The UW Shooter Filled My iPod
April 13, 2007 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Ghost In The Machine "I have a murderer's music on my iPod and, almost reflexively, I couldn't help but think of him while listening to these songs—they were his songs, songs he gave me. [...] Listening to his music put me inside [his] head. [...] I wanted to throw up." [more inside]
posted by rossination (41 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Admittedly a bit newsfilter-y, but it's an excellent article that shows an interesting perspective. Non-Seattlites probably aren't familiar with the news story; here is a bit of a primer if you're interested.
posted by rossination at 5:36 PM on April 13, 2007

it's awful when people interfere with our enjoyment of consumer goods, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:57 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I fucking hated this insipid "6-degrees of exploitation of a tragedy" article when I read in the Stranger. It gives zero insight into these events at all and does nothing but say "golly it's ironic when you rub shoulders with a psycho." I want to slap this guy who wrote it and shoot rays of shame to Dan Savage for running it.
posted by tkchrist at 6:17 PM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

pyramid termite, talk about going out of your way to make a meaningless snark.

Anyway, I read the thing, and have mostly a "well, ok" reaction. Not that I think that better writing could have made much more out of it… although I guess it's a good anecdote. 'Hey, the music I'm listening to? This guy chose it for me before he offed himself.'

It's easy to read more into someone's choice of lyrics than they'd ever thought while listening, but yeah, this particular guy's murder/suicide thing isn't very "oh my god I can't believe that happened" given the buildup.

One thing I never get is why people feel the need to murder someone before killing themselves? It's like—look—you can shut it all out if you kill yourself. You're done, fin. Why slam shut someone else's life in the process? I guess what I'm saying is that I can get inside the head of a suicidal person (almost anyone who's been through adolescence can!) but I can't get inside the head of a "first I'll kill her then end it all" person. Although I suppose the two acts aren't independent; killing oneself might just be a way to get out of responsibility for killing someone else.
posted by Firas at 6:22 PM on April 13, 2007

tkchrist, yeah. I'm not sure you can really save this piece of writing even with totally different content. What's there to say?
posted by Firas at 6:24 PM on April 13, 2007

talk about going out of your way to make a meaningless snark

just because you don't see ... or choose not to see the meaning doesn't mean it's meaningless ... much of how he sees his relationship with rowan is mediated by such things as burned bread, perfect asparagus, stolen goods, miller beer and a rather detailed list of tunes on his i-pod

it may be a defense mechanism ... he's somewhat vague with the memory of rowan himself but rather precise about that i-pod ... perhaps he wasn't really ready to write about this

or perhaps he was writing about what concerns him ... or using the metaphors he's most comfortable with

it's hardly meaningless to point that out ... the title? ... "ghost in the machine" ... the illustration? ... an i-pod

not meaningless snark at all ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:56 PM on April 13, 2007

It reads like a blog entry that should have stayed as a blog entry, not been expanded into an article. I mean, yes, it would be strange to have a murderer's music collection downloaded onto your ipod. But that's all it is: a strange, distinctive detail in the midst of an infinitely larger, tragic story. And I don't mean to suggest that the author doesn't get that -- I think he does. It's just that framing a story of this magnitude around this particular detail has the (unintended) effect of diminishing both -- the detail isn't actually weighty enough to stand on its own in this magnified way, and a suicide-murder is too terrible to be relegated to the background by default.
posted by scody at 6:58 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Looking back, there were so many warning signs. Legal problems. Drugs. Booze. Suicide threats. What made me think of this guy as fun dinner company? Even after he stole from his roommates and disappeared, why didn't it occur to me that he might be dangerous? Because he taught me how to make perfect asparagus? Because before he went to the store, he always asked if I needed anything? Because he could make me laugh and was nice to his fucking dog?

I can still barely comprehend what happened. I can't listen to my iPod anymore without thinking about it. I just don't have room in my head for stuff like this. recommended"

How fucking infantile. The writer doesn't understand that people who do very bad things are, you know, people. They are people who can be good friends, parents, children, coworkers, nice to their pets, make good pasta, what-the-fuck-ever. A few of them are sociopaths or otherwise very exceptional and Hannibal Lecter-ish. Most are not.

This idea of evildoers as extraordinarily other is a real sign of moral immaturity. It very intensely denies one's own capacity for evil which, in turn, is part of what enables the expression of that capacity.

What a truly obnoxious article.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:08 PM on April 13, 2007 [12 favorites]

A friend of a friend was carrying the baby of a serial rapist murderer when he finally got caught. She decided not to have an abortion. That's an interesting story to me, but this isn't.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:33 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know. I found it interesting. And, sure, people who do very bad things are, you know, people, but so are the people who once associated with them. How many of us have certain songs we don't like to listen to because we once shared them with people who've since hurt us? Well, Rowan took somebody's life. That's likely to have an effect on the people who knew him.

It's probably a bit silly to make an article of it. It does, in a way, sound like a feeble attempt at getting attention, but that doesn't mean it's stupid for the writer to feel weird about having that music around. (I'm going to assume he's deleted the offending tunes by now)
posted by katillathehun at 7:40 PM on April 13, 2007

Yawn. Tell me when the writer is compelled to commit a murder of his own by the pulsing force of the monster's music.
posted by grobstein at 7:41 PM on April 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

Oh noes! Teh Manic Street Preachers!

Rubbish stranger article. They're capable of rising to the moment in the face of tragedy, as with the house party shootings last year, but this is just crap.
posted by Artw at 7:44 PM on April 13, 2007

It would have been mildly interesting if he put Brighter Death Now's Innerwar on there.
posted by The Straightener at 7:58 PM on April 13, 2007

Agree with scody and others here. A woman is stalked and killed, and yet for the author it's all about him and the ghost he imagines in his iPod. I can see that it would be strange and ugly, but just describing it isn't enough: this needed much more reflection, much more explanation than just an anecdote about ripped mp3s.
posted by jokeefe at 8:23 PM on April 13, 2007

I can't listen to my iPod anymore without thinking about it.

...Some people would just delete the music if they didn't want to be reminded every time they turned on their iPod. Or ebay the player itself and get a new one.
posted by Many bubbles at 8:27 PM on April 13, 2007

One thing I never get is why people feel the need to murder someone before killing themselves?

I think the murder is the whole point. Offing yourself to avoid the consequences is just collateral damage.

And yes, awful article.
posted by cillit bang at 8:39 PM on April 13, 2007

So the guy listens to mainstream music? Spooky!

One time the Green River Killer filled my iPod with Kelly Clarkson. I can't even masturbate to "Since You Been Gone" anymore without getting a chill up my spine.
posted by basicchannel at 8:56 PM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

It reads like a blog entry that should have stayed as a blog entry, not been expanded into an article.

Actually, I'd say little to no expanding was even done here. This isn't really an article at all: it's not even well-written enough to call it an article.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:13 PM on April 13, 2007

I like early Bowie... Oh my God, could I be a serial killer? This has shattered my life!
posted by stavrogin at 9:56 PM on April 13, 2007

I read the piece because I was interested to see if it gave any insite. Ah but no, like most articles in The Stranger it is a gratuitous, self serving piece of dreck. What a surprise. Why do I keep looking? Just like most of Seattle hipster life, The Stranger universally sucks.

Oh oh some people died horribly, look how it affected me. Wah! Pay attention, why aren't looking at me? I have important things to say about how I feel. How I feel is IMPORTANT. How I feel says something about the world today.

Yeah, no. How you feel says something about how you feel. Done. Blogs exist for a reason, or you could just go tell you friends about it.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:16 PM on April 13, 2007

I knew a guy that killed a guy. Supposedly it was about drugs; but really it was about the first guy looking into the second guy's eyes and stealing his soul while the first guy bashed the second guy's head in with a paperweight in a sock. Then the first guy gets life without parole and the second guy is still dead.
posted by bobobox at 11:00 PM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have Hole on my iPod. I sleep okay at night.
posted by padraigin at 11:23 PM on April 13, 2007

I thought the article extremely well written and interesting.

It was obviously not intended to be a pulitzer prize winning expose on a killer but a post modern vignette articulating the confluence of machine and memory.

and its just plain creepy
posted by lacus at 11:31 PM on April 13, 2007

>>Why do I keep looking? Just like most of Seattle hipster life, The Stranger universally sucks.

was it your dream to wear a trench coat and murder the popular kids?
posted by lacus at 11:41 PM on April 13, 2007

Well, I have officially lost my Metafilter cred. Ho-hum.
posted by rossination at 12:13 AM on April 14, 2007

Hipsters are popular?
posted by maxwelton at 12:15 AM on April 14, 2007

Nah, dude. You know Mefi well enough to see that a good chance at bashing an article is worth as much as a good chance of being wowed by one.
posted by Firas at 12:21 AM on April 14, 2007

and they say copyright infringement doesn't lead to bigger crimes.
posted by tremspeed at 12:48 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, I have officially lost my Metafilter cred. Ho-hum.

Yeah, rossination, assuming that "Metafilter cred" is actually something to worry about "losing", rest assured that you can gain it back pretty easily if people like what you link to in your next FPP.

Of course, if it's really a matter of "ho-hum" for you, then no problem in the first place, eh?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:51 AM on April 14, 2007

If it's any consolation, Rossination, I thought about making an FPP out of this myself. I'm fascinated by the ways ordinary people deal with brushes with abject horror.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:17 AM on April 14, 2007

Oh yeah, don't worry - I'm not too bothered by it. Apparently all I have to do to get it back is to write a happy birthday post.
posted by rossination at 1:29 AM on April 14, 2007

matt'll re-baseline your cred for a cool, crisp Lincoln.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:32 AM on April 14, 2007

Friends wondered what Griego, 26, had ever seen in the 41-year-old Rowan.

He was pudgy, had crooked teeth and frequent body odor. He was known for making rude comments to women in Belltown bars after guzzling his favored Stoli vodka tonics. But Strieker said Rowan would often get away with his shortcomings because he had a certain charm.

"Rebecca [Griego] probably liked him for the same reason I liked him: He was super-charismatic," Strieker said. And if friends tried to ignore him, "he would play the trump card of being sad and lonely and crying."

Sounds like a real charmer, all right.
posted by psmealey at 7:23 AM on April 14, 2007

Murderers are among us, everywhere. When you knew someone before they were a murderer, and after, you tend to ponder things like their "normalness," and your own brush with potential murdering.

About 12 years ago, a relatively good friend of my then-wife's had a down-and-out buddy who needed somewhere to crash for a week or two. He vouched for the guy, so we figured okay, for a little bit. He was a nice house guest, helped out a bit with the chores, but didn't seem too serious about getting a job. After he'd been there a couple of weeks, we offered him a job at our T-shirt shop, and he subsequently vanished. With a little bit of our personal property. I figured oh, well, lesson learned. The guy really didn't want to work. About two weeks later, a college girl was raped and killed on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Guess who turned up, sweaty and out of breath at another friend's house, with her bike? Yup. The State of Texas has since seen fit to terminate his life by lethal injection.

He didn't leave any songs on my iPod, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:08 AM on April 14, 2007

I agree with the comments re: how just a bit less anecdote and a bit more, y'know, looking for meaning in it all might have made this more worthwhile. I can imagine how strange this would be for me, but aside from what I bring to the article myself, I don't feel like there's much there beyond, "Isn't this weeeeeeeeeird?" It's too bad the guy didn't wait till he had some distance to write this; it's got the depth of a puddle, but I think the same article written a year or two later might not.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:47 AM on April 14, 2007

Shit, if I had 14 Oasis albums, I'd probably kill myself too!

/obligitory joke

When I first read the headline, I thought 'his music' meant stuff he'd written/produced. THAT'D be something. I want to say the concept of the article is interesting, but ultimately I find it flawed. Yes, that Manic Street Preachers lyric is posthumously fitting, but what if he didn't even care much for that album/song? Or if his favorite, iconic song was another one?

If I were in the same situation, I'd hate to have someone write something about me along the lines of:

'Uther seemed like a nice enough guy, somewhat quirky, had that look about him like he never really got enough sleep. I usually took his sarcasm and admittedly condescending tone as part of his charm, but after the tragedy, shuffling through the music he gave me, I stumbled across one of his songs that illustrated just how grave his megalomanical streak was: 'I'm the King of Rock / There is none higher / Other MCs should call me Sire"...

I sat at the office with my Spectre 20" flatscreen and brand new Apple G4, and while i drank a Starbucks brand Iced Coffee, i considered my own naivete, and once again my mind led me back to Run DMC; In the aftermath of these grave events, what is meant by 'I won't stop rocking till I retire' has a grim context that should be obvious to anyone.'

[on preview, oh yeah i guess it would also suck if i were a murderer]
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yes lacus, my distaste for Seattle's hipsters mean I am on the same line as outsider high school kids who kill people. Thank you. My opinion is just sour grapes because the cool kids don't like me, boo hoo. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so breezy in my comment, but I still maintain that the "scene" in Seattle is filled with pretentious assholes.

Oh and if we are going to play the schoolyard point the finger game, gee lacus, protest too much?
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 12:00 PM on April 14, 2007

I'm fascinated by the ways ordinary people deal with brushes with abject horror.

So am I, which is why this article disappoints. It's an interesting starting point, but needs much more scope to be really worth reading.
posted by jokeefe at 12:14 PM on April 14, 2007

"I have a murderer's music on my iPod ..."
Phil Spector?
Jerry Lee Lewis?
Um, Joe Meek?
Wait! I know! Charles Manson!
No? Well who, Dude?
Who? What did he write?
Oh. He didn't write anything. You have his playlist.

So, you wanta listen to some Wall of Sound?
posted by CCBC at 12:39 PM on April 14, 2007

I didn't know there were so many auction and sales sites for murderabilia.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2007

all three of Richard Ashcroft's solo releases

Clearly a nutter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:05 PM on April 15, 2007

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