There are so many to
thank for making this story possible, it is difficult to know where to begin.
Listed below are but a few of the plethora who have contributed so much. As it
would be impossible to rank one above the other and the order of listing in no
way indicates the importance of each contributor.
First and foremost heart
felt thanks to the hundreds of court judges who gave so many minor or first
time young offenders the choice of prison, where they would be housed with murderers,
thieves and rapists or enlistment in the U.S. Army where they could learn from
To the U.S. Ambassador
in Saigon who, in the Spring of '75, so nobly wanted everyone to stay and greet
the oncoming Communist hordes as brothers-in-arms despite the fact they wanted
to disembowel us in public and feed our entrails to the fish in the South China
And to the thousands of
officers and enlisted men who, like those of the first Gulf Training Exercise
and the current contrived Gulf War, despite never having been anywhere near the
Persian Gulf, awarded themselves thousands and thousands of decorations and
awards. Such men and women of the United States armed forces, much like Teddy's
mythical charge up San Juan Hill, have followed in a fine tradition.
Lastly, I would like to
personally thank Petty Officer First Class, 'Omon'a-tell-you-what-boy!' Stump
for submitting the wrong personnel file to my Commanding Officer when
attempting to bring me to Captain's Mast nd put me in the brig for the
treasonous crime of not swabbing the deck to his satisfaction, which thus
caused the case against me to be dismissed. Just like that guy named William
Jefferson Clinton he done Arkansas proud, boy.
However, time spent in
the Navy, regardless of how much, is never wasted, particularly when you’re
eighteen years old. The phrase that sticks in my mind is the one a crusty old
chief petty officer gave us while we were standing bald-headed, in full uniform
in the blazing 100 dgree heat of Camp Nimitz in San Diego just after they
issued us our 1,000 pounds or so of gear.
“You get out of it what
you put into it!” Is what he told us. He was right. Plain and simple. Like
marriage. Only without the kids. The drinking and the fighting and the . . .
Sorrry! I digress.
The Navy taught me and
reinforced a value system which, thanks mostly to those who oppose meritocricy
and fight to establish the ridiculous standard of equality of outcome, is taking
something of a beating in the contempoary U.S. In the military, particularly
during war time, there can be no substitute for meritocracy. The best man for
the job is the only credo. Okay, to what’s left of you feminists out there – the
best man or woman for the job.
Regarding Politically Erect, as I always remind my
students, art must be evaluated in the context of the times in which it was created.
To judge a work in the context of modern times ten, twenty or one hundred years
after its creation is disingenuous, damaging to the experience you seek and dilutes
the potential educational or entertainment value one might garner from it. This
story is set in the first half of the Seventies, a time which was definitly a
time far removed from an era marked by mobile phones, a war on books and a
period where we can peek back over 14 billion light years through space and
into the past.
To my eternal Muse:
Natasha Feordarova Kavolchuck.
Murdered by her husband at the age of 28 years
Only the good die young.
also for the thousands who, during the war in Viet Nam,
through incompetent leadership, paid the ultimate price.
one of the books that I’ve waited years to write, primarily because I didn’t
know I was going to be a writer and I was too busy for the better part of the
first fifty years globe hopping, enjoying life, being too self-absorbed to
forge a long-term relationship in marriage and just generally going around making
a pain-in-the-ass of myself. Now I have the next fifty years to focus on writing
and then I can retire and enjoy my older years.
The concpet came to me while managing the emergency room of the Mayport
Naval Dispensary in Mayport Florida outside of Jacksonville back during the
CHRIST! That makes me sound old. I’m talkin’ like Archie Bunker old. (Look
One primary characteristic used to define courage is the ability to act
in the face of mortal danger despite one’s fear.
A secondary characteristic I believe, is the ability to joke in the face
of extreme adversity, whether motivated by defiance or fear. The old 1960’s
poster of the little mouse flipping off the attacking eagle who is brandishing
his talons as he swoops in to gobble up the helpless little mouse never fails
to garner a smile.
I clearly remember Icelanders cracking jokes as they stood by and watched
the Eldfell volcano’s firey rise form the earth consuming their cars, homes and
livelyhoods back in ’73 or the dozen German civilians from the local village who
pulled up lawn chairs and ripped open some beers as they sat and cracked jokes
with the poor German parachutists trapped in 250 foot high beech trees waiting
to fall to their deaths because the fire brigade couldn’t get a ladder truck in
through the trees. We, (my Special Ops team and I), rigged climbing harnesses,
climbed up and rescued them. Needless to say we drank for free all night long
in the village.
Joking is certainly a way of dealing with nerves.
The point is self-preservation is a strong instinct and no man can be
blamed for not taking action which would indanger his life.
Unless he signed on for that job.
So it was some of the greatest experiencs of my life to have worked with
guys who, despite some of them dying or being injured, pushed on spewing snide
remarks which seemed to become more clever as the danger increased.
So to men like Tony and Ron, RIP guys. It was great working with you.
Technically this is a work of fiction however all the stories and
anecdotes are factual and each chapter is preceeded by a snatch of gratfittii I
collected during the Viet Nam conflict. I mean War. No wait . . . I mean Police
Action. Yeah, that’s it – Police Action. Gosh darn those wily politicians! They
got a proper lable for everything. I guess that’s what happens when you let
lawyers become politicians then they figure out a way to start running the
Enjoy the read!
- P. Kelly
n the Summer of 1971 there were
only three ways out of the soul crushing, abject poverty of the Jersey City
shit hole of a slum they called The Duncan Avenue Federal Housing Projects:
prison, the military or the likely end to both, death. A leftover relic from
Lyndon Johnson's failed attempt at the establishment of the Great Society, “Da
Projekts” were touted as “affordable housing for the poor.” In reality they
were a place where people grew old before their time as they gradually came to
grips with the fact that this was probably their last stop on the way down
before they, along with millions of other Americans, fell off the property
ladder altogether into the bottomless depths of the 'Less Fortunate' as they
were euphemistically branded.
Located in the ass end
of one of the most decrepit residential neighborhoods in one of the most run
down, industrial centers on the Eastern Seaboard, it was no coincidence that
the nine, thirteen storied buildings on Duncan Avenue were built from plans
rejected by the Federal Prison system.
it was a way to keep all the immigrant, unemployed and minority scum away from
Da Decent Folk and out of the game altogether.
other hand, the average death rate of about one to two people per day in the
Projects probably scared the shit out of the surrounding property owners and to
some extent contributed to life in that shit hole and the life style that Billy
Chance grew up in but at that young age came to regard as a constant
spontaneous eruptions of gang fights, a sporadic police presence and the
occasional crazy walking through the streets shooting at anything that moved,
Billy, with an Irish Father and a Sicilian mother, along with his friends, all
of which were black, saw life as something out of a Marvel comic book.
held numerous distinctions as a city, to include having several of its mayors
and their staff investigated and arrested by the Feds for everything from Grand
Larceny to forged citizenship, accessories to murder and serving as the primary
operating grounds for most of The Mafia's trucking and shipping crimes.
the William L. Dickinson High School, (Billy's Alma mater), had the honor of being
the first and only U.S. high school to be investigated, taken over and closed down
by the Federal Department of Education, a cabinet level office which came about
by laws largely founded on the evolution of what Dickinson had become and the
numerous prosecutions following its closure.
criminal charges? As they say in medical parlance when bacteria are detected in
an infection, TNTC. Too Numerous To Count.
topping the popularity chart of illicit activity was teachers buying drugs from
students, gang violence and teachers selling drugs to students. Teachers
engaging in frequent sexual activity with students, cooperation with local
bookies for betting on high school football games and students engaging in
frequent sexual activity with teachers, both on and off school grounds.
Teachers helping students cheat on exams and the proverbial last straw,
something involving the football team and a mature sheep.
one may sound worse than it actually was as the school's mascot was, after all,
week-long federal hearings in D.C., to their credit, the teachers vehemently
denied ever helping students cheat on exams.
teachers have lines they won’t cross.
Looking back on it, it's
hard to imagine a more stifling atmosphere then a place where, for kids under
18, school was little more than a surrogate day care center with crime
education classes on the side. The neighborhood grocery stores were surrounded
by iron bars, there were daily shootings and the cops were never to be seen.
Hell, it was the cops, when they were
there, who were doing most of the shooting. The rest of the time it was the
cops who were getting shot at.
often stated later that he took two of the most important lessons in his life
away from that inner-city war zone. His loss of the fear of death and an
appreciation for the Black perspective.
Whites only comprised about ten percent of the neighborhood at the time, never
saw Italians, Irish, Poles or French. Only Black and White. A distorted lens
perspective which most of them would carry with them the rest of their lives.
have had good reason.
stripped of their culture over the last 300 years and never really being
afforded the opportunity to develop their own indigenous language or customs,
they quite naturally had little appreciation for anything from somewhere as
distant as planet Europe. They were probably the first as a people in the U.S.
to come to grips with the reality that America truly was the land of the free
where even the Presidential Suite at the Hotel Hilton was open to anyone. As long as you could afford it. A quiant
system inherited from our English cousins
it was the Blacks who taught young Chance how to run, dance, play American
football, baseball, music, how to fight and how to . . . well you know. Women.
nickname 'Whitey' was never taken offensively by Chance but worn as a badge of
honor, of belonging, to the point where life-long bonds were formed. It was with this
maybe-not-so-unique point of view that Billy Chance set out to pursue what he
was taught to believe is that noblest of all professions, medicine.
All he’d have to do is finish high school, (something no one
else in his family had ever done before), find a shit load of money, (something
else no one else in his family had ever done), and get accepted to college, something
no one . . . well . . . you get the idea.
After that of course he’d have to find a shit load more
money, get accepted to and graduate from med school.
Being poverty stricken
in the extreme, the fastest, most reliable route available leading to an
education in the medical arts was the U.S. military. That, and people tended
not to trust you with narcotics and sharp instruments if you'd done hard time
so, due to their limited earning potential and long term prospects, death and
prison had been immediately ruled out as a career paths.
But, fortunatly there
was a solution.
Billy had once read on a
protest sign that war was good business. The protest sign was being brandished
by somebody at Harvard and Harvard was an Ivy League school. It was the law of
averages that anybody at Harvard must be smart and as luck would have it there
just happened to be a war on and what’a ya know? America was recruiting! Billy
Chance had a brain storm, (or a brain cramp, depending on how you look at it). He
would go to war.
Back at City University
New York, when Chance started his journey into adulthood, career and a new life
according to the dictates of the American Dream by accidentally stumbling into
an athletic scholarship, Professor Carroll told him that over 80% of Classic
Western literature opened with the protagonist coming back from or embarking on
Little did Billy
realize, as he sat at his desk in the middle of the Burmese jungle, that when
he started this journey yesterday, nearlynforty years ago, that he would wind
up in this place, here, where he was now.
Maybe that’s because Professor
Carroll never mentioned that, in those old Greek stories, no matter where the
hero started from, he never wound up where he intended. Or, just as those wily
ancient Greeks intended, the journey was never real, only metaphorical.
Additionally, war would
turn out to be nothtng like in the John Wayne, WWII movies Billy was raised on.
That Chance would learn
the hard way.
unchecked capitalism will
always overcome democracy