A few of you know that I grew up in the Omaha/Council Bluffs Metro Area and have inquired about the Westroads Mall shooting. My first reaction is that I have a cousin who I thought worked there, and I hoped he was alright. But I since found out that he doesn't work there anymore. It doesn't appear that I know any of the victims (although D's aunt knows the landlord of the killer, so there is always six degrees, I guess.)
My second reaction is the memory of the sheer amount of clock hours, the embarrassing number of weekends of my life I spent at that mall growing up. Countless. I can still remember where every store was. I still remember the time I barfed in Seifert's and then took about 3 years before I entered that store again. I remember which of my high school friends worked there and where. The route I took around and around that mall just hanging out. So it is a bit surreal.
But my third reaction, the strongest, is sadness that these mass killings and seemingly random acts of violence by young men are becoming more and more common and that no place; no one is safe. And that now Westroads will have extra security guards in place and maybe metal detectors and employee security trainings and extra police response training and all that. And how that is so not the right way to deal with this. It is like placing all kinds of parachutes and netting and ambulances and books about how to respond to the medical needs of people who have fallen a deadly distance at the bottom of the cliff while completely ignoring the kids at the top who are running towards it.
Recently, in Oregon, a man committed suicide after he wandered for three days seeking help because he lost all of his belongings on a bus and had no money or I.D. or anything. He most likely had a mental illness. And he went to the Salvation Army and the Emergency Room and the Sheriffs office and the homeless shelter and the county welfare office. None of them gave him any more help than a coat or a meal and sent him on his way. So after wandering for three days, he put himself in front of a train and was killed.
I don't know this Omaha kid's story, I don't know whether he asked for help or what happened. But I do know that many non-profits and government agencies do not really help anyone but themselves. They all provide "education and referral" which is code for passing the buck to a different agency. I know that Nebraskan's, if they are like every one else in the country, will throw up their hands and say, "there were no definitive warning signs! We could not possibly imagine that this guy would walk into a mall and start shooting!" And then they will up security and that will be that. But there are ALWAYS warning signs. I'm not blaming anyone for what happened, but I do know that the number one warning sign is when people are regarded as throwaways. Hopeless, helpless, valueless people who are not worth dealing with and are brushed aside as being less than human. That is the biggest warning sign of all. The person you don't want to deal with and no one else does either? The one you don't want to touch? That is the one who will do something like this.
Girls withdrawal and go inside themselves and become anorexic or do drugs or become strippers or prostitutes and disassociate from those who have disassociated from them. Boys? Much more likely to become violent. And why wouldn't they? We train our boys practically from birth to become violent. Read this interview by Army dude/FBI trainer/author Dave Grossman if you have boys. Chilling.
But for the people who are dealing with this loss right now, I extend my sympathies. Hopefully we as a society can come up with a better plan than extra security at Westroads Mall.
Okay, now for something totally unrelated. I've been asked about what my deal is with YouTube and whether I can even see/hear it or not.
I really can't see YouTube videos that well. I go to that site a lot, though because it is kind of like the poor man's iTunes. I don't have an mp3 player. I don't really even have a stereo. I can listen to CDs on my computer or by using the DVD player, but most of my CDs are not unpacked and I don't even know where they are. It is easier to just do a you tube search when I want to hear something.
Can I hear music? Yeah, kinda. I can hear it best with headphones. But I mostly hear the bass/rhythm lines. I've actually become kind of a fan of the bass (You Go! John Taylor!) because of that. I never paid much attention before. But, here is the deal. And why everything I have posted here is such embarrassingly old, old school. New music that I am unfamiliar with just sounds mostly like the rhythm section. When I listen to old familiar music? My brain fills it all in. It seriously sounds like the whole song in my head to me. I know that if I really stop and concentrate, I'm only hearing the rhythm section. But my brain just compensates and it integrates perfectly. Hard to explain. The further back the song from my youth, the better this works. Songs from my childhood and early teen years are just ingrained so much that give me a little hint of the song and I hear the whole damned song just like it was coming through the headphones.
I have thought a lot recently about how I need to bring new music in for the kids sake. They do have a small radio/cd player in their room and they listen to kid music like putumayo and raffi and stupid annoying kid songs and stuff. They also listen to a lot of classical. But I have thought about trying to make a better effort to expose them to new and different kinds of music. My buddy Scalzi was generous enough to ask his readers on my behalf for suggestions for appropriate music for kids that is not specifically kid music. I got literally hundreds of suggestions that I am still sorting through. But I should have asked you all as well for suggestions. So go ahead and bring 'em on if you have some.
Another reason I like Youtube is because I like live performances better than most studio recordings. I always have. In skating there is a saying that you are either 20% better or 20% worse in competition that you are in practice. (Me? 20% worse, btw.) I think musicians are the same way. YouTube has some great live stuff that you just can't find on itunes. It has a ton of sucky stuff, too. But it is fairly easy to sift through it.
Take another old, old song like Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs" for example. The studio version is just a sweet little teenage girl break-up song. Its okay. But nothing all that wonderful. Now take this live version. The emotion in it (and the irony that the person she threatens to haunt forever with the sound of her voice is right there next to her--30 years later--still stuck listening to the sound of her voice, heh) makes it a whole different song on a whole different level.
I don't know, I'm a You Tube Junky. I put them up here because I used to have a section of my old website that was called "current song in my head" and it is interesting to go back and see where my psyche was at that exact moment. The current song in my head section is a better snapshot of that than anything I probably wrote. I don't expect 99%, if any, of you to actually click through the videos. I will sometimes watch other people's videos but often don't. Who has the time? But if you want to, fine. If you don't, doesn't bother me a bit. I guess I just have it there to remind myself of my state of mind at the time. Or of songs that I can fill in with my brain.