Five Random Memories from my Three Years Spent in Israel, Egypt, Gaza, and Sinai

The music is the best part of this post.

Trust me: I’m with the Government.

My very first morning at the Tel Aviv Sheraton. I had a ‘raw fish’ breakfast buffet at zero five hundred. (And there were cucumbers, cheese, olives an’ shit too! Outrageous!) I had never had raw fish for breakfast until then. Cost me five bucks (a lot of money for breakfast in 1977 for a twenty-year-old-kid). I only gagged once and I drank a lot of orange juice, which was the only thing remotely resembling ‘breakfast’ to me. Well, “When in Rome…” I later discovered I could have had scrambled eggs and bacon down the street at the U.S. Embassy for a buck and a half…

My first R&R in November, 1977. I went to Tel Aviv for one week. This just also happened to be the same week Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel and most important, to speak to the Knesset in Jerusalem. The Israelis actually fell in love with Sadat. I did too. Peace was in the air! Sadat was front page news every day in the Jerusalem Post. The atmosphere in downtown Tel Aviv every night was ‘Party Down!’ (Sadly, this could not last)

First Israeli Love. Her name was Gladys Lehani and she spoke French, English, Hebrew, and Lies. I was instantly enamored. She worked nights at the Tel Aviv Sheraton in the ‘Kum Kum’ Lounge, a bar. During the afternoons she was a cashier in the little lobby area of the hotel. A place where one could look out the huge windows at the Mediterranean, have a cocktail, read a book, and flirt with her. I spent many hours there doing all four.

Driving through Gaza. After I had been with SFM for some months, I was ‘promoted’ to driver (see this story). The most expeditious way to get to Tel Aviv was to drive straight through the Gaza Strip, so of course we did just that. Never felt any wisp of danger. Not once. Then one day someone threw a brick into the windshield of one of our vehicles. This prompted management (And S. State: Our ‘Client.’) to suspend all travel through Gaza.

Now let me tell you, this was bullshit. At that point in time we had been travelling through Gaza for many, many months. This was surely an isolated incident—“Just kids havin’ fun,”–to quote Croc Dundee. Hell! I had friends in Gaza. One in particular comes to mind. His name was Mohammad (go figure) and he ran the gas station where I would always fill up my vehicles when I passed through. We often shared gifts. I gave him American cigarettes and T-Shirts from Texas and he gave me various little Arabic statuettes and such. Once (on his request) I brought him a fifth of Jonnie Walker Red. I thought he was gonna adopt me over that!

The new route we were instructed to take took us through Beersheba and added two and a half hours to our travel time. This was unacceptable, so we (we drivers), ignored it, unless there were ‘uncool’, read, “USG” people riding along as passengers. Most of the rest were in a frantic rush to get to TA and did not want to waste one minute of their well-earned R&R over some State Department Bullshit, so I always conducted a poll before taking the turn off to Gaza: “Any of y’all got a problem with getting to TA in an hour via Gaza? Or do y’all wanna go through Beer’Sheba and get to TA four hours after yer girlfriends done give up on you?”

The usual response was something like this: “Marcom, I will risk Gaza, not ‘cause I am afraid my girlfriend will give up on me, but because I just can’t stan’ one extra minute of listening to your music!” (I had a boom box on the dash and ‘treated’ my passengers to four or five hours of continuous Bob Marley on my trips. I was famous for this. Sometimes I would throw in a little Joni Mitchell, if I were feeling benevolent on that day.)

The Orphan Benjamin. One night, I think it was in late ’78, I was staggering back to my hooch from our little bar. My walk took me through our game room: Two pool tables, a jukebox, shuffle board, ping pong… etc. Anyway, just by the exit door there was a table. On this table was a carton of Marlboro’s, a case of Heineken, a ‘doggie bag’ from the galley, and a one hundred dollar bill. Thinking nothing of it, I just kept on tacking toward my hooch, some fifty meters down the way… I woke up the next morning and instantly thought of all that unclaimed booty and for just an instant hoped that no one had stolen it.

We had a brother/sisterhood there in Sinai. I managed to drag my hung-over ass out of my rack and head in to breakfast in our galley. My trip took me past the table in question. Everything was just as it was the night before; waiting for the rightful owner to sober up and claim. If I had not already been in love with my Co-SFM’ers till then, I certainly was now. Two hundred folks at SFM, and nary a thief amongst us. I will never forget that minor little memory. It touched me deep.

And then I just went into breakfast. You see? This was not… ‘different’ then! Shit! Can’t explain. Won’t try.

You see? We had love. And respect.

***

I am thinking of continuing this series in light of the recent news from Israel and Gaza. Not saying that my experiences are relevant today, but I do feel the need to write them. Please let me know if you are interested to read of my times spent in the region.

Q&A: Have you ever been to The Middle East?

Do you live there?

Do you care? Have you ever had a desire to visit the ‘Holy Land’? (ahem). Do you find me abrasive? 😉

Do you know that I love all comments?

Salaam and Shalom,

Lance

Half-way to  Jerusalem

Vid Credit:

Käyttäjän leopahta kanava

Video Credit: andrew91118

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

Steinbeck

Edit That.

 As a “thinking” person, I do not believe in ‘Creation Science’. Nor do I believe in “God.”2

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

I am a Socialist!

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

I am gonna repost this for two reasons:

It’s a Shakespeare kind of day.

Ok??

One: because I missed Thursday

(Probably because I was in a coma)

Two: because I can.

And here is the bonus:

Because I miss Jimmy ‘Peanut’ Piland.

*****

“I dreamt a dream tonight.”

“And so did I.”

“Well, what was yours?”

“That dreamer’s often lie.”

“…In bed asleep while they do dream things true!”

“Oh! Then I see Queen Mab hath been with you!”

–R&J: Romeo and Mercutio,

Queen Mab:

Ya’ll gotta watch the video “or it all just falls apart” Just saying… (Yes! I feign Texan; it is my wont.)

After a night of hard blogging and writing of drafts, and becoming somewhat disillusioned and more than daft, I perished toward my bed, reaching out for the Arms of Morpheus.

Within moments, I slipped into that nether sleep, that sleep between sleeps, that semi-conscious state of affairs. Sleep, but Not Sleep.

Then I began to dream things that should have been true. But were not true, yet so true.

Wonderful words words words! Words to sate my unnourished prose.

Words swirl’d about in my mind like so many fireflies on a summer’s eve:

““Words, words, words!. Once, I had the gift. I could make love out of words as a potter makes cups of clay. Love that overthrows empires. Love that binds two hearts together, come hellfire & brimstone.”

— “Will Shakespeare in Love”

I had it (them, those) words… goin’ on. Brilliant words. Beautiful, poignant words! All right there! Right there In My Mind. I reached out my finger to tap the “Publish” Mouse.

My finger was frozen.

It would not move.

How hard I did try!

It would not comply!

I lay there in my nether sleep, commanding.

The hand, the one digit, just the finger! Demanding!

Just move the damn finger!

Would not.

Could not.

Then I realized:

I am with Dante now.

And Mercutio is Peanut.

And Peanut was my Mercutio

Yeah, Dante

Dante ‘R’ Us

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

Steinbeck

Edit That.

 As a “thinking” person, I do not believe in ‘Creation Science’. Nor do I believe in “God.”2

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

I am a Socialist!

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

I am gonna repost this for two reasons:

One: because I missed Thursday

(Probably because I was in a coma)

Two: because I can.

And here is the bonus:

Because I miss Jimmy ‘Peanut’ Piland.

*****

“I dreamt a dream tonight.”

“And so did I.”

“Well, what was yours?”

“That dreamer’s often lie.”

“…In bed asleep while they do dream things true!”

“Oh! Then I see Queen Mab hath been with you!”

–R&J: Romeo and Mercutio,

Queen Mab:

Ya’ll gotta watch the video “or it all just falls apart” Just saying… (Yes! I feign Texan; it is my wont.)

After a night of hard blogging and writing of drafts, and becoming somewhat disillusioned and more than daft, I perished toward my bed, reaching out for the Arms of Morpheus.

Within moments, I slipped into that nether sleep, that sleep between sleeps, that semi-conscious state of affairs. Sleep, but Not Sleep.

Then I began to dream things that should have been true. But were not true, yet so true.

Wonderful words words words! Words to sate my unnourished prose.

Words swirl’d about in my mind like so many fireflies on a summer’s eve:

““Words, words, words!. Once, I had the gift. I could make love out of words as a potter makes cups of clay. Love that overthrows empires. Love that binds two hearts together, come hellfire & brimstone.”

— “Will Shakespeare in Love”

I had it (them, those) words… goin’ on. Brilliant words. Beautiful, poignant words! All right there! Right there In My Mind. I reached out my finger to tap the “Publish” Mouse.

My finger was frozen.

It would not move.

How hard I did try!

It would not comply!

I lay there in my nether sleep, commanding.

The hand, the one digit, just the finger! Demanding!

Just move the damn finger!

Would not.

Could not.

Then I realized:

I am with Dante now.

And Mercutio is Peanut.

And Peanut was my Mercutio

Yeah, Dante

Dante ‘R’ Us

Five Random Memories from my Three Years Spent in Israel, Egypt, Gaza, and Sinai

My very first morning at the Tel Aviv Sheraton. I had a ‘raw fish’ breakfast buffet at zero five hundred. (And there were cucumbers, cheese, olives an’ shit too! Outrageous!) I had never had raw fish for breakfast until then. Cost me five bucks (a lot of money for breakfast in 1977 for a twenty-year-old-kid). I only gagged once and I drank a lot of orange juice, which was the only thing remotely resembling ‘breakfast’ to me. Well, “When in Rome…” I later discovered I could have had scrambled eggs and bacon down the street at the U.S. Embassy for a buck and a half…

My first R&R in November, 1977. I went to Tel Aviv for one week. This just also happened to be the same week Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel and most important, to speak to the Knesset in Jerusalem. The Israelis actually fell in love with Sadat. I did too. Peace was in the air! Sadat was front page news every day in the Jerusalem Post. The atmosphere in downtown Tel Aviv every night was ‘Party Down!’ (Sadly, this could not last)

First Israeli Love. Her name was Gladys Lehani and she spoke French, English, Hebrew, and Lies. I was instantly enamored. She worked nights at the Tel Aviv Sheraton in the ‘Kum Kum’ Lounge, a bar. During the afternoons she was a cashier in the little lobby area of the hotel. A place where one could look out the huge windows at the Mediterranean, have a cocktail, read a book, and flirt with her. I spent many hours there doing all four.

Driving through Gaza. After I had been with SFM for some months, I was ‘promoted’ to driver (see this story). The most expeditious way to get to Tel Aviv was to drive straight through the Gaza Strip, so of course we did just that. Never felt any wisp of danger. Not once. Then one day someone threw a brick into the windshield of one of our vehicles. This prompted management (And S. State: Our ‘Client.’) to suspend all travel through Gaza.

Now let me tell you, this was bullshit. At that point in time we had been travelling through Gaza for many, many months. This was surely an isolated incident—“Just kids havin’ fun,”–to quote Croc Dundee. Hell! I had friends in Gaza. One in particular comes to mind. His name was Mohammad (go figure) and he ran the gas station where I would always fill up my vehicles when I passed through. We often shared gifts. I gave him American cigarettes and T-Shirts from Texas and he gave me various little Arabic statuettes and such. Once (on his request) I brought him a fifth of Jonnie Walker Red. I thought he was gonna adopt me over that!

The new route we were instructed to take took us through Beersheba and added two and a half hours to our travel time. This was unacceptable, so we (we drivers), ignored it, unless there were ‘uncool’, read, “USG” people riding along as passengers. Most of the rest were in a frantic rush to get to TA and did not want to waste one minute of their well-earned R&R over some State Department Bullshit, so I always conducted a poll before taking the turn off to Gaza: “Any of y’all got a problem with getting to TA in an hour via Gaza? Or do y’all wanna go through Beer’Sheba and get to TA four hours after yer girlfriends done give up on you?”

The usual response was something like this: “Marcom, I will risk Gaza, not ‘cause I am afraid my girlfriend will give up on me, but because I just can’t stan’ one extra minute of listening to your music!” (I had a boom box on the dash and ‘treated’ my passengers to four or five hours of continuous Bob Marley on my trips. I was famous for this. Sometimes I would throw in a little Joni Mitchell, if I were feeling benevolent on that day.)

The Orphan Benjamin. One night, I think it was in late ’78, I was staggering back to my hooch from our little bar. My walk took me through our game room: Two pool tables, a jukebox, shuffle board, ping pong… etc. Anyway, just by the exit door there was a table. On this table was a carton of Marlboro’s, a case of Heineken, a ‘doggie bag’ from the galley, and a one hundred dollar bill. Thinking nothing of it, I just kept on tacking toward my hooch, some fifty meters down the way… I woke up the next morning and instantly thought of all that unclaimed booty and for just an instant hoped that no one had stolen it.

We had a brother/sisterhood there in Sinai. I managed to drag my hung-over ass out of my rack and head in to breakfast in our galley. My trip took me past the table in question. Everything was just as it was the night before; waiting for the rightful owner to sober up and claim. If I had not already been in love with my Co-SFM’ers till then, I certainly was now. Two hundred folks at SFM, and nary a thief amongst us. I will never forget that minor little memory. It touched me deep.

And then I just went into breakfast. You see? This was not… ‘different’ then! Shit! Can’t explain. Won’t try.

You see? We had love. And respect.

***

I am thinking of continuing this series in light of the recent news from Israel and Gaza. Not saying that my experiences are relevant today, but I do feel the need to write them. Please let me know if you are interested to read of my times spent in the region.

Q&A: Have you ever been to The Middle East?

Do you live there?

Do you care? Have you ever had a desire to visit the ‘Holy Land’? (ahem). Do you find me abrasive? 😉

Do you know that I love all comments?

Salaam and Shalom,

Lance

Half-way to  Jerusalem

Vid Credit:

Käyttäjän leopahta kanava

Video Credit: andrew91118