> on 03/06/2001 15:27, William M. Mandel at email@example.com wrote:
> THREE-QUARTERS OF A CENTURY OF CONNECTING CLASSROOM, COMMUNITY,
> AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: A PERSONAL REMINISCENCE
> by William Mandel
As a cuspie, one of those too young to 'really do the sixties'
and too old to be a Gen-Xer, I want to thank you for adding to
our cultural heritage with your report. While the current akademiks
may not understand why it would be worth while to retain this part
of our legacy, allow me to say that I do.
Taking a brief stroll through the stack that radman just sent out,
the massed absurdity levels is beyond belief. So forgive me if I follow
in your form and yet, perchance diverge a piece.
As the old guard recall, my father was military, and I would learn, as I
have told others, that while as a youth I wondered about his expression,
"The gun came with the job."
I have since wondered which questions were really worth running to ground.
My uncle resigned his commission rather than fly in vietnam, and would be,
as my cousin has noted, one of those crazy white liberals who would move
into south side philly, to become an independent film maker. For the family
the classic quote remains,
"Post bail money, we're off to Penn State."
from the hey days of the anti-war protests. But we learn now that they have
'strip malled' "south street" in philly, and the nice kids from the burbs
use it as an excuse to get liquored up and all out of hand - just as
telagraph out in bezerkley has been the cool place to get out of hand.
I guess I find it comical, because c4bob sent out email, some four years
ago that Country Joe was bringing the Moving Wall to Bezerkley, and that
he needed an 'all hands event' - I of course was asshole over elbows in
the current project, and told him to take charge, sort it out, and send
me email about when and where he needed me to stand watch. I may not agree
with everything Country Joe did and said, and felt about each other, but
since he's Ex-Navy, he's family, and we gotta take care of our own.
So we show up, this collection of greying old farts, who know each other
more by our electronic presence, than having actually met, and yeah, to be
honest, if it wasn't for the women in our lives, we probably would not crawl
out of our caves to meet face to face, but they have this thing, you know -
one talks to another, and they organize a gathering, and there is some guy
who is not yet involved.... and you have to keep meeting as the other couple
becomes a couple.... So we do Bezerkley.
The women in our lives are concerned about our running ourselves into
the ground, but, well, its a guy thing, you know. c4's damn need dead on
his feet he's been running around getting things organized and on top of
the operation. Me, I'm there to do what ever c4 tells me is my watch to
stand and all. We have a momentary glitch with the power, and we 'rotate
and radiate' just like every other 'casualty drill' - this time its a matter
of which of us is still closer to the combat trim that in our youth we
believed we would hold for ever - yeah right. And the nice lady from the
Mayor's office is a bit freaked, we know our chain of command, we work the
problem, we make things happen. We went to different high schools together.
We're family, we take care of our own. So this is news to you lady?
As my first generation of freaks will recall, I have an undying love for
brother Country Joe, because he came out and supported the VVAW's
alternative Veteran's Day Memorial at the ratskeller at U Madtown, the night
that officially I transfered into the fleet reserve - and blondie and I sat
there rolling dobbies under the tables while the wannabe Johnny Rambo Jock
types tried to figure out where they belonged as the 'anti-war types' were
playing songs we 'warmonger baby killers' understood in ways we hope to GOD
that they never have the balls to find out.
There was more old camo out there than I want to think about, and I prefer
to remember the insanity of blondie trying to teach me bass riffs to Pink
Floyd, who had no idea that traditionally time signatures are done as the
ratio of whole numbers! Not as exponential functions of random non-repeating
decimal values. But I guess I prefer to remember the mathematics, and the
stark irony of the idiots bombing the math building, rather than have to
explain to a lot of really well meaning nice white boys from the burbs that
if I have shot enough rounds through an SKS that I need to clean it, that I
have fundamentally failed at the mission of getting a real weapon - since
that part of the head space means explaining to them what sorts of real
weapons are really needed were one actually to do this professionally.
We did what we did because we believed we were following our dharma.
My old hippies were cool enough to understand that.
My new hippies are a bit more flip about it with lines like,
"It's not my heart attack...."
But you know kids these days, no respect for tradition - and you gotta
respect them for not always wanting to follow the path that we blazed.
I guess maybe that IS the massed comedy, as my current UnterStumpenFumbler
from work would blaze out with me to attend the 30th Anniversary of the
Summer of Love, which I failed to attend the original, taking a little time
off at the Tripler US Army Hospital; so I felt morally obliged to do the
right thing and support the creation of a tradition - so we would spend a
part of it playing Go - the traditional japanese game, after he had bought
the cool cards that said:
"Why not call in sick,
and take on the day?"
And the big cosmic kharma wheel of fate has rolled around again, as he
explains to upper management that I may not be able to attend their current
psycho-panic-freakout as I will most likely be recovering from attending
the mendications of a dentists. Way Bummer Dude, we tried to warn them that
they were seeking to implement a failed effort, but they were unwilling to
I think about my son, being raised by his mother, a virtue I was not
afforded as my father dragged us from coup, to pestulence, to places best
left unremembered. But he will be the son of the toughest sailor on the
block, even if that does lead him to wonder, as he grows older, why all of
these Johnny Rambo Wannabe's want him to grow up to be like his mother.
It ain't 'gender bending' - sailor was always a gender neutral term. Even
if all the radical feminists are still working it out how to deal with the
sisters who flew into and out of Da Nang and Saigon, and the rest of them
that were doing by deed what others were unwilling to risk. Hey life is
like that, some do, some talk, and some edit copies of the history.
Maybe that is the greatest kick in the pants part of this all. I was
recently up in Boston attending a training class a mere 8 miles from where
I had first had to encounter going to school with civilians - and she would
call me on the cellphone, to talk, for who knows, but the billing record,
how long, about the things that matter. Me sitting there, in the hotel,
finally deciding that I didn't have to 'go home' - and would be just as
pleased to chase down the merry lane never knowing what had become of
what was formerly known as Lawerence G. Hanscom Field - since that was the
past, and the future was some snow covered road going elsewhere.
I should have seen this divergent convergence as my brother and I walked
our step mother down the aisle at father's second wedding, what with all
the right wing jack booted death squading militarists, many of whom were
involved in cutting down the seven to eight feet of cherry blossom used as
the back drop for the alter, on one side of the room, and that collection
of radical wacko's, social workers, independent film makers, artsy-fartsy
hippie dippy types on the other. Father in full dress white uniform, and
his best man, that anti-war ex-navy pilot, my uncle, in a suit without
cufflinks, he'd sorta spaced them out, so he had his shirt sleeves rolled
up to deal with the faux paux.
I had to run up to Portland to attend some training session on a network
management system, a great cover, I tried to explain to the folks down
south here, for actually doing what I still do best, "run a recon on them"
and figure out what was what and who knew what the real requirements are.
You'd be amazed how simple it is to play dumb and let americans spill the
beans about what is important to them - you just have to work the deal,
just like it was an 'Op'. Hang out, smoke cigarettes, talk the talk, act
dumb - just like tex had done to get number one and two of the revolution
out of brasilia under the junta in the old days. Targets changes, the game
remains the same.
So of course, it's pop's town, and I call, and request ground support....
Little really has changed, he's a bit greyer, and wears hearing aids, since
the last time around when He learned that I had been listening, and learned,
the rules of the trade, and would have to no longer speak openly with him
about where I was, or what i was doing. So this time around I could be just
family, and could pick up the check.
Dick Endean still gave me a ration for my 'habit' of turning over one of my
cigarettes, 'for luck, since he was 'family' and knew that we were NOT
suppose to have any trackable or identifiable traits or habits - but I was
never able to fully explain to him the joy that single act of difiance meant
to me, as it declared to those who knew, i was no longer in the trade.
Father would prefer that I stop smoking, but he understands that all things
in their time and place. He would be able to laugh as I explained to my 4-F
brother, the only one of us to own a gun, that firing a lot of .303 ball
ammunition HURTS!!! And that we really did not have a lot of undying
sympathy for his not understanding why some of us support subcaliber and
intermediary cartidge systems.
Maybe the real problem in it all is that the moross boredom that people
face with the vast wasteland of kids today is simply that they were,
like myself, 'sheltered' from the great number of mindless wasteland
viewers by parents who pointed them in some strange direction, and
just let them loose to go make of themselves what they could.
While William Mandel manifests his 'traditional family values' in a realm
where it is dangerous, because his parents were 'communists' - I come from
the same 'traditional family values' where my parents were 'anti-fascists'
and were just as supportive of our doing what had to be done.
The tragic irony in it all is that those of us who served with NATO forces
have found that we have as much in common with our vet brothers who served
with the red army in Afghanistan, as either of us have for the ideological
pedagogs of left or right in our homelands.
Where we find common ground, is that the vast wasteland out there has no
idea whom they are, or what they should be doing, and are romantically in
quest for 'cheap utopianism'. While he and I share the common understanding
that we can at least make real strides, perchance incrementally, towards a
possible 'utopia' - we just have to keep working at it irregardless what the
vast wasteland concludes is the trend of the moment.
Who knows, some day all the wankers who have balleyhoo'd the great victory
of Capitalism over the cold war may someday come to understand that while
their cheapening of 'entreprenour' - just as they cheapened 'bushido' when
immitating Japan Inc. was the rage - misses the core point of being able to
"place our bodies upon the levers and the gears...." To take the risks that
we find reasonable and compelling - in the end, to follow our dharma - has
never been the way of the 'window sitters' in their grey flannel suits.
Maybe the real problem has not changed. There is the sixties that was
really lived by those who were out to change the world. Then there was the
media blitz shilling the corporate products. Now there is the unresolved
issues of those who can afford the luxury of being pedantic about it all.
But is this really news?
In ancient China,
When we were in service to government we followed confuscious.
When not, we followed the way of Lao Tzu....
Some watched billy jack and dug the chop saki.
Others were hip to the reverence of following another way.
You do what has to be done.
Others do as they wilst...
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Mar 08 2001 - 21:04:53 EST