Happiness is a warm gun (transcript)

Published June 18th, 2016

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Whoopee, it’s me, mjp, and THIS IS NOT A TEST. So get under the desk, stand in the doorway, climb into your bomb shelter or your safe room or your tree house. It’s about to get messy up in here. You’ve been warned. Check your coats and hold on to your hats and glasses. It’s rodeo time! Pull your socks up! Batten down the hatches. Wake the babies and prepare for a hard rain. Get out your crucifixes and your garlic. Polish up the silver bullets and the wooden stakes. You’re about to be rode hard and put away wet, so I hope you had your Wheaties. Or your Weetabix or Lucky Charms or whatever you eat to prepare for life every day. Los Angeles is in the grip of June Gloom, and we’re headed for a heat wave, so I can’t guarantee anyone’s safety. You’re on your own. Okay? Okay.

So how about that crazy mass murder in Orlando? What do you make of that? Blah blah blah, talk talk talk, hand wringing hand wringing hand wringing, and let’s top it off with a big yawn. That’s what it’ll all amount to a month from now. Nothing. Without getting into some pointless gun discussion, isn’t it time for us to just admit that as a country we don’t give a shit about these kinds of shootings? This one wasn’t an attack on the LGBLT community or Hispanics, or a fiendish ISIS plot, it was the same thing they all are: a violent manifestation of one person’s deep mental illness. Or illnesses. The easy availability of guns just makes this relatively new kind of manifestation more effective and headline-grabby.

We could have a shooting like this every day, and we’d still never have any kind of reasonable gun control in this country. And really, we already have a shooting like this every day, just on a smaller, more personal scale. Someone who’s unhinged shoots and murders someone every day. Many unhinged people shoot and murder someone every day. We don’t care. It’s acceptable to us as a country. You can’t say it isn’t, the evidence is contrary to that belief. And whether we like guns or not, we might also want to admit that gun control is really impossible now. That genie is out of the powder keg. If we outlawed the manufacture and sale of all guns for any reason, we’d still have these massacres for the next hundred or two hundred years, because more than enough guns already exist to easily and effectively kill all of us.

I’m not coming down on one side or the other of “the gun question” because I don’t think it matters where anyone stands on that. Guns exist, millions of guns. You can’t round them all up, and you can’t keep them out of the hands of idiots and lunatics. And like I just said, and at the risk of repeating myself, there are enough guns and ammunition out there right now to kill every one of us. Probably five or ten times over. So this is what we have. This is what we are. You can preach love until you’re out of breath and out of love, and I dig that, I’m with you even, but we’re beyond the point where the world can now convert away from our multitude of wacky beliefs and convert to love. It’s too late for us. This guy in Orlando, and all the others like him, they don’t give a shit about your peace and love.

So I don’t want to get into that. Us and guns. But let’s talk about the idea that this was, as they keep saying, “the worst mass killing in U.S. history.” Oh, really? Is that some kind of joke, or have we just lost our collective memory? Remember December 29th, 1890, when the U.S. Cavalry killed 150 Sioux at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota? Then in 1973 when they killed a couple more Indians in the same spot for good measure? That 1973 thing probably wasn’t in your high school history book. Maybe not the 1890 one either, for that matter. But that was small potatoes, really. Because one lovely January morning 27 years before Wounded Knee, U.S. soldiers killed 250 Shoshone men, women and children in what became known as the Bear River Massacre, in what’s now known as the state of Idaho. You get where I’m going with this?

And before you say, “Well, those were Indian wars,” let’s just admit and agree that Europeans started those so-called “wars” in an attempt to eradicate every native from this country. It was genocide, pure and simple. Of course genocides usually have some kind of war wrapped around them, but that’s really just an excuse, isn’t it. Everyone behind a genocide considers it manifest destiny, we just gave it that particular name here in North America. If you want to call Orlando or Sandy Hook or any other recent mass killing “senseless,” then the slaughter and eventual subjugation of all of the Indians here in America was just as senseless.

To call these recent mass killings the worst in the history of this country only denies and whitewashes our long and rich history of senseless violence and murder. It isn’t just our history, of course, it’s the world’s history. It’s who we are, who we’ve been for a long time. We like to think that we’re civilized now, and we live in peaceful, civilized countries and communities, but that’s just not true. These mass killings make everyone nervous, because they demonstrate just how uncivilized we really are under this thin veneer of Democracy and cupcakes and Facebook likes. When you scratch the itchy surface of our world, you uncover the ugly truth, and no one likes that.

I certainly don’t like it. And I certainly don’t have any answers for anyone. I don’t know what we can do about any of it. What we can do about human nature. Most of us don’t run around indiscriminately killing people. Most of us — I was about to say, “most of us don’t think…something something something,” but I don’t really want to claim that I have any idea what most of us think about anything. We can’t agree on the most obvious things anymore, so I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t think this latest massacre was a bad thing. I know, you don’t want to think about that either, but you know it’s true. You know someone was high-fiving over all those dead immigrants and queers. Queer immigrants – it was a two-for-one for those types. Two groups they blindly hate without knowing.

Lookey here, I don’t think all is doom and gloom. I don’t really believe we’re at the end of civilization here and now, that things are so bad that there’s no hope. There’s always hope. But so much of the outrage around things like this feels false to me. Especially when it comes from the mouths of politicians, who are really the only group of people who can do anything to try to stop some of these land of the free killings. But that’s just another sign of how fucked things are, that politicians can stand behind podiums all over the country and moan about what a tragedy this was, but everyone standing in the same room with them doesn’t spit at them or throw rocks. They just nod and take notes. Okay, some democrats did shout down that Howdy Doody looking fucker Paul Ryan after a “moment of silence” the other day in the house of representatives, but that’s not what normally happens. And I didn’t see any spit or even one rock.

If you believe in gun control and you believe in politics, you should be holding those fuckers feet to the fire, not mopping up their crocodile tears with your unemployment checks. If you believe that things can change – and I get the feeling that a lot of people do believe that – then start making your politicians pay for shit like this. Make there be a political price to pay every time this happens. Then you’ll see some change. Because the only thing that motivates a politician is money, and if you take away their cushy government job you take away their easiest source of money. Not their only source usually, but the easiest one, and one they’ll try really hard to protect.

I don’t know how you do that either, make there be a political price to pay. Like I said, I have no answers. I was just proposing that as a method for people who still believe in what we adorably call “the democratic system” here in America. I don’t believe in that so much, so I wouldn’t know how you go about affecting any change in that bitch. I wish you luck though, if you do think there’s a way. Spell it out in a video and I’ll donate to your Kickstarter. Otherwise they’re just going to continue doing what they’ve always done over there in Washington, and at the government buildings in your state. Nothing.

You know, it may not come as much of a surprise to you, but some people think I’m cynical. Imagine that. What I’m saying – what I say a lot of the time – does sound cynical, I know it does, so I don’t blame you if you want to throw me into that landfill and discount anything I have to say about anything. But I’ll tell you, I didn’t start out cynical as a baby. I was a very open-minded baby. And I don’t feel cynical now. I feel like a realist. But if I am cynical it’s because of experience. Being old, seeing a lot of shit. And seeing a lot of shit repeat itself over and over. If you’re over 40 or 50 years old and still think voting in elections is important, god bless you. I’m not sure exactly what event in your lifetime would have convinced you of such a thing, but good for you.

It’s not cynical to suggest that there’s going to be another mass murder somewhere, and that there’s nothing you or I can do to stop it. It’s just a fact. It’s not cynical to say it dangerous to be black or brown in this country, it’s a fact. It’s not cynical to say that the second President Clinton – and the first female president of the United States – isn’t going to change anything, it’s a fact. It’s not cynical to address reality. I could argue that it’s childish and blind not to address reality. That the overwhelming and unattainable “hope for change” that was albatrossed around Obama’s neck was misplaced and wishfully thought. I could argue that, couldn’t I? Anyway, it isn’t cynical to say the emperor has no clothes. It isn’t helpful either, usually, because if people want to see the emperor’s non-existent clothes, they’re damn well going to see them. It’s certainly easier to get by if you choose to do that. It’s always easier to go with the flow, baby. Why you swimming upstream, bro? Ain’t nothing up there.

I know I said the Orlando thing wasn’t an attack on the LG-BLT community, but of course it was. It was the act of a lunatic, but it was pretty obviously targeting the gay club. A gay club, incidentally, that they discovered that the shooter visited a few times. So maybe someone was lashing out against what they hated about themselves, hmm? As humans have been known to do. But again, I don’t really think the target or the victims matter much in the scheme of things. I mean, they matter, obviously, but if we’re talking about guns, slaughter is slaughter. And by the way, I’m not saying “LG-BLT community” as a dig. It’s an endearment I picked up from a radio show I used to listen to on Sirius on the long drive home from work I used to have. It was the Derek and Romaine show and it was on the queer channel so I assume they were queer, and I got it from them. So blame them if you don’t like it. I think it’s funny and I say it with affection.

But yes, it was an attack on that community, but mostly it was just another war rifle slaughter. And I also know I said I wasn’t going to talk about guns, because what’s the point, but here we are, so I may as well. I think somewhere around here I’ve mentioned the fact that I am what they call “a gun owner.” I grew up around guns and hunting and I don’t hate guns any more than I hate hatchets or those wire whisks you use to fluff up your eggs. They’re tools. But I’m not a flag waving NRA imbecile either, and I don’t think someone’s pistol under the bed is equal to an automatic rifle, like the AR14 this latest shooter used. There’s no reason you or I need to own an automatic rifle that will gulp up 30 round magazines as fast as we can jam them in. Unless we’re on a boat or a plane on route to a war somewhere. You don’t hunt deer with that thing, it was made for the efficient killing of people.

But to a gun nut – and by gun nut I mean people who are unnaturally obsessed with guns, and those NRA types – your pistol and a rocket propelled grenade launcher are the same thing, and they’ll blabber and drool about how the constitution and the founding fathers agree with them and Jesus Christ himself defends their “right” to have a tank and a nuclear warhead in the driveway. They love to point to the centuries old documents that the assholes that formed this country wrote and say they’re sacred and shall never be removed or changed or thrown in the god damned garbage where some of them belong.

Life today has absolutely nothing to do with life in the late 1700s. Nothing. Zero. The frame of reference is completely different, and we absolutely should revisit and revise the documents that form the basis of this country. That’s only logical, isn’t it. And one of the things we don’t need in 2016 is a fucking militia. Despite what the camo wedding dress and rebel flag contingent would have you believe. We don’t need a bunch of idiots “patrolling” the border, or “protecting” land that’s owned by all of us in the country, for the benefit of a handful of western cattle farmers. I don’t want my fellow citizens taking up arms for anything. I don’t trust my fellow citizens to walk past my mailbox without stealing my mail.

The people who shout “militia” are just angry racists who think the President was born in Africa and Mexicans sleep under big hats at two every afternoon. They shouldn’t be allowed to have letter openers, let alone guns. They shouldn’t have those wire whisks to fluff up their eggs. They’re easily perturbed, and their answer to any kind of disagreement or friction is to unload a gun in someone’s direction. To solve the problem with a hail of lead. Which, oh look, is exactly what these mass shooters believe. Because they’re all crazy, you see? You get it? “You can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead hands!” Okay. I’m okay with that.

What the hell are you afraid of? Are you somehow less yourself without a bunch of assault rifles in your rumpus room? Are you less fun at parties? Less virile and manly? And don’t get me started on these people in Colorado or Idaho or Texas that walk around with pistols on their waists everywhere they go. Because you never know when you might need your pistol at the 7-11 or the Dunkin’ Donuts, right? You guys are a joke. You think you’re hot shit with your six shooter by your side, like a regular Wyatt Earp, ain’t ya. All that gun is is an outward indication of your stupidity and insecurity. Except maybe in Alaska. You can have your gun on your waist there, because a bear actually could walk in to the 7-11. It’s no joke up there.

Can you imagine though, United States politicians making and enforcing strict gun laws? I can’t. So it’s all a moot point. Any gun legislation they do ever manage to pass won’t go far enough to stop anyone or anything. We may as well all be sporting holsters, the more the merrier. One on your hip, one on your shoulder, one in your cowboy boot. Or your thigh-high Vivienne Westwood boots. Wherever. In your corset. In your top hat, your walking stick. You should be like Mad Max entering Thunderdome for the first time, laying your guns on the counter in a pile two feet high. You should do that. It’s the only way to be safe in this lawless frontier, hombre. Yeah.

And if we really want to be safe – I’m just going to say it – why aren’t the kids armed too? Columbine, Sandy Hook – that shit wouldn’t have happened if the teenagers and those 6 and 7 year olds could have fired back, right? Damn straight. Hey, if your kid is old enough to pick her nose, she’s old enough to pull a trigger, ya dig? Let’s really safe-up this place, man. With more guns. You can hang your M16 from that fucking lanyard around your neck.

Hey, I don’t know what any of it means. I’m just trying to keep one foot going in front of the other, and stay clear of traffic cops. Of all cops for that matter, just to be on the safe side. Those guys make me nervous – because they’re carrying guns around! Not so long ago I had a dozen jumpy cops pointing their guns at me. When it was happening I had no idea why they were targeting me, but the “why” doesn’t really matter in those kinds of situations, does it. Another time, when I was a teenager, one guy – in a more intimate setting – pointed a gun at my face in the back row of a city bus, and requested that I turn down my boom box. Well, it was more of a demand, really, now that I think of it. I was playing a KISS bootleg, and I guess he just wasn’t feeling it.

You might think that the guy on the bus was the scarier of those two scenarios, but it wasn’t. It was all those cops, that was the scary one. Because there were a lot of them and all it would have taken was one of them to get froggy, then they all would have jumped, and I would have been Swiss cheese there on the hot Pasadena asphalt. So I just kept breathing and did what they told me to do. But the guy on the bus – I told him to go ahead and shoot me. Mainly because I didn’t think his gun was real, and also because I was kind of crazy when I was younger. A friend of mine was sitting next to me, and he did believe the gun was quite real, and he just about shit his pants when I told the guy to go ahead and shoot. He started kind of slowly moving away from me. Ha. Thanks for having my back, bro. But I’m still here somehow, so all’s well that ends well, right?

I don’t know. It’s a violent world, and I don’t know why that is. It doesn’t really need to be. We could take care of people and set things up so no one had to stick a knife in your ribs and steal your wallet, but we choose not to. Instead we talk about things like guns like they are the problem. Like if there were no guns we’d all be walking around kissing each other on the mouth, and that’s just not the way it is. If there were no guns someone would creep up on you and konk you over the head with a rock or a golf club or a wooden leg. Because they think you have something they need or want. It’s all that need and want, man, that’s the problem. We don’t take care of each other.

An interviewer once asked Bob Marley what he thought was the cause of all the crime and violence in Jamaica, and Bob’s answer was, “Laws cause crime and violence.” What he meant by that was that the system causes crime and violence, Babylon causes crime and violence, because it’s set up in a way that doesn’t leave a lot of people any other options for survival. If we took care of the people who had serious mental problems and we took care of the people who don’t have enough to get by, we’d eliminate crime and violence. Well, we’d eliminate most of it, and we could handle the rest without being overwhelmed and locking up millions and millions of our brothers and sisters in jails and prisons.

So how do we do that? You tell me. Hillary Clinton isn’t going to do it. Donald Trump sure as hell ain’t going to do it. Saint Bernie couldn’t do it either. So I don’t know how we do that. How we take care of each other. The funny thing is most politicians and the people who control all the money would call that a “utopian ideal,” taking care of each other, and dismiss it as crazy. See, that’s what they do, they paint the obvious and humane solution with a crazy brush and try to make you think there is no solution. No solution other than more cops and more FBI and more ATF and TSA and more laws and more prisons. All of which keeps the not-taking-care-of-anyone machine grinding along, and keeps everyone in power fat and happy.

All right, so let’s take some phone calls. Oh, wait, I’m not really set up for that, am I. That’s probably a good thing. I can just hear the first call now: “HI MJP, LONG TIME LISTENER, FIRST TIME CALLER…CAN YOU HER ME?” Yes, I can hear you. Turn down your speakers please… Or I could do like Phil Hendrie and be my own callers. Have you ever heard Phil Hendrie? You should seek him out, he’s a genius. I don’t know if he’s still on the radio anywhere, but he used to have a show here in Los Angeles and it was the craziest thing you ever heard. I’m pretty sure he has a podcast now. Doesn’t everybody? I’ll have to investigate and get back to you. Or you can investigate for me. Or we can investigate for each other. Come back next time, on your tippytoes in your Sunday best, carrying flowers. I’ll be here.