Monday, March 27, 2006

Seattle Massacre Not Shocking

The recent homicidal shooting spree after a Seattle rave shouldn't shock anyone. It's not that I don't find the recent events tragic. I'm amazed, however, that it hasn't happened before now.

I've been to raves. I've witnessed the batshit insanity that occurs at them, the kinds of people they attract.

In the dozen or so I attended when I was younger, I never once felt safe. You're in a large space with a group of mostly drug-addled scenesters, all looking to fit into something. Most are in their teens and 20s, come from mostly upper-middle and upperclass backgrounds, and have a taste for exotic club drug cocktails. There's almost always someone extremely depressed, emotionally unstable, or full of rage at these things. Why would anyone expect to feel safe?

The rave scene essentially boils down to a dance party for the Entitled - those either too self-absorbed or too high to realize that they aren't superhuman and that, yes, there are no safe hiding places from the world's woes. Raves exist as reckless escapist illusions designed to prop up insecurities with strange narcotics and thumping music. By their very existence, they are bound to attract people teetering on the edge between melancholy and cold-blooded murder.

The zombie-themed event in Seattle was no different; sadly, it ended with a brutal loss of life because one of those powder kegs finally exploded. No one knows why some guy walked in with guns blazing and ended the lives of six partygoers before turning the gun on himself.

But no one should be shocked.

The last time I attended a rave was a few months after I moved to California, back in 1999. I'd been clean for less than a year, but the people I attended the event with promised me that I'd be welcome and that there'd be no pressure to resume the ingestion of illegal substances.

When you're tripping on something, raves seem like the ultimate scenester gathering. Everybody is welcome, all are happy, the world is fucking peachy. When you're clean, the potential tragedy is everywhere.

Being sober gave me a chance to see what had been lurking behind the purple haze that I'd never noticed before. Not only was I pressured to drop acid, pop E, and take a trip on the Special K wagon, I was grilled constantly by kids - mostly from affluent communities - about my Narc status, told to just give up on sobriety and join the designer-fragranced masses.

One of the people I attended the party with was punched in the face by some kid who thought she was trying to kill him. Another guy, in his late 30s, kept trying to get this one 15-year-old girl to go out to the parking lot with him; when she said no, he simply whipped out his limp dick and demanded that she provide him some kind of relief.

I remember witnessing this other girl, all 75-85 pounds of pure untreated bulemia, curled up on the floor of the unisex bathroom, giving anyone in earshot a detailed account of how she'd been forcibly sodomized by an ex-boyfriend a few weeks prior. Some friend of hers kept telling her she was just crashing and needed to keep up the buzz to make the pain go disappear. Like an obedient puppy, the girl popped a handful of multicolored tabs and was soon swirling around like a ballerina.

I think she ended up disappearing in some closet with the guy in his 30s.

Sure. Raves are just peachy.

What happened in Seattle this weekend could happen anywhere.

Certainly tragic.

But not shocking.

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kpncooper said...

Sad but true. I've never been to one and have made no plans to go in the future. I didn't even know they still had them to be honest.

Anonymous said...

I don't really have an opinion n this I just wanted to say I think you have gorgeous eyes :-)

agree with the ohter person...never been to a rave and not really into it.

shayna said...

I have been to one rave in my lifetime... one rave to many. I totally agree with you. I was so out of place.

Cowgirl said...

Raves are still out there.... they even happen out here in the Midwest. Not my thing, and certainly scary when you are clean/sober.

Bad things happen no matter where you live.

Would much rather get drunk at a bar where everyone knows my name. That way, if I get too drunk, I don't have to remember it. j/k. But small towns are good like that.

Where else can you ride your 4 wheeler to the bar?

Casey Kochmer said...

Having meandered in life, sadly doesn’t surprise me from what I have seen either. I am a bit surprised it was at the CHAC, I used to recite spoken word poetry there, yet raves do come , go and move about.

I think its more sad, that our culture numbs people to living, then it takes something like a rave, to give people a false illusion of thinking they are alive... In all the movement, patterns, drugs, music, giving the illusion of life, which end up being as much nightmare for many as it is about dancing or living... One example of extremes in our already at edge culture. I mean to say, living the life of a coach potato, or a extreme sport fan, or raver, or any extreme expression of passing the time, often happens in our culture. Balance is not often practiced in American life today.

To be alive is to feel the pattern within your own life, not the imposed pattern of a rave or other intense scene. To be alive is to feel yourself, I just hope someday more people will awaken to themselves. A difficult journey no matter what time or culture one happens to live within.

Anonymous said...

I do think that your comments are very insensitive. I'm not sure why the young girl was there, but was friends with one of the people who lived in the house and was killed. he was a responsible, fun loving person. I previously had lived with him for quiet a while a few years ago before that, and there were absolutely no signs of any danger or drugs involved in my house, unless you count occasional pot.

i thinks it's terrible for you to blame the victims of this, when they are not responsible for the actions of the shooter. they did not know the person that killed them, and had just unfortunatly offerend an open invitation to come over.

I wasn't at the rave, but no where it was held, and is a safe area, where i have attended other events.

this was not one of the large scale raves that i believe most people think it is.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Coop: change identities quick...what's with the KPN? Yeah, I thought they'd died out, too. Its a strange thing, the various subcultures you think are gone, but...

Anon 1:
Um, thanks :) Lol...

I think the rave scene, like the goth scene, tends to serve the same sociological function as many other "outcast-but-not-really" phenomena.

Raves are, well, something of an acquired taste, apparently.

Re: bad things happen no matter where you live.

I agree completely. We are a violent country. We have a murder rate more comparable to a Third World nation than a "Developed" nation. There are tons of theories out there about why, but none of them offers a solution to the problem.

I think you hit on a key theme here - what happened at a Seattle houseparty last weekend has more to do with a much bigger problem. I was shocked a bit, too, by the location of the actual rave, but, like everything else, money talks.

It's the self-imposed blindness to the reality of the world around us that gets me in this. The rave scene prides itself on its openness, but there seems to be this common theme of detachment from reality that its adherants seem to ignore.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Dear Anon. 2,

First, let me express my sympathies. Losing a friend through a senseless act of violent crime is one of the most difficult things anyone can face in life. I myself have lost friends to acts of violence. As a reporter, I covered more than my share of drug overdoses, murders, serial killers, and I have even faced the possibility of a violent end myself - in 1995, I had someone shoot a friend of mine, then point his 25 cb. pistol in my face and pull the trigger. It misfired; I was lucky and my friend suffered only minor injuries.

I'm sorry if you find my post insensitive. I don't blame you for feeling that way whatsoever. I've actually recieved several e-mails to that effect from folks involved in various rave scenes around the country expressing a similar sentiment. I apologize if I have offended you in your time of grief.

But I am in no way blaming the individual victims here. You are absolutely right; they were not the ones who pulled the trigger, nor were they willing participants in their own demise.

I am, however, condemning the culture they participated in as being a silent co-conspirator. It is not the drugs nor the dancing that is the real problem; it is the self-absorbed bubble created by subcultures that tricks people into believing things like the "occassional pot" is not technically illegal, that it's perfectly normal to invite some stranger to a party without some sort of safety net, or that it would've mattered if this were a rave or a quiet afterparty.

The truth of the matter is that enjoying life is dangerous. It is that level of risk that makes certain activities exciting. It is when those risks begin to outweigh common sense and awareness of the more sinister nature of a movement that things like the rave scene become victims of their own naive ambitions.

You mention the area as being safe, for instance. It obviously wasn't as safe as most people thought. Capitol Hill is, in reality, no safer than Compton, no more secure than Baghdad or Afghanistan. That safety was an illusion, created by perceptions of what one wants to see. While I was not present at either the rave nor any of the afterparties, I'm certain they were more dangerous than most people would admit, especially now that seven people are laid out on King County morgue tables.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss. It may be little comfort, but, as I've said, I've seen the face of violence and it is not pretty. I would recommend, if you have not already done so, seeking out professional counseling to help work through your grief. I would also recommend staying away from cyberspace for a while - you will undoubtibly find more things you will disagree with, that will offend you.

Life is not fair and never will be. But learning to work through the issues behind the unfairness only makes a person stronger.

The Zenformation Professional

Paul said...

There's a big problem with your theory: The shooter wasn't a raver. He was a loner guy who stumbled upon an dance party (hardly a "rave" if you want to call it that) in Capitol Hill, a crowded part of Seattle. He could have easily walked into any other bar. The only thing that made it different was that someone was (unfortunately) nice enough to invite him to an after-hours party to hang out.

This is a pretty good account from some of the victim's friends:

I stumbled across your site because it was linked to from a post about how people will start looking for absurd things to blame this senseless tragedy on, and your insipid opinion doesn't disappoint as an example. I don't see how the word "zen" is any part of your commentary or apparent philosophy. Your castigating attitude is more indicative of someone who is ashamed of their past than someone who has any kind of enlightenment to offer.

Here's a counter-opinion to yours:

The ZenFo Pro said...


First of all, thanks for stopping by. I welcome all comments, even those that disagree with my views.

Um, what "theory" are you talking about, par se? I never once referred to the suspected shooter as a raver in this post. It seems you, as others have done as well, seem to have jumped the gun, read only the parts that wanted to read, reach the most bizarre conclusions about things. I simply stated that, based on my observations of the rave culture (as an investigative reporter as well as a participant), this shouldn't be considered a shocking development. Tragic, but not shocking. These things tend to happen in a violent culture.

Ya know, I love the way some folks in the Blogosphere seem to like to throw around the supposedly "let's see if I can covey my anger in under 200 words" comments on other folks' blogs. Doesn't phase me one bit. Feel free to judge, as you apparently already have. The "shame on you" approach won't get much of a response either. I'm actually more at ease with my past than most realize. And I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that more people like to read survivor stories than tragedies...

Dude, it's a blog. You found the link from another blog. This ain't the New York Times here, fella. Want a response where folks can nod and smile, send it to your local newspaper.

Here, let me play the link-here game, too:
Bloggers are not Journalists
Blog Critics, the Digital Divde, and the Legion of Doom

Lupe T. said...

Lol man..just finished reading the war and peace comments. like wow. i'm sorry but i agree that theres always a difference between sharing your opinions and experiences and fucking insane people who assume that because you post on something they have a right to attack you.

reading the raver posts...sad. reread your post. you didn't mention the guy's name or the call him a rave guy. amazing how ppl read into these things what they want. that's why i just read :P

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lol...bout time you showed up again, chica :)

Those were rather lengthy comments, huh? Actually, it's like I've told people before - cyberspace ain't private. This topic is actually a prime example. Somebody posts a comment, anonymously, claiming to be a former friend of one of the victims. There is no way to confirm or deny the person's claim, to be safe I wrote an apology letter.

I got "threats" of "exposing" my blog via IM last night to various Facebook lists. That's a threat? I've been dealing with that since I started this damned thing. Lord, IMs. If anybody's been trying to get ahold of me to play something other than Andy Rooney, I'm sorry. Send me an e-mail.


Anonymous said...

How dare you.

Just wait until your friends get shot full of bullets and you start reading about how some asshole thinks it is about time.

The shooting didn't happen at a rave, idiot.

It was a senseless act of violence that happened at a house party. A private residence that was rented by close friends of mine. In fact, I was roommates with one of them at one time. I know without at doubt that violence is NEVER an issue with these people. NEVER. I've lived with them, and I know what kind of people they invite over, and they are not a bunch of freaked out druggies just waiting for a chance to kill somebody.

Yeah, go ahead, blame the victims, asshole. THAT makes sense. Why don't you call up the panel they are assembling to analyse and figure out a motive and tell them that YOU HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT. Go ahead, see how they laugh at your silly little blog.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Anon 3:
I do dare. After all, it's my blog. That's what blogs are for. Since you're posting as anon., I have no way of proving or disproving you're who you say you are.

Did you actually read the post, or just jump to conclusions because you skimmed? I said I'm not shocked by the events. You're obviously reading way too much into this. And I can understand that, if you are who you say you are. No skin off my back - feel free to vent.

Addressing this issue with insults and bullshit bravado - on yours or my part - brings not a single damned person back.

Again, as I have posted before, I am not blaming the partygoers themselves, but I do consider the culture of anything-goes to be a co-conspirator here.

Razor Girl said...

fuck man. this is fucking brutal. i've been trying to read this novel for a few days and i think its bizarr ppl would bother posting its like some ravers want somebody to blame and just take out their shit on. i think its awesome you had the balls to write about what youre right about - YOUR experience. anybody who says its not a drug scene is either blind or in denial. drugs and guns are a bad mix. inviting total fucking strangers to a party is dangerous.

n fucking clue why other rave peeps are beating up on you. i think you couldve been a little clearer but i'm not offended and i'll agree to disagree on somethings because i'm an adult.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Not sure what you thought was brutal. I realize this is a sensitive subject for a few folks. I've been trying to be courteous; I don't delete comments I disagree with and I try to answer comments individually.

Thanks for the support, even if you do disagree with some things. This is just my opinion based on my experiences - who the hell would take anything on a blog as but an opinion? That's all blogs are, for Chrissakes. Anybody stopping by here shouldn't expect to find answers from an Ohio resident regarding things thousands of miles away. Thought? Check. Ideas? Check. Answers? Find them for yourself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

.... "Capitol Hill is, in reality, no safer than Compton, no more secure than Baghdad or Afghanistan."

Perhaps all those drugs you took in the past have affected your perception. The last news I got from the US didn't have citizens from relatively affluent post codes being blown up daily and/or victims of drive-bys.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Ah, see, going clean actually affected my perception a bit more.

The World Trade Center was once considered a safe place to work. Columbine High School didn't think it needed metal detectors.

The lack of outbreaks of violence does not equate to a locale being necessarily insulated from the affects of a violent world.

I've felt safer in some of America's most "dangerous" inner-cities than in its suburbs for that very reason.At least in the ghetto, people live with the realities of our world.