Monday, May 25, 2015

23W, 1

Died. Small arms fire. Ground casualty. Body recovered.


- Columbus News Index


Age: 19
Race: Caucasian
Sex: Male
Marital Status: Single
PFC - E3 - Army - Regular
1st Infantry Division

Last Rank: Private First Class
Last Service Branch: Armor
Last Primary MOS: 11D-Armor Reconnaissance Specialist
Last MOS Group: Armor (Enlisted)
Service Years: - 1969

Date of Birth 19490720 07/20/1949
Service A Army
Component R Regular
Rank PFC Private First Class
Grade and posthumous promotion E3
Service Occupation 11D20 Armor Intelligence Specialist (ARMY)
Actual Date of Casualty 19690527 05/27/1969
Actual Date of Death 19690527 05/27/1969
Tour Date 690317 03/17/1969
Posthumous decoration
Casualty Type A1 Hostile, Died
Reason D Gun, Small Arms Fire
Air no Air 7 Ground Casualty
Body Recovered
Country VS South Vietnam
Province 14 Phuoc Long
Casualty Location
Major command, eg division or brigade 1st Inf Div
Company/battery/troop or similar level unit HHC
Battalion or similar level unit 2nd Bn
Regiment, ROAD 2nd Infantry

Home of Record City HILLIARD
Home of Record State Code Ohio


Headquarters Company, 2/2nd Infantry, lost two men on 27 May 1969 - 1LT James W. Clark of Reno, Nevada, and PFC Henry R. Hausman. There were 242 Americans killed that week in Vietnam. Their photos appeared in the June 27, 1969 issue of LIFE Magazine: "Vietnam: One Week's Dead". Henry's photo appears on page 23 in the first row.

"Was with Henry the day he was killed. I was wounded along with a lot of other Guys. Henry was a mild mannered individual. Everyone liked him. I've thought of him a lot since that day." - Elwood  Bengry, Brother in arms.

On Hamilton Road, growing up, he was Rick - not Henry. He was the oldest of three. His dad had a dry cleaning business. Early in the summer of 1960, when I was six, and Rick was ten, he shot me. By accident. Weeks later, after I had returned home from the hospital, he brought me an ant farm. He was very sorry.

Rick was always the guy-who-shot-me. There was no grudge or anything. Stuff happens. And it let me be the kid-that-got-shot. The wound and the surgery left scars that require explanation every time my shirt comes off in an examining room. These days they are joined by other scars.

All of which is to say, even though I didn't know him that well, Rick left a mark that cannot be undone. I knew plenty of guys who went Vietnam, he was the only one I knew who died there. The others came back. Some all the way. Of course Rick came home, too.


When Rick was buried, my oldest brother was serving his first of two tours in Vietnam. A blue star banner hung in our front window for a couple of years. Vietnam took Rick in two months; my brother 30 years later. They are both buried at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery a few miles outside Hilliard.

Today, little flags will decorate both their graves.

This day used to be called Decoration Day because that's what folks did. Since around the time of the Civil War, people would decorate the graves of those killed in war. It was observed on May 30. Over the years it came to be called Memorial Day, then was named so officially in 1967. A year later, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved the observance to the last Monday in May to create a three-day weekend. There are in many places parades on this day.

We usually plant our garden that long week-end. As we did this year.

With long week-ends, parades, and gardens we move through the day and move on. We pivot into summer and all that summer is. We cannot carry long the weight of this day, so we give it over to stone - granite, marble, gabbro.

Henry Richard Hausman, Jr. is honored on Panel 23W, Row 1 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Bones of Jar Jar Binks

... Abrams asked to pause the scene. With a light pen, he drew a little squiggle on a sand dune.
"I have a thought about putting Jar Jar Binks' bones in the desert there," he said.
Everyone laughed.
Abrams laughed, too, but insisted, "I'm serious!" He pointed out that the shot zips by in a second, if that. "Only three people will notice," he said, "but they'll love it."
"An Empire Reboots," Vanity Fair, June 2015

It was long ago and far away when I last bought a magazine to read about a movie. And since I can count on one hand missing three fingers the times I've bought a Vanity Fair, it was probably not an issue of that magazine. No, more likely it was an issue of a Starlog or Cinefantastique. Those were my main go-to sources for sci-fi movie news and images - especially images - in the "days before the Internet".

There are still plenty of sci-fi entertainment magazines on the stands, but they long ago became too editorially cluttered with frantic adverts, and fantic merchandising for my tastes. In a similar way, I had to give up on Heavy Metal years ago for different reasons. As much as I enjoyed the work of the likes of Jean Giraud (Moebius), Enki Bilal, and Phillipe Druillet, the target readership became increasingly skewed to males much younger.

Of course it was Star Wars on the cover that pulled me back to the glossy pages. The adverts were no less frantic. The merchandising no less fantic. It's Vanity Fair after all. I enjoyed the story while it lasted. Savored the images. Had a Spring Grove root beer.

My first taste of Star Wars came sometime in late 1976 when the novelization appeared in a paperback rack at a grocery store in Champaign, IL. Though described as "a novel by George Lucas" (hey, the THX 1138 guy) the copyright was held by The Star Wars Corporation (Lucas had already cut the merchandising deal upon which he would build the empire he sold to Disney decades later for billions).

It was a science fiction story the back cover promised to "Soon be a spectacular motion picture from Twentieth-Century Fox." Read it in one sitting. Thought it might make a decent movie if they could really put on screen what was on the page.

On May 25, 1977, I saw that they really could. They had me at the star destroyer sliding in from the top of the screen and taking forever to reveal it's full size and shape. Like the Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey sliding across the screen in Super Panavision 70 in 1968, I was embraced by spectacle and happy for it.

I don't suppose the original physical effects hold up so well to digitized eyes- which is why later versions of the film applied all the new tech that merchandising and sequels can buy.

Over the years I tracked the progress of the sequels and other sci-fi movies in magazines. Now, I do so online from countless sources curated through sites devoted to devotees. It's because I visit these sites that I know Simon Pegg will say in an interview in Radio Times,
Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie And Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed … I don’t know if that is a good thing.
Pegg thinks we have been "infantilised" by these films. We walk out of the theatre "not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot."

My first response is why would he say that's a bad thing and also cash the check? But I take his point and give him points for using "infantilised" in an interview. I'm not interested in engaging in some sort of rebuttal. Unlike Pegg who also says, "Sometimes (I) feel like I miss grown-up things," no matter how hard I might dodge, duck, bob, and weave, grown-up things don't miss me. (Besides, The Godfather gives me bad dreams whenever I watch it - no joke, bad Godfather dreams.)

Consider this though from the prologue to the Star Wars novelization:
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government and the massive organs of commerce....he declared himself Emperor....and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.
And this from the Introduction to Chris Hedges', Wages of Rebellion, pictured above under the Vanity Fair:
A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources; exploits cheap, unorganized labor; and creates pliable corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit.
I never much thought that Lucas was really embarked on re-telling the hero's journey other than if Joseph Campbell is right about the monomyth Lucas could not do otherwise. (But I do have serious doubts that the Gnosticism of The Matrix films is anything but intended.) Certainly Lucas is no Marcuse or Marx. But, Lucas was telling a story and stories will out and though sometimes a cigar is just a cigar the Death Star is no moon. The Star Wars prequels are replete with "massive organs of commerce".

Still, let me reassure you that I don't leave such films as these thinking about the contradictions of capitalism or stuff like that, but just what Pegg thinks I think about: Hulk just had a fight with a robot.  If I want amoral and gritty, I'll watch the original version of Star Wars before it was just another chapter in a billion dollar franchise. In that version of the film, an amoral and gritty Han Solo shoots first.

And since Lucas has been known to "abandon the common good to serve corporate profit," I'll happily keep an eye out for the bones of Jar Jar Binks.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Being tree

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. 
- Chinese proverb

Future perfect progressive

In 2035, that outward boundary of a 20 year planning horizon pulsing deep in the heart of Rochester, in that year some will say this tree will have been planted at just the right time. Though worthy of contemplation, let's set aside for the moment who might sit in its shade twenty years from now or our own actuarial odds of doing so. Instead let's cut to the obvious lesson: if you want something later you need to do something about it now.

You want to be "America's City for Health"? Better be planting that tree. Now is the second best time to do so if in twenty years you want to have planted it at the best time. Don't spend too much time sorting out that sentence - the grammar of aspiration gets tense.

In the meantime...

Of course, the tree that was planted 20 years ago might now provide broad shade, sturdy limbs for swings, and an ample trunk for carved promises of devotion - a Norman Rockwell tree, a Longfellow spreading chestnut. But, it's not like it takes twenty years for the tree to be a tree. It is a tree as soon as it is planted.

With all the becoming-a-great-tree that only twenty years can bring, there are twenty years of being-a-tree along the way. All that a tree is it is already, including all that a tree can be.

Hexagram 53: Chien/Development

The tree on the mountain grows larger slowly and imperceptibly. It spreads and gives shade, and thus through its nature influences its surroundings....The tree on the mountain, like the trees on the earth...represents influence by example. The I Ching

That the tree is, is sufficient. 
It does not take twenty years.
Not a proverbial tree,
an oracular tree.
The tree on the mountain.
The tree on the earth.
The tree in the city.
The elm at the market.
Now is the best time
to plant a tree.
Then just wait
and let it be: tree.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4th: sitting down with power and violence

Citizens who use their power to convene other citizens are what create an alternative future. - Peter Block


There are few things I find more satisfying than being among people who sit down with a problem and stand up with possibilities. 

Peter Block writes in Community that "people will be accountable and committed to what they have a hand in creating." He observes that no matter the circumstances in which a community finds itself, the people of that community are usually best suited to and most capable of facing those circumstances. 

Get these people in the room with a few simple rules to govern the conversation and new futures are created. Just make sure that "the people in the room are a diverse and textured sample of the larger world you want to affect."

In much the same way, Hannah Arendt defines power as the "human ability not just to act but to act in concert."
Power springs up whenever people get together and act in concert, but derives its legitimacy from the initial getting together rather than any action that then may follow. (Arendt, "On Violence")
For Arendt, to act is to begin, to create the new "which cannot be expected from whatever came before." (Arendt, The Human Condition)


Probably because it is May 4th, even though I sat down to celebrate what can happen when we take to the chairs, I could not help but reflect on what becomes of us when we take to the barricades instead - recalling Kent State. Or, Baltimore if you prefer. Or, Jackson State. Or Ferguson. Or ....

For Arendt, violence is the opposite of power - it destroys power: "out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What can never grow out of it is power." (Arendt, "On Violence")

For Block, powerlessness breeds violence and it "grows out of the choices we make about the distribution of power and control, and the mindset that underlies those choices." (Block, Community). He believes all manner of avoidable and unnecessary suffering - including the violence to which it can give rise - comes from disconnecting ourselves from the difference of other lives lived differently.

By the seat of our pants

Whenever we provide too few chairs from which these others might speak, we deprive ourselves of the textured diversity that creates the better futures we hope for. Here, for Block, is the "real politics of our lives". Our lives improve as
...[W]e collectively choose to be together in a way that creates a space for something new to occur. What is needed is for us to choose over and over to more widely distribute ownership  [for creating change] and accountability. These choices spring from the hands of citizens, rather than the hands of experts and system executives. These choices arise when we value, invest in, and recognize the gifts and capacities of citizens. (Block, Community)
Though I sat down to celebrate people sitting down with a problem and standing up with possibilities, this day - May 4th - took me elsewhere. I want to come back to that place where I began, people sitting down in a city at the threshold of a bold, unprecedented future. Most of that future is uncharted. Since we will create it by the seat of our pants, let's provide plenty of chairs for the city we hope to build.