Friday, March 25, 2005

And then the bullhorn crackles

Item: Famous Killer Seeks ParoleCWoT)
Brenda Spencer, the 16-year-old who opened fire on a schoolyard because she was bored, is up for parole next month.

Spencer found infamy at 8.40am on Monday, January 29, 1979 – unleashing a lethal volley of 36 shots at the school across from her home in San Carlos, near San Diego.

Using a telescopic sight on a 0.22 calibre rifle given to her by her father, Spencer picked off her victims one by one at Grover Cleveland Elementary School.

When her 15-minute rampage was over, the school principal and caretaker were dead, eight children aged six to 12 had been shot and a police officer was fighting for life with a bullet wound to the throat.

This may not ring any particular bells, until you get to the next part:
Hours later, as police tried to negotiate her surrender, Spencer told a reporter why she did it.

"I just did it for the fun of it. I just don't like Mondays. Do you like Mondays?" she said.

"I did this because it's a way to cheer up the day. Nobody likes Mondays. This livens up the day."

Like a lot of people my age and younger, I knew the song first, and was totally smackered one day (when I was about 20) to find out that it was a true story (as in, asking everyone I knew for the next week if they were aware of this). In an indecipherable bit of inspiration, they used to play it as the Closing Time song at the Den, the regrettably since-renovated pub at the U of C.

I wasn't yet in school when the shots were fired, so I know why I had no memory of the event. And now, I have a clue as to why it took another 15 years to know the story:
Her schoolyard rampage was one of the first seen in the US, with her appalling explanation leading to Irish singer Bob Geldof and his band writing and recording the song I Don't Like Mondays. The song became a No.1 hit in 30 countries, but was never released in the US in deference to victims. (My emphasis)

Before reading this, I was also unaware of the evidence of prior bad faith - my understanding was always that it was a snap/out-of-nowhere thing (silicon chip, etc.).

Here's the best info about her parole chances:
San Diego Deputy District Attorney Richard Sachs says Spencer is still psychotic, citing an incident four years ago. "When her girlfriend...[was released from jail], she burned the words 'courage' and 'pride' in her own arm like a tattoo. She's still subject to depression.... The District Attorney's office will oppose Spencer's parole application."

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from the album "Fine Art of Surfacing" (1979)

I Don't Like Mondays

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload.
And nobody's gonna go to school today,
She's going to make them stay at home.
And daddy doesn't understand it,
He always said she was as good as gold.
And he can see no reason
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

The telex machine is kept so clean
As it types to a waiting world.
And mother feels so shocked,
Father's world is rocked,
And their thoughts turn to
Their own little girl.
Sweet 16 ain't so peachy keen,
No, it ain't so neat to admit defeat.
They can see no reasons
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

All the playing's stopped in the playground now
She wants to play with her toys a while.
And school's out early and soon we'll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die.
And then the bullhorn crackles,
And the captain crackles,
With the problems and the how's and why's.
And he can see no reasons
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die?

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

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