I remember hearing about the Station fire via online reports, how it made a tense and worrying month even more so. The Columbia disaster had just happened, the invasion of Iraq was imminent. But we each see things through our own lenses, as I’ve muttered below and elsewhere, so the idea of a club fire was something that creeped me out bigtime.
As was probably too smugly stated at the time in California media reports — the proof is ultimately in the pudding, which hopefully will never come about in this instance — fire codes and inspections are different out here, and the likelihood of such a disaster is supposed to be less. But what of it, and those presumed reassurances? Little when so many people perished in so horrifyingly quick a time, all simply because they’d gone out to see a band that they knew and liked.
I remember the day after the fire I went to work in the garden that some friends and I had recently started to participate in, a communal organic garden on the UCI campus, and the first initial step towards my more active gardening and organic cooking state. I read through the reports in the front section of the LA Times — during what I think was the last year I subscribed to the paper, before I finally realized that that wasn’t necessary anymore, after all — and felt the creeping horrors. Whose fault was it, what should and shouldn’t have been done? Was the band at fault? The owners of the club? The inspectors?
My best source for immediate reports on the day and at the time was via the old Metal Sludge site — given its sorry collapse in recent years I’m not inclined to reinvestigate the place — and its associated forum, where some raw, horrifying stories about what happened went out. Later, some of the most resonant writing involving the impact of the fire on people was thanks to Chuck Klosterman, who despite his many writing sins in my mind does know well exactly what music can mean to people unconcerned about being cool. Ultimately, though, the Providence Journal’s special section and website on the fire — still being added to — proved important, and still does, for an on-site take, from people who knew the town, the venue, in some cases the victims.
It’s important, that section, because it’s a city where the fire is still being lived with, the many twists and turns that have occurred over the years, most of which are only causing more pain. Funds have run out for victim support time and again. Court cases seemed, all too clearly, to only absolve those responsible, or never put them front and center to begin with. It was always someone else’s fault, conveniently enough — and a little community service here and there seemed to be the extent of a punishment.
Meantime, the dead were gone, the survivors damaged, the relatives of the lost and wounded saddened and numb.
With the fifth anniversary coming up, this NY Times story — which as Idolator wisely notes is hardly free of assumptions and bias — addresses some of those lingering wounds. It’s the source of the quote that’s the headline to this piece, and also includes this:
On the anniversary of the fire, Ms. Fisher and other survivors will gather at a restaurant across from the former Station site, where a circle of ragged crosses form a makeshift memorial to the dead. Meanwhile, Ms. Fisher and Ms. Eagan are brainstorming about how to draw more support.
“We’ve been kicking around the idea of a black-tie ball, maybe at the Biltmore,” Ms. Fisher said, referring to the fanciest hotel in Providence. “A lot of the blue collar, average people who’ve already dipped into their pockets time and time again — you can only give so much.”
It’s a small thing to note, perhaps, but: it’s sad enough that the living still need support. But that the dead still have yet to get their permanent memorial, something to recall a sorrowful and unneeded loss, is just as depressing.
The Station Family Fund is always accepting contributions.