Evacuation Frenzy


Evacuation Frenzy

Jim TurnerQ: Jim,
I read on Amy T's blog that you've been hammered with two not fun problems. That just stinks.
I hope you can maintain your wonderful humor. I've taken to watching a lot more comedy to try and keep upbeat, and you know it may not help but it's a lot easier to get through things with a smile on your face.
We met briefly last year at the Bike the Miles event in Boston. I'm planning on taking part in the next one this September in CT. If you're well enough to ride, I hope I'll bump into you there.
In the meantime, I'll keep you in my prayers and hope that things will be better before too long.


Thank you for the well wishes with the prostate surgery. I'm a little nervous but not as much now that I know something about the disease. I've had a hell of a year. Below is an email I sent out to all my friends about the fires in Los Angeles last week and how it turned into another not fun problem. I want to do one of my movies about the experience.

I will, sadly, not be doing the Bike The Miles event this year because I am going to be in Des Moines, Iowa doing my one man show about my life with diabetes at a big celebration for the doctor who first diagnosed me, Dr Edward Hertko, and the camp he started for kids with diabetes.

All my best,


Subject: Big fire smokes the Turners
(an email I sent to friends about the recent fires in Los Angeles)

To those who offered help during the big fire or inquired or just worried about us, thank you. It was something. Here's a report.

The fire started in Griffith Park about 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon. As the day went on it grew. Fast. I was at work on the Eddie Murphy movie but watched the TV coverage in my trailer as much as I could (damn, doesn't get any more Hollywood than that). It seemed like the firefighters would get the upper hand and then the winds would kick up and swirl and it would jump from one place to another. You could see the smoke across town in Santa Monica.

I got off work about 6pm and driving home I could see enormous plumes of smoke. When I got close to my house I could see spots of fire all over the park. I thought that it didn't look very under control. At 7:00 none of the local news channels had anything on about the fire. It was all reruns of Raymond and Roseanne and game shows. Anderson Cooper on CNN was the only channel with fire news. I didn't stay with that cus I didn't want to see Anderson cry and I just figured that the fire must really be under control if there was no news. I turned on the NBA game.

Sirens racing up the street next to mine got me out of the house. In the map below, our house is in the Southern part of the HOMES EVACUATED. I walked down to the corner and could see flames up in the park near the nursery. Weirdly close. Fire trucks were trying to get up the street but there were so many people driving up to take a look, they couldn't. Cops were driving around with their loudspeakers on saying all these cars were going to be towed. Neighbors were everywhere - walking around trying to get a good look. It was getting more and more weird and chaotic. I went home to see if there was anything on the tube about this new, scarier development.

The power was off. Our neighbors came over and told us they heard that there was going to be an evacuation. They were packing up their cars. Our house was dark now. I went inside to do ... something but I wasn't sure what. My blood sugar felt very low. I wasn't thinking clearly. I got my meter out. Blood sugar was 49. Before I did anything I drank 2 Gatorades. I knew my blood sugar would go real high but over the next few hours I didn't want to deal with low blood sugar.

Smoke was pouring down the hill. It got very strangely dark and stanky. I grabbed all the computers in the house and put em in my car. I keep all my insurance papers and IRAs and pension papers in a plastic box (gonna get a fireproof one now). I put that in the car. Packed about 4 days of clothes. I kept thinking that we were probably gonna be out of our house for a few days. Nothing was gonna happen to the house, really. Right? Right? But then I thought, shit, this might be it. This might be the one. Our house just might burn down. So what DO I grab?

I ran around the house and got all the flashlights I've got hidden in drawers. Since the Northridge Earthquake in 94 (the scariest earthquake I've ever been in) when we had NO flashlights in our house, I've gotten weirdly obsessed with flashlights. I was getting them all in one place. My friend Ted Mattison showed up to help with one of those miner flashlight things on his head. My head pounded with jealousy.

We got all the animals in the back of Lynn's truck. I went through the house looking at what to grab. It's really hard to think clearly in those moments. The chaos that happens is really something. I mean it feels like meat in the air. The feeling is like that opening scene in DAWN OF THE DEAD in the TV studio where all the people are yelling at each other about the zombies and no one is in control and no one really knows what to do and there's something outside that's coming to get you.

I kept remembering all that stuff about getting stuff that can't be replaced so I grabbed all the photos that I could and put em in a big bag. I grabbed my grandfather's journals. I grabbed my journals. Lynn was yelling at me that we had to go. That didn't stop me from putting all 100 of my signed athletic cups in bags. I also scooped up the enormous Peter Max designed RANDEE FOR PRESIDENT backdrop, thinking if all was lost we could sell that for lots of money. Who might buy that I don't know. After locking the door I went back in to grab my beloved Filson jacket and the big bottle of Maker's Mark.

This whole time we were doing this my cell phone was dying. Every time my phone rang the low battery message would come up. I knew I had to get it charged up. We went to this restaurant down the street to get something to eat and charge my phone. They had turned off all their outlets so we went across the street to a Brazilian place and ate while watching the park burn on TV. Fire trucks racing by the whole time.

A friend let us crash at his house. I had to be at work the next day at 7am. I stumbled through the day. We got back into our house later in the afternoon. Our house smelled like a deranged hickory fire but there was no damage. Everything is sort of back to normal. As normal as it ever gets around here.

So hey, thanks to everyone who called with offers of a place for us to crash or emailed with good wishes. And a special thank you to Ted for actually fighting his way through the line of cops and firetrucks to help us get out and for the picture of the hills above Los Feliz.

So kids, figure out what it is you're going to take when the time comes. And boys, get those prostates checked.


Last Modified Date: May 21, 2013

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