CineSavant Column

Saturday November 10, 2018

Hello, I hope…

Well, it’s been a rough weekend here in Los Angeles — looking West towards Malibu yesterday, the ash and smoke cloud in the sky looked like a nuclear mushroom cloud. A quarter of a million were evacuated — all of Malibu and a half-dozen other communities. Three friends contacted me to say they had already left, or were awaiting evacuation instructions. I watched local TV coverage most of yesterday and could see that places very close to their homes were burning. I was impressed that the residents clogging Pacific Coast Highway weren’t panicking, but that everyone is taking the fire seriously. Movies give one the idea that survival is easy, when it’s possible to be killed just standing in the street. When so much is burning, the radiant heat can knock a person out.

The crazy part is that the chaos and horror is all ‘up the road’ a few miles away. The city around me continues as usual, with its heavy traffic and workaday normalities. I’m posting a couple of pictures here from friends. The first was taken around 11am on Friday from where a friend had retreated, looking toward his home in Agoura Hills ten or twelve miles away in Woodland Hills. The second was taken last night by close associate Allan Peach from the Santa Monica Pier, in the direction of the firestorm in Malibu. From the fun-fair the blaze on the horizon is a ‘memorable sight,’ but it’s awful to contemplate the lives that are being turned upside down out there.

The air has been relatively calm here in Los Angeles proper, but fierce Eastern winds in the fire areas were so strong that no attempt to contain the fires was even practical — access to the terrain is difficult and many places have no water mains. Firefighting is fire management under these conditions, and there’s nothing anyone can do but get out of the way and try to save individual structures where possible. The assertion that ‘poor water management’ is responsible, is preposterous.

Before 2000 or so, it seemed that these fires were less frequent and more limited. I’ve never heard of so much Los Angeles territory being evacuated before. I’ve watched the news of terrible storms and flooding from back East and thought, ‘well all we need to worry about out here is earthquakes,’ and I’ve never been afraid of them. From what’s happened in Northern California, we can see that anyplace is vulnerable.

Sorry to hijack the column for ‘unrelated’ thoughts, but I won’t calm down until I hear good news from Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Malibu. More fun disc news on Tuesday — thanks for reading. — Glenn Erickson