Sunday, August 4, 2019

So much part of America we hardly notice

     This is an unusual circumstance. I wrote today's blog post last night, when I came home from Northbrook Days, updating it first thing Sunday morning to incorporate the Ohio slaughter. Upon reflection, it seemed a more fitting column to run in the newspaper than the one I had prepared—a trifle about a Twitter phenomenon called #ManholeCover Monday. My bosses agreed. So this links to Monday's column, posted early.  We'll boot Manhole Cover Monday to a week from tomorrow, assuming there aren't even worse mass shootings next weekend which, sadly, is not exactly a safe bet. 

    Northbrook Days, a mid-summer carnival, is usually held at the little park in the village's downtown, the funnel cake stands and Tilt-a-Whirl set up among the giant oak trees and on the ball field.
      There's live music, games, a beer tent. It's fun.
      But this year the festival was abruptly moved from its usual location for the past 95 years to the parking lot at Northbrook Court, on the edge of town. All our neighbors were abuzz about it. The park district said something about soil being impacted, but that seemed dubious; the scuttlebutt was, there were personal conflicts among various officials. Dark Forces were at work. 
       My initial inclination was to simply not go. The boys are grown and gone, and while my wife and I like to stroll over—we live a couple blocks away—for a look and a corn dog, hopping in the car was something else entirely. And when we got there, what fun would it be to wander a concrete parking lot next to the shuttered Macy's? I assumed no one would go.
    But curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see the new locale for myself, and I suggested going to my wife, who readily agreed.
     We arrived at twilight, had our traditional Boy Scout lemonade, explored a bit, ate some pretty good Indian chow from a Wheeling place called Siri, ran into some parents of our boys' friends we hadn't seen since previous carnivals. Hands were shaken, hugs and information exchanged.  
     There was a pretty decent turn-out. And a good amount of police officers, which was natural and comforting, given the 20 people slaughtered at a Walmart's in El Paso, Texas, earlier in the day. My wife had been worried enough to tell me that she loves me just before we left for the fair, in case we were killed at mass-shooting. I thought that was overdoing it a bit. Our nation had already had its gun massacre for the day, and so we'd probably be safe until tomorrow. 
    That was true, but just barely. Another shooting, nine dead in Dayton, Ohio, took place at 1 a.m., while we slept. 

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  1. Blow-up adorable. I wrote a letter to the editor after Sandy Hook, and among other observations, wondered if the NRA would suggest tiny automatic weapons for little kids. I thought I was being sarcastic until I read that there are manufacturers who make small pink and blue rifles for children. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

  2. The red, white and blue with stars AK-47 rifles are even more disturbing then the camouflage. America may be a nation of gun lovers, but handing out these inflatables as a prize to kids seems bizarre and distasteful.

  3. My wife and I spent six hours at Cleveland's biggest art festival of the summer, a very crowded affair that sprawls along several blocks of a commercial street. It always takes place on the first Saturday in August, and we've only missed a few of them in the past 25 years. Usually for something like a wedding or a road trip or another outdoor event. Almost every year the early-August weather is nearly perfect...clear and warm, with refreshing northeast breezes off Lake Erie.

    We went early and stayed until almost suppertime, and didn't have access to a radio or a TV, and we don't carry phones. Consequently, news of the shooting reached us quite late. We didn't even comment, except for "Oh, another shooting..." or something of that sort.

    But while I was at the art fair, completely unaware of the latest massacre, I couldn't help thinking about how easy it would be for someone to open up on the throngs looking at the purses and the photos and the jewelry...or maybe drive a truck down the middle of the crowded street. There weren't even the usual garbage trucks or city dump trucks that used to be positioned to prevent such slaughters. It all seems so ordinary now, the way plane crashes were when I was a kid.

    What used to bring about a feeling of horror now hardly merits a shrug. In a week, it'll all be forgotten...until the next one. Just like the last time...and the time before that. What a world. I guess it's true: Human beings can...and do...get used to almost anything.

  4. After the last Texas shooting took 26 lives, the Governor, Ted Cruz and another official spoke at a press conference. Mealy-mouthed bullshit, a Cruz specialty, was all they could offer. Not word one about possible solutions or guns at all. Expect nothing new this time except a possible Wayne LaPierre homage to Kalashnikov.

  5. "Men can get used to anything. The scoundrels!" The Inspector in "Crime and Punishment."


  6. We went to Kalamazoo Ribfest yesterday, and I couldn't help but think of the latest shootings. Security was very apparent, everyone got searched or frisked upon entry, so it did seem relatively safe. Yeah, some nutter could have mowed down the crowd from outside the barricades, but I guess that's the unfortunate chances we take in this absurd new reality of ours. We did have a great time and heard solid sets from Joan Osborne and Spin Doctors.

  7. These mass shootings are going to tear apart the country as surely as a civil war.

    Which may, indeed, be the object of certain people in Russia. See Eric Zorn's latest column.

  8. Maybe these mass shootings ARE the beginnings of a civil war. Version 2.0--which will not be a video game.


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