Observations, 10/3/17: Free Fallin’

2017, so far

To state that there is something not right with the world at present would be superfluous. More than superfluous, it would also be quite banal. What is my “angle” here, trying to say this stuff? What do I mean, “not right?” What supplements am I selling, what pop song or adult cartoon TV series or late-nite talk show am I trying to push this season?

I had decided to take a break from all media starting Saturday night. I almost made it until Monday afternoon, when I discovered a news alert on my phone regarding the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, which left 59 dead (as of this writing) & is the worst mass shooting in U.S. history (as of this writing). And so it began.


He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell.
–Eric Paddock on his brother Stephen

Just so I understand: Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree who was an accountant, who had worked for Lockheed-Martin, who was inexplicably a “multimillionaire”—an obsessive high-stakes gambler who traveled a lot and lived more in casino hotels than his four homes—suddenly “snapped” and strategically booked a double room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the Route 91 Harvest Festival with the sole purpose of perpetrating the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Stephen Paddock

He booked this room with the ID of his girlfriend, who it is claimed is currently out of the country (and presumably without her ID). And though allegedly he had no prior training in (or super-big affection for) guns, he managed to shoot…what…close to 600 people???…from two windows on opposite ends of this 32nd floor suite, across a considerable distance (and, I believe, like an entire street) to the festival grounds?


The festival grounds weren’t like directly below him, but rather a distance away and to the side a bit (almost directly in front of the black pyramid and sphinx of the Luxor hotel, actually). But Paddock managed to do all this, alone, with a literal arsenal of high-powered rifles and artillery, from the 32nd floor; a 64-year-old man with supposedly no major sharpshooting skills whose biggest joys in life were described as video poker and Taco Bell.

And his father was a bank robber described as “psychopathic” who was once on the FBI Most Wanted List, and Stephen himself is claimed by ISIS as being one of their soldiers.

Have I missed anything here? Oh yes, the reports of the “crazy woman” who 45 minutes before the shootings started warning people in line at the Festival that they were “all going to fucking die” there. A woman who is similar in physical description to Paddock’s girlfriend…or perhaps just a powerful psychic who was just passing by. Yes. There is that.

Seems like an open-and-shut case to me.

We have no idea what his belief system was…I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.
–Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo


And so the first thing a lot of people do after a tragedy like in Las Vegas—especially if they have a big social media presence (you know, at least 78 Twitter followers)—is figure out how this falls into their specific ideological/political spectrum, and act accordingly.

**What political capital does it give you???**

Because that’s how everything is these days. (Maybe it’s always been like this; some of us had just been lulled into this false sense that things should be better than that. Probably because of those sappy 70s and 80s Saturday Morning Cartoons we watched with all the tacked-on lessons and public service messages.)


And then Tom Petty died. And then he didn’t. And then he did.



I’m going to still try that media “cleanse.” I sometimes wonder, if at least in a metaphorical/metaphysical sense, if these tragedies are meant to break our spirits. This is something I thought of all the time during the time period I cover in The Year Of The Mask; a year that started, in 2012, with the Aurora “Dark Knight” shooting & “ended” the following spring with the Boston Marathon Bombing (with many mass shootings in-between).

We need to be resilient. How do we do that?
I’m asking honestly.


More to read about on Butterfly Language:
Observations 9/29/17: Marx Brothers On Mars
Observations 9/25/17: Lightning Round
Observations, 8/28/17 (“I’m A Rebel, You’re An Idiot”)