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Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas Music Festival: the Latest, and the Worst, Mass-Shooting in U.S. History. October 2 2017 special edition.

On Sunday,

* Two women were stabbed and murdered by a knife-wielding terrorist in France.

* A terrorist committed murder in Canada.

* 900 people were injured in the city of Barcelona and throughout the state of Catalan, because they were voting for independence from Spain in defiance of the Spanish government's ban of their long-announced, well-publicized election.

* And in the U.S, we experienced the worst mass-murder by firearm, outside war, in our history.


That is why we chose to discuss only this, from the list of Sunday's atrocities.

We hope to inform and, more than just that, to do some good.

Here is a quote from what follows...

" Because we change nothing, we must reckon that we are all too likely to be in this same place yet again -- though we claim to be sincere, even desperate, in our longing for change and a better world, we are left to weep because we are frauds."


Las Vegas Music Festival: the Latest, and the Worst, Mass-Shooting in U.S. History

by Larry Wines

Everyone reading this can visualize the setting as it was, until one-second before it became the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Twenty-two thousand fans in attendance. The last act of a three-day music festival had just taken the stage.

Little children were on adults' shoulders, not just so they could see the stage, but because it's part of the festive scene, the joy of live music in company of thousands of others sharing the joy of live music.

It was Nashville pop-country star Jason Aldean on stage as the closer, but it could have been any musician playing that festival, or any festival anywhere that's all-ages.

Three days of live music. The back stage had finished and gone silent. All attention focused on the last act on the main stage.

Too many fans had consumed too much alcohol, too much ridiculously overpriced beer from taps built into the sides of trailers that are sloshing pressure tanks on wheels. And the only concern for anyone's safety and well-being was whether one of the drunks might topple over into someone else. Or whether an excess of imbibed alcohol might make a disgusting reappearance if some drunk threw-up on someone who didn't get out of the way because she immersed in the music.

It's all a scene that plays-out thousands of times every spring, summer and fall. Including the part where a few festival-goers quietly make their way to the exit, choosing to forego the last act so they can beat the crush of the crowd who would all be leaving together when the last song faded.

The closing rhythms of every festival. Vendors organizing their remaining wares. Ready to hawk to those who hadn't yet bought something to celebrate being there. Some essential souvenir to bring a smile, to remember the joy of all that music, seen and heard and shared through the coming winter, and long after the event. Some wearable trophy. An overpriced t-shirt. A basball cap with the logo or the name of one of the acts. Something to show-off that you were there for that weekend of musical experience, shared then with so many others, and to make absent friends jealous. Shared and savored because the crush of the crowd makes it all more exciting, more special to have been there for those magically tuneful times.

Until suddenly, the happy reality ends in what could not be, and will never be, anything anyone who was there will ever comprehend. Not like being at your desk in the World Trade Center when a fuel-laden jumbo jet comes through the wall. But at a festive sojourn, where people were dancing with their kids, all the cares of the world left outside the gates. There, in celebration. But just as the act on stage begins to sing, there's a choppy, ripping sound. Perhaps a problem with his mic. Or maybe some surprise fireworks intended for the closing had gotten away from some technician somewhere. Confusing. Out of place. Producing about sixty closely-spaced pops that were interrupting the music.

Now the singer was stopping. And the rush of ripping, popping sounds stopped.

And only those with a view of a small part of the audience -- the ones who had maneuvered early to get the coveted spaces closest to the foot of the stage -- only they become aware that this isn't a bad mic or aberrant fireworks. Because people all around them are going down, colliding with the ground in crumples and heaps and sprawls.

Suddenly the singer runs for the backstage. The major part of the vast crowd is rendered dumb before they are capable of being stunned. What just happened? Huh? What?

It had been only a few seconds. Not enough time even to become disoriented. Unless you could see that space where, minutes earlier, everyone wanted to be, with the best view, closest to the musicians, closest to the magic, the best energy. Where you might catch a flipped guitar pick. Or a rolled-up t-shirt might find your grasp, among the thousand upstretched hands when it's thrown from the stage. Or maybe you'll just get the thrill of a guitar-slinging star's smile aimed right at you.

But now the act was running off the stage. The band had only started but now it was in a mad scramble. The star had only begun to sing. It was all happening too fast to make sense of it.

And then that ripping, chopping sound again. And instead of the air reverberating with musical notes, it was filled with screams, dumbfounding screams, horrific screams, fear-inducing screams, as that impossibly-rapid ripping, chopping was back, tearing the air,making about sixty more brutally harsh pulses.

Too fast to comprehend -- though without the arena-level amplification of the stage sound system, the prolonged explosive ripping was no longer masked or minimized. Harsh and abrupt and loud, it echoed off high-rise hotels along the South end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Then it stopped again, leaving only the screams and the utterances of fear and shock and alarm.

And the shouts of some who somehow comprehended.

Shouts to "Run, RUN!" Urgent pleas to get out of the way as much as warnings of danger to others, to everyone.

More shouts. These to "Get DOWN!" because a country music crowd includes plenty of military veterans, combat veterans, who don't mistake the sound of gunfire for something else. Veterans who know that melting into the ground makes you a smaller target, and anyone who sticks-out attracts fire to the whole area.

And then an eclipse of the shouts and screams by more of that horrific sound which can only be ripping, deadly gunfire, for a third time. No other amplified sounds to mask it, to enable disbelieving hesitation because it might be something else, something -- benign.

No more hope in uncertainty.

Impossibly fast, abrupt bangs so close together that now the collective mentality knows. It must be machine gun fire like in all those war movies. But it isn't a movie. It's an instant existential crisis. Loved ones in danger. Little ones. Your significant other. An impossible horror that invades itself into comprehension supplanting the comfortable escapism and energized joy of three days of live music.

No one who sought cover by getting to the ground could have understood that the three deadly rains of hundreds of bullets were coming from three-hundred-twenty feet in the air, from a shooter too far away to clearly see anyone whose life he was destroying, and certainly none of the faces of those he was murdering.

He was on the 32nd floor of a high-rise Las Vegas hotel in the room he had rented for the night. Now it was his gun-filled, ammo-stocked bunker from which to indiscriminately shower death on a dense crowd of unsuspecting thousands, far below him.

He was a 64-year-old man from the town of Mesquite, Nevada. We won't print his name because we don't want to make it one that anyone remembers.

Especially when no one yet knows the names of all the people who mobilized into first-responders, getting the wounded into the open beds of their pickup trucks and into their cars, turning over the wheels to those who knew the streets and the quickest routes to the hospitals, to the two trauma centers.

Over 50 people are dead. At press time, it was 58. Over five hundred are wounded.

Let's be clear. It's not "injured," but wounded by bullets. They are people of all ages. Many of them are children.

Many of the wounded are fighting for their lives. Fighting with all their resolve and all that the medical facilities and the knowledge and skill of doctors and surgeons and nurses and paramedics and citizens trained in first aid, and citizens who jumped in to lift and carry and drive like maniacs can collectively give to our fellow humans in the ultimate extremis.

When we learn the names of those who re-made themselves into rescuers and life-savers, those are the names we should remember.

Meantime, we will weep for the victims whose names we do not know. Wherever their homes, whatever the circumstances of their lives before those deadly seconds, whatever their aspirations or their politics, we do know something about them.

They were like us. They could have been us. Music fans finding joy in seeing and hearing and sharing the experience of live performance.

Until death rained onto them.

Death that, in our society, comes far too often from the barrel of a gun. From a magazine that holds an incomprehensible amount of ammunition. From a weapon too easily manufactured to be too readily modified to become a weapon of mass destruction.

Too indiscriminately sold to someone too easily inclined to kill others he doesn't even know. ln numbers he wants to maximize to be as high a death toll, as high a number of maimed and crippled and broken and bloodied as he can inflict.

There is already idiotic debate whether to deem this as an act of terrorism. That dialog will enable diversion and distraction and obfuscation.

Ultimately, it won't be called a terrorist act because it was an old white guy who did it. Even though ISIL is actively claiming they were behind it. But the value in keeping everyone's attention from the issues of substance will be exploited with faux consideration, melodramatic exploitation, and if they need to maximize the distraction from something else they don't want to discuss, they'll even imply interest in action, suggesting insubstantial, and in the end, wholly fake action.

There will be calls to end the madness by limiting the kinds of guns that can be sold. By limiting the capacity of bullets the magazine clips can hold. By better ways to know who buys and keeps troves of guns and massive stockpiles of ammunition.

Of course, no one will be allowed to suggest we could take an important first step in handling all this if we just did it the same way we operate the DMV -- with a required exercise to prove ability to sensibly and safely operate, as a prerequisite to obtaining an operator's license, and a required license for each item that is to be operated. And bad behavior or a medical determination of compromised competence gets licenses revoked and brings criminal penalties for cheaters.

And as always, all those efforts will come to nothing, as the money of the gun lobby buys the politicians that we lack the resolve to un-elect.

And we will again be left to ask why.

Which assures that, before long, we will again be left stunned and shocked and bewildered.

We had the Bataclan in Paris. And the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. And now we have the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas. We've had, and we still have, all the schools that become killing grounds, again and again, while the place names change, the outcome does not. And increasingly, we have added to that roster of shock and horror.

Now it includes the places we go to hear music.

Before the bloody night in Vegas, the U.S. had endured 130 mass shootings this year alone, and 145 of the victims were children. Before this one happened.

Because we change nothing, we must reckon that we are all too likely to be in this same place yet again -- though we claim to be sincere, even desperate, in our longing for change and a better world, we are left to weep because we are frauds.

Along with everything else we cannot explain to our kids, can we ever hope to explain to whatever future generations that may survive our poisoning of the planet and its chances to sustain human civilization -- generations who will be unable to comprehend the lunacy of our protecting, even idolizing, the thoughtlessly greedy in their determination to make such a mess of things, of everything, in our time -- how do we explain that, uh, well, yeah, we should have known we had no credibility when we spoke of wanting to make things better?

How can we justify any of it, if we can't even explain it to ourselves? Like our unwillingness to save our coastal cities from inundation by rising seas, caused by the climate change our corporacratic politicians dismiss and deny. And the endless drone wars our military-industrial-cybersecurity-complex-owned politicians embrace for blood money re-election cash. Those in future times will surely hate us, with no time to find pity for us.

Certainly, they will wonder, as we do now, how music, with all its ability to individually inspire and collectively galvanize us to achieve our highest aspirations -- with all its propensity to bring us together -- can again become the target of mass murder.


The Guide's latest MUSIC NEWS edition, published Sep. 27
with 27 feature stories, is available at:


We'll be back soon with more music news.
Hopefully it will be of a happier nature than this latest,
simply horrible news from Las Vegas.



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Contents copyright © 2017,
Lawrence Wines & Tied to the Tracks.
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See the Sep. 27 edition for info on what the Guide covers, links to the archive, and more. We're limiting all that here because this is neither the time nor the place.

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