Mike Davis: A Southern Californian Visionary

by on November 23, 2022 · 1 comment

in San Diego

Mike Davis, in undated photo.

Many were saddened when they heard that Mike Davis had passed back in late October. Davis was an activist and historian with a San Diego connection and, as Thomas Reifer in a thoughtful tribute in the Union-Tribune wrote, “embodied a rare combination of brilliance, storytelling and committed scholar activism.”

He is probably most famous for publishing the “City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles,”in 1990, which since has become a “bible” at architectural schools. Then came his “Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster.” And many more.

Reifer: “Born into a working-class Catholic family in the Fontana suburb of Los Angeles, but raised in San Diego, Davis’ encounter with the civil rights movement, before a long sojourn as a meat cutter and long-distance truck driver, after his father’s heart attack, inspired a lifetime of activism.” At a young age, Mike got involved in SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, while in college and his rebel radicalism stayed with him to the end.


After moving back to San Diego in the early 21st century, Davis collaborated with Kelly Mayhew and Jim Miller in “Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See,” illuminating the fierce labor struggles, free speech fights and corruption in what is today America’s eighth-largest city, long dominated by organized capital and state-corporate militarism.

Here is Thomas Reifer’s “Appreciation: Mike Davis lives, in our rebel hearts”. He is a sociology professor at the University of San Diego.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

anna daniels November 24, 2022 at 9:20 am

Glad to see a tribute that includes “Under the Perfect Sun” which Davis co-authored with Jim Miller and Kelley Mayhew. This book, seminal to understanding San Diego, is too often overlooked. Thanks Editordude.


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