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Yakko, Wakko, and Dot recount the Northridge quake

“It’s just the planet moving granite several city blocks.”

Our favorite cat/monkey/dogs reflect on their experience of L.A.’s 1994 temblor. Of course the Warner Brothers studios–where the writers work and the Animaniacs themselves live–is situated in the heart of Burbank, where shaking from the Northridge earthquake (on January 17, 1994, at 4:30 in the morning) was severe. In the early 90s L.A. truly established itself as the city of disaster by heaping mudslides upon fires upon riots upon disastrous quakes. But heck… we’re Californians.

…and just for all our records, and because they’re just so clever, here are the lyrics:

Animaniacs – A Quake! A Quake!

This is the city: Los Angeles, California

On a starlit winter night
When the moon was shining bright
Back in January of 1994 …
At 4:30 in the morning
And without a single warning
Something strange began to move the floor.

A quake! A quake!
The house begins to shake!
You’re bouncing ‘cross the floor and watching all your dishes break.

You’re sleeping, there’s a quake;
You’re instantly awake!
You’re leaping out of bed and shouting, “Oh for Heaven’s sake!”

I ran outside with neighbors
Their faces filled with shock
That’s because I’m standing there in NOTHING BUT MY SOCKS!

Oh a quake, a quake,
Say it’s all a big mistake!
Just feel the ground go up and down / Won’t someone hit the brake?

A quake, a quake!
Oh what a mess they make!
The bricks, the walls, the chimney falls / destruction in its wake.

I did not have insurance
So I called them from the scene
And suddenly I’m list’ning to an answering machine /
Say, ‘too late, too late!
You shouldn’t ought’a wait,
‘Cuz now you’re stuck, we wish you luck, here comes a six point eight.’

Whose fault? Whose fault?
The San Andreas’ fault.
Cuz Mister Richter can’t predict her / kicking our ass fault!

Seismologists all say tectonic plates are in between
An encroaching crust and mantle,
Yeah so what the heck’s that mean?!

It means a quake! A quake!
Oh really, yeah, no fake?
We kind of had that feeling when the ground began to shake….

California’s great!
It’s such a lovely state.
And every lawn is sitting on a continental plate.

Los Angeles had fires
And a riot and a flood
And then a drought and a recession and then now we hear this thud
Of a quake, a quake
How much more can we take?
We thought that we had seen it all but this one takes the cake.
The dirt. The rocks.
And all those aftershocks.
It’s just the planet moving granite several city blocks.

L.A. town is falling down
while the ground / moves around
We won’t let us get it down
We’re Californians.

A quake, a quake.
It’s time to pull up stake.
We’re all fed up we can’t deny it
Fires, quakes, and floods, and riots,
We want some place with peace and quieeeeeet…

So we’re moving to Beirut!


Remembering Northridge

Today is a day of significant quake anniversaries for the U.S. and Japan.

The last U.S. quake to kill more than a few people struck the L.A. suburb of Northridge 19 years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning. The San Fernando Valley was hit hard, but the whole L.A. area rattled violently, and seismic waves from The Valley were focused through the Santa Monica Mountains into the populous west side, an effect that’s apparent in the “Did-You-Feel-It” map if you’re familiar with the geography of L.A (click there for info if you aren’t. Or for fun if you are).


Damage was widespread and many of the area’s freeways shut down for months after major collapses when their concrete supports failed during the strong shaking. Despite the huge monetary cost (right between hurricanes Andrew and Katrina… and potentially behind Sandy) and moderate death toll, this was not Los Angeles’ “big one.” In the scheme of possible So Cal earthquakes, this was a relatively small one, and rather than hitting the core of the city, it struck a glancing blow by starting in the suburbs and sending most of its energy northward into the mountains. Nonetheless it is Angelenos’ clearest reminder (although its age must have erased it largely from modern relevance) of what to expect when a significant quake strikes the city.

Exactly a year later a quake of nearly the same magnitude struck a much more densely populated corner of the planet: Kobe, Japan. This quake, almost identical in magnitude to CA’s Northridge earthquake of the year before, is the source of that quintessential earthquake footage most everyone will be familiar with:

The Kobe quake’s death toll was two orders of magnitude higher than Northridge’s, and the damage to the port city was devastating, largely because of widespread liquefaction, an effect that was much less prevalent in the coarse sedimentary basins of Mediterranean L.A.

As we mark this anniversary of those significant earthquakes, as usual you should take advantage of this heightened awareness to double-check that you’d be ready were a similar quake to happen today. Let the commemoration serve to remind you that these were real events that really happened, and could happen again at any moment.

An iconic photo of 90s L.A.

An iconic photo of 90s L.A.

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