Manic Monday

Every Monday, I like to put up a little post on real life people who, in their time, created true horror around them.  What’s more horrible than a killer?  The answer, for me at least, and a good many of us, I think-is a child who kills.  We always want to know the motivation behind murder.  But what could prompt or motivate a child to do something heinous.

We think of children as innocents.  And in many ways they are, because they are usually at the mercy of the adults around them.  They learn a good deal of their behavior from the people around them.  When a child goes wrong, we look to their caretakers.  Where were they?  What did they do to bring up a monster?

Brenda Ann Spencer

I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS

I think we all pretty much agree that events such as the Columbine Massacre are horrific.  Unfortunately, this event wasn’ t the first, and it probably won’t be the last.

One of the first that made a media impact was on January 29th, 1979.  16 year old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on children arriving at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego from her house across the street, killing two men and wounding eight students and a police officer.  She fired 36 rounds from a semi-automatic rifle through her bedroom window.Principal Burton Wragg was attempting to rescue children in the line of fire when he was shot and killed, and custodian Mike Suchar was killed while attempting to help Wragg.

The rifle was a Christmas present from her father.  If you google Brenda Ann Spencer, every story always mentions that the rifle she used was a Christmas present.  I believe that is done to show how a 16 year old girl took a gift, and yes, although, it was a gun, she took something given to her out of love and twisted it for her own morbid amusement.  She enjoyed shooting, and her father gave her something she wanted.  Isn’t that what parents do for their children?

She had a standoff with police for six and a half hours.  She barricaded herself in her home, telling the police that “she would come out shooting.”When she was asked why she did it–she replied, “I don’t like Mondays.  This livens up the day.”   She told them, “There was no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun; It was like shooting ducks in a pond, and they looked like a herd of cows standing around, it was really easy pickings.”  She eventually surrendered.

She pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.  She has been up for parole 5 times, and has been denied each time.

I wonder how often Brenda Spencer stared out of her bedroom window at the elementary school across the street?  Did she envision herself shooting them?  Taking them out one by one?  Or did the idea come to her when she got her Christmas present-her own father an unwitting accessory to murders she would commit?  Luckily, no children died that day, not for lack of trying.

The callousness of her crimes is clear–her guilt is obvious.  But what happened to Brenda Ann Spencer to try to kill innocent children and murder two men who were trying to save them?   She expressed no remorse when arrested.  She seemed to take pleasure in what she did.  At her first parole hearing she said that she believed that the victims were hit by police shots and not hers.  She claimed that she’d been under the influence of alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs.  At a later parole hearing she admitted her guilt and expressed remorse, but that she had been under the influence.  She also claimed the old standby excuse–sexual abuse by her father.  She refuses to take full blame for her actions, shifting some of that blame on anything else.

She is eligible to reapply for parole in 2019.  She is still in the Big House–where she should stay till the day she dies.

MEDIA IMPACT

I Don’t Like Mondays” is a song by the Boomtown Rats that was a UK number one single for four weeks during the summer of 1979. Written by Bob Geldolf.  

The song was first performed less than a month later. Geldof explained how he wrote the song:

“I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in, is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel, and I just said ‘Silicone (sic) chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.”

Check out the video on Youtube…sorry I couldn’t imbed it.  There is also covers of the song by Bon Jovi and Tori Amos

and the lyrics:

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload.
And nobody’s gonna go to school today,
She’s going to make them stay at home.
And daddy doesn’t understand it,
He always said she was as good as gold.
And he can see no reason
‘Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

The telex machine is kept so clean
As it types to a waiting world.
And mother feels so shocked,
Father’s world is rocked,
And their thoughts turn to
Their own little girl.
Sweet 16 ain’t so peachy keen,
No, it ain’t so neat to admit defeat.
They can see no reasons
‘Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be shown?

Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?

I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

All the playing’s stopped in the playground now
She wants to play with her toys a while.
And school’s out early and soon we’ll be learning
And the lesson today is how to die.
And then the bullhorn crackles,
And the captain crackles,
With the problems and the how’s and why’s.
And he can see no reasons
‘Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to die?

Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
Tell me why?
I don’t like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

In the popular film The Breakfast Club, it can be seen written in chalk on a blue wall as the film begins.

In ” 20 Hours in American, Part II”, the second episode of season 4 of The West Wing, the song (covered by Tori Amos) was featured during the aftermath of a fictional bombing at a university, the story behind the song having been told in the previous episode: “20 Hours in American Part I”.

The song appeared in the television series Hous in the episode “Half-Wit. Dr. House played the elegant piano introduction to the song for a patient, a musical savant with dystonia, who then repeated it perfectly (with House adding the distinctive hand claps between the last two phrases).

The melody of the song also serves as the basis for the F. C. Copenhagen football team’s song.

In Home Room (a film about a high school shooting), the song is playing when the father of one of the main characters is flipping through radio channels.

In 2006 while presenting the NME Awards, Russell Brand made the joke, “Really, it’s no surprise he’s (Geldof) such an expert on famine, he has after all been dining out on ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ for thirty years”. This was a response to Geldof calling him a “cunt”.

In the film  The Commitments (1991), the character of Mickah Wallace (Dave Finnegan) sings the chorus as part of a microphone test before the band’s first concert.

In a Phineas and Ferb episode, Dr. Doofenshmirtz makes an homage to this song singing “I Really Don’t Hate Christmas”.

3 thoughts on “Manic Monday

  1. This is very well researched and written!! I didn’t know about this one, but now i’m glad I can check that one off my list of murderers. 🙂

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