“Sometimes earthquakes bring out the worst in people.”

18 Apr

Today is the anniversary of the great (great as in big, not as in wonderful) San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

An estimated 3000 perished. Much of the devastation happened because of  fires caused by ruptured gas mains. To add insult to injury, the city’s fire chief was killed in the quake. The rest of the fire department were untrained in the use of dynamite, but used it anyway to demolish buildings to create a firebreak. That didn’t work out so well, as many of the dynamited buildings also caught on fire.

We just had the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Another disaster made worse by human error. (“Life boats? Meh–we don’t need life boats. This ship can’t sink I tell you!”) Today is the anniversary of the New York arrival of 705 Titanic survivors via the RMS Carpathia. You know they were in a pissy mood when the ship docked. Just think–these 705 people were the very first people to see Titanic in 3D.

Wait. Is real life 3D or 4D? It is embarrassing, I don’t even know that!

The Titanic was operated by the White Star Line. You can bet they got some scathing responses on the Customer Comment Cards after that trip:

“What could we have done to make your trip a more pleasant experience?

Not sinking would have been really great. And that damn Molly Brown wouldn’t stop singing!”

So, I guess today’s theme is disaster!

Disaster movies were all the rage when I was young. First there was “The Poseiden Adventure” about a passenger ship that capsizes. This was before CG, so they actually had to build upside down sets. That movie still holds up pretty well. Better than the not one, but two remakes, I might add. Shelly Winters famous swimming scene is just classic cinema.

Then there was “The Towering Inferno” which was really two movies in one. Two different studios bought the rights to two different novels about fires in high rise buildings. Once someone got wind of it, they made a deal and combined forces, rather than make competing movies about the same thing. “The Towering Inferno” was a big hit. Fred Astaire got an Oscar nomination. It was the film debut of O.J. Simpson, as a security guard who rescues Jennifer Jones’ cat. At the end of the movie, (SPOILER: Jennifer Jones dies!) even though O.J. has never at any time interacted with either Jennifer Jones or Fred Astaire throughout the entire film, he gives that cat to Fred Astaire.

You know, if I could ask O.J. Simpson just one question, I’d want him to tell me how he knew to give that cat to Fred.

That same year, there was a movie called “Earthquake” which was not set in San Francisco in 1906, but was set in modern day (if you can call 1974 “modern day”–well we did call it modern day in 1974, cause what else did we have to work with?) Los Angeles.

That was a pretty bad movie. Lorne Green played Ava Gardner’s father, even though in real life he was only 7 years older than Ava. It made no sense, even in “modern day” 1974.  Plus, Ava is a real bitch in this movie.

The people who made the movie introduced something they called “Sensurround” which was really just large speakers strategically located throughout the movie theater. So when there was a tremor on screen, the theater sort of vibrated a little to give the audience the sensation that, oh my gosh, it is like being in a real earthquake!

It would be comparable to someone turning up the heat in a theater showing “The Towering Inferno” or throwing ice water on the audience watching “Titanic.”  A desperate move if you ask me.

In “Earthquake”, George Kennedy, who was pretty much in every disaster movie since 1970’s “Airport” utters this classic line: “”Sometimes, earthquakes bring out the worst in people.”

I am sure that’s true. Happily, despite living in San Francisco for 3 years, I never experienced an earthquake.

Of course, we had cats when we lived in San Francisco. I always heard animals are sensitive to potential tremors and are sort of early warning devices. One evening, when my significant other was still as work, our 2 cats began to act very oddly. I was convinced they were spooked by an earthquake that was surely on the way. That freaked me out more than a little. But the earth never quaked, so the cats were probably just messing with my head.

Cats will do that.

I got my revenge on them when we moved back to Jacksonville and they had to stay in cat carriers in the baggage hold of an airplane for 6 hours–with a change of planes in Atlanta. By the time we got to JAX, neither cat could meow anymore. They had given themselves laryngitis, no doubt bitching the whole way.

Good times…

I think the thing to take away from all of this talk about disasters is, human beings are resilient. They rebuilt San Francisco. Of course, there was another bad quake in 1989–(6 years after I returned to Florida, thank God!) but they rebuilt again!

Resilient or foolish? You be the judge.  I mean if that earth quaked once, it will quake again. And it quaked more than once, so that just increases the odds.  I’m just sayin’…

Be that as it may, I hope your day is disaster free.

Happy Wednesday.

One Response to ““Sometimes earthquakes bring out the worst in people.””

  1. Pamela N Red April 18, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    I also vote disaster free although we have storms predicted tomorrow. I’ll try not to get too cranky about it.

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