Today I have this feeling of contentment, of peace in a way. It occurs to me that my exercise in LiveJournal these past couple weeks may have contributed? Or not, who knows? All I can say for sure is that I don’t feel pathologically suicidal tonight which is significant in a sort of way in-explainable on paper…or online, as it were. So, as tradition now justifies, I must complain; on the course of modernity, or, of the pain of our past.

My property is located in an area of the North Country quite susceptible to the beauties of autumn. The death of summer foliage set against the lateral sunsets of late nights is as striking to the natural eye as any earthly scenes I’ve had the pleasure to witness. There is no justice in the casual photos captured by smartphone lenses or Handy-cam digital composites. That is to say; people might tend to miss out on the actual beauty as they fumble with devices, with careless driving manners, and/or the hope children present might relieve themselves from any of the countless distractions present in our modern, hyper-technological, Virtual Reality exposed field of vision’s? 

What I’m trying to say is: put the phones down, stop the RV in a safe place out of traffic and just enjoy the moment. It’s what you came for is it not? Did you travel the thousands of miles only to attempt to prove you did by dropping a “pin” or exposing your Facebook family and friends to a shitty pic of the horizon, or shaky video of a moose? Buy a postcard or some professionally done video for the purpose of sharing. Relax, slow down, be safe(r) and go in peace. I don’t want to seem like the crotchety old man who finds fault in everything, everyone else might enjoy. I only speak from experience as a fellow wanderer and novice photographer that wishes he would have found more time to relax and spent less time looking for the next stop. That’s all. I just mean, do you really need to record the concert one the phone when professional recordings are available? Or recording Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton at every opportunity -not to mention any other pseudo celebrity- with 50 other media organizations doing the same, but much, much  better? Or selfies? Maybe it’s because I have never looked worse than in close up pics of my mug, but really? Okay, you get my point. Is it a passing fad, this hyper recording of ourselves, or is it only the beginning, God help us?

After the fire last winter that destroyed my first cabin I was left with precious few photographs or videos. Other than some low quality pics I had online and a thumb drive that escaped unharmed, my digital and physical past was 90% extinguished. There’s nothing like the unexpected to reveal the importance, or unimportance, as it was, of physical property, treasure or trinkets and tokens from the past. So I understand the desire to capture everything and anything. I understand the parents at baseball games not actually watching, but rather, recording. Those flicks could be treasured 30 or 40 years from now.

So why not get several Go Pro’s and set them up to record games for all the parents? Privacy. Or could the Little League’s themselves do it as a part of the field? Who knows? But either something is done soon or we might lose the present altogether, living only for a possible future? Just thinking.

Okay, have a beautiful day anyone who might read this, in the present…or the future.









The bugle sounds on days like December 12th, 1945 and September 12th, 2001, and American’s from all walks of life put aside the self, stand up straight, and answer the call to defend our homes, the neighbor’s home and democratic way of life many today take for granted. In retrospect, following the era, we may question the larger motives, or the eventual cost in blood and treasure, nevertheless, those willing to set aside their 1st world comforts for the darkened unknown, should in turn expect, at the very least, leaders with at least some piece of skin in the game. Without eventual accountability for the blind willingness of the masses, taking advantage of this patriotism, to send these men and women across oceans to fight and possibly die, without accountability, the day may come that the sound of the horn goes unanswered?

It occurred to me while catching up on the farce that is our current presidential election cycle, that the major party candidates remaining represent this malaise of indifference and unaccountability. They are both vying for the Commander in Chief position. One, Mrs. Clinton, supported and gladly authorized an inevitable war with Iraq that was, predictably, I’m comfortable saying, a unmitigated disaster, the blow-back from which the world will be suffering through for decades to come. Couple that with her support of the Libyan debacle and other policy decisions while running the State Department, doesn’t make her a criminal, yet should disqualify her from the Presidency full stop. And Trump! Fuck, don’t even get me started. This ignorant blowhard shouldn’t lead a troop of Boy Scouts, let alone a military apparatus capable of literally extinguishing the human race! All politicians are phony, especially those running for national office, but not all politicians are pathological liars the likes of the Donald.

I’ve lived the last 10 years in gradual declining mental health, do in no small part to my service to the country as an Army Infantryman following 9/11. If I were to single out a slice of that service and attribute my struggles to it, my part in the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 is hands down culpable. In my head I could rationalize the initial mission in Afghanistan as just, however, Iraq is unjustifiable. Many of us grunts knew it, even if we did our best to gloss over the truth. The thought of Donald Trump willingly reverting to the horrors of that era, from his rhetoric on torture to his apocalyptic vision of the Muslim world, truly frightens me for future generations of young men around the world. Hillary isn’t a whole lot better, but I do trust that she would avoid war simply for the sake of war. Something tells me she’s become immunized to the reactions of a thin skinned person?

I don’t even know what compelled me to write this today? There seems to be so much out there describing the train wreck that is Donald Trump. Maybe it has a little to do with how the medias coverage of the election tries to normalize the contest? What I see, as a big fan of history, is how not normal it all is. The realization that both candidates will say almost anything to win a few more votes is a normal election contest like WWE is just boxing with fewer rules. I’ve been looking for a reason to not give up completely on my future someday, with enough work, getting back to pre-Army normal. Could the 2016 election cycle be that reason? Could the FOMO of Trump being inaugurated in January, and the effect that could have on the world be enough to hang in a bit longer? For tonight at least, I can’t seem to avert my gaze.

My question was: we sacrificed for this? Was this the prize so many fought and died for? As hard as it is to admit, it is exactly what so many gave so much for, as disappointing as the current result seems to be. America will be able to do all the things we freely do, no matter the intellectual cost, support whomever they please, say whatever they want and march on to the drumbeat of reality TV because my Grandparent’s helped destroy the Nazi’s and the Empire of Japan, my Father clashed with the Communist’s, and I, well, I hunted terrorists.














It seems many of us were right all along: blast waves from exploding ordinance, even void of shrapnel, will have a similar effect on ones brain as a so-called typical concussion. No way, the Pentagon has screamed for the last 7 decades, operating under their usual strategies, -in other industries, think tobacco, NFL, oil, lead, etcetra game plans meant to blur the known truth- burying the scientific proof, sweeping the mess under a cheap rug for as long as they can to avoid responsible action. -think shell-shock, agent orange, Gulf War syndrome-

The hardest thing to hear, to swallow, is a child, or sister, or wife, telling you, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.” It’s the hidden injury that exposes ones “after combat” self, a terrible new you that’s impossible to explain and even harder to treat. I mean, how do you mend a fence, or plug a tire if you cannot locate a hole? Even more diabolical is the paradox you face every single day; it’s your brain that directs one for help, yet, suffering from multiple TBI’s, that very piece of you critical to act, tricks you into looking somewhere else. Combine this earned helplessness with a rank and file denial of your serious and hidden condition, it begins to become clear, reasons for Veteran’s maladaptive behavior, even suicide.

My last post drilled down on the massive inequality and unchecked corporate power and greed revving the country, the world even, far into the red line. But it was the most cynical, bloated bureaucracy of all: the Department of Defense. Not long after WWII the Army morphed into a career establishment, a standing army, with the biggest single budget in history, for any country, any organization. It’s a sick, sick, sick culture within the ranks of career military men and women. It’s no longer about doing the right thing, but rather, doing nothing that might cause friction. This culture necessitates gross incompetence. They cover for each other, providing a dirty system that is void of accountability. From the rape culture, to outrageously bloated budgets, to the revolving door and the denial of care for grunts like me, the Pentagon is incapable of doing the right thing.

So now they are forced to admit what soldier’s have understood for quite some time. Blast waves can inflict a heavy toll on the brain. The most important question to me is: what are they going to do with this public knowledge? When will the injuries we sustain on the battlefield, those beyond the outer skeleton, the unseen, be important enough to get an equal level of care, let alone respect?

Pentagon…fuck you very much!







Setting aside the immutable horrors of war experienced by downrange infantry soldiers for a moment, I would like to share an equally traumatic event from early adulthood. I was only 17 at the time, having never even seen a dead human being, let alone being present as one died. So much about this event was fucked from the start. Even today, as I delve back into those memories, I instantly feel anxiety and fear rising up within, some 25 years later.

It was a typically beautiful July afternoon in South Central Alaska; a perfect day to view the majestic Western Alaska Range on the drive North to Fairbanks, 300 miles ahead. At the Talkeetna cutoff, roughly 100 miles North of Anchorage, I stopped to refuel my little Volkswagen Golf -diesel was 90 cents a gallon, that’s how long ago it was- and purchase a few snacks. My vehicle was temperamental and by chance, I ran into a long haul trucker at the truck stop who I knew, asking him if I could trail him in case of any further car trouble? It was a plan and we left. It was about 3pm.

I was coming from the Kenai Peninsula, where I had graduated High School 2 years earlier, hauling a couple coolers of fresh caught Homer Halibut and Kenai River Sockeye Salmon for my parents in Fairbanks. Up to that point it had been just about perfect. Hanging out with friends, playing epic outdoor paintball, fishing and clam digging. After a week though, I had to return to work. I’d be home by 8pm. In bed by 10pm, barring any lengthy delays. Turns out, I wouldn’t make it home until 1pm the following day.

After rounding a sweeping corner 11 miles past Talkeetna, a column of black smoke could be seen rising from the highway at the end of a long straight stretch ahead. The closer we got, the worse it all looked. As we stopped, 60 feet short of the scene, the best I could tell, a large tour coach had caught fire, halfway off the embankment on our side of the road, the opposite side of his being a South bound bus. We were the first two on scene, quickly approaching the bus to assess what we could do to help. It was already a hot afternoon for Alaska, -around 85f I suspect- but the growing fire increased the ambient heat considerably.

I still couldn’t understand what happened, however, it was clear everyone needed to be removed from the bus as soon as possible. The passengers, about 40 in all, were in the process of disembarking from an emergency exit near the rear windows, but the driver, still conscience, was pinned within the driver’s area due to the incredible front end damage which ruined any use of the front door. Why was there so much damage, I thought? What did it hit? The fire grew, melting plastic, and increasing the driver’s panic.

By then, a minute or two after arriving, a few others began to show up. My only thoughts at that point centered on getting this man out, or somehow, knocking down the fire. My trucker friend was calling for anyone with fire suppressants to bring them ASAP while jumping back into his rig. Before I knew it I was standing on what was left of the front dash and steering wheel trying to pull the operator out. I was getting burnt wearing only a tank-top and shorts and I could feel my lashes and body hair singeing. There was no way to get him out like that. I was yelling for help, but only one other man would even get close, let alone climb up above the man. Later on, I realized I couldn’t blame them. There was a fear the whole thing was going to blow up, even though a diesel fuel tank probably wouldn’t, few wanted to chance it.

I jumped off, falling into the gravel below just as my friend asked me to help him. He had jack knifed his 18 wheeler behind the bus with chains hooked to it. I needed to crawl under and wrap them around an axle. Fuck! I managed to get one around a strut and another under some hinge. I recall it being cool under the devastated rig. It was then that I put it together in my head. The bus had collided head on with another vehicle with such force, that car had literally collapsed and disappeared beneath the front half of it. I came to this conclusion while crawling from underneath the rear. The fire was coming from underneath and my buddy hoped to pull the bus back onto the highway and clear of the feeder fire.

It was maddening! The bus wouldn’t budge, despite the tremendous power of the truck. After several yanks, the chains snapped, ending that plan. Walking back to the front, I heard a scream and saw several people running away in distress. The man was about to burn alive and I could do nothing. Nobody could.

What haunts me to this day is his eyes. He kept eye contact with me as he begged for help in between the most horrific screams I’ve ever heard. Help me! Please! I told him I tried. Did I say it out loud? I’m not sure. He held on much longer than I would have ever suspected, screaming as he disappeared into the black smoke. Turning around, I realized I was standing much closer than the group of 30 or so people gathered on the road. I was to shocked to do nothing. I began walking around, checking on one elderly couple after another. Broken bones, sprains, some cuts and bruises, but as I asked what I could do, most would say something like, “find someone who is worse, we’ll make it.” It was dramatic, surreal and much more than any 17 year old kid can, or should, handle.

After 45 minutes or so, a couple Troopers began arriving, followed by ambulances, helicopters and fire trucks. The fire was just about out as the main group of emergency vehicles arrived, leaving a blackened, warped shell of a once first class motor coach. I waited it all out laying on the hood of my little car, 50 feet from the bus’ front bumper. My buddy had briefly stopped to ask me if I’d be okay, but nobody else said a word until I was approached by a rescue worker who had just landed. “Are you okay,” she asked? “Yeah, just some minor burns, scrapes and bleeding,” I replied. She looked at me, then around, assessing my proximity to the damage and my too calm demeanor. “Uh huh,” she scoffed, “I’ll be back as soon as I can to talk.”

The smell is what triggered me, 10 years later, while in combat. Like the smell of cheap tequila after getting plastered on the shit as a teen, or that of raspberry iced tea after mistaking your Dad’s spit can for the actual tea, that smell of burnt guts, melted plastic, blood, shit and brains is a treacherous mental assault. To this day I have dreams where the violence is absent, the scene is placid, the breeze cool, but the smell is present and wont go away. Awake I hear those screams, from then and now, but that smell, I’m sure there are some out there that can relate?

On a side note, as an example of how much of a scumbag some folks can be, about 3 months following the whole ordeal, I caught a newspaper article relating to the tragedy. The Governor had given some sort of citizen medal to 5 people at the scene of the crash. It wasn’t the fact that neither I or the truck driver were involved that chapped my ass. It was the fact that these 5 individuals did little to nothing to help at the time as far as I could recall. Two of them were in the group that wouldn’t even get near the bus and one woman might not have been there at all. After returning home I only received one call regarding the incident and it was from an insurance company. Nothing else. Like I wasn’t even there despite it all.

My eyelashes grew back. The scars on my arms and neck faded over the years. My body healed. My brain did not. Who am I to complain though? I later learned the details of the incident. As the bus came out of the corner, headed south, a small Bronco swerved into its lane. Maybe the driver was changing a CD or adjusting a vent? Who knows? At the last moment the bus driver tried to move into the wrong lane to avoid the impact. The Bronco driver reacted the same and it was a direct hit, right in the middle of the highway, both vehicles moving at speeds in excess of 60mph. The Bronco was devastated along with all on board…4 brothers from the same family, aged 11 to 17. A devastation that family couldn’t have comprehended. These boys, along with the bus driver and on board female attendant were killed that day.

I never talked with anyone about it other than to mention it in passing like; “no big deal, I wasn’t involved but it looked bad.” I mentioned it to my mom on the way home from a payphone. She never brought it up. Maybe thought I was exaggerating? That sums up that relationship in 2 sentences I’m afraid. I have considered looking these people up and writing a real story but don’t have the energy or will needed. And that sums me up in 2 more.