that I missed it. It was also one of those social events promulgated via Al Gore's Internet and spread through the use of smart phone applications that would conflict with my generally feeble use of my own smart phone. As a fifty-four year old school teacher, I'm not in the target demographic for dance parties in artist collectives held after dark inside a warehouse. But now I am suddenly caught up in the events of that night because they ended in tragedy.
Dozens of people died in a fire that broke out inside that warehouse and the exits were inadequate and flames too fast and fierce to avert the disaster that was best described as a "fire trap." The nature of the party in all its creativity and under the radar excitement was what made it so dangerous. Days later, there were still dozens missing. Their whereabouts were unclear because they were the type of young folks who lived in that demographic: whereabouts unknown. With the potential for dozens to be eventually discovered in the rubble of a building whose roof collapsed on the makeshift second floor which pancaked again on the ground floor below, this will become the deadliest day in Oakland since the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.
As a result, the coverage for this tragedy has been non-stop. We had friends and relatives call to check on our well-being, even though they had mostly ruled us out because of that whole bedtime thing. It was the long-distance version of what my father described as "The Potbelly Syndrome." All those means of communications that made the party possible in the first place became the way we could gather and discuss and question. Most of the messages were of the "are you okay?" variety. And then there were the others. The comments.
Because of the sudden and pervasive coverage, the cretins with keyboards have come out. Now, amid the prayers and voices of concern are the vicious attacks by those who feel the need to grind their axes on a moment in time that needed no further pain. "wait,,,, calif liberals break into a warehouse illegally,,, throw a illegal rave,,,,,,, cause a fire,,,, burn themselves up with "criminal" antics and you want me to shed a tear? ,,,,,,,, nope,,,,, I always hear liberals talk of 'karma',,, well,,,,,, THERE IT IS." Or "Trespassing junkies. Just bulldoze it in a pile. Get a few front end loaders and haul off the mess." Ugly, sweeping generalizations made from the comfort and safety of the commentator's home or cubicle. While it is true that we probably shouldn't go looking for comfort at the end of a news story, it does make me wonder how and when we all will come back together. Or if. God rest all of our souls.