Ah, the relentless sleepless city of Los Angeles - I don't think the rest of the country is as obsessed with the tenth anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake than we are. Understandably so, but personally I'm trying to put that little escapade far, far behind me. My local daily San Fernando newspaper , The Daily News has been running a... , y'know, a 'where were you back then' multi-part series on their front page.
I can't believe it's been ten years already.
I was living with both my best friend, Joe Zullo who went to high school and his newlywed wife, Carol in a condo over in Tarzana when it struck at that fateful 4:31 AM morning - and it just happened to fall on a Martin Luther King Jr day (wrath from the civil rights leader grave?, perhaps?) - so it was a lucky break for both the hour and the day for most folks who didn't have to go to work that morning or had to be on the road and in their offices. All that my memory extends is that like bloody fucking Rip Van Winklestein, I slept through the entire melee, because to put it simply: I was fucking pissed out of my fucking gourd.
It's true. I was out tying one on that night. I had a entire pitcher of Michelob or Newcastle all to myself at a bar down the street, came back to my room, smoked a half a pack of cancer chokes and passed out reading a Frank Miller Sin City graphic novel. I was awakened by the incessant dual pounding on my door by my roommate and his wife wondering if I were alive or dead or not. I was so disoriented, I didn't know what the fuck was going on. It was pitch black - none of the lamps were working- correction, make that I didn't know where a source of light was even at. In the dark, I grabbed a pair of jeans that were lying on the floor which had my cigarette lighter in it. (It was one of those Zippos that you had to buy fluid for). I flicked open the lighter, applied thumb pressure to send the zinc sparks flying, and not realizing how much fluid I put in the night before - BAM! - Instant accelerant torch crawled up my face and I suddenly smelt crackling hairs. With no time to look in the mirror to see what damage was done, I found some clothes and managed to fight my way through the debris of the apartment and join the rest of the startled residents out in the courtyard.
I chronicled a lot of what happened in the pages of Comics Buyer's Guide and I'll probably do some more reminisces in the next entry, but let's say, what I went through wasn't as bad as how Harlan Ellison was knocked around at his house. HE was working on a manuscript on that huge house of his on the hill when the earthquake hit and boy, did he get tossed and bounced around on his staircase pretty darn good, even went as far as to smash his nose on a painting after he was involuntary being used as a pinball.
For me, the next morning, a few hours later around noon time, for some unfathomable reason I found myself in Sherman Oaks walking along Ventura Blvd, sinking in the surreal sight of the damaged office buildings when I happened to run into of all people, Kelsey Grammar, who was coming out of a bank. That same corner, now ten year later is where I'll be seeing Yes do a in-store signing of their newest DVD, Yesspeak over at Tower Records on Wednesday, January 28th.
Isn't survival grand?