Column: Mike Davis’ final email to me captured the L.A. ‘sewer explosion’ — and reminded me to write, not mourn.
Sitting in front of my computer, the words “Mike Davis” flash up and a moment of shock hits me. What was I doing? Was I really writing an email? What’s going on here?
That was when a series of events unfolded that will prove to be an epiphany for me in this post. I’ve been talking a lot recently about the “watering down of the story” that is about the aftermath of the L.A. sewer explosion. The story is, in essence, this:
What happened in the L.A. sewer explosion is a story of corporate greed, environmentalism, and a whole lot of luck.
That’s the way the media’s narrative of the story is playing out. And it’s the way I’ve been telling the story all along.
But the story gets bigger and more complex in this new telling. Now it means that these corporate giants have used their powers to destroy our environment — and the world’s air and water — and to leave millions of people without clean drinking water and hundreds of thousands of people without safe drinking water.
So that’s the L.A. sewer explosion. But it’s much more than that.
So much more that this story will also change my life.
It will also change the way I tell this story of the explosion.
Let’s walk through that little thought experiment and see if I’ve captured the essence of what happened during that July, 1990, storm.
Let’s start small and work our way up.
A small story
In 1991, The Hollywood Reporter magazine interviewed me about the L.A. sewer explosion. They mentioned that their reporters had reported the story from the ground, and that we had been on the scene of the disaster while it was happening. Their reporter noted that we had been there when the water rushed in through the hole in the sewer line.
Later that same year, the Associated Press published a story about how the L.A. City Council had agreed to “cover up a series of reports and