“What did you do in The War, Daddy?”

It’s Fittin’

Or it isn’t.

‘Fittin’’

In my mind, I think I have written some incredibly good shit for this here blog, (approaching my one-year anniversary) but then again, who can account for taste?

Certainly not me.

Anyway…

I had some interesting emails of late:

Mostly of the “Jeeze! Yer not dead… I hope.” Strain. (vernacular??)

“No Virginia, I am not dead.”(And No: There ain’t no Santa)

Yet.

Nope. Not yet. (dead: not Santa—try to stay with me here Friends…)

‘So sorry…’

“Maybe next time.” Or as some of my ‘friends’ might say: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

(But then, that is some other kind of different post, ain’t it?)

I am tired, so I will end this now.

Just wanted to post ‘something’ so that y’all would realize… I am still alive in here.

Peace,

Lance

P.S. Now, that right there is what some might call a virulent (?), brilliant stream of ‘conscientiousness’. Some might, in fact.

Personally, I call ‘bullshit.’ But that is just me.

Cheers Y’all,

Lance

And PPS:

I am gonna volunteer to go to Liberia.

Just to help.

If y’all think I’m jokin’, well then; you don’t know me very well, do you?

Hell! All who know me, know I will risk anything for money! Because ‘money’ is all I care about.”

(And if y’all believe that, well then I am not… aiming… at ‘My Audience’)

And I do have a bridge to sell. (cheap!)

–Lance

Just for fun:

“A Deputy Sheriff approached them in a manner rather rude…” 

More Random Memories from the Middle East: Still Sinai

Previously: One  Two

***

The IDF soldier navigated down the hill as Janet got ‘properly’ dressed inside our tent to greet our visitor. I didn’t bother. I figured cut-offs and no shirt just fine. As for him, well he had slightly longish unkempt hair, as was the norm for IDF soldiers back then. Most of them were reservists anyhow. IDF was a mega-weekend-warrior class anyhow. His beret was tucked into his shirt at the shoulder. His olive-drab uniform was dusty. In general, the IDF Army was unkempt, un-kept, un-disciplined and Fucking Ferocious.

Perfect soldiers.

This truth never did escape me. Some respect from me was obviously the ‘order of my day’ here…

I watched him cautiously descend onto the  my beach. The night before I had un-cautiously descended and ascended (ten times), full of false courage brought about by some imbibing and dope. But what the hell! So… I studied his unsteady progress toward me.

As he approached he switched to English, “This is restricted zone,” he said as he pointed with his rifle over his shoulder to what looked to be a military base of some minor proportions.

“Well, It was dark when we got here and I didn’t notice,” I lied.

“You must leave. Now.”

“Something wrong?” Janet said, sticking her head out of our tent.

“Janet, I got this. Go back inside,” I almost barked.

“Fine!” she said. “Gin or Whiskey for breakfast?”

“Back inside!”

“Fine!” she huffed and disappeared inside the tent.

Turning my attention back to the IDF soldier, I asked/said, “So ‘we’ (Meaning US, the U.S. of us), can pay for this ‘wonderful’ base here in Sinai, and you come climbing down from ‘Mount Fucking Sinai’ to inform me that I am not welcome here? Is this correct?”

He laughed at that and proceeded to take a seat on a beer cooler next to our now burnt out campfire. At least this one had a sense of humor.

“I am Jacob,” he said. “And who are you my American Friend?”

“Lance,” I said, cautiously  extending my hand, which he took and shook earnestly. “Would you like some breakfast? We have tuna fish, whiskey, or gin. Your choice.”

Again he laughed. “Coffee?”

“Fraid not. Sorry.”

“I noticed you have some ice in your big cooler. Where did you get it?” (How did he know this?)

“Eilat,” I said.

“Do not drink the water from the melted parts then.”

“Why not?”

“Because it is made with ammonia at the factory in Eilat. Toxic. Do not drink the water.”

“Hell! My man! I drink the water in Cairo.”

“Your funeral then.”

We laughed some more. I was warming up to this guy.

“Seriously though my friend, you cannot remain here.”

“Yeah? Well, we were planning to push south today anyhow. South to Ras Mohammed.”

“Beautiful diving and snorkeling there. Mind the sharks though.”

“The ‘Sharks’ are why we are going.”

“All you Americans… are Cowboys?” he snorted.

“Yep.”

“Okay then. Bonne chance! I take my leave now. Be sure you take yours too. Soon. Shalom.”

“Cheers, and nice to meet you Jacob.”

“Bye,” he said and walked away.

***

“Well, you fucked that up,” Janet said, finally emerging from the tent.

“How so?”

“Now we have to leave this place.”

“Janet, I never intended to stay here more than the one night. I wanna get to Ras.”

“I like it here.”

“Pack your shit. We’re leaving now.”

She ‘packed her shit’ and I schlepped it and the rest up the cliff and loaded our little chariot. Within two hours we were back on the road again, heading south. As we were driving through the Sinai with the mountains on our right, she pulled out her Bible and instructed  invited  demanded of me to ‘turn off that damn noise.’ That ‘noise’ was Bob Marley and I hesitated… for a moment, then saw some seriousness in her brown eyes and acquiesced. She opened her ‘book’ and began to read from Genesis.  I must admit it was fitting, given the time and the place.

We spent some miles in this activity. I smoked some cigarettes and studied the landscape. The Sinai Desert along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is wondrous beautiful. As I said, the contrast moved me. Janet’s reading (which she did quite well, I may add) added to the ambiance. This girl had some talents. “In the beginning…”

But, the magic moments could not last (Janet and I had a propensity for combat). We eventually got into an argument about thirty clicks outside of Sharm el Sheik. I was slightly gin-buzzed by this point and in no mood for…

“Stop the fuckin’ car!” She shouted.

“Whaaa?”

“Stop the FUCKING CAR!”

“Shit! What for?!”

“I’m getting out! That is what FOR!”

“Janet, we’re in the middle of a fucking desert in a Muslim / Bedouin country. Are you sure?”

“Yes! Goddamn it! I am sure. Stop the fucking car. I hate you!” (Not entirely sure where this sentiment came from, but it was, I could see, sincere.)

“Fine!” I stopped the car. “Don’t forget your fuckin’ Virginia Slims,” I said as she opened the door, got out and proceeded to ‘march’ down the empty road.

I would have (should have) left her there, but y’all know I could not.

 

 More to come… Here

Video Credit:

TheCowboy4411

More Random Memories from the Middle East

Driving from Eilat to Ras Mohammed (Sinai) with the first wife.

Don't stay here

Okay, we were not married at that time. (At least not in ‘her’ God’s eyes.) We were both working at SFM and had coordinated our R&R schedule so that we could spend that week together. ‘Bliss’ Promised, promise of same…

We arrived in Tel Aviv and immediately went off to rent a car for our ‘camping’ trip. Our itinerary required us to first make the rather long and somewhat treacherous drive to Elait (‘treacherous’ because of the roads) where I hoped to get in a few more dives toward qualifying me as a bona-fide PADI deep-sea-diver. Then we were to head further south all the way to Ras Mohammad, on the southernmost tip of the Sinai, perhaps stopping or staying at Sharm El Sheik along the way. (Sharm back then was all about nothingness, still Israeli-Occupied Egypt and not the tourist trap it is today.)

We had loaded up our tiny rental car with way too much camping stuff, ‘checked out’ from the rec center we had at Sinai Field Mission Base camp. We had a tent, (such as it was), cooking utensils, sleeping bags, lanterns, coolers, and et cetera, ‘et cetera’  mostly being booze, of course) And of course we had schlepped along my boom box, extra batteries, and about five dozen cassette tapes. My life needed musical accompaniment back then. Always.

We left Elait and proceeded south. The road hugged the Gulf of Aqaba. The contrast was stunning. I mean, every once in a while I would stop the car, grab a snorkel and, well, go snorkeling. The colors under the sea were so vibrant, as opposed to the desolation of the desert behind me. Now, do not mistake: I love the Sinai. It is perhaps the most beautiful desert in the world. But. But! The coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba! As I did say:  color contrast.

We got about half-way to Sharm and Ras Mohammad, and as it was getting late, I decided ‘time to camp’. We parked the car on a very small ‘break-down’ lane and as Janet watched, I schlepped all the ‘gear’ down a ravine, or rather a ‘clif’ to the beach and the camping site I had proclaimed, ‘perfect.”

Set up the camp. Opened a bottle of ‘fine’ Israeli wine. Turned up the boom box. Cooked some chicken bits over a make-shit campfire. Ate. Then… had to shit. (I had been drinking apple juice all day—ran through me—needed to evacuate—embarrassed—

“Uh Janet, I need to leave you here for a min or two…”

“Why?”

“Just do. I’ll be back… soon. Okay?”

“Sure.”

So, I grabbed a roll of T-paper and headed off into the darkness, looking for a place to take a righteous shit, diarrhea shit. Found one. Did the deed. Happy and sated. Went back to our camp site. Found Janet laughing her ass off.

“What’s so fuckin’ funny?” I asked.

“Your toilet paper preceded you!” She said.

“Huh?”

“Yeah! The wind blew it all over here!”

“Damn!”

We made love in the ‘tent.’ and fell asleep. The next early morning, we were awakened by the sounds of someone yelling at us in Hebrew:

I will translate:

“Hey! American! You cannot be here!”

“Why not?”

“This is IDF Zone!”

“And? I have diplomatic immunity!”

“What?!”

“We have diplomatic i-mun-it-ty!”

“What!?”

“Fuck off!”

“Wait! I am coming there..”

“Fine.” (asshole)

Will be continued… Here

Ras Mo

Ras Mohammad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vid Credit Here:

Country Boy At Its Best

“I’ve run my share of grass…”

Here

Hello Minefield In The Sand

(Sung to Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand”)

To an Unfeeling Landmine

So Sorry Neil

This spontaneous post is a follow up to the frivolous one below

***********

Hello Minefield in the Sand

Is this place at your command?

Can I live here just a while?

Can I pass your sweet, sweet style?

Not old enuff now to change my ways

When so many died here

Is this your plan?

It’s the problem with you

That makes me wanna go insane

So many innocent doan wanna play yer game

Hello dead one in the dust

You died because of us

Your band did not begin to rust

I guess it was all the sin I had

To trust a walk that didn’t seem bad

Holding out now, to change some things

Just some water; do that seem strange?

I was hoping that you’d turn bad

Go away now, I’d be not sad

But you hang around…

To kill my kids

You make me feel angry, but not like this

Purple blood on a sand background

With so much about you,

You’ll never be found…

Until you kill someone else.

*********

Too many people die still today from landmines meant to kill combatants in so many older, forgotten wars. 

No Bare Feet Beyond This Point

I grew into manhood in the Sinai desert: 1977-1980. Missed out on Disco, but it was damn well worth it.  What you may choose to read below is the first installment of a personal history I am determined to write about the men and women I had the honor to know, to love, to work and walk among, and to call ‘Friend’, as we all tried in our way, to bring peace between the Egyptians and the Israelis after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The conditions were harsh; the boredom at times mind-numbing. Seventy-five percent of us were under thirty. Most of us were Texans. We were not actually building anything see-able, tangible, touchable: we were, in fact, civilian ‘Paid Political Hostages,’ not construction contractors, not U.S. military Special Forces, but we ended up building something immensely more important than bricks and mortar: The Camp David Accords—Peace between two enemies who had not known peace since before Moses was a pup. Some of us who spent too many years there, went slowly and surely insane…

SFM_Letter

1979 Sinai Field Mission

postcard

WARNING:

NO BARE FEET BEYOND THIS POINT

A faint laughing snort escaped as I shook my head upon seeing that sign duct-taped to the door of the hooch belonging to some of my fellow drivers: ‘Rocket Tom’, ‘J.R. Mog’, ‘Jet’, and ‘Big Mo’. Big Mo wasn’t a driver per se; I mean he didn’t drive trucks or R&R passenger vehicles: He drove dozers, road graders,  front-end loaders, and the occasional fork lift, although he considered fork-lifts “Too wussy for a Texan named Big Mo” to drive.

I gave the door a hearty knock.

“Enter!”

 

Opening the door, I was enveloped in a cloud of smoke shoved out by the cold air conditioning.  The contrast from the hot Sinai air shocked my senses, but felt oh, so… inviting. I stepped inside the doorway and paused, giving my eyes a moment to adjust to the subdued lighting in the hooch. The sun in Sinai is blindingly bright. Seated around an empty cable spool (about three feet in diameter), were three fourths of the usual suspects: Mog, Jet, and Rocket Tom.

“You just gonna stand there, or ya gonna have a seat?” Mog demanded. J.R. Mog, a corpulent, charismatic, boisterous, ‘talks too loud’ Texan who generally had the first (and last) word in any conversation.  His full title was ‘J. R. Mog, Half-Man, Half-Alligator, Part-Time Hog; Tamer of Wild Women and Other Assorted Interests.” Or… simply just ‘Mog’ for short (Thank God).

“How y’all?” I said, taking a seat on one of the camel saddles which served as chairs. Scattered about the tabletop were a couple of small pipes, a chunk of hashish the size of a pregnant golf ball, an overflowing ashtray, three or four empty beer bottles (Amstel), a couple of magazines, a crumpled pack of Marlboros, a Moët & Chandon bottle with a burnt up candle stuck in it, wax coating it all around and down to the top of the table thus cementing it there, and something that looked like it might once have been an orange.

Mog answered, “We just finer ‘n frog hair. Wanna beer? You know where the fridge is.”

“Matter of fact, I do,” I said, getting up and tacking back and forth through the piles of dirty clothes, homemade furniture, shards of beer bottles, and stacked-up cases of Amstel, Heineken, and Tuborg Squash—a heavily carbonated orange soda from Denmark—the best thing on Earth for the morning cotton-mouth most of us suffered more mornings than not. (Had something to do with smoking hash and drinking late into the night, but… that’s just my opinion.)

I returned with a Heineken and sat back down, taking a swig as I did so.

Jet said, “Well, Lancer, now that you’re all settled, we can fire us up a bowl.” (I had not done anything noteworthy enough up until this point at Sinai Field Mission to warrant a moniker other than my given Christian name). Using a Buck Knife, he proceeded to carve some hash off the golf ball, then mixing the slivers with some tobacco, stuffed one of the pipes and lit it with a Zippo.

We passed the ‘bowl’ around, refilling it a few times here and there, then settled back with our beers.

Jet, the oldest at the table–about thirty—wore a goatee, long brown hair on top of a head that looked a little too big for the rest of his frame. He had a laconic manner, but was not what one could ever call ‘brusque’. He just didn’t say much. He seemed to save his words like cash money is what I’m saying. Presently, he asked, “Mog, when’s your next run to TA?” (‘TA’ = Tel Aviv).

Mog (who spent words with reckless abandon) replied, “I got the fuckin’ R&R run tomorrow. Shit!  Hey Lance, what you got? Wanna trade?”

Mog hated the R&R runs mainly because R&R runs meant taking passengers. He loved driving the trucks into ‘Town’. Two reasons: He loved trucks and he loved to drive trucks very, very fast. Mog was a great driver, but riding with him scared the shit out of me.

“Sure Mog; I’ll trade with ya.”

“Which run you got?” he asked, now slightly wary at my all too quick agreement.

“Canal run.”

“Aw Shit No! Forget it.”

SFM Basecamp was about thirty klicks from the Suez Canal. Every day an R&R vehicle left SFM to rendezvous with one coming from Cairo. Passengers would take a small boat across the canal and continue on to Cairo or back to SFM. Incoming and out-going mail was also exchanged. Having  ‘The Canal Run’ meant getting off-base only for an hour or two. Going to Tel Aviv meant driving only four hours, checking into the Sheraton and having the rest of the day and night to paint the town red with Per Diem and whatever else one wanted to contribute or muster out of his own purse.  Mog had an Israeli girlfriend in Tel Aviv, actually she was his fiancée, and he took all the Tel Aviv runs he could get, so he could go see ‘The Little Mama’. In fact all the drivers had Israeli girlfriends except Big Mo. His ‘Honey-Co’ was a Big-Boned, Tall Drink O’ Water, Texan Gal, working for SFM, just like us. Her name was ‘Big Mammu’ and if those two didn’t eventually get united in hellish matrimony, then I say ‘Fuck it.’ There is no hope for the rest of the world. Perfect for each other they were, is all I’m saying.

Rocket Tom was a wiry, slightly nervous-energy type about five-foot ten, with long dark brown hair and a full beard. Even though he was Pure Texan, his accent spoke ‘Tennessee’ to me: Probably genetic since most Texans have Tennessee bones buried somewhere in their family closet.

“Y’all just gettin’ back from the TA? Rocket drawled in my direction.

“Yeah. Had the Reefer Run. The KP’s unloading her now.”

“Well,” he went on, “I hope y’all brought back some ah that Israeli choc’late milk this time.”

“Sorry Bro; they still fresh out at the market.”

“Well shit-fire!” he yelled, standing up. “How they spec’ us to keep our mo-ral here in the Middle of the Fuckin’ East, Sinai fuckin’ field mission hot-ass desert without no Goddamn choc’late milk?” (He did love chocolate milk, especially after a smoked bowl or two of the hubbly-bubbly, which for us was another word for hashish, although technically, it means the water pipe we sometimes used to smoke it in, often mixed with a sticky sweet Egyptian honey tobacco—very pleasant aroma, that.)

Mog chimed in, “Hell an’ God-awmighty Rocket! Calm the fuck on down Son!  Y’all need to lay off that shit anyhow. I believe you done put on a pound or two just this week, ‘specially round yer middle section there.” (Rocket Tom weighed about 140 pounds, soaking wet. With-his-boots-on).

Mog continued on the roll he was working himself up to, “Lancers, that reefer truck still got both its mirrors attached?”

Laughter all around.  (Rocket, now sated and satisfied by his outburst, had sat the fuck back down…)

I had become notorious with the drivers (and somewhat despised & infamous by the mechanics) for losing the driver’s side swing-out mirrors off four trucks in the past two weeks. The roads through the desert were quite narrow with no shoulders at all. And in fact, there was usually a sharp drop off which if hit, would cause a fast moving, top heavy, loaded-down truck to flip over. I was cognizant of this and would never give up my half of the road. No Matter What. Too often I would encounter an IDF (Israeli Defense Force) truck with some pimple-faced kid, fresh off the Kibbutz at the wheel barreling down upon me from the opposite direction, taking his half of the road from the middle. Inevitably our mirrors would connect. And violently. Since SFM’s trucks all had air conditioning, my windows were always rolled up, saving me from being smacked by the mirror as it smashed against the side of the truck. The IDF guys, well probably not, as their trucks, to my knowledge, did not come with factory air.

“Yeah Mog. She still got both her mirrors.”

“Well, did ya leave any crippled jackasses in yer wake this time?” Mog laughed.

On my very first R&R run to Tel Aviv I was driving our Chevy van loaded full with twelve passengers, two of whom were high-ranking State Department pukes. I was a bit nervous, and was trying to drive oh so carefully and safely, as I felt my future as a driver depended on it. Somewhere just south of Al Arish, we came upon a couple of donkeys in the road. I started slowing down, but not wanting to hit the brakes too suddenly or too hard, thereby throwing my passengers forward, I misjudged and hit one of the jackasses square in the ass. His hind legs flew out from underneath him and his butt hit the road. He managed to get back on his legs, then turned and glared at me as he stumbled off. I drove on down the road as if nothing had happened and saw a Bedouin in my rear view mirror shaking his fist and spewing what I theorized were some choice words at me in Arabic.

“Naw. Overall it was a borin’ trip,” I said. Then added, “Mog, you sure you don’t wanna take my Canal Run tomorrow?”

“Son, you know damn well I don’t. Last time I had that run…” (Here it comes, another ‘Mog Story’) “I got stuck for two hours behind a broke-dick-of-a’-Egyptian-lame-ass-broke-down-convoy. They had the whole damn road covered up with their doubya-doubya-two wrecks-on-wheels. Musta been twenny of ‘em. I’m tryin’ to figure out how to get around, but they had the unmitter-grated gall to break down ‘tween two fuckin’ sand dunes. Nothin’ I could do but set an’ wait ‘em out. I’ll be Goddamn-go-to-Hell if their tow truck finally shows, and she pro-ceeds to break down her own self! Jesus, Mary and Yosef! My passengers getting’ all stupid worryin’ an’ frettin’ they ain’t gonna get to Cairo in time to catch their planes for R&R back to The Land of the Big PX and the All-Night Restaurant,  I told them the other vehicle gonna wait there at the crossin’, so why don’t y’all just shut the fuck up!”

“Uh Mog,” Rocket interjected, “There weren’t no USG types in your vehicle, were they?”

“Ah Hell No! Rocket. You know I am always po-lite as pie when those State Department assholes are on-board. Anyways, as I was sayin’, we sittin’ there wonderin’ when the next tow truck gonna show, so I call ahead to Mohammad to see if he at the canal yet. Finally managed to get him on the radio and tole him to set tight. I’d get there when I got there.“

A word here about the convoys that travelled through the ‘Buffer Zone’. The Egyptians had nothing but World War Two era Russian trucks and every time they attempted a convoy, they broke down. Sure as God made Texas, they were gonna break down. The Israelis, on the other hand, had all-new trucks and tanks, and planes, most of which they got from the U.S. when Nixon bailed them out during the first half of the two-week long Yom Kippur War when the Egyptians were actually kicking the ever’-lovin’ shit outta their asses. There was a massive air-lift of new military hardware to the Israelis, so they would not get pushed into the Mediterranean. Now, I’m not saying the Israelis didn’t deserve credit for winning that war in the end, (and some would still call it a ‘draw’), but without the infusion of new equipment from Tricky Dick and Hank Kissinger, well…

Mog continued, “Well, with nothin’ to do now but wait her out, I went to see if I could find some ‘Gyptian could give me an idee of just how much longer they gonna be blockin’ my road. After wading through some wearing they jammies and wantin’ baksheesh, I found an officer who spoke some English. He tole me, ‘No worries. No worries.’ Well, directly here come another ‘gyptian tow truck. Took ‘em another hour to clear the damn road. We got to the canal just ‘bout an hour ‘fore sundown. I swear, I ain’t takin’ no more canal runs. Oh fuck no!”

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

There was a lot of bullshit talked at SFM, but for the most part, it was what you’d call pretty good bullshit (for the most part.)  I enjoyed it terribly.

If you have come with me thus far, then you may be happy to know that there will be more to this story. Too much more.

Way too much more.

Stay tuned, if you’re of a mind too.

Here,  and Here,  and Here…

Thanks for reading.

–Lancers