My neighborhood's been in an uproar lately because we've had a bit of a crime wave. First, there was a high-profile shooting of an exchange student from the University of Texas on a nearby street. (He survived it.) Then a few days later, there was an attempted mugging less than half a block away from my door.
Now, a really wonderful guy in progressive media here in DC (whose blog has been linked on this site from day one) was shot last night in Adams Morgan, about a ten minute walk from our house. He, too, is apparently gonna be alright, and is reportedly cracking Reaganesque jokes with his editor.
So crime has tongues wagging at the dog park where we walk Prinz Riley von Ashmead these days. Lots of nervous energy and wariness and talk of the crappy economy impinging on a neighborhood that's been very uneventful since we moved here in 2004. And what a perfect time for the US Supreme Court to rule the District's handgun ban as unconstitutional! If there's anything scarier than the criminals having guns, it's the average DC citizen suddenly packing heat. Accidents will happen, as Elvis Costello once sang.
Back when I was deputy editor at a certain free weekly newspaper here in the District earlier this decade, I got a very close-up view on crime in the metropolis through very diligent study of the police department crime reports. Knew the hotspots, yes, but was even more astonished by the sheer randomness of it all.
The impulse is to shake it off. Be brave. Keep living. But clusters of events such as these compel a certain uneasiness about everyday life that logic and the best intentions can't easily dispel. It's what Ödön von Horváth was talking about when he told a friend: "Why is it most people are afraid of the darkness of the forest? Why aren't they afraid of walking down the street?"
"Warhol Gun" image by Flickr user adpal3180 used under a Creative Commons license.