Open Your Golden Gate

Posted: Apr 17, 2006 12:01 AM

  • San Francisco is in a time warp. I know what you're thinking: San Franciscans still think Marx and Lenin were onto something; but that's not what I'm talking about.

  • At 5:12 AM on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 the Bay Area will remember the Mother of All Big Ones - the earthquake of 1906.

  • According to my Excel spreadsheet date calculator, 36,525 days will have gone by since that morning when the San Andreas fault hiccupped and sparked the event which spawned books, plays, musicals, mini-series and at least one Clark Gable movie.

  • The current problem for San Franciscans 100 years on, is the nearly constant rain - 25 of 31 days in March and 13 of the 16 days (as of this writing) so far in April - the blame for which, if you asked them, Bay Area residents would place squarely on the rain-soaked shoulders of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.

  • If this weather had existed in San Francisco 40 years ago, the Haight-Ashbury days of flower-power and love-ins might never have developed as the mind-altered designs of tie-dyed tee-shirts and headbands would have dripped down slacks and jeans forming LSD puddles on the sidewalks and causing proto-hippies to get jobs in stock brokerages and real estate firms.

  • Jerry Garcia would have done late-night infomercials for his clothing store. Janice Joplin would have been the local spokesperson for, what, a Mercedes Benz dealership?

    Dear Mr. Mullings:

    What are YOU on this morning?

    The Association to Stop Free Associators

    Ok. But that Janice-Joplin-Mercedes-Benz line is a pretty good reference if you're over the age of 50.

  • The 1906 earthquake (because instruments were not as exact as they are now) has been estimated as being between 7.7 and 8.3 on the various scales. According to the US Geologic Survey "it would require roughly 30 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes occurring simultaneously to equal the energy release of 1906."

  • It wasn't the magnitude of the earthquake but the fires generated from the broken gas lines which did a huge percentage of the damage.

  • According to reports, the population of San Francisco in 1906 was about 400,000. By the time the tremors and fires had subsided 28,000 homes and buildings had been destroyed and 225,000 people were homeless.

  • Sound familiar? That's where any similarity to Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans ends.

  • Rather than wailing and wringing their hands, local leaders immediately began the relief and rebuilding process. From the archives:
    Mayor Eugene E. Schmitz hurriedly appointed a committee, known as the "Citizens' Committee of Fifty," called together such as could be reached, and a meeting was held at the Hall of Justice, on Wednesday afternoon, April 18, 1906, at 3:00 p.m. [Just 10 hours after the first shock was felt].

  • According to the official minutes, the first full meeting was held the next morning at the North End Police Station instead of its scheduled location at the Fairmont Hotel because "the fire was ascending Nob Hill."

  • The citizens of San Francisco took it upon themselves, to help themselves, by forming themselves into subcommittees responsible for everything from "Relief of Sick & Wounded" to "Housing of Homeless" to "Restoration of Water" to (of course) "Press Agent."

  • It was a different time: No Brownie. No FEMA. No CNN. No waiting until the Feds showed up.

  • We have lost any capacity for self-reliance in the course of just one century.

  • Speaking of helping our own, as of Sunday afternoon, sponsorships of the young Marines running to raise money for the Injured Marines Semper Fi fund has exceeded $15,000 - much of that from Mullings readers.

  • The original goal of just over $3,000 has been increased 10-fold and the new goal is $30,000.

  • If you haven't had the time to do it, please take a look at the letter from Captain David Quy explaining what they're doing and why.

  • Then, give any little bit you can.

  • On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A huge amount of stuff including a link to the US Geological Survey's 1906 pages, an explanation of the Janis Joplin reference, a link to the Semper Fi Fund donation page, and some stuff on the Clark Gable movie. Also a Mullfoto which is pretty amusing and a Catchy Caption from 1906.