June 27th, 2004


The world as it is...

...as opposed to how we would like it to be. There's a fairly long article on Instapunk.com, not to be confused with Instapundit even though that's where I found the link. It ties together Fahrenheit 9/11, or rather
Christopher Hitchens' trashing of it with Rush Limbaugh, some peoples' irrational hatred for an image of the man that doesn't correspond with the observed reality, Abu Ghraib, hazing, and A Few Good Men. It sounds like a mulligan stew with a side of fresh incoherence, but it's actually excellent and reminded me of something similar to the Marine paratrooper wing incident, something so common I'm amazed it wasn't mentioned.

Back in the day, I went to a rather large high school in southern Maryland that featured an Air Force Junior ROTC squadron, which I was a member of for all three years that I attended the school. (I had the dubious distinction of graduating as one of the only two seniors not to be appointed a cadet officer, but I felt that graduating as a Cadet T/Sgt was more appropriate anyway.) One of the things that went on there, which repeated itself when I was on active duty in the Army and still later in the Guard and Reserve was that when somebody was promoted to cadet NCO rank, the stripes were "pounded in". The leadership instructor, a crusty old B-17 gunner who had started his military career in the horse cavalry, literally punched you in the stripes. Now, keep in mind that these weren't sewn on. These were pinback stripes with fasteners similar to those found on collar brass, ribbons, and other things that commonly hang off a uniform. The pins usually punch right through the clutch backs if even a little force is applied.

Now, these are high school kids, getting superficial wounds inflicted on their arms as part of an unofficial tradition. Nobody ever said anything. It was understood that this was symbolic, a ritual intended to remind you of your responsibility as a sergeant, even if you were just a high school kid wearing a uniform once a week for class. If you were the kind of person who would whine about a little pain like that, you wouldn't have signed up for Junior ROTC in the first place.

Later, the same thing happened with people getting their sergeants' stripes in the Regulars, the Guard, and the Reserve. People would punch the pin-on stripes (which in the Army in the 1970s and 80s had moved to the collar, to be replaced with sew-on stripes in the 90s) into your collarbone. And it hurt. So did getting roasted because one of your troops screwed up. So would getting killed in action because you screwed up and didn't train Specialist X to be all he could be.

It wasn't a big deal, but it made you think. Too bad it seems to have been exterminated in the name of making everything all pretty and shiny for the newsies.

I could have spent that money on...stuff.

Masakazu Katsura's Video Girl Ai was a real disappointment, even though I did pick up the three volumes I read used at Dreamhaven instead of buying them new. I'll spare you the plot summary, but suffice it to say that what appeared to be a very nice, very touching story about a boy who has girl problems goes south rather badly in the third volume of the manga. I don't like what's done with Ai, and I'm not interested in reading any more of it.

One last box

I've always felt unhappy about this business of selling off my father's jazz CDs. I suppose I shouldn't complain - this is basically what I got, aside from his wallet and his watch, both of which have since fallen apart, and his pistol, which Carlos is keeping for me out in Maryland, and Mom isn't after me to help with any of the leftover bills.

Still...aside from the Charleston Chasers CDs that I got back from one of my longtime buyers' kids after said buyer died last spring, I have by and large been selling off all the traditional jazz CDs that were in my father's collection, with the exception of a couple dozen I set aside for my cousin Terry O'Malley as a wedding present. It's not my kind of music, but I still don't feel right that I've been auctioning it all off, the Julie London and the Bix Beiderbecke and the obscure little bands from the 1920s that put out a few dozen 78s in the Jazz Era before the stock market crash brought all the happy times to a screeching halt for the music business and America as a whole. I never acquired a taste for blues in the original New Orleans style, and the big band swing of the 1940s I can take or leave alone.

On some level, I think ought to be taking the CDs out for one last spin, so I can hear the music that he spent so much time and money acquiring - and going to some effort, too, since none of these labels are the sort of thing you'd find by going out to the local Sam Goody or Tower Records. Keeping in mind that my father was somewhat of a Luddite when it came to the Internet (weird, considering most of his career had to do with writing programs for mainframes) it's more than a little amazing that he found some of these CDs. Even so...what I feel when I listen to Hal Kemp's orchestra and Natalie Lamb and Wayne King isn't going to be what he felt. I'm never going to know what memories those songs brought to mind - and maybe that's the thing that really bothers me, that I couldn't spend enough time with him listening to all this and hearing the stories.

Shigata ga nei, as they say in Japan. There's nothing to be done about it.

I knew it would happen someday.

I used to warn my more overheated leftist friends to avoid using the "Conservatives = Nazis" meme too much, or otherwise, someday somebody was going to say, "Well, I'm already getting crapped on for being a Nazi, might as well enjoy some of that sweet sweet ultra-violence!" and start behaving like a Nazi.

I told you so.

Have no fear, though - as a Hispanic Catholic, I'm already down with the Falangists, and I have too much cash sunk into my blue shirts to switch now just because Al Gore is thicker than a whale omelet.
  • Current Music
    Yang The Nauseating & His Mongol Horde - Tomorrow Belongs To
  • Tags