I am getting older. It happens. Even though I have the mind of a young man—say…in his 20s—my body is not following suit. Nor is general acceptance of events always a given these days. Things and people that have formed a comfortable niche (and sense of permanence) in my own personal life are exiting a world I have grown used to. And so it would seem at a rapid rate….
- Casey Kasem, disc jockey and music historian, died June 15. There is a nasty dispute between his widow and Kasem’s children from a previous marriage about the disposition of his body. Casey appears to not be currently “reaching for the stars” as this ridiculous debacle plays out to eager media attention. As a former disc jockey during my high school years at Warren Central High School, and an underground FM radio station housed out of my best friend’s bedroom, I did my best to emulate Casey’s radio persona. I never came close…he was the one and only!
- American blues rock guitarist, vocalist, and band leader Johnny Winter moved on July 16. While always an Edgar (Johnny’s brother) man, nevertheless this man of albino skin and white hair swinging in the wind, impacted rock music and was astronomical in the area of technique and influence. Rock on, Johnny!
- The last surviving member of the Ramones, a band which influenced the recognition and progression of the punk rock movement, has exited the gig. Tommy Ramone died July 11.
- 86 year old actor James Garner departed July 19. He was found dead in his home and I suppose he went the way he would have wanted…no muss or fuss in some hospital, but rather within the walls of a place he felt most comfortable. While I got a healthy dose of the television show The Rockford Files in the mid to late 1970s, it wasn’t until his appearance in the 2004 movie The Notebook that it really hit me what a fine actor he really was, and had been all along.
- Harper Lee has not died, yet the 88 year old reclusive author has hit the news once again. Her 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird gave an accurate portrayal of the racism she observed as a youth in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Lee never wrote another book, feeling she had said all she had to say in her first. To Kill a Mockingbird hit me like a sledgehammer when I read it, and was greatly responsible for generating my desire to write; oh…to write like Harper Lee! When I saw the movie, I was hit by that sledgehammer again! They just don’t make films like that anymore. Author Marja Mills has just released The Mockingbird Next Door, a memoir of Lee as a result of becoming a neighbor and friend of Harper and her sister Alice. The usually private and silent Lee is vocally denying that she cooperated in any way, shape, or form with Mill’s book, stating “Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.” The debate continues on.
There are changes in the city of Indianapolis that are on a plus note:
- Just recently city resident Josh Kaufman won top honors as vocalist supreme on television’s The Voice. I admit I got caught up in the excitement and succumbed to weekly viewings of the series. It put the city of Indianapolis on the map and ignited a reverent following on the social media. It was not only that Josh was an Indiana boy, but—that man can sing a tune! I don’t plan on becoming a regular viewer of The Voice, but for that particular moment in space and time, it was a weekly treasure.
- Valerie Rockey, a 2012 Franklin Central High School (just south of Indianapolis) graduate advanced on July 16 to become a top 16 finalist on Fox network’s So You Think You Can Dance. She is another Indiana native placing her mark of recognition and thus proving—not only just corn grows in Indiana.
- The Indiana State Fair has gone through a transformation for 2014. It might be considered a major shake-up. A major renovation of the 75 year old Coliseum building will greet visitors, along with the new addition of the Beer and Wine Exhibition in the Grand Hall along the main drag. Booze at the state fair? Yes, the times they are a changing! Stipulations are for those 21 and older, and limited to 3 servings only. Good luck enforcing that. Drink responsibly at the Indiana State Fair and take advantage of the new “Selfie-Stations’ where you can post your photos amidst a backdrop of fair related items of interest.
- This month (July) marks the 25th anniversary of the film When Harry Met Sally. My God, has it been that long! And it was back when actress Meg Ryan was cute. Now I really feel old!
There are other changes in the Circle City that are not so pleasant. Another comfortable niche has of late been threatened, and Indianapolis—the city I reside in—is the author. It is something more inherently evil and progressively getting worse. That intrusion in a life lived is crime!
Shootings, robbery, and murder have become daily common place. It is accepted that every morning’s television newscast will reveal another that has taken place overnight. And currently Indianapolis has the prestigious honor of topping Chicago in murder rates for the year of 2014. This is a statistic that is not only embarrassing on a basic level, but points to a future that nobody could foresee or certainly want. It is also a declaration of how far we have come as a city and society.
Murder in Indianapolis has become such a common place daily event that just recently on a return trip from a vacation in Florida I casually commented, “I wonder how many people were murdered while we were gone?” I hadn’t watched the news while in Florida. “I’m sure there were a few.” I was proven right. And it appears to have become the order of the day.
I write on the paranormal. Sometimes demonic influences and even possession factor into these articles. What drives a person to become a harbinger of evil? And how does this relate to the current crime rate in Indianapolis? Are there instances when a demonic entity completely takes over a person…changes rational thought…twists every fiber of humanity to produce a soul-less killer? Absolutely! But, is this the case each and every time, or as comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it.”? Absolutely not!
Let’s face it…some people are just plain mean! Some people are just plain evil! It is what it is. And that’s where we currently stand in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The SWAT teams in the city are getting quite the workout. They are in the news more and more often. There is a current outcry for Indiana’s Democrat Joe Hogsett, just recently resigned as US Attorney, to consider and adamantly pursue a run for Mayor. Hogsett’s view on the handling of the crime issue differs greatly from current Major Greg Ballard’s ‘pause’ on the war on violent crime in the Circle City. But is it really a pause, or maybe something along the lines of he’s in a situation that doesn’t have a quick easy solution? You can’t admit that to the public, and Ballard tip-toes around the subject as the veins pulsate in his temples. The public expects more, even though their expectations are totally unrealistic. Indianapolis Police Chief Richard Hite’s proclamations that the police department is moving forward on the war of crime fall on the deaf ears of future perpetrators. Basically they don’t care, and are far beyond feeling threatened by any police presence. They in effect have taken over.
For Mayor Ballard, try as he might, it has become a situation beyond his control. We are dealing with evil and mean people who have no regard for the sanctity of life. There’s no easy fix for that.
During my brief tenure with the Marion County Sheriff Department’s nightly patrol of “Beat 19” on the far-eastside of Indianapolis I was immersed in a world I didn’t know existed. This was an area I had frequented during my high school days, but oh how it had changed! There was a sense of innocence lost that visibly jarred me. During these patrols it became a nightly game to head off potential problems before they escalated into larger ones. The Sheriff’s Department took on the task of peacemakers in a surreal, almost Wild West scenario. Sometimes it worked, many times it did not. Unfortunately it has only gotten worse, with “Beat 19” having become an “Alamo” of sorts and the understanding that you are entering at your own risk. There are good folks that by circumstance have to live in this area and etch out their own personal walk through life. It’s hard to develop a safe, secure and happy existence when you live in the Alamo. Often it’s a daily battle just to survive. That doesn’t make for fond memories later in life.
Will the addition of more police officers solve the problem? It turns into a matter of reactive verses being proactive, and honestly at this point will only serve as a band aid on a gaping wound. We’ve gone beyond that as being a solution. Indianapolis Reverend Charles Harrison bluntly states, “You can’t hire enough cops to provide hope.” The addition of more police officers will only reignite a fire already burning within. Mean and evil people already have the upper hand and this will not threaten them in the least. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.
Indianapolis is being slammed with an onslaught of violence unlike anything witnessed in the past. There are multiple theories as to the reason: hopelessness and despair while living in poverty conditions; lack of education which results in minimal job opportunities; a future that promises no greater rewards than what is being offered in the present; a separation from the biblical values that reinforce plain common sense and decency. It is said that poverty takes away your future. The poverty rate for Marion County has jumped to 90% from 2000 to 2012. I would expect that presently in 2014 it has risen beyond that. However, poverty will not develop a mean streak unless it’s something that’s already inside you.
Poverty will not make you pull out a gun and shoot Wild West style on a crowded Broad Ripple street when someone accidently bumps into you. That rage is already a permanent fixture festering deep inside. It boils down to people not having any respect for others, and especially those in a position of authority—the police in particular. It takes little to trigger a confrontation for these lost souls.
For the few who defend their actions by claiming that growing up in poverty made them what they are, there are many thousand more that grew up in the same conditions and turned out just fine. How to you explain that? You can’t, because we have turned into a Me, Me society where we’re playing out our own personal movie and have grown so out of touch with any sense of morals that we have become desensitized to the results of our actions. Blame it on poverty, no jobs, no church, no money, no future, daddy issues, the single mother scenario, or whatever, and what do we have at the end of the day. Excuses!
And then there is the subject of firearms. Will increased mandatory sentences for gun crimes curb the violence? Or stricter regulations towards purchasing one? Not hardly! Yes, there are illegal handguns and assault rifles on the street. Yes, there are those with criminal records walking about with a handgun tucked into their pants. This has been a reality for many years and will continue to be. Wake up! The entire gun debate on stopping random shootings is also just a band aid for a situation that is already out of control. We need to get past this and wise up! Do you seriously think that a few regulations or the threat of harsher sentencing will stop somebody from attaining a firearm if they so desire? It hasn’t yet, nor will in the future. Criminals welcome the challenge.
A gun gives the feeling of invincibility and become a status symbol. And a gun makes things much easier to obtain. Nobody much argues when the barrel of a pistol is pointed in his face. A gun is power, and power demands respect. At least that is the criminal mindset and line of thinking. I carry mine these days more than I used to. I know how to handle a gun and have them easily accessible throughout my home. I will not be a victim or rely on the police department to protect me and mine. They will not be there when I need them. In the case of a home invasion…well, I will be ready and there will be no time or desire for any kind of discussion. As of late, that is my line of thinking.
Mean and evil people believe they are owed something. Mean and evil people also believe they are automatically owed respect, even though they did nothing to earn it. This generation of mean and evil people will move along their course and eventually fade away. Hopefully the next generation will open its eyes and walk a different path.
I hunt ghosts and try to make sense of the paranormal in my spare time. But, it’s the human element that gives me more cause for concern. And Florida is sounding better and better in these summer days of 2014. Additional changes are still bound to come.
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