Back in May, I wrote here about going to Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest. I've written about it several times, and have been going to it for over 25 years. Not every year, but often, dating back to when they held it at UCLA on the athletic field.
It's grown significantly, and moved around, but they finally found a wonderful home several years back at the Paramount Ranch, which is where a lot of TV shows and movies have been filmed (most notably, perhaps, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman). In addition to the gorgeous local in the middle of the forest, there's a Western village built there for use in filming, which is far more substantially built than most movie sets.
Or was, I should say. I was looking at a map of the Woolsey wildfire last night, and Paramount Ranch looks smack in the middle of it. I have friends who live reasonably close by, but on the outskirts enough that at last report their home was fine, though they had to get evacuated, and a neighbor only a street away lost their home.
But I can't imagine Paramount Ranch surviving. Beyond it being all wood, it looks to be at Ground Zero.
I have no idea if they'll rebuild. On the one hand, there isn't all that much to build, it's just a collection of a random structures of a Western town that aren't much more then shell. And it's a great site for location filming. On the other hand, since so much of the woods around it will be destroyed, the environs won't be as lush. It will come back -- when I worked at Will Rogers State Historic Park, and the Topanga Fire burned much of the grounds (though the ranch house and barn and other facilities were save), the greenery was back within a year. Not as thick and vibrant, but there was a foundation -- though not immediately. And I don't know if there's enough filming to justify it.
I also don't know what the plans will be for the Banjo & Fiddle Contest. They could certainly still hold it there. But there won't be all the structures where they held various contests, nor so much of the surrounding greenery. (Though some may be back.) That said, there were a lot of years when the festival was at places there were no more than big athletic fields, so they might stay -- particularly since the grounds are so vast, which would still allow them to put up their own makeshift stages.
Sad as it is, in the end, the structure there are just shells. It's a wonderful locale, but they aren't homes. It's the 250,000 people who've had to evacuate, the very real towns that have been wiped out, and the 48 people who thus far have died that are the tragedy.
May the winds die down soon and bring the fires to an end.
11/14/2018 08:38:30 pm
News reports over the weekend said that everything at the Paramount Ranch burned to the ground; except for the church. It escaped the inferno with supposedly no significant damage. I do not subscribe to supernatural intervention of any kind or any belief system having anything to do with it's survival. I do believe that every huckster for a thousand miles will descend on the Santa Monica mountains and use the church as a bludgeon to separate the gullible from their money
11/14/2018 10:58:12 pm
I don't have a clue how that church structure could have survived. (You can see it in my top photo, sitting in the center.) And anyone who ascribes anything supernatural to it survival is acting the fool. It's not a church, it's a movie set. And actual, real churches have burned to the ground.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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