Symptoms of Pain: A tragedy in Colorado unlocks familiar questions
It’s still foggy. Parents, children, sisters, brothers…families are walking around in shock…agaped disbelief. High-eyebrowed astonishment.
We are in the just-after haze.
That moment just after the police have scrambled and caught the perp or found his body. Just after the families are still in the process of learning what has happened and what has become of their loved ones. It’s when we stay glued to the TV, computer screen, smartphone, and radio to lap up reports…news…answers.
For Columbine, this went on for days, weeks, and even years as the security cam vids were released so long after the tragedy.
By Virginia Tech, we had whittled the whole process — shock, pain, anger, and mourning — down to a week.
This happens. It always seems to happen. There’s the shock of crazy. The compassion for the family. A little introspection and then we saddle up and ask the same questions we asked the last time but change the vocabulary so as to not sound so close to the time before.
And after a reasonably short period of tear jerking, we get mad and grab hunks of statistics caked with fresh blood and hurl them in lunchtime gun law debates. Yet now these tragedies have been even more condensed. It's almost as if we can't bear to see what we are so we try our best to speed up the process.
What the hell is it with us? Yes us. These massacres come from every level of our society. Across the board. And by now their frequency doesn’t stop traffic. Or create shadows of history like Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik. By now we arrange a short moment of silence at our desks. Even with new twists like the phone-vid of bloody movie goers leaving the theater seen below we are still just concerned…not shaken.
A moviegoer captures stunned audience members as they exit theater after Aurora Colorado shooting.
Just what the hell is it?
I mean, when does the set of shootings like this begin to add up to a normal occurrence of American life? Some grizzly artifact of something we do that pops up every three or four years like the American Grendel and snatches family and friends for tribute. When do we come to the conclusion that we are a hyper-violent society? No, not like the streets of some Mexican town being choked by headless corpses of a cartel war. That is about market control. Capitalism.
But us. We. Is it that there are too many guns? Not enough? Are we over-medicated not medicated enough? Do video games give shooters the ideas and balls to wanna pull it off? Could it be our general indifference to our ability and habit of raining death down upon many by disconnected soldiers flying drones from within air-conditioned rooms under Vegas…as if it’s all just a really remarkable level of Halo 3?
Or is this just the likely direction that a society so enamored with violence and death takes? It’s nothing to see a dead body on TV now. Real or a damned good prop. Dismemberment is easily processed by tykes on their CSI-watching father’s knee. Getting the same bounce from the same knee that I imagine happened during the bloody gladiator games of Rome so long ago. Or maybe it's our dance with vengeance articulated by the movie itself?
I know it seems ridiculous to go on an “impressions made by entertainment or war” kick. But these are the hard, everyday questions we have to ask because
It is no longer an anomaly, but seems to now be a firmly-embedded stitch in our social tapestry. A calculable equation that comes with a playable set of odds. Somewhere, in the next 5 years, there will be another shooting of innocent people that won’t be tied to anything more than one or two nut jobs.
This is not an easy discussion. But after the hymns and songs, shrines and warmth, pain, suffering, and attempts for comfort, maybe we should finally ask the cold, hard, dispassionate, and oh-so-very-real questions about the place in which we want to live.
Because, sooner or later, we have to face the fact that these shootings aren’t the disease…they are the symptoms.
My condolences and may the dead rest in peace.
*you can also find this on my Huffington Post Blog HERE.
He "stood me up". By then I was starting for USC on special teams but still doing scout team duty. This time I was a Tailback and ran full-speed at Sean Junior Seau.
He wasn't an Inside Backer then. They had him at Outside Linebacker and I came with the full intent of running him over. BAM! That was stupid. He shed the Tackle and cleared all of my sinuses. I straightened from the hunch of a Running Back to an upright flag bearer position. The only reason he didn't tackle me was that he forgot to wrap. We were both yelled at. I was "stood-up" but didn't try to score. Junior was supposed tackle and finish the job. It was expected of him.
Seau was a star. One sharing an extraordinary constellation of Samoan Americans in the NFL. After a poor scholastic start, he ended up being exactly what everyone thought he should've been: a great Professional Football Player. Although he wasn't the only Samoan to have played at his level, until Palomau from the Steelers, he was the most famous.
Fame. I'm gonna put this out there: after a few games I bet that mattered little to him.
Football is a dangerous sport. It is the closest thing that we have to open gladiator tournaments. I know people say that about Boxing and Ultimate Fighting. Those sports are brutal, but there's only one other guy to deal with. In football, if you're Junior Seau, except for maybe the Quarterback, there are potentially ten other guys who want to eliminate your abilities from the board. So, say you do shed that pulling Guard, maybe there's a Fullback right behind him or a screen block from an H-Back or even an illegal crack from a Wide-Out. And maybe you survive it all by stepping to the right and forward to stop a Tailback's route. And you do your job...but who's to say that this isn't what the opposing team wants you to do when, five plays later, they run the same thing but drag a Tight End behind you for a shallow pass and 15-yard gain.
All of this happens with the heat of bubbling adrenaline that accelerates when you defeat the odds. When, after months of training and a near lifetime of perfecting, recognizing and reacting in this great game, it all comes together...this play. Thirty seconds later, you put it all in on the line again.
I met him exactly three times since my days at USC. He seemed happy and cool. We never talked long; the last time he said that he had seen me on TV...like he wasn't on every weekend. I thought that was strange.
I can imagine that there are many reasons people kill themselves. I would guess that 90% of the time, unhappiness has a lot to do with it. I have lost at least one close friend to suicide. But he didn't play pro Football nor was he a millionaire and hero to thousands of kids. So it should be more complicated in Seau's case, right? In our culture, especially today in such a locked-down economy, money and fame should be life's panacea. In fact, a whole subculture of dysfunction voyeurism has blown up behind that fallacy: that acting crazy will get you paid and keep you sane.
But playing for USC put me in contact with a few men who went on to play in the NFL and had to give up the game in their 20s and 30s. And they all, to a man, shared some kind of dip in their spirits.
Moreover, depending on who you are, the dip might be a valley. Terry Bradshaw talked about post-game anxiety and depression. About how, after a game and once the action stopped, he felt empty. Even after winning Super Bowls.
This may explain why men, with more money than they need, continue to put already battered bodies on the field for dissection. Why an awkwardly mobile Brett Favre would continue to take hikes and run plays with all the grace of a drunken horse barely able to round a bend while young and hungry wolfish Linebackers hunted him down. It would explain why a twice-in-the-neck-surgery(ed) Payton Manning, with tremendous personality and huge potential post-career announcer acumen, would suit up again. Even though a doctor can cheerlead about the mundane effects of herniated disc neck surgery, it's still a neck injury.
And Payton still plays in the NFL....with young Seaus lurking everywhere.
I love the game but maybe we should try and uncover what happens when they have to stop. Literally. When they have to sit and deal with themselves alone. No team. No crowds. No whistles. Maybe we should sit down with Vets (from college on up) and their families and ask...what happened to you when it was over? Did you have mental problems? How did you get past them? Bradshaw, Walker, Williams say that they didn't know what was happening. Is that it? Anguish is just a silent partner playing with you in the NFL?
So far eight players from that illustrious Chargers team of '94 have died. All too young. Some will claim curse. Some will postulate unfounded theories that Seau may have had head trauma or even post-steroid depression. Or that he was in a personal and individual tailspin as evidenced by domestic problems and a suspicious vault he took on October 18, 2010, when he drove his SUV down a rolling cliff in Carlsbad, California. Some will say, "To hell with this".
I don't know. But this makes one wonder how many NFL players are chasing a dream or running just ahead of their depression. Yet, if we never attempt to find out, it might go down in some log that Junior Seau retired and then...only did what was expected of him.
I hope not. Rest In Peace.
THE LATE SUMMER OF HATE.
by brandon bowlin
It’s seems to have grown on the season like an ideological herpes. Today’s Republican Party. It is hard right, super conservative and suffering from a nervous breakdown. Not just because President Obama is President and they have to say President Obama when speaking of the President of the United States of America, but because, when given the chance to govern…they f#ck’d the country up.
And now they’re left (so to speak) with a name calling campaign. But they wanted this…They let loosed the shocked and twisted far right-winged Americans and gave them a vocabulary for a more “inside” kinda hate. “Soft Klanning” I call it.
So the President wasn’t a nigger but a socialist which is said with as much vehemence and vitriol as the old standard. Then he wasn’t even an American. Then ..well…it’s whatever they can think of now.
All along, Fox News has been there like a doting wife of misdirection and fallacies. Sometimes yelling just as loud while holding tea cakes. Other times sitting quietly in the corner while facts are repeatedly beaten to a pulp.
So here we are. August has turned into Cesspool month: The time when Republican high tide of the year’s grumbles rise past credulity with the stench of fear and bigotry and overflow into the basements of hard-hit and vulnerable Americans. To lay there, in ideological excrement. To mix with rightful fear, worry and pain. All this creates just enough to justify yelling for no reason….literally no reason…for their leaders offered no plans or legislation. No measures or blueprints. Just open arms of fear and the lying whispers to notch the hysteria up a bit. Right into the Late Summer of Hate Season.
The War you idiots. Where was all this marching and screaming and howling after the weapons of mass destruction WEREN’T FOUND. After both Cheney and Rumsfeld were seen, heard and read actually lying. What about today, when the revelation of the 1.3 Trill it has cost? I mean I don’t expect any Tea Bagger to mourn the death of 655,000 Iraqis but what about 4000+ American soldiers? No WMD’s…No Al Qaeda. Not one sign calling for the trial of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell or Bush. Not one speech devoted to how the wars have drained the treasury, not of just today’s loot…BUT TOMORROW’S. Nope…instead they think of unimaginative name callin’ (actually not even better than ours).
Immigrants and the $24 Avocado.
This is easy…Arizona is an embarrassment. It is also a window into the future when Whites, as leaders of that State managed it so badly that they had to sell the capitol building and RENT IT BACK, become a lesser majority. That’s right they are still the majority but if’n those compadres get to birth’n well who knows what will happen…? Children of immigrants. And we all know how lethal THAT can be! Just ask an Indian…if you can find one.
Anyway, ’Zona was/is going down the tube so what do you do? Scapegoat dark skinned folk (you can write in illegal alien but ain’t no Croats hangin’ around the dessert). In the annuls of fear mongering, having a whole state rattle the cage with the law must be a first.
Also the great migration right before the law took effect must hold some kinda record too. Many Mexican-Americans left as well and they ALL took their money…to the tune of some 72 million dollars. Plus…what about the, you know, work? How can folk get things picked and picked up for immigrant wages when no one’s an immigrant? White’s and the sons of Whites will soon hafta apply to be Strawberry pickers or worse…then they’ll unionize and then demand what White people believe that they are worth and then Avocados with be…$24 a piece. This will all take 6 days of hot Arizona sun to complete.
But you got to spit out some names.
If only I could take communion in Mecca
You know about the 9/11 community center billed as “Mosque” by the consistently ignorant right. I’m not gonna retread here but what I will say is that…no…it is not holy ground. It was a target of war. Like many streams and hills throughout America which once housed Native Americans…and bled red with blood when a lil known cat named Custer showed up.
Newt Gingrich is a fat immoral rat bastard. Okay I don’t know how fat he is. Nor do I know if bastard applies to all the things in his life…but he is without a certain level of morality. At least that is what his wife said….Marianne Gingrich said that Newt asked her to marry him before he was divorced from his first wife. Later he would…well here is an excerpt from an interview in Esquire:
"There's somebody else, isn't there?"
She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?
She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. "'I can't handle a Jaguar right now.' He said that many times. 'All I want is a Chevrolet.'"
He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.
He'd just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he'd given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.
The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, "How do you give that speech and do what you're doing?"
"It doesn't matter what I do," he answered. "People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."
And he’s protesting the Islamic Center based on moral grounds….THAT’S THE RAT BASTARD PART.
And what do we get for all this bait and switchin’? And fear mongering? Why is it significant ? Because like always, fanatics take the reins. And the Right Wing has always had a more lethal effect than anyone else in these here United States.
-In Tennessee a Mosque construction site was set afire via arson.
-In New York a man was stabbed and slashed.
-a self aggrandizing preacher is gonna burn Qurans.
Gingrich exclaimed that the center shouldn’t go up..
"so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia."
Wow…what a punk. There are no strip clubs in Mecca. Or a bar down the street for when you Hajj . But he knows that this is the USA. A republic. Freedom of speech, religion and being a whore. Saudi Arabia is a Monarchy. A rather brutal one and he likes it that way because brutal folk follow the money NOT their hearts.
It’s a false equivalency anyway. Having no Church in Mecca is like having no Mosque in Vatican City. But you wanna know where Mosque/Church/Temple come together? Jerusalem.
But Ratman knows this…however most of his flock doesn’t and doesn’t care. They are willfully ignorant.
Which brings me to Beck…
Glenn Beck said…“White’s don’t own Abraham Lincoln…Black’s don’t own Martin Luther King.”
Hmmm first all it’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Secondly his family actually DOES own his papers and much of his likeness(that in another blog). Moreover…Dr. King wasn’t selling gold and the ‘civil rights’ march was actually called the Freedom and Jobs March, and put together by a BIG union organizer, Phillip Randolph and a gay Peace activist Bayard Rustin. Both King and Randolph were about social justice (something Beck despises).
After spewing fear and ignorance to the point of calling the President a racist, Beck put on a march to “reclaim” the civil rights movement.
Well…no. You can’t have it. Because the roots of the “right” are coated in the blood of them who merely wanted to be considered equal. Your movement’s lineage goes not to the Freedom riders, but to the pipe wielding thugs along their route. Your movement’s lineage goes not to the dignity of a beautiful little Black girl’s walk to class in 1960, but to the families across the street yelling and screaming at her. Your ideological lineage, Mr. Beck does not reach to the lofty ideals of a Southern Preacher who called for social justice, but to the men that stowed a bomb beneath the steps of a church and blew 4 Black girls to bits…2 weeks after King spoke.
Claim whatever you want but you can’t have him Beck. He is ours. In pain, in fear, in courage and in blood.
-brandon bowlin the Darkroome