Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
Kelley. Skilled people like you do need to come together to help some venues and educate promoters, patrons, performers, etc., but the Ghost Ship was so below safety standards that only a padlock on the door was the safe solution.
SO MAKE them safe!!! I am an environmental, health and safety auditor and would be more than happy to come and see these sites and give folks the information they need to prevent tragic events like this from happening! email me if you want HELP!!!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Really? Nobody should be punished? Depending on how you look at it, it's murder, and even if the law doesn't look at it that way, In my opinion at least somebody should sure as hell better be punished, unless these kids lives didn't mean anything, but I think do, and I don't want to see it happen again. I experience this writer as wanting to take off any responsibility that might cause him to feel grief or guilt. I'm sorry but if you ever went to this venue and saw how unsafe it was and didn't do or say anything, then yeah, you are responsible. You suggest that the underground music scene isn't to blame because marginalized people need a place to gather, so the answer is to stuff them in a building that's a fire hazard? Is that a good answer to that problem? Let's not try and find another way? Yes space is at a premium, so your blaming the city landlords for being greedy for these kids dying? In a away we are all responsible, being responsible is different than blame. Now, building and illegal second story with wooden slats leading up to it, that's irresponsible, just because it was built without a fire code examination doesn't mean that who ever put it up couldn't have thought to him or herself, maybe a sprinkler and a fire exit or two would be a good idea. It's sad to me that this persons response to this tragedy is wanting to not blame people who really are responsible and to worry that other venues might be effected by it. What about the victims and their families and friends. And one other thing, in order for a place to be "safe", external safety does counts, sure these people might have felt safe in that to a certain degree they felt loved and accepted, but they were not safe. If people are going to have a venue they need to make the safety of the people who come a priority otherwise all that love and acceptance is just an illusion. I understand you probably do care about these people,we all need to look at how this happened, and come up with a solution, so people aren't putting their lives in danger. And yes the people in the underground music scene need to be part of that. That's the best way I can think to honer their lives.
Angela Talbot, some people will miss the point of an article on purpose to support their confirmation bias. I am guessing you are one of those people. Communities gather in underground spaces because they are made to feel unsafe and are unsupported in above-board venues. Safety is a fluid concept, and does not always refer to physical danger. While I am mad as hell that people died here due to the profoundly dangerous conditions, the mere fact of the tragedy will not obviate the need for friendly, supportive, and non-traditional creative spaces. The expected crackdown on illegal venues will only force this community further underground. My hope is that the people in charge of creating these events will find a way to place more of a premium on the physical safety of attendees, and not replicate these conditions.
I don't think my heart or gut will ever get used to the rush to blame, the judgment and the scapegoating that instantaneously follows tragedies like these. There will be lots of time to find the meaning and sort out the distribution of blame. It doesn't have to happen today or tomorrow.
I've never been to this spot. But I've been to probably 50 similar spots in cities all around the US and a few in Europe. They are often death-traps. But this the first time I've ever heard of one actually burning down.
Since around the turn of the millennium and for many reasons, spaces like these have kept a very particular part of the counter-culture alive. There will be endless mockers of statements like this one, but I believe it's true. Sure, there were aesthetic or perhaps even sort of entitled reasons why kids and young adults chose to live, work and party in spaces like this one but there are also profoundly legitimate economic ones. We all know the basic story - wealthier people have returned to cities long after the period of white flight. Cities are once again associated with status and prestige. As a result, what we used to admiringly call "Bohemia" has been displaced.
Much of the America that is not connected to this world mocks it; sees it as a choice to be poor, etc and does not value the commitment to art. Many don't care about the 23 yo white girl from a privileged background who chooses limited means and income in order to make electronic music and populate her Instagram feed. This is a bit of a weird historical anomaly - in the West, it is somewhat new that elites devalue the artistic/bohemian/creative class.
It would be great if American cities began following the model of some European ones and froze rents when gentrification moved too quickly and ensured arts funding and spaces for its production. If zoning had been relaxed, the operator of this space (however culpable he may be) might have been amenable to an electrical inspection without feeling the world he had created was threatened by working with the city.
Apparently 40 lives may have been saved.
"Bhatt and Butler wanted to emphasize in their interviews with the Express that the local underground music scene isnt to blame. The counterculture scene gravitates toward these potentially unsafe and illegal venues because of the mercenary local housing-market and the premium on space."
I understand passion for one's craft. But nothing is owed and nothing is guaranteed as far a place to live, or a place to perform. SAFETY must be of primary importance. It is ultimately the responsibility of individuals to make a risk assessment for themselves and leave an unsafe place.
But in a community, it is imperative that people putting on these concerts, people who manage places where these concerts are held, people who rent these places, and the city that monitors public safety, insure that places are SAFE. People who take responsibility for others - by having a place, by renting a place, by promoting a place, and by those who regulate a place have to live up to their respopnsibilities and avoid blaming others. Or expect others to do what the responsible person or entity should do. It's time to think of ways to work with the larger community and the regulatory agencies to make sure this never happens again.
We all live in situations not totally of our doing or our control, but when lives are at risk, it makes common sense to work within those situations. It's abhorant to read in this article that people are saying these concerts will continue even in unsafe places. Very disappointing. Very irresponsible. It's not worth it to those who lost their lives, who lost loved ones, and caring people in the communnity to say life is so unimportant. Those in positions of responsibility need to asssure their community members and all the people around the world who are concerned and saddened that they will work, and work hard, that this never happens again.
My condolences to all affected by this tragedy. I pray people in places of authority learn from this tragedy. Be safe. Peace. Om.
The young, the poor and the rebellious have been using unsafe spaces since A/E left the Garden. How many children will die this year in Christmas tree fires? If the city boarded up all of the unsafe spaces there would be an outcry from the street and the landlords.
Where possible the community needs to take things into their own hands to save themselves. Who in their right minds looked at that staircase and thought it was acceptable? I've done events. What a b**ch to do things right. This was not even close.
The transgender people and people-of-color comment seemed ridiculous, this fire was not about any of that. I have to say that it hurts to read of such a tragedy, I have a niece who is a singer songwriter in the Berkley, Oakland area and know how much having a venue means to young artists, but it's unfathomable to me that you can have a space like this that's touted as safe and inclusive emotionally yet be so dangerous physically. If this is Oakland's answer to safe spaces, then something needs to be done to fix what is clearly broken. My condolences go out to those affected by this tragedy, and may those we lost rest in peace...
Ken C, North Carolina
" Sadly, some of the dozens of attendees who remain unaccounted for are transgender people and people-of-color. " weird. what does that have to do with anything? people are not accounted for because they are still trying to access and ID the bodies. Why are we bringing race or sexuality into this? They are human victims who lost life. Its all these labels that hurt society as a whole
"Sadly, some of the dozens of attendees who remain unaccounted for are transgender people and people-of-color."
Does this infer that happily not all the victims were transgender or people of color? Who cares what their gender or color was! The tragic death of anyone is sad! All of us whoever we are have the same emotions and dreams as well as family and people who love us. What the hell was this line doing in the story? This is a tragedy not another chance to drive a wedge between humans!
RIP to the people who passed from this tragedy and I'm so sorry to friends victims and families.
What a horribly written article.
I agree with you Bruce. I am upset that so many young people had to die for no reason other than neglect of safety concerns. I grew up in the Bay Area, but haven't lived there since 1975,before most of you were born.
I now live outside the USA for personal reasons, but a think this was a tragedy and not the first to occur at at a large gathering of young people looking for meaning in their lives and just trying to enjoy themselves. People are dying all over the world in wars and other causes, but it hurts me to think that a tragedy like this could happen in my beautiful Northern California.
I hope that some people will learn from this event to be more careful about where they are going to spend their time, even if only for an evening. My empathy is for the people who lost friends and lovers in this tragedy. I just hope that lessons have been taken by those who might benefit from them.
Soen: the only problem with your narrative is, from the photos I've seen, the victims of the fire are white (save one possible Hispanic), the party promoters are white, the residents who turned the warehouse into a death trap are white, while the fire chief is black and the property owner is Asian. But keep blaming 'white supremacy'.
So sad. My condolences to the friends, family, and acquaintances of the victims.
There is no excuse --none-- for not having a sprinkler system, accessible exits, and an up-to-code stairway. High rents, marginalized status, or persecution do not excuse the failure to foresee a catastrophic fire.
This is a wake-up call not only to those in the underground scene but to all landlords, owners, and promoters that their first priority should be the physical safety of those who use the premises.
All persons in a position of responsibility must ensure the physical safety of potential users of the space. Not to do so is not just against the law but also an abdication of moral responsibility.
Users of unsafe spaces should refuse to enter structures where the basic preventative safeguards are not in place. They should also complain, loudly, when they encounter an unsafe space and report these spaces to the fire department and relevant agencies in order to prevent another calamity like this.
Moreover, the city, county, and fire department must step up their enforcement of structures which do not comport with the building codes. These codes have been enacted, after many similar deaths, in order to prevent the exact loss which occurred here.
Again, my condolences.
"Sadly, some of the dozens of attendees who remain unaccounted for are transgender people and people-of-color."
Sadly, some of the dozens of attendees who remain unaccounted for are not straight and not white.
Yeah, because this needs to be said? Screw this politicized and devicive article.
Well said Mike
Folks, I really am sorry for your loss and I'm angry as hell about it. They didn't even "get" to die for a cause or reason. Just stupidity and greed.
So far as I know, none of my friends were there... Time will tell.
This was irresponsible and has been going on for some time. I've been in Oakland for over 20 years. Somehow the "community" has no responsibility for this stuff. I listen to the gun battles from my home. Every time shit get's real it's always "the man's" fault. Not the half-assed delusional people pulling half thought out stuff... Cuz' most of the time it works... Except when it doesn't.
I know what safe means and it doesn't mean illusions and unicorns. It means doing something real. It means dealing with the world as it is not what we wish it were. If it sucks, work on fixing that. Yes, that IS freaking hard too. Withdrawing and blaming is easy.
Right now, there are people digging through that place, pulling what used to be alive, vibrant people out. Check my privilege? What those people are doing can't be unseen, can't be unlived. And you tell me to check my privilege?! Who in whatever deities name you believe in (or not) privileged anyone to inflict that on anyone, let alone strangers. As grand ma used to say, That's gonna leave a mark... And You can't crowd fund that away. You can't make art and make it all nice. You can't be smug about how uplifted you are for the underdog to make it ok.
I'm pissed for the 40. I'm pissed because folks were so afraid of losing the spot, they couldn't or wouldn't stand up to the guy running it and they allowed it and seem, at least in these articles, to be sainting him for it and blaming everyone else.
Check yours people. I'm tired of it. As the new guerrilla BART signs say, get your shit together.
Right, I'm sure they are greedy, underground music shows in warehouses is where the money is at
Angela, being beaten down by white supremacy is not the same as blaming white people. It's pointing blame at white supremacy, there is a difference, white supremacy as I understand it is the faction/culture/history of specific groups and individuals who are white effecting policies, programs, laws, institutions, and social public opinion to favor only people who are also white while ignoring, brutalizing, or restricting those who are not white. For instance rudolf Julianis stop and frisk policy which targeted and profiled people of color as potential criminals simply because they were not white. That was a white supremacists action. No, white people all over are not to blame for that. However by being white I/we/you dont often see white privilege because i/we/you are not disenfranchised by it. Being disenfranchised because of skin color results in people of color having to seek sanctuary from such forces that in effect ignore, restrict, and brutalize people simply for being who they are.
"Bhatt and Butler wanted to emphasize in their interviews with the Express that the local underground music scene isnt to blame...They also said that these non-permitted residences that host underground shows are often the only safe place for marginalized people, those who find above-the-board and sanctioned venues unsafe or inhospitable. 'We need spaces that are open to folks who are beaten down and oppressed by living daily under patriarchy and white supremacy,' Butler said."
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