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Close to the Edge, A Country Without Pity

By       Message David Glenn Cox     Permalink
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Or the New Ballad of Hollis Brown

"Hollis Brown he lived on the outside of town
Hollis Brown he lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children in a cabin broken down
You looked for work and money and you walked a ragged mile
You looked for work and money and you walked a ragged mile
Your children are so hungry that they don't know how to smile
Your baby's eyes look crazy they're a-tuggin at your sleeve
Your baby's eyes look crazy they're a-tuggin at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why with every breath you breathe"


It was a cold January day in Columbus, Ohio when Mark Meeks turned his gun on his wife and then his two children and then himself. It was cold and getting colder for Meeks.

"Meeks' brother said the family was struggling to come to terms with the possibility that his older brother--a lifelong car buff and devoted family man who adored his wife and children--could be responsible for their deaths."

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During the same week, in sunny Southern California Ervin Lupoe did likewise; he murdered his wife and then his five children. He then waited in the house with the bodies of his family around him for twelve hours before turning the gun on himself.

"The rats have got your flour bad blood has got your mare
The rats have got your flour bad blood has got your mare
If there's anyone who knows is there anyone who cares?
You prayed to the Lord above oh please send you a friend
You prayed to the Lord above oh please send you a friend
Your empty pockets tell you that you ain't a-got no friend
Your babies are crying louder now it's pounding in your brain
Your babies are crying louder now it's pounding in your brain
Your wife's screams are a stabbin you like a dirty drivin rain."


Both of the Lupoe parents had been fired from Kaiser Permanete Hospital in West Los Angeles. The couple had been accused of forging a supervisor's signature and misrepresenting their income on documents provided to a nonprofit agency that provides assistance for childcare. In addition, the Lupoes were one month behind on their mortgage and a check for $15,000 that Mr. Lupoe had written to the IRS had just bounced.

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Mr. Lupoe had made plans to take his family to Kansas City to start over again with Mr. Lupoe's brother-in-law. But something happened to push Mr. Lupoe over the edge. In a letter Mr. Lupoe faxed to a local TV station the morning of his death, he said that his hospital supervisor had told him he "should not even have bothered to come to work" and "should have blown (his) brains out."

"Your grass is turnin black there's no water in your well
Your grass is turnin black there's no water in your well
You spent your last lone dollar on seven shotgun shells
Way out in the wilderness a cold coyote calls
Way out in the wilderness a cold coyote calls
Your eyes fix on the shotgun that's hangin on the wall
Your brain is a bleeding and your legs can't seem to stand
Your brain is a bleeding and your legs can't seem to stand
Your eyes fix on the shotgun that you're a holding in your hand"


Investigators interviewed the hospital administrator who said, "Lupoe's characterization of their conversation was an out-of-context misrepresentation" and she denied saying what Lupoe said she did.

Just last month a thirteen-year-old Florida boy escaped as his father ran through the house shooting at his family members. The boy ran through a cluttered garage and made his escape as his father tripped over a bicycle. The father, Troy Bellar, then returned to the front yard and shot himself in the head. Investigators say that Mr. Bellar ran a home-remodeling and handyman business.

In April tax attorney and investment planner William Parente murdered his wife and children in a Baltimore hotel room. He then arranged their bodies on the king-sized bed and went into the bathroom where he cut himself and bled to death. Parente is alleged to have had serious financial problems that are under investigation by the FBI. Investment customers have complained that Parente paid them with checks worth a quarter million dollars, which have bounced.

"There's seven breezes a-blowin all around the cabin door
There's seven breezes a-blowin all around the cabin door
Seven shots ring out like the oceans pounding roar
There's seven people dead on a South Dakota Farm
There's seven people dead on a South Dakota Farm
Somewhere in the distance seven new people are born"


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Yesterday in Hillsboro, Oregon the body of James Gumm was found next to the bodies of his seven-year-old son and six-year-old daughter in a nature preserve. James Gumm was unemployed and divorced, and relatives told detectives he had emotional problems linked to last year's divorce.

Should I go on? Shall I relate more capitalist-inspired gore and collateral damage? While researching these incidents I found many of the blogger comments blame the victim. They were sick, they were animals. Only a small minority understood that they were desperate, desperate men pushed to the edge and then over it.

Our so-called social safety net is non-existent; it is imaginary. Food stamps take weeks to be approved and depend on last year's income so most don't qualify. Get fired from your job in this economy with a bad reference and they might as well shoot you themselves instead of firing you.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that I (more...)
 

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