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the rhythm of the street sure knocks you off your feet

by mg at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2003

Jaws was on TV this weekend. Most people consider it one of the greatest movies of all time, and it's always been high on my list. I even saw Jaws 3D at the theater. Though, watching the original again now I noticed that, outside of Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider, Jaws contained some of the worst acting ever committed to film. But, so, this isn't about Jaws, but about an entirely different Great White, one responsible for more deaths than the big fish caused in the entire series of movies.

By now you must have heard about the fire in Rhode Island. Ninety-seven people died as a result of the pyrotechnics at a Great White show. Another 160 people were injured, half of which are still in hospital, some still in critical condition. This story never quite reached the critical mass of media hype surrounding the Columbia Crash, but none of 97 people who died Rhode Island were "heroes," they were just normal people expecting nothing more than a night of music and cheap beer.

Now, for some reason, this all hit me harder than the Columbia thing, which didn't hit me at all. Maybe its simply because being burned alive is no doubt the worst way to go. I remember all the times I've burned myself - the pain from brushing against a hot iron, scalding water, or a firecracker thrown too late. And then I think about being consumed by fire, and it is just impossible to imagine knowing that you are going to die and your last moments will be spent in the worst pain you could ever know.

I could survive and be happy even as a paraplegic, but the pain of fourth degree burns stay with you for months, the scars forever. I’m not even sure I’d want to live through that.

The closest I’ve ever come to death came when I was much younger. I was in pool and had wandered a little too far into the deep end. I’d never been a good swimmer, and I panicked. My short life didn’t clichély flash before my eyes, but I was sure I was going to die. I blacked out and woke up outside of the pool, the lifeguard having jumped in to save me. That experience has kept me scared of water to this day, but at least, besides for the panic, there was no pain. I’ve since read that drowning victims experience a moment of euphoria before they die, as their brain runs out of oxygen. No such benefit with being burned alive.

The truly sad thing about what happened in Rhode Island isn't that Great White are still touring. Or that 300 are willing to pay 15 bucks to listen to a band that hasn't released a relevant record since Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were friends of the United States. No, the saddest thing is that this tragedy was completely preventable.

If there were no pyrotechnics, there’d have been no fire. If the club had installed a sprinkler system, the fire would have been put out in seconds. If people had behaved reasonable and not stampeded out, everyone could have made it alive. There is video from that night that actually shows people wedged in the door, unable to move, like something out of a Three Stooges movie. Reports have said that most of the nearly hundred bodies were found only feet from the door.

Here we are still sitting in Orange Alert, and waiting for impending death. With the Rhode Island fire, the stampede at Chicago club earlier in the week, and a smaller fire at a club here in New York over the weekend, it’s getting so we can’t even go out to see some bad 80s hair metal band without fearing for our lives. But I say enough. I will never purchase another roll of duct tape, immediately break out my mirror and razor blade if I get a white powdery substance in the mail, get in a cab whether the driver is black OR middle eastern. The Scorpions, Dokken, and Whitesnake will all be in town next month; anyone want to join me?

comments (11)

OMG, I LOVE the Scorpions! Send me a ticket and I'll join you ;) LOL

by Crayzee at February 24, 2003 1:35 PM

Scorpions, Dokken, Whitesnake, razor blades, unidentified white powdery substances, maybe an unlicensed cab or two?..........sign me up MG. Skid Row isn't going to show? Damn!

by Ezy at February 24, 2003 1:49 PM

Your crime is time, baby...

by Linz at February 24, 2003 2:31 PM

Well, the good news is you probably won't die from your burns. The bad news is you would suffocate and choke on the smoke. My dad was on fire this weekend. I told him not to light the blowtorch that was soaked in rice wine.

by quicksilver at February 24, 2003 2:51 PM

Yeah, I was originally from RI. Basically half the population was wiped out in a nasty way. What a great first impression for RI to be put on the map. Great White concert. RI has had an influx of scum lately. And I bet Bush was jealous that RI stole the thunder, and so was Bloomberg, who wanted to add the Oil Refinery to his semitic resume.

by LOCKHEED at February 24, 2003 4:28 PM

On Sept 11 2002, Don & Mike hosted a 9/11 commemoration @ the Pentagon. A military police officer commented that one of his friends on the force had just died from burns sustained during acts of heroism one year before. He'd been in the burn unit since. Sorry to bring up such a downbeat thing, but it really stuck w/ me. Burns suck.

by Anna at February 24, 2003 6:44 PM

Actually, the one thing that's scarier than the prospect of being burned alive is the prospect of your child being burned alive.
My 19 year old daughter does soundboards at a local club called Jaxx. The lighting & exits are minimal, the crowd young & wild, and Great White was scheduled to perform there the very next night. The show was cancelled because a band member was still missing.
There's a lot of buck-passing going on here...the band insists pyrotechnics were authorized, while the club maintains that they weren't...ludicrous if you think about all the set-up that's involved.
Lawsuits will be filed & lawyers will get rich but it won't bring those people back.
It feels weird to give thanks and feel guilty about it.
I love you, Becca.

by nancy at February 24, 2003 10:57 PM

wow...how does one follow that comment? i was at two concerts this weekend, and before both they made sure to point out available exits. place was totally packed both nights though, so it kinda made me stop and think about what a madhouse it would become if something did catch on fire...but i wasn't watching a cheesy metal hair band, and there were no need for pyrotechnics. well, at least not the "legal" kind... ;-p

by JC at February 25, 2003 1:48 PM

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I think you are forgetting the single greatest performance in JAWS by one Mr. Robert Shaw? Aree you fucking kidding me? I loved Scheider and Dreyfuss in Jaws but what they did was kind of a send up. Shaw was working on a whole other level of intensity and seriousness. The best scene in the movie is where he is telling the story about delivering the bomb. He improvised that speech.

As for great white, i think any time any body dies it should be in the process of doing something a hell of a lot better than seeing a crappy 80s hair band. what a waste.

by eff at February 26, 2003 10:35 AM

Okay, you got me Eff. Shaw had one of the greatest lines in all of film in Jaws: "You go in the cage. Cage goes in the water. You go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark."

by mg at February 26, 2003 11:11 AM

"My, my, my--we ended 97 lives, babe."

by douchenation at February 27, 2003 2:40 PM

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