Runt Wolfe, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

“Runt Wolfe is the strangest man ever to play baseball,” Casey Stengel, himself a pretty strange man, once said.

This week pitchers and catchers reported to spring training and that means that Runt Wolfe, born on March 2, 1902, if he were alive, would be reporting. He started his career in 1923 as one of Dem Bums, the old Brooklyn Dodgers, after graduating from Princeton University. Then he was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he changed positions from playing first base and shortstop to catcher before being traded once again to the Cleveland Indians and eventually the Washington Senators. The move to Washington would change his life. He became a spy.
The first organized baseball team he played for was at Roseville Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark New Jersey. Since he was Jewish, he invented a new name for himself, Runt Wolfe. He dropped the name Runt Wolfe before he joined the big leagues. His real name was Morris “Moe” Berg.
His father worked hard for thirty years so that his children would have a college education. His brother Samuel became a medical doctor, his sister Ethel a schoolteacher, and Moe became a lawyer.
A true Renaissance man, he studied classical and Romance languages: Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian. He also studied German and even Sanskrit.
Berg’s entrance into the field of intelligence began when he, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other baseball greats formed an all-star team and traveled to Japan in the mid-1930s for exhibition games.
Proficient in Japanese, Berg talked his way into one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. He climbed to the rooftop alone and used a movie camera to film the capital city’s shipyards. Reportedly, the US used Berg’s footage to plan bombing raids over Tokyo in World War II.
Before his death in 1972, Berg said, “Maybe I’m not in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame like so many of my baseball buddies, but I’m happy I had the chance to play pro ball and am especially proud of my contributions to my country. Perhaps I could not hit like Babe Ruth, but I spoke more languages than he did.”

Big Lick

Big Lick, or Soring what is it?
A recent www.change.org request, to stop the use of stacks, on Tennessee Walking Horses made me think that many people haven’t a clue what stacks are and why they are used and maybe a little explanation is in order.
Tennessee Walking Horses have what is known as an exaggerated gait which became popular in the late 1940’s and 1950s. Trainers were able to have the horse achieve this exaggerated gait by being lite shod, but it still required extensive training.
However, as this natural gait caught judges’ fancy, along comes the “Big Lick” where trainers started using other practices to enhance movements such as weighted shoes, stacked pads, and weighted chains. It wasn’t long before the methods used became more aggressive—heavier weights and chains placed against the sole of the hoof to induce pain, and the application of caustic substances on the pastern or coronary band to induce pain when those areas were rubbed by the chain.
The practice of blocking is when they grind down the sole of the horse to expose sensitive tissues in the hoof and make the hoof shorter than the sole. Then they insert hard objects between the horseshoe and the pad, standing the horse on raised blocks then they tighten a metal band around the block.
In addition to the use of chains and blocks chemicals such as kerosene, diesel oil, mustard and other caustic substances are applied to the pastern and coronary band region of the horses front legs. As the device rubs against the skin, the chemicals exacerbate the pain.
These practices are called “soring” and the final result is a horse that snatches its forelimbs off the ground.

One way to tell if a horse has been sored, is the exaggerated head movement in a sored horse as opposed to a horse that has not been sored. It is clear when they are put side by side.

Tennessean newspaper Sportswriter Mr. David Climer, is quoted in the change.org request as saying, “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses is akin to “Dog Fighting” and “Cock Fighting”. For years, many of those involved in the Tennessee walking horse industry have yearned for its competitions to be taken seriously as a legitimate sport. Bloodsport, yes. Legitimate sport, no. Sorry, but I’m calling horse excrement. Soring is still in common practice, and everybody knows it.”
I agree.
Please take a moment and sign this petition.
Thank you.

The Loveable Loser

ASU Alternative Spring Break 139

 

Zippy Chippy, a bay gelding, boasts a pedigree that includes Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, Bold Ruler, Man o’ War, War Admiral and Round Table—some of the fastest horses of all time but none of all that special blood coursing through his veins could help him win a race. In one hundred starts, he won zero. That’s right, he never won a race. But, there is a moral to Zippy’s story as there usually is when it comes to horses.
Wait, he did beat a minor league baseball player in a forty yard dash in 2001 and he also beat a harness racer named Paddy’s Laddy. He beat out Paddy Laddy and his rig to win by a neck after he spotted the trotter a twenty-length lead.
After his win, Zippy’s owner said, “It feels good to win but it doesn’t count until we do it against thoroughbreds.
He’s mean, he kicks, he bites, but he has a home forever with me and my daughter.”
The last time Zippy Chippy raced against other thoroughbred horses it ended up as his 100th loss. It occurred on September 10, 2004, in the Northampton Fair at the Three County Fairgrounds. He went off at odds of 7-2, making him the second betting choice.

A host of fans were there that day to cheer him at the start and to take his picture, prompting his jockey to say, “It would be nice if people took photos at the end of the race too.” However, Zippy Chippy finished last.
Eventually, in 1995, his owners gave up on him and Felix Monserrate, who had boarded Zippy Chippy, purchased him in a trade for a 1988 Ford truck.
Zippy was finally banned from competing at many tracks. Why was he banned? Not because he was a perennial loser, but because sometimes he would refuse to leave the gate, or he would bite the other horses, or he would just pull up in mid-race.
But Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Home where he currently resides tells us that winners don’t always finish first. He has more visitors than any other horse at the retirement home.
Watching Zippy lose all his races became a very popular pastime. In fact, his profile got more reads on the Blood-Horse website than stories about Kentucky Derby winners did. He also made more money off the track than he ever did on it through merchandise sales and other endorsements.
And how many horses are voted one of the year’s “Most Intriguing Characters” by People Magazine? Only Zippy Chippy and he received that honor in the year 2000.
There is even a book written about him, which I have to admit, I haven’t read. It’s available on amazon.com. It’s called The Legend Of Zippy Chippy.
Zippy Chippy is the spokeshorse for racing horses. He went on tour in Kentucky in the summer of 2012 to bring attention to the safe retirement of racehorses.

Two hundred and fifty years before Zippy there was Stewball, or Squball, or Sku-ball. It is believed his name is bastardized from Skewbald, which is a horse with patches of white on a coat of any color, except black. A Piebald is a horse with patches of white on a coat of black.
The difference between Stewball and Zippy is that Stewball was a very successful racehorse on the track in England and Ireland as well as off the track.
His name instilled the words to an old song, a song sang by many people over the years but made popular in the 1960’s by the folk group, Peter, Paul, and Mary.
For your singing pleasure, here are the words.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

His bridle was silver, his mane it was gold.
And the worth of his saddle has never been told.

Oh the fairgrounds were crowded, and Stewball was there
But the betting was heavy on the bay and the mare.

And a-way up yonder, ahead of them all,
Came a-prancin’ and a-dancin’ my noble Stewball.

I bet on the gray mare, I bet on the bay
If I’d have bet on ol’ Stewball, I’d be a free man today.

Oh, the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.
I’m a poor boy in trouble, I’m a long way from home.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

Wheels

“My legs went one direction, my life another.” – Bob Wieland
Have you ever chugged beer out of a friend’s prosthetic leg? No? Well, I have and I can tell you it’s an experience like no other.
I recall that first day we saw our friend after he returned from Vietnam. He drove up in a brand-new Cadillac and parked in front of the Popcorn Bar, one of our favorite bars in college because of the owner, Fitzpatrick, known to us as Fitz. He provided free popcorn to his patrons which many evenings was our dinner. Fitzpatrick was a good-natured old Irishman who actually liked college students and we made him our honorary father. He would be part of our group of guys while we would sit at his bar drinking beer.
Our friend got out of his car with two canes, one attached to each forearm and he dragged his legs as he walked in the Popcorn to a raucous cheer and no one cheered louder than Fitz did, welcoming home one of his “boys.”
“Welcome home, Bob,” we all cheered. Bob Wieland, Wheels, was finally home.
Fitz had his bartender set a fresh bottle of Chivas Regal in front of Bob that was his for as long as he came in the bar. Fitz told Wheels, “As long as I’m alive, this bottle will never be empty,” and it never was.
To show his appreciation, Wheels removed one of his legs and had the bartender fill it with Old Style beer and he passed it around to all his friends to share. The beer was on Fitz that night too.
No one in our group of friends was free from friendly ridicule and it was no different for Bob upon his return. We called him Wheels because most of the time he would get around in a wheelchair, but today he’s called “Mr. Inspiration.” His real name is Bob Wieland. You can google him to find out more about this amazing man, www.bobwieland.net. He has accomplished more than most people ever will.
When I first knew him he was in high demand. He was a very good baseball player and the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team was interested in having him join their farm system but so was Uncle Sam and Uncle Sam won out, sending him to Vietnam where a member of his unit stepped on a mine. Wheels, a medic, rushed to give first aid but he too stepped on a buried mortar round, designed to destroy tanks. It severely damaged his legs; they had to be amputated above the knee.
Wheels is best known for his walk across America on his arms. In 1986, he completed a 3000-mile walk across America on his arms to pay tribute to his fallen comrade. That journey took him 3 years, 8 months and 6 days. He had wooden blocks with a strap going across the back to put on his hands and he wore leather pants. I forget how many blocks and leather pants he wore out on that journey, but it was a lot.
How he accomplished this feat in itself is quite a feat. He started with some friends in California who would jog along with him and drive his car. But eventually, they tired out and could no longer stay with him. By the time he reached Nevada, he was on his own.
He would drive his car to the point he wanted to get to by the end of a particular day. Here he would drop off his wheelchair. Then he would drive back to his starting point and begin his journey. When he arrived at where he had left his wheelchair, he would get in and roll it back to his car and then drive back to where he had stopped walking that day. Amazing.
Since that time, he has traveled across America using his arm-pedaled bicycle.
A few years ago, a mutual friend of ours who was also living in Atlanta at the time, told me “Wheels” was going to be in town. He was scheduled to give a motivational speech to local high school football teams at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta Georgia. He wanted to know if I wanted to join him in surprising Wheels.
“Hell yeah,” I said.
Well, when Wheels came out to speak, his entrance was like none I had seen before, He came running into the auditorium from the back, on his hands and literally jumped on the stage.
His speech was pretty inspiring but he knew he had to do something special to really make an impression on a group of testosterone laden teenage boys.
He put a set of weights and a weight bench on the stage and put out a challenge to all the young men in the audience to come up and do as many bench presses as they could and when they finished he would match them and do one more rep than they did. You see, Wheels had just set a world record in the bench press but was disqualified because he didn’t keep his feet planted on the floor. It didn’t matter that his feet were lying in some rice paddy in Vietnam.
Bob did beat everyone who took his challenge and there were a lot of conversations going on by the audience as they left the auditorium that day.
We visited with Wheels for awhile after his speech, talking about Fitz and the guys, before he had to leave for another engagement in another city.
What an honor it is for me to be one of the few guys to know such a great American and get to drink out of his prosthetic leg so many years before.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside vs. Vehicle vs. Bitches Ain’t Shit But Hoes And Tricks

Baby, It’s Cold Outside vs. Vehicle vs. Bitches Ain’t Shit But Hoes And Tricks
This past year, a young couple from Minnesota, Josiah Lemanski and Lydia Liza, said the iconic song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, promoted date rape. I really don’t think the term “date rape” was even in the American vocabulary in 1944. Frank Loesser and his wife, singer Lynn Garland, performed this song at cocktail parties at friends houses at the time.
“This song is a point-counterpoint between a man and a woman, each with very clear goals: she wants to go home, he wants her to stay. But does she really want to go home? Why does she refer to the strength of her drink? Is she using it as an excuse because she really does want to stay, because it IS cold outside?
According to Songfacts, this song is generally heard as whimsical fun, but the guy’s persistence is a little troubling to some. When she asks, “What’s in this drink?” it makes you wonder if he’s trying to get her drunk – or worse. Oh no!
To keep it from sounding predatory, the female voice in the song is usually a strong one, making it clear that it is her decision, seeing as she is a strong woman. Whatever that decision is we don’t know, do we?
In the end, it’s not clear what happens, as they join together to sing the chorus. So, whatever her final decision was we don’t know and Frank Loesser ain’t talking, he’s dead.
So, Lemanski and Liza did a reinterpretation of this song in 2016 with the lyrics altered to make the storyline more consensual so they can sleep better at night. Instead of pressing her to stay, the guy replies with lines like “Hoping you get home safe” and “Text me at your earliest convenience.” Ain’t that nice? If she left, I hope she didn’t freeze to death. Wouldn’t a gentleman offer to take her home?
So, if you millennials are taking umbrage to songs written in the 1940’s, I can’t imagine what’s going to happen when your fragile brains work their way into the ’60’s and ’70’s. The words to the songs my generation wrote will curl your toes.
Years ago, Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, commented on the songs his generation listened to now that they were older and compared them to the ones of the ’60’s generation and what we would be listening to when we reached old age. In particular, he said we would reminisce about Dancing In The Street, instead of songs like, say Red Sails In The Sunset, or even Baby It’s Cold Outside. He didn’t even touch on the controversial songs of the ’60’s and ’70’s, like the 1970 hit, Vehicle, one of my favorite songs, performed by the Ides of March.
The lyrics are both a love story and a tale of an unsavory guy who’s up to no good, according to Jim Peterik, who wrote the song. He said, “To me, the dichotomy is kind of cool. To me, the first line is the most important of all. The original line had nothing going for it. It had no scansion, it had no rhythm to it. When I came across, ‘I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car…”
Well, why don’t you be the judge? Here are some of the lyrics. It was every young lecher’s favorite song, especially if you took artistic license and interpreted the lyrics the way you wanted to which, evidently, the millennials like to do.
I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan won’t you jump inside my car. I got pictures, I got candy and I can take you to see the stars. I’m your baby I’ll take you wherever you want to go. I want you, I need you, I got to have you, child.
Allow me to rewrite these lyrics so they are not so offensive. Here goes.
I’m the friendly Uber driver in the black sedan won’t you allow me to open the door so you can get inside my car. I got a safe place, I got candy and I can take you to see the stars. I’m your Uber driver I’ll take you wherever you want to go. I want you to enjoy your ride, I need you to enjoy your ride so I can keep my job. I got to have a good review, child.
Talk about lacking scansion, but, then again, I’m not the one offended by the original version of this song.
Now, to me, it’s possible the original lyrics may be a bit predatory and I can see where some millennial may feel a need to rewrite them so they aren’t so offensive but when they finish with Vehicle, they may want to take on the Hip Hop industry.
And speaking of curling your toes. The Hip Hop music’s conscious condescension to women is clearly evident in that all time favorite hit of the National Organization of Women and other women on the left, Bitches Ain’t Shit But Hoes And Tricks, by Dr. Dre, that should really set you off. Though Dr. Dre doesn’t use the dreaded “P” word in this particular melody, some of Hip Hop songs of love do and the “P” word is probably the least offensive of them all.
Can you imagine this? Maybe Donald Trump has been listening to too much Hip Hop and it has skewered his moral compass.
How do these intellectual elites expect the sane proletariat to take them seriously when they think a song like Baby It’s Cold Outside is promoting date rape and they don’t take umbrage to lyrics in songs like Vehicle, and, heaven forbid, America’s all-time leading favorite, Bitches Ain’t Shit But Hoes And Tricks?
This is just more nonsensical rhetoric we have had to endure from the far left for the past fifty years. It’s no wonder many of us applaud the arrival of Donald Trump. We will welcome anyone who can bring some sanity back to this world.

Don’t Shoot, I’m Short

5000

Don’t Shoot I’m Short

“Don’t judge me unless you have been tested as I have.”

When I was in basic training going to Vietnam was on my mind daily. I recall sitting down with a drill sergeant who had recently returned from a tour in Southeast Asia. I asked him as many questions as he could stand and he said, “When I was young I watched my life unfold, I thought I could do anything, be anything, but now I know I am nothing and will never be able to be anything. I’ll be living with this war for the rest of my life. In college, I thought the party would never end. But this war taught me differently. Many of my friends are in the cold hard ground. Countless times I heard people say that “war is hell,” But I didn’t know what hell really was until I went to Vietnam and if I was given a choice of returning or going to hell, I would gladly go to hell.”

It was February 14, 1968, Valentine’s Day, about one month before the egregious My Lai massacre. Guys were writing home to their girlfriends telling them they loved them and missed them. I didn’t have a girl so I was just sitting around enjoying the beautiful day. One month earlier, we experienced the best the North Vietnamese could throw at us, the TET Offensive and we kicked their ass, killing millions of the little gooks as they swarmed like locust through the rice paddies and villages of South Vietnam and down into Saigon before we sent ‘em home packing.
We were on the Dong Nai River, outside Bien Hoa, about 30 km northeast of Saigon. The sun was shining and it was a pleasant day. I was short, under five days, and we just received a couple of FNG’s, fucking new guys, as replacements in our unit and our company commander, Captain Smedley, was bringing them up to snuff and letting them know what to expect.
When you first arrive in a new country you are aware of the sights, smells and, sounds of a different culture. You are lost and you are nervous, aw hell, you are scared.
“Men, Smedley began,”memories can’t be bought. You have to live them and I can damn sure guarantee you are going to be living them the next 365 days. I don’t want you to be smug about your mortality until you have had it tested, do you hear me? This war you boys are playing in is like no war before it. It’s a war without front lines. We fight the enemy in their homes, in the jungle, and in the villages, A lot of these villagers harbor guerrilla fighters, the VC, Viet Cong. If you can’t tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, you have to weed it out. If you can’t, shoot ‘em all and let God sort it out, otherwise, you ain’t making it home to that sweet little girlfriend of yours. Unless you are willing to be as unreasonable and as brutal as them, do not engage them because they will win. At night the Gooks plant mines and booby traps and during the day they plant rice. There are no innocents in this war. Only, as they say, the quick and the dead. Don’t be the dead.
These people eat different foods and smell different,” he continued. “If you want to kill them, you have to smell like them, or, like a wild animal, they will smell you and kill you. So, send your Old Spice home for your girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He’ll thank you and you may just live to see another day, and that is what it’s all about.”
“This sounds like it’s going to be fun, Captain,” a turtle, one of the new guys in the back yelled out.
“You know it will. Get ready for tomorrow as we are going to search and destroy! We will be out the door by 0530 hours.”
The next morning the bird was on time and soon we were loaded and on our way. As we banked away from our firebase, we could feel the ground drop below us and then in no time at all it rose back up and smacked us. The landing zone was about three clicks from the village, My Khe, we were going to engage. The wind from the blades of the Huey bent the tall elephant grass, exposing our LZ. Off to the left of the LZ, we noticed some civilians walking along the road about 15 meters away. We knew the area we landed in was filled with VC, even if we couldn’t see them, we could feel them. They were all around us, most likely hiding in tunnels underground.
We confronted the civilians and checked their ID’s and then everything opened up. All hell broke loose as they hit us with everything they had, AK-47’s and RPG’s, rocket-propelled grenades. We found ourselves in a real cluster fuck. There was no cover to be taken, only grass. Those who were wounded or killed were hit within the first ten minutes of the ambush when we got out of the bird. All we could hear were people screaming “medic” and there was nothing we could do because the medic was behind us. He was dead. He got shot right away as we dropped from the bird.
We dropped and returned fire. Then the Cobras came in and fired a couple rockets on the enemy’s position, before opening up with M-60 machine gun fire and ’79’s. It wasn’t long before ol’ Smokey came around. Smokey’s a chopper used to cover withdrawal with thick white smoke. He made four passes, and then the gunships came by again, dropping CS, tear gas, on the enemy’s position.
We dropped back a couple of clicks and took cover behind a berm.We didn’t have gas masks with us so we had to dip a towel in water to keep from ingesting the gas. It didn’t matter, we ended up coughing and choking before the smoke cleared anyway.
When the bird returned we loaded up our wounded and dead and took a head count. We had lost half of our men and we were mad as hell as we approached My Khe Village.
To those fighting this war, there was only one meaningful reality and that was life and death. Everything else didn’t mean a thing.
We secured the village and began our mission to search and destroy and it wasn’t long before we were finding all kinds of VC shit under the hooches in the village. We found rice and various foodstuff, along with a cache of AK 47’s, RPG’s, and other weapons. Now all the My Khe villagers were suspect.
Vietnam taught us that there is no simple road between dark and light. Everything was gray.
As we gathered up the weapons, a woman approached us from the village. She was wearing a simple black ao dai, a cotton dress, and non lai, a conical straw hat. She smiled, exposing her teeth, blackened from years of chewing on betel leaves.
“Chan lai, halt,” Cpl. Smethers yelled.
She kept coming and smiling and nodding her head up and down.
“Chan lai, chan lai” Smethers repeated, continuing to step back.
“She knows what you are saying, Smethers,” Sergeant Mason said, firing a quick burst of four shots in the air.
She kept smiling and walking and nodding her head.
The villagers were caught in the middle, between the VC and us. If they turned in the Viet Cong, they would return and burn their village and, more than likely, kill them all. If they didn’t talk to us, they were considered collaborators with the enemy and we would burn their village and maybe kill them all as well. They were considered collateral damage in this war. We didn’t fight for terrain to control it, we just fought to kill the enemy.
Mason yelled “Chan lai,” once again, but she kept coming, so he stepped forward and grabbed the woman’s upper arm tightly and crushed his hip against her pubic bone and blocked her free arm with his elbow. He cupped her small breast and squeezed. It was painful and she cried out, dropping the grenade concealed under her left armpit.
Mason picked it up and threw it into her hooch. It exploded, throwing rice bowls and cooking pots and various pieces of clothing out the front door.
The woman turned and ran. Mason lifted his M16 and fired, hitting her three times in the back.
“VC,” Mason yelled. “Move ‘em out and then burn this shit hole down!”
Later we sat quietly in the tall elephant grass in our LZ, sweating and waiting for the bird to come and pick us up. Nobody spoke as we watched the smoke from the former village of My Khe, lazily drift into the sky. We found seventy-five AK-47’s stashed away along with twelve RPG’s and numerous handguns. We were able to add a little to our colonel’s body count, with six enemy KIA’s, killed in action, including the woman with the hand grenade, helping him in his quest to get his first star. We lost five of our friends and had six seriously wounded. Once again, the brass was the only winner here.
Our entire squad felt like we were lost; like there was no good in us. What we did makes life difficult to bear and as my drill sergeant told me all those many months before, “I’ll be living with this war for the rest of my life.”
Tomorrow, four days and a wake-up. I hope I make it.

Vietnam War Statistics:

“Bomb them back to the stone age.” — U.S. General Curtis LeMay during the Vietnam War

The amount of ammunition fired per soldier was 26 times greater in Vietnam than during World War II. By the end of the conflict, America had unleashed the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs on Vietnam.
US aircraft carried out bombing campaigns in South and North Vietnam that over time exceeded the tonnage dropped by all nations in all theaters in World War II. By 1968, the United States had more than 500,000 troops in South Vietnam fighting a variety of wars in different regions.
The Vietnam War was like no war before it. It was a war without front lines. We fought the enemy in their homeland, in the jungle. Many villages, willingly or under duress, harbored guerrilla fighters, the Viet Cong, or VC. To the GIs, civilians were often indistinguishable from guerrillas and thought to be in league with them. In a guerrilla war like Vietnam, the distinction between warrior and civilian was often blurred.
And then there was the My Lai massacre.

And to show you what our military had to endure from our government on the home front, after 1965, one top official with no apparent sense of paradox described what the United States undertook as an “all-out limited war” in Vietnam.

As Tom Clancy put it; “What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else”

Texas Is Cattle Country

 

From the second book in the Esben Hjerstedt western trilogy.

A flat piece of rawhide covered the soles of his feet, protecting them from sharp stones and cactus. He had a narrow band of tanned doeskin that kept his long blond hair from falling into his face. The only other clothing he wore was a G-string. They stole everything of his they could find down to his boots and last pair of pants.
He reached in his rawhide bag and pulled out what remained of the corn and dried meat he had been carrying the past few days. He drank some water from a bottle made from the large intestine of a horse. The only weapon he had was a knife that he had secured in his G-string. He had been walking for days.
Nothing bothered him. When he was in dangerous situations he had nerves of steel which were manifested in the many battles he had participated in while scouting for General Crook and the U.S. Army.
He noted a volume of dust moving at a slow rate in the distance; it wasn’t much and he figured it must be a wagon drawn by two mules. Definitely not ox-drawn. Oxen do not lift their feet as high as horses and mules and they create more dust.
He removed his glass and put it to his eye. He could see two men sitting on the box of the wagon. By the time the shot reached his ears, the driver had crumpled and fallen forward. His companion reached out to catch him when an arrow struck him in the shoulder and he was knocked to the ground and slipped softly beneath the left rear wheel of the wagon. The mules came to a stop.
Soon the wagon was surrounded by twenty warriors, Apaches, faces painted, led by none other than Geronimo.
The Apaches circled the motionless wagon, whooping and firing arrows into the sides of the wagon and the slumped over body of the driver.
Two warriors dismounted and started to unhitch the mules when one of the mules bolted. They shot the remaining mule and began to skin it.
The rest of the warriors surrounded the injured man who was beneath the wheel of the wagon. They dragged him out and two warriors held the wounded man to the ground and another cut the soles of his feet off and made him walk around the wagon for sport before one of the warriors grabbed the front of his scalp and cut it off and shot him. The warrior held the scalp up in the air and started whooping and dancing around while the remaining members of the war party began to rummage through the goods in the back of the wagon before setting it on fire.
He cut off a piece of the dry meat and slowly chewed it while he watched the carnage unfold below him before he stood.
“I guess I’ll see if I can catch that mule.”

Horse Racing: No Transparency, No Oversight

 

Yesterday, January 29th, 2017, marked the tenth anniversary of the death of the great racehorse, Barbaro which, once again, brought to light, the inhumane treatment of thoroughbred horses by the racing industry.
This industry has a long dark history that is really sad. From Barbaro shattering his leg at the start of the Preakness to the planned destruction of Alydar by his owner and his attorney to collect insurance money, to Eight Belles, a filly that had compound fractures in both front legs after running second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby – and there are numerous others.
According to the Equine Injury Database in 2008, two Thoroughbred racehorses die every day in North America, and this is just the ones that are reported. It is not required to report when you euthanize one of your racehorses.
There are numerous ways the industry can cut down on the number of horses put down but they don’t implement any of them.
Theories abound as to why there are so many injuries to these horses, the main one being they race these young horses at two years old before they are fully developed, but breeding practices, greed, both on the owner’s part and that of the veterinarians, wanting to keep the horse alive at any cost, and those damn break over shoes they put on the horses to keep the front feet from sliding when they hit the track surface so the feet “break over” faster, are major causes as well. This industry needs some oversight, that’s for sure.
Horse lovers can only hope it’s sooner than later.

 

 

Max Fly In Buenos Aires, Argentina

The phone rang.
“Rocco’s Pub.” It was Bubba, Rocco’s three hundred pound bouncer
“Hey, Bubba, is the Rocco Man there?”
“Just a moment. Rocco, it’s the Cheese Head. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, give me a moment. I’ll get to my office. Hang up the phone after I pick up.”
I could hear laughter and chatter in the background and then Rocco was on the line.
“Okay, I got it, Bubba, thanks.”
I heard the extension click as Bubba hung it up.
“Cheese Head, you still there?”
“Still here, whatcha got?”
“The connection’s good, like you are on the south side or something. Okay, I got this from Harry last night. The magazine rented you an apartment. It’s the one they told you about. The first-month rent has been paid and the key is where you would expect to find it. Inside you’ll find more detailed instructions.They want you to write an article on the Buenos Aires Cowboy Fair, La Feria De Mataderos. It’s a weekly fair with folk dancing, handicrafts, and food, as well as gaucho demonstrations.”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“Do they do the polka down there?”
“Don’t think so. At least I haven’t seen it yet, but there are a bunch of Krauts walking around. Anything else?”
“That’s it.”
“Thanks, Rocco, I’ll be in touch.”
It was a studio apartment in the Puerto Madero district where rusting ships and decaying warehouses littered the area. I walked in and cleared off space on a bookshelf and set down my bottle of brandy. Now I was moved in. I found my instructions. They were from my handler.
He said to go to La Capilla, a boliches, a nightclub, in downtown Buenas Aires. It had been dry-cleaned and I would meet a deep cover agent, an agent of influence, a raven who had been working Buenas Aires the past three years. She had been briefed and was waiting for contact with me. She was in her late 30’s, about 5’ 4” and 110 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Her codename was Snake. She knew my code name and had more information about the Nazis and what happened in Poltava, Ukraine.
When she walked in the La Capilla it was already after midnight and the bar was still crowded. She was wearing jeans that hugged her like they meant it and a crimson T-shirt stretched tight across her breasts. She had on an open leather jacket, and tennis shoes and wore a holstered and belted six-shooter, a .357. She walked to the bar, turned, and stood with her elbows on the counter and her ankles crossed. Her eyes were as cold as hung beef and her mouth pitched at an angle that made me squirm in my seat as if I had a diaper rash. She promised trouble. She was my contact and damn if I didn’t know her. Medusa, still tough as nails.
She ordered a drink and took a sip and then looked around. Our eyes locked on each other as I walked toward the bar. Her eyes lifted from mine. They were blank, clouded, lost somewhere in the long roll of her life.
“Hi, I’m a Cheese Head from America, the state of Wisconsin. Names Max, may I buy you a drink?”
“Sure, you can call me snake, I’m from Georgia.”
After the drinks arrived, she thanked me.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
“I see you are still walking on the green side instead of lying under the brown side, Max,” Medusa said.
“I am. Guess I’ve been lucky. How long have you been in this racket?”
“A long time.”
“I was told you would have some information for me?”
She laid an index finger against my lips. “Shhh, quiet my love. Not here. If you want to hear my story, you must have patience. Are you hungry, Cheese Head? The fresh pasta, calamari, and Patagonian wines are particularly good, as are the desserts. Perhaps you could buy me dinner after we finish our drinks?”
“I’m always up for a late night snack,” I replied.
“I know you are,” she replied with a smile. “I see you are back to writing once again. The vaqueros down here are an interesting breed. Very tough and manly. I have enjoyed myself while here.”
“I can only imagine.”
“Yes, please, imagine. It gets el toro raging in you, Cheese Head. I like you best when el toro is loose and running free in your mind,” she smiled.
I looked around and noticed a fat man in the far corner of the bar, eating a sandwich and drinking a beer. Later he was still sitting there. His sandwich was gone but his beer was untouched. He was looking in our direction.
“You notice that fat man in the far corner?”
“Yes, he’s been watching me for awhile now. He hasn’t touched his beer.”
I got up and gestured for Medusa to get up.
“Let’s go over there,” I said. “A little more privacy.”
She picked up her purse and I led her around the corner to a booth in the back.
I was facing to the front of the bar so I could watch the movement of the fat man with the sandwich and beer. He didn’t appear.
“Look,” I said turning back to face her. “The man who has been following you may have killed one of my assets, Selena, so you have to be careful. I am trying to be patient but I need you to answer my questions about Poltava.”
“Everyone wants to eat but only a few are willing to hunt, Max.”
I knew what she meant. Medusa wasn’t afraid to hunt and she was damn good at it.
She reached into her bag and removed a brown manilla envelope and began to unwrap the string holding the flap closed. She removed a sheath of papers about one inch thick. The cover sheet was marked, “STRENG GEHIEM” in bold red letters.
“What’s that mean?”
“Top Secret.”
“Is the whole report in German? I can’t read German.”
“That’s okay. That’s why you have me.”
I looked at her smiling face.
“I thought I have you for other reasons.”
“That too,” she replied with a coy smile. “This report has been very difficult to get. Nobody in law enforcement gives anything away for free, pissing matches over pride and turf too often leaving everyone with nothing to show for it except wet shoes,” Medusa said with a frown. 
“I had to be very creative,” she smiled that knowing smile.
I nodded my head acknowledging her hidden meaning.
“Let’s finish our drinks and go to my apartment. I have a bottle and you can translate what you have there.”
“I thought you would never ask.”

It took us about five minutes to walk to my new apartment. We were pretty sure the man with the sandwich and beer didn’t see us sneak out but we retraced our steps, just in case.
We didn’t see any sign of him.
I opened the door and ushered Medusa in.
I poured a hook of brandy in each of our glasses and sat down next to Medusa on the well-worn couch. She took a solid drink and reached into her bag and took out her report and began to read.
“Have you heard of Konstantin Ivanenko?”
“No, I haven’t. Who is he?”
“A Russian ufologist.
“Ufologist?”
“Someone who studies UFOs. Ivanenko was an expert, Max.”
“An expert on UFO’s? Is that like an expert on looney tunes?”
“Before you cast aspersions, Max, listen to this report.
According to Ivanenko, the Nazis established a German base in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains in Antarctica. It was discovered in 1938 by German Captain Alfred Ritscher. The area was renamed Neuschwabenland, New Swabia and was known only as Station 211. The Richter expedition’s scientists used their Dornier seaplanes to explore the area and discovered ice-free lakes that were heated by underground volcanic fissures and they were able to land on them. It is believed that the expedition was to scout out a secret base of operations. and the facility is known only as Base 211.
Now, if you had been a Wehrmacht soldier at the railroad station in Poltava, the Ukraine, during the summer of 1942, you may have seen a very strange-looking military unit. The unit consisted of women, all of them blond and blue-eyed, between the ages of 17 and 24, tall and slender, with sensational figures.
“My favorite kind.”
“Every kind is your favorite kind, Max. Each woman wore sky-blue uniforms and Italian-style garrison caps with the insignia of the SS. You might have thought the SS had recruited a platoon of high-class call girls, but the truth was far stranger than that. You would have been looking at Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s latest brainstorm The Antarctic Settlement Women or ASF. The secret Fatherland of the new 1000 year Reich.
Ten thousand of the racially most pure Ukrainians were transported in 1942 by Martin Bormann to the German Antarctic Base 211, in the proportion of four Ukrainian women to one German man.
If true, this would mean that Himmler transferred 2,500 Waffen-SS soldiers, who had proven themselves in combat on the Russian front, to Station 211 in Antarctica. This may be the source of the myth of the Last SS Battalion.”
“Are you trying to tell me that Nazi’s are living under ice in Antarctica?”
“I’m trying to tell you it’s possible and that it’s possible that life actually existed there long before the Nazi’s got there. There is strong evidence that Antarctica was charted long ago by unknown people when temperatures were much warmer.
In 1947, Admiral Richard Byrd went to Antarctica on Operation Highjump. They said the reason for the operation was to test military hardware under extreme conditions, the suggestion that it was a combat operation aimed at dislodging Nazi troops from their secret Valhalla has always floated in the air.
But that wasn’t all: Vice-Admiral Byrd had apparently stumbled into a magnetic anomaly that messed up his navigational equipment and his radio. He radioed back reports of seeing a completely different, verdant landscape under his aircraft.
It is believed the observatory contains vast crystals which put forth a certain kind of magnetism, which is used as a guidance system so that large spaceships could land at that location.”
“Where did you get this information?”
She was smiling in the mirror.
“South America, Buenas Aires, in particular, is crawling with ex-Nazis, including Richard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny, Hilter’s former bodyguard. These pigs still like young women and have a difficult time keeping from bragging. Más loco que una cabra con pollitos”, they are crazier than a goat with chicks. It isn’t hard getting information out of them.”
I stared at her.
She smiled, “It’s a job, Max, and I’m damn good at it. “Echar un polvo, I get paid to fuck,” she smiled again.
“What do you think? Would you like to visit Antarctica?”
“I don’t think so, but thanks for asking.”
“Ok, well, I’m tired.”
“If you would like to make an old timer happy one more time, I sure would like you to spend the night with me.”
“ Max, you are more a survivor than an expert when it comes to women. I planned on staying.”
I woke to an empty bed.
I started some coffee and filled a cup. I walked to the little refrigerator and pulled out a carton of milk and added a couple of fingers to the steaming hot liquid and sat down on the couch, and thought about the evening before. If Medusa stayed on my calendar, I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the week. She sure had some unusual information on the Nazis living in Antarctica and I was trying to see how this all tied into the tragedy that happened on November 22, 1963.
There was a soft rap on the door. I picked up my revolver and went to see who was there.
It was Medusa. I let her in.
“I just got word from your handler. Your shadow has been thrown in jail.”
“What? When?”
“Last night. We have to go.”
There was blood on her chin and some on her hands and a spattering of blood on her shirt.
“What happened to you?”
“That fat man from last night? He followed us. I had to take executive action.”
“He’s dead?”
“What do you think?”
I felt like the glue that was holding the world together, was finally letting go.

Super Warriors: Drugged Up GI’s

HOME:

I felt the liquid creep through my veins and the tension and fear leave my body. I was mellow.
I was trying to escape all the ears in the walls. Every night it was the ears, always the ears.
Yesterday silence was the only friend I had. I thought the bottom was the only place I’d been but I wasn’t there yet. No matter how hard I tried I was always behind.
Tommy got into a fist fight. He didn’t fare well. His right ear was almost severed and he re-broke his nose and dislocated his ring finger. I didn’t know if we would be able to remove his wedding band without cutting it off. I fixed him up the best I could using my wife’s sewing kit to sew on what was left of his ear.
Thanks, Doc,” he whispered.
That night I watched the needle take another man and I silently cried once again.

Chinese Premier Chou En-lai told the president of Egypt in 1965: “Some American troops are trying opium, and we are helping them. We are planting the best kinds of opium especially for American soldiers in Vietnam…Do you remember when the West imposed opium on us? They fought the war with opium. We are going to fight them with their own weapons.

VIETNAM:
I fell in love with a Saigon butterfly of the night, a whore named Kim Lien and she kept my plumbing clean. She looked like a bottle of cheap wine and worked on Tu Do Street and swore in English like a sailor. But she was mine and I was hers. We had a need and we filled it for each other.
She told me she was a hired wife for a CIA agent in Saigon. “He had a lot of money, money to burn. The CIA was accountable to no one in the United States government. Congress did not have a clue what money they had or how they spent it. That the CIA was its own government with its own set of rules. He didn’t care what happened to his money. He said he could always get more. The mother fucker kicked me out because I could not cook his stew properly. I was not a good housewife, he said.”
She told me she started working in tea houses when she was 10 and now she only worked for her father on his Flower Boat, a sampan, and for her brothers who pimped her out on dry land.
She informed me she was 19 but I don’t think she was a day over 16.
That night I held her hand for the first time in the bottom of her father’s sampan. I kissed her for the first time five minutes later and it was then that I gave her father 300 piasters so we could spend three hours together. I gave him another 100 piasters for some opium. We smoked it before she cleaned my pipes.
I told her I loved her in front of a bar on Tu Do Street with her brother standing on a nearby corner.
I proposed to her in front of the Meyerkord hotel, ranked #11 by the GIs, #10 being the worst and #11 being beyond the call of duty.
We were wed by a Buddhist monk on her father’s Flower Boat.
We spent our romantic honeymoon in a hooch I rented for 1200 piasters a month.
I delivered our first child in that hooch two months later. A boy. He didn’t look anything like me.
Lien told me, “In my village, they call our son bui doi (“dirt of life”). I am shamed.”
I held her close to my chest as she sobbed. We shared a joint and made love.
“Don’t worry, Lien everything is going to be all right. Let’s live life like there is no tomorrow because for us, there may not be. Let’s make love all afternoon. I don’t have to be back until this evening.” We shared some opium.
HOME:
I wept at night as I thought of her and my son and what fate had in store for them. I feared my bui doi boy more likely than not, was forced into prostitution along with his mother.
I still meet her in our secret meeting place and our small son joins us. In my mind, miracles can happen. I need miracles.

VIETNAM:
It was 1969, Saigon, South Viet Nam and it was raining, again. It rained every day since we got in country.
“Name’s Pappy Smith,” he said, holding a half-empty bottle of Tiger beer which he told us tasted better than the Viet Cong Bia Hoi.
He had skin like leather and welcomed us to Viet Nam, “You are in for a helluva fight. The average age of a ground pounder over here is 19 years old. The average age of a ground pounder when he is sent home in a body bag is 19 years old. I’m 35 and I have spent three tours in Nam and three years in Korea when I was younger than you are today. I went along with General MacArthur, chasing those fuckin’ slope heads right to the Yalu River before Mr. Truman and the rest of those fuckheads in Washington stopped us. If they woulda’ let us finish business back then, you boys wouldn’t be here today.”
He stopped his orientation long enough to finish off the rest of his Tiger beer.
“You may not believe this, but the sun does shine here once in a while. You boys just missed all the fun, the big Tet Offensive. Of course, it was a huge surprise to the folks back home, and the reporters claimed it was a victory for the NVA even though we won. We set the NVA back quite a bit killing millions of the little Gooks. But you would never know it reading the Washington Post and the rest of the American press. Obviously, to our newspapers, black is white.
“You are all fresh meat, our new Cherry Boys, and I’m your caped superhero and you always trust your caped superheroes, not one of them butter bars back there,” he said jabbing his thumb over his shoulder referring to the gold bars on the shoulders of the new second lieutenants that just arrived and were being processed in behind us.
“I’m telling you up front even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. So always be doing something positive. Be alert it could mean your life and more importantly, mine.”
We knew now when he was around we never sat down.
“Okay, shitheads, let’s saddle up I’m going to show you how to ride the skids. You Cherries will sit in the middle and watch this time. After that, I don’t give a fuck where you sit. Just don’t sit in front of them Door Gunners.”
“Hey you,” Pappy said, pointing in my direction.
I turned around and looked at him and replied, “What, Sarge?”
“You our medic?”
“Yep,” I replied.
He looked at me a bit and finally said, “I don’t know what they told you in doc school back in the states, but here is the real story. You and me go out on the first unsecured insert and stay out and return with the last pickup. You and me are on call 24/7, 365 days a year until you either rotate out or you buy the six-by-three farm. I do it because I get the big bucks, you do it because you are the most important man here. We all need you. Now, di di mau, haul ass, and get your shit together.”
HOME:
I dreamed of Lien and our son again and woke up crying.
My wife asked me if I was okay. I wanted to tell her “Fuck no. What do you think? I’m fucking nuts. I’ll never be okay. But I told her, “Yes, everything is fine. I just had a spell.”
My wife takes me in her arms and rocks me. She’s a good woman and she loves me and I love her too. She thinks it’s PTSD that makes me cry. I don’t tell her. She wouldn’t understand.
“When do you see your grief counselor again?”
“Tuesday.”
“Do you think it is helping?”
“I think so,” I lied.
“That’s good. Do you want to go with me to pick the kids up from school?”
“I looked at her for a moment and said, “No, I think I’ll go see what Tommy is up to.”
“Please don’t do drugs again, please. The kids haven’t seen you straight in over a week. They are scared and so am I. Please, please don’t go.”
I grabbed her and pulled her close. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t lie to her, not anymore. I felt the warmth of her tears soaking my chest. I knew I was going to shoot up with Tommy. “I love you,” I said.
I felt like a shit when I left.
VIETNAM:
Our squad consisted of Bizo, Bug, Cotton Top, Dizzy, Doo Rag, me and Pappy Smith. We didn’t know each other’s real names and never did. To all of them, I was just Doc.
We were quiet as we contemplated what we were about to do and talked in hushed tones about our families and loved ones, and what we were going to do after our tour was over.
We packed our rucks, drew fresh ammo, cleaned our weapons and filled our Canteens and tied them on the back. For me, being the medic, I made sure my Aid Bag was packed and that I had enough dressings and meds for the next 10 days. Everyone was nervous about what was about to happen.
I passed out twelve Dexedrine to each man. We would be alert!
Then Pappy yelled, “Saddle Up and climb the hill to the pad the birds are on the way.”
And then we could hear them, that distinctive sound of the Huey’s as they approached the firebase; the chopping sound of their blades getting louder and louder the closer they got. It was at that moment as they were about to descend to pick us up that the adrenaline started to kick in. We got up, crouched over, and ran with our hundred pound rucks, weapons, and ammo toward the birds. We turned around as we got there and jumped on board. We sat with our legs hanging out of the bird; we were no longer Cherry Boys. We talked about the times we went out on recon and how we forced the “Cherries” to sit in the middle.
Once the Huey’s arrived and we were situated the bird ascended and the firebase receded as we banked and headed for our LZ.
As we approached the LZ we could see all the activity around it, the smoke and artillery fire and then the final dusting by the Cobra gunships flying down below us.
Then it was our turn, the 1st Bird, we made our way down. The Crew Chief and the Door Gunner unleashed their weapons spewing rounds on the LZ and perimeter.
We rode the skids in so we could get off faster and then we made our way to the perimeter to watch and wait until the last bird dropped its load.

HOME:
The needle goes in and I can feel it relieving the pain. I smile and look over at Tommy. Is he dead? I laugh. I don’t know why I laugh because I am sad.
I start to shake and my mind goes back to Nam. Then I silently cry.

VIETNAM:
While in Nam, Dizzy would shoot up and get high and we would ask him, “How’s the war going, Dizzy? He’d respond saying, ‘real smooth. Today we’ve got ourselves a real mellow war’.
When Dizzy was killed, we tried to convince ourselves that he was just high, in a higher place, that he had taken so much dope that he was up there floating in the clouds somewhere. To help us believe this, we all smoked what was left of Dizzy’s dope.

HOME:
I was catching bass and getting drunk the day I found out I was being sent to Viet Nam where I learned to hate my brother. Viet Nam robbed me of my liberty and I realized that I wasn’t going to live forever and then I realized that I was as free as I would ever be. You do what you do. It don’t mean nuthin’.
VIETNAM:
The bombs started falling pounding my brain and all I wanted to do was disappear.
I couldn’t see the bodies for the clouds of dust. It made me wish I was in Wisconsin drinking Mad Dog 20 20 not caring where I was or what I was doing. I was just a poor boy. Many times I walked away from trouble but I couldn’t walk away from this.
My dad told me to do what I could do and do it well. Shit, I don’t think this was on his list.
I was holding Pappy Smith’s body close to mine while pressing a field dressing against the gaping wound in his stomach, hoping his intestines would stay in. We were waiting for the last bird to drop its load and come back for us. This is why Pappy got the big bucks.
The bird finally arrived. It came with the dust and left with the wind and took the rest of our wounded and Pappy from us. This time Pappy didn’t make the last pickup. I was alone.
I tried to shut my eyes and get him out of my sight, but I couldn’t.
VIETNAM:
I stared down at the man I killed, more a boy, really. There was a star-shaped hole where his left eye was. His face was bloated. He hung upside down from a branch in the tree he used for his sniper position. Strips of skin were missing from his face; he was thin, like a woman with a concaved chest. His straight black hair was streaked with blood and hung toward the swampy ground below him. I felt nothing, absolutely nothing.
HOME:
I saw Kim Lien standing in the heavy mist ahead of me on the dock by her father’s Flower Boat.
“Lien, where are you going?” I sob.
“I’m going to find Tommy. Do you wish to come along?”
“Yes,” I cry.
She yells at me calling me pretty boy and to hurry. “Di di mau, dep trai.”
She beckons to me with her hand before turning and walking to the boat
I put the needle in my arm one last time and smile before calling to her, “Lien, please wait for me. I can’t make it alone.”
WAR:
You pay for your sins and this war was filled with more than enough sins on both sides.
The Vietnam War was many things and among them, it was a pharmacological war.
A 1969 investigation by Congress found that 15-20 percent of soldiers in Vietnam used heroin regularly and that over 40,000 soldiers returned from Nam as drug addicts.
The armed forces issued over 225 million tablets of stimulants to our troops, mostly Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), an amphetamine derivative that is nearly twice as strong as the Benzedrine used in WWII.