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.

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”

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.

The Great Blackout of ’63 – Game Cancelled

The Night The Lights Went Out In LaCrosse
The Night The Lights Went Out In LaCrosse

 

Before the Magic Flying Cannon of ’67, there was the Great Blackout of ’63, precipitated by some of the same characters of disorder involved in the Magic Flying Cannon Caper. This time, instead of transforming into Coyotes, they transformed into flying Ravens.
This was before the big flood of ’65, which they didn’t cause, but their shenanigans surrounding the recovery from that flood caused a couple of tricksters to take an unplanned and early leave of absence from their pursuit of a higher degree.
Who are these characters of disorder?
The Navaho call them mischief-makers, thieves, or tricksters. The Spirit Chief sends them to the land of dream visions to confuse people and they come in the form of a Coyote or a Raven.
The characters of disorder seem to have supernatural powers which help them perform their tricks. They live, die, come back, shape shift, perform all sorts of magic.
Reality is nothing more than an illusion.
The Raven was the first bird out of Noah’s ark. It just didn’t return. It didn’t feel the need.
The one-eyed Odin, the Norse Lord of War, Death, and Knowledge had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. They flew around the world every day bringing back up-to-date information on Odin’s enemies.
The Ravens in question, these characters of disorder, lived in Hans Reuter Hall, a freshman dormitory at the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse, named after a professor of physical education who was instrumental in the development and refinement of many teaching and coaching techniques. Hans was a master in the use of the Indian Club, the oldest hand apparatus used in rhythmical gymnastics. He also invented a back quiver for archers which could be used from a seated position, a pendulum timer that he used in his classes, and a moveable manikin, a model of the human body used in teaching anatomy. Reuter received multiple university and community awards, including the naming of this campus residence hall in his honor.
The dormitory is located next to the university football stadium and the characters of disorder had to walk past the gridiron every day on their way to classes, or bars. At night, the lights in the stadium would be on to illuminate extra-curricular activities, not only on the weekends but during the week. This bothered the characters of disorder as the lights lit up their room and interfered with their sleep. So, they decided to do something about it and these mischief-makers didn’t always play by the establishment’s rules. They decided it would be in the best interest of those living in the dormitory if they turned off the lights – for good!
Exceptional thieves never leave a trace of their existence, so, to that end, they would have to possess something to carry away their bounty, but what could accommodate everything they apperceived they would procure? They decided on a suitcase, a large suitcase!
The caper went down at sunset on a Thursday when no evening activity was planned at the stadium. The late afternoon sky was afire with contrasting yellow, orange, and red clouds that streaked along the west side of the stadium.
The characters of disorder were in place and would wait for the sun to set. They had staked out the surrounding area of the football stadium to ensure no one was there. Students who spent the evening downtown would wander in at all hours, but the thieves weren’t troubled by them as they would be more concerned about keeping their balance and watching where their feet were going than they would be in their surroundings.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it was time. The characters of disorder ducked limbs and slipped between the trees on their way to their destination.They flowed as if they’d been born in the wild. Their faces were streaked with black and one called out in a cry similar to the wolf.
The first Raven carried the suitcase and dragged himself up and flew across the open parking lot and up to the main entrance of the stadium. He turned his ankle  upon landing and the pain was excruciating, but his survival instincts forced him to move out to another hiding place higher up the entranceway. Soon the remaining two characters of disorder were by his side and it wasn’t long before all three flew over the fence and onto the playing field. They skirted across the fifty-yard line to the visitor’s side of the stadium. That is the side they started on. Two tricksters picked the light tower they would attack first and flew to the top, reaching the box that contained what they wanted. They dropped the items on the ground where the third trickster gathered them up and placed them in the suitcase. They continued around the field until they disabled every light tower surrounding the football stadium. When they finished, they had everything securely packed in the suitcase. It was very heavy and they took turns carrying it as they headed out of the stadium back to their dormitory.
The three characters of disorder decided it was best to leave town that weekend. So, in order to document the activities, they planted a colleague at the Saturday night football game to observe what transpired.
Their comrade told the tricksters that as the visiting team’s fans, as well as the home team’s fans, were entering the stadium, total pandemonium broke out when the switches were turned on to light up the field and nothing happened.
Officials called both football coaches out of the locker room and onto the field, along with the referees, to inform them of the problem.
“What are we going to do?” asked the visiting team’s coach?”
“I’m not sure,” replied the head referee. “Isn’t there someone here who can fix the lights?”
The maintenance men were unable to determine the cause and they sure didn’t want to climb forty feet up each light tower to continue their investigation. That was an electrician’s job and there wasn’t one working on a Saturday night.
When they informed the coaches and referees that they were unable to locate the problem, the stadium announcer came on and enlightened the spectators of their only course of action, “Game called – due to darkness!”
The fans were in total confusion. How could this be? What happened?
The mischief makers had confused and flimflammed the fans and officials.
That Friday, before the game, the characters of disorder didn’t have a smooth departure as they fled the scene of their latest exploit. The generator went out in the car, a 1959 Ford, they used for their escape and they had to make an emergency stop in Sparta, Wisconsin. They found themselves short of money to pay the garage for a replacement generator, but, the tricksters, being the wily magicians that they were, struck a deal with the garage owner. They would leave one of their suitcases with him as collateral and when they returned that Sunday night, they would have the money and would swap it out for the suitcase at that time. The garage owner agreed.
That Sunday, when the mischief-makers returned, the garage owner remarked, “That suitcase sure is heavy, what do you have in it?”
Well, the mischief-makers couldn’t reveal that there were two hundred fuses taken from the university’s football stadium lights in LaCrosse, so, in staying in character of confusion and disorder, they told him it was filled with bones from the anatomy laboratory that they took home to analyze.

Saving A Wild Mustang

Mustang Stallion
Mustang Stallion

Saving a Wild Mustang

I pulled in and drove down the driveway and into the pasture. I stopped at the corral where the Department of Agriculture Agent was waiting. She waved and undid the chain holding the gate and pushed it open.
I backed the trailer in and shut the rig down and stepped out. I walked to the back and knocked up the lever holding the trailer door shut. The door swung open. I reached in and threw a flake of hay on the ground by the back entrance to the trailer.
Then I pulled the paneling in, securing them to the sides of the trailer. This was routine. I had done it many times before in the fifteen years I had been rescuing and starting wild mustangs. I looked across the corral at the bay colored gelding. He stood off on the other side of the corral, not scared, but wary of me watching him. I didn’t like what I saw.
I ambled over and put both hands on top of the gate, placing my chin on the back of my hands and one foot on the bottom rail while I observed the mustang. The Department of AG Agent approached the corral and said, “I’m not sure this one is going to make it, what do you think?”
“I’ve seen some pretty sorry looking mustangs, but this one has to be the worst. It looks like someone stretched some horsehide over a skeleton and is trying to pass it off as a horse. This horse is close to starving to death. Look at his legs, they’re wobbling. He’s so weak he can barely stand up. He may die before I can even load him, and look at his feet. They haven’t been trimmed in at least a year and by the look of his coat, it looks like he has the mange. Where’d he come from?”
“We ain’t sure. We got a call from the guy that owns this pasture saying he found the horse wandering around down the road. He couldn’t get near it to halter it, so he coaxed it into his pasture with a bucket of oats. He sold his land and has to get the horse off and that’s why he called us. We didn’t know how bad his condition was until we came out and saw him. We noticed the neck brand and figured it’s a wild mustang from the BLM, Bureau of Land Management, so we called you. You think you can get him in that trailer? We can’t get near him.”
“Oh, I’ll get him in there; just don’t know how long it will take. I don’t want to get him worked up, it will only make the job that much harder.”
“You got a rope?”
“No, just this carrot stick.”
“No rope? How are you going to catch him, if you don’t have a rope?”
“I’m not going to catch him. Some people think they have the right to touch a new mustang, but they don’t, not without their permission.”
“You’re kidding me, right? You have to get its permission?”
“If you want to have him trust you, and believe me, you do.”
“You are going to get that horse in the trailer with just that stick? How are you going to go about doing that?”
“Well, first I’m going to observe him before entering the corral. I want to know as much as I can about him. A wild horse in a corral can be trouble, even one as weak as this one, You can make a mistake with a person, and you can explain it. With a horse, you have to live with it or start over. In my experience, there has never been a time when a mistake was made that one of these two things didn’t occur. He’ll appraise me and I’ll appraise him, I know where I want to get him, but he’s the one that knows how to get there. Every horse is different. I know for this to work I have to get this horse calm, focused and confident and to accomplish this I have to be calm, focused and confident. These mustangs can spot a faker before he even opens the gate. I have to speak confidently with him using his body language. It can’t be an act, it has to be real. I’ll need your help.”
“Okay, what do you need me to do?” She asked.
“I want you to walk slowly into the corral and go to the trailer and hold onto the trailer door handle. When the horse goes in, I need you to close it as fast as you can. He may not want to come out once he goes in, but in most cases, they come out faster than they go in and if we can’t secure him in there the first time, it may be a long afternoon.”
“But aren’t you supposed to slowly introduce the trailer to the horse and do a step by step training process when teaching them to load?”
“We ain’t training this horse to load. We are here to save its life. We’ll train it later. Once we are in the corral with him, I am going to start out by tapping the ground slowly with my carrot stick. When he moves, and he will, I will start to cut down the distance between me and him and stop tapping as long as he goes in the direction of the trailer. If he stops at the back of the trailer to eat the hay I dropped there, I will stop tapping and let him relax for a few minutes. Then I’ll start tapping the ground with the carrot stick once again. This will agitate him and he will either go into the trailer or around the corral to get away from me. He can’t and I’ll continue the tapping until he gets to the back of the trailer again. Simple, huh?”
“It sounds simple, but I doubt it is,” she said.
“We’ll see. Why don’t you go in there now and secure the trailer door and I’ll come in about five minutes later?”
“Okay,” she replied, and slowly entered the corral and walked over to the trailer while the horse cautiously watched her out of one eye while keeping the other on me. After a few minutes, I opened the gate and strolled casually to the horse, speaking softly. All I had with me was my carrot stick. I got about fifteen feet from him before he turned and bolted away on those wobbly legs. His hooves barely cut into the earth and his legs lacked power. He continued to trot back and forth along the far fence, watching me, head raised, nostrils flared, and ears pointing in my direction. He quit roaming the perimeter of the corral and settled into a side away from both me and the trailer, not agitated, just alert and ornery. I could see his sides twitching. Sweat had formed on his underbelly and on his chest. His breathing was more labored than it should have been for the short time he was running around. He was nervous and in very bad health. I thought there was a good chance this horse had a respiratory problem to go along with all his other health issues. After about fifteen minutes of this routine, I guess he decided it would be easier on him to climb into the trailer than to continue to trot around the corral.
The empty trailer clanged with the sound of the horse’s hooves as he burst in. The Agent quickly closed the door. I ran up to assist her in securing the door handle and we were ready to roll. The trailer was rocking back and forth as the horse moved around inside.
“I learned something today,” she said. “That was pretty amazing.”
“Well, if you consider the horse,” I replied, “you will find out they are pretty amazing.”
We walked around and entered the side of the trailer through the escape door and stood and watched him adjust. He stomped and turned around a few times before calming down. He looked at us and blew his breath out against my face. The grainy earth smell was intoxicating.
“That’s right, boy,” I said, “it was pretty easy, wasn’t it? You’re going to be fine. We’ll fix you up.”
At the time, I didn’t have the confidence that we could. I knew it was easier said then done.
“Come take a look at this fresh manure pile,” I called to the AG Agent after we left the inside of the trailer. “It’s filled with worms. My Lord, I have never seen so many worms in a pile of horse manure in my life. There have to be thousands of them in there.”
She looked at the pile and shook her head in amazement, “I doubt this horse has been wormed for a couple of years. You’ll have to take it slow and easy on the de-worming as well as the feeding or he will die on you sure as we are standing here.”
I nodded, “It’s a damn shame what humans do to defenseless animals. We need your agency to crack down on some of these folks.”
“I wish we could, but we don’t have any teeth. If we see something bad, we have to get the Sheriff in on it to make an arrest or a confiscation. Hell, if they are arrested, it’s a misdemeanor and they get a fine and a slap on the wrist and they are back doing the same thing a month later. It breaks your heart.”
“I know. All we can do is keep saving one horse at a time. I better head back. It will take me a couple of hours and I want to get him settled in before dark.”
“Ok, I need you to sign some papers, the government you know. It’s just saying you are legally taking custody of government property.”
When we arrived at the barn, the sun was barely peeking over the tops of the trees in the west pasture. In the distance, it looked like our horses rose out of the earth, first their ears then the shape of their heads and necks. They lifted their heads and their ears pointed in our direction. Then they took off and the earth trembled under the movement of their hooves as they ran to the fence line to meet the new member of the Mustang Rescue’s family of unwanted horses. I knew it would be a long time before this horse would be turned out with the herd. One kick that landed on this poor fellow, while they went through the ritual of determining herd hierarchy, could kill him.
I backed into the barn and opened the trailer. He tentatively stepped out on wobbly legs and headed down the aisle of the barn to the paddock we had set up for him. We had the water trough filled for him and a couple of flakes of hay waiting as well.
I stayed with him awhile that evening and at one point I reached out and he allowed me to touch him and I stroked his side. I promised him I would help him.
Softly I spoke to him,“Cages are everywhere. We all have them, don’t we boy?”
He nickered and I touched his flank and his hoof flashed up.
He just set the boundaries.
With the coordinated efforts of many of our great volunteers, three daily feedings, lots of love, and multiple vet visits to help him regain his strength his progress was nothing short of miraculous. He overcame equine lice, a bout of colic, and intestinal parasites to transform into the happy and healthy mustang.
He was adopted by a ten-year-old girl who was instrumental in nursing him to health. She is currently riding him and continuing his training in Woodstock, Georgia.

An Apache Warrior

 

 

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An Old Hippie And An Apache
I became aware of a buzzing sound and sat up, rubbing the beard that is covering my face. My hair had fallen down and I grab my bandana and tie it back.
The buzzing was coming from Gray Wolf’s little black and white television that was sitting on top of the refrigerator. It was left on and somewhere in the night, it lost its signal.
It was the beginning of a new day on earth.
My mouth was dry as cotton and my head throbbed. I was tangled up in sorrow and to make matters worse, the sun wasn’t shining.
I want to get out of here. I am doing too much dope, I thought. I can feel the grass growing around my brain and I wonder if I am trying to kill myself? Well, maybe.
There are flies in the kitchen along with a sink full of dirty dishes and beer cans littered the floor. Ashtrays, overflowing with roaches and cigarette butts litter the small Formica kitchen table.
The two aluminum chairs, covered with cracked and torn red vinyl, were tipped over on their side.
A small bag of grass is sitting on the counter next to a dirty coffee pot, with an inch of thick, black, coffee, scorched from being left on all night, coagulating on the bottom. I get up and walk over and grab the grass and look around for rolling paper.
I found some.
I rolled a joint. Bending over, I lit it from the pilot light on the gas stove before deciding to wake Gray Wolf
“Wake up! It’s time to start a new day,” I yell. “I made breakfast, scrambled eggs and Falstaff, breakfast of the 101st Screamin’ Eagles. Come on, get your lazy ass outta bed.”
I saw Gray Wolf’s beaded and fringed deerskin jacket lying on the floor. What looked like vomit coated the front and a big cigarette burn on the left sleeve ruined what used to be a beautiful jacket. His mother beaded that for hours, he said so that Gray Wolf would have a beautiful Apache jacket to wear to events. That was when he still wanted to be an Indian.
I walked into the back bedroom. I guess he didn’t make it to the bed as I found him on the floor next to the closet.
He woke up. His eyes were plastered shut. He looked around. He didn’t recognize where he was.
I looked down at his dirt stained t-shirt and noticed something under his left sleeve. I pulled the sleeve up and saw the picture of a woman tattooed on his arm.
“Who is that?” I asked.
He stared at the tattoo and tried to concentrate. He squinted his eyes, crinkling his forehead.
“Damn, that’s my best friend, Eagle Feather’s, wife. Shit, she had her friend do that. I remember it hurt like hell. Eagle Feather will not be happy.”
“I don’t suppose. Are you all right?”
“The tat hurts a bit.”
“No, I meant you. You know, do you think you can come out of this?”
He looked at me and took a deep breath and got to his knees.
“I need to get my wits about me before I try to stand, White Eyes. How’d you know where I was and that I was so fucked up?” Gray Wolf asked, as he stood and shuffled into the kitchen scratching his balls and rubbing his stubble of hair on the top of his head. His hair looked like it was cut off with a knife.
I wondered what happened. The last time I saw him, he had long black hair. He looked like the Apache he is. No longer.
“I heard on the wind, from the birds, and felt it in the sunlight,” I said, “and your sister called. She said the only talking you did was to dogs and old tractors.”
“Ah, I thought my sister might have something to do with it. White Eyes. you ain’t no Indian. The wind and birds don’t talk to White Eyes, only to Indians. My sister, how does she know you?”
“She said she got my name from some of my letters that were scattered on the floor. Unopened, by the way.”
“Shit, White Eyes, it smells like rain and feels like hell. Where do I belong, man?”
“I don’t know brother, but I don’t think it’s here.”
His face was gray, sagging like wet paper. His eyes were yellow and rimmed in red and held up by multiple bags under each one. It looked like he lost all of his muscle tone. He was an old man at fifty.
I noticed the hole in Gray Wolf’s left arm where all his disability check goes. I watched him last night climbing walls while he sat in a chair and I tried to keep him awake.
Gray Wolf and I met in Nam in 1969. We were in the Bien Hoa Province, land of peaceful frontiers, with the 101st Airborne. We became friends and he changed my name to White Eyes and it stuck. I don’t think he remembers my real name.
Gray Wolf came home from Nam sporting a hundred dollar habit. I heard that there was something in the chemical makeup of Indians where they couldn’t handle alcohol, well, evidently they can’t handle drugs either. Gray Wolf couldn’t stay away from the White Rabbit.
Today he smelled like death. What happened in Nam, took all the fun out of his life and left him with horrifying memories and his long lost dreams.
“White Eyes, I’m on fire and this freight train is running through my head.”
I noticed he was soaking wet. He’s running out of time, I thought, but he believes there’s a lot more standing here than what he sees live each day.
When the sun comes up he gets a little spark like he used to but he is running out of time, he just doesn’t know it. I know that any day could be his last. Damn, time goes by so fast.
He’s an Indian, an Apache. He says his home is the hills and the trees around him and the sky is his ceiling that holds the stars and moon above him.
Pale Horse loves him and she gave him her soul.
Grass and heroine temporarily take all his troubles away, or so he says, until the evening comes to take him home; but it has also taken his life away.
“Do Indians celebrate the 4th of July? It’s not like they were set free or anything,” I ask him.
“Sure we do. Yeah, we do. My dad died in the Philippines, fighting for this country, the same country that tried to kill him for years. Then I went to fight for this country and now it’s killing me too. Ha, nobody told me my senior trip would be to Vietnam, White Eyes, nobody told me.”
“I know. We were so young, our balls hadn’t dropped yet. The rich college boys were running around campus chasing skirts and we were in the swampy rice paddies in the Mekong Delta chasing slant eyed gooks.”
“I dream, White Eyes, do you know that?”
Yes, Gray Wolf, I do. You always did. You told me some of your dreams while we motored along the Mekong River on our way to Laos, do you remember?”
“Yeah man,” he said dreamily as he slowly took another toke and held his breath. A few seconds later he gasped and the smoke exploded from his mouth.
“Now they’re giving tours down that river,” I told him.
“Hmmm,” Gray Wolf nodded his head dreamily.
“Remember Danny? Danny McGuire? What an asshole, eh?”
“Yeah, he was an ass,” I replied.
“Before Nam, I had a dream that I could fly. Did I tell you that? So I jumped off a cliff and flapped my arms like a bird. I did fly until I lost altitude and crashed into the rock. I broke my wing in two places.
When I was assigned to the Screaming Eagles, I told them about me flying and breaking my wing. They told me I should have used a parachute. Hell, before I was drafted, I never heard the white man’s word, parachute. Apaches don’t have a word for parachutes.”
“Are you a Shaman, or whatever you Apaches call a man who has visions?
“Yeah man, last week I had this vision. It told me to go to Phoenix. I went and stood on the bridge, waiting for a vision. What river is that, the Gila? My squaw, Pale Horse, came by and asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was waiting for a vision and she was my vision. She took me home and we smoked some more and I shot up again then she said I wasn’t an Indian no more and she cut my hair.”
His eyes started to well up with tears and soon they were running down his face
“Then we got naked and she held me while the shakes took me where I didn’t want to go.
I messed up White Eyes, She tried to love what was left of me but I wouldn’t let her. There’s nothing left to love, White Eyes. She left me.”
He started to ramble, a sign he was losing his hold on reality maybe what was left of his life.
“I ain’t sure of nothing no more just that old folks grow lonesome. I’m old White Eyes. When did we ETS, it seems like so long ago. Man, I hated Laos, more than anything. Hot LZ’s, C4, smell of that shitty country still is in my nose. Well, you’d think with everything I snorted up there it would be gone, but it ain’t. It’s just like we were still there. I can hear the M60’s firing from the gunships as they try to come into the hot LZ’s. It hurts White Eyes. My head. It hurts
I think I’ll call Danny but what will I say? He’ll ask what’s new and I’ll say nothing what’s new with you? Nothing much he’ll say.”
I light my cigar and Gray Wolf moves and I stare at his ancient hollow eyes and want to say, “Hello in there, hello, but I knew it was too late. I would stay with him to the end. It wouldn’t be long now. He was wasting away. He wasn’t eating and when I could get him to eat something, he threw it up minutes later. I could hear him in the bathroom.
In a few minutes, he staggered into the room.
“White Eyes, I’m ready. When the rooster crows, I’ll be gone.”
“Come on, Gray Wolf, you gotta fight this.”
“I don’t know, I’m overmatched and just plain tired, or maybe just too damn old,” he whispered.
We both searched for words. Gray Wolf spoke first.
“Hey, White Eyes, did I tell you I write poetry?” His voice was beginning to get scratchy and it was losing volume.
“No, Gray Wolf, you didn’t.”
“Here, listen to this,” he said walking back into the room with a sheet of yellowed paper.
“I call it A Soldier’s Cry. I think it’s pretty good. Let me know what you think, brother.”
He began to read it to me.
Every night when all is still
I feel a paralyzing chill
I lie awake consumed with fear
Waiting, for those eyes to ‘ppear
I lock and load and wait alone,
On this piece of land I own
Those shining eyes that are so still,
Staring at me from on that hill

Every night they call to me
Taunting me to lose my will,
I vow to fight with my last breath
I’ll fight them ’til my certain death
I close my eyes and see them still
staring at me from on that hill

All my brothers who dropped and fell,
They lost their lives in this living hell
They were some of America’s best
those shining eyes put them to rest
They disappeared in this burning pit
And I vowed to them I won’t forget
Never to be heard from ever again
They were some of my best friends

I watch those eyes as they come for me
But I stand fast, I won’t flee
I will battle them to my last breath
As did my friends, as bullets ripped their chest
They were some of America’s best
They kept their loved ones safe and sound
swallowing bullets, round after round
But here they come those eyes so still
Staring at me from on that hill
I lock and load and wait alone,

Sitting here in fear’s cold sweat
Knowing they won’t get me yet
Lord, I pray, I’m not done
I pray for one more morning sun
As he finished, the paper dropped from his hand and floated to the floor and his eyes rolled up into his head and he gasped his last breath.
“Don’t quit on me, dammit, don’t quit on me! You damn Indian, why’d you have to start on this stuff?”
Now tears were rolling down my face. I angrily wiped them away. That poem was his way of finally being able to express the anguish that had been haunting him since 1969.
I reached down and picked up the paper and looked at it. It was blank. He wasn’t reading anything.
Gray Wolf had that poem written on his heart and it died with him. As it should. He suffered long enough.life-goes-on_dsc5513

Baseball, The Brooklyn Dodgers, And Why Do We Need A New Stadium

 

 

Wilbert "Uncle Robbie" Robinson Manager of the Brooklyn Robbins
Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson Manager of the 1914 – 1931 Brooklyn Robbins

Before they were “Dem Bums” they were Uncle Robbie’s “Daffiness Boys”.

The Brooklyn Baseball Club was established in 1883.

On October 4, 1955, the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series, at last, beating the New York Yankees 2-0.

The Yankees Elston Howard hit a groundball to Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who scooped up the ball and fired low and wide to first, but somehow Gil Hodges stretched halfway across the Bronx and grabbed it in time to get Howard out and end the game.

Tomorrow, October 4, 2016, will be the 61th anniversary of that long-ago miracle that turned out to be the only World Series the Brooklyn Dodgers would ever win. They lost to the Yanks again the next year. A year later, the beloved “Bums” would be moved to California.

The Dodgers won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, only to fall to the New York Yankees in all five of the subsequent World Series, so, this 1955 World Series win was extra sweet for “Dem Bums” and their faithful following.

Growing up I loved the Milwaukee Braves and didn’t really like the Brooklyn Dodgers that much, especially when they beat the Braves, but there was just something about “Dem Bums” that was endearing to all baseball fans, myself included. When they moved to Los Angeles, part of America’s favorite pastime died.

In 1939, a cab driver, responding to a sports cartoonist named Willard Mullin’s question about how the Dodgers were doing, said, “Dem Bums are bums.” From that, Mullins got an idea and he developed a cartoon character the “Brooklyn Bum,” to symbolize the team. Soon, every sportswriter and baseball fan was mimicking a Brooklyn accent while referring to the team as “Dem Bums.” Even Emmett Kelly, the famous clown, got into the act, many times appearing at Ebbets Field as the Dodgers unofficial mascot.

The intimacy of Ebbets Field allowed the fans to develop a closeness with the players, and Brooklynites found unique ways to support their team, from a zany group of guys serenading the team before games, to the team’s organist ridiculing umpires with her rendition of “Three Blind Mice”.

The team’s owner had enough of the daffiness from “Dem Bums” and decided that they were the Brooklyn Dodgers long enough and it was in the best interest of everyone to move the team from Brooklyn. Yes, of course, it was. He wanted to play in a posh stadium in a nicer neighborhood, so he moved the team to California and “Poof”, just like that, there was no more daffiness and the bums were no more and a long-standing love affair between fans and players was reduced to a footnote in history.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have won the championship five times in the era of million dollar players and ten dollar hotdogs

The other night, I watched the local Atlanta news announce that the Atlanta Braves played the last game at Turner Field and all the fans turned out doing the old Tomahawk Chop, bringing back memories of the 1990’s when the Braves actually had a good team. The Braves aren’t leaving, Georgia, they are just leaving Atlanta. They are moving about 15 miles North to Cobb County. They’ll still be the Atlanta Braves but now playing in a multi-million dollar stadium, partially paid for by our tax dollars while they add to one of the worst traffic corridors in the United States. I’m sure they will be making it even worse if that’s possible.

County officials say it will bring added prosperity to the area, but so far, the county officials are the only ones profiting from this middle of the night back room deal. And what about Atlanta? Turner Stadium is in an area that can still use some prosperity.

To me, this deal smells very similar to other deals the Braves have been involved in,

from their move out of Boston when they left for Milwaukee in1953 for the lure of more money and in 1966 when they left Milwaukee for, well, more money, this time, offered by the city of Atlanta.

I guess public officials never learn. At least they still have the Atlanta Falcons, right?

I for one refuse to watch them in person or on television. I’ll let the rest of you support this tax-exempt entity that just gets greedier and greedier every year.

I’m going fishing.

Arthur Ashe and Me

 

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“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”

Arthur Ashe 1943-1993

 

“We need tennis players. Has anyone played tennis?”
It was 5:30 a.m. On a cool June morning and the last thing I wanted to do was play tennis. The last place I wanted to be was where I was at. We just fell out for Monday morning formation after our first week of advanced infantry training which consisted of marching, calisthenics and being introduced to the 90mm and 105mm recoilless rifles. I looked around and nobody in our company raised their hand. I played tennis in high school and then in my freshman year in college, back when we still used real catgut for our racquet strings and everything was white, the balls, the clothes, and the players . I figured playing tennis beat marching for miles every day carrying an M-16 and with 45 pounds on my back, so, I raised my hand.
I was told to fall out and report to the recreation center where they were organizing a base tennis tournament. That was all our drill sergeant knew about this assignment that I just volunteered for.
When I arrived at the recreation center, I was issued tennis shoes and a racquet and told to “fall out” on the tennis courts where there were about one hundred other trainees standing around holding their tennis rackets instead of what they normally held, M-16’s. Soon a master sergeant came out and told us to line up in a formation. Everything about the army is formation. While we stood in formation he proceeded to explain how this tennis tournament would work. It would be doubles only, no singles, and each trainee would be teamed up with an officer. I was paired up with an Infantry Captain, whose name I can no longer recall. He happened to be African American. He went to Howard University where he played tennis. He was much better than I was and it was apparent as we volleyed in preparation for our first match.
At 010:00 hours, military time, we congregated at center court to draw the names of our opponent. We were lucky. Our first match was against another trainee and a second lieutenant by the name of Arthur Ashe. Did I say lucky? Holy crap! Arthur Ashe!
Well, as it turned out, they needn’t have issued me a tennis racket as I don’t think I hit one ball back across the net. We were eliminated in straight sets. But, being the cagey private I was, I wouldn’t go back to training for the rest of the week even though the tournament was over for me. My drill sergeant never asked me about how I was doing in the tournament, I don’t think he cared, and I wasn’t going to volunteer that information to him. So, every morning after we fell out of the barracks for morning roll call, I went back to the recreation center and sat in the bleachers watching the rest of the teams play while my training company was out doing whatever they did to prepare for war.
Arthur Ashe and his partner won the base championship with no fist pumping, no crazy dance at the net, just with a short humble speech about how much he enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many great men and he wished us all good luck, (which we all needed).
Who was Arthur Ashe, you ask? Well, Arthur Ashe became the first and is still the only, African-American male player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. He is also the first black American to be ranked No. 1 in the world. When he died, his body was on display in the Virginia Governor’s mansion for public mourning. The last time this was done was for Stonewall Jackson, a general of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was the Captain of the U.S. Davis Cup Team in 1981, he was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985, named Sports Illustrated’s 1992 Sportsman of the Year and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993. But most of all, he was a great humanitarian and a very humble man.
In 1979 he suffered a heart attack and went through quadruple bypass surgery. In 1983 he went through his second bypass surgery. After the operation, in order to accelerate his recovery, he received a blood transfusion. It was this transfusion that resulted in him contracting the HIV virus. He died February 6, 1993.

Sheriff of Cheyenne

 

 

 

 

cowboys

 

White clouds streaked against the blue sky. From this elevation, I could see the whole valley sweeping below and to the ridgeline beyond.
It was the edge of dark when I finally rode into the fairgrounds on the outskirts of Cheyenne.
I recalled how this place was nothin’ but one street with a hotel and a saloon and occasional gunfire. Now we got us a church, a store and a place to bury people properly. Even the ladies in the saloon are darn good at singin’ them songs they know and I swore to fight anyone I had to so to keep it good.
My body ached as I climbed the rail to watch as a horse finished up bucking in a tight circle in front of the catch pen. Old age is a cruel thing. It lays waste to body and mind and I damn well felt it after riding all day.
The whistle blew, so the rider grabbed his rein with his free hand and looked for the pickup men. Just another day at the office, I guess, or so I thought.
I heard a shot ring out in the crowd. The horse was still bucking his ass off in a circle. The pickup men were having trouble riding in to get him.
I looked around as I jumped off the rail and ran over to where Old Waco Thompson, one of my deputies who served mostly as the jailer, stood slouching. He was one of those men, born with nothing, who had spent his life proving he could be less than that. He was in his work clothes, a denim shirt and denim pants that were hitched low and a corral-stained western hat cocked on his head. He was in his late thirties, pushing six feet tall. He was tough and stubborn, but not very ambitious, a combination that could make you someone’s lackey or, at the very least, dead. The Wyoming wind and a few well-placed fists had hardened his face. His nose was slanted from an old break .
He was studying the cartridges in his hand before he inserted them in the loops in his belt.
He looked up at me and stood, fingering out a cigarette and lighting it with a kitchen match.
“Didn’t you hear that?” I shouted.
“Yep, sure did, Sheriff.”
“You know what happened here?”
“The son of a bitch was shot,” he said, pointing to a small patch of gravel and grass, and a body stained and coated with what I knew wasn’t rust.
“Who is he?”
“Don’t know, Sheriff; don’t think I never seen him before.”
I walked up and turned the body over. It was Juan Guitterez.
“Do you know who shot him?”
“Kid over there. Killed ‘cause he draw’d down on him, so’s he said, Sheriff. Here’s the gun that did it.”
He handed over the gun and I sniffed the chamber and sighted down the barrel for burned powder. It had been fired. I looked at the young man sitting on a bale of hay. I could see his face was written on by the wind and sun and he had a body shaped by working in the outdoors. The boy definitely belonged in the open.
“This gun’s in bad shape, Waco. Looks like it was used hard at one time.”
“I guess, but it still shoots purty good. Just look at ol’ Tex-Mex over there.”
“He’s dead all right. What was he doing?”
“He and another one was breakin’ in that trailer over there and running out with a bunch of stuff and throwing it on their burros. When that boy told ‘em to stop. Guess they didn’t, so he dropped ‘im.
“Where’s the other one?”
“Got away, I guess. He rode off on one of the damn burros with a bunch of the boy’s stuff. The boy said he woulda got him too if that damn old Colt hadn’t a misfired. One thing I would bet on. He ain’t dead, damn your eyes. The boy said he climbed that ridge,” nodding his head in the direction of the Grand Tetons far off in the distance. Wish’d I’d had my horse. I woulda got ‘im, that’s for sure.”
His eyes were streaked with red and his face was swollen, most likely from crying.
I did feel sorry for him.
“What’s your name son?”
“Ryan, Ryan Jackson, from Meeteetse”

“Long way from home, ain’t you. Can you tell me what happened?”
“I was down watchin’ the boys work the horses when I noticed some goin’ ons up here that just din’t look natural. So I mosied on over and caught this beaner and one of his friends stealin’ my stuff outta my trailer here. I dropped that son of a bitch, but his compadre got away with all my belongings. Now I ain’t got nuthin’ but what’s on me. Took what little money I had too. Damn, wisht I woulda plugged the other one too.”
“Aha, that so?”
“Yep, good thing I had that ol’ Colt with me or I’d a be lying where that beaner is lying now.”
“Waco?”
“Yes, boss?”
“Cuff this boy and take him to the jail and book him for murder?”
“What?”
“You heard me. I’ll be along shortly.”
The boy stared at me with hate filled eyes and said, “The hell you will,” and reached behind his back and brought out a small revolver, pointing it at my face.
Damn Waco, I thought, he should have made sure this boy was disarmed.
“Now listen to me, Ryan Jackson from Meeteetse, put that gun down before someone gets hurt.”
“It’s gonna be you, Sheriff,” he said cocking back the hammer.
My hand went down to my sidearm and I was clearing leather before young Ryan could blink. My .44 caliber round pierced his neck and he dropped to the ground, bleeding out next to Juan.
“Why’d you have to go and do that, Sheriff?” Waco asked.
“Waco, if you’d a been a little more alert, you’d a known that Juan is blind. Has been all his life. No way he could have drawed down on that boy. That little burro of his carried his entire life possessions and lead him around Cheyenne like a seeing eye dog. I have known Juan his whole life and he was the nicest young man I knew and he wouldn’t steal from anybody. I’d stake my life on it.”
“But what about the other beaner?”
“There wasn’t another beaner, Waco. Ryan said he took off in the direction I had just ridden in from. If there was someone heading out that way, I would have passed him. I was the only soul on that ridge today.”

Max Fly – U977 German U-Boat

UFO Athens Ohio 1965
UFO Athens Ohio 1965

 

Max Fly and Hap Schultz are recruited by an outed CIA agent who heads up a clandestine element of agents that believe that the JFK assassination was orchestrated by former Nazis and their boss, Allen Dulles and that it goes higher than that – much higher.
Max and Hap resurrect their rodeo career as the cover for their covert activities as they travel the circuit from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before they head to Mexico and finally South America as they search for missing Nazis. There, Max and Hap find themselves falling into a vortex of a bizarre hidden society and the unknown living hell framed by the Nazi Party.

In the beginning…

You work like a son of a bitch for weeks on end and nothing makes sense. You begin to wonder why you are wasting your time and your client’s money. You are confused and lost in a convoluted world of lies and misleading statements. But then one day it clicks. Somebody tells you something. You think of something you saw, read, or heard and suddenly, everything makes sense but here’s the kicker, most of the time you wish it didn’t. Because the things we are hired to figure out are some of the most revolting things in the world.
One day you wake up and find yourself thrust in the midst of other people’s flotsam and you wonder how you got there and that is exactly what happened to me. The story I’m about to tell you is true. It happened a long time ago and some of the details are becoming blurred in my old age. It all began in the winter of 1969, December to be exact, six years after the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Let me rephrase that, my involvement began in December of 1969.
The story of the Kecksburg incident begins at 4:45 PM, December 9, 1965.
From northern Canada to western Pennsylvania, thousands of witnesses described “an orange fireball tearing across the evening sky towards the southeast, followed by a trail of smoke. Thirteen witnesses included pilots spread throughout Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio. They were along the flight path of this bell-shaped object.
Once over Ohio, however, the object clearly demonstrated that it was not a typical meteor, nor a crash in the ordinary sense of “space debris,” for according to witnesses, it stopped, stood still “for a few seconds” and then changed its course towards Pennsylvania.
Then I got that phone call, the one that would change my life forever.