As drought conditions threaten the state and the tyranny of bluebird skies drive its populace to the brink, thoughts are turning to California's epic drought of 1976-77. We caught up with the drought (now retired in Arizona) to learn more about that period, and to gain insights into what could be coming our way.
SFist: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
1977 Drought: It all began in 1975, when a tenacious high pressure ridge formed out over the Pacific and blockaded possible storms for hitting California. Incidentally, that's exactly what's going on right now. In December of that year, we had practically no rainfall, and January 1976 was even worse. That set up the conditions for a crippling multi-year drought (that's me!).
SFist: How did it feel to be in California in '76?
'77 Drought: It felt fantastic! The people were great, the styles were groovy, the Mexican food was off the charts. It was just a really special time. I look back on it fondly.
SFist: But you were essentially ruining the economy, terrorizing the agriculture sector and inconveniencing the state's entire populace ...
'77 Drought: You know, I never really thought of it that way. I'm really a warm guy once you get to know me. But as my ex-wife Cindy never ceased to point out, I may have had some issues with self-esteem. My mother never really loved me, and I think I just wanted some attention and to feel like people cared about me.
SFist: Oh, I think they cared. Did becoming the biggest drought disaster in California history get you the attention you wanted from your mother?
'77 Drought: Well, she is the hole in the ozone layer. So she lives in Antarctica, and as you can imagine, she's pretty aloof.
SFist: How did people in California take to you?
'77 Drought: I think they banded together and really connected as communities once the water rationing kicked in. I mean, it was brown lawns, dirty cars, laundry, dirty kids, dirty dishes. Everyone was having an absolute ball.
SFist: Governor Brown declared a drought emergency today. What do you think the future holds for a drought in today's modern times?
'77 Drought: Wait, Jerry Brown is still governor? How is that even legal?
SFist: It's ... don't worry about it.
'77 Drought: Jerry was in office back when I was declared a state emergency. That old so-and-so! I'd love to grab a beer and talk simpler times.
SFist: Ahem. Do you see 2014's drought being comparable to your reign of terror?
'77 Drought: Well, I do think this young drought has some of the same underlying emotional isues that drove me to those extreme actions. I haven't met this particular drought yet, but I'm guessing that childhood trauma or family issues are really at the heart of it.
SFist: What can we do about it? I think people are very frustrated that weather is one of the few things we just cannot control.
'77 Drought: Well, you have to learn to relinquish control. You're human. You're impotent. And no amount of apps or gizmos or whatever it is you kids do is going to save you. If and when rationing hits your area, you'll need to stop taking those 45-minute group sex showers. You'll need to drink more sugary sodas. You'll need to let it mellow if it's yellow. Is California up for it? We'll just have to wait and see.
SFist: Thanks so much for your time. How can we learn more about you?
'77 Drought: There's an awesome 70s-era documentary all about me. Check it out, and good luck!