Scenes from OC’s Uprising – 2. Stairway to Heaven, and “Animals” in Santa Ana?




Stairway to Heaven & George Floyd

Led Zeppelin’s 1971 classic-rock warhorse “Stairway to Heaven” is really fucking long.

The pensive instrumental intro featuring acoustic guitar picking and three recorders (primitive flutes) takes about a minute itself, before singer Robert Plant begins emoting his plaintive vocals, to some sort of quasi-philosophical lyrics he dreamed up.  There are four leisurely verses, each alternating with an instrumental interlude, before the drummer Jon Bonham finally jumps in and picks things up a bit.

And then a new melody is introduced, with “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow…”  Another interlude occurs, with Plant warbling “and it makes you wonder,” and then yet another verse, “Your head is humming.”  After a dramatic pause, guitarist Jimmy Page gives a couple of fanfare-like flourishes, ushering in the hard-rock part of the song, featuring a blazing and justifiably celebrated guitar solo, which in turn leads to Robert wailing nine lines in his soprano range.

At last the music stills, and Robert emotionally, haltingly, vocalizes the final line a cappella:  “And she’s buying, a stairway … to hea-ve-en…”  Love it or hate it or just tired of it, that’s “Stairway to Heaven.”  It clocks in at eight minutes and two seconds.

If you were George Floyd, Derek Chauvin was kneeling on your neck longer than that – eight minutes and 46 seconds.

2. “Animals” in Santa Ana?

Saturday night, worn out with a day of protesting in the hot sun, us old farts kicked back at home to watch all the competing live-streams of Santa Ana’s 8pm FTP march.  We were a little concerned about trouble at this one, with all the rumors of provocateurs, combined with just the way the flyer looked.  (“Bring your homies?”)  It almost seemed like it could be a trap set by the police:

I think it was around 10:30 pm that you could start seeing the lines of cops in full riot gear approaching the peaceful protesters, corraling them into the intersection of Edinger & Bristol – right by Mater Dei High School.  There we witnessed, on various live-streams, the police firing rubber bullets at the marchers, while SIMULTANEOUSLY, less than a hundred yards away, teenagers were breaking the windows of Smart & Final and other stores across the street, swiping snacks, sodas and beer.  (They actually snagged top ramen, which is kinda sad.)

I know how far one hundred yards is.  I used to play football and run track right there in the seventies.

If just half a dozen of the dozens of cops from Santa Ana and other cities who were there shooting rubber bullets at marchers had gone over a few steps to guard those stores, there would have been no looting.  But busting up the march was more important than protecting property, to whoever calls the shots at SAPD.  We can only conclude that they WANTED there to be looting, in order to discredit the protest.

Councilman Peñaloza sees ANIMALS around him!

How do the owners of Smart & Final, Rite-Aid, and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts feel about that?  What about the Mayor and City Council of Santa Ana?

Next day, Santa Ana Councilman David Peñaloza, a councilman whose campaign was funded by the police union, a councilman who voted for the unaffordable $25 million police raise in February 2019, and has loyally opposed any police oversight, called the looting teenagers “animals.”

(Someone tells me he later apologized for that, but still…)

I did see some animals in Santa Ana Sunday night.  They were the ones knocking children off their bicycles.

Racist Douchebags in Huntington Beach!
White Supremacist Sheriff in Costa Mesa!
Getting Run Over in Newport!
and Anaheim Remembers!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.