Saturday, December 01, 2007

Here's the story...

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I promised I would tell you about the crash and burn that was the demise of Bluestone, here goes;
On an extremely windy, but otherwise beautiful spring morning, an Asian dude decided he'd had enuff, having traveled up to Roanoke, purchasing two pistols, and a couple hundred rounds of hollowpoint ammunition. Bright and early, on a Monday morning, he started exacting his revenge on the campus of Virginia Tech, first in a dorm room, then at Norris Hall after mailing off his manifesto to WNBC in New York. I was working in student's apartments, and they all had their tv's on news channels. It was unreal, "Two students were shot and killed". Then it was ten, then twenty, then thirty... We were all like, " WTF? Is this really happening, right here on campus?" At some point, in a daze, it was like, ok. Hang on. Why the hell aren't the cops or anyone else double tapping this guy in the head? It seemed that I was the only person in the New River Valley that didn't have a permit-to-carry, everyone I knew was armed to the teeth. Turns out he had chained the doors shut, and students weren't allowed to carry weapons on campus, all of this having taken place in classrooms. I didn't even know my cousin Christina was an Engineering professor at Tech, her classroom in Norris hall. I still haven't spoken to her about the ordeal yet.
My wife was working at Mongomery Regional's ER. It was where most of the victims, and then eventually all of the press, satellite rigs, etc. ended up. It was too windy that day for them to airlift people to other level-one trauma centers in Roanoke, the ER was a madhouse. President Bush rolled into town, unannounced, and headed over to the hospital. I spoke with some of the staties from his motorcade that day at the Sheetz in Christiansburg. Things got surreal soon after. In the words of the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. Reporters were EVERYWHERE for weeks, jamming microphones and cameras in everyone's faces, all vying for the most slack-jawed of podunk commentary they could compile. Eventually people were like, "Everyone's dead, could you go back to wherever the hell you came from, PLEASE!?
The Virginia Tech massacre
April 16th.
Many brave, good, innocent people died.
Scores more were injured...
Deadliest school shooting in recorded history.

The candlelight vigil

The Virginia Tech geospatial team's satellite Hokies Thank the World Tribute
Cut to early September, 2007. On a chilly Thursday night, the Dave Matthews Band headlined a show called "A Concert for Virginia Tech", I attended.
The setlist
It was spiritual.
It was cathartic.
This show was one of the most beautiful things I have experienced in my brief, jaded existence. Dave is from right up the road, in Charlottesville, Va. I have been to scores of concerts in my life, this ranks up there with the most legendary of performances I have had the pleasure of witnessing. Trust, I have seen some bad headliners, Dave and company nailed this one, to put it mildly. This was also one of the last shows they did with sax player LeRoi Moore, who died soon after, regrettably. The show seemed to mean something special, the group performing after spending the entire day with the victims, their families, and first responders. Dave's performance was heartfelt, a bonding communal effort. It was one of those rare, fleeting moments that you absolutely had to be there for. The poet Keats penned "A thing of beauty is a joy forever", that axiom fit like a glove ...
During their first encore, with steam rising off the crowd and the lights, Dave and friends played a rendition of Bob Marley's Three Little Birds , which we were all screaming along with at the top of our lungs. One by one, the instruments dropped away until all that was left was the crowd singing along. The stage cameras turned around and peered out onto the stands, and the screens filled up with the image of Virginia Tech singing to itself: “Don't worry, about a thing, 'cause every little thing, is gonna be alright." over, and over, and over, and over, clapping and stomping up and down on the aluminum bleachers. The recording really doesn't capture the intensity of the moment, but still,
From My Pictures

Dave Matthews kept saying that "More than anything, he loved us all"...I know that this all loses something in the translation, sounds corny, "Hokey" or whatnot, but a simple turn of a phrase such as that was gut wrenching at that point...
The really weird, wonderful part of it all, for me at least, is that I don't even really like Dave Matthews. Don't get me wrong, I have always been awed by the wild eyed one, and his amazing band's skills and raw talent, just never been a fan. I would change the station if Crash or something would come on the radio. Well, when they did Stay(Wasting Time), I think we all felt like he was singing to each of us individually, guitar ringing out, not ever wanting this thing to end, everyone singing back, pleading, STAY! STAY! STAY! STAY! STAY FOR A WHILE! as if there was a chance that this blessed event would never need to end...
I cried.
Fifty thousand people joined me. I have developed a very thick skin over the years, yet this performance had permeated it to my very soul, indescribably incredible. My buddie Keiron was charged with FOH security. As a result, we were backstage following the show, but Dave and company departed directly onto their bus, the meet and greet having transpired earlier in the day. A minor disappointment, but still an incredible experience all around. My mind was blown. We had all witnessed something blessed that night.
I left this show with a glow that didn't leave me for DAYS, a sudden peace had come over me. Nothing, I mean NOTHING could get me down, I was so high. I am trying my level best to put it into words, yet it defies description...
Fifty thousand people screaming LET'S GO, HO-KIES! Over and over. Surreal...
Anyway, after all that, the entire New River Valley, specifically Blacksburg, Hokie Nation, wanted to PARTY. I can't even begin to explain how passionate the folks in Blacksburg are about Virginia Tech, they personify the term fanatics. We all ended up at a bar called the Rivermill, great place. Gaskins was performing. Wouldn't have gotten in if I didn't know people. Every bar and club in the entire valley was filled to way beyond capacity that night, thousands of people milling around the burg. An insane scene, even for one of Playboy mag's top ranked party campus towns in the nation. Anyway, my friends and I shut that place down(left a hoodie there) and continued onto a ginormous party at an upscale condo complex. The entire place was out in force in the parking lot, raving, music blaring, chimneas and grills fired up. Again, tons of people, a party to end all parties. I was like, "I know the cops are going to shut this down". Everyone there proclaimed, "They could try", snickering.... Long story short, we ended up partying long and loud, grilling and playing beer-pong until dawn, a gathering that would have made Bacchus blush, Dear Lord Almighty,
The story only gets better from there...

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