“pig in the python”

 

 

“sharp statistical increase represented as a bulge in an otherwise level pattern.”

young, mature, old

Picture a python that has just eaten a pig.  We are the bulge in that python’s belly.  We are the baby boomers.  Born between 1946 and 1964, we were part of the phenomenal birth rate increase following the end of WWII.  Life in the USA was good.  It was a time of jobs, prosperity, security, enforced peace, a resumption of  families supported by dads returning from the sacrifices of war time.

We grew up with the images of “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best” teaching us how life should be.  Beginning in 1959 we watched 14 seasons of the Cartwrights on “Bonanza” showing us how ‘real men’ lived.  Back then the “Nightly News” was a reporting of factual events rather than an attempt to entertain or politicize.

Our parents intended for us to have it all, a better life than they had.  Job security was the norm enabling dad to spend his entire career with one employer.  Mom stayed at home keeping house, prepared great home-cooked meals for her loved ones, chaired the local PTA, drank socially with her Wednesday afternoon card club.  Junior and Sis went to segregated schools, attended sock hops on Saturday night, dreamed of being the prom King and Queen, prepared for college and an independent life with families of their own.

Remember those days?  Me neither.  Here’s how it really was.  Bobby’s dad was escaping to the city on ‘business trips’ to meet the young, hot secretary from the office for a few hours of sex.  Betty’s mom was sneaking martinis every afternoon before the kids came home from school.  Junior was getting high with his friends and Sis was given to bobbing in the back seat of her boy friend’s car.

And we became emancipated.  Woodstock, the Beatles, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war protesters, the political corruption all met within the 1960s to create a generation of young people unwilling to accept the status quo.  We were called radical and degenerate for rejecting ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ and the ‘Cartwrights’, following, instead, a desperate departure from our parents’ dreams.  Much of that idealism was relinquished with the passing years, and most of us settled into responsible adult relationships and behaviors just like mom and dad.  But, a few of us became ‘forever dropouts’.

My name is Larry and I am a baby boomer.  Today marks my 73rd birthday.  Still haven’t figured out if I’m still a dropout or just an anti-social senior citizen.

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coming soon to your town

No, I’m not talking about a circus, a new movie release, a new box store.  Federal agents have invaded the city of Portland, Oregon ostensibly to quell the rioting ‘anarchists’ who, according to WH reports, are overtaking the city.  Local Portland and state of Oregon officials are saying the protests are mostly peaceful and demanding the feds get out of their city.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has sued multiple federal agencies alleging agents in unmarked vehicles have grabbed people off Portland’s streets without a warrant in recent days.  USA TODAY

The AG says the tactics are similar to kidnapping.  Should we be surprised?  The same WH has caged children on our southern border, condoned police brutality publicly and excused the Charlottesville fiasco stating that there were ‘good people’ among the neo-Nazi torch carriers.

We can not afford to turn and look the other way, to be indifferent to the vile force posing as government protection.  Non-violent protest is our trump card.  MLK,Jr. and Gandhi have proven that violent government intervention cannot win over non-violence.  The feds can intimidate, kidnap, beat with billy clubs, and arrest, but cannot crush the spirit of non-violent protest.

In the 1960s and 1970s peaceniks and flower children led the marches.  The feds called my brothers and sisters cowards and communists.  But, old passions won’t die, will they?  We simply became older peaceniks.  We ended the Vietnam War and we got Civil Rights legislation passed.  We, the peacemakers, prevailed then and we can do so today.

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.”

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

….as near as the destination may be, it’s still the journey that matters….

served your country – so what?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

pride8

It was 1968.  Lyndon Johnson had won easily in the 1964 Presidential election after finishing the term of President Kennedy who was assassinated in November of 1963.  But the political scene took a few nasty turns and in March of 1968 Johnson decided to drop out of the race.

Many Americans were disgusted with the Vietnam War, the blacks were disenchanted with the Civil Rights Act, the corruption of DC politicians became fodder for the frenzied press.  Brave, young warriors, disproportionately African-American, were coming home in flag draped coffins to an angry and unsettled America.  Those who survived the horrors of Vietnam often came home to chants of “baby killers” and were spat upon at the airports.

For many years thereafter, veterans responsibly assured future military warriors and heroes that this display of cowardice and disrespect toward service men and women would never, ever happen again in the United States of America.  If nothing else, the dignity of military service would be honored and respected regardless of political alignment or social status.  It had nothing to do with flags, parades, or memorial services.  It was simply a matter of revering the sacrifices of all who served their country whether in war times or peace.

During the 2016 campaign for President, the Republican Party hosted a wide array of worthy and qualified contenders for the party’s nomination.  One of them was Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War hero who was captured and subsequently spent five years in a POW camp suffering torture at the hands of his captors resulting in permanent physical disability.  Yet his documented valor in the line of duty was discredited by a man who had spent his war years in NYC “fighting off STDs” in a period of time which he termed as “my personal Vietnam.”  Trump referred to Senator McCain as a “loser for getting himself captured, not really a war hero.”  The 4 time draft-dodger went on to win the Republican nomination.

Enter Tucker Carlson of Fox News, a champion of the current POTUS and outspoken critic of anything or anyone not clad in the American flag and the traditional red MAGA cap.  Like his WH master and trainer, Carlson has not one day of military experience nor public service.  Yet, the self-proclaimed guru of patriotism has leveled a stream of negative invective against Senator Tammy Duckworth who had both her legs blown off while serving her country in combat in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Carlson called Duckworth, who is being vetted as Joe Biden’s possible running mate, a “moron,” a “coward,” and a “fraud.” He also called on those who love America to defend “our nation and our heritage and our culture” against Duckworth, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar, and those like them.

During an online fundraiser Tuesday, Biden said the attacks on Duckworth were “disgusting, sickening,” and a “reflection of the depravity of what’s going on in the White House right now.”

The depravity of which Joe Biden speaks is rampant not only in the White House.  It is a contagion infecting the soul of America, it is as deadly as covid-19 and it is spearheaded by men like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump.  Having never stood shoulder to shoulder with others in military uniform, having never spent a day in service to this old codgercountry, having never fought in combat and severely injured, having never seen the inside of a POW camp, how dare you, Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump question the patriotism of those who served with honor and valor? ‘Loser, moron, coward, fraud’ – the words are applicable, but being applied to the wrong set of characters in this sad episode of American history.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH

 

Alice’s Restaurant

social media

Why do we call it social media?  It’s not at all socially responsible and it is certainly not socially civil.  Its users will blast you with profanity if they disagree with your viewpoint and castigate your intelligence when you don’t march in step with their thinking.  So, instead of ‘social media’ let’s name Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. ad nauseum THE SCOURGE.

The Scourge is our punishment for relinquishing the ability to think and behave responsibly.  Undoubtedly, 95% of those folks, the ones who prolifically pound their keyboards cussing you and me with various impossible acts which we should perform upon ourselves, they would not have an ounce of courage in an up-front, face-to-face encounter.  So there, I’ve said it.  You just take your FB, Twitter, Instagram and assorted other forms of self expression and stick them where the “sun don’t shine.”  Hah! How’s that make you feel? Got a problem with that?  Here’s my address, I’ll be waiting out front at sunup.

You might ask, “Larry, what’s got you so riled this morning?”

Thanks for asking.  I woke up at 1 o’clock AM humming a few bars from ALICE’S RESTAURANT.  Trust me.  Strains from Moonlight Sonata or Frank Sinatra are welcomed music wafting through my head at 1 AM, but not Alice’s Restaurant.  Just like me in the 1960s, Arlo Guthrie also had a hair up his butt about society, particularly the government, the military and the Vietnam War.  I’m over all that 1960s crap, but I still like humming ALICE’S RESTAURANT –

“And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day
Walkin’ in, singing a bar of ALICE’S RESTAURANT and walkin’ out? Friends,
They may think it’s a Movement, and that’s what it is, THE Alice’s
Restaurant anti-massacre movement! And all you gotta do to join is to
Sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar”

The anti-massacre movement Arlo wrote about was the resistance to our government’s military draft which was expediting young American men to the jungles of Vietnam. During those years, the journalists whom we trusted to present factual, unbiased news reporting included names such as Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley & Chet Huntley, and Edward R. Murrow.  They gave to us straight-up news – no hype, no entertainment, no bullshit.  We listened to the newscast for half an hour or sometimes an hour and we were then informed citizens able to form rational opinions.

We could have a draft again in America’s future if the current Administration, believing it can institute anything deemed necessary to achieve its military ends, conscripts our young warriors to the sand jungles of the Middle East.  Sadly, today we don’t have much professional journalism to inform us truthfully of world events and political shenanigans.  Instead, we have a proliferation of ‘social media’, most of it posing as newsworthy journalism.

But, thank God I still have at 1 o’clock AM a place to go, a song to sing.  Join me?

“You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant
Walk right in, it’s around the back
Just half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant”

🎶🎶😴

It has never been about Alice or her restaurant.  It was and always is about taking the protest to the streets, to the leaders in DC, speaking truth to power.  Some things never change – the inherent corruption of unbridled power is one.

Pete Seeger knew that, Bob Dylan sang it, Joan Baez and Arlo Guthrie had messages that I still hear today.  Times really haven’t changed a whole lot since 1968 and Vietnam.  You can still get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

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ain’t going back no more

I spent too much of this past weekend reflecting upon my stint in the Navy as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam era. I returned to the insanity and chaos of the war years as I remembered and honored my brothers who died in those jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. Tonight, my soul aches anew. I still sometimes feel guilt for not being one of them. I should have been there beside them. For many years I thanked the God of my understanding for keeping me safely out of harm’s way. Today it’s easier to simply say I was just one of the lucky ones. My number was not drawn, my reassignment orders did not say Marine Corps training for assignment to Vietnam. But, was I really one of the lucky ones? They paid the supreme price, the family received condolences, insurance money, a flag, and a medal, and another warrior found eternal peace having died a war-time hero.

My duty station was the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Having completed training as a psychiatric tech, none of the schooling prepared me for the pain I saw of returning warriors broken in limb and mind. They shared their horror stories, stories of terror and fear in the rice paddies and the jungles where they stayed high on dope just to survive the craziness that filled their minds. Those who lost arms and legs were rehabilitating in the orthopedic wards on the other side of the hospital grounds. They visited my wards in their wheelchairs and together the broken ones tried to heal one another.

One of my special assignments was that of body escort for a returning corpsman killed in action. My military bearing was never up to snuff from my first days in boot camp and it did not improve with time, but I somehow stayed out of trouble and made rank. It was considered an honor to escort a fallen warrior. I had lots of time to think as I rode with the dead young man to his funeral site in Virginia. I met the grieving family at the funeral home and began doing what body escorts are supposed to do. After the body was lowered in the ground, after the volley of gun fire, and after final taps from a nearby hillside, I returned to my motel room, cried like a baby and got drunk as hell.

I friggin hated war, I hated Vietnam and most of all I hated the government which had sent thousands of courageous men to their graves for the enrichment of the privileged, white boys back home in the safety of the USA. From that day forward my life tail-spinned into the drunken story of a sorry-assed man who couldn’t forgive himself for still being alive while too many had died. My untimely discharge from the military gave me ever more reason to pursue a new found career in drinking. Espousing anti-government sentiments from my barstool pulpit, I spent many nights with Jack Daniels and Cutty Sark informing other barroom patrons of the inherent evils of ‘their’ government.

I have detailed my sobriety story many times on this blog. It is indeed a miracle which has led me to self-forgiveness and acceptance of things which I cannot change. My drinking was my way of leaving my personal jungles and rice paddies behind and I am OK with it. I titled this post before I started writing it and now I know it’s a lie. I must go back remembering those who died, those who came back broken in spirit and body, and those who never again had a chance to live normally. They are all a part of my story and I can never forsake them.

Duane, Bryan, Joe – I’ll see you when I get there. SEMPER FI

ADAGIO FOR STRINGS – samuel barber

“the first casualty of war is the truth.”  SENATOR HIRAM JOHNSON – 1917

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for over an hour trying to compose an appropriate, patriotic weekend post for this Memorial Day.  I’ve been sitting here remembering past holidays when I proudly displayed American flags in the front yard for Memorial Day and July 4th.  And, sadly, all that fills my mind are the mournful strings of Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  I remember those sounds from the movie, PLATOON.  It was a somber commentary on the truth of our 1st defeat as a country in battle.  It was  a story which needed to be told about Vietnam, the divisive war which lined the coffers of the American munitions/defense/industrial complex at a cost of 1.4 million casualties of which 58,220 were courageous American warriors.

I won’t put my flags out this year and probably not for years to come.  I may die never again displaying those flags.  Absolutely, I continue to honor and revere those who serve and those who gave their lives in service, but today I kneel with sadness rather than salute with respect the flag which represents a once proud nation led astray by greed and corruption.

A friend recently reminded me that we don’t have to agree politically or theologically to continue loving one another.  I hope he is right and for today I will hold on to that thought for the comfort needed to survive this darkness.

MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION AND MAY WE ALWAYS SALUTE THOSE WHO SERVED AND DIED.

MAY GOD BLESS ALL THOSE WHO SACRIFICED COMFORT, SECURITY AND LIFE TO DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION.

 

good vibrations

My friends, this is happy music.  “Good Vibrations” was a hit in 1966 composed and produced by Brian Wilson.  It’s the stuff which entertained us at sock hops, cruising down Market Street on Saturday nights, picnicking at the beach.  THE BEACH BOYS popularized a genre of music which did not focus on the Vietnam War, protests, and street violence.  Their toe-tapping sounds gave way to the soul’s underside with the advance of THE ANIMALS, ROLLING STONES, BOB DYLAN, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX, DOORS carrying us to darker spaces.

A blogger, unless blogging for profit, tends to trek through hills and valleys of creativity.  Some days simply do not inspire anything worth writing.  It could be laziness, but the truth of the matter is that quite often the weight of the world is overwhelming.  Wearied to the core by social, political, and religious upheavals continually bombarding all the media screens and soul’s conscience, there are times when retreat is necessary.

For many Vietnam War era men and women, the protest days are over. Instead, there’s a place to go where the eagles fly high, the rivers run deep, the grass is lush.  In that place it is peaceful and kind, no violence nor intolerance.  Whenever solace and rest are needed, this internal heaven can be right here and right now or it can be a million miles away.  Joyfully, in that space the good vibrations of the soul embrace a higher calling.

Namaste. 🙏

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more informed, less sane

worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength – corrie ten boom

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Larry, a blogging buddy over at JUST DRIVE WILL YOU, commented on my recent post ME WORRY? NEVER  –

“I definitely think most of us are more informed and less sane these days.”

Can any of you contradict that observation?  During the Vietnam War we who viewed the carnage happening in the jungles and rice paddies were more informed than our parents who had lived through the second World War.  Radio and newspapers kept them informed as best they could, but it was the images on the screen that turned us during the 1960s into well-informed people.  The war scenes, the protests in the streets of Chicago and other major cities, the police brutality at the Democratic National Convention, the haunting picture of a 9 year-old Vietnamese girl burned by napalm running naked down the street…..these truths reported and televised made us better informed people.

As today, our nation then was a divided people.  But the stories and images which we digested forced us to change our minds and condemn what was happening overseas, led us as voters to direct our government that enough was enough, we would no longer tolerate that war.  And it was the information presented to us on television screens that brought about a disengagement with Vietnam.

We did not have 24/7 news coverage, we did not have a conservative network or a liberal network.  CNN, Fox, MSNBC were not on the air pumping their narrative into our brains every minute of every day.  But the coverage we did watch was truthful news reporting by a trusted team of dedicated journalists.  We had Walter Cronkite visiting with us every night at supper time, telling us what was happening in the world and we trusted him almost as much as we trusted God, maybe more so.

So why would Larry from JUST DRIVE WILL YOU believe that we are more informed as a people but less sane?  I think all of us agree that the information available at any given moment today exceeds anything the Vietnam War generation could ever imagine.  The internet puts all that information just a click away.  And we, being the curious creatures and conscientious citizens that we are, want to absorb as much as we can.  Stories from far away places are now available in seconds.  We absorb and process, absorb and process, absorb and process until we reach a plateau called overload.  Symptoms of overload can be anxiety, lack of focus, frustration, impatience, and depression.  Yep, we are headed to a condition of being “less sane”, are we not?

Overload leads to burnout.  Burnout is an emotional state in which you and I can no longer conduct our lives rationally or effectively.   We try to function as always, try to maintain an appearance of being in control, but inside our churning gut the world is topsy-turvy and  ready at any moment to crash.  Many of us do crash.  We become less sane than we were yesterday.  Granted, we know everything happening in the world, we know what politician called whom a slut, we know what preacher says it’s OK to kill in the name of God, we know the price of gold and silver, we know what the stock market did today.  But, we no longer know peace.  That’s one helluva price to pay to be more informed, don’t you think?

I speak with authority because I have been there.  I can still go there if I am not selective in what I watch on TV, what I allow into my brain.  The bottom line is the fact that, in my human condition, I want to control as much of my world as possible.  I want every ethnicity to be accepted, every creed to be honored, every lifestyle to be tolerated.  But, the world doesn’t always agree with me and I can only change my world by being an example of what I believe is right.  And I don’t need CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Reuters, NBC, or any other news media service to tell me what is right.  My gut tells me that.  Some folks call it conscience, some Spirit. Trust your Spirit.  It is never wrong.