Once in L.A. when I was feeling particularly broke and broken, a guy I worked with suggested a trip to Seattle, a place I’d never been. “Listen to some decent music, pound some coffee. You’ll love it.”
He was right, I did.
As an always-writer and a once-and-future musician, that’s still what my Seattle is today: Coffee. Music. Art.
Maybe that’s why it was even more shocking that yesterday when a man shot four people point blank, it was at a coffee shop. A coffee shop. They’re supposed to be havens.
It’s one thing to have people randomly shot at a place like the defunct, ironically named Mr. Lucky across from Seattle Center, which had a criminal reputation and a widely ignored NO GUNS ALLOWED sign at the door. But not a coffee shop in Seattle. We have one of the lowest violent-crime rates in the country. I mean, we’re not Miami, for God’s sake.
A second jolt ripped through me, brighter, more personal, when I heard that the shooting happened at Café Racer. My lovely, loving friends Jo David and Marlow Harris have their Bad Art Museum there. As I was checking Facebook to make sure they were okay (they were, they are, physically at least), a woman was killed by the same gunman at Town Hall, another gathering place for the arts.
As the news from the Seattle P.D. ricocheted through twitter and the news blogs, questions were answered. Drew Keriakedes and Joe Albanese of the band God’s Favorite Beefcake were victims. The suspected shooter was Ian Lee Stawicki; he shot himself when he was apprehended and later he died. He had been kicked out of Café Racer several times recently.
Then the questions got bigger. Why was Mayor McGinn not saying anything to his city? (He eventually did.) Why don’t we have more support for the mentally ill? Why don’t we have stricter gun control laws?
The biggest question, though, not only for the artists and musicians who consider Café Racer their coffee shop haven, but for all of us as society seems to get more violent every day, is a simple one with no easy answer. Why?