by Jon Robberson, Hagmann Report:
There exists in the San Francisco Bay Area a sub rosa culture of neo bohemians unlike other urban areas of the country.
Since the rough and tumble days of the California Gold Rush, San Francisco has always drawn wanderers, midnight riders and scalawags from all points of the compass. In fact in the mid 19 Century, much of the terra firma upon which the Media District, South of Market and AT&T Park are built was an ad hoc seascape of opium barges, barnacled scooners and shanties. Ironically the aforementioned are some of the pricier areas on the waterfront, but this was not always so.
San Francisco and its industrial stepsister, Oakland, are in many ways the tale of two cities. Both cities are known nationally and due in large part to mega-franchise sports teams, globally. On a clear summer night, you can sit along the first baseline at AT&T Park, watch The San Francisco Giants and let your eyes drift over the right field wall, across the bay and see the nebulous glow of the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s are also playing ball.
A little known fact: NO ONE who lives in San Francisco calls it anything other thanthe city. If you pop off with “Frisco” or (God forbid) “San Fran”, chances are the locals will not-too-politely hit you with a nod and maybe a “see ya.”
In single word descriptions, SF is snobby; Oakland is gritty.
Were you to jump on BART at Powell Street, glide beneath the bay and jump off at the Fruitvale Station, from the elevated tracks of the East Bay the impression you would absorb, aside from the gantry cranes and port facilities, is that Oakland appears to be San Francisco’s dumping ground. Scrap yards, recycling plants, sweat shops and graffiti pasted warehouses are where all manner of artists live.
At International Bouleveard and 31st, next to a vacant lot littered with vacant lot stuff, sits an ugly, forgotten edifice; its pearl gray and pink paint scheme subtly suggests what it used to be: a shipping point for a defunct dairy. A screaming skeleton reminiscent of Dia de Los Muertos art combined with a flea market T-shirt, was painted over crude block letters that read GHOST SHIP.
In this questionable and undeniably unique environment, 36 people suffocated, sent heart wrenching text messages and burned to death. They were: lawyers, teachers, trannies, painters. Addicts, philosophers, musicians and DJ’s. Each shared many things in common. But the average San Francisco Chronicle reading “square” might draw this conclusion: they were dynamic souls, perhaps a little lost, perhaps a lot. But in their own ways, they made their journeys accessible to all.
At first blush the Ghost Ship tragedy is sure to hurt, even to the casual viewer. But if you look a little deeper, if you have experienced a Damascus moment in your life, your spirit will begin to whisper. It will whisper of ghostly disguised demons and the razzle-dazzle of artistry painted across 36 stories.
(Note the backward writing…straight out of Crowley)
36 different beginnings and middles that ended the same: in smoke choking darkness, amid screams of panic, drowned by the roar of fire exploding across the back wall of a 10,000 square foot space. A blast furnace that thirty seconds earlier echoed with electronic musical experimentation. A space that had been crafted over three and a half years into a labyrinth of installation art, methamphetamine frenzied slap-dashery and living spaces comprised of ply wood, pallets and second hand rugs.
Today the Ghost Ship reeks of charred loss. On December 2nd, prior to 11:20pm, it smelled of Nag Champa, patchouli and cat urine.
So what happened? There are literally tens of thousands of published wordsdescribing the tragic timetable that led up to the conflagration, but here it is in a nut shell.
Approximately a week before the Friday fire, promotions hit social media, announcing a low key electronica event to feature a handful of SF and Oakland DJ’s, in support of 100% Silk recording artist, Golden Donna.
MSM erroneously broke the early stories of the event as having been a rave.
I practically lived in that scene from 1991-1994 and can attest, the event was not a rave. From posters, social media announcements and an Instagram video posted just minutes before the fire erupted, what party-goers expected was more akin to a beer-in-bag, smoke in your hand, mellow show.
Raves have many complexions and unlike the early days of the scene when the underground combo of house music, techno, ecstasy and dingy forgotten spaces leaped the Atlantic and into the alleys of New York and San Francisco, today kids go to “raves” in Diluth, Fort Collins and Boise.
To examine the Ghost Ship fire through the lens of spiritual discernment, you must first understand what ingredients make a rave, a rave.
Raves are tribal. They are a place where peripheral acquaintances meet up and share drugs, become best friends forever, dance to dehydration and chain smoke. Then you leave with the sunrise and head to either an after party or home. Depression hits. Your rave BFFs are gone and most who genuinely felt the overwhelming flood of spiritual rocketry and heavy dope await the next party.
Raves are kept secret and you must be connected to find the real deal parties. In the 90’s we often met single shadowy figures in gas station parking lots, behind Latino watering holes or waited at our hook-ups house for a phone call.
The Ghost Ship was a gathering. It was not a rave.
Oakland “GHOST SHIP” Fire
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