As I was driving Gracie back from the dog park this morning I was listening to the Guarneri String Quartet perform Dvorak’s Op. 96 No. 12 best known as “The American” string quartet. It happens to be one of those pieces I would take with me were I to be marooned on a desert island, so I was enjoying the experience.
As we waited for the light to change, a late model pickup truck pulled alongside us. I couldn’t tell you who the “rap artist” was, but the driver had cranked this cacophony up to maximum overdrive. I am not sure whether this particular piece qualified as “Gangsta Rap” or was an example of the genre in its purer form, “Crap Rap.” I do know that I rolled up my windows, closed the sun roof and could still feel the beat from the woofers pounding at me. When the light turned, I purposely waited a few seconds to allow the other vehicle to move down the street ahead of me so that I could escape this noise and go back to enjoying the string quartet.
While I realize that there is no accounting for taste – or lack of it – I can’t help wonder what sort of effect listening to a steady diet of rap with its mostly demeaning lyrics must do to an individual’s psyche. Or perhaps the psyche is already predisposed to wanting to listen to this type of stuff and is merely finding an expression for its own ideas and feelings.
When we returned home I enjoyed my coffee and some yogurt and Gracie enjoyed her morning treats. I sat in the back yard watching Charlie the mockingbird, who is a regular visitor, perch on the wall, waiting for his morning treat. So I went in to the pantry and set out his raw oatmeal which he seems to enjoy more than traditional bird seed.
He and Gracie have reached a sort of détente. She isn’t quite sure why I tolerate his presence and I suspect he wonders why I tolerate having such a massive canine in the house – but other than staring at each other they have come to an understanding. Would that humans could do as well in the way of interpersonal relations. And I went back to thinking about the fourth movement of the Dvorak, my favorite movement in the quartet.
After some time re-playing the music in my mind I decided it was time to start the day as it was already 7:30. So we went upstairs and I turned the news on the television. As it happened two stories caught my attention.
The first was that a new video game, “Grand Theft Auto V” had been released and attained sales of $800 Million in a 24 hour period of time. After I did a little checking I was able to discover that it sells for $60 a copy – so over 13 million people purchased this game.
The game, of course, extols those who have mastered the art of car theft and it does so in an extremely violent manner. Perhaps that explains, at least in part, why a car is stolen in this country every 44 seconds – and less than 12% of those who are responsible are ever apprehended.
The second item which aired a bit later in the morning was that the Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis apparently enjoyed playing video games – sometimes for as long as 15 hours at a time.
As you may recall, on Monday the media leaped all over the shooting. Virtually every station first reported that the weapon that Mr. Alexis had used was an assault rifle – and most pointed out that it was the same weapon used in Newtown. They were wrong. Not only were they incorrect with their “facts,” which seems to be a secondary concern for most of our news sources, but they are wrong as to their underlying assumptions as to the cause of these mass murders. They insist on citing guns as the cause rather than looking at the persons who are standing behind them and pulling the trigger.
Mr. Alexis was a mentally disturbed man who needed help. He didn’t get it and as a result 12 innocent people died. Whether or not his absorption in playing video games contributed to his condition is anyone’s guess. But I think a reasonable assumption is that it might well have aggravated his mental problems. Perhaps banning violent video games will be the next thing on the agenda for our liberal friends, though I doubt it. It doesn’t fall within the purview of their agenda.
Mom used to say, “You are what you eat.” The same is probably true of how our minds are fed – whether that is with positive or negative nourishment. So to start your day right, I’ve attached the Dvorak for your enjoyment. Be well.