Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tragedy Trifecta's Last Dance

It was a terrible start to the week. Three more operators assaulted, the deaths of 59 innocent souls in Las Vegas, and the passing of one of my longtime creative inspirations, Tom Petty.

Because of the media's penchant for glorifying death and violence, I stopped watching nightly news over a decade ago. Who died and where and how, the weather, some touching story, sports, and done. Who needs it? I found that by watching the news, my outlook on life was gloomy and left me feeling depressed as I went to bed.

It is my firm belief that when it's my time to go, nothing will stop it. Not that I believe our demise is pre-ordained, but let's face it: shit happens. Terrible things happen to good people every day. I don't need to hear about it every day. But two days ago, the world just stopped for me. No matter I was enjoying a few days off in the Northwestern autumn sunshine, it all came to a stop. Momentarily, I was at a total loss of reason.

I learned of the Vegas massacre and Mr. Petty's heart attack simultaneously, at about 3:30 p.m. Monday. Not since 9/11 and when John Lennon was shot have I felt such an enormous effect on my soul. My very being cried out in agony, anger soared above compassion and all reason took flight on that beautifully sunny day. A solitary tear slowly fell down my cheek, off my jaw onto a limp arm. Then I heard a beautiful yet chilling note... Tom left us to soothe the departed souls with his incredible music. A concert accompanied by angelic harmonies. It was the only thing to comfort me in that moment of devastation. Only a magnificent being like Tom Petty could silence the anguish the departed must have felt about their violent departure from our Earthly midst.

Upon returning to reality, my sorrow was later replaced by a muted fury at the news we suffered the 67th assault on Portland transit workers this year. They seem to come in bunches these days. Spitting, punching and menacing, the weekly bane of our existence. Not a word from our management, nary a peep in our inept local media. It only sounds from the ranks of the beaten. Of the dozens of times I've written about this scourge upon our ranks, this time the news seemed somehow hollow in the face of the national tragedy we all mourn.

About 10 years ago, I had the grandest time at my first (and only) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert at the Rose Garden (sorry Moda, some buildings don't lend themselves well to corporate arrogance). His ticket prices were reasonable, and my lady treated me to a ticket. He soared and drew us along in a melodic trance as we reveled in his stage magic. Above all, it didn't leave me with a craving for lite beer. Instead, I felt privileged for having seen one of my generation's music icons. Someone who sang while I lived through the teenage angst we all feel.

Tragedy seems to come in a trifecta. While assaults aren't anything to take lightly, it's comforting in a way to know none of us died that tragic day. Beaten and abused, yes. That's sad, but we're not in anguish over a lost transit soul as we are for Vegas victims and the loss of a musical icon.

Rest in the most peaceful sleep possible, dear blessed yet senselessly-murdered souls. May you be treated to a concert featuring the music of Petty, Glenn Frey, Walter Becker and all who passed before. If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven, may you all blessed in all its melodic bliss.

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