Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo

On the bus, two passengers said, the suspect would make people move out of his way when he moved about. At one point, they said, he pulled out a handgun and, unprovoked, shot another passenger.

“He was acting weird, he was trying to press on people,” said one of those passengers, Carlos Hurtado, 23. “He was trying to make people know he was a bad guy.”

Said the second of these passengers, Luis Rodriguez, 41: “It could have been anybody. I could have sat where (the victim) was sitting. It’s like he was going, ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, mo.’ ” *

Imagine you’re on the Orange Line on a weekday afternoon and you see this guy acting out. He’s not physically imposing, just oddly aggressive.  If you were a nice middle-class lady on your daily commute from work, you might be inclined to express your disapproval at his behavior in a non-threatening way.  What reason would you have to think he was carrying a gun? You’re in the Valley.  Why would you think he killed his parents that morning in Canoga Park, killed two others at a gas station in North Hollywood, and was now riding the bus, waiting out the helicopter search?  You wouldn’t.  Your good manners would be your undoing.  You would be victim number 5.

I picked up two guys in Fairfax the other night, but only one got in the Uber.  Is your friend coming? I asked.  That wasn’t my friend, the rider replied. That was a homeless guy, bumming a smoke. I attract them. Recognizing their humanity is my weakness. They can sense I’m a listener.  I’m an easy mark. I’d rather be living in a tent on the street myself if the alternative was never talking to anyone.

This tender particularity of character is what makes it possible for 5 million people to share a single city. It also opens the transom for the deranged, the conniving, and the evil to elide the limbic danger detection systems under which we operate. You can share a smoke with a stranger, rarely will you be smoked.  But it happens.

We live in this tension between prudence and brotherhood. The urban reforms of the 90s: broken windows policing, determinate sentencing laws, civil anti-gang injunctions, were so complete in their victory over random street crime people under the age of 35 have no living memory of it.  I’m old enough to have lived through the tail end of urban decay, and even I have let my guard down.  I say whaddup to everyone, including people I probably shouldn’t.   My name is Eeny.  Someone else is going to be Mo.   Someone on the evening news.

That’s another of the 23 Lies We Tell About LA: we can empty the jails, abandon quality of life enforcement, vilify the police and the crime rate will remain unchanged.  Because Lake Balboa is safe today, it will be safe tomorrow.

*Photo credit, Leo Kaufmann, LA Daily News

7 thoughts on “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo”

  1. On the very night of Gilroy, the wife and I attended a car show in Northern California. This is an annual event with a bit of an anarchistic vibe. It had been a few years since we were there. She immediately felt uncomfortable; I was too busy imagining myself behind the wheels to notice. As the evening wore on, I did notice the lack of “happy enthusiasm” for lack of a better phrase. It had been awhile, but I didn’t remember people milling about scowling in the past.
    A band started playing, and to call the lyrics violent and misogynist does not do them justice. I am a right winger in the land of Newsom and Hair-ass, so for me to notice is notable.
    Looking back, the event did not feel safe and anything could have happened. No security, no bag check.
    Change is in the air; winter may be coming.

  2. Mo was killed in El Paso and Meeney was killed in Dayton Ohio.

    President Trump weighed in on both of the weekend’s mass shootings early Sunday, writing on Twitter, “God bless the people of El Paso Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio.”

    That’s great Mr President, thanks for helping out the Pope.

    How about a bit of gun control now?

    1. Not a partisan in the gun control debate, but having grown up in a city with very strict gun control laws did not prevent having the equivalent of a basketball team die unnatural deaths at the hands of others among my acquaintances. Most were shot but one was tossed onto some train tracks from rooftop and a few were stabbed to death. It seems to me an error to believe that passing laws somehow affects personal morality or mental health. It also seems to me that often people are quick to espouse political beliefs or push for new laws rather than putting in the effort to be the change they want to see. There is a kindness gap and a socialization gap between the official story we learn in school and the real environment in which experienced our development. So Warren wants to know what we “shouldn’t fight for?” Well, how about compassionate language devoid of battle and war metaphors? One component of these issues is that people lack an understanding of the consequences of violence and fighting. Put Warren in the ring with Rousey and see what she thinks is worth “fighting” to achieve. We need to work together to achieve lofty things, not fight for them. I’d also suggest, if you believe that gun control is the solution to go to a gun range or shop and see the obvious extent of regulations within their standard operating procedures.

      1. “Kindness and socialization gap” is great phrasing. The spoiling for civil war in the media is not helping.

  3. The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

    Plain and simple.

    There’s no simple solution however. You can outlaw firearms, but then the people possessing them would be outlaws.

    Mental health? Other countries’ citizens also have mental health problems, but the gun related homicides are extremely low compared to this country.

    “I’m trying to think of a gun law which would have prevented either tragedy”.

    Take a few tips from New Zealand.

    1. If you started America from scratch with zero guns and made us an island nation, New Zealand laws might have an effect. We have as many guns as people and operate as the central node of the global economy. The gun control ship has sailed. Our lethal combination of angry and alienated young men might better be addressed from the other direction: spiritual. Men need purpose. Weak tea, perhaps, if one is looking to fix everything tomorrow, but over time policy choices oriented toward giving every American male 15-40 a place of constructive engagement in the world might lower the incidence rate.

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