When Mason returned my call, agreeing that a night at the shooting gallery would be perfect entertainment for our London editor and his wife, while they were all in town, he had mentioned that we would shoot everything he had. By which, I'd expected a hand gun or two... Not an entire arsenal accompanied by several large Ziplocs brimming with various caliber bullets, shell-casings-shining like brass m&m's. With hindsight, I guess, it's kinda like that with Mason. Whatever you expect, Mason exceeds your expectations.
So there we were at an LA area shooting range, Mason, and a bunch of 40 year-old virgins. It was a couple of days after Hunter S. Thompson had gone up, ceremoniously in smoke. A gun fan right up to the moment the he pulled the trigger for the final time. It's on our minds. But mainly there's a mixture of anxiety and excitement.
Mason, unpacking his armory makes us feel at once uncomfortably at ease... His emphasis on our safety and that it was apparent that he was very familiar with his guns was reassuring. These machines are self-defenders after all. For me, I was in the weirdest most abnormal world I could imagine and Mason just seemed like he belonged. A kid sitting in a corner with a very pretty shotgun - Bigger than any gun I've seen outside of the North Hollywood bank shoot out where the police were for a while overmatched, as I recall, asked Mason whether he was teaching... "I Can." Was his clipped, authoritative reply.
First came the Colt .45 SLC, then the Smith&Wesson .357 Mag followed by a Glock 9mm, Glock .40cal, Glock .45 auto and a Smith & Wesson 9mm. It has to be said, the menace of a Glock is gorgeously understated. They're as toy-like as the friction powered machine guys I used as a child commando on the St. Joseph's church building site. The handle feels like a plastic toy . The Glock 17 can even be modified to shoot underwater...
The shooting gallery was far more akin to a Lucky Strike bowling alley, only less glamorous, even noisier and you can't get a beer. On the other hand, unlike girls with bowling balls, Girls with guns are hot. It's gotta be said. If you've never seen a woman adopting the tactical position in real life, Glock in hand, well, let me say, Looking into the eye of a Leila Khaled, the moment before she squeezes the trigger, might not be so bad after all. That said, you probably don't want to be caught scrutinizing too closely.
It's an exciting moment picking up our targets for the first time. Not the Osama targets our stylish shotgun toting neighbors had. More the classic silhouette. But anyway in an attempt to keep this from being the dullest shooting story of all time, I'll say that the pace picked up a bit when Mason set up the targets and got us blasting away like crazy. Me, well, a duck to water. A real Lamont/Joey Cusack a History of Violence moment.... For a paper target at 20 feet I am a lethal adversary. Grouped the shots nicely and so on. The Glock felt great in my hand, 15 shot and 17 shot magazines blasted out while Mason kept the weapons stocked with lead.
As I repeatedly squeezed the trigger, I couldn't get the faces of the various fast-food drive-thru windows clerks who'd fucked up my orders over the years out of my head. For a while. Had to snap out of that. But I was rapidly beginning to feel a new empathy for Douglas Coupland's character from 'City of Glass', the guy who escalated his self-destructive needs from beating, to stabbing to well, we presume at least, shooting since he was found shot to death.
Mason it should be said, should be a shoe-in for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It would be good to get a straight shooter in there. The array of weaponry on display at the range and the skill with which it was used, had me instantaneously questioning the current rationale for the foreign war on terror - I mean, why fight them over there - damn - nothing has made me feel more secure than the night at the range - I can't imagine anyone trying to fight us over here ever.
This short but tru-ish story became the synopsis for the pilot episode of my in-development TV series, "Lamont Does 12 Dangerous Things." Next time: Sky Diving over a Massive Fan in Las Vegas.
Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."
Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV
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