Title blurb

"From one LIGHT come many colors." ~GJ Dürrschmidt

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons, Tell a Moron Joke!

My growing up out on the eastern end of Long Island had been accomplished, for the most part, in the absence of a father. Oh, I had one alright; and he lived at the same address as the rest of our family, but for reasons unknown to me, he remained emotionally, and more often than not, physically disassociated. I now believe that he never really mentally returned from the Second World War. He chose to spend most of his free time at the local VFW in the company of former soldier buddies, drinking away many a long day, and oftentimes far into the night. Yes, dad had his friends, but never seemed capable, or willing, to make room in his life for, what was to me, an important one more.

Dad never took me places, or taught me about things that fathers traditionally teach their sons, like fishing and sports. The only time I went fishing was when he picked me up at my grandparent’s place, and then would stop at the Chum Inn before heading home. While waiting for, what usually turned into hours, for him to finish his drinking inside, I would pass the time trying my hand at catching sun fish out back, along the Peconic River. I baited the hook with bread balls I made from a sandwich I had along, or slice I would go inside and ask of the barmaid.

As well, I managed to participate in sports all four years of high school without his involvement - well, this is not entirely true. He never attended, but did give me rides home from games and practices. When he did, he often kept me waiting, sometimes for hours. On the days he never showed up at all, I would walk the railroad tracks home, providing plenty of time to think and reflect upon life.

Truth be known, I was relieved whenever he was late, or didn’t show. The later he was, the less likely it would be that any of my friends might still be around to see the trashed out clunker he drove, or witness how trashed he himself was. My worse fear was the off chance of a teammate sticking around, requesting a ride from us. Dad’s car was his tool shed, always densely packed with saw horses, scrap lumber, extension chords, and tons of tools, leaving scarce room for anyone else.

Oh, but there was always room for a six pack, or two, and for the many “dead soldiers” (he fondly called the empties) on the floor board. Even when I exercised care in getting in his car, one or two empties inevitably clackity clacked out the door and onto the street. I would’ve died a thousand deaths had anyone ever seen this happen, and prayed no one ever would.

Though hardly six miles, those drives home seemed to last an eternity. I would pray each mile that we might make it alive, cursing myself the whole way for not walking the tracks instead. The many close calls along the way were terribly unnerving. Also unnerving was the long silence, interrupted only by the sounds of empties whenever I happened to move my feet.  I tried my best not to.

These rides together could’ve been wonderful father-son bonding times, filled with discussion and conversation, laughter and camaraderie - but they weren’t. There never was a time. The silence while we drove, was more of an understood lull before the storm. He knew it was coming. I knew it was coming, and yet, each time I would desperately try to intervene and alter the immediate future, but always to no avail.

When the car would stop, I’d quickly jump out and run inside. There waiting, would be a very furious mother about to explode. I would stress that yes, we were late, and yes he had been drinking, but please just let it go for once - for Godsakes just let it go! But, she could never let it go. Before dad could get in the door, the angry words were already flying through the air. Immediately following were the pots and pans, pot roast and mashed potatoes, from another dinner that had long since gotten cold. She would curse him and pound on him, until, without a fight, he retreated to the car, and drove off once more to the VFW. There, he would receive the solace of his buddies, and there he could lick his wounds, and the remnants of the airborne dinner.

On one of our less than enjoyable rides home, after wondering just what might be flying for dinner that night, I decided to break the conventional silence, and attempt to ease the tension with a little comic relief.

“Hey, dad.” I said, unsure if it were wise to distract him from his already impaired ability to drive.
“What?” he snapped back at me. My reaction was to just say nevermind, but that's what I'd always do when there appeared to be a risk. I was almost eighteen. It was high time I spoke out.
“Why did the moron drive his car off the cliff to test his air brakes?” I spoke too quickly. Hearing myself, to my shock and horror, I suddenly realized that I totally blew the punch line. Trying to recover from the blunder, I nervously laughed, and said, “I messed up. I was supposed to just ask why the moron drove his car off the cliff. And then, the answer was: to test his air brakes.”

Staring straight ahead at the road, and without giving so much as a hint of humor, he replied, “So, tell me. Who’s the moron, now?”
Not another word was spoken the rest of the way. In the chilling silence, I pondered this last question. I had known the answer all too well, and for a long time, only I hadn’t been aware that I did until just then. Not having the courage to respond to him out loud, I summoned the strength to answer within my mind:
“We're both the moron, now, dad: you for never being a father to me; and me, for foolishly hoping I could be a son.”

~gj duerrschmidt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Piss on the Technology, NOT on Our Marines!

A video has surfaced of four U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of freshly killed Taliban fighters. I feel moved to address this matter. I intentionally did not post a picture of this, as I feel doing so would be disrespectful to these brave, young men. This reported act does not disturb me in the least. What greatly disturbs me is the growing negative reaction to it within the sanctimonious halls of Washington D.C., specifically the Pentagon. I would include reaction by the news media, but quite honestly, they don’t know any better. The story smacks of scandal, and if it isn’t one yet, I have every confidence they’ll soon turn it into one. But, I digress. Please stay with me on this one.
That the letters k-i-n-d would be a part of the word mankind, has always fascinated me, especially having served in the United States military for twenty years. History clearly demonstrates that there is nothing kind when it comes to mankind. Soldiers in armies fighting in wars spanning thousands of years, all have shared at least this one thing in common: killing…the oftentimes brutal, bloody, face-to-face taking of another’s life. No matter how one chooses to sugar coat the nature of war, there is nothing kind about it.
Let me remind you that in our own country’s early history, the common practice of scalping the vanquished was quite prevalent. Though early textbook accounts tried to make us believe that this was a barbaric act committed solely by the savage Indians, academics have since uncovered information to indicate that scalping occurred more frequently at the hands of the “blue coat,” the “long sword,” the "civilized, Christian white man. When it comes to man killing man, might we agree that it is all savagery?
            America, and Americans, need not be so naïve sitting comfortably half a world away from where our nation’s children have been sent to perform a very nasty deed.  Whether masking the nasty nature of their assigned duties with phrases like: protecting the homeland, fighting for democracy, waging the war on terrorism, preserving freedom...they are there to kill, or be killed. Are we beginning to smell the coffee?
            It’s easy for the far removed to sit in judgment of acts committed by soldiers engaged in war. I find it shameful for ranking military officials and politicians to so quickly evoke the Teflon Act – nothing sticks to me – publicly condemning such reported behavior, conveniently portraying an air of pious decency whenever such acts might prove potentially politically damaging. Come on people, deep down inside of even the least aware individual, there exists the understanding that such acts have been, and most likely will continue to be an expected component of the nature of war.

Our young people in uniform cannot be expected to switch the mindset for killing on and off at will, nor does it make any sense that they would be expected to wage war politely and in a civil manner. How preposterous! Our military members have been expertly trained in the use of weapons and munitions. They are mentally conditioned to accept, and carry out their assigned duties as lean, mean, fighting machines.

Preparing for deployment, and while in hostile theaters, they have heard reports of, or have witnessed firsthand,  fellow soldiers being blown to bits by roadside bombs, falling prey to suicide bombers, having had their heads shattered by a sniper’s bullet. Each soldier on every mission carries the enormous personal mental and emotional burden that his or her next step, or next fire fight, may be the last.

War witnessed from afar is nasty business enough. War experienced up close and personal, is something no human being should ever have to be subjected to. But when they are, they are no longer the Johnny or Susie who lived next door, who we went to school with, danced at the prom with, played sports with, hung out at the Mall with. No, they have been transformed into something they never thought possible. Yesterday, they just graduated high school. Today they find themselves in the deserts of Iraq, or the mountains of Afghanistan.

They have lost all semblance of childhood innocence. They have now seen and heard the unthinkable atrocities of war, tasted the acrid bitterness of killing, smelled the pungent fragrance of death, and felt the teachings of honor and decency drain from their bodies onto the ground, along with the blood of their enemies. They feel empty, abandoned, ashamed,…angry.

Who do they lash out at? Who can they blame for putting them there, for making them do what they have done, for making them what they have become: savage killers? The immediate target of all their pent up rage and unspent adrenaline, quite naturally - specifically in the recent case of the four marines - are the trophies of war lying there before them. After all, if it were not for those poor, dead Taliban bastards, they would not be there. So, is it so unthinkable that they would act out by pissing on those poor bastards? No, not at all; at least not to me.
That these marines might now be prosecuted in some manner for this act is outrageous. It shouldn't be possible. To me, they are heroes. They need to be heroes to America. We, as a nation, need to support our young heroes. They need to know that no matter what, someone’s got their back.

I believe Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, should have the balls to go on public record in support of our troops, and boldly state that, had he been there with those marines, he would have pissed on those bodies too. The truth is, when the chips are down, ranking military and political leaders historically turn their backs. If anyone has to take the fall, it’s certainly not going to be any of them. Need we be reminded of Lt. Col. Oliver North?

 So, the last word on this matter I direct to my fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and marines, who soon will, or now do serve in hostile areas: turn those goddamn cell phones and cameras the hell off! What are you thinking?! What your ass-covering, spineless ranking military leaders, your elected politicians, and the rest of world doesn’t know, can’t come back to bite YOU in the ass! I respect and salute you.

  Ooh-rah, and semper fi!

~gj duerrschmidt

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bow “Tao Te” Wow

 Dogs live and breathe,
and so must have a soul;
but how they nurture the
spirit is a story untold.

Are they Christian, Muslim,
Buddhist, orthodox Jew?
Protestant, Catholic, Free
Spirit, or Eastern Hindu?

They never stand up, kneel
down, chant, or lay prone;
One might think them pagan
for they love to eat bone.

They never preach dogma,
doctrine, religion, or creed;
ask tithes to build churches,
to care for others in need.

Their religion’s a mystery,
they provide so few clues.
If they were to pick one,
which might they choose?

The answer’s quite simple.
How could we not know?
No matter what each day
brings, dogs go with the flow.

Chasing after a Frisbee, or
just doing their own thing;
all dogs seem to follow the
path of Tao Te Ching!

~gj duerrschmidt

Same Difference?

What’s normal for you,
is not normal for me;
for we live in a world
where two rarely agree.

Each bases knowledge
on what they can see;
each unique mind forms
a separate reality.

Whose reality is true?
Whose assessment, right?
Who’s most fit to judge?
Ah, such is man’s plight!

~gj duerrschmidt

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sancto Santorum (Or, Tea Party Creed)

We love you, Lord.
It’s to You we pray.
Give us the strength.
Show us the way!

We thank you, Lord:

For blessing our
sanctified families with 
a home and a job;
so what if our wealth
comes from others
we rob;

For our tables
with abundance of 
ready-made meals,
we patent for  profit,
and pray no one 
else steals;

For our streams, 
rivers, and oceans, 
and bluest blue skies,
we pollute daily
while turning  
blind eyes;

For our nation’s 
green forests and 
fertile farm land,
we freely surrender,
to lend Wall Street 
a hand;

For economic growth
regardless of 
its cost;
for more millionaire
preachers to help
save the lost.

For showing us
to love the sinner
while hating the sin;
for the justification
never to let “equal
rights for all”
ever win;

For never being 
wrong or misguided, 
nor worthy of blame,
when quoting the Bible,
and acting in
Jesus’ name.

For once we were blind,
but, praise God,
now we see,
thru a filter of denial 



Jesus saves,

 and, you can too, at Wal-Mart!