It would appear that thangs are janky all over the place. I see that a combination of persistent hot weather — and the news of Norway’s version of a Tea Party conservative, watering the Yggdrasil of Liberty with random people’s blood, hitting the 24/7 wall of newstainment across the corporate cable channel infogasm — has caused people to go a bit touchy around the ol’ Heimat over the weekend. As in: trigger finger, itchy. Blam. Blam blam.
Nutters with firearms went off in the usual places, namely Texas, and it was somewhat queasily familiar to see the city where I was raised — Stockton, California — make the weekend roster with a horrible birthday party shooting that left one dead, a 15 year old, and eight others wounded. I’m not going to comment about what went through the shooter’s head and what he — I’ll presume it was a he — was thinking, because whatever it was, it probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to most of us. I will say that I can understand that kind of simmering resentment, but I’ll also add that I’m extremely grateful that I found some psychological tools to air my head out before I showed up at somebody’s birthday fete with the idea of turning it into a wake.
Stockton is a weird place. I get a little bothered when people in other places, like in the smugly satisfied State Worker Republic of Sacramento where I’ve lived since 1984, spout off about how the county seat of San Joaquin is a violent shit-hole full of crazy people and other mutants. But if you grew up in that part of the 209, or you’ve lived there or worked there for any amount of time, then to me you’re welcome to opine.
I’ll say this: I was surprised once I got out of Stockton that, in most places, people didn’t arbitrarily jump out of cars at stoplights and run over and beat the shit out of you, because that kind of thing seemed to happen in the Stockton of my youth with, well, I won’t say disturbing regularity, but I was the recipient of a sudden and unprovoked ass-kicking several times, and it left me in a state of raw fear for years. Hell, I’m in my 50s, and I still look nervously over my shoulder, and I glance up and down streets rapidly, reading every stranger and group of strangers for the threat of impending violence.
The shooting this weekend took place on Lincoln Road, east of Eldorado Street and south of Hammer Lane, about a mile from where I lived during junior high and high school. It was an okay neighborhood when they built it in the 1960s and ’70s, but like a lot of North Stockton, it’s decayed into a neighborhood over time where you might not feel comfortable living.
But that’s happened all over America. And you can point the finger of blame at that black president you don’t like, or those “socialist” Democrats, or whoever the ruling class clowns like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the rest of the Murdoch circus are telling you to hate this week. But the grim reality is that what’s happening now is the result of the greedy portion of the top one percent of people in this country, according to wealth, who don’t want to help pay for maintaining the infrastructure of this country — including a vibrant private sector that provides living-wage jobs here that aren’t in Indian casinos — or the health and welfare of its citizens. Instead, they are using their considerable wealth and influence to wage war on the rest of us. As for the rest of us? Well, look on the bright side: We can buy guns and ammunition, at least until the unemployment checks stop coming. Then we’ll just steal them.
I do believe we are in for a weird ride the next few years. —Jackson Griffith