Sometime after seven in the morning I woke up, made a pot of coffee, poured cereal into a bowl, and perched onto the couch. Switching on the morning cable news and expecting to hear the latest despicable social media rants from #notmypresident, the normal abnormal was askew. Something happened while I slept and it was bad. Like millions of others I watched the story unfold via cell phone videos and breathless reporters trying to explain the unexplainable. For the next 16 hours, minus the 86 minutes that I left my apartment for a solitary walk, my eyes stayed glued to the screen.
In the midst of this media bombardment of a country music concert that went terribly wrong came a one-line blurb on Twitter that caught my eye: Tom Petty was dead. Within a few minutes the news exploded over the internet. As I tried to wrap my head around each event, my mind also kept wandering and wondering about those three and half million people without water, food, medicine, power, or communications in Puerto Rico. With a limited capacity of bad news that I could deal with at one time, the unspeakable carnage in Vegas won out.
After a few hours, in what must be the only recorded miraculous resurrection in modern history, Tom Petty rose from the ashes and once again was alive. Headlines were altered, stories were retracted, obituaries that had been written and published vanished in thin air. Did I just imagine that?
Sometime in the late evening hours, as it became clear that we weren’t going to learn anything new from Las Vegas that we didn’t already know, it was time for cable news to drag out the experts for their postulation, speculation, and politicalization. When the jackass from Fox News began to prattle the NRA mantra that guns don’t kill people and assault rifle silencers make sense, and the three liberal pundits on MSNBC pondered whether this was the right time to talk seriously about gun control, I disconnected. Sitting alone in the dark room a song slowly came to mind.
On Jan. 29, 1979, a 16-year-old girl who lived across the street from Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego took her rifle – a gift from daddy – and opened fire as kids arrived for classes. The principal was shot and killed while trying to rescue children in the line of fire, as was the school custodian. Eight students and a police officer were also shot; they survived. When a reporter asked the young girl why she did it, she replied “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
When I woke up on Tuesday morning I made a pot of coffee, poured cereal into a bowl and perched onto the couch. Switching on the morning cable news and expecting to hear the latest despicable social media rants from #notmypresident, the normal abnormal was askew. Something happened while I slept and it was bad. Tom Petty had died. Again.
This article was originally published as an Easy Ed’s Broadside column over at No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music.