The night of December 2 marked an unthinkable tragedy for the Oakland arts and music scene as a fire swept through local warehouse venue Ghost Ship and claimed 36 human lives. It’s difficult to put into words when something like this happens (impossible for those closest to the victims), how to make sense of something so ugly, and how to move forward. What does it mean not only for the Oakland community, but also havens and ilk spaces for the arts everywhere? Whether on their own accord or not? One thing is certain: People will continue to flourish artistically, perhaps stronger, safer, perhaps more cautiously, or just more lovingly. Art doesn’t just stop. Despite the ridiculously backwards, ridiculously disgusting efforts of some to capitalize on such a tragedy, and close spaces affiliated with “liberal radicalism,” artists and their performances aren’t just going to dissipate. “Stay vigilant” will be our mantra.
I feel everything needed to say regarding the information and news of the fire, has been said (though nothing in this publication, yet, unfortunately), but hopefully we’ll never stop talking about those lost, and the impact they had on communities and lives all over. There have been countless benefits, tributes, vigils, thoughts and prayers for them, and there should be countless more. I can only hope I’m doing justice to the victims’ memory in thinking as optimistically as I can for the future, and by making mention of the beautiful things created by people like them in places like this. Among the lives lost was 22-year-old Cash Askew of synth duo Them Are Us Too. In the days following the tragedy, the T.A.U.T. Facebook page posted a new song they wrote, entitled, “Angelene,” stating with it,
“this is the last song that cash and i were able to complete together. it was released via our dear friends to accompany their first publication of Scream Queens magazine. we were so honored to be included amongst crucial community members and some of our favorite artists and most beloved friends.”
I knew immediately that I wanted to write about it, but I didn’t want to cheapen the events or the weight on everyone’s hearts by solely speaking of it, so it’s taken a while to figure out what to say. Listen, remember, reflect.
I’d like to consider this track one of the many tributes, or perhaps its own requiem, to the victims of the fire:
Michela Angelina Gregory
Ara Christina Jo
Griffin Sean Madden
Joseph Matlock (Joey Casio)
Jason Adrian McCarty
Denalda Nicole Renae (Siegrist)
Jennifer Kiyomi Tanouye
Brandon Chase Wittenauer
If you haven’t already, please consider donating to the victims relief fund here.