In the Mission District.


I make a big deal of being born in Brooklyn. I make a bigger deal about living in New Orleans. But, I spent most of my time in between living in California. I grew up there. I went to high school there. I went to college there. The earliest days of my career started there.

California always tugs at my heartstrings.

Now it’s on fire.

Wildfires are big, fast-moving, dangerous things. Usually, they burn large sections of uninhabited countryside. Maybe a few buildings are involved. Maybe structural loss is numbered in the hundreds. Some people lost their property but not their lives.

Not this time.

One of the fires burned about half of a small city. Santa Rosa. Structural loss is numbered in the thousands. Eleven people have died there. The land around Napa and Sonoma —  California’s big wine region — has been either been burnt, or has heavy smoke damage which makes the surviving grapevines unusable. After all, nobody wants to drink smokey Cabernet. It takes about five years for a grape crop to mature to the point where it is ready to pick, let alone age and bottle.

That’s in the north. Above the Bay Area. In the south, a wildfire sprang up in Anaheim Hills. A big fire. One that is very near to large population centers. You have to understand, that a good part of Southern California is wall-to-wall people from Los Angeles to San Diego with a break at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton. I forget how far east that stretches. I know that people commute from Riverside to Los Angeles in order to work and to be able to afford housing. That’s a long drive even without the parking lots that they call freeways.

Here’s the thing. Wildfires, in most cases, are nature’s way of keeping brush under control. As one firefighter said about the Santa Rosa fires, “nature starts them and nature will extinguish them.”

What’s different?

People. I’m not here to talk about population control. That’s way, way, way above my pay grade. But, I can say without any doubt that fires “seem” more dangerous because we are in their way now.

Same thing with all of the hurricanes and earthquakes. You can say that the many hurricanes we’ve lived through these last few months are due to climate change. Maybe they are. But as I have said in the past, it’s hurricane season. What do you get in hurricane season? Hurricanes.

Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes. They are part of a normal cycle in nature. We are too. But, now we are in the way. The wind blows, we are there. The land burns, we are there. The earth shakes, we are there.

Short of something unthinkable, I’d suggest that we recalibrate our thinking and come up with some plans to redistribute ourselves and to come to grips with the fact that we aren’t the kings and queens of earth. A lot of people way smarter than me talk about this. Good for them. I’m pretty sure that the time for talk is way past. It’s time to do something.

The picture. I made the original in San Francisco’s Mission District. Then I did my usual. Tinkering, tinkering, always tinkering. My first version looked way too eerie. So, I remade it into something more palatable. For me. Heheheheheh.