Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Murder, He Said!

So yesterday when I got home from the office, my mother called me and asked "What's going on down there?" I had no idea what she was talking about, and said as much, so she went on to tell me she'd been watching the Channel-2 news and apparently Oakland was going to Hell in a handbasket and that there was some sort of hostage situation on MacArthur and Lakeshore (about a mile from my house). I was curious, since I had just been in that intersection about ten minutes previous, and had seen nothing (there was some film crew further down Lakeshore, but that was quite obviously a film crew and not a hostage situation). Then Grandmother had said there was a helicopter hovering around somewhere nearby, it had been bothering her for over an hour. So I went and turned on the news (something I never, ever do) and heard all about it.

Or at least, I heard the news-people garble their information in a most shameful manner, all the while not telling us anything of import. One guy said that the altercation was going on in the 1900 block of MacArthur at 19th Avenue (it was in fact the 900 block, and the two streets not only don't cross, but are nowhere near each other), another said that it was happening at 19th Street and Lakeshore (again, they don't cross, 19th street stops about two blocks from Lakeshore...but if they did, they'd have come together right where the film crew was). Looking at the footage, I knew exactly where it was, on MacArthur near Wesley, about three blocks from my old high school and five blocks from Lakeshore, maybe a fifteen minute walk from my home. Then these benighted meat-puppets told us that the suspect was an Asian man with a gun (though I can't imagine what interest such a statement might generate) who had holed up in his house with hostages...no mention of who the man might be or who his hostages might be or what he wanted or why anybody had even noticed him in the first place. Further information would be presented when available, they told me.

Then the news went on to talk about the general melée of murder over the weekend, though again there was almost no information of any use. I have to wonder about these newscasters...I mean, I'm sure they must have known something of some importance about those cases...they were days old. They went on to present snippets of a press-conference at which the Chief of Police and a number of other unidentified civic-minded gents double-spoke about the problem of violence and drugs and murder and what-have-you. It was all very vague and irritating. I resolved yet one more time to never again countenance local network news, and switched over to the Disney channel for my daily dose of Will Friedle on reruns of Boy Meets World.

Eventually, my uncle dropped by (he's an Oakland Police sergeant) and gave us the inside dope on the hostage situation. Basically some guy nutted out and started shooting at everything that moved, so concerned neighbors called the police. His family managed to get out of the house eventually, thus ending the hostage situation, but the cops were still watching the house and evacuating the neighbors, since the guy still apparently had a gun and nobody knew what he might do. The SWAT team was in place, and the hostage negotiators, and then eventually somebody just lobbed a tear-gas grenade into the joint and went in and brought the guy out. No big deal.

I haven't heard anything since then (perhaps I'll go read something online later). The other murders were outside of Uncle's area, so he didn't have any interesting scoops on them. I guess I'll wait for the columnists to get hold of it before any reliable information comes out.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to write about that. But I guess I don't understand why people get their panties in a wad about multiple murders and such. I think they lend a bit of spice to an otherwise rather dull town. So long, of course, as they don't happen in my neighborhood. But the last time someone was killed in Crocker Highlands was years and years ago (back in the early 70s...if I remember, a wandering maniac walked into a house quite at random and murdered a woman and her daughter). The usual crime in affluent neighborhoods is theft, and we really don't get a whole lot of that either (most garden-variety thieves are too lazy to traipse up those steep inclines). We hill-people usually just die of old age or boredom.

I have also lived in the less-tidy parts of town, though. I remember when I lived on 10th Ave and Foothill, I got quite used to the sound of Uzi-fire in the night (it was rather less irritating than the oomp-pah-pah backbeat of Salsa music that emanated eternally from the house across the street). When I was even smaller, I remember my mother's best-friend's husband was took a shotgun blast point-blank in his own doorway for no apparent reason (one assumes there was some reason, but nobody in the family knew what it was). Another occasion I remember was when we (my mother and sister and I) lived somewhere in deep East Oakland, and a group of people with bats and things gathered in front of our house, demanding that my stepfather come out and get what was coming to him (he didn't, and we all slept in the closet that night). I saw nothing sinister about it...I would have gladly taken a baseball bat to my stepfather, if I had been strong enough to hold one.

Ah, happy childhood memories.

Anyway, I guess I had better wrap this entry up before I get ever more maudlin and weird. I was going to write about my weekend, but I guess I got sidetracked. Maybe later. Or maybe I'll forget all about it. Who knows? Who cares? In the meantime, here's your Tuesday beefcake:

Wherever did we get our softcore porn before Abercrombie & Fitch?

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