A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … well, actually, it was a week or so ago and it was in Florida (which many could argue, is another world), something really different and really not normal happened. There was yet another mass shooting. This time at a high school in Broward County. 17 dead, more wounded. But that wasn’t the not normal thing. That happens all the time. That’s normal.
No, the really different thing that happened was the students who DIDN’T GET KILLED rose up and formed a rebellion. A rebellion against the Empire. Also known as the NRA.
And as rebel fighters, these kids are good. Really good. In just a week or so they’ve knocked down or destroyed all of the Empire’s usual tricks.
EMPIRE: Our thoughts and prayers are with you. REBELLION: Fuck your thoughts and prayers! We just got shot at! Get rid of machine guns! EMPIRE: But now is not the time to talk about gun control. REBELLION: Fuck you. Now is exactly the time and we’re talking about it! EMPIRE: This is a mental health issue. REBELLION: No shit Sherlock! We’ve been telling you this guy is fucked up for a while now. He was voted “most likely to shoot up the school”! But that didn’t stop him from legally buying a military assault rifle and KILLING US with it!
EMPIRE: We need armed guards in schools. We need to arm teachers. The only way to beat a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. REBELLION: We had an armed guard! He left the building! And arming teachers? Are you kidding? A bad guy shoots at everybody. It’s a “target rich environment”. That’s why he’s there. The teacher can only shoot at one target and one target only. And all this while we’re all running around like crazy, trying NOT TO BE KILLED ! You’d have to be Luke Skywalker to make that shot! What the hell is wrong with you??
And the rebellion is spreading. All around the country. You think the Russians are the best at using social media to effect politics? You have no idea what a nation of pissed off teenagers can do.
And it’s only just begun. Business sponsors are already leaving the NRA. They’re on the defensive. Will the Rebellionwin? Will the EmpireStrike Back? Of course they will. But don’t count out this rebellion.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. I don’t know why I’m wasting both my time and yours. But, what the hell. As I’m writing this the news is still in full-time coverage of the latest mass shooting at a public school.
This time in Florida, not that it matters much. It could have been anywhere in the country. Hell, it has been anywhere in the country. Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. And of course, politicians, mostly Republicans, trotted out the same old crap. “Thoughts and prayers” and “now is not the time to talk about gun control”.
You know, the usual bullshit. One of Jimmy Kimmel’s writers posted all the Republican tweets next to the amount of money the NRA has given them. The average is around 3 million dollars. Except for Trump. They gave him 21 million. You can read it here.
I did notice one new thing this time. As the students were being led to safety by the police they all had their hands in the air.
Why? Well, they hadn’t caught the shooter yet and the police couldn’t trust anyone. There might be a second or third shooter amongst them. I thought the photo of the three-year-old girl practicing standing on the toilet seat because that’s what her preschool taught her to do “when the shooters come” was as sad as things could get. I was wrong.
When it was happening, the initial report was that one person was dead and 17 injured. Ellin’s first response was “Only one dead? That’s not so bad”. A few moments later she said “I can’t believe I just said that. I’m getting immune to this”. As it turned out, it wasn’t just one dead, it was all 17. Not the record, but the shooter sure gave it the old school try.
Instead I’m going to completely change the subject. I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story. It happened to me when I was in first grade. I was 6 years old. It was 1957. I grew up in Schenectady, New York. I went to Lincoln Elementary School.
It was one block away from the original Freihofer’s Bakery.
The bakery was local back then. Today you can order their products on Amazon. Every day at 3 pm, I would leave school and be enveloped in the amazing smell of freshly baked bread. It was awesome. They had horse-drawn carriages that delivered their baked goods right to your door. The horse that came up my street every day was named Tony.
My Grandpa used to follow Tony up the street everyday and scoop up Tony’s “droppings”. He used them to fertilize a tiny tree he planted in our back yard. Today the tree is over 50 feet tall. It’s over 60 years old. Tony made good fertilizer.
We only had three TV channels back then. CBS, NBC and ABC. The NBC channel, WRGB, had a daily afternoon show called “Bread Time Stories”. But everybody called it “The Freddie Freihofer Show”. It starred Uncle Jim Fisk.
His sidekick was a puppet called Freddie Freihofer.
They played cartoons, had a band and the show had an audience of kids.
It was basically a rip off of The Howdy Doody show. But we didn’t know that. What made this show different was they also had “Birthday Boys and Birthday Girls”. They got to sit in the front row. They each had their own special birthday cake. A Freihofer’s cake, or course.
At the end of the show all the kids would line up in front of a big box with a handle on it. Like on a slot machine. Each kid would pull the handle and get a prize. Freihofer’s baked goods! (Duh) The show was just a big infomercial, but me and all my friends didn’t know that. You have to realize that Freihofer’s made some really good stuff. Their chocolate chip cookies were the best in the world. Their sugar donuts where amazing. At school, we had a scale of best to worst. Chocolate chip first, oatmeal raisin second, sugar donuts third and so on.
But the main part of the show, the most amazing part of the show was “The Squiggle”. You see, Uncle Jim was a genius. He would give a kid a big piece of white art paper and a magic marker.
The kid would then make a random squiggly line on the paper. Then Uncle Jim would make his magic. He would look at the squiggle and say “Wow, you just drew a bunny rabbit. He would then draw around the random line and PRESTO! A bunny rabbit!
Forget Picasso, DaVinci, Van Gogh. They were nothing compared to Uncle Jim! I found out later in life that it was something that pretty much any first year art student can do. But who cares? It was a Squiggle!
I tell you all this because I was actually on the Freddy Freihofer show! My friend was having a birthday and his Mom got him on the show. He could bring one friend. He picked me! I was an instant celebrity at Lincoln Elementary School! I was going to be on “The Freddie Freihofer Show!” I was going to get a Squiggle! And a prize! Cookies? Donuts? Who knew?
Kids were asking for my autograph!
So, the day finally came and reality set in. I didn’t know it then, but the universe was giving me a heads up on what my future career in TV would be like.
First, when I got there I was put up in the farthest back row of the peanut gallery. I wasn’t “a birthday boy”. I was basically an extra to fill a seat. Second, my friend’s Mom had to actually buy the Birthday cake. No freebies from Freihofer’s. Before the show started a producer came out and promised us that if Uncle Jim didn’t make us a Squiggle during the show, he would stay, and we would all get one after the show. Phew, I was worried for a while there.
So, the show started and out came Uncle Jim. Looking and acting much like my Dad and my Uncle Dick used to act on New Year’s Eve. We did the whole show, and of course, I didn’t get my Squiggle. I mean, I was up in the nose bleed section. But I wasn’t worried. The producer said we’d get one after the show. The show ended and we all lined up in front of the big prize machine to get our prize. They ran the credits over us. I was last in line. The credits ended before I got my turn. I then experienced what in the TV biz is called “a union shutdown.” That’s where 5 seconds after you go off the air, the crew shuts everything off and leaves the building immediately. Whoosh! Gone. Everybody. Including Uncle Jim.
So, there I was, standing in the dark, suddenly realizing I was not getting a Squiggle. But, it was OK. I mean, I still had my prize! By the time I got to the prize box I was all alone. In a dark TV studio. I pulled the handle. Oh, the suspense! I might not be able to bring a Squiggle to school, but I’d have my prize! What would I be sharing with my friends? Chocolate Chip cookies? Oatmeal Raisin? Hell, even sugar donuts would be OK. It seemed to take forever, but finally, out came my prize! And what was it?
A PACKAGE OF ENGLISH MUFFINS!
English Muffins!? Are you kidding me??? I have to go back to my school mates with no Squiggle and a package of friggin’ English Muffins. I say friggin’ because I’m sure if I said fucking English Muffins back then, my Mom would wash my mouth out with soap. It was a thing back then.
So, with my head down, I slowly walked out of the dark studio, back into the sunlight. A package of English muffins in one hand, and no Squiggle in the other.
But I still got to leave school every day to the smell of freshly baked bread. I never had to practice standing on a toilet seat. AndI never had to leave school with my hands over my head.
What a shock! The best that our government could offer to Parkland were … you guessed it … thoughts and prayers and of course “it’s too soon to make decisions when we’re still trying to figure out what happened.”
We know what happened. We always know what happened.
How many answers do you need? A school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead and another 14 wounded in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday. To no ones surprise, he used a military-style AR-15 semi-automatic machine gun. We don’t call them machine guns anymore. We have fancier names, but that’s what they are. Of course, rather than examine the gun issue, the spotlight is on Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who admitted the shooting.
It was interesting watching Wolf Blitzer try everything to pin Florida’s slippery governor to agreeing that in a state where an 18-year-old can’t buy a legal beer or a handgun, he can buy an AR-15. If you have a really dark sense of humor, you could enjoy the wriggling of the governor trying to find any possible way to say he was going to protect the kids, but not get rid of the law that allows a troubled 18-year old to buy an AR-15. Because, well, y’know, there’s a second amendment. Moreover, we wouldn’t want to upset gun manufacturers or the NRA. They donate lots of money to politicians and money talks. In fact, ONLY money talks.
It doesn’t matter how many kids get killed every year. Or how many adults and toddlers. The real, key issue is that gun manufacturers need to have the right to sell guns to everyone, mentally ill or nominally sane and the younger, the better.
And even though I would love to lay all the blame on our current administration, this problem has been with us a very long time. No president or congress in my lifetime has been willing to brace the NRA or give up all that money the NRA gives to candidates. The Republicans are even worse having managed to eliminate what few laws we had and then acting like these killings are some kind of mystery. Like we don’t know that the AR-15 is the weapon of choice for those who prefer killing many people quickly.
And here we are. Again.
In Florida, almost any adult can buy a rifle so long as he or she is not a convicted felon — or unless he or she has a medical marijuana card. Because as we all know, marijuana is the drug of mass violence and overeating on chocolate cookies.
Most guns used in mass shootings across the United States were legally obtained — sometimes by the shooter, or from a family member who had a gun permit. You should know that all of the deadliest mass shootings in this country involved an AR-15 or similar weapon. ALL of them. Every single one.
It is very difficult for me to find anything amusing about this, or find any way to excuse anyone for failing to change the laws to protect lives. Every other “first world” country has banned guns and they have as a result a hugely reduced rate of gun violence. No matter what nonsense the gun lobby spouts, the reality is incredibly simple. Limit the purchase and use of guns and gun violence goes away too.
But of course, it won’t happen. It has never happened. It doesn’t matter how many kids we slaughter. We will keep selling as many guns as the market will bear until we are all mentally and emotionally completely numb. Beyond anger and mentally dead.