The Life of One Man

I really don’t have the energy (or the ‘want to’) to edit this…

Sorry.

***

(Broken down by decades)

Kinda…

57-60: Born

60-64: Awkward Years

65-68: Awareness

68-74: Lost virginity, Oh! And innocence

’74-’77: Self-Respect was an issue: High School, et al.

’77-80: Sinai Desert: lost loves (in the desert) came of age

‘80-‘85: Played at “making up for all the bad shit I did in ’77-80—failed.

’85-’90: Served my country (and served some wimmens)

’90-2004’: Worked a thankless job.

‘2004-2009’ Served my country again: This time in Iraq: So what??

2009-2011: Tried my hand at ‘House Husband—Step-Father—Fail.

2011-2012: Afghanistan

2012-til now: Adrift

Now, none of this makes sense to anyone but me, but, dear readers, I am working on a post (as always) to make some sense of it all.

Stray tuned…

–Lancer

And PS. Yeah, I know; this is self-serving, fore  for? no one reads anyhow…so… just for fun.

 Cheers,

L

Working on a new post, entitled “The Last Time I Saw Richard.”

Stay tuned.

(but do it quickly, ’cause “I’m gonna blow this damn candle out…”)

Peace.

 

The Happiest Year of My Life Remembered

The news of late from CNN foretells the fall of Anbar Province and of Baghdad. I spent one year working in Anbar Province. This was the happiest (on record) year of my life.

I am attaching a video and yes it is corny, and yes, the music is somewhat ‘gay’, and no, this was not a video that I made, or would have made.

It is a video made by the Filipinos who worked for/with me during this time. They made this vid as a ‘going away’ present for me when I decided to leave Anbar (Camp Wolfe) to work for an Iraqi company in Baghdad. Filipinos lean toward sentimental, hence their choice of music. To them it was fittin’. I loved them all.

I cherish this video and the sentiment behind it.

I do hope you will watch.

Cheers,

Lance

P.S. Hint: I am the guy in the black gimme cap and the black jacket. Bob The Mechanic is the guy with the beard, wearing the overalls.

080116 Wolf Looking Northeast 080116 Wolf Looking Northwest 080116 Wolf Looking Southeast LN LSA

 

I just had to attach this vid as it is so apropos:

Lenny on stage

 

Steinbeck

Edit That.

 As a “thinking” person, I do not believe in ‘Creation Science’. Nor do I believe in “God.”

But… I do believe in Magic!

That Magic which calls itself :”Jodi Foster.”

(Hahaha! I am sooo funny! And yep: I have seen the movie. Lighten up.)

And I love Science ‘Friction’

“Tired of being all alone here…late at night”

I am a Socialist!

“Socialist:” One who needs warm bodies akin… his skin.”

I Don’t Even Know Where to Begin

When I go to a post and find a video, or a song, I always watch/listen, simply because I assume the author put it there for a reason.

I take the time.

I am distraught today

“Why?” Because of… News… I am watching CNN, Al Jazeera, even FOX.

Things are fucked up.

Really fucked up.

Yep

So… in that vain vein, I just give you this below.

(Who said the1980’s music sucked?

Why? Music sucked? Oh yeah! Lance did… Lance is an idiot)

You tell me.

Cheers,

Lance

Vid Credit: BeGrooovy

My GF just walked out the door to meet up…with a friend… to get a pedicure.

“Have you been watching the news?” I asked.

“No. That is yer job,” she said.

“Yep. Well, the Mid East is on fire.”

“America. See you later.”

“Of course.”

I cannot even begin to explain how I feel now.

“Just one more year and then you’ll be happy.”

 I was almost a NAVY SEAL.

Shit Done Jumped Off

In the Middle of the East.

Sad?

Yep.

Employment opportunity for me?

Most Def.

“Put me in Coach.”

“Redemption Day”

Vid Credit: allmydiscs

See the anger in her eyes?

(Yeah. I see that too)

This Read:

http://yelkhoudary.blogspot.com/

 

 

Memorial day is coming. We need to remember the Soldiers and our family.

Please take a few moments and read this.

johncoyote

HPNX1058

We need to stop and remember the people missed. Memorial day need to be a day of remembrance and thankfulness.

Shadows of war

A Story by Coyote Poetry

"

War can catch even the cold in heart.

"

Shadows

I was a Soldier for almost 15 years. I volunteered for every dangerous mission you could be part of. The missions were to Africa, Bosnian, Central and South America and Iraq. I had no fear of death. I have seen dead enemy soldiers and the poor innocent civilians in the way of hate and war. I wasn’t effected by war. I was raised in Detroit. I saw my first dead body at four years old.  I watched my uncle died. I was raised with the Vietnam war and body counts were part of my life. My father served in the Korean war and I volunteered for Vietnam at 17 year old. I learn…

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Thought I’d Repost This: Hell! It’s Thursday Somewhere.

When I was working in Basra, my gig allowed two weeks R&R every two months or so. Sounds like a deal, eh? Well, yes it was. Be aware however, we worked seven days a week, ten hours a day. NO days off. So do the math; we earned it. And of course we were getting shelled and rocketed and mortared regularly.

Anyhow, I had a stateside girlfriend back then. Actually more friend than girl. Rather platonic relationship, but we were ‘Buds’ and I loved her dearly. (Still do) And we went way back.

It was agreed by us both, that once I went to Iraq, we would spend our (my) R&R’s together. I flew her to Barcelona, Athens, Italy, and finally London. (She made all the arrangements. All I had to do was show up) Too easy for me.

Mid 2006 we met in London. I was ‘cacked out’ (Lenny Bruce vernacular). Worn out. Plumb tuckered. Tired. Damn tired. Spent.

R&R London
Click Me: This Was My London

She was, of course not. Now mind you, this woman had been all over Europe already. London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens… well, she was rich. Catch my drift? I had seen quite a lot of Europe my own damn self. Did not hold much magic for me.

All I really wanted was some ‘down time.’

Bless her heart (and this speaks volumes of our great friendship), she let me do what I wanted; which basically meant I could sit in the flat she had arranged for us in downtown London and drink Beefeater while watching movies and smoking Marlboro’s and ranting at the current state of affairs in Iraq.

After a few days, she did manage to get me out of the flat for a walk-about. We went to Buckingham Palace (one day shot there)

We went to the British Museum; saw the Rosetta stone. Another day gone.

“Lance that’s the Rosetta Stone.”

“Yep, that’s cool.”

Had some fish ‘n’ chips (I preferred Long John Silvers, but that is just what an asshole I am)

Rode the Tube. (I prefer Le Metro in Paris, but what the hell)

And various other exhausting  exhilarating  excursions.

“About three days before we were to part: me back to The Sandbox; she back to Texas, she asked me, “Lance, isn’t there any place in London you would like to see?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. I wanna go down to Marble Arch Station.”

“Whaaat?” she said.

“Yeah. Marble Arch Station.”

West End of London, England, United Kingdom

“That is a Tube Station.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Why on Earth…”

“Because it belongs to Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. And Texas.”

She acquiesced and off we went. Got there and I had a salutary beer to J.J. Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Then I was happy and pronounced my R&R a successful bit of Rest and Relaxation.

Best Video From “Lost Gonzo Band (with Gary P. Nunn)”

(Y’all guys need to watch this: a woman gets nekkid at the end…just sayin’)

–Austin, ’74

“Well I decided that

I’d get my cowboy hat

And go down to Marble Arch Station…”

Went back to the flat and had a few gin and tonics and lived happily ever after.

“R&R” means that: Rest and Relax and do whatever the hell you want. London could wait… until I came back the next time.

Good God!

I MISS Texas!

The Basra Bugman Revisited.

I am re-posting this because I am still working on the Continuation of the ‘Sinai Field Mission Chronicles‘.

(Great Excuse, eh?) Anyway, some of you ‘newbies’ may not have had the wonderful ‘opportunity’ to have swerved into it. Therefore it is with great humility that I present it once again for your perusal.

**************

Bugs were a huge problem for us in Basra.

There were big bugs, small bugs, flying bugs, crawling bugs, creeping bugs, creepy bugs, scary bugs, poisonous bugs,  biting bugs, fighting bugs, suicide bomber bugs, and worst of all: No-See’um bugs. (Please don’t get me wrong: I love bugs: please read Queendom  and Spiders)

But every day at precisely 1600hrs:

BUGMAN!

Basrah Bug Man
The BUGMAN Commeth: Bugs, watch yer ass.

We all worked in trailers, which passed for ‘Offices’ in Basra and we had A/C Window Units which would suck in the Bugman’s Offerings with vengeance. So everyday, at around 1600hrs, we kept collective ears tuned for the sound of Bugman and his Blower, lest we fail to turn off the A/C’s and become victim to BUGMAN.

The parlance always went like this: The one with the best hearing would announce in a low nonchalant voice:

‘The Bugman.” (almost a whisper, but we were all tuned in to those two words–we certainly did not want to be premature, because of the oppressive heat)

Then scramble to shut down all the A/C units ahead of relentless Bugman (no less than twelve window units), and life would go on, while we sat sweating (Yes, the heat was brutal, but so were the bugs).

“Here I come to savvve the day!!!”

Continue reading

Missing The Most Interesting Man In Iraq

Bob (The Most Interesting Man in Iraq) is my life-long frin…

I miss his dumb ass (and ‘dumb-ass’ is a term of endearment where I come from)

If one is lucky, really lucky, one meets maybe one, two, or  three or four people in life that transcend funny.

Bob is one such ‘transcendent’ lucky for me.

He saved my fragile sanity.

**************

My mechanic (Of Parsons Mechanic fame) came by to have some ‘chat’ with me:

Bob

The most Interesting
Mechanic in the World

“Way’ll… I have a natch’ral disaster on my hands.”

“Ok Bob,” I said, “I’m ‘bout to bust with anticipation.”

“Yep. A natch’ral disaster.”

“You mentioned that already.”

“A real-life natch’ral calamity.”

“Do I have time to go to chow while you go through your preamble?”

Ignoring me, he continued, “That Six Kay (‘6K’ as in six thousand pound lifting capacity) forklift is all a-pieces. hamorr’agin’ parts all over th’ place. The Boys (Filipino mechanics times two) tol’ me it was the fuel injector pump. So, I kin’ly smiled and said ‘Okaaay…,’ and let ‘em go at it. They need ta learn how ta fix thangs without me onct in ah’while. Well,  they dun got tha’ forklift tore all ta pieces.  Now, I dun give ‘em all mornin’ to dick ‘round with it, an’ I’m gonna give ‘em all this aftr’noon to dick ‘round with it some more. Then first thing tomorra, I’m gonna ask ‘em, ‘Boys, how come that forklift ain’t a-workin’ this fine morning?’”

“I’m hip Let’s keep it real.”

“Your ‘personnel management style’ is showing Bob,” I said.

“Yeah, whatever… An’ tomorra’s Thursday. An’ day after that’s Friday. An’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ on Friday. Tomorra, we gonna start our dee-cent inta th’ day off.”

“Kinda start slowin’ ‘er down ‘round mid-noon time, eh?” I said. (I can do ‘Southern’ just as slick as you please when I want to.)

“X-actly. We start double-clutchin’ and dee-celeratin’ an’ bring her in nice and slow like.”

“And what about my forklift?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

“She’s all ‘In’shalah’d’ out Boss.”

“Dead in the water?”

“Tits up.”

“Broke dick?”

“Send her saddle home.”

“I need to call Baghdad?”

“She ain’t lookin’ none too fav’erble.”

“Call HQ an’ tell ‘em we need another forklift?”

“Now, jes hol’ on. Doan git ’em all wadded jes yet.”

“Ok. I got it. Thanks.”

“We’re Parsons’ Mechanics an’ jes watch how we roll,” he said on his way out the door.

I love my job.

I have a “Ten Kay” forklift that still works. So I should be alright for now. Besides, Bob just  loves the drama and we do this little dance everytime there is a crisis in the motor pool. If I were a betting man (And actually I am) I’d wager two of my pay checks that come Friday if that 6K forklift is still down, he’ll be out there bright and early with his boys working on it until it is repaired even if it means giving up his day off. I’ve seen him do that already too many times over the past year and a half he has worked for me. There is no man made of better stuff. An’ he sure do entertain. Yessir, he certainly does. And I’d never have been able to keep the operation afloat without him.

I love all my crew and wouldn’t trade a single one of them for a pile of cash money or a case of Johnny Walker Black with the authorization to drink it.

This song is dedicated to Bob, wherever he may be:

OK: Ed. Note:

Y’all gotta love how ‘Texan’ this vid is—look at the ‘ensign‘-Texan Flags-behind the sage, er…stage.

(and if you look really close–for you guitar players out there–you will notice the hole in the guitar. Willie tells some stories ’bout the gee-tar. He tells one about a drunken party with Leon Russell in a hotel room, when Leon almost broke it. Willie, in classic form, invited Leon to stop touching that guitar.)

When I am coherent, I may write about that.

And then there is this:

Willie sang, “At the airport in Milwaukee…”

Lenny

Lima

on that: Milwaukeeeee!

 

It is (Still) Morning (Mourning?) in America!

“Oh shit!” ‘Sorry Ronnie Toopac… Nancy’Melania!

It is ‘SundayTuesday  Wednesday in Amerika!

“Let us watch ‘The Golf’ read my tweets!”

agusta

“Huge vivla la diff’ eh’?”

“Oh Me ah me! What ever do you mean?” (Said Nancy Melania)

“Ah shit Nancy! Melania! I mean it is morning in Amerka! Didn’t I say that?!”

“No, you are a Commie if you did!”

Nancy! Melania! I am soooo Sorry! I lost my place! Here was I, back in the Eighties! Working for law and land! Money, lust, and US!

I even enlisted! I served my Country! What did I get? Bupkis!” What did I get? Rich!

“Butt… We (Ronnie and I—don’t he look cute—riding that horsey? Honey?—Now…what were you saying? You middle class? Oh Yeah! Something  about entitlements?”)

“Uh! Ya know what? Nancy? Mel? Never mind. We got ours. And ya know what? We got that Commie Bastard!—That Gorbo-chov!  That Puttie… God Bless America!”

“But… where is the money?”

“for America?”

For us?

Where is our prosperity?

I thought we won the war?

Where? Where are the fruits?

They just evaporated.

Didn’t they?

“I made enuff money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast…”

–Jimmy Buffett

“Just say no,” “Make US Great”  was all she said, as she walked away.

(The conversation is ambiguous, waxes and wanes, for a reason: we are all to blame)

“You let ’em come home…” America.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

We all should be allowed to come home. After all: it is the only place that stays open–all night.

The US of US is the only place that stays open all night. For All. We sort em out, once they (manage) to get here.

The US of US is the only place that stays open all night. For All. We sort em out, once they (manage) to get here.

For All.

Best Re-Blog Ever

Words Fail.
Thank you David.

Wow!

Fuckin’ wow!

I am not easily moved. Some would even call me “un-movable.”

Credit to Roxanna for this wonderful video.

***********

This moved me. (see below)

Wow!

Sorry: got distracted there for a moment…

It is, after all, a Shakespeare kind of day…

davidscottmoyer

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Even London Bridge Has Fallen Down; Now I Know Why

When I was working in Basra, my gig allowed two weeks R&R every two months or so. Sounds like a deal, eh? Well, yes it was. Be aware however, we worked seven days a week, ten hours a day. NO days off. So do the math; we earned it. And of course we were getting shelled and rocketed and mortared regularly.

Anyhow, I had a stateside girlfriend back then. Actually more friend than girl. Rather platonic relationship, but we were ‘Buds’ and I loved her dearly. (Still do) And we went way back.

It was agreed by us both, that once I went to Iraq, we would spend our (my) R&R’s together. I flew her to Barcelona, Athens, Italy, and finally London. (She made all the arrangements. All I had to do was show up) Too easy for me.

Mid 2006 we met in London. I was ‘cacked out’ (Lenny Bruce vernacular). Worn out. Plumb tuckered. Tired. Damn tired. Spent.

R&R London
Click Me: This Was My London

She was, of course not. Now mind you, this woman had been all over Europe already. London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Athens… well, she was rich. Catch my drift? I had seen quite a lot of Europe my own damn self. Did not hold much magic for me.

All I really wanted was some ‘down time.’

Bless her heart (and this speaks volumes of our great friendship), she let me do what I wanted; which basically meant I could sit in the flat she had arranged for us in downtown London and drink Beefeater while watching movies and smoking Marlboro’s and ranting at the current state of affairs in Iraq.

After a few days, she did manage to get me out of the flat for a walk-about. We went to Buckingham Palace (one day shot there)

We went to the British Museum; saw the Rosetta stone. Another day gone.

“Lance that’s the Rosetta Stone.”

“Yep, that’s cool.”

Had some fish ‘n’ chips (I preferred Long John Silvers, but that is just what an asshole I am)

Rode the Tube. (I prefer Le Metro in Paris, but what the hell)

And various other exhausting  exhilarating  excursions.

“About three days before we were to part: me back to The Sandbox; she back to Texas, she asked me, “Lance, isn’t there any place in London you would like to see?”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, there is. I wanna go down to Marble Arch Station.”

“Whaaat?” she said.

“Yeah. Marble Arch Station.”

West End of London, England, United Kingdom

“That is a Tube Station.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Why on Earth…”

“Because it belongs to Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. And Texas.”

(Best Original Audio from ¡Viva Terlingua!)

London Homesick Blues

She acquiesced and off we went. Got there and I had a salutary beer to J.J. Walker and Gary P. Nunn. Then I was happy and pronounced my R&R a successful bit of Rest and Relaxation.

Best Video From “Lost Gonzo Band (with Gary P. Nunn)”

–Austin, ’74

“Well I decided that

I’d get my cowboy hat

And go down to Marble Arch Station…”

Went back to the flat and had a few gin and tonics and lived happily ever after.

“R&R” means that: Rest and Relax and do whatever the hell you want. London could wait… until I came back the next time.

Good God!

I MISS Texas!

Woke Up In A Bad Place. Stayed The Duration. Not Sure Why

I want to write a post about this photo.

It is the first sign I saw in ’05 when arriving in Basra, Iraq.

Gave me pause.

Go Back To Yer GTT Asshole

Go Back To Yer GTT Asshole

“Ah the stories we could tell.”

Apologies to Jimmy Buffett.

Bring Yer Own Goat

So I’m standing in line at Kroger’s last night reading the tabloid headlines:

“Jennifer Lawrence gives birth to purple alien.”

”Perfectly preserved Elvis head found under back seat of ’57 Chevy in Dallas” (Why does this shit always happen in Texas?)

“Bill O’Reilly Comes Out” (Out of what? Stupidity?)

Just kiddin’ Bill. I love you man! Hahaha! (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Anyhow, there is an elderly black gentleman in front of me, driving one of those grocery store golf carts. He has maybe five items in his basket. Still perusing the latest headlines, I hear the cashier say,

Bitch you crazy

It’s OK to say “Mother-Fucker” on my site. Tis rated “M”

“Eighty-one-fifty.”

“Eighty dollars?!” the man exclaims.

Now I look up.

“Yessir, eight-one-fifty.”

“Lan’ sakes chile. For what?”

“Well, you got them short ribs there… them was eighteen. Then you got that cough medicine, thas eight ninety-nine. Then you got that ‘luminum foil casserole dish, seven. Then you got them chips. Fo’ dollar. Then you got that gum there…. It all adds up.”

Black gentleman shakes grizzled head.

“Lawd ah mercy!”

“Yep. Y’all gonna be in big trouble onc’t y’all git home,” Cashier says. “Got a Kroger Loyalty Card?”

“Yessum, but far as I kin see, doan do no damn good.”

Now. I ask you: Since when do short ribs fetch nine dollar a pound? Since when does a nickel’s worth of aluminum foil shaped to look like a roasting pan cost seven bucks? Since when does a bag of potato chips cost four dollars? What has happened to my country?

Fuck it.

I’m moving back to Baghdad, where you can still purchase goat on the hoof for four bits a pound. (BYOB)

“Bring yer own bullets.”

No prob.

The Basra BugMan

Basrah Bug Man

I Am Become Death: Destroyer of Tiny Worlds.

Bugs were a huge problem for us in Basra. There were big bugs, small bugs, flying bugs, crawling bugs, creeping bugs, biting bugs, fighting bugs, suicide bomber bugs, and worst of all: No-See’um bugs. (I love bugs: please read Queendom )

Then every day at precisely 1600hrs,

BUGMAN!

“Here I come to savvve the day!!!”

Mister Bugman

Sung to the tune ‘Mister Sandman”

*****************

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug

Mr. Bugman, save us from screams

(bug, bug, bug, bug, bug)

Kill all those bugs that we’ve ever seen

(bug, bug, bug, bug, bug)

Give them a tank of poison and smoker

(bug, bug, bug, bug, bug)

Then tell them their buggy nights are over

Bugman, Now I’m so alone

Don’t have no bugs to crawl in my home

Please turn off your smoky beam

Mr. Bugman, bring us a scream

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug

Mr. Bugman, don’t save us from screams

Bring back those bugs, the cutest we’ve seen

Give them the word that we’ll not roll over

Then tell them their lonesome nights are over

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug

Mr. Bugman bring back our screams

(Yes)

Give them six eyes with a come-hither green

Give them six legs like bugs Versace

And lots of wavy hairs like Liber-auntsy

Mr Bugman, someone to scold

(Someone to scold)

Would be so peachy before we’re too old

So please turn off your poison beam

Mr Bugman, bring us, please, please, please

Mr bugman, bring us our screams

bug, bug, bug, bug, bug…

‘Cause now we miss the bugs an’ we’re bored…

(With Apologies to The Chordettes)

A Conversation from Mosul about a Forklift

My mechanic (Of Parsons Mechanic fame) came by to have some ‘chat’ with me:

Bob

The most Interesting
Mechanic in the World

“Way’ll… I have a natch’ral disaster on my hands.”

“Ok Bob,” I said, “I’m ‘bout to bust with anticipation.”

“Yep. A natch’ral disaster.”

“You mentioned that already.”

“A real-life natch’ral calamity.”

“Do I have time to go to chow while you go through your preamble?”

Ignoring me, he continued, “That Six Kay (‘6K’ as in six thousand pound lifting capacity) forklift is all a-pieces. hamorr’agin’ parts all over th’ place. The Boys (Filipino mechanics times two) tol’ me it was the fuel injector pump. So, I kin’ly smiled and said ‘Okaaay…,’ and let ‘em go at it. They need ta learn how ta fix thangs without me onct in ah’while. Well,  they dun got tha’ forklift tore all ta pieces.  Now, I dun give ‘em all mornin’ to dick ‘round with it, an’ I’m gonna give ‘em all this aftr’noon to dick ‘round with it some more. Then first thing tomorra, I’m gonna ask ‘em, ‘Boys, how come that forklift ain’t a-workin’ this fine morning?’”

“Your ‘personnel management style’ is showing Bob,” I said.

“Yeah, whatever… An’ tomorra’s Thursday. An’ day after that’s Friday. An’ I ain’t doin’ nothin’ on Friday. Tomorra, we gonna start our dee-cent inta th’ day off.”

“Kinda start slowin’ ‘er down ‘round mid-noon time, eh?” I said. (I can do ‘Southern’ just as slick as you please when I want to.)

“X-actly. We start double-clutchin’ and dee-celeratin’ an’ bring her in nice and slow like.”

“And what about my forklift?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

“She’s all ‘In’shalah’d’ out Boss.”

“Dead in the water?”

“Tits up.”

“Broke dick?”

“Send her saddle home.”

“I need to call Baghdad?”

“She ain’t lookin’ none too fav’erble.”

“Call HQ an’ tell ‘em we need another forklift?”

“Now, jes hol’ on. Doan git ’em all wadded jes yet.”

“Ok. I got it. Thanks.”

“We’re Parsons’ Mechanics an’ jes watch how we roll,” he said on his way out the door.

I love my job.

I have a “Ten Kay” forklift that still works. So I should be alright for now. Besides, Bob just  loves the drama and we do this little dance everytime there is a crisis in the motor pool. If I were a betting man (And actually I am) I’d wager two of my pay checks that come Friday if that 6K forklift is still down, he’ll be out there bright and early with his boys working on it until it is repaired even if it means giving up his day off. I’ve seen him do that already too many times over the past year and a half he has worked for me. There is no man made of better stuff. An’ he sure do entertain. Yessir, he certainly does. And I’d never have been able to keep the operation afloat without him.

I love all my crew and wouldn’t trade a single one of them for a pile of cash money or a case of Johnny Walker Black with the authorization to drink it.

Dispatches From Iraq: The Man Who Blew Up Goats

In ‘08 I gave my notice to Parsons and went to work for an Iraqi company called Leadstay. Leadstay was the outfit that provided all the heavy equipment and operators we employed at Camp Wolf in Anbar Province. They worked under the direction of our EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) guys, (Tetra Tech) helping them to locate and destroy the UO (unexploded ordnance) that Saddam had so graciously left behind.

goats

The project, USACE CMC (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Coalition Munitions Clearance project), was a noble one and I worked for them two years, “Kicking bombs” as my IT guy referred to it.

Previously I had worked for Parsons on the USAID (U.S. Dept. of State) Rural Water Project. We built water treatment plants for rural villages all over Iraq providing clean potable water to people who had never put lips to same. Spent two years doing that. I was in the ‘Construction’ business. At CMC I had moved into the ‘Destruction’ business, or for you literary types: ‘deconstruction business’. The circle was now complete.

CMC was winding down in ’08 after having destroyed roughly four hundred thousand short tons of old live ordnance during the five years they had been ‘kicking the bombs’ which the bad guys would surely have turned into IED’s.

I needed to find a new gig.

leadstay_operators

Through my connections with Leadstay I was hired on as ‘Business Development Manager.” They paid me fifteen thousand bucks a month (In cash if I so desired) plus two percent of any new contracts I landed. Potentially very lucrative.

The Leadstay ‘Man Camp’ was in the ‘Red Zone’ just outside the wire of Camp Victory, which bordered BIAP (Baghdad International Air Port). Electricity was hit or miss. The power grid from Baghdad was kind of like Texas weather; “If you don’t like it just wait a minute and it’ll change.” We had backup generators, but they were only for show. The shower in my hooch often gave me little shocks, reminding me that “OSHA does not live here.” All the Iraqis (and some of us) were armed. I wasn’t, but I had my eye on an AK-47 for sale in the duty-free shop Ahmed owned.  Mostly the Duty-Free was a liquor store.  We were only allowed to drink booze on Thursday nights. (Of course we mangled that rule, being ‘By God Americans!”)

I lasted about a month.

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Letters From Iraq: A Day in the Life of a Camp Manager

An Excerpt from an email I sent from Mosul, late 2008. Victor was a soft-spoken, highly educated and proper gentleman originally from Nigeria. He could not have been more out of place and time.

I realize this is rather a crude ‘toilet joke’ post, but it is a true story. Regarding ‘dirty words’ and ‘dirty toilet stories’, no one had better commentary on the subject than Lenny Bruce. Please have a listen below.

Lenny Bruce – 1961 arrest for using obscene language

*************

There was another ‘Victor Moment’ during this morning’s meeting with Parsons and my Boys. After I had finished discussing everything I had on today’s agenda I asked if anyone had any issues which needed to be addressed. Usually there are none, but today Victor piped up and said,

“I want to report an incident that causes friction.”

“Now what?” I’m thinking. “Friction?” I said. “Friction’s no good; friction causes fires.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Victor said.

“Oh, of course not… Okay Victor. I’m all ears. What’re you talking about?”

“There must be more respect and decorum in this camp. This morning at the Tetra-Tech meeting, one of the security guys, the big fat one, sat right in front of me and he leaned forward and…’Brrrrruuuuppp!’”

Laughter all around.

“Victor, you mean he farted in your general direction?” I said.

More laughter.

Very serious now, Victor said, “Yes. This was disrespectful. I told the gentleman that this was not good to do this. He turned around and said, ‘No really; it’s good for you.’ I told him I did not appreciate this behavior. There were eye witnesses too. The CRG guys were sitting right next to me.”

Trying to stifle my laughs (and failing), I said, “Any nose witnesses?” Then over the howling laughter of the boys said, “Sorry Vic, couldn’t resist. So, do you want to, uh… file a grievance against this guy?”

“Not yet,” he said. “But I want it on record.”

“Ok Victor. Consider it on record. Hey Dana, would this be considered a health, safety & welfare issue and do we have a form for this kind of… uh, grievance?”

The Boys still giggling.

“I’ll have to look online and get back to you on that one,” Dana said as straight-faced as he could which wasn’t very convincing.

“Ok, please do that.” Then I said to all, “Does anyone else have any ‘incidents’ that require my attention this morning?”

Nope.

“Ok then, Launch!” (Which is how I end all my meetings: I ‘launch’ my Boys off into their work day.)

Later as I was signing out for my walk at the TOC (Tactical Ops Center—Radio Room) with the CRG guys, they told me they had an ‘incident’ to report.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Someone has farted at you, eh?”

Laughter again all around.

“Yes,” Garth said, “Actually not at one of us, but Victor was just in here trying to muster support for his case. Says we’re all witnesses and we will be compelled to provide a written statement.”

“Oh Christ,” I said. “This guy wears me out.”

“Well, we just fucked him off,” Mark said.

Gareth (the Welshman) chimed in, “Yeah, I told him, ‘Hey we’re all just a bunch of blokes working here for fuck’s sake! Take a look at where we work: fuckin’ Iraq. What a wanker!” (Gotta love those Brits)

“Well, I guess the war’s over,” I said.

“What?” Gareth said.

“War must be over if this is the kind of shit we have to worry about. Some people seem to think we’re working on Madison Avenue. Too bad Miss Canada wasn’t here for this. (She had actually been here for a USO Show a week earlier.) We’d probably be looking at sexual harassment… Well, I’m off on my morning walk-about; gotta keep up my girlish figure ya know. You can call me on Channel One if there are any more wind-breaking developments.” I said as I headed out the door.

I could still hear them laughing and joking about Victor and his complaint as I walked away. I’m sure there will be more to this story. I sincerely hope Victor complains to Baghdad about this. Those guys could use some humor injected into their lives. Once again, I really can’t make this stuff up.

 

Casspir The Friendly Armored Personnel Carrier

Fallujah.

Naturally.

Bumping along in a Casspir, a South African armored personnel carrier, on our way to Anbar Province, western Iraq. The year was 2007 and we were under attack.

Perfect.

Perfect? Yes. For you see, if you decide to get shot at in Iraq in 2007, the best venue for that is inside a Casspir. A Casspir is a big, white, heavily armored vehicle. During Apartheid, the South Africans needed such a vehicle; well, the White South Africans did anyway. The first time I heard of “Casspir” I was somewhere close to Camp Speicher, northern Iraq and this was to be my “commute car.”  I thought instantly, after seeing my first Casspir, that it was so moniker-ed because it was this big white thing and, being an American, immediately thought of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” I was wrong. There is nothing friendly about a Casspir, aside from the fact that he (it) will save your ass.

Casper_Commuter_Vehicle

Riding in a Casspir is probably one of the most uncomfortable things one can experience. The seats are small. The quarters cramped. The air conditioning nonexistent. The suspension sans shock absorbers. The windows, smallish, which open up just enough to point a rifle through, or perhaps allow a round to one’s head. The driver, usually a Wanna-be Rambo with poor grammar and a poorer sense of direction.

No fun riding in a Casspir.

Inside Casper

But on that day, back in ’07, just outside Fallujah there was no better place to be. Casspirs were often called the ‘Best Bug-Out Vehicles’ in Iraq.

 

 

 

First they shot at us with RPG’s (rocket propelled grenades). They fell somewhat short. Following up, they hit us with AK47 rounds. (Those didn’t fall short) Our PLS truck (Pallet-loading system) lost a windshield. Some of our “light-skinned” vehicles lost windshields and window as well. “Casper” got hit, but the rounds barely scratched the paint (Thank you South Africa). No one lost his life, but we were somewhat shaken and more than somewhat pissed off.

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