Don't Trip....Don't Fall
It is bullshit, of course. Rarely is anyone actually shooting at us...except in Cachagua.
Still, there are parallels. The pressure.....the intense, proximate and physical nature of the work.
In Restaurant Land.....no one gives a shit about your personal life. Can you produce? Can you stand up for your fellow workers? Can you handle it?
Restaurant Land is fine with coked-out bartenders, Wikka witch waitresses, illegal Salvadorian dishwashers sleeping in the dumster, heroin pumped chefs, gay waiters and maitre d's, lesbian bar managers. No one cares.....we judge you on what you bring to us in your eight, twelve or twenty hour shift.
"Don't ask, don't tell"?
Fuck that...we are all about: "I will tell you stuff you don't want to know....and you better tell me stuff you don't want to share....."
Or...I will make up shit to counter the shit that you made up about me....
Right now, Community Organizer Obama is melding into some weird Presbyterian Rotary guy with five broomsticks up his ass.
The LBGT.....or LGBT...I don't know who gets to be on top.....voted overwhelmingly for Obama, and he has not done shit for them in return.
He is no dummy. I mean, whatever he does....short of hanging faggots from lampposts.......who they gonna vote for? Sarah Palin? Newt Gingrich?
We all thought better of him...but we all thought better of ourselves, as well. I was "Most Likely To Succeed" from Chatham Township High School in 1967. Succeed at what? Composting?
I'll take that award.....I have it down. Finally.
Anyway.....the U.S. military has been canning openly gay and lesbian soldiers since the Clinton era. Thousands of them.
Really unfortunately for us as a nation is the weird statistic that American educated Arabic speakers tend to be more gay than hetero. So, the Bush administration.....and the Clintons and Obama.....have been hunting down and firing Arabic-speaking, less-than-heterosexual Arabic speaking intelligence officers. Hundreds of them.
As someone whose Dad was gay....whose brother was gay.....and who has spent a career working with and for gay and lesbian people who seemed smarter and better at what I do than I am.....I have always been mystified by DADT.
Obama could....as Commander-In-Chief.....in one second defer all firing of LGBT soldiers. He is the super general....he doesn't need to wait for Congress.
Obama claims that he is waiting for a generational change in the military.
He may have a point.
The US military has the dual distinction of being one of the last holdouts of organized racism....and one of the first heralds of institutional diversity.
The modern US military probably has more Asian, black, Latino and Pacific islander officers and advanced enlisted men and women than society at large.
Picture this, though.
I bought new shoes last month. Not for some Pebble Beach function where I was being given big dough to perform in an arena where perception is reality.
I bought new shoes to go to my friend's "Hail and Farewell" ceremony at the DLI in Monterey. Clean shirt, jacket, new shoes....nice tie.
My friend....who should probably go un-named although I know he could give a rat's ass....is an actual war hero.
West Point. Fluent Mandarin speaker. Part of the SecDef staff under Rumsfeld. Sent to Harvard for an MBA by the Army.
Rock-climber from Sanctuary Rock Gym!
Blown up in the Second Battle of Fallujah. Hit by an RPG, which did not go off....but still blew off half his face, his tongue, his eye....and lots of his control over half his body.
After six months in a coma....my buddy woke up in a room in Walter Reade with crumbling plaster and active rats.
My buddy has poor impulse control....so he told everyone, and the shit hit the fan. He got fired from his cushy SecDef job, and it was assumed that a guy that fucked up would take early retirement and leave the Army.
My buddy loves the Army. Actually loves the Army.
On the day he assumed his command in Fallujah he talked with the soldiers in his platoon and swore an oath that....no matter what....he would take care of them, and use all his skills and powers to bring them back from Iraq in one piece.
Next morning, he was hit with an RPG and blown up. His troops saved him, rather than vice versa. This is a debt of gratitude, obligation and responsibility.
Fast forward four years. My buddy refused to be retired from the Army due to wounds. Got sent to northern Alaska to try to convince him otherwise. Didn't work.
His most recent command was locally. Actually, not his most recent command.....his next command. Our local commandant...an amazing woman in her own right....reached out and put my buddy in a command where no one else would.
As a Captain, he was in charge of a company of various officers in the local language school. Many of the officers in his command out-ranked him.....but that is the way things go in school.
The day I bought new shoes to go to the Hail and Farewell is a big ceremonial day at the local base. The outgoing guy brings in his friends and family, and everyone gets a place on the dias. The new guy brings in his friends and family, and everyone gets a chair on the dias.
I got a chair on the dias.....with my own name on an actual US Army piece of paper taped to the back. Scary.
Part of the deal is that the current command of the outgoing Captain is there on the field. There is a lot of music, and saluting....and scary Sargent-Majors stalking around doing the real work of organizing the company.
My buddy did not make it mandatory to come to his Hail and Farewell. Normally it is mandatory. My guy told his troops to come if they wanted.....
Out of 200 some-odd soldiers....officers for the most part.....60 showed.
The Army thinks that badly wounded people.....regardless of their mental, spiritual, emotional capabilities...should retire.
Two thirds of my buddy's command fell on that team. No one showed.....in blatant disrespect and protest to my buddy's command of the company.
The weekend before the Hail and Farewell my buddy climbed Half Dome.....up one of the harder routes. With one arm and one leg and one eye. Turns out your tongue grows back after an RPG strike.
Two weeks before, my buddy organized anyone interested at the local base to help me put 5,000 crosses on Carmeol Beach to commerorate our lost soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He bought all the paint, and did all the work identifying and labeling all the lost soldiers and getting their info onto cards for us to staple to the crosses on the beach.
In his speech to the 60 soldiers who showed, my buddy said:
"On our first day in Fallujah, I told my platoon that I would take care of them, that I would keep them safe and bring them back home intact....as soldiers and as a unit. It did not work out that way. My unit saved me. I have spent the last four years working myself back to a command post where I could fulfill that mission and promise I gave my troops that day in Fallujah. I thank the Army for giving me that chance to fulfill my promise to my troops."
Yeah, well.....Fuck you, cripple.
I guess the point of this post is two-fold:
Obama is right....there is a culture in the US military that needs to be undone and out-waited. Older fuckheads need to be retired and replaced. Better to go along and get along, for now.
And....the efficiency and ability of the US military to function in the modern world is directly dependent on its ability to LIVE in the modern world.
For me these two aspects are not parallel....they are at cross purposes. Whatever rot in our armed services allows discrimination against gays....and acutal wounded, experienced, trained, talented veterans....needs to be scoured out.
Macho has its uses.....
But, right now.....I wish my President had a quarter the balls, courage, vision and determination of some of the people that serve him as Commander-in-Chief.
From what I have seen......make that one-tenth.
Frankly.....I don't see it.
We have been dog-sitting my buddy's wolf puppy that he bought in Alaska when the Army was trying to either kill him or get him to quit. Our buddy was on the lawn at the White House last Sunday for a PR event with lots of other wounded vets.
There are all kinds of wounds......not all are inflicted by RPG's.
I hope Obama doesn't get lost in the Washington bullshit and forget his core principles.
There is really very little difference in the effect on our country between the kinds of injuries inflicted on my buddy....and those of his classmate at West Point.....Lt. Dan Choi.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell...
Don't Trip, Don't Fall....