Said one friend of the captain of the so-called Ghost Ship, where at least 33 people died in a fire Friday night. The man, who sublet space in the rented warehouse, is Derick Ion Almena, who reacted to the fire with a Facebook post that is the most perverse display of sensitivity I have ever seen:
Confirmed. Everything I worked so hard for is gone. Blessed that my children and Micah were at a hotel and safe and sound…it's as if I have awoken from a dream filled with opulence and hope… to be standing now in poverty of self worth.Here's a description of Almena's art space:
Visitors have described a squalid scene where cat faeces and used condoms litter the limited floor space, junk and 'art' is piled high in every room, nails protrude from stairs made out of old pallets, brick work crumbles in the walls and drug use rife among the party goers who came and went.The photo of the place (from before the fire) looks like a perfect stage set for a tragicomedy about aging hippies:
In the upper right corner is a spider plush toy the size of a lamp shade. To the left is a sad, bowed-head figure that reminds me of the No Face character in the movie "Spirited Away."
Spirited away, in a vehicle called Ghost Ship.
So I was down there and I was having trouble finding the exit... the lower level is like a fucking maze. The stair room had three different exits and only one would have been the way to outside. Horrifying....AND: From the comments at that "ADDED" link:
Some dude who had already gotten out stood right by the exit with all the billowing smoke and was repeatedly yelling "this is the exit" "exit." I can say without a doubt that that dude saved my life. If he wasn't there yelling I would have never found the exit and I probably would have died.
I fear that the authorities will now, and justifiably so, come down hard on all the warehouse space venues in our wonderful creative city and in other cities as well. No one wants Oaklanders to create or host in death trap situations and the Ghost Ship venue sounds like it was out of hand for quite a while before the terrible tragedy of this weekend.
I was at a concert at the Anderson Theater in NYC MANY years ago (when we were young and foolish) before the building closed (was likely condemned) - Patti Smith - and there were open flame heaters heating the space in January. Outside temperature was in the low teens -- windy outside and freezing inside. We went in, saw the flaming heaters, and proceeded up to sit in the balcony WAY against our better judgment - but we did it. We knew how we got in and how to get out but totally knew the scene was WRONG and DANGEROUS but we froze in line for hours and were damned if would miss this event. When the show started, Patti sang three songs and the NYCFD came on stage to stop the show because the building was a fire hazard. Duh. No surprise there - Patti tried to speak to them then kept on singing and was dragged off the stage screaming out "Rock and Roll N...." with the entire audience shouting along and booing the emergency personnel who were of course 100%CORRECT. It was a crazy, unsafe and unforgettable experience BUT everybody lived to tell the tale.
We were lucky that night. Luck ended at the Ghost Ship this First Friday of December, 2016. My neighbor's friend lived there, smelled smoke, so opened his door, saw stuff falling from the ceilings and ran out. He was in his room watching a movie on TV, and not upstairs. No young people should be put in danger BY ANYONE to listen to music or create their art simply because they allow themselves to be in that situation. When we are young we think nothing bad can happen. But it can and it did this weekend. We have to do better.