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The Las Vegas Shooter, Two Years Later

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The Las Vegas Shooter, Two Years LaterGreg Palast, left, at 11 years old, and Steve Paddock in elementary school in 1964.
The Las Vegas Shooter, Two Years LaterGreg Palast, left, at 11 years old, and Steve Paddock in elementary school in 1964.
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Paddock. Palast. We sat next to each other at Fernangeles Elementary School, and later at Poly High in Sun Valley, Calif.

Steve was a chess prodigy and a math whiz.

He finally got to use his extraordinary gift to do complex ballistics calculations that allowed him to murder 58 people in Las Vegas in just minutes from a distant hotel window. That was two years ago this week.

Steve should have gone to MIT, to Stanford. He didn't. For that, he needed Advanced Placement calculus.

If you went to "Bevvie" -- Beverly Hills High -- you could take AP calculus. Or AP French. We didn't have AP calculus. We didn't have AP French. We weren't Placed, and we didn't Advance.

According to a state investigation led by Tom Hayden, our high school was placed on top of a toxic dump site. No surprise there.

In Sun Valley, Steve and I were required to take classes called "electrical shop" and "metal shop" so we would be trained to man the drill presses at the local General Motors plant. Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM, where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.

And we were required to take drafting. Drafting, as in "blueprint drawing." We sat at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and No. 2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed Martin Corp. as draftsmen, and draw blueprints for fighter jets.

But we weren't going to fly the fighter jets. Somewhere at Phillips Academy Andover, a dumbbell named Bush with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas. We weren't going to go to Yale. We were going to go to Vietnam. Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we were supposed to go to GM or Lockheed.

And any pretty girl at our high school could always make decent money in Sun Valley, then the porn film capital of America.

Those were the choices we were given. As long as they lasted: After NAFTA, GM shut down and shifted to Mexico.

Our school, and our incomes, didn't qualify Steve for anything other than San Fernando Valley College. Any dumbbell could get in. And it was nearly free. That's where Steve was expected to go, and he went, with his big math-whiz brain. And then Steve, with his "Valley" degree, went to Lockheed, like he was supposed to. Then Lockheed shut down plants in 1988. Steve left, took the buyout.

Here's a little info about the pleasantly named place where Palast and Paddock were bred. Sun Valley is not really a city. It is the anus of Los Angeles. Literally. It's where the sewage plant is. And the garbage dump. It's in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke-yellow soup. Here's where L.A. dumps both its urine and the human refuse it only remembers when it needs cheap labor when the gusanosdon't supply enough from Mexico. And cheap soldiers for your wars.

The home of "Okies" and Chicanos.

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Greg Palast's investigative reports appear in Rolling Stone, the Guardian and on BBC Television. His latest film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, on how Donald Trump stole the 2016 election, is available on Amazon. Palast is Patron of the Trinity (more...)
 
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