"Here we are in the 70's when everything really is horrible and it really stinks. The mass media, everything on television everything everywhere is just rotten. You know it's just really boring and really evil, ugly and worse."
On the plane flying over Lake Michigan, double vodka & tonic on the tray before, Big Bad John slurping down a double Dewar's straight and the next thing I know I'm being shaken. I pop awake and the first thing I feel is some drool plopping down off my chin. Where in the hell was I? "You're coming into Lansing," BBJ said. I was asking the question outloud.
Hell, I'd been awake since 6 that morning before formation and Saturday morning inspection--hell, I had started out shitting and shaving and then boogie-ing into breakfast, the Army did have good breakfasts--scrambled eggs, biscuits, bacon, sausage, and fresh very cold milk; the government owns plenty of surplus milk, cheese, and eggs so we had plenty of breakfast stuff, though while you were eating it you had to remember some poor slobs had been on KP all night long so there might have been some broken glass, cockroaches, certainly a few gobs of spit, and holy Christ knows what else, though you didn't give a shit you were so hungry. Then until 11 I'd stood in the pissy Missouri sun--Fort Leonard Wood is in the Ozarks so it's steamy hot on base most of the time--the base is in a basin--being inspected by "the Old Man," Cap'n Calhoun in my case, a 6-foot-5 black dude who looked so kind and innocent but who was an asshole really and he loved pestering stupid white recruits--one of my favorites of Cap'n Calhoun's threats, "I'm gonna put one of these Missouri snow snakes in yore bed some night." The Cap'n's basic joke was "There are snow snakes in Missouri." None of us laughed. We weren't dumbasses, especially us Texas dudes, we knew there were timber rattlers and copperheads and coral snakes all over the Ozarks, but still, we didn't want the Cap'n putting a snow snake in our beds. Anyway, I learned to impress old Cap'n Calhoun--I once was an "Officer of the Day"--I had volunteered for Officer Candidate School and as a volunteer I was made a phony second looey and when you were "Officer of the Day" it meant you were in charge of the guys on guard duty--they reported to you for their guard assignment posts--and worked in the Provost Marshal's office and Cap'n Calhoun was in there and he and the PM had a bottle of PM whiskey and I had never thought about what the PM stood for in PM whiskey but Cap'n Calhoun kept raising the bottle and took a long swig--then he shook his head and said, "Ah, this Provost Marshal is good swiggin' whiskey, man." After he got a little drunk he said, "Pass that PM over to the trooper there, the shavetail, and let him have a real man's drink." I obliged; hell, he was my Cap'n; and I took a long swig and soon I was crackin' old Cap'n Calhoun up and it was like we were equals for about 30 minutes and then suddenly he stood up full height and said, "Better not get drunk on duty, boy, I'll gig your ass all the way to the stockade" looking at me with a stern Cap'n down-his-nose look. Then he turned and headed for the door; as he got to the door, he turned and looked at me and laughed, "You white boys are such suckers...I mean naive--your ass'll be shot the first day you're in 'Nam." From then on I had it made at inspection when Cap'n Calhoun did it.
"Pleasant Moments" my ass! Good ole Provost Marshal whiskey.
I thought while I was writing about flying over Lake Michigan it would be more real if I wrote this section drunk on my ass and slobbering and typing like a spastic (like Matty Quick playing the drums--do you remember who Matty Quick is?) as I unravel all of this out of the hayloft of my brain's barn. "Hitting the hay." "Make hay while the sun shines." "Hay, good lookin', what'cha got cookin', how's about hittin' the hay with me." Forgive me, Lefty Frizzell--and you gotta love ole Lefty Frizzell if you know him, speaking of heavy drinkin' and hangin' in honky tonks--I always loved that word "honky tonk"--the Texas song "Pistol Packin' Mama" ends with a verse that says, "Now there was old Al Dexter/He always had his fun/But with some lead, she shot old Al dead/His honkin' days are done."
1942 sheet music for Al's "Pistol Packin' Mama." And there's old Al Dexter himself playing his big body Martin guitar.
It's always been my thinking that a lot of our greatest music and literature was written by drunks--Al Dexter was certainly a drunk. A honky tonk in Texas in Al's time (he was established in Dallas) was nothing more than a beer joint/dance hall-type place--filled with C&W and hillbilly music with pool tables and, yes, a bottle in a bag--that was allowed in Texas, but of course, Al was a music star and most bands had a bottle no matter where the hell they were playing. Lefty Frizzell was a stone drunk. So was Hank Williams. Honky tonks were tough joints. You didn't just wander into one if you weren't prepared, like wearing cowboy boots, a Western shirt (the louder the better), Western-style pants, and a sombrero big enough to hold several big heads--a Texas honky-tonker never took his hat off no matter who the hell was present, and Texas honky-tonk babes, well there the ones Al Dexter wrote "Pistol Packin' Mama" about--Texas honky-tonking women were god-damn tough babes but a lot of 'em were pritty little thangs. My mother once warned me as we drove past the Log Cabin Inn, a honky tonk on Samuels Boulevard in Dallas that we always had to pass in order to get into town, one night that every last soul in "that" joint were going straight to hell should they all drop dead tonight--and I think mother was praying diligently, too, that they would all suddenly drop dead and go straight to hell ("the bad place" to be polite to my mother)--and the old Log Cabin Inn was always rockin', too, the front parking lot was always packed with white trash cars and pick ups and the parking lot around back was packed every night, too--the Log Cabin had a big sign in front of it that always amused me, it said, "You Can Park in Our Rear...." I think the sign may have at one time said, "...in Our Rear Parking Area" but that direct object had fallen off or faded away at some time in the sign's past. I didn't even know why "You Can Park in Our Rear" was so funny--I didn't know anything about sodomy in those days--sodomy just wasn't mentioned at all in those days--and now, ain't it ironic how sodomy is a trendy and chic way to have sex--I know babes who've confessed to me they like it in the caboose better than just old simply straight puttin' in the correct hole. May the gods bless those porn queens who can take it in both holes at once--now that's a real woman, folks.
for The Daily Growler
SPORTS BULLETIN: The New York Yankees are now only 1, read it right, ONE game back of Boston for the AL East Division title. Boston has lost 4 in row; the Yankees have won 4 in a row. The Yanks will be in the playoffs--Boston players are now blabbing that they don't care about the championship as long as they win the wild card. Yeah, sure, BoSox; the Babe's back and he's got his curse workin' full speed ahead.