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2014: The Year in Disasters 

Tuesday, Dec 30 2014
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When one lives in San Francisco long enough, one finally recognizes the shared look on all the faces of the citizens one sees hustling by. It's the bright-eyed grimace of steely resolve, the stoic bravery of a people resigned to living always so close to destruction.

This year, the long-awaited disasters came, sort of.

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Napa on Aug. 24, buckling streets and buildings, injuring hundreds, and killing one. Damage was estimated in the hundreds of millions, and with images of broken bottles and shattered barrels pouring forth, much hand-wringing was committed to pondering The End of All Cabernet as We Know It.

No panicked rationing came of it, though. Nothing like the Lime Shortage of Late-ish Spring, which didn't originate in California but certainly became a #Tecatepocalpyse when a combination of bad weather and drug cartel violence cut the lime supply to white rhino levels. Strange reminders of the way nature so ruthlessly impedes our comfort and zest.

Exactly as Ebola did not impede life, here in the United States, not really, but that didn't stop us from fretting mightily over it. It's the kind of fear common to people who are overinformed and under-disastered.

But there was a continuing drought in California, one which probably won't but certainly possibly maybe could be the kind of thousand-yearer that California, before humans were around to hashtag it, was not unfamiliar with.

Fears of a desert planet were only abated by fears of a deluge in December that had believers herding their chihuahua-mixes two-by-two into their mighty Priuses after taking to Twitter to suggest names for the storm so that future generations would know what we all agreed to hashtag the thing before it swept us all away. Despite its persistence, #Hypepocalypse 2014 was not nearly enough to wash away the sinners, leaving us damp but cutely rain-booted and, according to NASA, only 11 trillion gallons shy of getting out of this drought once and for all.

These fears secreted onto our movie screens as, time and time again, San Francisco was destroyed: by Johnny Depp's piercing singularity in Transcendence, by clever cultural appropriation in Big Hero 6, by simian neglect in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, by goddamn Godzilla. That look, that common look, it's getting out there, it's on all the faces now as more and more people beyond the Bay Area recognize the tenuousness of our grasp on this peninsula and, by extension, their own.

And if they don't, there's always another chance to remind them as San Francisco will no doubt get destroyed in 2015 in Ant-Man, Terminator Genisys, or in San Andreas by the goddamn Rock.

Not all destruction is physical, though. San Francisco's actual demise may have been preceded by a spiritual death with this year's season of The Real World. It is foretold: The end will come by Ex-plosion, and the well-tanned survivors will rut adorably in the ruins, stopping only to fortify themselves on sandwiches scavenged from Subway and consider what it all meant on long, meandering walks seen by no one.

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Brandon R. Reynolds

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