We have had so much experience, way too much practice, reacting to school shootings in the United States.
We have had dozens and dozens of opportunities to show our outrage, to express our grief, to shake our fists in anger at the inaction of our Congress that’s been bought and paid for (My mother, bless her heart, really, really wants me to share this list of who the largest recipients of NRA money in Congress are, and since I think you should usually do what your mother says, here it is. No surprise, enormous frauds like Marco Rubio are on the list.)
But we’re seeing something over the last few few days that I don’t believe we’ve seen, at least not to this scale: Students at the scene, students who survived but saw their friends murdered, speaking out angrily, forcefully, about what has just happened to them.
The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are speaking out, and they are angry, and they are fed up, as they should be.
Watch the press conference from Saturday featuring Stoneman student Emma Gonzalez, who is as poised and mature as many adults would love to be, speaking with passion and conviction and pure, furious anger, about the need for change.
I have to be honest: This gives me hope. I’ve become so cynical that anything will change, no matter how many shootings have gone on. Our politicians are too bought and paid for by the NRA.
I mean, Jesus H. Christ, if the slaughter of elementary school children in 2012 in Newtown didn’t lead to massive change, what ever will????
But this might be something new. This isn’t the parents of victims speaking out, or political activists, or community members, or grandstanding members of Congress.
These are the ACTUAL victims, the students who were terrorized because one of their former classmates was able to legally buy a semi-automatic weapon and kill 17 people in their school. The school where they took biology tests, goofed off during recess, and practiced volleyball. A school, where some people think, insanely, that we should arm teachers with guns, like teachers aren’t overburdened enough, and given enough responsibility, that now we should have them be marksmen.
Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and the rest are doing something we haven’t seen before. Maybe, just maybe, things could finally be different.
**Next up, it’s President’s Day, which has me thinking about some of our most legendary Oval Office-holders, and Abraham Lincoln.
And this speech, from the sensational movie “Lincoln” a few years ago, that is still so moving and beautiful.
**Finally today, a brand-new pro tennis tournament has come to my ‘hood, and I was super-excited for it.
After 40 years of holding a lower-tier tournament in Memphis, Tenn., the ATP Tour moved its early-February indoor men’s event to Long Island for this year, and it just wrapped up on Sunday at the new Nassau Coliseum (which is way, way, way, WAY nicer than the old Coliseum, a dump that saw some great hockey and lots of upset fans in the super-crowded hallways and dark upper seats).
I went to two sessions last week, and my review is mixed.
First, the good: The tennis was excellent; the new tournament attracted a pretty good field, with Top 20 players like Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori, Sam Querrey, and some up-and-coming Americans. The new Nassau Coliseum, with the top sections tarped off for tennis, felt like a small, intimate arena, and the fans there seemed to really get into the match.
Now the bad: There were very few fans at the matches all week; on Tuesday I swear the players heard the conversations my Dad and I were having during the points. Saturday’s semifinal day session was a little more crowded, but still, we’re talking a few hundred people at most.
New events are hard to get off the ground, mid-February is a tough time to get people out, both of those things are true. But the ticket prices were the biggest problem: They were way, way, way too high. Seventy bucks for a day-session ticket during the week, and $100 for good seats for the semis. No way most people, or casual tennis fans, are going to spend that much.
I know they’ve got to make enough money to cover the expenses, but man, those prices were nuts, even for NY.
I love having a tournament so close by, and of course as a freelance writer I love having opportunities to make a little dough in early February (I wrote two stories on the tournament). But for the New York Open to succeed, they’ve got to get more people in the building to see how great live pro tennis is.
And with these prices, that’s going to be very very hard to do.