non-fiction

more wishful thingking

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this first appeared back in february of 08. i’d forgotten i’d written it. though with yet another election looming soon over the approaching horizon it seems like a good idea to do a summer re-run.  it’s been ten years since i wrote this and we’re not any closer to it happening than we were 10 plus years ago. a sad thing.

jmh

lots of wishful thinking on my part over the years on lots of different stuff. anything from the chance meeting of say, heidi klum, where we immediately fall into to bed and live happily ever after. or perhaps, the twice weekly i’m going to be the next california super lottery winner. wishful thinking. i think the odds on either of those things happening are probably both in the same ballpark. a ballpark with very long odds and over 400 feet down each line to the foul pole.

i’m not the first person to wishful think either of the two i mentioned. not by a long shot. male or female. for either. yeah, heidi’s that hot. drifting here. no, it’s the political season of the witch, no, not necessarily, lady machill. it’s just this season of endless political weirdness that over the years has become just annoying and nauseating and finally culminating with my withdrawing from all elections. my official absentee ballot usually ends up in the shredder.

i have some wishful thinking that might drag me back into the fray. the problem being is that’s just what it is because the humps in charge of both major parties and probably the fringe groups as well, wouldn’t like it. oh, maybe some of the fringe guys might but the big sex and money boys and girls would probably have a collective massive coronary if it came to pass. which might not be a bad idea. then we could just start over from scratch. more drifting. perhaps.

i’m not the only person to come up with this wishful thought as it’s been tossed around every now and again over the years but it never goes anywhere. sadly. big money wants nothing to do with it. i think it scares them. good. they scare me. daily.

i think the time has come to scare the bejesus out of them for a change. this sad slate of presidential candidates would seem like the perfect time for my wishful thought to maybe make it past the blossom stage and give fruition to something that should have happened years ago.

oh, i’m sure all the candidates are probably sorta nice folks. i mean maybe you could probably invite them all over to the house for some grub, massive amounts of dago red, and mah jong. though they would all have to promise no politics. the only problem is they all, would at some point, renege and start campaigning. worse yet, while working the room glad handing anyone in sight, they would be spilling heirloom cabernet all over the living room furniture and in general just being boorish dinner guests. the whole sad deal would probably end up being worse than letting the local canvassing scientology crew in for a chat and a brew. god, the horror. i don’t know if they do that but just the thought of it scares me on lots of levels.

the point of this madness? for those of you that have stuck it out here it is…none of the above. yep. that’s it. none of the above needs to be added to every ballot in the country. it’s time is way the hell over due. it’s simple in it’s purity and gives those of us something to vote for other than the ever ubiquitous ‘lesser of two evils’. cause that’s what it generally comes down to in any election. in particular a presidential election. regardless who is running. or statewide elections.  or city countywide elections for any matter.

sadly, it’s not going to happen. although i think it needs to be brought up and hammered home to our elected elitist that they serve us and not their pocketbook or summer home where ever the hell it is. it’s time we that have made ourselves the disenfranchised get our vote back. sure we quit voting on our own accord. however, they were the ones that pissed us off so much we just up and said, fuck this, i ain’t voting anymore every again for any of you witless bunch of money grubbing oily sanctimonious swine.

problem is they have all forgotten just who the hell it is they serve. they all think they are there just to serve themselves up their own personal money tree. yes, they are the folks that actually have that tree. the tree that your dad asked your mom if she thought money grew on trees tree. well, it does exist. you just have to get elected to any public office in the land. it also comes with the keys to the new tony soprano model caddy escalade AND your very own 23 year old smokin’ hot mistress. boy, howdy. makes a man want to run for office, don’t it?

imagine the chagrin some november after the votes have been tallied and candidate A gets 12%. candidate B gets 12%. the fringe guys and gals get their usual 1% and lo and behold, none of the above, wins with a whopping 75%. you snicker. though it could happen. no, by god, it should happen. it’s time we the fed up disenfranchised take our vote back. take our vote back and vote for none of the above in any damn election we feel like. we need to badger our elected swine into letting us vote for none of the above. why not? what’s the problem with that? why is it just wishful thinking?

what? what the hell? who the fuck are you anyway? why no way, sonny boy, we can’t do that. why that would be un-american. say, just what kind of commie pinko nazi muslim are you any the ways? by all that’s holy, you gotta be one of em or all of em for even suggesting such a vile idea. why, why, i think i’ll let my bodyguards shoot you for bringing that sick deviant idea up in my very own official officially sanctioned official office. ed, jack. take this commie nazi muslim scum out back and do what needs to be done.

so like here’s the deal. call your congressperson and senator. be polite. ya hear? yeah, well, hopefully they have no clue you don’t vote. then tell whoever answers the phone we need the none of the above clause added to All ballots in this once great nation. simple easy. sure they will laugh and hang up. come on, the caddy and smokin’ hot mistress need a good hot wax. so call again. give them the same rap. if enough of you supposed americans do this. we will get the none of the above clause on all ballots across america for every election. it’s time has come.

jmh

here comes the night

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it showed up about the same time every day in the late afternoon. you could almost set your watch by it. other than the fact it was the same time every day there was an accompanying palatable change in the air. you could feel it. if you were outside you would stop and look for it. yes, there it is. way off in the distance. heading your way. depending on what the rest of your day was going to bring it might put a smile on your face. today a smile if only in your minds memory. you could smell it now. soon you would hear it. if it looked to be a particularly good day you might seek higher ground in order to watch it creep slowly towards you. perhaps shouting to friends. hey, check it out. here it comes. look at it. you gotta see this. sitting high up as it grows closer the solid massive wall of grey fills your vision from the earth to the sky. thundering closer. yeah, this is a really good one. soon the oppressive heat will be gone and if you were lucky it would last well into the night. pounding the tin roof. forming rushing rivers in the beach sand within minutes. great cracks of light add to the cacophony of sound. if it lasts, tonight will be safe. no sane person moving in this wall of water and sound. monsoon season. south vietnam. a long lifetime ago but still only yesterday.

jmh

little joe ~ the hard way pt 6

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by the time he’d put his bag in the car and made sure the hotel room was  clean it was 7:15.  there was still one night left on the room but he would be long gone by the time the maid got around to cleaning the room tomorrow morning.  getting into his car he made the short trip to the pier.

it wasn’t foggy yet though the thick bank of moist ocean air was just off shore.  not more than several hundred yards from the end of the san clemente pier.  7:20 he pulled into the pier parking lot.  on a late fall early evening with the fog coming in the lot was empty.  save for his car and another parked 20 or 30 spaces to the north.  he noticed a cigarette lighter flick to light a cigarette.  his friend was waiting.  he walked out from the side the lifeguard building.  he was carrying fishing tackle.

the man got out of his car and walked toward his friend.  the greeted each other warmly.  his friend told him to go to the side of the building and change into his work clothes.  his friend would stand guard.  after he changed they began walking out on the pier.  both were dressed in overalls.  the usual fishing attire for the more serious night fishermen. they chatted amicably as they walked.  just two old friends out for a bit of night fishing.  while they were walking they noticed a set of headlights sweep into the parking lot.  if they were lucky it was their man. 

they paused in their walk and stopped by the side of a closed bait shop.  there they pointed north at some imaginary something or another while they chatted on.  a man got out of the car in the lot and he went to the trunk of his car where he pulled out some fishing gear.  even from that distance he could tell that the man was his mark.  he barely nodded to his friend.  who spoke.

damn.  i forgot to bring the thermos of coffee.  it’s on the back seat.  i’m going to go get it.

fine.  i’ll walk out to the end of the pier and start setting up.

ok.

by this time the fog had almost reached the end of the pier.  soon the entire pier would be enveloped inside the bank of fog limiting visibility and noise.  a perfect night if there ever was one.  a fog shrouded pier as a killing ground.  it would be a first for him.  excitement began to build.  he turned and walked to the end of the pier.

yes, it was almost perfect.  fog.  no one else fishing.  at least at the moment.  his target a creature of habit fished off the san clemente pier every night except for when it was raining or it was christmas eve.  he even fished when the cold fog was about to roll in.  the information had been correct.  then it always was.  he didn’t work for people if their information was shoddy or incorrect or haphazard.  you didn’t last long if you relied on bad information.

he reached the end of the pier and began setting up the fishing poles.  inside the tackle box was the .22 auto loaded with one magazine.  a second clip lay at the bottom of the box.  he picked it up and put it in his pocket.  he quickly checked to see if a round was chambered.  the small hand gun was locked and loaded.

he could just make out his friend greeting the mark at the end of the pier.  something about the old days and yellow tail running on nights like this.  those days were long gone.  yellow tail stayed miles off shore these days. 

as he moved about setting up the poles he noticed the fog roiling about him.  the bank had reached the pier and was moving swiftly towards shore.  he spotted the mark walking towards him.  he was about 20 yards out.

as the mark drew closer the man began baiting the hooks on his poles.  small smelt that were so fresh you could probably eat then yourself.  not sushi grade but good enough to fry and eat with some good crusty tuscan bread.  he was getting hungry.  time to finish the job. 

it’s going to be cold tonight.

yes, it is.  my friend forgot the coffee.  he went back to get it.  there’s probably enough to share if you don’t have any. 

i’m fine, thanks.  i always come prepared.

the mark busied himself setting up his equipment.  as he was doing that the man cast both his lines out into the foggy evening and dark water.  when done he turned and looked to the shore end of the pier.  he saw the cigarette lighter flick inside of a wisp of fog.  it was far away as if inside some dream.  the coast was clear.  clear of bystanders at the moment.  time to get on with the job.

he took the .22 from his pocket and quickly put it behind the man’s left ear.  the tip of the barrel touched hair, scalp, and nudged bone.  two very quiet shots and it was over.  the mark slumped to the deck of the pier.  he was dead by the time the second bullet began to bounce around inside his skull.

the man quickly checked himself out in the almost dim light.  there didn’t seem to be any blood splatter on his shooting hand or arm.  very good.  sometimes you got lucky he thought.  from the tackle box he withdrew a scuba weight belt.  just enough weight to keep the mark underwater long enough for he and his friend to be out of the picture.  a rather grisly picture to be sure when the mark washed up on shore or bobbed to the surface once the gases inside him started to form.

he easily rolled the man under the bottom rung of the guard rail and heard him hit the water with a fog muted splash.  he tossed the his two poles into the water.  they would sink just like the dead man.  the tackle box would follow the poles into the cold dark water in a moment.  he wasn’t concerned with prints as the salt water would take care of them soon.  the end of the pier was clean except for a small amount of blood.  he took the empty tackle box to a nearby water faucet and filled it with salt water from the tap.  he used the water from the tackle box to wash away the blood.  then tossed the box into the pacific.

he worked quickly and in no time things were as they were before the horrible crime.  the scene was clean enough.  the last thing he did was toss the mark’s gear out into the water.  turning he began his walk to the shore end of the pier.  the lighter flicked once more along with the slight ping of metal upon metal.  all was still clear.

jmh                 

i hear the click clack of your feet on the stairs

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the summer of the re-run continues. another sorta travel related riff as it were. and another from several years ago. thanks for reading.

jmh

i hear the click clack of your feet on the stairs

what a great line, pure gold from the glimmer twins.  who else?  i hear the click clack of some lady’s feet on the concrete drive every morning.  heels.  hopefully open toed.  at least i’m hoping it’s a lady.  i haven’t looked to see who it is.  i guess the fantasy thing is ok for now.  i mean it could be some decked out dude or some well, overly well fed mamacita.  or it could be heaven in heels for that matter.  i don’t want to know.  not yet.  just that sound is enough to make a man’s mind wander or at least this man’s mind.  what’s left of it anyways.  wander to all sorts of different spots.  then you toss in some thing on cable about vegas and the m i t gang that busted vegas up for a time.  and the mind drifts back.

back to vegas and the beginning of the first gulf war.  that was the last time i was in vegas, alone.  i was supposed to be there with girlfriend at the time or actually my ex, cause i’d wandered off.  it just wasn’t working.  for both of us.  a lovely vietnamese lady.  years later we stumbled upon each other again and tried, again, with the same results.  i wandered off.  again.  veering.

i’d had the hotel resverations for some time and i guess i just needed to go and forget or something.  plus the new war was about to kick off and it indeed did while i was there.  and well, lots of shit slopping around in my addled brain.

vegas isn’t one of my favorite places.  never has been.  i prefer lake tahoe.  it’s more laid back.  for gambling, drinking and relaxing.  though i’d stay away over labor day weekend.  these days i stay away from everything over any 3 day weekend.  at any rate those were the days when i did actually gamble.  i don’t any more.  just the california lottery these days.  the super lotto.  however, those that know say the horse race deal is the one to bet when it gets big.  hard for me to get a grip on shit today.  tangents.  i will also occasionally bet college football now and again.  but that doesn’t count.  yes, of course.

ok. so i’m in vegas.  the hotel california.  may as well have been.  i’m in one of the bars in the casino having a drink and playing video poker.  taking a break from real poker.  ah, yeah,  here comes another tangent.  7 card stud.  not the texas stuff of today.  too much luck involved there.  sure luck in all the gambling deals but that game leaves me cold.  soo i’m at the bar playing video poker, drinking.  a very nice looking lady sits down a couple of seats away.  she’s alone.  nicely dressed and yeah, sorta hot.  she gets a drink and starts dropping quarters in the machine. 

well, we start chatting.  she’s very nice and bright.  we have a few drinks.  all is sweetness and light.  what could be better?  she’s a reader and an ex professional athelete.  and italian.  how cool is that?  a damn trifecta.  she says she’s got to take care of something but would like to see me later that night for more chatting and drinking. well, you don’t have to ask me twice.  the date was made.

later that evening we meet in the hotel bar.  she looks even lovelier than she did earlier in the day.  sweet.  we have a drink and she suggests we go upstairs to my room and have another drink.  fine by me.  she’s such a vivacious and intelligent lady i was falling in love.  honey, i’ll follow you anywhere.  so we get upstairs and of course she turns out to be a working lady.  what else could the deal be?  naturally.  but like i said i was falling in love and working ladies don’t bother me.  bills gotta be paid.   

it was a really great time.  for me and for her.  she liked it just as much as i did.  the grand finale was right from the cd i’m listening to, ‘parachute woman’, her favorite activity.  she did it well.  i came in her hair.  sorta.  i didn’t notice till she was leaving.  of course she was in a hurry to leave.  another appointment.  so i didn’t say anything.  yes, yes, yes of course.  my bad.  a sorta very early ‘something about mary’.

one evening a month or so later i was home asleep on the couch.  tv on.  the phone woke me up.  it was her.  i was groggy and didn’t really pick up on just who the fuck it was.  i’m like going, who?  who? just like some sad demented owl.  i didn’t realize it was her till after she hung up on me.  then i woke up.  i didn’t sleep much the rest of the night.  pretty much non-stop brain streaming shit.  no, she never called back.

music provided by, the rolling stones, ‘beggars banquet’.

jmh 

 

gentlemen, the marines are drafting this month

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the re-runs keep on coming this summer. this particular one first appeared almost three years ago. originally it was a two part story. this time around i’m running it as one part. it is what it was and it’s more of my history and yours as well. life throws you knuckle curve balls that can sometimes change everything. even if you just stand there flat footed and watch the ball dance by. there are also odd circumstances in history/life that occur in which you are part but just a minor footnote. also, in case you haven’t noticed it, life can deal out irony like nobodies business. thanks for reading.

jmh

gentlemen the marines are drafting this month

it had already been a bad morning. a very bad morning. however, those seven words sent an electric shock through the hundred or so plus odd souls in the downtown los angeles army induction center, circa dec 1969. things were bad but they were just about to go completely sideways. but i’m getting ahead of myself.

that december day was the second time i’d been drafted by uncle sam. i’d received an induction notice back in may of the same year. i’d managed to get out of that one. i was still in school and actually doing ok for a change. meaning good grades. hell, i was even on the dean’s list. the school got me out of it but warned me if i didn’t go to another school in the fall i’d be history. i’d already spent one of my lifetimes going to that local community college. three years to graduate from a two year school. it was a good thing i drifted into the theatre department. it meant good grades and a sorta reprieve from the inevitable.

yes, it was inevitable. it was all written a few months before i was born in 1948. harry truman re-signed the draft law act and i was doomed while still in my mother’s womb. oh, sure i could have gone to canada but that really wasn’t an option. my father, my uncles, and my godfather. yeah, my godfather, a lucky to be alive heavily decorated big time ww2 combat vet and at the time still in the army. my dad’s best friend. get the picture? doubtful in these weird times.

there were other various ways to avoid the draft. some of which must have worked or the folks in the draft resistance centers wouldn’t have told you about them. though most of the stuff wasn’t something i’d like to try and pull off. say, like crapping in your pants and peeing in them as well for a week or so before your induction physical. that riff was supposed to work as quickly as it took them to get you out of the building. something i didn’t think any sane person could manage. there was another one not quite as bad. it involved a rotten fish, some thread, a needle, and the guts to string the thread through the fish then leave it there to rot along with the fish. after a few days you would take the needle and thread then somehow or another run it through your knee. either one it didn’t matter. this made for an interesting infection in your knee and with the string left there it made for an even more interesting x-ray. no, i don’t think so. thanks, anyway.

another way to avoid the draft if you could come up with $300 or $400 there were doctors that could get you out. maybe. that was the catch, it was only a maybe. however, $300 back in those days might as well have been $100,000 today. plus my folks were just working class stiffs and salt of the earth types. not much cash at that time and one of the reasons i went to the community college to start with. oh, i had some cash but it would have wiped me out. better to just go with some odds and roll the dice. then see what happens. youth, guile, and bluster.

i’d worked through the summer. sorta. i spent a lot of time at the beach or just dicking about. the fall rolled around and i had no plans for school. i was just going to totally lay around and wait for my next draft notice. my parents weren’t happy about this so called plan but then nothing much they could do about it other than bitch. especially when i told them why would anyone want to hire someone who might get drafted next month? i wouldn’t. that usually kept them out of my hair for a few weeks at a time.

the first or second week of november i got my second draft notice. i recall just sitting in the den holding the unopened letter. it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

the swan song of my civilian life was seeing the rolling stones at the forum in inglewood. the infamous 3am show where mick laments he should have brought along his toothbrush. it had been scheduled for much earlier in the evening as the second show of the night. the first show got started several hours late and things just snowballed from there on out. my girlfriend at the time did manage to score peter fonda’s autograph. i finally made it home after the sun had been up for awhile.

just as a drift since i haven’t drifted yet…that particular girlfriend’s parents hated me. i would be in her college dorm room fucking her or she would be giving me head and the phone would ring and it would be her parents or older brother telling her to dump me. the call would go on and on. we would just lay there naked while they ranted on about me. i didn’t care about the call, her brother, or her parents. she swallowed. then she would make some tea to clear her palette as it were. hey, older brother, listen to this. yes, well, my bad.

the fatal morning finally arrived. it was an early morning ride in the dark from de onta out to san berdoo and the swing auditorium for the draft call cattle call. the first stop of the day. the first stop in what was to become an almost two year long living breathing real life twilight zone episode.

it was a sad farewell. parents hugging kids. girlfriends crying. parents crying. young men trying not to cry. it was a sea of misery. then it came time to board the buses for the trip to downtown l.a. a long silent ride in the early morning darkness. private thoughts and prayers hung in the air like a thick fog.

once into the induction center it was the standard army cluster fuck. sorta. take your clothes off put em back on take em off again and wander around naked for awhile going here going there seeing that doctor getting a needle stuck in a vein. yeah, that deal went down with army medics. probably just out of medic school. medics who got lucky when they were sent to the induction center and not nam. at least for the moment.

standing naked in a line with a bunch of other naked guys is no fun. but standing in that line and watching some guy trying to hit pay dirt with a dull seemingly square needle was even worse. i have never seen anything like it. stab, miss, stab again, miss again. no more stabbing just twist the fucker around until the vein was popped and blood drawn. an amazing sight. some of the more feint hearted souls actually passed out watching that action being played out right there before them in living and breathing color.

after the probing and stuff we were given some sort of written test. i don’t recall anything that was on it. though it would play into what was to come later in the morning.

then came time to sit and wait. a game we would all come to play very well. a game that i can still play today. at some point or another we were taken into a room, 30 or 40 of us at a time. it was in this room we heard those fateful words, gentlemen, the marines are drafting this month.

it was more or less fine and dandy we were going to be stuck in the army for a couple of years. well, not fine and dandy but we were at some sort of peace with ourselves and the whole deal. however, this card from the bottom of the deck was more than any sane person could take. suddenly things got even more grim. i’d heard stories about marine corps boot camp from ex-marines during that time period and it’s something i had no wish to experience. the army experience would be more than enough, thank you.

the army officer who had made that statement let it sink in for a few seconds. not that it hadn’t already shaken everyone of us to the core. in those few seconds i came to the realization, that fuck it, i’m going out the open window if i hear my name and the marine corps mentioned in the same sentence.

sure the open window was 4 or 5 floors up from the street but what’s your point? i didn’t care. there were no windows on the lower floors as my friend, jwfh, pointed out and reminded me of yesterday. they had all been bricked over. all of the escape routes covered. either by bricks or army corporals whose sole mission was not to let anyone out of the building. i guess they didn’t think anyone would be fool hardy enough to take a dive from the 4th floor. yeah, well, think again.

they had taken all of our folders and put them in stacks on a a table at the front of the room. each stack had a separate number and letter code. we all had a number and letter code on our folders. say like 6c or 3a. i don’t recall what mine was. plus, i have no idea just how they came up with that number letter code. something to do with mental and psychical shape i’m sure.

after the stacks were completed the officer announced that the marines needed say, 4 6c’s. so the sargent randomly picked 4 folders from the 6c pile. those names were called out and the young men were told to go wait outside in the seating area. then he told the sargent the marines needed 6 3a’s. more random picking and more very very sad young men told to go wait outside. a different number of folders was selected from each of the piles. it wasn’t over until it was over. the group was thinned out by maybe a third and those among us who’s name hadn’t been called were then given the induction oath by the same officer. you’re in the army now.

once that was completed we were told to go wait outside and another group was called into the room. sitting outside, i have never seen more forlorn faces in my life than the faces on those poor guys who were going to go down to pendleton and marine corps boot camp. on the other hand those of us who hadn’t been ‘selected’ were almost ecstatic. go figure.

we waited around until the marines got what they wanted. we were given a bible, a box lunch, some toiletries then we boarded more buses for a 10 hour ride up to ft ord, on the monterrey peninsula. we were supposed to stop for restroom breaks and an evening meal but the driver was having none of that. there would be no one jumping ship or the bus on his watch. no, sir.

we arrived at ft ord around 11pm or later. exhausted and wired in that weird way. life was to become very very different for us all very very soon.

i do not mean to disparage the marine corps. no way. the story is true and was what it was in those times. pure and simple. without the marine corps we would all be in a bigger fix than we are already in. thankfully, there are those among us who still heed the the call of duty, honor, and country. may god bless them one and all. hopefully, some of those blessings will slop over to the rest of us.

i make no apologies for my time in the army or my time in vietnam. it was a sorta righteous deal that went askew. big time. shit happens. it will never be 1941 again. ever. however, that doesn’t mean some sort of applied force someplace is not warranted. iraq seems to be another vietnam. in the last 40 years it’s the only thing teddy kennedy ever got right. pure and simple.

the main problem with vietnam was we just up and left. a sad bad choice. left them to die by the millions. left them to die or worse in the re-education camps. re-education camps right out of mao and the chinese in the 60’s and 70’s. packing up and leaving without finishing the job was bad juju if there ever was bad juju. that bad karma continues to haunt this once great nation. the worst and nastiest re-education camp in vietnam? the old macv advisory 48 compound in ham tan. the place where i spent my year.

jmh

saigon holiday, 1971 part 3

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this is the final chapter of the saigon trip.  i hope you enjoy it as much as the other two chapters.  i want to thank all of you for reading.  i appreciate it very much.

saigon holiday, 1971  part 3

we had to get a cab to the nearest boq.  way too hung over, plus too hot and humid to walk.  after an overly zealous breakfast and along with the cab fare we were broke again.  two more days in saigon and no money give us an idea of sorts.  finally.  grab a cab to air america.  catch a flight and just go back to ham tan.   this means stiffing the cabbie at the gate but we are too broke to care.  we caught a cab and it deposited us at the air base entrance.  we bolt and run like rabbits.  the cabbie to old to catch us and he’s unarmed.

main entrance, tan son nhut air base.

feeling better about things we hit the air america terminal and ask about a flight back to ham tan.  we are told nothing is available for the next two days.  the only flight we can get is the one we had already booked two days down the road.  sleeping on the floor of the cia owned and operated airline for two nights is not allowed.  probably not even for five minutes.  the cia doesn’t run flop houses.

there’s a soldier in the air america terminal who hears of our plight.  he tells us to go to the chopper pad about half a mile away and see if we can hitch a chopper ride back to ham tan.  this lifts our spirits as it’s still early morning.  however, by noon we are beginning to realize we were stuck.  no chopper rides today.

the heli-port at tan son nhut.

we seem doomed to some sort of living nightmare.  when out of the blue this vietnamese army guy with a jeep walks up and says, you guys want a ride?  yes.  where to?  ham tan.  no way, way to dangerous.  so bill comes up with a plan.  i’ll give you this watch if you take us to bien hoa.  we figure we can stay in our company area and go unnoticed for a few days and somehow manage to get back to saigon for our flight back to ham tan.  the guy says, let me see the watch.  of course he doesn’t want it as it’s total junk and had already stopped running.  so no ride.  the viet then says, hey you guys got ration cards?  yeah, we have ration cards.  virgin ones.

you see with ham tan being out in the nowhere boonies the army gave you smokes for free and there was booze on the compound.  you didn’t need to use the ration cards.  so they stayed virgin.  this changed later but at the time it was so.

with that information the viet’s eyes light up.  he says, ok, i give you money.  then we go to the px(post exchange) and you buy all the cigarettes and beer on the cards for this month.  then i’ll take you to bien hoa.

this was actually a mother load for the viet.  the black market value for all the smokes and beer was a nice hefty amount of coin in any man’s language.  having learned a lot in the past day or so we say, nah, for all that you take us to ham tan.  once again, no way, too dangerous.  ok.  we counter with, xuan loc, which is about half way to ham tan.  we know a few guys there and we figure we can spend the night and worry about tomorrow later.  ok, deal, says the viet.  with that it’s off to px we go.

after wards we load the guy up with the smokes and beer.  he then says, ok now we go to bien hoa, driving to xuan loc is too dangerous.   we counter with, ok.  we’ll throw in the junk watch and you don’t get shot right here and right now.  and we go to xuan loc.  the viet takes the watch and drives us the forty miles or so to xuan loc.

an aerial view of xuan loc.

it was late afternoon by the time we got to xuan loc.  the viet guy bitching the whole way.  he dropped us off at another macv advisory team compound and went off to find a place to spend the night.  we ate some dinner, watched a movie, then slept in guy’s bunks that were working the overnight shift in the commo(communication) bunker.

there aren’t many mosquitoes in ham tan.  the beach and all.  too dry or something for mosquitoes even in the monsoon season.  however, in xuan loc they were thick and nasty.  the smell of fresh meat drove them particularly insane that night.  even with mosquito netting they were relentless.  waking up in the morning we found that our sheets were spotted with blood.  our blood.  spotted from rolling over in our semi sleep and squashing the little sated bastards into the sheets.   the guys came in looked at their now blood spotted sheets and were not happy.  xin loi, sorry about that.  it was time for breakfast and planning.  something.  anything.

someone at breakfast suggested we hit the chopper pad and talk to the
air traffic controller.  we say that didn’t work in saigon.  we are told not to worry.  so off we go to the chopper pad.  a very busy place.  even busier than saigon.  you see, in xuan loc there is a war going on.  the air traffic controller tells us ham tan is no sweat.  unless the chopper is on a medivac or a mission, he’ll have them come in and pick us up, for he is the lord of this air space.

a portion of xuan loc international airport.

not long after that a chopper lands and we are pointed to it and told to hop right in.  well, of course the chopper is already full and i have to sit with one leg out in space while i hang on to the door frame.  all this while trying not to get in the door gunner’s way.  my first chopper ride and when it was over i would never want another.  we didn’t know if the pilot was unhappy about being made to pick us up or if he was trying to avoid shit on the ground.  we never found out.  none the less, it was an even worse ride than the flight to saigon on air america.  hard to believe but true.

ham tan in sight.  finally home again.  that’s how it felt.  it always did.  we get back to the compound and everyone is surprised to see  us back so early.  before we can explain why in walks our company commander with the executive officer and first sargent in tow.  we of course are counting our blessings.  thanking everyone from god and buddha to swami vishnu the air controller didn’t flag down their helicopter.  finally some good luck or so it would seem.

this is indeed a rare visit as the company commander never came out to ham tan.  it was too dangerous for him.  he always sent the executive officer out on pay days or for whatever.  but today he’s in ham tan and feeling fine.  noticing bill he says, hold on there lad.  we were trying to get out of the bunker.  is that a .38 special you have there?   first sargent, write him up for that unauthorized weapon, and that boonie hat as well.  yes, sir.  for you see, macv didn’t care what kind of weapon you carried as long as it worked and you could shoot it.  the rest of the military were locked solid into the bullshit.  hats were the same with macv as well.  some other units too but not our signal unit.  as bill was getting reamed i sidled out of the bunker before someone decided to go off on me.  off to the hootch, my bunk, and home for some much needed sleep.

fini

the photos in the story were just taken from various places on the net.  googled, in other words.  i want to thank whoever for having them on the net for me to find and use.  i’m not making any money on this deal so i suppose it might be ok.  any the ways, thanks again to whoever, the photos added to the story.

i used to have photos taken in nam.  even a few from saigon.  those i lost long ago.  moving frenzies being what they are.  frantic.  i also had some photos of ham tan and the advisory team.  those are now being cataloged at texas tech university and their vietnam center and archive.  at some point you will be able to be view them on line in the archive.  you should visit that site: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/ i think it’s the best vietnam archive in the country.

yeah, i know the ending is sorta anti-climatic.  it was what it was.  all in all, i think it’s a good story.  thanks for reading.

this story/idea is registered with the writers guild of america, west.

jmh

saigon holiday, 1971 part 2

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the saigon, circa 1971, true story continues.

saigon holiday, 1971 part 2

the hotel we decided upon was the caravelle.  the place where all the reporters stayed while in saigon.  plus, we had heard the ladies up on the roof were amazing.  the only trouble is they threw us out.  we weren’t officers or reporters.  just lowly draftees.  so we caught a cab and went to a hotel both of us had stayed in on previous saigon trips.  a decent enough place but not the caravelle.

we arrive at the hotel and check in. the hotel staff are not pleased with the sight of bill’s .38 pistol and low slung holster.  give it to us.  no.  this goes back and forth for a bit but in the end they let him keep the pistol.  we unload stuff in our rooms then head off to get more vietnamese money.  i wanted to go to the uso for my exchange and bill still wanted to go for the street deal.  who’s going to fuck with us?, he says.  i have a 38.  ok fine, but first we go to the uso.   another mad cab ride in one of the ubiquitous old yellow and blue renaults.  they were always mad dashes in those old dented wrecks.

saigon traffic, 1971.  note one of the blue and yellow taxis on the left of photo.

the uso in saigon, a sadder place on earth would be hard to imagine.  the place was totally depressing.  it was as if someone had tossed a wet blanket over saigon.  none the less, i got my money changed.  we head back out on the street and bill searches for the rate he wants, the perfect deal.

there were plenty of saigon cowboys to wheel and deal with.   however, before he got around to his money exchange he buys a watch from one of the cowboys on the street.  the amazing thing was he was conned into buying the watch with gi money.  bottom line, it was an incredibly stupid deal but what could i say?  he wouldn’t have listened anyway.  equally amazing is neither of us was drunk or stoned yet.

bill finally finds the rate he wants from some other sleazy saigon cowboy and the guy says, follow me.   the guy leads us around and around and we end up at the opening of this very dark alley.  dark and it’s the middle of the afternoon.  bill says, hey, we aren’t going in there and remember i have a gun.  the guys says, ok wait here.  then he splits.  when he returns he shows bill a roll of vietnamese money wrapped up in a tight roll with a rubber band around the roll.  bill takes the money, looks it over carefully and says it’s all there.  somehow the guy gets the roll back.  bill then hands him his money.  the saigon cowboy hands bill back the roll then poof he’s outta there.  he runs down the alley while yelling something about mp’s(military police) but there aren’t any around.  bill checks out the roll and finds that only the two outer bills are large denominations.  the rest of them are just ones.  useless vietnamese ones.  about the only thing they were good for would be toilet paper.  bill just got ripped off for two or three hundred bucks.

we are in saigon for three days and now half of our money is gone and   there’s nothing we can do.  no idea where the cowboy went and even if we did it would have been suicide to try and get the cash back.  the cops?  yeah, right.  no way.  street money exchanges were illegal.  so it’s another mad taxi ride back to our hotel then up to the hotel’s top floor for some booze, smoke, women, and hopefully solace.

roof top view from one of the old saigon hotels.  maybe even the hotel where the story takes place.

all the hotels i ever stayed in while in saigon were pretty much the same. the top floor elevator doors opened into something that must have been experienced to fully appreciate.  at least a dozen or more ladies converging on the elevator doors as they opened.  just another insane saigon scene.  all of the ladies trying to grab your private parts at the same time.   grabbing your privates trying to get your attention in hopes of making a ‘connection’ as it were.

we weren’t in the the mood for that action just yet.   we shooed the ladies away and went to the bar for some drinks.  after a few drinks we were more in the mood for the ladies.  we make a connection and two of them sit at the table.  more drinks are ordered.  after a few more rounds the ladies said they were hungry and they wanted us to buy them dinner in the hotel cafe.  by this time we were drunk enough to agree.  hamburgers all around.  some mystery meat that reeked of god knows what.  amazingly we didn’t get sick.

after dinner it was more drinking and scoring some smoke for later.  at some point, and to this day i still have no idea how it happened, my ‘date’ got a hold of my wallet.  things had been bad but were about to get dire in an instant.  yelling about the deal would only have gotten us tossed out of the place.  then it would have been, no room, no sex, no money, no nothing.  when i got my wallet back there was only enough money left to pay for the services of the two ladies for the night.  meaning around $40 or so.  at least we were drunk and about to get loaded with our dates then have some more fun.  tomorrow’s problems were the furthest thing from our minds.

saigon night life, 1971.

that night passed blissfully.  the early morning as well.  while the two ladies shower up bill and i met and wondered just what we are going to do.  now broke and no one to turn to for a loan.  we were stuck in saigon for two more days with no money.  a very sad prospect.

bill’s lady turns out to be a hooker with a heart of gold.  sorta.  she gave us $5 in military money.  then said, that’s enough for breakfast at a boq and a cab ride back to air america.  boq, bachelor officer quarters. a boq but any soldier could go into any mess hall in nam and eat for a very nominal fee or for free.  viets knew air america as they could fly it as well.  sometimes.

we were so happy we could shit.  after the ladies left bill did just that.  a huge turd that refused to be flushed.  a turd the likes of which neither of us had ever seen.  we found the mamasan and she sent some old woman to get the turd to flush.  the old woman was not happy as waved her shit stick about.  cursing in loud vietnamese the old lady finally got the turd to flush.  mamasan then tells us to get out.  she already knew we had no more money.  it was goodbye and get the fuck out of here, gi.

story registered with the writers guild of america, west.

jmh

saigon holiday, 1971 part 1

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i’m re-running this particular series once again. thankfully, they still gets some hits each week. this might make it a bit easier to fiind. thanks for reading.

jmh

long ago in another lifetime i got to spend some time in downtown saigon, south vietnam.  those fun trips were courtesy of uncle sam and you the american tax payer.  you folks and myself included are still paying for those excursions in many ways.  this is a true story about one of my trips into saigon.  there were other adventures in saigon as well but this one was sorta special in a number of ways.

over the years most of you have seen any number of films about the vietnam war.  with the exception of, ‘good morning vietnam’, they were all pretty much your typical war movie.  they were just set in a different time and place with a 60’s and early 70’s pop music soundtrack.  this story is different.  though the soundtrack would be the same.  very loud rock ‘n’ roll.

i think the tale is pretty self explanatory and straight forward.  it could be viewed as a sorta new version of stan and ollie.  though there is a serious side as well but mostly it’s just about two guys that can’t catch a break.  you may see it differently.  just remember this all happened to me in vietnam on one particular trip to saigon.

some of you have seen this story before.  yes, i’m still messing with it.  eventually i might get it right.  i hope you re-read it here.  this is its  first foray into general public viewing circles.  it will appear in several parts.  yes, it is untitled.  there is a title but i decided not to use it here.  plus, i’m not sure i like the title any way.

i suppose i ought to add there is a sorta mature subject matter involved in the story.  if you aren’t mature then don’t read it.  that being said, i’m not your parent.  nor do i want to be.

this story is registered with the writers guild of america, west.

saigon holiday, 1971 part 1

 

i was stationed with macv advisory team 48 in ham tan, south vietnam, from 1970 to 1971, in a signal unit attached to macv(military assistance command vietnam) in order to give them secure communications.  ham tan is 80 miles east southeast of saigon as the crow flies.  the macv compound was an old french mission that was taken over by the u.s. army.  it was and still is located about 3 or 4 klicks (kilometers) from the south china sea.  a fairly nice place relative to other places in vietnam at the time.  as attached signal we didn’t live in the french mission area but in regular vietnam style hooches.  the advisory team, including signal personnel, never numbered more than 50 or 60 soldiers at any time.

by the time i was in vietnam, saigon was off limits due to the usual serviceman’s lust for debauchery.  the military had had enough.  the only personnel allowed in saigon were macv people and military stationed there.  being attached to a macv unit gave us access to saigon.  once cleared with our sargent we just needed to go see the macv clerk or company sargent and they would cut some travel orders for us and off to saigon you went for some sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.  all of this unknown to our signal company and signal battalion headquarters.  they would have frowned upon the very idea.  plus it was illegal for us to be there.  though macv advisory team 48 didn’t really care.

macv advisory teams were a diversified lot.  regular army folk, draftees like me, green berets, cia, and more cia.  the teams had a number of missions as well.  training south vietnamese troops and advising them, running phoenix programs, pru units, and chu hoi programs among other things.  you can google some of the stuff if you are interested.  it would be a good history lesson.  any ways, there were any number of things going on at any one time.

there were only three or four ways you could get to saigon from ham tan.  walk, a very bad idea.  drive, a bit better but not much.  though it was done by us signal personnel.  and that’s a whole other story in itself.  driving from the saigon/bien hoa area or vice versa was at least a four or five hour adventure.  helicopter, wasn’t generally done unless it was an emergency.  or you could take air america, the cia owned and operated air transport system for vietnam, laos, and thailand.  macv would book you a flight, no problem, both ways.  that was because air america flew out to ham tan every day with mail and passengers.  the planes were only 6 seaters with a single large propeller and a rolls royce engine to power it.  they were rated for only 10,000 feet but flew higher to avoid gun fire and artillery.  this made for some interesting flights due to air pockets and the plane being so small.

the air america plane.

a fellow signal mate, i’ll call him bill, and i decided we should go to saigon together.  never having done so as a team.  we would spend the usual three days of getting drunk, smoking dope, and having sex with the bar girls.  a flight was booked and travel orders cut.  a few days before we were scheduled to leave i changed some military script into vietnamese money.  bill said he would opt for doing a deal on the street so he could get a better exchange rate.  by this time military script was illegal tender for the vietnamese as most of it ended up going to north vietnam or so the story went. the day of departure we went out to ham tan’s so called airport early to await our flight to saigon.  ham tan international as we called it.  a piece of crap dirt runway with a wind sock for a control tower and an equally forlorn terminal.

ham tan international airport.

there were only three of us going to saigon that day.  bill, myself, and a macv captain, a black guy, who was going in for business not fun.  i was happy to see that our pilot was one i had flown with a few times before and i thought of him as one of the best.  there was however a co-pilot that day.  something you usually never saw on these particular air america flights.  with the co-pilot seat empty you could sit up front with the pilot.  i did it once and only once.  i’m not pilot material.  nor do i care for heights. we boarded, the wind sock checked and off we went.  at this point it becomes clear why there is a co-pilot.  he’s a new guy and the old vet is checking out his flying skills.

sitting in the passenger section of those planes gave you an unobstructed view of the cockpit.  the new guy revs her up and begins the take off.  only thing is the plane is bouncing like a ball down the dirt runway.  the bounces kept getting bigger and bigger.  so much so it was obvious we were in big trouble.  the old hand grabs the controls of the plane moments before we run out of runway and careen into certain disaster.  he then miraculously gets us airborne while yelling all the time at the new guy.  the black captain, who was very black, was a nice shade of gray at this point.  i was ready to jump.  but it was only the beginning. the plane got off the ground and up into the clouds and air pockets, made even more hair raising with the new guy at the controls.  instead of the usual several hundred foot drops we were dropping several thousand feet with lots of yelling coming from the cockpit.

we finally made it in one piece to tan son nhut air base in saigon.  the new guy is bringing us in for the landing.  at about 30 feet or so off the ground the air traffic controller radios that a plane load of dead bodies is coming in and they have priority.  we were being waved off.  the old hand grabs the controls and makes this amazing left turn while he flips the plane over on it’s back.  yeah.  we flew upside down at 30 feet or so over most of the air base.  simply amazing.  bill and i about crapped our pants.  the black captain had turned white.

after the hair raising turn we go back for another try at landing.  the new guy back at the controls.  this time the guy can’t get the plane on the ground.  this is a huge runway due to jets, bombers, transports, etc.  however, he’s fast running out of runway and he can’t get the plane below 10 feet.  there’s only a few yards of runway left when the old vet grabs the controls, yet again, and dumps us on the ground like a stone.  i suppose it was either that or another left with a flip over deal again.  i don’t think he was up for another one of those.  his passengers sure as hell weren’t.

we were a long way from the air america terminal.  during the entire taxi ride to the place its more yelling up in the cockpit.  we get to air america and what’s waiting for us are the dead bodies in their body bags nicely lined up on the tarmac.  the perfect ending to a memorable flight.  the old vet pilot felt sorry for bill and i so he gave us a ride in his personal car to our hotel.  it was out of the guy’s way but he figured he owed us.  a very nice gesture indeed.

tan son nhut air base from the air.

story registered with the writers guild of america, west.

jmh

sex and/or theatre, the chocolate bomb

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more summertime re-runs today. this one finishes off the sex and/or theatre installments for good. though it’s more about the car than anything else. a touch of lipstick and viola. the legend lives once again. thanks for reading.

jmh

for once the category sorta resembles what i’m going to write about. no sorta mystical, what the fuck is he talking about stuff, but an auto or maybe 2, unless of course i get side tracked.

the chocolate bomb was an early 60’s corvair convertible. 4 cylinders of mush power with a nice chevy slip and slide auto tranny. but best of all was the color, milk chocolate brown. hence it’s name.

it was a friends mother’s car. the same family from huntington and the trailer park from previous stuff. it was a fun car. it never went any place in a hurry mainly because it couldn’t.

i almost used it to take my first drivers test at 16 years old. you could parallel park it in your sleep and believe you me some days i needed it. it is kind of amazing that the local dmv, down on 4th in the olden days, didn’t get wise to the chocolate bomb. it must have shown up a number of times with a different smiling shinning faced teenager behind the wheel. this your parents car? yes, sir.

the chocolate bomb was around even into the jfk street theatre days. it played the role of the lincoln a few times. however, it’s greatest role came one early summer evening. at the north end of newport beach. just south of the santa ana river mouth. the houses in that area right on the beach.

several of us had gone out for a cruise with the top down, of course. we wandered onto the streets around those houses. cruising. as any good street theatre performer of those days knows, when the muse slaps you silly, you act. regardless how fucking stupid the idea is or how even more fucking stupid you will look if you do it. yes, yes.

it occurred to us all at pretty much the same time. muses are quick and can slap numerous people silly very quickly. well, 3 anyway. hey, we need to ‘do’ the rose parade!! boffo idea!! lots of folks outside bbqing or washing their rides. they need a diversion. and the diversion was us. myself and another guy sat on the back of the car with our feet on the back seat waving and blowing kisses, just like the damn demented rose queen and her court. in hindsight, 40 some years ago was not the time or the place for that riff. hell, it might not even be the time or place for it today. i guess it would just depend. veering here.

things went ok for a time as we wound our way through the houses in that area. we even got a few laughs. at some point or another we pissed some guys off with our little show. go figure. they of course yelled crazy shit at us and we yelled back. they ran for their car.

the chocolate bomb for some strange reason, maybe the muses had slapped her as well, was up for the occasion. the driver floored it and with the head start we had, the douche bags got close, but they never caught us. then again maybe the reason being we knew the area and the streets and they were just renters from des moines. i really don’t know.

in a spine tingling rush of adrenaline the legend of the chocolate bomb reached new heights that night. it may have been it’s finest hour. pushed to the limit of it’s mushy 4 cylinders, it careened to and fro through the streets of newport beach for what seemed an eternity. time may have stood still that summer evening but the chocolate bomb sure as hell didn’t. god bless her.

this morning’s non-music provided by espn on the am radio.

a chevy corvair. not the chocolate bomb but you get the idea.

jmh

sex and/or theatre(?) pt 4, the coda

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for those of you who’ve stuck with this insanity from my past this is the final chapter of my guerrilla theatre days. ah, actually that isn’t true there is one more story. but not for today. ok. so, in addition to the lipstick i’ve added a photo at the end to give some perspective to the story. thanks again for reading. i do appreciate it. from exactly 44 years ago and some other fourth of july weekend, the final chapter.

jmh

this is it the long awaited conclusion to this old sad tale of mis-spent youth. oddly just a short demented portion of said youth. i think it might be a bit anti-climatic at this point but, whatever, it must be done and finished. for whatever reasons, if nothing more than to make me stop thinking i have to finish the fucker. clear the decks as it were or is.

the jfk theatre sorta evolved over a couple or 3 years into several things. it morphed into the abe lincoln deal a few times and that really was theatre on a couple of levels. we tossed in mckinley, as well, which was a short and sweet sorta jack ruby type thing. speaking of jack ruby, we stayed away from that one. i suppose there just wasn’t enough drink to bring us to the point of reeling that one off for the viewing public. tangents and an industrial strength mall coffee jazz working here.

regular readers may remember a certain lady, who for a number of years was a weekly source for buying us all the booze we wanted and gave us a place to drink it. any the ways, at different points she would do road trips. the more famous of them were trips to rosarito beach in ensanada, baja california. i never made one of those as i was usually working for my walking around money. those trips were famous for their drunkenness and upon occasion their almost deadly fireworks. however, i did manage to make one of the road trips though. 4th of july, 1966.

not baja but carlsbad state beach here in south socal or north san diego county. a nice beach campground that sits up on a cliff above the sand and water. i spent an easter holiday there in 1964 during and after the great alaskan earthquake. we sat up most of the night waiting for the tidal wave that turned out to be only inches high. thankfully. carlsbad is not one of my favorite beaches because the water sits at the foot of the cliffs and there isn’t much breeze or air down there on a hot summer day. generally it gets hot enough to melt the wax on a surfboard. that’s hot. though up on the top of the cliff there’s usually a nice stiff ocean breeze. well, the beach deal was set up. seemed like everyone was going. a large contingent indeed. i think we all knew this was probably going to be the swan song for a number of things and it turned out to be so. after all who doesn’t want to miss a swan song?

several people who didn’t have to work, made it down a day or so before hand to set up the encampment. encampment was what it was. the lady was a marine during ww2 and once a marine, always a marine. a very nice camp site. several very large tents, one for the ladies and one for the boys to men, and windbreaks, plus all the almost comforts of home. even a list of ten or so dos and don’ts for the camp site was prominently posted. we arrived on the scene late in the afternoon. several carloads of us. they almost didn’t let us in. some of the group were not 18 and no one in any of the cars was 21 to act as chaperon or responsible party. the lady had to be found and then come down to the main gate and get us in. the only trouble with that was, it put us the park ranger’s radar screen. bad juju, indeed.

the campground was packed as it was the 4th and a long weekend. we unloaded our stuff and for some reason or another, the muses again i suppose, we decided to give the assembled campers a nice rousing rendition of the jfk dallas deal. stone cold sober. in and of itself a first. we had a nice stretch of straight narrow road. several cars, no the chocolate bomb was not one of them. sadly. though we did have a vw with a sunroof. it became the lincoln. squirt guns. a captive audience as it were and the stupidity of youth to pull it off.

i must say the performance was inspired. so inspiring that some of it wasn’t even a part of the original tragedy, like secret service agents being shot and falling off the cars into the sand. yes, indeed, a true spectacle of youth gone insane and wild. mouths were agape. some strange sort of weird madness had fallen across the collective camper consciousness of mr and mrs america that late friday afternoon. something they had not been prepared for in the least. something that made their heads swirl with utter befuddlement and wonder at the crazed scene unfolding right before their very eyes. a scene they had not counted on ever seeing i suppose. yes, well, what can i say? other than the park rangers were far from amused.

in hindsight, i’m glad this was before the time when california park rangers started packing side arms. they probably would have shot us just on general principles. i also imagine when it was being debated as to whether or not rangers should have a side arm the, ‘carlsbad incidents’, (yes, there were more, incidents) were brought up as proof positive park rangers needed guns to save the unsuspecting public from brain addled youths. yes, of course, i whole hardily concur now a days but that’s a drift.

ah, johnny law, at his most perturbed is at times a sight to behold. even to this day. they swooped, from it seemed, everywhere all at once. a very almost swat like tactic. they probably didn’t realize they had it in them but the true spectacle of human weirdness was upon the campground and it was their duty. we were collared and they demanded to know who was in charge. of course, the lady marine was not happy. she was ready for our stupidity when we were drunk but sober was another story. now she had park rangers tramping through her fire base, as it were. looking around.

then one of them spotted the posted ‘list’. he demanded to know what it was, who put it up, and just what the hell was up with number 9. you have to remember these were simpler times and things were just beginning to come unglued at the hinges for america. for you see, rule 9 on the list, in bold print, stated to all concerned: NO FARTING IN THE TENTS. god, the horror. but none the less a simple and common courtesy for your fellow campers. drunk or sober. a rule that should be known to all in the camp. anyways, the lady marine had had it with us, now she’d had it with the rangers. she went ballistic. the rangers retreated but put everyone on super secret probation and handed out a stern warning.

well, with all the pre-dinner sordidness everyone was walking on eggshells at dinner and clean up time. when it came time for drinking, it was a very somber affair indeed. there’s nothing worse than somber drinking for underage drinkers. it adds to the already pent up youthful anxieties and all the angst needs to come screaming out at some point. scream out it did at 0600 hrs the next morning.

there were so many of us there wasn’t room in the tents for all of us to sleep. i was one several who slept outside the tent by the edge of the cliff nestled nicely in the arms of cold beach sand. i was still asleep when i was blasted awake by a squirt gun and screaming. everyone’s 6am wake up call was a re-enactment of the storming of the beaches of iwo jima. yeah, it was in reverse as those doing the show were running, shooting, screaming, and jumping off the cliff only to land a few feet below on a nice sandy lip area. then scampering back up and doing it again. yes, indeed. early morning madness.

the only thing saving the day was the fact that the rangers hadn’t arrived for work as yet. though of course, when they did arrive they paid the camp a visit. technicalities were back then, as they still are today, rule the day. they had not actually seen the rampant insanity with their own eyes so we were granted a stay in being asked to leave the park. post haste. more super secret probation and dire warnings all around should we fuck up or around any further.

yep, we were little angels for the rest of the day. lady marine was not camping happily. especially when we started to mess with the ladies in the group. telling them stories of the dreaded snapping sea land crabs that infested the beach down below. it kept them up on the cliff and out of our hair. though the marine was not happy with them in her hair all day. night came again and more drinking was in order.

that evening it was more of the drinking on a usual basis type deal. vast amounts of whatever. we maintained a sort of decorum however. nothing untoward as we knew it meant an early departure if we screwed up or around. though some of us couldn’t help but go down to the surf line to watch the fishermen do their night surf thing. we would chat one up for a bit and he would gather his stuff and leave. being to drunk to notice we’d just shrug and wander off to the next fisherman. who after a bit did the same thing. this went on until we were the only people left on the beach. left to our own devices. left to our own insanity.

what better way than to show our drunken disregard for the rangers and everyone else’s lack of a sense of humor, then to write stuff in the sand in letters 3 feet high, in order to let everyone know just how fucked up they were or are. the tide was gonna come in an wash it away, right? so what the fuck? rock and roll.

the next morning we awoke to large groups of folks standing on the cliff pointing down toward the water. uh, yeah, the tide had already come in the night before so our insane pornographic ramblings were still visible for everyone to read that morning with their coffee. another visit from the rangers, of course. technicalities once again saving us. no one could prove anything. no one could prove we were the culprits. ipso facto we got off. however, the lady marine was livid. making the rest of that day and night almost unbearable. so unbearable we plotted against the lady marine. what else is a poor boy to do?

it was decided we would sabotage the move out when it came. one of us was to stay with the ladies and help with the tent striking stuff. the rest of us were leaving in the morning. that night we rigged up the main tent so that whoever was inside during the take down would end up underneath the collapsing tent. a sure fire knee slapper that we would not be around to see. as for the guy that was supposed to be helping, he would be off wandering the beach having forgotten it was time to decamp the camp. brilliant. it worked perfectly. only trouble was the poor lad had to drive home in the same car with the lady. she was so pissed she had to let him drive. something she never did on any outing. lady marines always drive.

ok. there it is in all of it’s mad glory. the completed story. it’s out there now and i can forget about it. well, writing about it anyways.

carlsbad state park as it appears today. there was no fence back in 1966.

jmh