Diary of a Mad County
Wednesday, Oct. 4
In the wake of a massacre at an Amish school in Pennsylvania that left five girls and one man, the gunman, dead, I continue to read strangely beautiful stories about the Amish and their capacity for love. One says that among the community's most pressing concerns, along with burying their dead, is comforting the family of the alleged killer, Charles Carl Roberts IV, and that plans were being made to make some food to take over to them. Another story noted that an elderly man, standing next to the body of his murdered granddaughter, 13, lectured young boys that "we must not think evil of this man." Referring to this story, I heard one broadcaster marvel, "They've already arrived at forgiveness," intimating that it would take the rest of us a little longer, as if the rest of us—we who live in a world of death penalties and Three Strikes and bombing peoples back to various eras of prehistory as a form of diplomacy—ever come within spitting distance of forgiveness's driveway. And in practically every story about the Amish, there seems some reference to their simplicity. We can't get past the clothes and the buggies. The fact is to live, really live, a life that acknowledges the inevitable disaster of violence—even in the name of justice—that sees the uselessness of retribution, whose first thought is of compassion not retribution, requires a profound understanding, a spiritual rigor that we're incapable of—we being the people who elected the likes of Wisconsin state Representative Frank Lasee to speak for us. Speaking for us, Lasee, a Republican, put forward that he believes school violence can be solved by arming teachers. Simple.
Thursday, Oct. 5
I am driving my son home from football practice, and Indie starts playing The Jam's "The Modern World," and we commence to singing, "What kind of fool do you think I am?/You think I know nothing of the modern world?" and I know that we are in a moment of transcendent transition, my son having turned 13 the day before. So when the song ends ("Modern world, this is, this is, this is, this is, this is, this is, this is [I counted]"), I turn the radio down and tell my son about girls. And I tell my son that someday he will meet a girl, and that girl he will meet will mean a lot to him, and she will mean so much to him that he will go home one evening and enter a room and close the door behind him and lock that door, and in that locked room, he will copy down the lyrics to a song, most likely "Bargain" by The Who, and he will then present these lyrics to this girl, and when the girl reads the sensitive but violent lyrics that make them acceptable to boys—"To win you I'd stand naked, stoned and stabbed/I'd call that a bargain/The best I ever had"—she will say, "Oh, that is so sweet," and then ask, "Did you write this," and he will, without hesitation, say, "Yes." This is the way of the world, I told him. "I understand," he said. Then he tried to give me a purple nurple, but I totally blocked it.
Friday, Oct. 6
The Anaheim Ducks—ah, that felt good. Let's say it again, shall we?—the Anaheim Ducks kick off the NHL season with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The Ducks are a fashionable choice to win the Stanley Cup this year. In a survey of seven ESPN hockey experts, five picked the Ducks to win the Western Conference and four to win the whole thing, and that included lead analyst—and sports-jacket maven—Barry Melrose, who says that it's ironic that the year the team dropped the Mighty from their name they became mightier. Okay. The pick is not as crazy as it may sound. The Ducks did make it to the Western Conference finals against the Edmonton Oilers, and then, during the off season, traded for Edmonton's best player, Chris Pronger, who happens to be one of the league's two best defensemen. The league's other best defenseman? That would be the Ducks' Scott Niedemeyer. Melrose, speaking over the din of his lavender-checked jacket, said it's the first time he can remember the league's two dominant defensemen playing for the same team. Add to this a young core of aggressive offensive players and not one but two quality goalies, and the Ducks seem loaded. On the other hand, hockey.
Saturday, Oct. 7
It's a good day for goodness as the New York Yankees lose 8-3 to the Detroit Tigers and are eliminated from the American League playoffs. Everyone outside of New York rejoices because the Yankees have a $200 million payroll and were founded by the same guy who pioneered the process of making pox smaller. But all this could have Angels fans really rejoicing because the present Jonestown attitude in the Bronx may mean the team is willing to trade third baseman Alex Rodriguez. All Rodriguez did this year, a season after winning the MVP, was hit 35 home runs and drive in 121 runs. In New York, this got him booed, mainly because he committed the mortal sin of not being Derek Jeter. New Yorkers have never warmed to Rodriguez—they figure he's polished, phony, a guy who uses his ethnic heritage only when it's convenient to his career. A polished phony who uses his racial heritage only when convenient? Forget third base, this guy could represent Orange County's 47th Congressional District!
Sunday, Oct. 8
The San Diego Chargers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-13 at home in their retro powder-blue and gold uniforms that are among the prettiest things out there, and I'm including Falling Waters and Beethoven's Ninth. Now that the Raiders have been relegated to a rec league team, it's time we get to know the Chargers, as they have become our de facto team. So here are some factos: originally called the Drunken Redskins, the team changed the name due to community outrage and settled on Drunken Micks, which no one seemed to have a problem with. Originally playing in the AFL, they bolted that league when it merged with the CIO, having voiced its differences with Walter Reuther on numerous occasions. From there, the team flitted between one menial job and another, finally doing some "things" at Jim Nabors' house that it still does not like to talk about. The team now lives quietly with its second wife, The Ice Capades, tending its garden, clipping coupons and bringing the pain. Oh, yes, the pain.
Monday, Oct. 9
Tom Child, if in any way I have angered you, I want to apologize. You are a fine and supple man, and it was not my intention to humiliate or in any way harm you. That was my intention for Theo Douglas.
Tuesday, Oct. 10
At a quickly thrown together summit to discuss school violence, experts—because we now have "school violence experts"—say the key to keeping our kids safe is not only security cameras and metal detectors, but also "good intelligence." Simple.
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