It felt right to end November with the song that helped me for so long, by the guy whose first album was entitled “All the News That’s Fit to Sing.”
July 2020: As the book approaches publication WITHOUT an introduction, I decided to repost this from ten years ago, when it was still under the aegis of UC Press and Chelsea Manning was still imprisoned at Quantico. The book evolved as well, but the themes below whisper from between its pages. It’s been a long timeContinue reading “Notes toward an introduction”
Will be a full-fledged essay, but this morning on Twitter I wrote it as a poem. you a Boomer or GenX?” the young veteran asked me, and refused to believe at first when I said “a late Boomer.” I often say I’m a backwash Boomer, since I learned to read just as the 1960s wereContinue reading “My thank-you note to Dr Howard Levy”
The day before the Kent State anniversary, I heard NPR talking about that day. And I thought of some people they’d not interviewed: Vietnam veterans also seared by the shootings, and Phil Ochs singing “Who’s the Criminal Here?”
On a Joe Haldeman kick, for reasons perhaps obvious to some of you. After all, there’s that subtitle on my book, the next stop on my introduction exploration: From the French and Indian War to the Forever War. That section of the title has been a shape-shifter. When I first proposed it in 2007 itContinue reading “this is joe from gainesville”
I find myself wishing I could defer to Ochs’ elegant summations: “The young land started growing, the young blood started flowing” for the War of 1812, or “the final mission to the Japanese sky…I saw the cities burning” for World War Two.
For all this powerful poetry, Ochs knew there was much more inside that iconic dissenter’s story. He knew from his own dad, who’d come home broken and abusive after World War II; he knew from the Vietnam veterans who jammed his concerts. He had no idea, of course, of the wars to come, or that his own music would be sung by that iconic soldier in the 21st century.
Who counts as the first soldier/vet who dissented mostly through literature? My bet is our old friends Ambrose Bierce and Mark Twain. But then I remember Edgar Allan Poe, who dropped out of the University of Virginia and enlisted in the Army as “Edward W. Perry” in 1827. Private Perry’s” enlistment was not really a naturalContinue reading “soldier-storytellers, vol. 1”
In 1942, John Huston received a mysterious letter containing “names of military personnel and various American Army posts. I puzzled over it briefly and dropped it into the wastebasket. Later I discovered that this was the Army’s way of sending orders.” He was then a new director at Warner Brothers, who’d just finished his first soloContinue reading “john huston, veteran for the 1st Amendment”
Yesterday’s War Horse post only spotlit one small share of the vast number of veteran writers and artists, like the one pictured, charting the forever war. They’re musicians, they’re poets holding incredible slams, they’re winning Pulitzers and National Book Awards. The current bounty has me thinking about how the presence of such artists forms anContinue reading “storytelling as dissent”
In yesterday’s excitement at the Inquirer piece, I forgot to observe St.Patrick’s Day by saluting the dissenting soldiers who took that saint’s name as inspiration. These Catholic soldiers emerged amid the killing spree known as the Mexican-American War, 1845-47. In a war staffed entirely by career staff and volunteers, morale started low and got worse. Between nonexistent wages andContinue reading “A day late salute to St. Patrick’s Battalion”