Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old Red As New

If age mellows you, then clearly I'm defective, or not getting the memos. True, I'm not as crazed as I once was, reacting to obstacles and irritations by punching walls and kicking chairs. My tree stabbing days are well behind me. Even my heavy bag hangs largely unused (though this has more to do with the swollen wrists I get after pummeling it than from inertia). But a pool of anger remains, set to boil when my temperature rises.

With Veterans Day upon us, militarist rhetoric blows across the media, instructing us to fall to our knees and worship the uniform. This always drives me nuts, especially in a dying empire bogged down in two occupations, with more mayhem in the offing. Those who've never served are expected to offer their bottomless gratitude. Many of those who have served retain a near-religious view of their respective branches, and of the military overall. To question any of this is to expose one's hatred of nation and of self. Ask not what your country can do for you, as a celebrated mass murderer once said.

I planned a semi-satirical piece about all this, inspired by the NFL's pro-imperial commercials last weekend (complete with Pat Tillman tributes, minus his opposition to the Iraq war and embrace of dissidents like Noam Chomsky). But every bit I conceived felt familiar, as though I'd already been there. Scrolling through Red State Son, I realized that this was pretty much the case. It's amazing how far three chords can carry you. So, for those who've forgotten, and for those who are recent arrivals, here's a selection of earlier tunes that better express what I presently feel.

Clint Eastwood's two-sided take on the Pacific War inspired this post. I have since seen "Letters From Iwo Jima," which more than lived up to its sterling reputation. Speaking of which, John Slattery plays the cynical war bonds booster in "Flags Of Our Fathers," an early, recognizable version of Roger Sterling. And hiding down the post is a link to a favorite essay of mine, like a plastic whistle in a box of Cracker Jack. Blow softly.

This isn't military specific, but since I'm going back on stage, it caught my eye. If I can emit a few ounces of Bill Hicks comedic passion, I'll be a happy funny boy. And there are no plans to write Hicks' biography. I don't know what that Perrin was thinking.

Here's a piece that elicited a lot of feedback when it first appeared. Another way to think about those who've worn the uniform.

But of all the military-oriented material I've written, these two posts cut closest to the mark. Now that the peace-loving, forward-thinking Dems are managing the abattoir, such thoughts are obsolete. Right?