This isn’t my usual fun and entertaining post so if that isn’t your thing (and since I set up this blog to be fun and entertain you, I understand, believe me) you might want to come back, say, day after tomorrow.
Still here? OK.
I know there’s always lots of hand-wringing and angst when something horrible happens and it cuts close to your own bone. It could have been me! you think. This is my “it could have been me” so you’ll bear with me while I take a moment (or a post) to remember this one. And, well, if you love music, this could also have been you. It’s been exactly five years since the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island and honestly, I find myself just as freaked out now as I was then. If you don’t remember, a lot of people who just wanted to hear rock & roll on a cold night packed themselves into a tiny club, sat through two opening acts, and then got all psyched when the headliner, Great White, played the opening notes of their set. That’s when it all went wrong. Pyrotechnics were set off, the ceiling was low, the soundproofing which covered every surface was ultra-flammable, there were few exits, the hallway out was narrow…. a hundred people died and scores more had horrific injuries. They were all ages, mostly working class, some were parents, one was in the band.
I sometimes try to analyze why this fire affected me so much emotionally and still does. Maybe it’s because I find myself in little clubs all the time and I see the way they are set up. I probably wouldn’t make it out of very many of them alive in that situation. Maybe it’s because I worked on one Great White album, although I never met them. But really, I think it’s simply because these folks, from what I’ve read, were super-excited to see a national act, a band of their youth, music they loved. And that’s me any day of the week.
This past weekend, there was an article in the Times about a couple of the survivors. They are deformed, scarred, blinded. Can’t work or tie their shoes. This paragraph in the story gripped me:
Many believe the circumstances of their misfortune — that they were blue-collar folks gathered in a scruffy club to hear Great White, a has-been “hair metal” band from the ’80s — also help explain the lack of interest.
But you see, that’s exactly what makes me care so passionately about them. Could anyone love music more than they did? And that’s why they died or lost loved ones or are scarred for life. Because they loved music and wanted to experience it, just like you and I.
I think about the people in The Station literally every time I am at a show, scoping out the exits before the music starts. But according to this article, people seem to have mostly forgotten. Most of those responsible are serving little if any time. The settlement, if any, will probably just cover the most pressing needs of the desperate survivors. The fund they have set up, as it stands, can cover six months of medical treatment. So, I just wanted to pass onto you the link to the Station Family Fund, in case you want to do something as badly as I do.
From an article in the Providence Journal linked to below:
According to Todd King, a board member and past president of the fund, [Howard] Stern was surprised to learn that the fund and the survivors were in need. “I thought those people were taken care of,” King remembers Stern saying.
“No one was taken care of,” King says.
You can read about the fund, how little they have, and where it goes, here, and donate here. Either way, just don’t forget them. And check the exits before you lose yourself in the music in that club.
Yeah, I picked 80′s pop-metal on purpose.
Skid Row – I Remember You