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Hollywood Farmers’ Market Today

There is a Farmers’ Market that I like to go to in Hollywood, on Sundays. It is quite large, it runs almost three small blocks.

Today, I got there about 10:30 AM. I parked on a side street, and then walked to Hollywood Boulevard, where “you can see the stars,” “some that you recognize, some that you’ve never even heard of.” (“Celluloid Heroes,” The Kinks 1972).

Except that there was no market. Hollywood Boulevard was blocked by police tape for a few blocks. I saw three police vehicles parked inside the area of the market, and no activity in the market, no stalls or people. There were about six police officers standing a block north of Hollywood Boulevard. They didn’t seem like they intended to answer questions, so I just turned around and drove away. I was worried about running out of gas, because I had only a little left; I had planned to get gas about five minutes away from the market when I had finished shopping, but the roads were blocked or stalled, making it difficult to drive. But I was able to get to a gas station once I cleared the traffic jam.

I turned on the radio at 11am, and there was no report of anything going on there, except a story about a woman who was a victim of a motiveless attack in a parking lot in Hollywood, probably last night. I wondered if that was what closed the market.

I drove to another Farmers’ Market, in Beverly Hills. I asked a vendor who also had a stand in Hollywood, and he said, “There are different stories.” Another vendor said that there was an active shooter at the market.

I finally heard something about it on the car radio around noon. They said that a man had fired shots from a building overlooking the market, at about 7:30 AM, and was finally taken into custody. A woman who apparently was at the market, either as someone helping a vendor, or an early customer, said that she heard noises, and a man there said that this is gunfire, so she raced away.

Tonight, when I got home, I read an updated news article which said that there had been several reports of gunfire at the market in the morning. Multiple callers told Police Dispatch that a gunman had opened fire around 8AM from a building very near the market. When officers arrived at the scene, they saw a man throwing rocks from a balcony. The man barricaded himself in an apartment and would not cooperate with police. Several household objects were thrown down into the street during the standoff. No injuries were reported.

Officers quickly announced the closure for the day of the Farmers’ Market. The man was taken into custody about noon. Police said that they saw no evidence of gunfire.

No lessons here, just a sadness that we have devolved to this. Of course the police needed to do the safe thing, and close the market and get everyone out of there. Apparently this time there was no gun, no gunman. But of course there could have been, and tragically enough, there will be more of them. They can be anywhere, any area with many people, or maybe a few.

Everyone has a gun, it seems; some have many guns Some intend to use them, some get angry and use them, some are completely divorced from reality and social norms, and no one knows what they might do. Some are on drugs. Some are psychotic. Governor Reagan shut down many mental health facilities during his terms as Governor of California, and many thousands of people who were a danger to society, were let out into the streets without their medications. That was decades ago, but the problem persists.

Of course, there are shooters in upper class areas as well. One never knows if one is hearing a backfire, or someone throwing rocks or objects, like today, or shooting one of his many guns.

Is everyone who goes to a farmers’ market, or a concert, or a parade, in serious danger of having some psychotic or simply evil person shooting at them? One would hope not, but there are an increasing number of them.

The NRA, in its greed, and lust for power, let loose this scourge, and now they can’t and won’t control it. Republicans have no answers, they don’t even want to try to think of any rational ones, they just hope that each shooting vanishes from the headlines. Democrats try to do something, they passed an Assault Weapons Ban on Friday. It passed by a vote of 217-213. Two Republicans voted for the bill, along with 215 Democrats.

Of course the bill will go nowhere in the Senate, it will not even see the floor. And of course a number of very strange people will blame both parties for this, and blame Biden for “not getting it done.” Some will say that the parties are the same, and that they should vote for egomaniac crackpot Andrew Yang and his supposed new third party.

My thought is that if enough people voted in the midterms to keep the Democrats in control of the House, and give them enough Senate votes to make an exception to the filibuster, or get rid of filibusters entirely, an assault weapons bill would be passed, and President Biden would sign it. But too many people want to vote for Republicans because of inflation, not being cogent enough to realize that putting Republicans in a majority in either chamber of Congress, not only will not do one thing to improve the economy, it will guarantee that nothing will be done about any of the other issues which people strongly care about, and which a sizeable majority of Americans want significant action on.

Gun control is one of these issues. Republicans will make sure that not one significant gun bill will be passed, and nothing will be done about mass shootings, nor about the fear that so many people now have of going into open or crowded spaces. Democrats will try to actually do something.

Just another day. Very fortunately, no one was shot, or even shot at, at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. Not today, at least. Many farmers were unable to sell their crops, which some had driven 250 miles to sell. Many patrons were inconvenienced. One of the vendors in Beverly Hills, who did not know exactly what was happening, said, “Go home, relax there, it’s not safe out here.” One doesn’t want to do that, but it is a legitimate recommendation. Voting for Democrats in every single race in November, would help to improve the situation. But will enough voters be perceptive enough, and energized enough, to do that?