There are two causes of the latest mass shooting tragedy in Buffalo:
The very active white supremacy movement in this country, and...
The failure of gun control and the shocking proliferation of guns.
The first cause, white supremacy, is a complex issue, and the solution to the problem isn't clear, at least to me.
I want to talk about the second cause of the the Buffalo massacre, which seems simpler and has a much clearer solution.
LET'S TALK ABOUT GUNS AND GUN CONTROL.
HERE ARE A FEW STATISTICS.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, we live in a country that has more guns than people -- 329 million humans vs. 400 million guns!
I typed that statistic and then thought I must have gotten it wrong because it's so shocking, so bizarre, so nonsensical. So I checked and that is the number of guns in the U.S., according to the NY Times. Please read the whole article if you can. I think it's important to know these statistics, because the situation is so much more dire than imagined, at least by me.
The information in the Times and in this blog comes from a report released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was culled from industry, academic and government experts. More statistics:
Domestic gun production increased from 3.9 million per year in 2000 to 11.3 million per year in 2020.
Starting in 2009, Glock-type semiautomatic handguns began to outsell rifles, which have been typically used in hunting.
Until 2004, we had a ban on semiautomatic weapons. That was Senator Feinstein's signature achievement. But it expired that year and was not renewed. But we must remember that we DID have a time when we had limits on the kind of gun that was used to kill ten people in the Tops Market last Saturday! We can do that again! And more.
ANY STATISTICS ARE GOOD NEWS, WHEN IT COMES TO GUNS.
Ironically the report that contains those horrific statistics above is good news to gun control advocates! Why? Because the gun lobby and Republican politicians have blocked ANY information from becoming public for years! Can you BELIEVE that? It is only because ..
"A year ago, President Biden ordered the A.T.F., an underized agency with the oversized task of enforcing the nation's gun laws, to collect and analyze 20 years of gun data after a series of mass shootings around the country."
SO THANK YOU, PRESIDENT BIDEN, FOR ORDERING THIS REPORT.
SOME MORE STATISTICS I'D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT
I've got a few more questions that I want answered by the A.T.F. in their next report about guns:
How many times do people actually succeed in protecting themselves with a gun they own? (I'm betting very few.)
How many times do children discover unlocked guns and inadvertently do violence to themselves or others?
I'm betting a lot more than the number of adults who succeed in protecting themselves.
How many people commit suicide with guns?
How many times are people killed with guns, not by criminals, but by someone they know, in a domestic dispute?
Many years ago, my friend's husband was leaving her for her best friend. She told me that the most painful scene took place late one night in the kitchen. She was feeling uncontrolled rage at that moment, and she opened the knife drawer to get out a knife to stab her husband. But she could not imagine walking across the room and sticking the knife into him. It seemed too personal, too intimate, too real. She knew that, if there had been a gun in the house, she would have used it.
That made a huge impression on me. My friend is one of the least volatile people I've ever known. If SHE could be driven to contemplate shooting someone she had loved, so could anyone! If there HAD been a gun in that house, two lives would have been ruined. My friend's husband might have been killed. And my friend would certainly have gone to prison. When I talked to her yesterday about this, she said, "To shoot a gun wouldn't have felt like doing anything at all."
GUNS ARE JUST TOO DAMN EASY TO USE!
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS
MOVE YOUR FINGER JUST A LITTLE TO KILL SOMEONE!
GUNS DO NOT INCREASE PUBLIC SAFETY!
THEY OBLITERATE IT!
Thank goodness there was no gun in my friend's house. Amazingly, she and her ex-husband are good friends today. That's another reason why it's a bad idea to use a gun. Nobody knows the future. The person you want to annihilate today could end up being your friend tomorrow. Well, maybe not TOMORROW but .... eventually.
MORE FROM PRESIDENT BIDEN ON GUN CONTROL
"Before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Biden told reporters that he would redouble his efforts "to convince Congress" to enact gun control measures but conceded that it would be difficult without a major shift in sentiment from lawmakers."
Now, this is what drives me crazy about Biden. What is the point of collecting the info that outlines the enormity of the problem, vowing to fight and then conceding defeat before you've even begun? Goddamit, Joe, the majority of Americans want gun control! Why aren't you figuring out how to turn Congress around, rather than hinting that you know you're going to lose? Congresswoman Barbara Lee submitted her anti-war resolution 20 times in 20 years, and it finally passed! Take heart from her example instead of resigning yourself to defeat!
This current report on guns from the A.T.F. paints to a picture of a country that is drowning in guns! Please write President Biden and your Congressperson to hold their feet to the fire. Biden asked for this information on guns, and he sees the problem. We need him to fight HARD for gun control laws. And if he does lose the battle this time around, let's keep track of how every congressperson voted and hold them responsible in the next election. That's what democracy is about.
Dear Bloggelinis: It's hard to know what to fight for first --- what with abortion on the line, the environment, immigration.... The point is to DO SOMETHING! It's so easy to feel overwhelmed, but, as I've said before: Activism is an antidote to despair. Really, it does work! But the effect doesn't last that long, so you have to do something again! And again! Etc. etc. As long as you're alive! Maybe longer! (except during vacations when you can ignore what's going on in the world.)
Here I am sitting outside a café in North Beach just like a regular normal person! -- with my close ex Jessica who has come to visit me from New York.
Jessica flew across the country to comfort a dear friend who was in great pain, but I don't need comforting any more! I have been taking gabapentin, building up one pill at a time every three days. At six pills a day, which was last Thursday, I started feeling better! What an amazing experience after three months of getting worse.
Then on Friday I felt even better. I went to an appointment with an old Chinese acupuncturist in Chinatown.
I think Dr. Ng could understand everything I said. But I could not understand everything HE said. He had a very thick accent. The main thing I understood was that there was a fireman from Sebastopol who had similar symptoms to me and was helped by Dr. Ng. He was very cheerful and calm and old. I felt comfortable there -- way more comfortable than I felt in the sleek modern office of the much younger Noe Valley acupuncturist. I’m not sure if Dr. Ng helped my painful leg, because I was already starting to feel better. But when I left after his cupping and needling, I felt an amazing flowing energy, which I am certain was the result of his treatment. It was kinda like being 21 and not having a scintilla of pain anywhere in your body and just FLOWING in the world. I'm definitely going back to Dr. Ng.
Then Jessica and I explored North Beach. It is very very fun to take somebody to North Beach for the first time. North Beach is the old Italian neighborhood. Of course it is greatly changed, and we can grumble about that. But it is still really different from other places in the U.S., with its cafés and Italian restaurants and bakeries and gelato bars. It is true that there are many places now that have a lot of cafés. But North Beach has had them since the 50s. And it was the stomping grounds of the Beat poets and home to jazz musicians and lesbians and gay men, and all the misfits of the last half of the 20th century.
Allen Ginsburg wrote the ground-breaking "Howl" in his apartment at 1010 Montgomery. "I had a secondhand typewriter, some cheap scratch paper. I began typing, not with the idea of writing a formal poem, but stating my imaginative sympathies," Ginsberg said of the poem's genesis. Truly, cultural history was made in North Beach.
It is wonderful to take Jessica anywhere because she always talks to people. Here she's conversing with a woman in a beautiful coat. You've got to figure if a woman wears a coat like that, she's open to conversation.
And not only is Jessica chatty, she absolutely adores everything about San
Francisco and is completely thrilled to see anything new.
And that is why we need people to come and visit San Francisco. Those of us who live here take all the beauty and variety for granted. We're jaded. We need outsiders to remind us of how absolutely wonderful our city is.
Below, the entry to the Stinking Rose, a restaurant devoted to all things garlic, and the renowned Molinari delicatessen, offering SO MANY different kinds of salami.
Here we are on Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard, named after the show that appeared in Club Fugazi down the street. Beach Blanket Babylon delighted visitors and locals for 45 years, until it closed in 2019. I'm sorry to say I never saw BBB. It was something I was always going to get around to. The one time I made an actual serious effort, my friend and I arrived at the theater, only to find out her credit card had been rejected and the show sold out. On the right is Cub Fugazi, the cabaret theater, that is now happily occupied with "Dear San Francisco," which is clearly different from the over-the-top insanity of BBB's costumes and satire.
Above is the iconic San Francisco chapeau for the finale of the BBB
show. And below it, a plaque in honor of John Fugazi, who must be the creator of Club Fugazi. I love plaques, don't you? I've always known of Cub Fugazi, but it never occurred to me there was an actual Fugazi who built Casa Coloniale Italiana, which became Club Fugazi. Thank you, Mr. Fugazi. Who knows if there would have been 45 years of Beach Blanket Babylon if you hadn't built a home for it in North Beach?
Not too many bars get an award from the Betty Ford Clinic -- let alone #1 for their Happy Hour! Very impressive.
But I find it sad to see the little popcorns escaping from the blue tape. Clearly, they were once available at no cost during the #1 Happy Hour. A reminder of a joy that is no more.
And on to Columbus Avenue, where we find this gorgeous huge mural celebrating the jazz clubs that used to fill North Beach. It's got a flock of books flying in front of it. Click here to learn more on the history of jazz in North Beach -- "When Bebop filled the night."
We arrive finally at City Lights Bookstore, a destination devoutly to be wished. I knew Jessica would love it. She's a poet, and a damned good one.
There's a little section of the front window that's devoted to an altar to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, renowned poet and founder and owner of City Lights.
He's sometimes described as "the poet who nurtured the Beats." He died last year at 101. One would
think that nurturing the beats is the kind of work that would lead to an early death. But apparently not.
City Lights not only sells books. It also publishes them. Ferlinghetti famously published Alan Ginsburg's "Howl" in 1956, when no one else would touch it.
You see these signs above the door as you walk into City Lights.
I'll end with a photo of Jessica's encounter with a waiter at the Mona Lisa -- an excellent Italian restaurant -- and the classic North Beach view of the beautiful blue-green Columbus Tower. This building housed the first hungry i night club in its basement, where stand-up comedy was born in 1953 when Mort Sahl entertained the audience by commenting on the news. Now it houses American Zoetrope, Francis Ford Coppola's production company. "The Godfather" came to life in this building. A powerful place indeed.
Dear Bloggelinis: That was my first outing in three months! Admittedly, I overdid it a bit and had some pain afterwards -- BUT NOT THAT MUCH! Mostly, I'm living with