Politically Erect by Paddy Kelly

No. words: 101600

Style: Mainstream, Humour - US History

Published: 7 / 2018

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Politically Erect

by Paddy Kelly


In 1971 there were only three ways out of the soul-crushing, abject poverty of the Jersey City shithole of a slum they called the Duncan Avenue Federal Housing Project; prison, the military or the likely end to both – death.

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Chance had a dream: to become a doctor.

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 med school and graduate.

Fortunately there was an answer to all his problems; sign up to be a Navy corpsman and volunteer for LBJ’s little party down in the South Pacific called the Viet Nam War.

Politically Erect is a novel dealing with the lighter side of mutilation, death, genocide, widespread political corruption, international conflict and potential global destruction. It’s a fiction based on actual experiences with fictionally informed political leaders who were artificially qualified to wage real war and features actual dead people.

You know, a comedy.

You can't fool all the people all of the time.
But if you do, it usually only lasts for four years.


Politically Erect

(Paddy Kelly)

Politically Erect



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 professionals.

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 Sea.

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 old. 


Only the good die young.






also for the thousands who, during the war in Viet Nam,

through incompetent leadership, paid the ultimate price.





his is 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 war.

CHRIST! That makes me sound old. I’m talkin’ like Archie Bunker old. (Look him up).

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 show.

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.

In reality it was a way to keep all the immigrant, unemployed and minority scum away from Da Decent Folk and out of the game altogether.

On the 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 adventure. 

With the 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.

Jersey City 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.

Not coincidentally 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.

The criminal charges? As they say in medical parlance when bacteria are detected in an infection, TNTC. Too Numerous To Count.

Apparently 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.

This last one may sound worse than it actually was as the school's mascot was, after all, a ram.

Go Rams!

At the week-long federal hearings in D.C., to their credit, the teachers vehemently denied ever helping students cheat on exams.

Even 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.

Chance 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. 

The Blacks, 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.

They may have had good reason.

Having been 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

Point is, 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.

The 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 a journey.

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