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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Guest Essays: Last 7 Days

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

The Former LoBot Gallery Residents' friends at Ghost Ship / Satya Yuga are clearly guilty of manslaughter. The evidence in the press, and that I saw first hand, is overwhelming, as I see it.* That they say "To our friends at Ghost Ship: We are with you" is despicable. Shame!

Former residents: You explicitly ally yourself with people who hosted events that attracted large crowds to spaces that not only didn't come close to meeting the codes for assembly spaces, they didn't even come close to the much more lax codes for business or residential space - or even the codes for warehouse space, which are the most lax of all. Worse than that, you want to CONTINUE TO DO SO. Damn you. 36 dead isn't enough? Dead bodies are not art.

If you want folks not to call to have your space red tagged, don't say "We want our spaces retrofitted for modern fire-suppression systems, exits, and alarms." If you'd said, "We want a little time to retrofit our spaces with as much safety features as we can afford - modern fire-suppression systems if we can, but certainly sufficient well-marked exits, fire extinguishers and alarms." I'd be with you.

*Unmarked and locked exits, extremely unsafe electrical wiring, no working fire extinguishers or smoke detectors... There are numerous reports that the residents who ran Ghost Ship laughed at people who raised safety concerns.

Posted by Amelie Love on 12/08/2016 at 2:13 PM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Just another broken minded liberal thinking that their self-importance should be heard by everyone, when in fact nobody cares. He wants us to believe that he has a firm grasp on this matter, when in reality he keeps spouting the liberal nonsense that is prevalent on the #fakenews from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and sometimes at FOX. All of America sees a fool on a mission that can't see the truth in front of his very face. Hillary is the one that stole the votes, which is the only reason that it seemed close (3 million proven illegal immigrants voted in California alone). On this fact alone we, the United States of America, will change the law where you idiots will go to prison when you break it next time. Only legal residents should vote, but the moral high road liberals think it's okay to let the whole world vote in our elections. I have never heard of anything so idiotic in my life. Keep up the stupidity and we will be forced to enact laws that will make your liberal minds explode! Annexing the California vote is certainly a viable option.

Posted by Tman1609 on 12/08/2016 at 1:49 PM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Ron Dellums has provided inspiration to work for social and economic justice for the entire 48 years I have lived in the Bay Area. Happy to hear from him in these times when we need his voice and wisdom.

Posted by Margaret Cunningham on 12/08/2016 at 1:29 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

There is a whole new level of relevant issues that need to be examined in the wake of this tragedy, and that is how many of these "artists" are working the system, getting food stamps and SSI and having their children taken care of by child protective services while partying and having fun while other, more responsible people have to work for a living.

Derrick Ion Almena and his wife...were they getting food stamps? Was he sucking down 100 percent disability for his rather obvious bipolar condition, claiming he couldn't work while managing this unsafe space, collecting rent, not fixing things...and then they'd fly off to Bali and party.

What were the kids doing in a hotel BEFORE the fire? Who was paying for that? Child protective services? Section 8? The taxpayers in some form or another?

And it's not just Derick. It's so many of these creative rebels who have their straws stuck into the great big chocolate milkshake of the system, sucking the system all day long while claiming to be such rebels...and the whole time, the system supports their bad lifestyle choices with food stamps, and disability payments, and taking care of their children in foster homes whole these irresponsible "adult children" party and smoke pot and, if they can be bothered to show up to vote, vote for an ever-larger welfare state.

When the Manson Family committed helter skelter, when the Hells Angels bashed heads at Altamount, that was the end of the era of the hippies and the free love...that was the death of the prolonged childhood of the hippy era.

Well, the grownups who believe in jobs and tightening borders and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps are taking over in January. And the "thriller love child" of Manson just marked the death of the era of Personal Non-Responsibility and privileged identity politics under Obama. The examination of what happened here, it is bigger than Oakland. The whole nation is finding symbolic meaning in what happened.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 6:30 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Here's the deal... Members of the community, all about safe spaces, knew about the conditions at Ghost Ship and the operator (see other articles right here on EBX)... And said nothing/did nothing.

LoBot operated, by their own admission for 13 years, and somehow never bothered to advise/press the existing building owner for needed repairs. After the building changed hands, they self reported to the city to force the new owner to make the long overdue repairs (I read the articles right here on EBX)... And the building was bad enough it was red flagged! The city told them to fix it, and they basically tore it down. While I've never seen a statement from the building owner, I suspect the building was so bad that's what had to be done. Not surprising as it was vacant and decaying in '96 when I moved to West Oakland as was most of the area.

The sad and simple fact is it was advantageous for these people to operate this way... The property owner and the lease holder. They built and sold illusion of safety. Those who didn't go along got subtle and not so subtle enforcement with little or no recourse. Things that are underground seem to always go that way. Bullies thrive in secrecy, in the underground.

Tove has it dead right. Get politically active. Stop throwing temper tantrums and make a difference. I know when I voted this year, I had to swallow the vomit and we still got the horror... But I did it because NOT doing it was NOT standing against it.

The city doesn't have the money it needs. It sure isn't going to get it from the art community, nor will it come from the poor or dwindling middle class; there just isn't enough there. If we keep playing "We're different and you're the other", all we do divide and expose the ever smaller groups the the vicious bullies of the world... And they win. Get in the solution. Marching isn't it.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 12/07/2016 at 8:06 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

I know a manager at one of the local Bank of America branches who is always looking for young people who want a start in the banking and finance industry. Why not stop in and inquire? It can't hurt to ask. Then you could do your artwork at night and in the evenings. I did the very thing as a young man, carving models of WWII battleships from wood that the local furniture maker saved for me. You know, odds and ends that he couldn't use. Once a year I always presented one of my better pieces, just to say 'thanks'.

Posted by Francesco on 12/07/2016 at 5:33 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Why the need for censorship people? Someone doesn't agree and you want it removed? And I bet the people asking to remove comments cry when they don't get heard.

Tove had some valid points whether you agreed with it or not. No guns are being placed on anyone's head to live this lifestyle. It's a choice.

There are also rules for the GREATER safety of everyone and not just a select few. The landlords are also at risk which the author is asking to bear. It's all about self responsibility.

Posted by Robert Hope on 12/07/2016 at 1:29 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Bigfrog - Yes, I think I was incorrect there, in that I'm sure many of the buildings were abandoned or unoccupied when artists moved in. That point was secondary to the rest of the post, and I should have just left it out.

Posted by Carlos Jamal on 12/07/2016 at 8:44 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Hey Carlos Jamal - I was one of the original inhabitants at Lobot and nobody was displaced when we moved in. It was formerly a business and the guys who built the living spaces created a place where 15 - 20 people lived. And in my situation I freed up a low rent room for someone else to occupy.

Posted by bigfrog on 12/07/2016 at 8:11 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

The housing crisis is a travesty, as was this horrific fire.

Unfortunately, your way of life, of living in a poverty of choice to create art, appears to no longer be sustainable in this area of the world. You were not the first people to live in Oakland, nor would you be the first people displaced. Likely, you displaced someone when you arrived.

You are in charge of your own life. You are at no one's mercy. Your problems and issues have arisen because of the lifestyle choices you have made. You should come to terms with that.

To retrofit buildings for fire safety, you need fire marshals. You need money. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Posted by Carlos Jamal on 12/07/2016 at 6:34 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

What if you didn't go to art school?? That's some cold hard snobbery right there. That's called victim blaming and that is the most disrespectful way to talk about the deceased. What's selfish about what Lobot said?? They are trying to protect spaces like their own from being shut down as opposed to being made safe. Making more places where more people can feel at home so we don't all have to be privelived little pricks like you and can just be ourselves. Not every boot comes with a damn strap so try some new shoes on and figure that out smarty pants. What do you mean by don't "expect" to be taken care of by you city? Is a city not supposed to be concerned with the safety and well being of its citizens? Or are you saying don't expect it cause they obviously only give a fuck about their money... Cause yeah that's why we DON'T expect it. But that doesn't mean we don't deserve it. And if you think that's selfish, you're only looking in a mirror. You don't deserve your safety any more than anyone else, you just have more access, because you have privelive, cause the boots your daddy gave you came with straps you near sighted ditz. Just remember your diploma will be the first thing that burns when you get to the gates.

Posted by Morgan True on 12/07/2016 at 3:48 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Editor: The comment made by Tove is horrifically offensive and inappropriate in the wake of this tragedy.

Posted by chichichills on 12/07/2016 at 12:59 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Tove you are out of order and have the wrong end of the stick so to speak. I can only assume you are a middle aged white man or woman and are out of touch with other people's life experience and or position in life.

Posted by J Rashad Banks on 12/06/2016 at 9:07 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Editor: Please remove the comment from Tove. It's very sad, maddening and completely disrespectful to the conversation we're trying to have right now.

Posted by Kelly H williams on 12/06/2016 at 7:50 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Personal anecdotes on the pulling up of bootstraps always seem so relevant to everyone don't they? i think this letter perfectly points out that city fire policies don't even allow people the chance to bring a space up to code without being displaced. This comment just reeks of "i got mine, so who cares about your?" elitism.

Posted by Porch Lyfe on 12/06/2016 at 6:46 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

This is, simply put, horrendously selfish and notice that the condolences to those souls lost in the Ghost Ship (an apt name, now) are at the end of the article, when they are what should be at the tip of our tongues, the top of our minds, right now. So sad you can't "create" and "live," yet somehow I've found a way to do it for over 40 years and put safety first in my living environment. You are not "forced into" ANYTHING. And, most certainly, do not expect to be taken care of by the likes of the City of Oakland or this #derekion dude or any other slumlord. These are the situations that cause us to GROW THE HELL UP. Get politically active and stop this self-indulgent sob story unless you are sobbing about someone you lost at 31st and International. If you went to art school, society took care of you in some way, shape or form. Give it back, and not in the form of bad (or even good) art. Give it back in the form of meaningful action on behalf of those 36 souls. It's on you, it's on us. But this selfish whining has got to stop because the one thing it WON'T stop is this housing and public safety crisis, nor will your art.

Posted by Tove Beatty on 12/06/2016 at 6:22 PM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Sorry Dan, your list of Dellums so called "accomplishments" during his term ring a bit hollow. Police reform, really? How many scandals and new Chiefs does it take until the reform part kicks in? Measure Y, what exactly did Dellums have to do with that? The voters approved the measure and Public Works implemented the projects. What exactly was the Mayors contribution?Reduction of crime, I think not. The fact is that during his term (2006-20110) crime across the country was down. I don't think Dellums had much to do with that. Obtaining Federal stimulus grants from his Washington buddies on Capitol Hill was the least he could do. After all, he could do that with phone calls from home. It didn't require showing up for work.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/06/2016 at 5:50 AM

Re: “Oakland's Ron Dellums on President Trump: 'Step Forward'

Thank you Mayor Dellums for these words. So inspiring. Thank you for all that you have done, continue to do and all of the hope you represent.

Posted by Joycelyn Hughes on 12/06/2016 at 2:46 AM

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