Tim Whyte | The Ax Man and Morning Tranquility

Tim Whyte

I’m not what you would call a morning person. 

If one of my neighbors, or one of their gardeners, starts mowing the lawn at 7:30 on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I grumble about it to my wife. The grumbles usually include bad words about what kind of inconsiderate so-and-so fires up noisy garden equipment when the rest of us are trying to enjoy the rare tranquility of a weekend morning.

It’s irritating as… well, you know. Let’s say it’s “irritating as truck.”

We all have our pet peeves. Early-morning noise-polluting rudeness is one of mine. 

But, I know there are lines we can’t cross. I’ve never sprinted out of my house in a bathrobe (maybe because I don’t own a bathrobe) and fired a .38-caliber slug into a gardener’s offending four-stroke motor.

I’ve wanted to. But I haven’t. 

I’m civilized.

So, on one level, I can kind of relate to the guy who got out of bed last Saturday morning, grabbed an ax, hopped into his car and drove to Todd Longshore Park, where he proceeded to beat the stuffings out of a drum kit with his ax.

Apparently, he had reached the end of his rope. By the time he was done, the drum kit was pretty much just drumsticks.

The ax man’s victim was Andy Torres, a drummer who liked to go to the park in the morning, set up his drum kit and play the drums as the sun creeped up from beyond the Santa Susana Mountains. (Fortunately, Andy was not injured in the attack.) He recorded himself playing — although, strangely, no audio — and he wore a scary-looking mask that I can only assume was intended to fend off the crisp morning chill.

He probably figured he wasn’t bothering anybody. He wasn’t next to anyone’s house, he was out in the park, alone. Just him and his drums, in spiritual solitude with Nature.

But man, sound carries in these here canyons. No doubt there were neighbors who awakened to the drumbeat, not knowing where it was coming from, and wondered, “What the truck?”

I can relate. I really can.

It got me thinking. Maybe I need to invite the ax man over for mimosas next time one of my neighbors’ gardeners gets the bright idea to fire up the leafblower before 8 on a Sunday morning. 

Me. Ax man. Brunch buddies!

But no, that would be wrong. I know violence is not the answer, no matter how satisfying it might sound. We just have to suck it up, Buttercup, and recognize that, when you live around other people, sometimes, some of them are going to do things that are annoying as… truck.

This notion apparently escaped the ax man. A few days later, the local cop shop made an arrest in the case. He could face a charge of assault with a deadly weapon (if the District Attorney’s Office actually files charges, which of course is hit-and-miss these days). If he ends up in court, and his face and license plate number match the ones of the ax-wielding man in Torres’ video, he’s gonna want to talk plea deals.

Who knows how long the ax man tolerated the drumming before he snapped. And the timing IS interesting — just six days after the 2022 Academy Awards.  Maybe the ax man had watched the Oscars and thought to himself, “Yeah. Me. Will Smith. Kindred spirits.”

I guess it’s a good thing the Fresh Prince didn’t have an ax.

Tim Whyte is the editor of The Signal.

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