San Diego is riddled with violence. It's not because of our proximity to Mexico, or desert heat, or capitalism, or the cops, or the liberals, or the minorities, or the rednecks, or any reason at all. Like an impossible-to-fathom, ammonia-spewing cryovolcano on an icy Neptunian moon, violence doesn't need a reason to explode. Cities are violent because people are violent; cities just make violence easier to see because they're less spread out.
If you want to avoid violence, but you still want to live in a city, you could move to Luxembourg's capital, Luxembourg City, "the world's least violent city," according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Nothing bad ever happens there—except on Aug. 30, when two people strolling down the Route D'Arlon were attacked (punched in the face and kicked) randomly by four unknown assailants. The attackers ran away, and police couldn't find them. On the same night, in the same part of town, two men got in a fight that sent one of them to the hospital with a head wound. That happened right in the middle of the famous Schueberfouer fair, where—you may recall if you keep up on Luxembourgian news—in January, the cops had to break up a huge drunken brawl involving a dozen drunk teenagers.
Even in the safest cities—and San Diego is one of the safest in our unsafe country, with a homicide rate only about 3,000 percent higher than Luxembourg's—random bizarre acts of violence flare up and challenge us to wonder at the human organism and its myriad behavioral quirks.
Even if you're the Coen Brothers, you probably can't think of anything so horrible or bizarre that it would never happen. Who could make up the warriors in wedding gowns and Donald Duck masks, eating the hearts of sacrificed children before murdering thousands in rampages through villages during the 14-year Liberian civil war that ended in 2003? But I digress.
Each day in our fair city brings a fresh hell of harm—so much so that if you want your idiotic act of rage to stand out and get noticed, say, by the Union-Tribune, you have to put some pizzazz into it. Don't just get drunk and punch somebody in the face on a Saturday night in the Gaslamp—punch a cop or a cop's horse, or set yourself on fire.
Here's how it's done: Last week, while folks were pummeling one another in the streets of downtown Luxembourg, two teenagers were throwing rocks at cars on Linda Vista Road near Mesa College Drive. When one of the two, a 16-year-old, nailed a black Toyota RAV-4, a passenger pulled out a crossbow and fired a bolt into the abdomen of the rock-thrower.
The boy was taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, and the two men in the vehicle got away. Police believe two Latino males, most likely juveniles, were in the RAV-4. The two boys throwing the rocks were also Latino, so, if you're a racist, you may want to dismiss this as "Mexican on Mexican" violence and stop reading. Eventually, a Luxembourgian will randomly punch you in the face and make you question your assumptions.
This story got a lot of traction outside of the Whale's Vagina: It was picked up by the AP and wound up in a ton of media outlets including CBS, The Drudge Report, Huffington Post, Gawker, AOL and, of course, the crossbowstore.com. If you do a Google search on the word "crossbow," a New York Daily News story about the incident comes right up.
That's a helluva recipe for instant violencelebrity: unique weapon, deadly aim and, according to all the tritenicks in the web threads, a "deserving" victim.
Beyond the inevitable persistence of ridiculous violence, I was reminded of a couple other things when I read about the crossbow incident: One was that I once threw a rock at a car on the south side of Chicago when I was about 7 years old, egged on by my hoodlum pals, and I never forgot the thrill and terror of it. I don't think my little stone came anywhere near the car I was half-heartedly aiming for, but it's the thought that counts.
I also recalled the time, about two years after that, when I almost got removed from this mortal coil by two kids who dropped a big, heavy rock from a freeway overpass onto the 1974 hornet Sportabout in which I was the passenger. Karma?
My dad was driving. It was just him and me. The rock landed on the hood of our car about two inches from the windshield with a big thunk! My dad whipped out his crossbow—just kidding.
In reality, he drove off the highway, up the dirt-covered embankment, to the top of the overpass beside the railroad tracks, jumped out of the car, ran down one of the two kids, dragged him to our car, made me get in back and shoved the kid aggressively into the passenger seat. The kid kept silent with his head down. He seemed much older than me but must've been around 12 or 13. My dad demanded the kid's address, wrote it on the bottom of a Kleenex box, then drove the kid to his home and handed him over to his father. As we drove away, I wondered what would happen to the kid.
As for San Diego's now-infamous rock-throwers, and the crossbow shooter, and his getaway driver: Crimes were committed, and the perpetrators will probably all pay in one way or another. Some people say the rock-thrower got what was coming to him. Some say the crossbow guy went too far.
I say try to be careful and stay out of it.