Ming Krang 
Member since Dec 4, 2016


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Re: “Artists Who Survived Oakland Warehouse Fire Discuss The Tragedy, Those Missing, Need for Safe Underground Spaces

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.

Posted by Ming Krang on 12/04/2016 at 8:18 AM

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