The power went off at 3:37pm. I was at home playing with my nephew. When it didnt come on we walked to his little friends house around the block to play. Neighbors were already out in the yards talking and drinking together. Drivers coming in out of the gridlock looked frazzled seemed nervous. I felt a little nervous too being disconnected from modernity, until I dug my handcrank radio out of the camping supplies.
I felt sort of haughty walking around turning the little handle (my nephew had to turn it too) I quickly realized that I had tuned in to what Guy Debord called The Spectacle. Most of the blather on the radio had been made static by the power outage – so no voices blaming Obama for the economy or selling anything at all– but they were broadcasting anecdotal reports spanning the blackout from northern baja Mexico to Arizona to Orange County. The trolley stopped on its tracks. People were stuck in elevators and on rides at Legoland. Six million people without power. Tonight all of San Diego would be in the dark. I shared a beer with the neighbors and told them some news ‘two power plants had blown…’ most of which turned out to be wrong. But also was able to share sound advice like ‘fill some water jugs’ and ‘dont open your refrigerator.’ Thanks to our vegan diet we wouldnt be throwing anything away. Angela and I ate dinner by candlelight which we heated on the gas stove. We communicated with our daughter by text message, she was ‘bored.’ Later my friend Cecil came by on his bike. The ice cream store and the neighborhood taco truck did record business, he said. We sat out front and watched the neighborhood kids shoot a gambit of fireworks – roman candles to bottle rockets, which they have never done before even on 4th of July.
All around the neighborhood we could hear people talking who had never talked to each other before and laughing their asses off. I cranked my radio and we marvelled at the fear that gripped many callers — ‘ terrorist attack!’ ‘9.11’ ‘the nuclear power plant will fail’ — until one lady called in to share something we were already deep into: ‘I just want to say that the moon and the stars are beautiful and suggest everyone go outside and take advantage of this rare opportunity.’