The day started 18 hours ago in the darkness. I woke up to find out that a whole lot of people had been shot by a mad gunman in Las Vegas. Halfway through the afternoon, Tom Petty died. By the time I got home at 10pm, it was time to take the garbage out.
On Saturday night, I did a Facebook Live video of unpacking the mattress and laying on it. I gave it an A-. This is the first night that we’ll be sleeping on it. But not right now. I laid down with my wife and we did what we often do. We listened to a podcast. This one is called “Sworn.” It’s about a family named the Widemanns who were shot and then burned in Georgia. I’d like to be able to lay there and listen to it and then fall asleep, as Alexis has done, but there is much more death in the air than the Widemanns have to give.
“59” is the number right now. That’s how many were killed in the Las Vegas shooting. If you’re reading this years from now, which is the way in which this blog may best be ingested, then the stuff of the Las Vegas shooting is part of our American history. Like Watergate, the march on Washington, Columbine and 9-11. Right now, it’s just a mass shooting. We don’t have any perspective on it yet. Right now, it’s just a bunch of shaky cellphone video of people trampling all over each other to get out of the line of fire.
“550” is the number of the people injured. We don’t know how many of those were shot, but it’s the majority of that number. That’s a lot of bullets, a lot of blood, and a lot of heartbreak. “59” and “550” are also the reasons that I can’t go to sleep right now. That and the fact that Tom Petty just up and died out of nowhere., a victim of a simple heart attack.
Alexis and I went to see Tom Petty this summer. I really didn’t want to make it happen, but Alexis had been clamboring “to go see him before I die.” Little did she know it would be Tom himself who would die and soon, and that it would happen on the day that we learned about the 59 and 550. It’s also our daughter’s birthday. She turned 25 today in New York City without us to throw her a party. Normally, we get all of the nieces and nephews and her uncles and aunts over and we eat a John’s Pizza and some cake and ice cream. I wrestle with Jack and Al and the dog barks and after a while the four nieces and Jeanie and Jackie leave the commotion and go in the dining room and talk.
Not tonight. My little girl grew up and moved away. Who the hell let that happen?
The important thing for the three or four of you to note is that I did get up and do the radio show this morning. You could probably tell by the last blog entry that it wasn’t an easy show to do. I am not a newsman. It’s not my job to tell people what is happening as it happens. That might have been the radio guy’s job 30 years ago. Or 60. Or 90.
But now, people pretty much know what’s happening all around them by looking at their phones. They don’t need the radio guy to tell them that there’s been a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. They’ve already seen it on Facebook or on the website of the New York Times. They just need me to be there, to be present.
That’s my job and I’m okay with that. I just need to be there every morning and pretty much be the same person. I can have a little breadth to my personality, but by and large they expect me to be me every morning. And that’s a good thing. My wife sometimes complains that I don’t stray much from being in control of my emotions most of the time. I’m a flatliner. I laugh and cry (every couple of years) and I get really pissed when Purdue blows a big lead in the final quarter.
But for the most part, I’m the same person who wakes up in the morning at 4:22 as I am right now when I’m writing to the three or four of you.
In other words, if what radio demands is that you show up as the same person every day, then I’m radio. Count me in.
It was the same way with trading in the pits of the Chicago Board of Trade. You had to show up every day with the same purpose and the same balance. If you had something troubling you, the markets would find it. You would lose a bunch of money. And if you were really troubled, you could lose all of your money. I did that a couple of times. Life sucks and then you die.
It’s a really nice breeze outside right now. It’s a warm October evening. All things being equal, it’s a pretty damn good night for sleeping. Instead, I write to you. I can’t sleep, and I won’t be able to until I can somehow get 59 and 550 out of my head. And I can accept that one of my favorite music icons died. And my aunt and my other aunt – I’ll be going to their wakes this week.
It’s October 2nd, and I have a daughter halfway across the country in a really big city who turned 25 today. I’m not there to celebrate it with her. It’s the cycle of life, and I’m not liking. I’d rather be bloated from pizza and cake and slightly tipsy from drinking beers with my brother and dad and brother-in-law. I’m not tipsy at all. I’m just pissed and afraid and how on earth could you expect to sleep under those circumstances? See you in the morning on the radio.