Rigged Whirlwind

November 29, 2016

PastFuture

God bless the President of the United States.

God bless the President-elect of the United States.

Nevertheless, our President-elect hath brought down upon himself, and upon his budding administration, a whirlwind of contention about the legitimacy of the very election that puts him in charge of things.

Now Jill Stein, the Green Party’s defeated nominee, is demanding recounts in some battleground states. Some Democrats are also rattling their cages with similar demands for recounting. Furthermore, some irate leftists are actively attempting to convince Electoral College delegates to violate the electoral mandate of their respective state delegations, by voting against the Republican Presidential nominee.

The overall effect is casting, in some quarters, a pall of doubt, and an implication of illegitimacy over our 2-centuries old Constitutionally-established electoral process.

Who is responsible for this dubious development?

Donald Trump.

He was the candidate who publicly proclaimed that our election system was “rigged.”

His accusation, loudly stated months before the election, was a desperate attempt to capture the support of disgruntled voters in flyover country who have felt, for many years, deep down in their bones, distrust for our Democratic-Republican system of government. These so-called rust-belt-dwelling, middle-aged, middle-class, honky-white denizens of tea-party insurrection have felt, for the last eight years or more, that somehow the whole damn elite-controlled, media-manipulated, inside-the-beltway, special-interests-driven .gov-slouching Establishment is stacked against them.

But on Nov. 9, a funny thing happened on the way to the Electoral College. President Trump’s strategy of sowing seeds of doubt–about the fairness of the System–it worked. Instead of getting him a recount, it got him a victory!

Who’d’ve thunk it? Probably the Donald himself. One thing’s for sure. He’s smarter than the average bear, and his timing must be damnear perfect.  He played against the odds, like challenging the dealer in an Atlantic City casino. And guess what? He won.

Nevertheless, as the old Book–and sometimes the bookie–says, you sow to the wind, hey, you reap the whirlwind.

We Americans now fined ourselves feeling a whirlwind of discontent that ariseth from the other direction, like the hurricane after the eye has passed. This strange bellowing stirreth up electoral troubles anew, when we thought the whole damn thing had blown over.

Hence, post-election, leftist wolves now Occupy those Boston tea-party rumors of discontent; they howl beneath a full moon of coveted anarchy–contending that  the system is rigged. It is rigged by our out-of-fashion Constitutional electoral process, and by election improprieties in several key states, and also by the fact that Sec. Clinton has reportedly gathered more popular votes.

“Rigged!” so they say. Who came up with that allegation?

President Trump.

You reap what you sow.

Glass half-Full

supremacist, really?

November 23, 2016

I got in the car to drive home from work. Radio was on. Juan Gonzalez was interviewing Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now. Jeremy was speaking about a political thing that is reportedly happening in our country now, a  movement of misguided zealots who are striving to impose on the rest of us some so-called  “Christian supremacist agenda.”

But this Christian says, I beg to differ; consider this:

Here is a picture of the man who established the Christian religion:

ChristCruc

Does this person look like a “supremacist”?

This pic, taken from a very old painting, is an artist’s rendering  of the man who long ago said:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

This is the man who, when two of his disciples wanted to call down a firestorm of judgement on people who had rejected them, denied them permission to impose such a vengeful retaliation, and then explained, “. . . (I) did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

This is the man who, on the night of his arrest, who would not allow his right-hand man to wield a sword to resist their arrest.

Does such a strategy sound like the beginning of a “supremacist” uprising?

I do believe Mr. Scahill has confused us Christians with some other group, a group whose identity is not rooted in the One who was willing to give his life for me and for all the rest of us.

Mr. Scahill is referring, I believe,  to those honky whites who think they own the place. They need to read the gospels instead of whatever white supremacist webstuff  they’ve gotten a hold of. And they need to quit emulating the jihadi supremacists who want to impose a caliphate on us dhimmi-witted Christians.

As for you, Juan and Jeremy, just keep on doing what you’re doing, if that’s what floats your boat. But please, try to get your nomenclature correct next time you go reporting on us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Glass half-Full

Alabama. How ’bout you?

November 19, 2016

Alabama.

Alabama sticks in my mind, going way back.

To get from Louisiana to Georgia, you have to drive through that Sweet Home state of Alabama, the state where folks drive around with a license plate that says: Stars fell on . . .

Alabama, whatever that means.

I’ll tell you what it means. it means crucible.

It means the place where America’s deepest hopes and deepest fears about building a great nation and living out the ideal of all men and women being created equal by Creator God, the place where all those deepest hopes and deepest fears clashed in the thoroughfares of history on a highway between Selma and Montgomery,

and on the steps of the state capitol when President Kennedy sent soldiers in to compel George Wallace to do his job and allow the black folks of Sweet Home to vote and to go to school and to University.

And then later, years later, George Wallace issued a public apology for his former racist bullshit way of doing things. And I remember this video I saw online just a year or two or three ago of Wallace sitting in a wheelchair, his daughter by his side, telling the black folk and all of us, all the people of America, that he was sorry.

I mean I saw this, so to speak, with my own eyes, (online.) It all happened in my lifetime.

This George Wallace who was speaking in my hometown, back in the day, 1968, when he went to the Louisiana legislature and spoke there and he said if they’d send him to Washington he’d take all their suitcases from all them bureaucrats in Washington and throw them suitcases in the Potomac River, and when he said that all the Louisianans who filled that legislative chamber laughed.

But such hyperbole was not a rhetorical stunt unknown to the folks of the bayou state, many of whom in that room that day could still remember what Huey Long had said back in the day,  1930’s.

‘Course we all know it didn’t amount to a hill of beans. Dick Nixon went to the white house that year instead the Alabama governor. Hubert Humphrey was the one who lost big time that year because Wallace peeled off a bunch of them riled-up southerners from the Democrats.

I mean, Hubert got a raw deal in Chicago, but we can’t be crying in our beer forever. He was a nice guy. God bless him, Hubert. May he rest in peace; and, for that matter, may Richard Nixon rest in peace.

We all have our faults.

All of this has happened in my lifetime, y’all, which wasn’t so long ago and it’s still happening today.

We have seen serious changes during these 65 years. I’m not making this up.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MhOZt5-Jl8

Maybe I’m just dreaming it, but if I am just dreaming it, well shut my mouth.

But as I was sayin’–I’m talking’ ’bout Alabama now–the place where all of our darkest southern closets got blasted open, oftentimes on nataional TV, to reveal them skeletons in them closets, them skeletons of racism that most Alabamans have now left in the dust of history but every now and then someone drags them old skeletons out of them closets.

Dogs sicced on freedom riders, four martyred girls in 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham.

But I’m here to tell you this blood was not shed in vain. The blood of the martyrs is the seeds of. . .

So these days, November 2016, y’all can rant in the streets all you want to, but I’m here to tell you that this new Attorney General appointee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, him about whom the Dems are so upset, while they be trying to affix the R-word to Senator Jeff’s reputation just because he be from Alabama, and yet I see on Resurgent this morning these photos of Jeff Sessions holding hands with Rep. John Lewis

   http://theresurgent.com/seriously-trump-the-pictures-of-jeff-sessions-they-dont-want-you-to-see/   

as they were commemorating the stand taken back in the day, 1965, when Dr. King, Dr. Abernathy, young John Lewis and many others who, being with them all together of one accord and holding hands, marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge while trying to walk from Selma to Montgomery but then them Alabama troopers sent out by the old Wallace, not the later-repentent Wallace, stopped them civil rights marchers on the bridge and beat the hell out ’em.

   http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march/videos/bloody-sunday   

But I’m here to tell you this blood was not shed in vain. The blood of the martyrs is the seeds of. . .

As the poet said, and still says, the times they are a-changin’.

And so they did, and they still are.

Hence, just a year ago as I was cleaning a laundry room at work and listening on the radio to John Lewis’ account of that infamous Bloody Sunday event, as he was recalling it to Terri Gross or Diane Rehm or some other radio luminary, and I remember what Rep. Lewis said about being beat up and it was some bad shit going down but they lived to tell about it and ultimately they prevailed all the way to the steps of the Alabama state capitol and beyond, and Dr. King spoke and it really stuck with me.

So now in November 2016 I’m seeing this jpg of Sessions and Lewis holding hands on the Edmund Pettus bridge and

this has all happened in my lifetime, y’all.

Please don’t tell me it was a dream. Let me have my dream. I have the dream, all God’s children, remember, wait for it . . . don’t you have a dream?

I mean, this all happened in my lifetime y’all.

Alabama, please ya’ll don’t forget this excruciated crucible of our great American dream, where the blood of saints and sinners was shed for the liberty of us all. If you ever go there, remember you’ll be treading on holy ground, ground made holy by the shedding of the blood of the Lamb,

   http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/birmingham-church-bombing   

but that was before the stars fell on Alabama. Now people there have seen the light, or at least I hope they have. I’m willing to give them a little grace, and some space, to cross our next bridge.

How ’bout you?

Glass half-Full

Symbols that Unite or Divide

November 16, 2016

AmFlag

Here’s a timely excerpt from Glass half-Full, the novel I wrote in 2007:

Marcus opened a can of turpentine. He tipped it slightly so that its upper contents would spill onto a rag that lay on the parking lot next to his car. With the rag partially soaked, he began rubbing on the driver’s-side door. Someone had painted a black swastika on it while he was working late. His cell phone rang.

He opened it, looked at the mini-screen, saw “Grille,” which stood for Jesse James Gang Grille. In the last few days, however, whenever he would see “Grille” displayed as the caller ID, it registered in his mind as “Girl,” meaning Bridget, because she would often call from there.

“Hi.”

“Marcus, have you heard about the explosion?”

“No, where?”

“At the Belmont Hotel, about 20 minutes ago.”

The Belmont was just two blocks from the restaurant.

“That’s where the FEF convention is. Aleph told me he would be going there tonight. Has anybody been down there to see what’s happening?”

“Kaneesha left here right after we heard it, but she hasn’t returned. I don’t think anybody’s getting in there for awhile. The police have got the whole block barricaded.”

“I want to find out if anything has happened to Aleph. Don’t you think he would have left there by now?

“The TV News says the police aren’t letting anyone in or out except rescue workers.”

“I’m headed over there in a few minutes, as soon as I get the car-door cleaned up. Someone painted a swastika on it.”

LincMemNit

Glass half-Full

Thanks to our Veterans

November 11, 2016

On this Veterans’ Day 2016, I say to all men and women who have served our United States as soldiers and workers in our armed forces, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard. . .

Thank You.

VietMem2

All you men and women who are serving, or have served, in our armed forces, and then lived to tell about it, please know that we are glad you made it through your dutiful missions, still alive and kicking.

As a remembrance of those who did not make it back alive, we reflect upon the cause–our freedom as a nation of free men and women–for which they fought, bled, and died. Toward that end, we recall the words of President Abraham Lincoln, which he spoke at Gettysburg battlefield in November, 1863.

“. . . from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Glass half-Full 

Where is the new Frontier?

November 9, 2016

We will need some kind of new frontier in order for significant growth to take hold.

LadyWork

In the early stages of our nation, that growth came from westward continental expansion.

In the 1920’s, growth came from unprecedented expanding consumer markets.

In 1950’s-60’s postwar America, growth came from rebuilding our nation and the world after the Depression and WWII destruction.

In the 1980’s-90’s, growth came from the computerization, digitization and online expansion of American life.

If we are in for a new expansion, what industry or circumstance will be the basis for it?

If the next expansion is going to truly benefit the little people– the losers in that theoretical “income inequality” gap–then our expansion must begin with them.

It’s time for the bootslingers that tread upon American streets, sidewalks and soils to pull themselves up by our bootstraps, because such a thing as prosperity cannot happen as a result of .gov programs.

The advanced, post-industrial condition of our economy indicates, I believe, that the next wave of innovation/expansion can, and must,  come only from the economic micro-units of our heartland.

That is to say, from the garage tinkerers, the workshop wonders, the flea-market marvels, the home front hopefuls, the lemonade-stand lovers of our land who are unwilling to waste away in social media mediocrity and cabled corruption.

Now is the time for grassroots level renewal.

Now is the time for all men and women to come to the aid of their families, their neighborhoods, their communities, our country.

Donald Trump, bless his heart, may be an amazing guy, off the charts and all that, but he cannot pull prosperity out of a half-empty glass economic base.

The glass half-Full mindset will be based, in our future, on learning how to do more with less. The milking of this planet’s resources can only go so far without seriously strategic enterprising  innovation. That principle will be the lesson and legacy of the Obama years.

I hope we have learned, or will learn, that lesson of resourcefulness, and I hope that President Trump will facilitate our building upon that great base of American innovation and enterprise.

Don’t you Americans be looking for no handouts. That well has run dry. It’s time to drill a new one, but it may have to be in your own back yard.

In this way we may perhaps make America great again.

Glass half-Full

America Bleeding

November 7, 2016

In the middle of my teenage years, back in the day, I was a high school student. On the other side of the city where I grew up, our state university provided education for thousands of students who had already matriculated to the college level of learning.

Here is a picture which I lifted, by iPhone helicoptering technology, from a book that I recently perused. The image depicts a campus walkway, circa 1965, where students are going into and out of the LSU student Union building. A few years after this photograph was snapped, I became one of those students, 1969 version, who traipsed from class to class on the campus of LSU.

LSUnionWalk

The book from which this image is lifted is linked here:

  https://www.amazon.com/Treasures-LSU-Laura-F-Lindsay/dp/0807136786

This morning, while viewing this photo as part of the research for the novel that I am now composing, I found something interesting about it. Take a look at the apparel that these students are wearing. Most of them are clothed in solid colors, which, in this photo, registers as either black or white. On almost every student whose garb depicts this black/white arrangement, the black is on the lower half of the body–the pants, or skirt part.

Considering the way Americans dress nowadays, this seems to be a boringly plain, regimented arrangement. It is, however, perhaps a little more dignified than what we might see at a typical 2016 visit to, say, Walmart, McDonald’s, or any college or university.

Notice, however, that six of these students in the picture are wearing a clothes motif that stands apart from the black/white pattern. And in every one of these six individuals, the fashion statement is the same:

Plaid.

Six students are wearing plaid.

This was a new trend in youthful clothing  during the mid-1960’s. It was, however, the beginning of a virtual tsunami of color that would be be flaunted in the coming years, in the clothes and fashions of young people. By the end of the decade, this small bursting forth of crisscrossed chromaticism would metamorphose into a riot of  self-expressive color displayed uninhibitedly on our young bodies. Thus would we baby boomers strive, in our own threadish way, to find and establish own generational identity.

My memory of this elaborative fashion development began in my eight-grade, 1964-65. The pattern retained in my mind from that time is a certain kind of plaid:

Madras.

The Madras plaid came from India, specifically a city there named Madras, which has since had its name changed to Chennai.

What was really groovy for us back in the day was that Madras plaids had an earthy, handwoven look. The fabric itself had curious little irregularities in it. . . little clumps in the thread, and variations in the weaving. The look and feel of it was a departure from the American stuff, which was obviously machine-made, bland and boring.

So we started wearing the Madras plaid in–I think it was–about 1965. This photograph seems to have captured the very inception of that style-shattering sea-change in our thread preferences.

A very attractive feature of the Madras was this: it bled.

When you washed your plaid shirt, or pants, the colors would “bleed.”

With each washing, the threaded pigments would migrate slightly out into the white regions of the fabric.

This was way-cool.

It was groovy. All that color was leaping out of the grooves of regimented style, testing the compartmentalism of society, violating the tick-tacky of conformity, even setting the stage for a fading American resolve to retain our post-WWII position as policeman of the world.

But this fashionable Madras bleeding was but a small shriveling on the torso of the American corpus writ large.

At the same time, in the mid-1960’s, America was bleeding real, red blood, and it wasn’t cool.

It was hot blood, 98.6 degrees.

America was bleeding in Vietnam.

America was bleeding in the ghettoes of the cities.

America was bleeding in Selma.

America was bleeding in Watts, in Detroit.

America would bleed in Orangeburg, at Jackson State, at Kent State.

But that was nothing new.

America had bled at  Lexington and Concord, at Yorktown.

America had long been shedding blood in the cotton fields, and at the trading blocks in New Orleans, in Charleston.

America had bled in Kansas, and at Harpers Ferry, Fort Sumter, Antietam.

America bled at Gettysburg and Appammatox.

America bled at Little Big Horn and at Wounded Knee.

America bled through the hands, the arms and backs and feet of thousands of immigrants who drove steel stakes into the railways that stretched all the way from Boston to San Francisco.

America bled at Haymarket, Chicago

America bled prolifically at Verdun, Amiens, Flanders

America hemorrhaged at Pearl Harbor, at Normandy, at the Bulge, at Iwo Jima  and Guadalcanal and Okinawa.

And America continued its bloodletting in Korea, at Inchon.

America bled at Ia Drang, at Khe Sanh,  at Saigon and Hué and Danang.

America wept bloody tears at My Lai.

America bled from Kuwait to Baghdad

America bled in Beirut and Mogadishu, and in Kosovo.

America bled at the Word Trade Center on 9/11.

America bled at Fallujah, and in Helmand, Qandahar and Kabul.

America weeps for the blood shed at Mosul and Aleppo.

America weeps, America bleeds in millions of D&C’d in uteri.

We have always been bleeding somewhere. It is the way of all flesh.

And America is still bleeding; she is bleeding now.

As to which way we will be bleeding tomorrow, that remains, until 11/9, to be seen.

Glass half-Full 

Riggedy Rigged, Jiggedy Jig

October 31, 2016

Nevermore

Once upon an election dreary,

while I desponded, weak and weary

over many a banal and boring

email of Clintonian yore,

suddenly there came a tapping,

as of someone gently rapping,

rapping at our nation’s door.

My mind was wobbly, cluelessly wobbling

when suddenly there came a goblin,

as some terrible beastie toppling

toppling down our Rule of Law!

Screamed the raven, Caw! Caw! Caw!

Screamed the maven, No more Law, No Election Law!

Then quoth the maven, Rigged, Rigged!

And quoth the raven, Jiggedy Jig!

And then I saw it, in media gone wild

with citizenry by hearsay now defiled

as Comey’s call flew through  the door,

Our Elective legitimacy cometh Nevermore!

How this happened, I am not sure.

I only hope we’re not beyond a cure.

But as the storm rolled o’er our news-tossed shore,

I heard  again, the raven, Nevermore!

I mean, um, I woke up.

It seemed like the eye of the storm had passed. But then this past weekend we started to feel it– those first ominous stirrings of a fierce backwind–phase two–the last rumblings of a frightfully destructive political maelstrom.

It was Hurricane Donilldary swirling up again from the dark depths of our dysfunction; so soon doth it roll again and again like bungling banshees o’er the coasts of our confusion, until the end, November 8th, the very end.

Highly unstable air–blown up between Donald’s hot bluster and Hillary’s cool cloud’cover– now takes control of what used to be an orderly democratic-republican system for  presidential selection.

Makes Watergate look like a walk in the park, McArthur’s Park. Someone left the cake out in the rain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWFHVBnR7G0

I don’t think the Weatherman faction could have come up with a more destructive gunpowder plot for blowing up–or at least hopelessly confounding–our constitutionally-established electoral process.

I mean, it has been like this:

The Donald railed loudly that the thing was rigged, carelessly casting, like,  acid rain on the wild winds of our discontent. But then, like the scary surprise ending of a Hitchcock movie, we open our jaded eyes to find, in the final (week) scene, that maybe it turns out to be the Hillary who, on the morning of 11/9, perches accusedly at the doorpost of our darkest fears, and there she calls out, caws out, repeatedly, frantically cawing,

Rigged! Rigged!

So While Comey’s last-minute disclosures in the background then do fade,  America’s confidence in the rule of law then fades,

to charade, a giga-question mark tirade,

of fear and loathing from near and far

While squawks the Raven, Bizarre!, Bizarre!

And Anonymous hackers call Who’s the next Star?

of this, our ghastly ghoulish game,

which no constitutional precedent can tame

and who’s the next candidate for our feathering and tar?

Guy Fawkes couldn’t have plotted it better.

We read it in a subpeona’ed email letter.

Quoth the Maven from afar,

so Bizarre, so Bizarre!

Glass Chimera

A Modest Declaration

October 11, 2016

CaptlConst

When in the course of human political events,

it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with obsolete political parties, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness–that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

And furthermore, that whenever any system of quasi-governmental political parties becomes destructive of these ends, it  becomes the Necessity of the people to alter or abolish those superfluous forms, and to institute new political associations, laying the revised foundations on such principles and organizing political powers in such forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Liberty.

When a long train of political party misuses and misappropriations enables the party powers to take undue advantage of the people beneath two overblown party hegemonies, it is the right of the people–yea, it is their duty–to throw off such contra-functional political structures, and to provide new avenues for their political expressions, and more importantly, for their national security.

Such has been the patient, obsequious sufferance of many a hapless Democrat and clueless Republican under irresponsible,  exploitive party hacks; and such is now the necessity which constrains the exploited people to delete their formerly systematic, politically impotent political parties.

The history of those present political parties is a history of increasing irrelevance and institutional ineptitude, presently producing no useful thing, except insofar as it provokes a mounting urgency for reform amongst the American people. This discontent is soon to be directed against the ineffective Dhemmie and Repooblican lackeys, as the people realize their sincere desires and thus sharpen their dutiful efforts toward finding new governance, through the appointment of competent, dignified leadership. To effect such change as heretofore put forth, let us tell it like it is:

       ~~ Both political parties have produced presidential candidates who are incapable of upholding the dignity of the people whom they pretend to govern.

       ~~ Both presidential candidates have obsessively traded insults about each other’s crimes, bankruptcies, emails, and many other superfluous offenses too numerous to list. These narcissistic jabs serve no constructive purpose; rather, they ignore, in effect, the noble heritage and the inherent dignity of the American people; furthermore,  these Hillary/Donald excursions into ridiculous dog-chasing-his-tail quasi-rhetorical futility, do insidiously distract  the formerly productive attentions of  the American people,  and thereby dumb-down the entire political landscape. Such gravely irresponsible misdirection of the public discourse is destructive; it absolutely fails  to illuminate the serious issues and grave concerns by which our nation’s security and prosperity is now imperiled. Thus Hillary and Donald have utterly failed, by their useless antics, to edify or instruct us about anything pertaining to the governance of this nation, not to mention the rest of the world, to which we were in days past, the original, exceptional (haha) example of republican democracy.

       ~~ As concerning the two dumb-downed parties who, by their negligence and self-serving corruption, have facilitated the seizure of our presidential selection process by these two charlatans, we the people hereby reject their collusive hegemony over our individual lives and over our collective security as a free people.

We, therefore, the citizens of the United States of America, in our domestic habitations, in our cyber identities, and in our collective and individual dignity as citizens of a free nation, do set forth this appeal to our fellow-Americans, that we might ditch the old, has-been Democrat and Republican wrecked irrelevancies, and embark upon a bold, revised political scenario, by which we can  approach, adventurously, a new horizon wherein is the vigorous  extension  of our free expression and truly effective political organization, to whit:

Go ye out on election day and Vote. Feel free to Vote for any party that remotely reflects your principles, be it Green, or Libertarian, or whatever, but not the damn Nazis.  Endorse whatsoever political association you shall, in your good conscience, with regard to responsible leadership, devise.

Therefore, so that We, the People of the United States of America, may embark upon a new expedition of responsive leadership and effective government, do hereby now forsake the old, sclerotic Democratic party and the decrepit, obsolete Republican party,

And forsooth, by this means, government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth,

Because hey, if such a thing as this cannot be done in the United States of America, where on earth can it be done?

Archives

Glass half-Full

Tan Son Nhut 1970

October 9, 2016

VNamMus70

When Johnny came marching home again it was in 1971, although really, there was no parade.

He wasn’t actually marching, anyway, but rather flying commercial out of Vietnam on a PanAm from Cam Ranh Bay. The jet featured American stewardesses, and this was a very favorable detail that our exiting guys did not fail to notice as they soared off to Pacific destinations and ultimately all the way back  over here to the good ole USA. It was a long flight from the war, and a long time to have to watch stewardesses traipsing up and down the carpeted aisles, serving food and drink; but our guys managed to get through it.

My old friend Johnny’s departing flight from Vietnam was a reversal of his arrival there, a year earlier, on a commercial US aircraft.

But here’s a curious fact that he confided to me. The “scaredest” he ever got while in Vietnam was on that first day, during the jet’s approach into Cam Ranh, because the descending plane was drawing enemy fire!

Welcome to Vietnam! Haha!

Last week, during the first days of October 2016, my old neighborhood friend Johnny told me about his one year tour in Vietnam. He lives in Louisiana, where we both started life; now I live in North Carolina. We brought our wives and had a Florida panhandle reunion at the beach.

We were chums in high school, but after our graduation in 1969 he went his way and I went mine. I went to college; he went to Vietnam.

I was protesting the war; he was over there in the middle of it.

Before last week, I had not seen Johnny since about 1975.

Now I’m writing a novel about that period of time, and about some of the differences–and reconciliation– between those two diverging groups–“them that went” and “them that didn’t.”

As it turned out, Johnny’s year of duty at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, just north of Saigon, was, he admits, easier than the brutal combat some of our guys had to endure out in the jungles while they were on patrol  being relentlessly pursued by the silently stalking Viet Cong.

During our time of defending the former Republic of Vietnam, tons and tons of weaponry, machinery, and supplies had to be delivered into the country to supply our people there. Tan Son Nhut was a busy location for transport and communications, and we needed a lot of guys on the ground to keep systems oiled, protected and combat-ready. My friend Johnny was one of those men.

During high school, Johnny had acquired some work experience in appliances and refrigeration. After our high school graduation he was not inclined, as I was, toward college. He worked for a while. Then he saw, you might say, “the handwriting on the wall” about how career choices were shaping up in 1969-70. So he volunteered for the Army. After boot camp at Fort Polk (Louisiana) and some duty-specific training at Fort Belvoir (Virginia), he shipped out, which is to say, he was put on a flight path that landed him at the Cam Ranh Air Base where they almost got shot down before setting foot in the infamous theater of Vietnam.

StratCom

When my friend arrived at his post on the perimeter of Tan Son Nhut Air Base, he spent a year on guard duty, keeping watch over the rice paddies and distant jungles beyond the fence, and reporting whenever mortar fire or any other unfriendly thing was approaching the air base.

Inside the base, there were moments when our guys could take a little time off. Here’s a pic that Johnny snapped; it depicts a recreational session of high-stakes card-sharking, with maybe a little bluffing and probably some bravado bullcrap thrown in to keep the game interesting.

VNGame

Here’s a pic of Johnny, taken when he had only been in Vietnam a few days.

JLViet70

Last week, after Johnny showed me a few hundred photos that had been stored away at his home, I thanked him for taking the time to meet me in Florida so we could talk about Vietnam.

Because I can’t write a book about what was happ’nin’ in the USA in 1969 without talking about Vietnam. I also thanked my friend for his service to our nation.

And I thanked God that he survived it. There were 58,000 of “them that went” who did not.

If you were a college kid like me in the 1960’s-’70’s, you will find it well worth your time to visit a few of the men and women who did not do college at that time, but who served–by choice or by draft–in the military. Right or wrong, won or lost, however you call it, they did what our country called them to do.

We may need many more like them before it’s all over with.

King of Soul