My Gay Roommate. Air Force.

I had a choice of roommates.   A straight dickhead or a gay guy with issues.  (Don’t we all?).  However Mark was intelligent, engaging and a friend.    His dissections of movie plots were genius.  He was a 702 which is the military way of saying a person worked in the office.     One day after a Commander’s Call with our weather unit,  we were walking back to the barracks and about four guys were calling him names I will not mention.   When I saw the look on Mark’s face it was enough for me to retaliate in kind and this was in an era before DADT.

No fight just a threat because I was an NCO (SSgt) and they were little weenies and I would have gone after them if I could.   Anyhow,   it is not what a person likes if it is legal but what kind of person they are to others.

As I said,  Mark has his problems and of course being gay and being out front about it,   was a method to get kicked out.  His behavior escalated eventually he was wearing lipstick and mascara and leadership had enough.   Regardless,  he was and I hope is doing well.    Above all,   he lived the way he felt was the best for him and who am I to judge.    I did learn something about humans though and I am forever grateful for that.

After getting out I had a gay roommate again and he was okay but one of  his friends was not.    His friend said the place stunk of fish,  regarding my girlfriend.   After he left I went to Ray and told him if I ever heard anything like that again that I would kick his ass.   So again,  tolerating and accepting is kind of fluid,  but what is not subjective is common decency.   I do not care who you are if you are being a shit,   I am going to let you know.

No need for bro slaps or mancaves!

She’s very very very smart, but she is bad at drugs?

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I am actually proud of this young lady because she is smart but it was pretty evident that she suffered a lot of abuse at home and yet is surviving.   One of the most significant choices was to not go back home because as she said and I am paraphrasing,   “too much temptation”.

But at the same time looking back at her past on A&E,   she said,  she should be thriving.    She said that.  And this kind of talk most undoubtedly came from social workers,  guidance counselors and self-help books.  She was thriving as a young girl but the demons that haunted Ma and Pa Needle made that foundation shaky.

The mom said she was one of the greatest people that she has ever known?  A teenager who has Gollum’s ring tethered to opioid dreams and where Meth is always more.   A boyfriend who gets to sow seeds deep and in a haze find a love that no one else could possibly can.    While deserving souls are denied pain relief and all in the name of a fix or fixes,  overdoses and quantum mixes.

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And getting to how very very very smart she is,  the cumulative amount of verys invariable make her very very very smart.  So let’s break this down.   This attractive intelligent young woman is held hostage to a drug-induced state while disconnected parents with brick telephones hammer I Love yous in a staccato deception.  This very very very very smart girl  is doted upon unhealthily and the father says she is not good at drugs.   Well that is a goal,  I guess? Iron Oars on a rusty canoe.

SeizuresThat picture actually give me seizures.  Who needs drugs?  Ban pictures too!

I believe the father has other secrets too.   We may or may not know one way or the other,   and probably do not need to,  especially as this young woman continues to actually grow up.    The patchwork quilts are replaced with yarn,  replacing burned-outs bulb with Neon.    She is a champ inspite of the nesting cuckoo birds who cooed lies on brains filled with chemical Metaphors.

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Good luck and God’s speed and while I know her parents are just human too,   the objectification of her youth and intelligence invariably vanishes.    She is arty woman and interesting too,   but let this very very very very very smart woman who is not good at drugs,  to forever give them up.

It seems to me that we are reverting back to a time we do not want to go.  Things happen in life,  you can not control the tick of a clock anymore than you can control people.  In the next moment creative art will be inhibited as politicians talk about things they never experienced and if they did,  they just lie about it.

Black History Month & the Greatest Pitcher Ever – Bob Gibson

My favorite baseball player is almost 80 years old next November.    He is about five weeks older than my mother and regardless of the fact that he does NOT know me,   he is my role model,  my baseball idol and a man of great character.

I feel that too many times Jackie Robinson is hailed as the great trailblazer of equal rights.   But Mr. Gibson himself grew up in one of the most dangerous ghettos in America…   Cabrini Green.    His own father died about three months before Bob was born and his brother who was some 15 years older was a kind of mentor.

The song above is probably my favorite from Elvis and conveys the hard reality of disadvantage and self-destructive behaviors.     Growing up in Texas in a segregated neighborhood it seemed that integration was happening and no one had to tell us racism was wrong.   How is it little kids can figure out.   One day this black boy came across me and asked his friends,  “Who is this peckerwood?”     One of my friends from that run down place called the young black child out and told him I was his friend.

Racism was very real but the good part of that change was not a slogan or a gimmick,   we had real problems in our country.   We had Little Rock Hall and the protest of the brave young black students.    I was one year old as this cauldron was beginning to boil over and an ugly scene ensued.

This young lady was a hero and young kids of all races were angry at the over racism and Jim Crowe Laws that permeated the nation and especially  the South.    It was this that the young Cardinal star had to deal with and he did so relatively easily as was his character never to lose at anything.

Gibson had rickets and asthma as a kid and yet become a good basketball player,  averaging 22ppg as a senior in high school.   After that he went on to be an All-American  basketball player at Creighton University.    And from there the Harlem Globetrotters and finally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

When pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in spring training,  black players were not allowed to stay in the hotel that was white only.    Eventually the Cardinals organization fixed that problem.    Imagine being the superstar pitcher in the second best baseball organization and then being spit at in Florida.

The rough life growing up and his competitive nature made him a force in the game and he set one record that is still a record fifty or so years later.   (1.12) over 300 strikeouts and 13 shutouts with 22 wins.    He was a prolific hitter also bashing 24 Homeruns and 144 RBIs.   During the day there were not a lot of televised games and especially the Cardinals so I would listen to KMOX in St. Louis while we were living in upstate NY.      I loved and was proud when watching him pitch and would emulate his pitching delivery.

Mr Gibson like Hank Aaron survived the rigors that racism and hate with class and strength.   One time his catcher Tim McCarver ( a really good one) came to the mound and Gibson, “told him the only thing McCarver knew about hitting was he couldn’t.”

He was known for a blistering fastball and an awesome curve.    When he retired I felt such a deep sadness on a variety of levels.    As the years have passed fans revere him as a classy human and one of the greatest pitchers and one of only a few black pitchers.      So my looking up to him is influenced by so many factors.    I refused to lose and invariably I came through in the clutch every so often.   That included beating an undefeated wrestler in a state tournament,     and an unassisted triple play.    The baseball coach told my little brother that he had large shoes to fill.

I was born in a turbulent time with wars,   bitter conflicts racial and otherwise so I take a dim view of blacks using slavery as a crutch and so do the stars,   businessmen and fathers who do the right thing and do represent the status quo,   There is a lot of work and Ferguson roiled the waters and I am not going to be political but to say,  we collectively have to see each others as valuable as ourselves if not more.

This is a condensed version of my love and respect for this great man and served as a role model to black and white kids.

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A dream-like world. Basic Training!

On a springlike evening just as the sun was beginning to fall,    I was on what seemed to be an old base,  replete with World War II barracks that were both offices and dorm rooms for the college students.    In the military you were privacy to some antiquated housing and furnishings but comparatively,   the Air Force was light years ahead of other branches.

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In any regard this is a reasonable facsimile of dorm life back in the 60s and 70s and some back as far as the 1950s.   It is hard to imagine that our new dorms in Basic Training were the new dorms then (1974) and are the old dorms of yesteryear.  Confused?  Me too!

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The Dorms above were those new-old dorms and the new ones today are very nice.  Almost too nice.   The second floor overhang is where we did PE and was also close to the Chow Hall (We called it the dining halls because we were more sophicated, lol).   Anyhow,  our first day was about 11PM and like in the movie ‘Stripes’  the old stodgy Sergeants had the most pleasant things to say.

While we were waiting to go into the chow hall the TIs went in for awhile,  ostensibly to find good things to say to us when they got back.   But all of a sudden we had two black guys in line who were dancing and clapping and changing rows.   I snickered and marveled at their nerve or stupidity.  I can’t believe they didn’t get caught!   It was kind of like ‘Soul Train’.

TI2TIs get up close and personal with Dover Airmen

And like in ‘Full Metal Jacket’,   we had such great give and take with the Drill Instructors, or we called them  TIs or Training Instructors in the Chair Force.    The banter was light and convivial as we drank tea and did bird-watching.    It was almost like we were bestest friends and most TIs wanted to adopt us because we were the finest bunch of recruits they ever saw.

Then I woke-up,  and yes they (The TIs) took out their wrath on the aluminum trash cans and told us how much we stunk.   I even had the pleasure of discussing facial hair and the need to shave.   I had a face like a baby’s behind.   I looked like the smaller end of the height scale amongst 7th or 8th graders than a new recruit.   Even the foot lockers stood taller and menacing.

There were no private Jokers in our flight,  instead we were all Private Pyle.  With our shorn and shaved domes,   we looked like Vin Diesel without the muscles.  And while they were strongly encouraged not to kill us, they found other ways of making us feel like spineless-soft-bodied flesh-eating larvae in the noon day sun (maggots).    I think they took a class on how to jam their cute little TI hats into our face.  I still have entrance and exit wounds from those hats and dreams of reveille or the girl I used to have in upstate NY.

I never knew I had biological family and friends in basic because our Instructor told us he was family! Literally!   He was our parents, our friends,  family and girl friends.   No wonder they were cranky at 4A.M.!    After breakfast we swam along the Euphrates with 300 lbs of gear,  against the flow!    Okay,  that might be a little stretch or maybe a war story.  The war in Vietnam was coming to a conclusion and not ending well for people in the south part of that country.

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As Adrian Cronauer said,  “It was hot,  damn hot”.   With our canteens full of Perrier Water and Fig Newtons hidden in our lids (hats) even SEALS didn’t mess with us.   I had a lot of freckles then and was what you youngins refer to as Gingers.   So basically we were hardcore,  like a bunch of newborn fetuses dressed in green,  we marched or tried to, to the strains of Mozart and Tiny Tim.

One of the more fun ventures were the shots (vaccinations) that were delivered by a kind of air gun loaded with testosterone and Viagra.   No wonder that trees were not safe and off-limits to us.  Now I know why we had to stay off the grass.

And at night we had girls and partied late into the night.  Okay,  more accurately we had letters from our hot chicks (if you were lucky) and got to shine our shoes and the GI Parties were not co-ed!   We learned how to wax floors and fold our underwear.   Those beds were made with hospital corners and if they were not done right,  the hospital was a very real possibility.

When we started molting and changing from maggots to gadflys,  we were getting salty and irascible.  To give us a pass meant to go watch a movie on base or go and frolick with the natives in San Antonio and watch a movie..   We took pictures and discovered four-lettered words but couldn’t use them on base or against our family (The TIs).

But all good things must end and just when we were having fun.  Remember back then too many civilians hated our troops so while our facilities are better now,  so is the frame of mind and the acceptance of our communities.

Basic 1948

To Grandmother’s House We Went.

There are those times as a child when certain memories come back like yesterday.   For those of us with doting Grandparents these times are even more special.   Grandma and Grandpa lived in near Wellsboro,  PA.   The town was one of those factory areas with lots of farms, and lots of old dirt roads.

Charles Chips

In the early days going to Grandma’s house there were a few nostalgic places along the way.  One was an area that was flooded and a dam built where there used to be farms and one of those were owned by our extended family.   Next was the old store just before we turned onto the old Route 6,  the road my grandma lived on.

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The road was semi-paved and long and the old store was torn down a few years later with my only recollection was a new road was put in it’s place.   The old road also marked the nearness of Grandma’s place and a sense of magic and an accommodating environment.   Grandpa was always a bit annoyed at Grandma’s eccentricities and she had a few.   But in th end,  his love was born out for her even though Dr House probably learned snarkiness from him.

He used to show us the severed finger he suffered while working on an old car that collapsed as his finger got in the way of the hitch.    He wore his infirmity with pride and he was also very keen to my dad’s mistreatment of Mom.   Grandpa seethed with an inner rage and a few choice words from time to time.

Dad’s father was a bit of a jerk also and his sister would tell how he was beat by own his dad and thus the cycle of abuse was passed down.   That inner rage like an old tire tube,  slowly leaked it’s venom and poisoned what would have been an ideal childhood,  all things considered.

Staying at the house was the feeling that dad was powerless there and that he could only go so far pushing my mom to tears.   Something about being patriarchal and fair.   But Grandma always had the Charles Chips Potato Chips,  cases of soft-drinks and a few cookies to boot.  She was in love with her children in the sense that her world revolved us.  From the sock cookies to her love of the Pennsylvania Amish.   I remember light switches that read, “Outen the Lights” and other relics of a different time in the midst of the present.

I remember one time when Grandpa and Grandma visited us in Fairbanks, Alaska.    The bitter cold was relieved by their presence and true to form,  Grandma,  who my dad despised,  was able to help give aid to my mom’s beleaguered spirit.  This is where my anxieties deepest fissures stemmed.   The memory of my dad on top of mom was a knife threatening to hurt her (kill her) if she ever did whatever she allegedly did.

Being the only child old enough to remember much,  it as though something was relentlessly scratching the blackboard in school.   I dangled like an ornament precariously situated on a branch and Christmas a kind of detante against the ongoing drama and virtual cold war.

But back at her mom in Pennsylvania was a place of peace,  a lean-to and suspending sanctuary against the bitter winds that blew like an angry wind.   The best was staying over at Grandma’s during the summer and a few times during Christmas break.   I used to watch the traffic on the new Rte 6 and when there was snow,  the crunching of tires and the slow procession that followed the ruts in the snow packed ice.

The chiming of the old grandfather clock and the old black and white TV that sat below it.  My mom told as kids that they put a kind of tri-colored flimsy on top of the black and white picture to get color TV.    The only cable back then was the one that towed your car out of a ditch.

Speaking of ditches.   While still very young I was in the front seat of our old blue Ford stationwagon while mom and dad were inside.   I decided to go with my first driver’s education class and put the car in reverse and it slowly rolled down the driveway and onto old 6 and against a barb-wired fence.   Beyond that fence was about a twenty foot drop.   My dad was sheepish at his thoughtlessness and I was pretty scared myself.   Afterwards was a warning and a laugh from grandfather that dissipated the pressure of that event.

The old Grandfather clock croaked out the time,   it’s face made of copper and ornate arms which  spun slowly,  methodically and predictably.    Calming the tempest in a generally unfamiliar way.   The stairway seemed much longer than it really was and the excitement of the old house gave it a kind of haunted house feel.

Grandma’s heart seemed in synch with the old time keeper and my grandfather sat in his chair and winked at us.   He had a quiet power over us and though 70ish he was no one to mess with,  He was a steadying force in the family,  truly a great man in my eyes.

I really feel that he loved Grandma even though his first wife died pretty young.  Reminders of her were her spinster sisters,  kind of like the Baldwin sisters in The Waltons.   He was also a pretty good ball player and played in the industrial leagues that were common then.

Both of my grandfathers played semi-pro baseball and probably where I got my athletic skills.   My dad did too though he opted for working hard and there is nothing wrong with that.   The problem is he was terribly conflicted and full of inner rage.   He never went to my sporting events and he missed something special when I was in high school upsetting the number one wrestler in the state of NY in my division (105lbs) LOL>

But Grandma T’s house was a kind of sanctuary and better when the cousins showed up.   We rigged an old crate and used a small beach ball and played basketball.    The excitement with the prospects of going to our Aunt and Uncle’s House on the Dairy Farm.   Days were long with chores and all and since it was a novelty,  the fact that it was work was not a problem.

After eating during the spring and summer we played Little League Baseball.   With tons of catchers mitts and other types of baseball gloves we would head off to the park.  Even cousins who were girls played baseball and this was true even at the fair they had each year near Blossburg in a towned called Roseville.   It was Hooterville with our telephones inside but they were party lines.   Yeah they did exist and long distance calls in the states, a few miles away were expensive.   No cellphones then unless the cans with the string attached could be considered thus.

On our way home we would stop at the Farmer-in-the Dell Creamery were absolutely delicious fresh ice cream was served.  Too bad but that place was bought out and leveled in corporate America’s siege of small farming communities and forcing farmers to find jobs in a world that was decreasingly hospitable to the menial-minded laborer.

The only time it was tolerable was when I had my 17 year old girlfriend Marci along for the ride.   We stroked each other’s hair and cuddled for the long ride.   I was pretty happy at that time.    I remember waiting at her parent’s house one day and the song by Gordon Lightfoot ‘Sundown’ was playing.    As she emerged to come downstairs,  her long flowing black hair felt right at the moment.   I was pretty happy with that too.  Of course.

As my dad and my mom’s mom grew older my dad actually conceded that it was a nice time though he hated going because I think,  it reminded him of what he never really had and the world is sadder when you cannot feel that way about Grandma and Grandpa.

Past Midnight. It’s a Beautiful Morning!!!

The prince of darkness and a highlighter pen.   Marking his victims one through ten.  Studying his quarry he chuckles and chortles,  oh how he loves the mere mortals.   The sun on hiatus in a full moon dark,  which gave us our peculiar spark and gave our paths original names,  in honor of men called errr.  Peter and James.

His quarry are gathered,  some of the best and the brightest, or so they think,  he’s getting ready to show them and throw at them,  even the proverbial sink.   Pretty soon the ten became thousands… finally much more.

Pretty soon the gavel smashed and the room quivered in fear,  why did our friend call us here?    Why does this place has tall fiery gates and pictures of all their victims?  Wait?

A sonorous laughter filled the great room,  as the chandeliers began  to shake and fill them with doom.    Pretty soon it was all for themselves,  as their allies wore signs and epitaphs from many wars.

The choir was assembled,  not hastily though,  it was time for the revenge of the primate doe.    Fear coursed through body and their much troubled brains,  is this what happens just before the holidays.

Now the penniless pauper with his nubile daughter look directly into the eyes of of.. new found doubt.    The King’s crown looked a bit withered and dithered and the jewels now gone replaced with inscriptions.     The writings now were in many languages but still just one,  there was going to be no room for interpretation, no not one nor drinks of ale or the fattest of quails.    This was their requiem for filling the jails.

The horny magistrate with his pointed tail,   was giving them remorse with the whip of his tail.     Suddenly they wanted to cry but none of that,  they were going to eat envy with silent wails.     All the former slaves laughed with glee and the sting of the whip could never cut so deep as the sting of a trapped conscience.

So bullies beware,  an election or coop lasts for a few years only and then my fearful one,  all is done and made right.