How the West Coast Does Disaster

October 24th, 2007

It’s chilly in San Diego at night. Much more so on the high ground.

But don’t worry. Those refugees at Quaalcom Stadium are snug as bugs in their sleep-number beds. The old lady in the $3,000 designer shawl said her sleep number is 52. And though the stadium doesn’t have a roof on it, evacuees from some of this country’s most expensive and dangerous real estate are nice and toasty in their new Ralph Lauren sleeping bags.

For all the right wing blather regarding California’s leftist lean-on, it sure looked like a lot of lost Reagan voters shuffling through the maze of cots and blankets inside Quaalcom. I didn’t see any surf bums or Communists smoking joints or handing leaflets out. But I saw the courtesy tents assembled in formation outside the stadium doors.

California does a disaster better than any state in the Union. Inside those tents were sushi chefs, massage therapists, dentists, doctors, and Ferrari salesmen. Filson foul weather gear rang up sales next to the Sea Ray display. Mariachis’ strolled past. Mimes entertained the terminally bored. An Australian aborigine, propped up against an Organic smoothie booth, blew odd sounds through a long, bent, wooden pool. Some guy hawked tickets for the next Charger’s game. Overhead, a blimp floated past, flashing Fox TV’s fall line-up.

This is not your Dad’s disaster. This is not the wrath of Katrina. These fires are the pure, natural expression of the eco-system. And though desperate zillionaires, homeless yet fashionable , drown their sorrows in expensive tubs of chilled Cristal in suites at the nearest Fairmont , we must remember the humanity of losing the tickets to Bora Bora so many of them leave behind as they peel grease from the tires of their Porsche v8’s in a race to the death to grab a room with an ocean view.

Back at Quaalcom, yoga classes have just wrapped up the night’s last lion pose. Young singles drift from emergency treadmills and cycling machines hauled in by FEMA. Emergency white terry cotton towels soak up the suntanned sheen of sweat covering the backs of their necks. Unlike New Orleans, no one seems un-nerved. And why should they be. After all, this gives everyone time to work on that one thing that needs to be done before anything else.

Finish that screenplay.


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