Under The Gun
The only magic feather to clutch in your trunk through this whole miserable commute is to remember the adage of the poker shark: if you've been in the game for 15 minutes and haven't spotted the sucker, the sucker is you. A healthy disregard for the veracity of any and all forms of opinion isn't the worst way to get through the day.
Unfortunately, the real world, the one that doesn't go away when you don't look at it, isn't nearly as plastic as punditry. When horrific shit actually does actually happen actually, all the spin doctors on earth might as well collectively go jump off a cliff (come to think of it, that's not a bad idea anyways) for all the effect they can have. Shuffle and grin all you've a mind to, Mister Death ain't gonna blink.
Which is to say, this here piece is about the blues as defined by Willie Dixon: "The blues is the true facts of life..." And death. And guns. And politics.
The previously cited horrific shit of Wednesday last, five people gunned down in a neighborhood cafe in Seattle, was primarily a morbid entertainment for the bulk of the population, but for a small but exceedingly vibrant community here, that of the extended vaudeville/ circus/ busking/ burlesque family, it had the quality of a pocket 9/11 event. Two of the victims of the Cafe Racer massacre were well-loved, well-embedded members of that culture with histories and kinships a yard long. Worse, they were universally respected as crack (and cracked) artists as well as genuinely nice guys. The news of their bloody, senseless demise tore a devastating trail through Facebook and email, and the scene of the crime was instantly converted to an open-air shrine and memorial. Much more than a media event, their deaths were an acrid catalyst of unity for the neighborhood surrounding the cafe and the performers and artists who knew and loved them, both groups standing vigil and comforting one another in front of the shuttered, flower-heaped building.
My band Snake Suspenderz had the double misfortune of having members who were friends with the decedents, though I myself mostly dodged that poignant bullet, and being booked to play the joint the Friday following. We'd been hired following a rollicking birthday party we'd performed at in the club several weeks before and were really looking forward to coming back. So it goes.
Beyond the second degree of separation grief I felt, the tragedy inspired in me an inchoate agitation, something between rage and cold determination. Having friends of friends gunned down in a neighborhood joint by a nutter with a concealed carry permit is a clear sign of a limit being exceeded and a call to action. But how, exactly? I'm at the point of getting real militant about something, just as soon as I can figure out what.
A ten second google of "Second Amendment" will give you a crystalline insight into the shape of the Great Gun Debate these days. It ain't pretty. All screaming arguments or solemn decrees about the true intent of the Founding Fathers (like that matters) aside, the gawdawful #2 is enshrined in our sacred Constitution like a cowbird chick in a meadowlark nest, and there's little that can be done about or to it. While many leading legal scholars agree that its obscure, too-punctuated text has contradictory interpretations, governing and judicial bodies of all persuasions treat it like the third rail of jurisprudence. Plus, o'course, there are all those Patriotic Partisans busily forming up brigades to protect their God Given Rights, and they've all got, y'know, guns.
Then there's the issue of mental health care. Ever since Reagan, drugs on demand and deliberate underfunding have been the hallmarks of public health policy, for what ulterior motives god alone knows. A call to principles of personal autonomy has been used as an excuse to leave thousands of muttering coocoo clocks twitching on street corners or turning to addiction in attempted self-treatment. Certainly a situation that any member of the The Most Advanced Country On Earth can take pride in. Pardon the smell—it's The Aroma Of Freedom™!
But JEEsus, you'd think that somebody with a history of domestic violence might at least have his Right To Bear Arms put under some kind of a microscope, let alone his license to bear long heat under his shirt. What in HELL do these good citizens think they're onto conflating the maintenance of a civilian militia with letting Whacko McNutjob play peekaboo surprise with an automatic?
Let's take a wild guess.
A problem every civilization faces is control of the populace. High population is a boon to the ruling class, both as a source of labor and for mounting large armies to overcome and subdue neighboring territory. That boon comes at the price of the innate orneriness of humanity, which stubbornly refuses to accede to the wise policies of its benevolent leaders and instead insists on doing what it pleases. And with the infusion of the informational industry, not only are the peasants revolting, they're learning about it online. It's enough to make a gentleman spit Dom Perignon out his nose.
Of all the ways man rules man, terror is certainly one of the most effective. And what could be more terrifying to the average yuck than a maniac with a gun? A little bloodletting here and there, just at random, and you'd be amazed how much more pliant the herd gets. Plus, cost cutting and free enterprise! Win -Win!
Gawd, I sure hope that's not it...