Pop Culture
Pop Culture: Articles for the Scripps Howard News Service & "Seen, Heard, Said"

Why the top-365-songs list isn't a stupid idea

Actors sink their teeth into vampire roles

Gregory Corso: My encounter with a Beat legend

Golden Globes: Sleazy and proud of it

In the offing, Clinton continent looms

"NYPD Blue" opener: The misery continues

 New movie genre: Reclusive authors anonymous

"West Wing," "Ally," et al.: Words, words, words

When TV shows outstay their welcome

Film critics dig their own graves with "Angels" review

Great Robert Altman films you never
heard of

Famous folk, next week in the arts, show business briefs

"Time regained": Proust in the multiplex

Glitterati is dead, long live Popfocus

Carl Barks: The man who put the ducks in Duckburg

"Almost Famous": Lester Bangs rises from the dead

Liz Hurley wins in war of words with Jane mag

Douglas poses with Zeta-Jones, and baby-makes three

Weddings that aren't: Douglas, Zeta-Jones, Madonna, Ritchie

The Emmy War: A half-century of coast-to-coast feuding

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the Iglesias odds

It's raining books by and about Trumps

What's in a mane? Blond woman in the news

Liz Hurley denies dissing ex-beau

Rock Hall of Infamy: Anti-heroes from Elvis to Eminem

Barbra tix bankrupt fans

Laurels for Kathie Lee to rest on

Hillary "In bed" with De Niro, Cruise, Kidman

How "Sopranos," "West Wing" will divvy up awards

This just in: Donald Trump is not a dope

Walter Matthau: A rumpled old dog in the heart of the city

Sampras to take a stroke at wedding bells

Who wants to host "Monday Night Football"?

Queen rewards Tina Brown for demoralizing American readers

How the Korean War cane to TV land 20 years late

Ivanka Trump: From catwalk to commencement line

Lester Bangs: The troublesome punk who wouldn't die

Rags clash over Ted Turner "romance"

With straight face, Trump deems Marla's move "tacky"

"Friends" re-up for another season of top ratings, top money

Madonna in denial, and rightly so

"Suburbia": The continental subdivide

Howard Stern, Sly Stallone in bizarre, apocryphal triangle

Easter video viewing: "Spartacus" to "Harvey"

Billy’s in the news: Bob, Joel in love but not with other

"Charles's Angels" movie: Dispiriting news for old-time fans

Innovative career move for 'NYPD Blue' co-star

Top model: Why I gave oldish rocker husband the heave-ho

Unpleasantville: The awful truth about old-time TV families

Tina Brown held captive in desert by demanding children

Anybody's Oscar: Unusually suspenseful awards show looms

Oscar telecast: Looking for a few good hosts

"Lambs," "Beauty": Oscar's love affair with unacceptable behavior

Brad Pitt, Oscar to be in same room at same time

Letterman bites guest-host bullet: Andrew "Dice" Clay, call your agent

Seinfeld eyes East Hampton manse: Where's the welcome wagon?

"Mod Squad" Immortal dishes couple du jour

Brad Pitt's second thoughts about Oscar

Mike McCurry praises "West Wing": It's not entirely demeaning,,,"

Memo to "Hannibal" producers: Get Najimy while the getting's good

Don't Invite Gwyneth and Oscar to the same party

True or false: Douglas, Zeta-Jones don't even know each other

Ex-Clinton honcho linked to ex-"Cheers" costar

Third party cited in Trump-Knauss breakup

 Gossip queen goes to bat for Talk mag

20th century's No. 1 hit: "Satisfaction" hits the spot

Statement: Spice girl's marital problems insoluble

Charlie Brown, Pogo and me

From Howdy to Charlie Brown, we hate to say goodbye

The Beatle George: While his guitar gently weeps

Jodie Foster's people in mild tiff with CBS

A Peanuts trivia Q&A

Publicist: Boyle still joined at hip

There's video in your future and future in your video

"The future is now": Hit rewind

Whitney Houston presides over confluence of talent

Jim Carrey's flack earns A "D," Cher's A "B-minus"

Geraldo: bye-bye, doghouse

Michael Douglas does nothing much, reporters go wild

Ricky Martin on Menudo: Look back in anger

How to outsmart Halloween crowds at the video store

Tom Cruise puts himself in harm's way, only not really

1800-1900: Steaming towards revolution

1700-1800: Liberty, equality and bloodshed

1600-1700: The earth moves; North America is settled

Trump mulls travel plans, from altar to White House

"Faces of Impressionism" Time machine made of canvas, paint

Major quakes aren't personal unless they happen to you

Brad Pitt gracious about character assassination

Director insists Harrison Ford is not a brainless hulk

Costner, Willis, Douglas. Branagh, Sting_ in that order

Streisand: Color her ready to plug her new album

Julia and Benjamin's rings devoid of significance, flack says

Literary mud wrestling, featuring Geri and The Spice Girls

Urgent news: Ford to replace Gibson on "GMA" eventually

She married a monster from outer space

Never mind Godzilla VS. Mothra, Here's Trump VS. Cronkite

Spurned by Pitt, Redford pays court to Damon

Celebrity coyness is bustin' out all over

"Detroit Rock City": Kiss of death

Talk is cheap? Not with Tina Brown at the helm

The Beats: Remembered, Lionized and Unread

Real estate beat, starring Woody Allen and Donald Trump

Mood Music, or how we learned to stop worrying

Sex in the cinema: From "Last Tango" to "Eyes Wide Shut"

Two easy steps to looking exactly like Ricky Martin

Close encounters of the Muppet kind

Upcoming Brad Pitt movie not garbage, insiders say

Kathie Lee's eyewear excites Islanders' ire

Back to the future, continued

"Wild Wild West": Buck Rogers in the 19th century

Sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein: Fun, Fun, Fun

An expert's verdict:" Austin Powers" is pretty neat

Click here for pointless celebrity gossip

P. Dempsey Tabler of the jungle: The many faces of Tarzan

Kirk Douglas' Ex tells all about Errol Flynn fling

New twist in TV programming: Ax profitable shows

Private jet fees spell the end for another celebrity union

Killer serials: "Flash," "Buck" and a boy named George Lucas

Top nonfiction books: A message from two old men

Celebrity Dream dreams: Monica, Donald, Barbara, Georgette

Two divas, publicist form bizarre show-biz triangle

Johnny Cash tribute: Ring of fire, ring of friends

Streisand employee really upset about rumors

Grande Dame Eyes MGM Grand Gig

Secretive celebs? Not by a long shot

NBC honcho bristles at notion that Brokaw is not a saint

Barbara Walters not keen on daily dose of Monica

"Seen, Heard, Said"

David Letterman, Donald Trump, Eddie Murphy, Elton John

Madonna, Frank Sinatra, Prince Charles, Maj, Ronald Ferguson, Fergie, Miranda Richardson, Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, Axl Rose, Stephanie Seymour

October 12, 1999


By ROGER ANDERSON Scripps Howard News Service

One day - Oct. 17, 1989, to be exact - I was writing a freelance story in a second-floor apartment in Oakland, Calif., I shared with my girlfriend and our two cats when the building began to shake.

The building had been constructed the year World War I began. It was within sight of Lake Merritt, a manmade body of water surrounded by a park, restaurants, public facilities, a children's amusement center - in a word, landfill.

Did I mention that the building began to shake? Because it did indeed begin to shake. Then it continued shaking. And the shaking got stronger and stronger. The old building swayed back and forth. The two cats shot through the air like a couple of furry cannonballs, in wide-eyed panic.

I knew it was an earthquake, a big one - perhaps THE big one - and I knew I was going to die.

Even though I knew I was going to die, once the shaking lessened a bit, I grabbed my shoes and went down the stairway and out onto the street. The cats had disappeared into some hidey-hole, not to be reappearing for hours. I sat on the curb and put my shoes on. People in buildings all over the neighborhood were also spilling onto the street. Most of them already had their shoes on. Car alarms were going off.

Maybe I wasn't going to die after all - maybe. My only other thought was about my girlfriend, who was at work in a magazine office on the other side of the Berkeley Hills, at the other end of a long tunnel that, for all I knew, she had been driving through when the quake hit.

There was an aftershock. There was another aftershock.

I found a pay phone and tried to call my girlfriend's office but couldn't get through. By the phone booth a woman in a car had her radio on. The Bay Bridge is down!' she shrieked.


"They're saying the Bay Bridge is down!"

The Bay Bridge was down? The idea was impossible to absorb. The Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland and Berkeley with San Francisco, was something you took for granted the way you took your spinal column for granted. It was a great big old thing, an awe-inspiring Depression-era engineering wonder spanning the vast and choppy waters of San Francisco Bay. I usually had occasion to drive across it several times in the course of a week. So the entire bridge had collapsed into the bay? How many hundreds of motorists had been killed?

Before long my girlfriend materialized out of nowhere. She had been at work when the quake hit and then drove home - through the tunnel. No problem. Here she was.

Once your loved one has shown up intact after such a catastrophe, everything else is anticlimax. But in this case the anticlimax went on for days and almost finished me off.

First, the aftershocks. There were lots of them - in fact, there were, according to reports, literally thousands of them every day. A few of them were strong enough to feel, and a few of those were strong enough to give you a heart attack.

Fortunately, power in our neighborhood was back on before dark that first night. Unfortunately, that meant we didn't miss any of the local and network news coverage.

The network coverage was amusing at first - just imagine, Dan and Tom and Peter dodging falling bricks just down the street! But it wasn't amusing to friends and family who lived elsewhere, because the network cameras showed only the devastation. You couldn't tell from the news shows that way over 90 percent of the area looked as though nothing had happened.

The Bay Bridge? When newscasters had, in the first flush of the disaster, reported that it was "down," what they really meant was that one fairly small section of the span's upper deck had collapsed. One motorist was dead.

On the other hand, the bridge was closed until further notice. That meant that if you needed to commute from Oakland to San Francisco - which I did, for my part-time job on the news desk at the San Francisco Examiner - you had to drive north to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, across the bay to Marin County, down 101 through Marin and over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. It was bumper to bumper the whole way, and it took hours. And it took more hours to come home.

Especially in light of recent earthquakes in places like Turkey, what happened 10 years ago in Northern California seems like small potatoes. What you don't understand until you go through it, though, is how traumatized you can be by a natural disaster, even one that leaves you and yours comparatively unscathed.

How traumatized was I? Traumatized enough that when an Examiner reporter told me a psychic who predicted the first quake had sent him a postcard predicting a second one, I made arrangements to be out of the area that day and made my girlfriend come with me. I seriously considered bringing the cats.

And I was traumatized enough to establish contacts in Portland, Ore., in hopes that a job would open up there.

A few months later, a job did open up for my girlfriend in Seattle, except that by now she was my wife. I was all in favor of the move. I was a bit let down, however, after we arrived in the Emerald City and learned that the Puget Sound region is where the edges of innumerable tectonic plates meet and grind dangerously against each other. Sooner or later, the Big One would hit and it would all be over.

So now we live In Washington, D.C. Probably terrorists will bomb the place into oblivion before a big quake hits.

Roger Anderson is arts and entertainment editor at Scripps Howard News Service.

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