Dying For Your Art: The Ghost Ship Fire
20 December 2016 Blog Of My Heart
To Be, Or Not To Be?
Years ago when working in the last vestige of the Free Press, we covered the horrendous fire at the Station Night Club in West Warwick, Rhode Island. I don’t think I have ever seen such a horrific sight in person before; stacked bodies piled 10 deep blocked the only working fire exit. Standing there aghast I remembered flashing back to all the unsafe, disgusting shit hole “clubs” that I had the pleasure to rock in my youth. That sickening feeling returned again when looking at the aftermath of Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, CA last month as dying for one’s art seems far too high a price to pay for following a dream.
I started my “pro” (we got paid in beer) music thing at Barrington Hall at U.C. Berkeley so I know a thing or two about counter culture art. It boggles my mind though when I think of how we thought nothing of playing in these death traps because, dear god, we had art to do. Though I wouldn’t trade one moment in hindsight, in reality, it was a filthy drug den where I had a rule to never drink anything. To say nothing about the very real possibility of getting raped. But to be honest, there really weren’t many options. Either rehearse and play when you could or you didn’t.
Art For Art’s Sake?
However, years later not much has changed. The Bay Area is so expensive I often wonder how anyhow can afford to live there to say nothing about creating art of any kind. And that same scenario exists in just about every major metro area across this country and probably is global. Yet and still, as the Ghost Ship so aptly demonstrates, artists will risk their lives for their muse and other will pay to see it. It doesn’t matter how unsafe, dark or even horrid, the call of art is primal. Laugh if you want, but for many of us, a life without our art really isn’t much of a life at all.