Sonoma County fires 2017 tagged posts

In Defense of Gawkers and Looky-Loos

Local news reports here in Sonoma County  tell us that many people who lost their homes to the October fires are upset that the fire tourist “looky-loos” now descending on the rubble of their streets are adding further insult to the grievous injury they have already suffered. This is an understandable response, and I feel for them.

But it seems to me there is much more to this phenomenon than mere voyeurism, so I would like to offer another perspective.

I do so as someone who did not lose his own home but, like most all residents of this area, know many friends and acquaintances who did. And who, like everyone connected emotionally to this beloved landscape and community, shares in the grief of so much loss.

Within the collective trauma, each person, in the privacy of their own fears and anguish, still has to reckon with their sense of loss, still has to make peace with the images now seared into memo...

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Dodging Bullets, Traffic, and the Fire This Time…

You are at a country music festival, the weekend’s final act.

It is late and you are feeling the love.

For the artists, the music, the atmosphere, those you came with, all those you didn’t come with but with whom you are now bound and bathed in a warm bubble of what will surely be a lifelong memory.

Then there are alien sounds, rhythmic but not musical—and not coming from the stage.

Then comes the chaos, the confusion, the sudden mad scramble and cowering amid bullets and falling bodies all around you, blood spattering your clothes (is it your own?), screams of fear, of anguish, and death for 58 people.

And for some reason, you are not among them.

You are alive.

***

You are driving down the three-lane highway with a childhood friend on a sunny afternoon, fast lane.

You need to get off, so you move toward the middle.

A driver in the slow lane has the same idea, same time.

You don’t notice, until you d...

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