Much of the road that leads to Los Angeles is still road that I routinely drive over today to get to local places such as Springfield, Illinois or St. Louis, or Oklahoma.
I’m still always remembering those old Gunsmoke radio shows playing as I merge from I-39 to I-55 and cross the hills of Missouri wherever I may be going today. All of the Route 66 stuff you see along the roads also takes me back to the times when I drove back and forth to L.A. quite a lot back in the days. Since then I’ve been able to buy and download several old Gunsmoke Radio Shows off the internet somewhere, and have them on my I-Pod where I listen to them quite often. I am also getting a collection of different Route 66 stuff including a couple of coffee cups and T-Shirts around here somewhere.
Not long after I settled in up in Hollywood just a couple blocks down Franklin Avenue from where Ronald Reagan settled in years before me, I found myself at the Santa Monica Pier with the breeze off the Pacific Ocean blowing hard in my face. However on this occasion it wasn’t just the wind that was noticeable, or the theme song from the Scooby-Doo Arcade game that rings constantly non-stop through the air there, on this occasion the wind was blowing so strong that I noticed the ground was also moving considerably! Santa Monica Pier and all began rocking back and forth with what could have been one of their famous “Santa-Ana Winds.”
Well it occurred to me as that moment with both the wind and the earthquake kept on blowing and shaking, that the ground movement was probably not related to the wind blowing. Or had possibly never up to that point in history ever been connected to having both happened at the same time and this possibly or maybe probably being connected.
I made the decision after a couple of moments of thought that the wind blowing, and I looked around and up at the hills in the distance there, wind was not only blowing in my face but it was also a part of the much larger movement or air forcing itself up against the mountains, probably the Santa Monica Mountains, and must be also pushing against them. This would probably be why the wind blew a second THEN the ground started moving in concert with that huge gust of Santa Ana Wind that was blowing in my face that day at the Pacific Park! That’s the name of the Amusement Park situated on the Santa Monica Pier.
That wasn’t the end of that thought process that day by no means. I went on to check out the list of local small earthquakes routinely published in one of the local L.A. newspapers and also a list of big gusts of wind routinely published like in the Weather Section of another.
The results of this inquiry were almost unbelievable to me that day and still kind of are today even. The number of major wind gusts on this list read identical with the list of two and three magnitude earthquakes with the only difference being the Weather Service had been rounding off the time of the gusts to the nearest five minutes and of course the time reported for the small earthquakes had always been recorded as the exact moment down to the second, or tenths and hundredths of a second as I just figured out in one of my most recent EQ Blogs from like yesterday! The two lists matched IDENTICAL and were proof positive that every time the wind blew out along the Pacific, the ground moved in the same exact manner. In fact I could clearly see that day that even bigger gusts, say 50 or 55 mph were connected directly to 2.5 or 2.8, or 3 Richters earthquakes, while more minor wind gusts of say 40 or 45 might lead to smaller shakers in say the 1.8 to 2.4 Range although I do not have either of them papers here today as I write so those numbers may not be exact.
My first memories of my days of living in Hollywood besides listening to the old Jack Benny Shows on cassettes every night until I fell asleep, include the fact that I discovered the ground moved all the time pretty much every day out there. Not only that one experience at the Santa Monica Pier, but I started to notice and count as many as 4 or more earthquakes a day sometimes. Earthquakes were so common in Hollywood that I wouldn’t even set my drink on my desk there at my Hollywood Apartment, I’d place it on the floor next to the desk so if one would shake too big and dump it over it would already be on the floor and not on one of my screenplays I was working on at the time or whatever.
It was August 23 and 24, 1999 that the news was reporting the landfall of Hurricane Bret near Brownsville, Texas as a CAT-4 Hurricane with 145 mph wind speeds! There had been quite a lot of damage down around the Rio Grande Region including mud slides and it didn’t take too long before I figured out that the brand new earthquake energy from that landfall would be heading directly for all of us right there in Hollywood as well as all of the Los Angeles area.
As soon as a check of the maps confirmed what I probably more or less already knew, I began to take action! This would not be the first such alert for me to have to deal with as far as needing to write out a few letters to my various associates mostly the ones who are situated in some of the most earthquake prone areas around California. I can recall drafting a unique letterhead I drew up specifically for this purpose and there are probably still a few of these out there somewhere!
In other books and stories I’ve written on this subject I’ve used the term “Career Suicide,” but that was now long ago when my acting career was really that much of a concern! Today I have my Screen Actors Guild card and don’t really care too much if I tell an agent or agencies there might be a major earthquake heading for them, but when you are just starting out with only one or two little jobs under your belt including your latest “EQ Alert” as a part of your introductory cover letter was always what I then knew to basically just be career suicide.
Today it’s probably just a lot more clear to me that it never really mattered much because those letters that probably included my headshot were such cold direct sales anyways that it was virtually always highly unlikely anything would ever become of any of them. I would sum it up by saying “Hello, enclosed is my recent headshot please consider me for a part and there is a major earthquake heading directly for you, Thank-You!” And who wouldn’t call that guy back or whatever?
Buried somewhere I might have notations as to who I might have sent some of those early EQ Alerts to via snail mail, but I know for sure I never kept any copies for myself. One of these days I will try to draft a reproduction to show what the letterhead sort of looked like.
Next, it was time to begin telling all my neighbors and friends as well as everyone I came into contact with in my day to day travels.
I can still remember the discussion I had with the one guy in particular at the 7-11 on the corner of Sunset and LaBrea because he knew quite a lot about earthquakes and we stood there and talked almost an hour all about every earthquake that had ever struck Los Angeles and he’d been in all of them! So he was not at all surprised when I was going around and saying there was going to be a Major Earthquake hitting Los Angeles in the coming days.
There were many others that I probably told all of this to all around Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Fernando Valley and all of Southern California, but some of the ones who would eventually confront me with my findings were the folks who lived in my apartment building right there in the middle of Beautiful Downtown Hollywood!
Well let me tell you what happened there! Yes, as pretty much always happens after I go to the extent to tell everybody under the sun there is going to be an earthquake. . . the 7.1 Richters Hector Mines Earthquake struck very early on the morning of October 16, 1999, and the girl in Apartment 23 next door to me immediately went running out on the balcony screaming, “EARTHQUAKE!!!” The Apartment Manager was right out there and it was a lively conversation considering that I just found that 2:46am Pacific Time was the exact time of that earthquake!
As soon as I was awake I immediately turned on the TV and Radio to find out what was going on. It was a while before the news radio station I was listening to was to know anything about exactly what had just happened. They did talk a lot about the possibility that they would actually need to go running out of their own building at any moment and had some concerns for their own lives it sounded like. While the building continued to shake with aftershocks, I seem to recall them covering comprehensively each and every single aftershock in a “Whoa, whoa, whoa” type of format if you can imagine it! There was a caller from Pasadena who reported having found a shed in his backyard and he didn’t have any idea where it came from. The announcer also noticed they were not getting any calls from the Inland Empire. The Inland Empire is the large metropolitan region immediately East of Los Angles and according to Wikipedia tends to refer mainly to the South West Corner of San Bernardino County and the North West corner of Riverside County that is considered a part of the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. It makes up the third most populous region of the State of California. So, anyways this “News Radio” station that I had been listening to for everything that was going on that morning, wasn’t getting any calls from this huge major metropolitan region and it was sounding like they naturally assumed that the epicenter of this major earthquake was somewhere immediately East of Downtown Los Angeles, or East of East L.A.
Eventually they got a call from a guy at Cal-Tech who reported that the epicenter had been up around Barstow, in fact at that moment just fifteen minutes or so after the earthquake it is possible he reported the epicenter as Hector Mines, the name this L.A. Earthquake goes by today. Hector Mines is a small possibly a ghost town today, situated out in the middle of the Mojave Desert surrounding the Barstow area where it was all at one time a huge booming mining region, but mostly all desert today. It turned out that the reason the Inland Empire was not calling the station that day was because their power and phone service was probably all knocked out in the initial shock.
It would be later that day before I would finally run into one of my neighbors and naturally I was confronted with the fact that I had been talking about a Major Earthquake
striking in the recent days. I was on my way out the door and about to head on down the stairs to the parking area when the girl from Apartment 23 caught me and immediately asked if I knew there had been a Major Earthquake early that morning. Well, I had things to do and have never been one to spend a lot of time hanging around and talking about one of these right after it happened. . . I’m more the, “Yes, see you next time there’s a major one, then, I guess I’ll be telling everybody about it again, then won’t I” kind of a person as far as that goes I think, Lori. Bye. I’m thinking I was probably on my way up to Hector Mines right at that moment and I’m quite sure I would have took as much time as it takes to talk about such things with your neighbors like that, you know!
The trip up to Hector Mines might be covered in it’s entirety in my Earthquake Memoirs, or Life Story of The EQ Guy , today I just want to explain how it helped in Bringing Earthquakes To Life! I found there to have been a bridge that crossed I-40 that was badly damaged and upon close examination it had been literally pulled apart from North to South and the two abutments having been displaced by about 4 to 6 inches left a several inch gap between the two concrete sections on the North abutment completely tearing the roadway in two! It appeared to me the ground had not only shifted majorly to the North, but at the south side of it off a mile or so in the distance was the Amtrak train that had derailed in the midst of that early morning earthquake. Now I had to ponder this observation for quite some time and am not even sure if I came to this conclusion right there on the spot, or if it was a conclusion that I came up with in the days, months, and years that followed.
Today I can tell you that the train crossing through that region or what appeared to be a shallow sort of valley in the middle of the desert, struck a spot like thin ice where it either sank or shifted the immediate probably huge rock sort of earthen part, I refer to as a “Krunk” from the portion of an atom, causing the adjoining parts of the earth to then shift resulting in a lot of other parts doing a lot more shifting and the ground then settling or whatever movements were all taking place at that exact moment and then the earthquake taking place as those huge movements all connected to each other and eventually at some point in all the shaking pulled the abutments of that bridge in two. The train probably did not just so happen to be there at that epicenter, there is no doubt it played some kind of a role. It was a worthwhile trip up there to the epicenter of the Hector Mines Earthquake that day! Got a couple great pictures of that bridge, too!
It wouldn’t be too long before this sort of thing would be happening again, though, which I suppose shouldn’t be too big of a surprise considering I was in California!
That was how my big introduction to Hollywood went! At least as far as an introduction to all my neighbors was concerned. Sure to be more written about that subject as well as all my work with Central Casting and at the Major Movie Studios during my time up in Hollywood, but since this volume is not exactly being written chronologically, I want to keep the focus of this chapter on those big earthquake predictions that I made in front of my friends while living and working in Southern California.
The next one is still today by far one of my biggest, best, and favorites! Not that my Hollywood Apartment one was small or any less of a favorite, you understand. By time April of the year 2000 rolled around I had been on one or two construction jobs in Southern California, or SoCal as the locals like to call it, when the job at the Arrowhead Water plant in Ontario, California came along. Working at one of those bottled water plants was a rather new experience for me and I would have still been in the middle of my apprenticeship, so I enjoyed all there was to learn. How they do this, and do that and etc., of course everything going on there was all fairly new to me back in them days, although I did a long stretch at a Metal Container plant at one time, so I had seen and worked with some sort of similar stuff you know. Of course the type of conveyors and machines they used in a bottled water plant was still all very different from anything I had ever seen without going into any more details there mostly for proprietary reasons like most of those big companies prefer we not say how exactly the bottles are made, or how they do a lot of the different stuff inside such a place.
As this big job went on I got to know all the guys on the job very well and one day it was time for me to speak up about my work with earthquakes. There must have just been a major windstorm of some importance that made landfall from the Gulf of Mexico on to the Western shores of Texas because it was a Friday when we were taking our break at our picnic table in the shadow of big old Mount Baldy that I announced that they should all be watching for a Major Earthquake that weekend. I told them that to make it official I would say late Sunday Night or Early Monday Morning and the magnitude should be around 5, 5.3, or 5.6 Richters and I clearly recall saying it won’t matter because I already sat there and discussed 5.3 and 5.6, so I thought it kind of too late to now say exactly 5.3, or 5.6 with my point in the end just being somewhere in that area.
At that moment it wasn’t really that big of a deal, Virgil across the picnic table from me just said “We’ll see, then” and that was pretty much the end of it.
When Monday Morning rolled around it was just another morning getting up and showering and getting dressed while NBC-4 Los Angeles was on the TV, until the moment came to put my tape measure on my belt and that was when Fritz Coleman announced that there had been an earthquake with the epicenter in Fontana! The magnitude was like 5.3 and the time it had shook was like 4:15am. I wasn’t sure right at that moment if I was the only one who was going to know about this one, if I was going to have to explain that it happened, or if any of the guys would even care. As it was, I was going to have to try to convince them I had even said it on Friday in the first place, which I was not looking forward to.
It was a long several hours of work that morning although I couldn’t tell you what task I was busy at, I can tell you when morning break arrived there sure was a lot of excitement in the air! One of the guys began asking the others, “Who felt it?” before we were even out the door of the building. The first few moments of the conversation might have dealt entirely with where the epicenter was, who felt it, and where they were at geographically at the moment it shook. Mostly referring to where they lived and how far from the epicenter of the earthquake they all lived, because I remember everybody telling their story with reference to the city they were from and if they felt it or could of, or would have felt it considering their distance from Fontana.
Then it was time for somebody to mention that they somehow knew it was supposed to happen. “Because you told us right here at this table on Friday” were Virgils words. “You said there was supposed to be an earthquake with the epicenter very near here” pointing at the table in front of him. May not be his exact words, but that’s sort of close.
The rest is history today! He was kind of angry about the fact that it shook his house since he lived practically AT the epicenter in Fontana, but the whole thing went rather well considering.
I was never exactly sure how many guys were there that day at the picnic table out in front of the Arrowhead Water plant where they make and bottle water. There were at least two guys from the plant in Arrowhead Water uniforms and an unknown number of us construction guys including our boss Bill Williams who came out and joined us at one point.
At the far end of the table to my left also facing Mt. Baldy and also like me with their backs against the wall of the building were several other guys who I had worked with but one in particular who showed up in my apprentice class a month or so later. I worked with him on the Arrowhead Water job and he was also about to help me with my new job of Bringing Earthquakes To Life!
Aiden Rios walked into class and as soon as he saw me he announced, “Hey, everybody it’s the guy who knows when the next earthquake is going to be!” Then he turned and asked me, “Hey EQ Guy, when is the next earthquake going to be?”
At first I was really surprised to see Aiden in my apprentice class, but on that occasion I didn’t waste any time getting right to what was going on with earthquakes right at that moment. I announced it to the class that it was amazing he should ask me that question right at that moment because there just so happened to be a huge earthquake heading for Central America right at that moment and that I was expecting it to strike as soon as that weekend. I told them this one wasn’t going to be a small 5 Magnitude earthquake like the one at Arrowhead Water, no! This one was going to be more up in the 7 Magnitude range. Again, I never knew right at that moment if I’d ever hear any more about that prediction again. That is until a Major Earthquake struck somewhere around Central America!
You could tell it by the looks in these guys eyes that on Monday Morning after the earthquake hit they were all in a state of disbelief! I remember them crowding around me and among other things wanting to know how I had predicted it so closely and so correctly.
I seem to remember that day as having been the actual moment that I decided I would have to write it all out into a book and that was even sort of the answer I gave to this bunch as they waited for an explanation as to how I had been doing all of this predicting.
I simply summed it up by telling them I use a combination of different things such as phases of the moon, high and low tides, and that it is just so incredibly complex that I would probably have to write it all out into a book someday so that they might then be able to just read it out of a book much the same way as we were reading the books all about the Carpenters business right there in our apprentice class that day.
I suppose it wasn’t so much that it was incredibly complex at the moment they were all surrounding me and asking, as much as it was the fact that there was still a lot I didn’t know about how the system worked myself, but I probably figured giving them the answer, “I don’t know,” was not the best answer I could give them right at the time, either.
Being right there in the middle of all this as it was happening, I can honestly say that I am today very comfortable with the answer I gave them! I enjoy the fact that it was the exact actual moment where never having thought about it before, I just blurted it out without putting much thought into it that I would probably have to write a book all about it someday.
It worked out pretty good because here’s that book, you guys! I also want to take a moment to personally Thank All of You for helping me with Bringing Earthquakes To Life!