So much is happening now, day by day, week by week, that we’ve been made nearly societally shock-proof. We’ve getting conditioned to like it, this barrage of shocks, terrors, surprises, even teargas and rubber bullets. Life is feeling rather like that memorable scene from “Happy Gilmore” where Adam Sandler stands in front of a pitching machine, gleefully taking fast balls to his chest – and loving it! So have the shocks to our systems been hurled our way…
Hey, we’ve got National Guardsmen holed up at the Valencia Westfield mall! Army trucks all over the parking lots, cops and security, blocking every possible entrance. And all the cars for sale, magically disappeared at the Valencia auto mall – parking lots vacant with nothing in the showrooms, either. For one day last week it was Auto Mall Twilight Zone for cars in Valencia. Disappeared into cornfields or somewhere – all the cars went away…
And our Ralphs and Starbucks and half the shops at Granary Square were boarded up, yet strangely it was “business as usual” – or at least as “as usual” as any business can hope to be these days. Shopping, in a mask, in a boarded-up Ralphs in Valencia. And still no paper towels! Someone wake me up, this can’t be real.
Ah, these days we live in! What a time to remember! We’re living in a dystopian topsy-turvy Billy Joel song, “We Didn’t Start The Fire:”
“…Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline/
“Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan/
“‘Wheel of Fortune,’ Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide/
“Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz/
“Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law/
“Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore…”
We’re matching Billy Joel verse for verse for craziness of affairs. Still, Joel had it right when he concludes, “We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning…”
“Not normal” is the “new normal,” and Billy Joel has plenty of 2020 material to add a sixth verse to his iconic song…
“Record stock market highs/
“Toilet paper wars in Walmarts/
“Supermarkets hoarded and emptied out/
“Record stock market crash/
“Pandemic deaths 110,000/
“‘Opening up’ and COVID back/
“Record stock market rebound/
“Black Lives Matter going 10 days straight/
“Store looted, emptied out again/
“Trump in a bunker and he gets his wall but around the White House/
“Military-grade assault in Lafayette Square for Bible photo shoot, of cours/
“And Mitt Romney marching with Black Lives Matter…”
What on Earth is next? I don’t know, flick the spinner!
We had a 5.3 earthquake last week. It kind of built up slowly with that upward rolling movement and I thought, “Yes, this is perfect. Of course here comes ‘The Big One.’ And no one would have been surprised.”
We know there’s more right around the corner – but just what?
Trump is teetering, his support is weakening, and generals are attacking. There’s shades of Nixon, when Goldwater told Dick he was through. And Nixon resigned and that was that, just like that…
Will Trump overreach, go one step too far, even for Trump, and the Republican Party finally vomits him out like rancid meat? Far-fetched, but what’s happened so far that hasn’t been? Could Trump resign?
We could see a million-man march on Washington pushing that point. It’s happened before and could happen again.
A national labor strike demanding social justice change? Or policing changes? That sounds more believable than half the stuff we’ve already seen.
One unexpected side consequence of the Black Lives Matter marches has been an outpouring of stories by white people of their own harassment by police. A hundred SCV’ers have posted horrific personal stories of abuse. Indeed, it’s rampant — and even if only 2%, 5% of police are bad cop bullies — that’s plenty to scare the continuous hell out of any community. Indeed, a respected local commentator quipped in social media, “Rodney King was just another Saturday night in the SCV…”
We indeed could be at a tipping point for social justice. We’ve already been wrestling with unjust money-bail. Now we’re straight-up facing down police violence. No one knows where this will lead, but there’s dramatic and widespread support propelling this thing.
Here comes fire season. We had our first one Monday morning in Castaic. Itsy-bitsy; chewing up “only” 75 acres. We’ve enjoyed a great winter — now tall dry grasses are fuel for record fires. Here’s a good hint: Make sure your HOA does its brush clearing this year…
Fires, earthquakes, social unrest, disease outbreaks, political upheaval, stock gyrations, tsunamis, currency capitulation, hacked ballot booths, Mitt Romney as social justice warrior, likely contested elections… You name it…
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can shock us now — and everything is on the table for the balance of 2020.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.