It is rare that New Yorkers perceive another American city as more stressful than their own.
The last time it happened was two summers ago when Katrina devastated New Orleans and now we are in the throes of another such moment as the nation -- nay, the entire world -- watches San Diego burn.
Because The Colbert Report was replaying last week's shows, HOBB and I tuned into CNN last night at 11:30 and spent an entire hour glued to the tube. First, America's sweetheart Anderson Cooper collected dispatches from San Diegans who had fled their homes while camera crews filmed scary reports from correspondents in the field, fire fighters and officials. Then, at midnight, as if America hadn't had its fill of tragic scenery, the baton was passed to a funereal Larry King who emceed the horror show from the safety of his CNN studio.
Naturally, the televised images were not the first I had seen, in fact, I had spent most of the day flipping computer screens between my email and the homepages of foxnews.com; cnn.com; nytimes.com; latimes.com; in addition to Reuters; the AP; the local San Diego paper -- the Union Tribune; blogs; sites belonging to local synagogues, the local Jewish Federation and the JCC; and other venues from the purgatory that has become San Diego, California.
Like the death toll in Iraq, the numbers of evacuated residents kept rising, the number of homes and businesses destroyed kept getting higher.
Friends who felt safe on Monday were packing their vans up by Tuesday and heading to hotels or family in other states. In my mind, I transported myself into their beautiful homes, recalling my last trip to the area, how I marveled at the flawless weather, the utterly calm feeling of Southern California.
How I indulged in that snide, Woody-Allenesque East Coast supremacy, secretly curling up my lip in disdain for the utter lack of stress or adversity in the lives of our San Diego friends.
Remembering how I scoffed at the fact that there were even weather reports on the news, how I quipped that television stations would save a bundle by firing their meteorologists and simply printing a sign that contained a single word -- PERFECT -- which they could flash on the screen to report describe the day's weather.
And perfect still applies, as in perfectly horrible. Perfectly shocking. Perfectly devastating.
Or, as some have said, The Perfect (Fire)Storm, the confluence of all the factors that culminated in this holocaust.
The way that the flames of the San Diego wildfires have moved over the hills and through the canyons reminds me of nothing more than SS stormtroopers moving in on the unsuspecting and innocent populace.
Yes, this is the way events appear to this Jewish New Yorker as she witnesses the devastation of San Diego: Mother Nature has turned into a Nazi -- homicidal, hateful, bent on sheer and total annihilation.