Tag Archives: culture

Don’t Give Me No Plastic Saddle! Let Me Feel That Leather When I Ride

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Some few, some happy few, some band of brothers of you mightn’t have thought about this song in a while.  Which seems a shame.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about this morning.  I actually wanted to tell you about the time I spent half a day poking around the town lots along the highway in Canyon City, Colorado looking for evidence of a long-burned out diner.  Ian Tyson recorded the song in the 1960s and when I found myself in southwestern Colorado I couldn’t resist.

But I didn’t find the ruins of that diner and Jeanne, midway through writing this, advised me I wrote about searching for those ruins on here sometime before.

So there I was, riding a plastic saddle of a blog entry as a consequence of having a mind that functions too much it its own image when it comes to thinking up anecdotes to reflect on.

Hells bells.  I could tell you about the young man who lives next door to Jeanne and his difficulties finding a job, but nevermind that.  He’s a fine young man with a lot of experience as an automotive mechanic, but he has some brain disorder causing him to need an extremely expensive medication so he can think in straight lines.  When he doesn’t get it his thoughts go everywhere.

$300-$400 per month the damned stuff costs and he doesn’t have medical insurance.  So he quit taking it January and by March Mazda was deciding they didn’t need him anymore going to get the same wrench fifteen times and forgetting what he was after.

So from then until now he’s been looking for another job without measurable success, though he does a little security work filling in, and  the night it snowed he drove a bobcat around clearing a parking lot.

But for any job of a regular nature nobody’s calling him back.  Even though he worked eleven years for Mazda never a hitch.

So, when he’s not filling in applications for jobs he turns on this giant TV screen and loads up a game the likes of which I’ve never seen nor imagined.  I is an authentic appearing urban environment with a lot of authentic appearing men in combat gear stalking one another around shooting one another and otherwise dealing misery.  I’m guessing it’s a lot more seductive than working down at AutoZone selling auto parts.

Brent’s the man’s name and he’s taken to visiting me some, killing time.  He told me about two documentary movies about Afghanistan he’s seen recently:

Restrepo 2010 R 93 minutes.  Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington embed themselves with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the men’s work, fear and brotherhood

Korengal 2014 R 84 minutes.  This follow-up to the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo” delves into the experience of war and how it impacts those on the front lines.

I don’t have much interest in the US military adventures anywhere but he sparked my interest and I watched them.  Glad I did because it revealed something I hadn’t thought seriously about.

Those honest-to-goodness US soldiers stationed in the hottest combat zone in Afghanistan being followed constantly with cameras and recorders throughout their tour loved war!  During firefights they whooped and cheered when they thought they killed someone.  And between firefights they pined for someone to shoot at.

When they’d almost served out their tour the cameraman asked them, “What are you going to miss most about Afghanistan?”

A surprising number answered, “Shooting people.”

Under questioning it was clear none of those troops thought they were doing anything patriotic.  They’d been filtered from the US population to find people who’d hooha their way out into the killing fields and love every minute of it.

So when the young guy neighbor said he regretted he couldn’t join because of his daughters and his medical condition it went a long way to explain that game he loves playing on his television.  A plastic saddle.

One of the GIs gave an interesting reply though, on one of those documentaries.

“I’m going to have to go home and live with what I’ve done.  I think God hates me.  God didn’t intend people to do what we do here.

“I hate it when people say ‘you did what you had to do.  I didn’t have to do anything.  I didn’t have to kill anyone.  I didn’t have to join the Army.  I chose all that and now I have to live with it.”

With vets offing themselves at a rate of one per hour the guy might be a worthy object for study by the people who worry about such matters.  It ain’t a plastic saddle he’s riding back to the Home of the Brave.

Old Jules

 

The futility of pessimism

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I swan, every time I get feeling low and remorseful, which I mostly don’t, I just can’t hold onto it.  Slips right between my fingers the way a broken egg gets away from a person.  Doesn’t even leave any particles of eggshell hanging around to try to pick away so’s to save the goo.

What I’m saying is I could get used to this.  Something awful.  Here I am, snow outside, me inside.  Jeanne never lets it get below 63 degrees F here in the house, which isn’t something I’ve experienced since sometime before Y2K.  And I’m having to count calories instead of just counting miniscule particles of sodium.

Heck, when I checked into the hospital here almost a year ago I weighed in at 145 lbs, and didn’t have an ounce of body fat.  Fasting before medical tests was agony.  And here I am at 190 pounds, being careful not to gain any more.  I figure I’m around 10 pounds heavier than is ideal for me.  But I’ll take it off gradually, or it will rot off if I croak.

I’m cooking a lot of salt-free stovetop bread, both for bun-type [hamburger-like] or somewhat cake-like.  Or pizza-like.  And no sodium or low sodium isn’t cramping my style one bit.  I can whip out curry fish, curry chicken, ginger beef, sauteed mushrooms, and more kinds of siamin than anyone ever heard of using mung-bean vermicelli and no sodium chicken or beef broth.

Jeanne found some extremely low-sodium Swiss cheese and I’ll confess I almost found myself wallowing in ecstacy with the first, pizza, then omelet that resulted soon thereafter.

Whip over to the double-sink with hot and cold running water, spang wash all the dirties quicker than I can tell about it.  Sheeze.

Here I am gazing out the window, Otis Redding playing on the gramaphone, Hydrox snoring on his wool old-man army blanket.  Shiva the cow cat nosing around finding things of interest under Jeanne’s Christmas tree, curling up on the ‘tree skirt’ [an item I never knew existed].

So here I am trying to work up a good pessimism but it escapes me.  Got an old Frederick Pohl novel [Far Shore of Time] about a third read.  Finished a pretty good biography of Captain Woodes Rogers, a surprisingly scholarly piece of work by David Cordingly.  Pirate Hunter of the Caribbean.  Thinking of passing it on to one of Jeanne’s sons, it’s so fun reading.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not falling into any pit of joy, getting snagged up by the trap of hope.  I’m just muddling along grateful as hell it’s so warm in here, watching it snow.

Old Jules

Japanese Bonsai Charges Onto Good American Machine Guns

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Most of you probably are celebrating the return to the Philippine Islands this day in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-four today.  Or in the instance of my charming ex-wife, Caroline, merely being born in Nineteen-hunnerd and forty-seven.  Both events teetering the scales of the human  balance in the Universe somewhat in the direction of ‘good’.

The US Military experience in the Philippines was ‘good’ mostly because contrary to previous behavior on other islands the Japanese didn’t come storming out of caves with fixed bayonets pruning trees as they ran down onto US machine guns.  Those damned trees remained intact for the most part if they weren’t hit by good US bullets and shells.  No damned bonsai forests of fancy trees for the Filipino population to deal with after the surrender.

That, and there wasn’t a problem with Death Marches the way happened the last time the US military ran up against the Japanese military in the Philippines.  That Bataan Death March was evidently most unpleasant, both for the GIs being forced to walk shoeless and hungry across the island, and for the Japanese having to shoot or stick them with bayonets for lollygagging.  Nothing of that sort in 1944.  The Japanese were perfectly well behaved, though uncompromising.  And the GIs resisted the entirely justified impulse to kill every last man of them.

The harbor at Manilla ended up being a great place for US sailors to put in and get drunk and whore.

All in all everything worked out well in the end.  Seemed almost no-time at all the US was fire bombing Tokyo and nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Then rebuilding the Japanese steel and other industries bombed to rubble during the war so’s everyone made a pile of money.  And another great place for GIs to get drunk and whore!

Heck, guys were still getting drunk and whoring in Japan all the way up into the Vietnam War.  When I was in Korea almost all the GIs took two weeks ‘rest and recuperation’ leave to Japan sometime during their tours.  The Japanese whores were generally more cosmopolitan, it was believed, than Korean ladies.

So for those of us alive December 16, 1944, it was the first day of the rest of our lives and it all turned out good.  Except for a few Japanese troops hiding in the jungles who wouldn’t listen to reason.

Think of it!  If Japan had surrendered December 16, 1944, it could have avoided having Tokyo firebombed and Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuked.  And I’d have been able to celebrate it with this blog entry.

Old Jules

The Six-Dollar [American] Watch

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Those of you who’ve been reading here a while might recall the soul-searching I had to do when my Timex Expedition wouldn’t belly up to the bar after the batteries went dead and I tried replacing them.  That poor old watch breathed its last.  I figured I’d be replacing it, but what with heart attacks and one thing and another, I didn’t.

Instead I picked up a digital watch at Dollar Tree for a buck to hold me over until I could decide whether I was going to live long enough to be needing a $25-$30 watch until the batteries died.  No point putting out all that money for extra watch a man wasn’t going to live long enough to look at the full $25 worth.  Or more.  Hell you can’t take it with you.  It’s like buying new underwear, if you’re me.  When your life is on a short leash you debate hard with yourself whether these jockey’s can’t be stretched long enough to hold out until I croak.

Aesthetics gradually rolled over me with that dollar watch.  Damned thing had a stiff plastic band that raised welts on my wrist and I’ve really never been able to make my mind absorb the numbers on a watch without any damned hands at a quick glance.  I have to squint and study on it to figure out where the hands would be if it were a real watch.

So last year at Andrews, Texas, while my bud Eddie Brewer was being host for the RV, the cats and me while I awaited the pleasure of the VA medical folks, I spang went to a discount-type store in Andrews and found myself a $6.00 [American] real watch with hands.  Figured I couldn’t die until the VA got around to telling me why I was going to, and it might take a few more bucks of watch to outlast them.

That was about this time last year, got myself a nice $6.00 watch with a leather-looking band and a quartz movement.  That watch saw me through some damned difficult times I can tell you. I spent last Christmas in the parking lot of an AutoZone store in Big Spring, Texas, digging through the dumpster and admiring the life left in that new watch.

When the store re-opened after Christmas my brake master cylinder arrived, I installed it using tools I got out of their dumpster, and trucked to San Angelo.  Where I suspect I had another heart attack in the WalMart parking lot, but nevertheless trucked back to Gale’s.  All this is probably written up here in the archives.

Then the Kerrville, Texas hospital.

More damned needles, tests, hospital beds than a person has to put up with if he’s only relying on the VA for his health care.  Those damned private medical facilities get downright enthusiastic when it comes to poking and prodding.

Anyway, after the hospital in Kerrville the watch was still working, so naturally I had to try to stay alive, which didn’t seem all that likely if I didn’t take some sort of decisive steps to outlast the damned watch.  I could barely stagger up the steps into the RV and out again to pee.  And I was worried about the cats being stuck inside if I croaked and nobody found me for a few days.

So I headed for Kansas during the coldest weather in living memory in Texas and it was no slouch in Kansas, either.  Made it north of Dallas, checked into a motel to croak or whatever.  But the damned watch was still running and Jeanne’s sons came down, drove me up here.  Coldest damned road trip I recall in my life except one in Korea.  But that’s another story.

So, you know the rest, mostly.  Hospitals, more VA, all the usual suspects, and that $6 Andrews, Texas watch kept on ticking.

It was the band that killed it off.  Watch is fine but the band broke up next to the watch.  I was afraid that was going to happen, saw it coming.  I even went so far as to shop around for another watch band, which would have cost double what the watch set me back.  Then I sneaked around and looked at the cost of Timex Expeditions.  And I knew in my defibrillatored heart I couldn’t outlive a damned Timex.  I had to draw my line in the sand.

Jeanne took me over to a Big Lot store, me thinking they might have something I could live as long as, and spang!  There it was.  A six-dollar [American] watch, that had the look of something that probably wouldn’t outlast me.

The lady at the register helped me unfasten all the security belts and extra packaging a person hates to throw away, but hell, damned stuff is shaped to be worthless.  I strapped that mama on, set it to the time on the clock above the register, and I was ready to rock and roll again.

Brief panic when I checked the time against my computer an hour later and it seemed to have lost 10 minutes, but it was just they had their clock set fast at Big Lot.  Those folks are young enough they don’t have any appreciation for throwing their time away fooling around with clocks.

So I’m back in the saddle.  Got me a watch I can feel confident will last me the remainder of my life if need be, without wasting a damned cent.  And not likely to put a lot of pressure on me to live past my time.

Old Jules

Best laid plans

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

1951 I fell madly in love with a song on the radio:  Trumepeter’s Lullaby.  So naturally around 1955 when Central Grade School began scouting around for kids who wanted to play instruments in the band I announced, “I shore do!”

But half the boys lining up to sign wanted to play the trumpet.  Probably the glamor of it looking so similar to a bugle, which we’d all seen in John Wayne movies, along with various war movies.  And Frank Sinatra’d been a trumpet player in something to draw our attention.

Okay.  My parents assured me I could learn to play Trumpeter’s Lullaby on a trombone as well as Anderson played it on a trumpet if I worked hard.  Besides, someone they knew had a trombone the kid outgrew and I could have it for the price of a little oil and Brasso.

So I worked myself something awful on that trombone for the rest of grammar school, right on up into Junior High Band.  Learned to read music as long as  it was following a bass clef lead.  And damn me, never could play anything as well as I could play taps or reveille.  Sounded really good on a trombone.

I did learn to play Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin Bread.

And I did a fair job on Under the Double Eagle.

But taps, reveille, Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin Bread, and Under the Double Eagle does not a band member make.  Never could bring myself to learn anything else and finally Mr. Jackson, the band director suggested I try choir.  Move on to greater horizons, sort of thing.

So hell, I did.  Never joined the choir, but I spent a good many years singing Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Shortnin Bread until it became rude to do it for other reasons than my voice.

Likely as not if I live long enough I’ll take up the trumpet, though.  I never cared for that damned trombone.

Old Jules

Asylum seekers you’ve come to the right place!

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Send me your physicians, your engineers, your entrepreneurs, your cast-off politicians.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Liberty#mediaviewer/File:Statue_of_Liberty_7.jpg

Hi readers.  Thanks for the visit.

Probably most of you have noticed the US has become an asylum.  What the hell.  I suppose it’s to be expected.  This morning I perused Yahoo News long enough to discover Israeli soldiers beat a Palestinian Minister to death because he was protesting the latest US sponsored land grab Israel’s been doing since the summer slaughter at Gaza.  They’ve gobbled up a lot more territory on the West Bank, as well as in the half of Jerusalem they don’t own.

Nothing new there except me pointing out it’s the US sponsoring it all by sending them all those billions of dollars and megatons of weaponry.  So you and I are complicit in the slaughter, robbing and rape of Palestine by Israel.

However, what really surprised me is the uproar defending torture of prisoners and holding them without due process of any kind for years, decades.  It’s taken as an opportunity for self-celebration by news announcers.  “America is awesome!” trumps “Jesus H. Christ!  We need to quit torturing people and provide them with due process or we’re leaving ourselves open for a royal screwing!”

Yep, welcome to the asylum.

Jeanne told me about a news item – they’ve found ruins and written documents in Massachusetts, she says, authenticating a Muslim settlement 500 years before Columbus.  I’ll be interested in chasing that down, but the strong man for Turkey made a news release sometime in the 1990s making a similar claim.  Evidently Columbus made an observation somewhere in his writings that they’d found a Mosque in Cuba.

Heck, probably they were the shock troops over here looking for something to blow up but got here ahead of schedule.  Makes sense to me.

I hope that last bit doesn’t give Israel any ideas based on the Hebrew writings on Hidden Mesa dating back so far it took modern scholars to identify precisely what they were and said.  Next thing you know the Israeli army will be bombing schools and hospitals in Albuquerque preparatory to sending settlers to New Mexico because ‘they owned it once’.

Might as well.  Hell with Congress and so much of the government already being dual-citizenship Israeli they’d probably end up owning it again.

But that’s life in an asylum.

Old Jules

 

 

Tough call, this Ferguson thing

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

The Internet’s buzzing with opinions about the original Ferguson, MO, incident, and the rioting afterward.  Everyone feels qualified at this stage to have an opinion.

I don’t have an opinion, but here it is.

I don’t like cops.  I think they are a gang of bullying thugs attracted to the job because of personality deficiencies.  I believe they see themselves as a ‘brotherhood [gang] and use phrases such as ‘authority figure’ to explain to themselves why nobody likes them.  But deep down they know why.  They demonstrate the truth of this most profoundly when one of them gets killed on the job.

However, under the current structure of this society it’s a job that satisfies a necessary need in society, probably marginally keeping things from going completely off the rails by other gangs of thugs taking over and doing even worse.

Such as the gang of thugs who are setting fire to homes and businesses in response to Ferguson, opportunistically running off with stolen booze, television sets, anything they can take and run.  Here’s what a couple of black men have to say about all that:

For beginners, the store camera just before he was killed proved to my satisfaction the dead youngster was a bullying thug and a thief.  If he’d run into you or run into me anywhere adversarial such as a dark alley he’d happily make us sorry some cop hadn’t offed him sometime earlier.  In a year or two when he went to prison [as he was certainly going to do] he’d have been big enough to be on the happy end of the raping of his cell mate.

So the issue isn’t whether the world is any better off or worse off with him dead.  I’m personally satisfied there are people all over the place he didn’t live to occupy who are being spared a lot of pain and heartache as a consequence of his demise.

So the issue is really not him getting killed.  Nobody would be rioting if he’d been one of the far more numerous black men being killed by other black men.  Nobody is lamenting those, partly because a huge percentage of them might be suspected without prejudice to have ‘needed killing’ in the same sense this one did.  Gangsters, street hoods, living and behaving in a way to invite getting shot in a war zone.

So the real issue is cops.  Police officers coldly and deliberately killing blacks, not all of them as needful of being killed as this one.  And getting by with it.

My opinion is that whenever a black kills a black it’s an equal offense to a black killing a cop, a cop killing a black, anyone else killing a cop or black.  It needs to stop.  Cops need to be thrown under the bus whenever they kill anyone and it’s not clearly self-defense [against an armed suspect].  Same as a black gets thrown under the bus the instant a cop dies.

And blacks need to belly up to the bar and take some responsibility for the way their kids are behaving out there on the streets.  Same as white people need to.  One of the ways they need to do that is to make certain the black folks getting shot are the right ones to eradicate all this street shooting.  Whether they are cops or gangsters.

But what the hell do I know.

Old Jules