Jerrod Hubbard was twenty-four years old, four years younger than me. Last Wednesday he was walking on a sidewalk across the street from my house with some friends — two guys and a girl. Then he got shot in the back by somebody who was driving by. Then he died, right before my eyes.
A 2003 graduate of Oakland Technical High School, he was involved with a football program at McClymonds and also took classes elsewhere. He had drepanocytosis (Sickle-Cell Anemia), which required him to undergo blood transfusions. He had a sister and a brother — a UC Berkeley graduate student in Journalism.
On his last day of life he was celebrating his cousin's return from prison.
He had numerous friends, he liked to party, and in late March he drove to Las Vegas, without a license. But he didn't get a speeding ticket when he got pulled over. In Vegas he went to Bellagio. He made it home safe.
He smoked weed a lot. I think this makes sense, considering his condition. He also liked video games. He went to family birthday parties, watched The First 48, and learned to cope with people he knew lose their lives. He might have been lonely.
Hundreds of people mourned his death. I join them, and I really wish I'd learned about him via happy events, not this.
His death is unjustifiable — it has no explanation. You say "I'm sorry for your loss" to the relatives of a person who dies of old age. In this case, you say "Hey, check this out, we've built ourselves a pretty fucked up world, and now we live in it". We are like children who shat in a bathtub, swimming around it, preoccupied with the yellow duckies.
P.S. Note to Mark Zuckerberg: Mark, I really hope the devils in hell aren't getting extra-ready for your arrival.
Reading about Oakland murders in the San Francisco Chronicle is one thing. Hearing gunshots followed by the sound of a quickly accelerating engine, and then looking through your living room window and seeing a dying man in a pool of blood across the street is something totally different.
When I was in high school, we learned about the first, second, and third worlds. Basically, capitalists live in the first world, communists with nuclear weapons in the second, and everyone else in the third. We didn't study that third world in great detail, but one property of the third world appears to bind all those vastly different peoples and cultures together in our eyes — a very low value of human life.
When we read about men armed with machetes slaughtering old people, women, and children, ferries capsizing and drowning thousands at a time, six-year-olds putting together Nike sneakers eighteen hours per day for three cents per hour, earthquakes destroying entire cities because nothing is built to code because there isn't one — we try to comprehend all this, we read the sentences, the facts, the reasons. But when we talk about it, when we look at each other's well-fed faces, and into each other's smart first-world eyes, in our work kitchens and cars and coffee shops — we come to this silent agreement that we simply don't really care.
Not because we're bad people, no, but because we physically cannot comprehend what we're saying, but because to us it makes absolutely no sense. We continue to buy lattes while all these travesties we discuss take place, and why not, because what are you gonna do? When we say these things, we don't really believe them — it's like adult fairy tales.
But here I am — situated somewhere between Pixar Animation Studios and Wells Fargo & Co. headquarters — watching a 24-year-old man die of gunshot wounds though my living room window. I don't understand — how is it that I'm preoccupied with getting a distributed Erlang application to behave correctly while a man is murdered two hundred feet away? When I tell you about this, we can pretend that we don't really care because it makes absolutely no sense, but there was blood leaking out of his head, onto the curb and down to the street — red, shiny.
Oh, and my wife and children are on their way home, with burritos, in a turbocharged Subaru, while his red shiny blood is leaking out of his head onto the curb and then down to the street. So the burritos have to wait a little, because our entire block has been cobwebbed with yellow tape.
But anyway, you should move to West Oakland! Other than an occasional murder and a mattress/boxspring here and there, it's a great neighborhood — excellent Victorian homes (you can buy one tomorrow for $80K out of foreclosure), close to BART, close to the iPad store, to IKEA, to the Trappist, to Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, to Brown Sugar Kitchen, to the Crucible, and so on. West Oakland is going to become expensive, like, in a couple of months. All the true hipsters are already here. Hurry!