It seems we've developed a bit of a fun tradition: Glen's sister Brenda, often with her boyfriend, Jeff, whom we affectionately call "Jolene," come on down for New Year's Eve in the hood. I think it's because they're excited by the risk of getting shot, which could happen anywhere, but it's probably more likely to happen in Trenton than in their hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. And this year, with two murders within a few feet of each other, right on my block, they'll be able to return to Canada and say they spent New Year's Eve on the East Side, amid a hard rain, and lived to tell about it. And this year was no disappointment. There was quite a bit of gunfire — a symphony of it — in fact, all around us, as we heralded in the New Year. I left the TV because I couldn't bear to see Dick Clark (or his cohorts) this year, though Glen thoughtfully recorded it, so I could watch it when I was up for it. And I did watch, the next day, and am still unsure of what to think...is Dick a role model for stroke survivors, or is he a big scary downer on one of the most celebratory nights of the year? I don't know, but I can say Ryan Seacrest and that Pickle Chick, who were also hosting the countdown, are surely the reason the whole freakin' world hates the United States. I felt dirtier for watching a bit of them. Anyway, I didn't want to spend my last minutes of 2008 with conflicting emotions and unsettling visuals, and the desire to kill some entertainers. So I went to the bedroom to feed my baby, in the hopes of happier, more appreciative feelings. I listened to the gunfire all the while. Back in the day, we ran around banging pots and pans when the countdown finished, but now I'm finally keepin' it real!
The next morning, over our homemade Belgian waffles, Brenda mentioned that there was more gunfire in the South Ward, a few years back, when we celebrated with Manolo and Bernd. Maybe. Maybe not. My emotions are likely getting in the way of any sort of objective assessment. It's a hard to compare gunfire here with gunfire at Bernd's, when I have a pretty good idea of which ass hammers on my street are firing their guns (again?). Maybe Bernd can weigh in and let us know how much gunfire they got this year, and if he knows who the shooters are, too.
We spent New Year's Day with my sister, Karen, at her place, watching the outdoor hockey game on TV, the Winter Classic. This year, it was Chicago and Detroit, and I hear it was a good game, but I couldn't tell you what happened because I have a hard time following that little puck, and also, for the second year running, the performer Seal held a concert "On Ice," immediately following the game, and right or wrong, this is what sticks with me. This year was just a repeat of last year, and I can't believe it actually aired again. I admit, I do like watching figure skating, if it's on — I won't go out of my way — and, you know, Seal is okay, too. But the combination is tragically lame, especially since the shebang is sponsored by an applesauce company. Like applesauce has anything to do with Seal or figure skating; it must have been the best the organizers could do. For the record, I'm ashamed I even know it was on again this year, and even more ashamed I can tell you the name of the applesauce sponsor. No gunplay, at least.
We made plans to make up for the lack of firearms by heading to my dad's place in Maryland the following day; the guys (except Baby Matthew and Steve the dog) headed off to a gun range, and shot things for about 5 hours. It must have been tremendously good times because Glen, my man who enjoys telling stories and offering his commentary about even the most mundane, like Kleenex and Tombstone pizza, had virtually nothing to say. "We sat down in chairs and shot at the targets. We took turns. It was very orderly," is all he had to say. They came home with pizza, from Delmar Pizza, which rivals just about any pizza I've ever had, and, get this – there was a lot more conversation about the pizza than about the guns. Maybe shootin' guns is just something men do, and don't talk about? Perhaps they especially don't talk about it with people who spent the day in their jammy bottoms watching Brady Bunch reruns and eating M&Ms?
So the last week for me has been filled with a lot of guns, some illegal (I'm guessing), and some legal, and I'm wondering if city officials might keep a better watch for this. Who knows, it might help solve (and deter) crime, leaving the good guys with more time to practice shooting at the firing range, or sitting around watching Brady Bunch reruns in their jammy bottoms.