Sacramento man makes light of earthquake, gets chuckles and criticism

Published: Saturday, May. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Andy Duong is experiencing a different type of aftershock since he created a meme that gave his spin on Thursday night's Greenville earthquake.

"I never knew that I would create something that would go viral," Duong said Friday. "I just wanted to make my friends laugh."

The 34-year-old advertising consultant is the creator of the "Sac Earthquake 2013" meme, which shows an image of a white plastic patio set on a lawn, with one chair overturned. It is captioned, "We WILL rebuild."

As of Friday afternoon, the image posted on Duong's Facebook page had more than 7,000 shares.

Duong said he had just returned home from playing kickball at McKinley Park shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday and was checking his Facebook page, when he saw a number of his friends posting "Did you feel that?"

Thursday's 5.7-magnitude earthquake had struck in Greenville, about 25 miles southwest of Susanville in Plumas County, at 8:47 p.m.

"I literally went on Google and looked for 'earthquake meme' and I picked the one that made me laugh the most," Duong said.

He said he chose it because it reflected his sense of humor. "It shows just how a chair fell down," he said. "It (the earthquake) was so uneventful in Sacramento."

It took him 15 seconds to put a new title – "Sac Earthquake 2013" – on the image, and he posted it on his Facebook page as his first meme.

Within an hour, 300 people had shared it.

"The numbers were moving like a stock market ticker tape," Duong said. "I just checked my email and I was hearing this endless Facebook alert – beep, beep, beep – it was like I was playing a video game."

Duong also said he started getting negative reaction from some people to his meme.

"I heard from friends who have houses up there in the epicenter and people on (the radio station) 98 Rock who said, 'How dare you?' and that it was in poor taste," he said.

About 600 people near Lake Almanor lost power from Thursday's temblor, and 300 residents of Plumas County were affected by a ruptured water tank.

No injuries were reported, but chimneys were downed, and objects were falling off grocery store shelves. Minor rockslides also occurred along Highway 147. About four dozen aftershocks have been reported, including a magnitude-4.9 temblor that struck early Friday.

Artist Sally Posner emailed from her home on the east shore of Lake Almanor that the earthquake was the biggest she had ever experienced in her nearly 50 years in Plumas County. Her house creaked and shuddered when the quake hit.

A watercolor painter, Posner said paintings hit the floor, books spilled, plants tipped over and glass shattered.

"I have open shelves in the kitchen and everything came down on the tile floor, so shards were everywhere," she said. "Lost lots of sentimental antique dishes, etc., from family. But it's only stuff. Lots of work for the Shop-Vac."

Over at the Evergreen Market in Greenville, it was business as usual Friday after cleanup the night before. Store manager Nathan Tucker said he was at home north of town when the quake hit.

"It was definitely more than anything I have ever felt in the area," Tucker said. "It lasted for a while. It just kept going. It sounded like a train going through the house."

Duong said he didn't mean to minimize the effect of the earthquake on Plumas County residents.

"It wasn't in bad taste or good taste," he said. "For a few hundred of my friends, it made them laugh."

Duong also said he received criticism that he was not being original in using an existing image.

"It's how memes work," he said. "It's one image that is recycled over and over. It's like a caption contest."

Call The Bee's Tillie Fong, (916) 321-1006. Bee staff writer Bill Lindelof and correspondent Jane Braxton Little contributed to this report.

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