Nine days ago, flyers were distributed in our building that a production would be shooting on the penthouse floors, just three stories above our loft. We were told there'd be "special effects, including statues shattering and gunplay." These notices are never surprising to me; I set it aside and went on with my day.
There Will Be (No) Blood
I moved into this beautiful historic building 13 years ago, knowing that it had long been, and would continue to be, available for location shoots. Because I'm in the business, and have an intimate understanding of what film and television production entails, I've never been cranky (as many of my neighbors have been over the years) about the temporary inconvenience production can cause for residents. I've even arranged for productions to shoot here, and used several locations in the building for my documentary. None of them included "gunplay."
I have never found anything "playful" about guns.
Back in 2002, a wealthy friend took me to the Los Angeles Gun Club after dinner at the Water Grill. When she was a younger woman, her father had been threatened with her kidnapping, and he'd hired a retired FBI agent to teach her how to defend herself: evasive driving techniques, a little hand-to-hand defense, and how to handle a firearm. She knew I hated and feared guns, and thought it would be good for me to have a direct experience of firearms, if only to get a handle on my feelings about them. It only took one session for me to get good with a 9mm Glock; I was shocked. I was especially surprised that I instinctively applied my years of meditation practice, yoga study, and Hindu-Buddhist philosophy to the process of loading, aiming, and shooting a gun. How could something so deadly be so...Zen?
We returned every week, in a ritual that we whimsically called "Thursday Night Eat 'n' Shoot." I tried many types of handguns (the Kimber .45 became my favorite), and came to understand the satisfaction of knowing how to handle a weapon, to feel the strange peace of hitting a target exactly where I'd aimed the gun, and to realize there was no way in Hell I'd ever own one. But I was now more knowledgeable; I felt an odd sense of preparation, which had an unexpectedly comforting effect.
My last time at the range, September 2005
Yesterday, I was sitting by my window, laptop in lap, and suddenly heard several rounds of automatic gunfire in my lightwell. I immediately ducked, shouted to Mom to stay down, grabbed my phone, and crouched my way to Mom's bedroom...all in the five seconds before I remembered they were shooting blanks above my head. Two seconds after that, I got a terrified text from a neighbor who lives across the lightwell from me; she's a veteran unit still photographer, but she'd also forgotten production was in the building.
Today, there have been many more rounds of automatic and single-shot gunfire discharged above me (ironically, while I'm watching MSNBC's coverage of the students' walk-out in protest of our government's inaction regarding gun control). I've barely flinched each time. And this has reminded me that I am now calibrated to respond to, and even accept, the sound of violence...not only on a shooting range, or in my besieged DTLA neighborhood, but in my own home.
It does not comfort me to be so prepared.