Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Song of the Week: "California Earthquake," some advice for the Best Coast

I think Chris Christie just jumped into the race. (credit @pareene). Quake hit near Charlottesville where I went to school. Can confirm some there are familiar with feeling unsteady and falling down. (credit @jdickerson) Pray for DC to recover from the devastation. 

My favorite on my Facebook: We don't get out of bed for anything less than a 6. 

I have lived on the east coast, several times. I've taken plenty of mockery from the Northeast for California's floods, mudslides, wildfires, quakes, and other assorted pestilence. "Oceanfront Property in Arizona" played in my college newspaper office for me from some mid-Atlantic types. "You're all going to fall into the sea," they laughed. 

Still, as for mocking the way people tremble in the fact of weather, I'm equal opportunity. I've also poked fun at the terror of a .5" "blizzard" in Washington, D.C. (Quick! Buy all the toilet paper in Harris Teeter!) And snickered at the thought of "hunkering down" during Carmageddon (across town, because the freeways were empty). 

Anyway, this one's for you: Cass Elliot, born in Maryland. In 1968, she sang "California Earthquake."

They tell me the fault line runs right through here

So that may be, that may be,

what's gonna happen, gonna happen to me

That's the the way it appears

They tell me the fault line runs right through here

Atlantis will rise, Sunset Boulevard will fall

Where the beach use to be won't be nothin' at all

That's the way it appears

They tell me the fault line runs right through here

So that may be, that may be, what's gonna happen gonna happen to me here

Cass Elliot's lyrics express a somewhat sanguine relationshop with her potential earthquake exposure. Anyone's sense of risk can be misplaced, absent, outsized, or missing. But none of us live in a place where there's an obvious and universal substitute for an emergency kit, water, and some batteries. (Unless you reside in a Costco warehouse.) Focus too long on the jokes, which mostly just weren't funny, and you'll miss the obvious lesson: buy yourself a flashlight, knucklehead. 

(NOTE: For what it's worth, the Gulf coast is the least wussy place I've ever lived. I dare say it's self-reliant. To debunk another myth about Hurricane Katrina: it's not that everyone is stupid and stayed behind. The Katrina evacuation is now believed to be the most successful ever in the city, with 70 to 80 percent of residents leaving well in advance. I'd give the most weather-prep props to the places where plywood goes flying out the door of Home Depot when a hurricane threatens. Toilet paper ain't gonna save us.)

Finally, and on a sort of related note, I'd like to give another shout out to Unfictional. KCRW's show aired stories by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister in June - they report a story, then pair it with an original song that goes with it. Bonnie "Prince" Billy's song is about fracking, but the fracking triggered earthquakes. So this is another great earthquake song. 

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Mother Nature Kneels" by

As for who's the Best in the comments. We'll only mock the wrong ones. 


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