Good lord, my sister just called from New York where her husband is headlining tonight at Madison Square Garden for New Year’s Eve but they can’t get near the stadium (even though the concert is starting right now) because some lunatic sniper is holed up in the building across the street from Madison Square Garden and is threatening to kill his family members! Sue and Jeff were going to take the subway there because the streets are blocked by millions of revelers but now they’ve closed down the Penn Station subway station because of this incident. I’m sure all will be resolved soon but Jesus, what is happening in this country? Is everyone just a few beats away from grabbing a gun and shooting people indiscriminately? I’ve no doubt that other countries have similar levels of rage and mental illness but what they DON’T have is a system that makes it so easy for deranged people to get their hands on a gun.
I just saw the very depressing film “The Assassination of Richard Nixon” about a real-life guy (beautifully played by Sean Penn) who tried to hijack a plane in 1974 and fly it into the White House. His plan was foiled but he did manage to kill a few people (including himself) on the plane in the process. Oops, sorry if I just gave that away but it’s pretty clear from the beginning of the film that this is what’s going to happen—it’s more about watching his process of transformation from an average schmoe with three kids to an unhinged and hopeless nutcase who is willing to kill innocent people to get on the news. Perhaps 2005 will see us paying more attention to the levels of violence and rage in this country and less to things like Janet Jackson’s left breast. I can’t believe that one NOTHING moment at last year’s Super Bowl caused more consternation than Bush’s disinformation campaign that enabled the war in Iraq. HELP, we are living in crazy times! And yet even though I would never engage in any violent action I can sometimes understand how rage can build up in a person in insidious ways. Even while watching this dark portrayal of increasingly crazed Sam Bicke, I found my own levels of annoyance going off the chart in the movie theatre. This guy in front of me had a large popcorn and a salt shaker (that he “borrowed” from the refreshment stand) and once every minute or so he would salt his popcorn and then loudly shake his bucket for about 15 seconds to mix it in. AAARGH! Recently at the movies a woman behind me got a call on her cell phone in the middle of the film and then TOOK the call, talking to her friend in a perfectly normal voice! Kendall and I turned around and gave her our patented “death stare” but it did no good and when we asked her to hang up or take the call outside the theatre she started yelling at us as if we were depriving her of her civil rights. Serves me right for letting Kendall convince me into seeing a mainstream commercial film.
I didn’t plan on ending my blog posts for the year on such a depressing note! So I'll tell you that the home page of the Wilco site is asking fans to donate to the Indian Ocean Relief Fund (is this the new name of the tragedy?). Wilco fans are famous for being very generous—when the band was giving away free MP3 tracks of "A Ghost Is Born" on their site before the CD was released the fans donated many thousands of dollars they would have spent buying it on various charities. So there is hope for the world after all! Happy New Year to everyone!