Dancing With The Stars was on tonight. I’m not a regular viewer, but I caught the first few minutes. The host is a man named Tom Bergeron; he looks like a model from the 1979 Sears catalog; he was born with sincere eyes. Tom looked right into the camera, right at me, and he asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the most recent massacre. The lights in the studio dimmed for a second, two, three, and then they came back up and Terrell Owens and Frankie Muniz jitterbugged to Everybody Dance Now. Frankie was wearing double denim that had undergone bedazzling.
C’mon out here, Frankie, and show ’em what they’re fighting for.
Tom Petty just got off tour. Big one. 40th anniversary for him and the Heartbreakers. They played baseball stadiums, Wrigley and Coors Field, and the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. After the news of the day cleared out from the trending list on Twitter–real late at night–his name would pop up. The shows were all sold out, and Tom Petty played all his hits. Folks would post videos. They were invariably Free Fallin’. Every man, woman, and child in those stadiums would sing along in the chorus. The part where it jumps up an octave. A lot of things made that song a hit, but the bit where it jumps that octave is the true hook.
The stage where Jason Aldean was performing, closing out the festival at around ten pm, is 400 yards from the Mandalay Bay. The room the shooter had chosen for his blind was on the 32nd floor. This means that the distance from the window to the crowd is over 1200 feet. Around a quarter of a mile. At that distance, faces cannot be made out with the naked eye even in daylight. Just shapes. Human silhouettes.
Just like at the range.
Go and fetch a pen. Your favorite, the one that writes so smooth. Pad, too. If you don’t have a pad, use an unpaid gas bill. I’ll wait.
You ready? Good.
Write an opening line this good:
She was an American girl;
Raised on promises.
You’ll run out of ink before you do.
In the doctor’s office this afternoon, MSNBC was playing; I’m not a regular viewer. Brian Williams was speaking. They let him do that, for some reason. He had a man from some sort of security consulting firm on, one of those companies with the vaguely threatening names. Brian asked what was to be done, and the man began speaking about the need to harden soft targets. I put in my headphones and listened to the Hold Steady. There was a magazine with an Audi on the cover, and I looked at that.
I kept hearing the shooter’s name as Tom Stoppard, and wondering how tough the life of a playwright must be.
Tom Petty made driving music. Songs for an American highway. Driving music needs a particular tempo: too slow and you’re causing traffic jams, but too fast and the law will take an interest. Driving songs don’t need speed, just momentum. Forward thrust. Put on any Tom Petty record and your window will roll itself down.
The initial burst from the shooter’s automatic weapon was nine seconds long. Close your eyes and count off nine seconds. One Mississippi, etc. Close your eyes and count off nine seconds. I’ll do it with you.
It was longer than you thought it would be, wasn’t it?
As I write this, 59 are dead. More will die, but right now the toll stands at 59. An NFL roster is 54 people. It is the worst massacre in modern history, beating the previous massacre by 9 corpses. The previous massacre was last year. We do not count historical massacres, as they were more complicated than we’d prefer. These new massacres are simple. They are just like the superhero movies everyone loves.
A very special man uses force to change the world. He succeeds, temporarily, but by the mid-credit scene everything is back to the status quo.
Ah, go fuck yourself.
Classical physics deals with position. A physical object occupies one at a time. Quantum physics disagrees, as quantum physics is an inherently belligerent science. Objects cannot be said to occupy any position with certainty until they’re pinned like butterflies by an observer’s eyeball. Nothing’s here, and nothing’s there; particles have a 50% chance of being here, and a 30% chance of being there, and a 10% chance of being there, and it continues on asymptotically. This is called superpositionality.
Tom Petty was superpositional today.
Will he pick a fight with a survivor or a bereaved family member? He will make this worse.
Tom Petty was born in the panhandle of Florida and had a massive heart attack in Malibu. I cannot think of a more American sentence.
59 people were murdered and 527 injured at a country-music concert last night by a stranger with a machine gun. I thought of a more American sentence.