FEATURE: California’s Dreamin'? The Chaos and Horror of the Wildfires and Mass Shooting and the Effect on the Californian Music Community




California’s Dreamin'?


IN THIS PHOTO: Santa Monica, California/PHOTO CREDIT: @rutgerg_sink_sink_sink_sink_sink  

The Chaos and Horror of the Wildfires and Mass Shooting and the Effect on the Californian Music Community


NATURAL disasters and climate-related destruction…


 IN THIS PHOTO: Part of a staircase stands amid the remains of a home that was one of thousands destroyed by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., north of Sacramento; 8th Nov., 2018/PHOTO CREDIT: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

is becoming more common and, as the temperature rises; certain areas of the world are vulnerable to wildfires and needless destruction. You have to wonder whether President Donald Trump will do anything to redress the issues in California and the loss that has been incurred. He seems pretty unmoved when it comes to climate change and is one of those people who assume everything is fine and nothing needs to be done. You can hardly avoid the news and the terrible details we are hearing about California. The BBC has given an update regarding death toll and the latest news:

The death toll in wildfires sweeping California has risen to 31, with more than 200 people still missing, officials have said.

Six more people were confirmed killed in the Camp Fire in the north of the state, taking the toll there to 29.

That fire now equals the deadliest on record in California - the 1933 Griffith Park disaster in Los Angeles.

In the south, the Woolsey Fire has claimed two lives as it damaged beach resorts including Malibu.

An estimated 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to avoid three major blazes in the state.

With strengthening winds threatening to spread the flames, California Governor Jerry Brown has urged President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster, a move that would harness more federal emergency funds...


The appeal came a day after Mr Trump threatened to cut funding for California, blaming the fires on poor forest management.

Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, called the president's comments "reckless and insulting".

California is one of the world’s biggest economies – bigger than the U.K. – and to hear about such loss and suffering there is horrible. One can only imagine the distress felt by those seeing their homes go up and losing everything they own. Although a small gesture; Kim Kardashian-West has ‘dedicated’ an award to the brave firefighters:

Kim Kardashian-West has dedicated an award win to the emergency services dealing with wildfires and a mass shooting in California.

Accepting the award for best reality TV series at the E! People's Choice Awards, she said: "We truly appreciate what you've done for all of us."

She's one of several celebrities who have had to flee their homes as wildfires spread across the state.

A gunman also killed 12 people at a bar in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday.

Speaking at the award ceremony on Sunday, Kim said: "Our country is stronger when we come together and we cannot face devastation alone.

"We must continue to reach out and help each other in these trying times".

There are two California-based ‘events’ I want to look at but the unending and horrific wildfires that are sweeping through the state and destroying homes and lives is something that is affecting the music community. I am sad every time a musician is affected by bad weather here. Whether it is flooding or strong winds; you hear about big bands and artists having their studios destroyed and losing so much. In California, I am reading reports of studios and homes being devastated.


IN THIS PHOTO: Neil Young performs at Festival d'ete de Quebec on 6th July, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada/PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

There are a lot of less-known, local musicians whose homes and studios have been impacted but Neil Young has spoken about his loss. This article looks at the loss incurred and how it is affecting some of the California-based musicians:

Neil Young has criticised Donald Trump for his reluctance to act on climate change after California wildfires destroyed the songwriter’s home.

In a tweet posted on 10 November, the US president blamed California’s “gross mismanagement of the forests” for the damage caused by the wildfires in northern and southern California. He implied that federal funding would be withdrawn if the situation was not rectified.

In a post on his website, Young responded: “California is vulnerable – not because of poor forest management as DT (our so-called president) would have us think. We are vulnerable because of climate change; the extreme weather events and our extended drought is part of it.”

Young is among a number of stars known to have been affected by the wildfires. David Bowie’s long-term pianist Mike Garson tweeted on Saturdayabout losing his home and studio. Actor Gerard Butler posted a photograph of his charred home and thanked firefighters for their “courage, spirit and sacrifice”. Miley Cyrus said that she lost her home but escaped with her fiancé, the actor Liam Hemsworth, and their animals.

Lady Gaga tweeted that she had been evacuated from her residence. “I’m sitting here with many of you wondering if my home will burst into flames.”

Katy Perry and Rod Stewart also criticised Trump over his tweets. “This is an absolutely heartless response,” Perry tweetedStewart said: “California needs words of support & encouragement, not threats or finger pointing & accusations”.


I know natural disasters impact all parts of America but the fact California has suffered such loss and houses such a wide and important music community makes me fearful of the future. Trump might be in the White House for another six years – horrifying to think! – and you wonder whether he will ever budge when it comes to climate control. He is in the dark and is blissfully unaware of the realities that face the world. Look at all the important culture that comes from California and realise how vulnerable it is. The full death toll will not be known until the fires are extinguished and one cannot truly say how much physical loss there will be regarding homes and businesses. The fact that some big-name musicians have been impacted is bad enough but there are many more, who will not make the news, who will have to rebuild their studios and homes and start again. Every right-minded person knows about global warming and how climate change is affecting the planet and for a nation to be run by someone so ignorant is terrifying and doing untold damage. Who knows how many other wildfires will ravage California and what damage that will do?! Another horror that has impacted the U.S. state is the gun massacre that occurred recently.  A few days ago, we had to hear the news of yet another mass shooting in America.

The BBC provided news as it unfolded:

A US Marine Corps veteran with suspected mental health issues killed 12 people in a busy bar in California, including a policeman, officials say.

The shooting began at 23:20 local time on Wednesday in Thousand Oaks about 40 miles (65km) north-west of Los Angeles.

At least 200 people were reportedly inside the Borderline Bar and Grill, which was hosting a student line-dancing night.

Police named the suspect as 28-year-old Ian David Long.

Earlier this year, police mental health professionals cleared him after he was found behaving "irrationally" at his home, said authorities.

One survivor said he and his friends also escaped death last year in the deadliest US mass shooting of modern times, when a gunman killed 58 people at a Las Vegas country music concert.

Nicholas Champion told CBS News: "We're all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice."

Popular among students, the bar is close to California Lutheran University, Pepperdine University and Moorpark College”.

Although the shooting happened at a line dancing event; a lot of Country music fans attended the bar and some, as you can see, survived the horrific shooting in Las Vegas. Like climate change and the effect it is having on California/the U.S.; many are calling for stricter gun control and new laws. Whereas there has been a physical loss – property etc. – with regards the wildfires; the killings at Borderline was an attack on music fans in a very popular and populated part of California. I was angered when writing about the murders in Las Vegas last year and felt that, given the loss of life, how can someone like Trump stay still and ignore the massive issue in the country?!

You can guarantee there will be more wildfires and there will be more mass shootings. One suspects we have not, sadly, heard the last of attacks against the music community and the huge loss being suffered by many in California right now. An economy and state as big as California, one would feel, would be more secure than other parts of America. The fact that many could have seen these wildfires coming is a result of a lack of empathy and understanding from the President. The massacre that claimed so many lives a few days ago, again, is a problem that can be traced to Trump and his ineffectiveness. It seems gun laws are stricter and more regulated in other parts of America:

California law designed to help police or family members keep guns out of the hands of at-risk individuals might have stopped the shooter who killed 12 people at a country and western bar.

After a mass shooting four years ago, the state passed a new law where courts could be asked to temporarily bar an at-risk person from owning guns.

The massacre in Thousand Oaks, California, has troubling parallels to the 2014 shooting, experts said, highlighting the fact that California’s three-year-old “gun violence restraining order” law is still rarely used.

Passed in the wake of the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, the new law was designed to close gaps in existing laws on mental health and violence – gaps that had allowed the Isla Vista shooter, Elliot Rodger, to legally own guns, despite a history of disturbing behavior that had alarmed his family and prompted a welfare check from law enforcement.

“There are a lot of law enforcement officers in this state who have never heard of the gun violence restraining order,” said Allison Anderman, the managing attorney at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, who is working to improve implementation of the law.

“There’s nothing at the state level that I’m aware of that requires officers to be trained in this law”.

Maybe, you say, ordinary folk have suffered more than the music community regarding these two events – and you’d be right in many ways. I am not suggesting the lives of musicians are more important than anyone else’s but I can see how the shootings and wildfires have affected the community; from some world-famous artists to less-known musicians; it has been a hellacious and devastating last week or two. Whilst there has been some very visible and notable damage done to the musical community in California; one wonders what comes next and what the next step is going to be. One suspects there will be a benefit or fundraising concert and I suspect big artists like Neil Young and Katy Perry will contribute. I am sure Neil Young will write a song about the events – when he can get into a new studio/home – and the music community will react with anger. Fundraising and raising awareness is a good step and it will help spread messages to the world. We all know about climate change and gun massacres in the U.S. but recent occurrences, again, have raised calls for greater action regarding climate change laws and stricter gun control. Other parts of America’s music community are affected by climate and gun concerns but California is completely opposed to Trump and what he stands for. If California’s musicians and music locations want to avoid needless loss and devastation then is succeeding the answer?! The New Statesman gives some more details:

The concept of “Calexit”, or “Wexit” if joined by other progressive western states such as Washington and Oregon, has existed for years, drawing inspiration from fellow independence movements in Scotland and Catalonia. But it was in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as US president that the campaign truly gained traction. On issues such as immigration and free trade, Trump’s politics are diametrically opposed to those of California...


IN THIS PHOTO: Malibu, California/PHOTO CREDIT: @xangriffin

Evans was in Sacramento, the state capital, the day after Trump’s victory in November 2016. “People were just walking around the streets and crying,” he recalled. “It was weird. I’ve never seen that before. People just crying uncontrollably everywhere you went.”

Yes California’s membership increased by 400 per cent after election day. The organisation’s mailing list now has 98,000 subscribers; its Facebook page has 42,000 members, which, Evans pointed out, is only a few thousand less than the page for the California Democratic Party. In January 2017, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed support for state independence had risen from 20 per cent to 32 per cent; a Stanford University poll the same month found that 36 per cent of 18- t0 29-year-old Californians were in favour of secession, with a further 23 per cent undecided.

The notion of an independent California is far from absurd. The state’s Democratic governor Jerry Brown views “the sixth-largest economy of the world as capable of playing more of a nation state-like role”, his biographer, Orville Schell, told Politico last year.

In May, California surpassed the UK to become the world’s fifth-largest economy with a gross state product (the equivalent of GDP) of $2.747trn. Crucially, it is also a net contributor to the US federal budget: it receives considerably less ($356bn) than it pays in ($369bn). The state’s population of 39.54 million makes it larger than Poland”.

The music coming from has always been vital and I fear the long-term effects of Trump’s naivety and ineffectiveness will mean we’ll see more natural disaster, shootings and who knows what. The state is a huge economy and power in its own right but, essentially, still has to live in Trump’s America. You might say that California separating itself from the rest of America is extreme but we can see the devastation unfolding and how recent events have happened so easily. If California could be its own entity then I feel it could mean gun laws coming in and fast and effective climate control regulations. I am not sure what the government there would have in mind but it would mean having some sort of say and independence. Whilst it would be a good and smart move for the citizens; I feel the music community could also benefit. If we could avoid the sort of tragedy felt the last week then that would be a good thing. The state is vulnerable and I feel something needs to be done. As I said; who knows what could happen next regarding another tragedy. There is a fear and sense of unease in California and the fact Trump’s blind consciousness and general buffoonery is leading to needless loss of life is good enough reason to talk about the state becoming independent. I am not sure whether it will ever be realised but many, not only in the music world, would like to see it happen. The Golden State has a glorious music scene and so many artists we all rely on and, under Trump; there is this tarnishing and general unhappiness that need to be combated. If California rebelling against Trump and separating themselves from the U.S. prevents devastation and huge loss of life then I am all for it. The music community is being hit hard and effected in different ways and it is very clear...


IN THIS PHOTO: Flames from a wildfire burn a portion of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California; 9th November, 2018/PHOTO CREDIT: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

SOMETHING needs to be done!