Tom Butt
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  Burnt Ramen Revisited
June 11, 2017

They say any publicity is good publicity, so I guess I should thank Jason Blaylock for casting me as the villain in his film “In the Wake of Ghost Ship.” See

Image result for burnt ramen

The facts are that in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire, I received an email from a Richmond resident that a similar building existed in Richmond, known as “Burnt Ramen.” The building served as a residence for several people and as public commercial musical entertainment venue. I forwarded the email to the Fire Department and Building Department, and after visiting the building, City official “red tagged” it, indicating that, like the Ghost Ship, it was unsafe for occupancy.

Had a similar action been taken at the Ghost Ship, a tragedy arguably could have been avoided. In Oakland, the Fire Chief resigned over blowback from the Ghost Ship, and both the Oakland Fire Department and Oakland Police Department have come under fire for not acting on the Ghost Ship before the tragedy. The prime tenant of the Ghost Ship and the event promoter on the night of the fire have been arrested and charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Numerous civil suits have been filed against the owner of the Ghost Ship.

Instead of thanking me for perhaps saving lives, Burnt Ramen supporters made a film about how the “alt-right” and the Nazi patterned "Safety Squad" have conspired against artists.

The upshot of all this is that the owner of Burnt Ramen is doing the right thing, has apparently hired an architect and is in the process of obtaining permits to bring the building up to code --- not a bad outcome.

For more history, see:

Following is promotional information on the film:

June 8, 2017 - New York, NY - Field of Vision is debuting their new film, IN THE WAKE OF GHOST SHIP, by Jason Blalock. The film follows residents of a live/work artspace in Richmond, California, who face eviction following the devastating Ghost Ship fire in nearby Oakland.
[publicity release]

IN THE WAKE OF GHOST SHIP (Dir. Jason Blalock)
Last December, Oakland's Ghost Ship warehouse fire claimed 36 lives, the nation's deadliest fire in over a decade. It also set off a wave of scrutiny of live/work spaces across the country. Ten miles from Ghost Ship, a legendary punk collective called Burnt Ramen is fighting back against sudden eviction.

When local officials shut down their DIY space in the name of public safety, members of Burnt Ramen, who are still mourning friends and fellow artists lost in the Oakland fire, must spring into action to save their own homes.

Jason Blalock works primarily as a cinematographer on a variety of documentary film projects. Most recently he served as a cinematographer for Nobody Speak: The Trials of a Free Press, which premiered at Sundance and is featured at SFIFF. He lives in Oakland.

Field of Vision was launched in September 2015 at the New York Film Festival. It was created to provide an outlet for filmmakers and artists to respond creatively in a fast-paced way to global events. In its first year Field of Vision commissioned 22 stand-alone nonfiction short films, 3 episodic series and 2 feature-length documentaries.

Work created by Field of Vision has been featured at major international film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes, SXSW, and Rotterdam, and has received the Best Short Form Series award at the International Documentary Association, a number of festival Grand Jury Prizes for Short Documentary, and a News and Documentary Emmy nomination. Three Field of Vision films have been shortlisted for the 2017 Cinema Eye Outstanding Nonfiction Short Film Honor. In addition, Field of Vision won the Webby Award for Online Film & Video - News & Politics: Series.

[Watch this film H E R E.]

The "Ghost Ship" tragedy and its aftermath depicted in Jason Blalock's short film for Field of vision is a story of a disaster leading to wide awareness exploited by the right wing. There must be a whole series of social and economic conditions leading to the present situation. It's difficult for Millennials to get jobs, which may lead more young people to linger as bohemians and fledgling artists. Rapid increases in the cost of housing leads these young people to dwell in the only big spaces they can afford to live in collectively, which are substandard and irresponsibly managed. Bohemian collectives tend to be messy, and poverty doesn't lend itself to ship-shape buildings either.

Journalist Blalock discovers that "alt-right" trolls (found partly on the site "4chanan" site "politically incorrect") are reveling in how they can profit by the Ghost Ship "Tragedy" (their quote-marks) to "shut down these sh--holes," reporting "artspaces and illegal venues to crush the radical left." "We can really have some fun with this 'tragedy' an anonymous poster proposes. And the obscenity-laden threats and boasts on the anonymous bulletin board go on. "Places to report" listed are in Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas - and "Burnt Ramen," a collective in Richmond, California, just north of the Fruitvale district of Oakland where Ghost Ship was.

This anonymous network speaks of a "Safety Squad" (its organized fingering of artist collectives) with a symbol "SS" patterned like the Nazi Schutzstaffel, and pages with Hitler images.

Within two weeks of the Ghost Ship fire Burt Ramen's people were gearing up for a city inspection. A team comes in (we get a glimpse of some of the spaces, which show clutter and lots of loose electrical wiring), and "red tag" notices are put up to vacate: immediately, everyone to leave, that day. The leader says it's been running 18 years. A 2005 documentary shows its performance space was considered a primo center for rock'n roll, a "living work of art" where musicians could "find themselves." Burnt Ramen residents become homeless, and organize to pressure the Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and city council to be lenient. Butt says it is the City Manager's concern and bars debate, after an emotional hearing from residents.

Later, Richmond City Councilman and former mayor Gayle McLaughlan expresses a repeated will to work with the young artists to enable them to move back in the building known as "Burnt Ramen." "We don't want people living in unsafe places but living on the street isn't safe either," she says. "And I personally don't want to see cities without artists." Blalock shows artist spaces in San Francisco, San Leandro, L.A., Culver City, and Richmond, all in California; plus Denver, Baltimore.

Burnt Ramen and the city are working on repairing the code violations, the end notes say, but if not repaired in six months, the city has the right to demolish the building. It sounds like the deadline may be near.

A well-made 21-min. film released June 8, 2017, is about an under-reported new topic. This film is found on THUMP (click here) - the electronic music and culture channel from VICE. It is produced through First Look Media, a multi-platform media company devoted to supporting independent voices launched in 2013 by eBay's Pierre Omidyar. First Look Media produces and distributes feature films, short-form video, podcasts, interactive media and long-form journalism.
Last edited by Chris Knipp; Yesterday at 02:03 AM.