Editor: The following rant was sent to us anonymously. The writer witnessed a disturbing event at the foot of Newport on Monday, August 10th involving fire spinners. The reader expressly stated: “I have no desire to offend or put off any of the fire spinners I know by speaking my peace. I just wanted to get this off my chest and, hopefully, sleep better tonight with a clear conscious.”
by Concerned OBcean
While my son and I were in town last night having dinner, I saw someone spinning fire Poi at the west end of Newport. Surprised by the boldness of the spinner to be spinning right there in plain sight on a public corner, I pointed him/her out to my son. Thinking, perhaps hoping, it was simply a drunken fool performing a one time event, I didn’t think much of it.
Yet it continued. After several minutes the spinner appeared again in the same location. From the distance of the restaurant, I could only see the fire Poi, not the individual(s) who was/were spinning.
We finished our dinner and went down toward the seawall to see what was going on. Sure enough, there were a group of people, maybe a dozen, quietly sitting along the seawall (Urban Campers, I’ve heard them called) watching one person after another light up their fire Poi and spin – right there on the Veteran’s Memorial.
As I watched from across the street, I overheard someone who had gone across the street to speak with the spinners say that the spinners were burning diesel fuel. That’s when I decided to cross the street and take a closer look. Once on the Veteran’s Memorial side of the street, I was nearly overcome by the fumes and saw trails of excess fuel all over the Memorial. I also saw one young male spinner poorly execute a full rotation, nearly catching his own hair on fire.
How do I say this nicely….?….I was appalled at what they were doing on/to the Memorial, knowing full well that community volunteers recently donated their efforts to clean up from the Marshmallow Fight on July 4th. I was not willing to idly stand by and allow yet another group desecrate this Memorial. I have no idea why it meant so much to me….I am not a veteran, I have never been in the military, and I am not fond of war on any level. Quite to the contrary, I am and always will be a flower child. Yet, I cared and cared deeply about what I was witnessing. (oh, where was my camera when I needed it most???)
Not knowing what else to do, I decided to walk up to the VFW to inquire if anything could be or should be done to stop this. I spoke my peace there then headed back down to the Memorial hoping it would all be over when I returned.
When I got back to the end of Newport, there were at least five cop cars there, a fire engine, and the cops had detained several people who were now sitting on the ground all around the Memorial. I went over to inquire as to any potential damage this fuel may have caused the Memorial.
In speaking with two cops and one member of the fire department, I was told that the diesel fuel would eventually dissipate. When I asked the cops if anyone would clean this up, the cops told me the fire department could not wash down the Memorial sidewalk, as that would have caused the fuel to go on the street, into the drains, and eventually, into our magnificent ocean. Not a desirable outcome to be certain. Fortunately, the cops said, there would be no lasting damage to the Memorial. With that, I left.
The experience left me shaken and ill at ease for some time. It would take me hours to regain my internal harmony, which is, in part, why I am writing to you. I love this town. I love our freedoms to express ourselves in this town like no other place I have ever lived (and, yes, we have our Veteran’s to thank for this freedom to peacefully express ourselves).
I respect all who come here and call OB home. I am all for free and creative artistic expression in all its forms. I enjoy watching fire Poi and I personally know several community members who spin regularly (and safely) who are very skilled at their craft and are an immense source of pleasure and entertainment to watch. In no way do I want this creative art to end here in OB, or worse, be “banished” by law enforcement. Yet, come on, folks….on the Veteran’s Memorial? Using diesel fuel? With no apparent immediate safety measures available such as even a fire blanket on hand? For godsake, use some freaken common sense. Burnings like this give the other fire spinners in town a tainted name with the cops.
Become aware of how your actions have ripple effects on the community as a whole. Is that too much to ask?