Saturday, March 16, 2013

***Of This And That Out In The North Adamsville Be-Bop Night Circa, 1960

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin

I have, on more than one occasion, cursed the Internet to the high heavens for stirring up, or of being the catalyst to stir up ancient memories, ancient memories I was entirely willing to keep back in the deep recesses of my mind. And then the next moment I find that I need to bow down, profusely bow face to the floor, to its ability to make some necessary link information available at the touch of a mouse. The latter is such a moment here.

Recently I received an e-mail via one of the sites that I am linked to from an old high school flame, well, maybe more of a flicker, Betty Ann Kelly (maiden name), who e-mailed me in response to a general question that I had posed to my fellow classmates at old North Adamsville High School, Class of 1964. That question actually involved any memories, such as they were, remembered of those times, more specifically of North Adamsville Junior High days (now, Middle School) since when I posed the question we were in the throes of “celebrating” our fiftieth anniversary of graduation from that school (1960). Her response was simple- as will be noted below she had not actually attended North Adamsville Junior High (Middle School) but rather Adamsville Central Junior High (ditto on the middle school thing).

Needless to say, flame or flicker, I have some egg on my face for not remembering that she was not one of us-a North Adamsville Junior Higher- when the town junior high school rivalries were almost as intense as those of the cross-town rivalry between North Adamsville High and Adamsville High. More to the point I would have gone to my grave believing that she had been a classmate and so I bow down, profusely bow down, to the high tech Internet for making the connections that made that connection possible. My return e-mail is posted below to “enlighten” those of our generation who face some of the same issues-how to turn on the computer, how to deal with forgetfulness (I am being kind to all parties here), and how to “forget” that if one has a 50th middle school graduation anniversary in 2010 then a 50th high school anniversary is on the horizon. Ugh! Damn Internet.
Dear Betty Ann,

Thanks for your note. Before I go on I just have to comment, kiddingly anyway, on this e-mail snafu. [The response e-mail was received about a year after the original one was sent-Markin.] At your expense? Well, yes. I thought, and correct me if I am wrong, that e-mail was supposed to be faster than the regular mails. And if not that, then at least faster than the Pony Express of old, old days. I do note that you are located in up- state New York so that explains a lot, an awful lot. Now for a little fun at my expense. It seems that I did not edit the e-mail that I sent you. I forgot to correct, retype actually, the quotation marks when I went from my word processor to the site e-mail screen. Thus, you got some strange Serbo-Croatian transliterations, or some other forgotten language, in your e-mail. I will take some laughs on that one.

Okay, now down to business. The thing that I requested in that e-mail, information and ideas in order to honor our 50th anniversary since graduation, if you had been a North Adamsville Junior High alumna and not a benighted Adamsville Central alumna I got another way. I actually worked around it and wrote from different angle from what I expected to do. If you look on the Class Wall of the Class Of 1964 homepage you will find it- Entering North-1960. You will also find a couple of other posts, as well. Also if you Google Tales From Old North Adamsville High you will be able to click to a blog I established last year about the old days when we all bled raider red. Such little subjects as summer beach nights, Tri-Hi-Y, Howard Johnson’s ice cream, boys’ and girls’ bowling teams, and some sad, some silly, and some just plain be-bop things as well. Of course, since this is your 50th anniversary of graduating from Adamsville Central Junior High (oops, Middle School) you are duty-bound to write a little something, and we will all meet up in the fall of 1961 to form the North Adamsville Class of 1964.

As for rumors, threats, dreads, and celebrations of our 50th anniversary since graduation from high school I have no particular information right now. Perhaps someone on the site might have some information. I will say this-in 2004 I received an invitation to our 40th reunion, although I did not attend. I have never attended any reunion (although I wrote about old friend, Bill Connolly, going to the fifth reunion in 1969- it is posted on that Talesblog). How about you? The people who put that one together were Linda Paul and Gary Docker. Linda has her name listed on this site so maybe you could check with her. In 2004 I was not bleeding raider red but now I am not sure that I would not attend a 50th reunion if it is organized.

Let me hear from you- soon (within a year, okay). Friendly regards. Peter Paul Markin

Pardon Private Bradley Manning Stand-Out-Central Square, Cambridge, Wednesdays, 5:00 PM -Update –March 16, 2013

Let’s Redouble Our Efforts To Free Private Bradley Manning-President Obama Pardon Bradley Manning -Make Every Town Square In America (And The World) A Bradley Manning Square From Boston To Berkeley to Berlin-Join Us In Central Square, Cambridge, Ma. For A Stand-Out For Bradley- Wednesdays From 5:00-6:00 PM
Beginning in September 2011, in order to publicize Private Manning’s case locally, there have been weekly stand-outs (as well as other more ad hocand sporadic events) in various locations in the Greater Boston area starting in Somerville across from the Davis Square Redline MBTA stop on Friday afternoons and later on Wednesdays. Lately this stand-out has been held each week on Wednesdays from 5:00 to 6:00 PM at Central Square, Cambridge, Ma. (small park at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street just outside the Redline MBTA stop, renamed Manning Square for the duration of the stand-out) in order to continue to broaden our outreach. Join us there in calling for Private Manning’s freedom. President Obama Pardon Private Manning Now!
The Private Bradley Manning case is headed toward an early summer trial now scheduled for June 2013. The news on his case over the past several months (since about April 2012) has centered on the many pre-trial motion hearings including recent defense motions to dismiss for lack of speedy trial. Private Manning’s pre-trial confinement is now at over 1000 days and will be over well over 1000 days by the time of trial. That dismissal motion has now been ruled on by Military Judge Lind. On February 26, 2013 she denied the defense’s motion for dismissal, the last serious chance for Bradley Manning to go free before the scheduled June trial. She ruled furthermore that the various delays by the government were inherent in the nature of this case and that the military authorities, except in one short instance, had been diligent in their efforts to move the proceedings along. For those of us with military experience this is a classic, if perverse, case of that old army slogan-“Hurry up, and wait.” This is definitely tough news for Private Manning although perhaps a good appeal point in some future civilian court review.

The defense had contended that the charges should be dismissed because the military by its own statutes (to speak nothing of that funny old constitutional right to a speedy trial guarantee that our plebeian forbears fought tooth and nail for against the bloody British and later made damn sure was included in the Amendments when the founding fathers“forgot” to include it in the main document) should have arraigned Private Manning within 120 days after his arrest. They hemmed and hawed for almost 600 days before deciding on the charges and a court martial. Nobody in the convening authority, as required by those same statutes, pushed the prosecution forward in a timely manner. In fact the court-martial convening authority, in the person of one Colonel Coffman, seemed to have seen his role as mere “yes man” to each of the government’s eight requests for delays without explanation (and without informing the defense in order to take their objection). Apparently the Colonel saw his role as a mere clearing agent for whatever excuse the government gave, mainly endless addition time for clearing various classified documents a process that need not have held up the proceedings. The defense made timely objection to each governmental request to no avail.

Testimony from military authorities at pre-trial hearings in November 2012 about the reasons for the lack of action ranged from the lame to the absurd (mainly negative responses to knowledge about why some additional delays were necessary. One “reason” sticks out as a reason for excusable delay -some officer needed to get his son to a swimming meet and was thus “unavailable” for a couple of days. I didn’t make this up. I don’t have that sense of the absurd. Jesus, a man was rotting in Obama’s jails and they let him rot because of some damn swim meet). The prosecution, obviously, argued that the government has moved might and main to move the case along and had merely waited until all leaked materials had been determined before proceeding. The judge saw it the government’s way and ruled according as noted above.
Those who have followed the Manning case over the past year or so, maybe since about April 2012 when the pre-trial hearing began in earnest know that last November the defendant offered to plead guilty to a few lesser included charges in his indictment, basically taking legal and political responsibility for the leaks to WikiLeaksthat had been the subject of some of the government’s allegations against him. Without getting into the arcane legal maneuvering on this issue the idea was to cut across the government’s pretty solid case against him being the leaker of information and to have the now scheduled for June trial be focused on the substantial question of whether his actions constituted “material aid to terrorism” which could subject Private Manning to life in prison. On February 28, 2013 in open court as part of the continuing pre-trial hearings down at Fort Meade in Maryland Private Manning pled guilty to those lesser charges (unauthorized use of Internet, disclosing classified information, etc.) before Judge Lind and has left himself open for up to twenty years of imprisonment. Right now the June trial issue will be on the major charges only. We need to stay with Bradley on this and make sure people know that what he admitted to was that he disclosed that information about American military atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and other diplomatic high crime and misdemeanors. He is in trouble, big trouble, and needs our support more than ever.
The defense has also recently pursued a motion for a dismissal of the major charges (espionage/ indirect material aid to terrorists) on the basis of the minimal effect of any leaks on national security issues as against Private Manning’s claim that such knowledge was important to the public square (freedom of information issues important for us as well in order to know about what the hell the government is doing either in front of us, or behind our backs). Last summer witnesses from an alphabet soup list of government agencies (CIA, FBI, NSA, Military Intelligence, etc., etc.) testified that while the information leaked shouldn’t have been leaked that the effect on national security was de minimus. The Secretary of Defense at the time, Leon Panetta, also made a public statement to that effect. The prosecution argued, successfully at the time, that the mere fact of the leak of classified information caused irreparable harm to national security issues and Private Manning’s intent, even if noble, was not at issue.

The recent thrust of the motion to dismiss has centered on the defense’s contention that Private Manning consciously and carefully screened any material in his possession to avoid any conflict with national security and that most of the released material had been over-classified (received higher security level than necessary).Much of the materials leaked, as per those parts published widely in the aftermath of the disclosures by the New York Times and other major outlets, concerned reports of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic interchanges that reflected poorly on that profession. The Obama government has argued again that the mere fact of leaking was all that mattered. That motion has also not been fully ruled on and is now the subject of prosecution counter- motions and a cause for further trial delay.
A defense motion for dismissal based on serious allegations of torturous behavior by the military authorities extending far up the chain of command (a three-star Army general, not the normal concern of someone so far up the chain in the matter of discipline for enlisted personal) while Private Manning was first detained in Kuwait and later at the Quantico Marine brig for about a year ending in April 2011 has now been ruled on. In late November and early December Private Manning himself, as well as others including senior military mental health workers, took the stand to detail those abuses over several days. Most important to the defense was the testimony by qualified military mental health professionals citing the constant willful failure of those who held Private Manning in close confinement to listen to, or act, on their recommendations during those periods

Judge Lind, the military judge who has heard all the pre-trial arguments in the case thus far, has essentially ruled unfavorably on that motion to dismiss given the potential life sentence Private Manning faces. As she announced at an early January pre-trial hearing the military acted illegally in some of its actions. While every Bradley Manning supporter should be heartened by the fact that the military judge ruled that he was subject to illegal behavior by the military during his pre-trial confinement her remedy, a 112 days reduction in any future sentence, is a mere slap on the wrist to the military authorities. No dismissal or, alternatively, no appropriate reduction (the asked for ten to one ratio for all his first year or so of illegal close confinement which would take years off any potential sentence) given the seriousness of the illegal behavior as the defense tirelessly argued for. And the result is a heavy-handed deterrent to any future military whistleblowers, who already are under enormous pressures to remain silent as a matter of course while in uniform, and others who seek to put the hard facts of future American military atrocities before the public.

Some other important recent news, this from the November 2012 pre-trail sessions, is the offer by the defense to plead guilty to lesser charges (wrongful, unauthorized use of the Internet, etc.) in order to clear the deck and have the major espionage /aiding the enemy issue (with a possibility of a life sentence) solely before the court-martial judge, Judge Lind (the one who has been hearing the pre-trial motions, not some senior officer, senior NCO lifer-stacked panel. A wise move, a very wise move.). Also there has been increased media attention by mainstream outlets around the case (including the previously knowingly oblivious New York Times), as well as an important statement by three Nobel Peace Laureates (including Bishop Tutu from South Africa) calling on their fellow laureate, United States President Barack Obama, to free Private Manning from his jails.
On February 23, 2013, the 1000th day of Private Bradley Manning’s pre-trial confinement, an international day of solidarity was observed with over seventy stand-outs and other demonstration held in America and internationally. Bradley Manning and his courageous stand have not been forgotten. Go to the Bradley Manning Support Network for more details about the events of that day. Another international day of solidarity is scheduled for June 1, 2013 at Fort Meade, Maryland and elsewhere just before the scheduled start of his trial on June 3rd. Check the support network for updates on that event as well.
After enduring nearly three years of detention, at times under torturous conditions, on February 28, 2013 Army Private Bradley Manning confessed that he had provided WikiLeaks a trove of military and diplomatic documents that exposed U.S. imperialist schemes and wartime atrocities. Private Manning’s guilty plea on ten of 22 counts against him could land him in prison for 20 years. A day after Manning confessed, military prosecutors announced plans to try him on the remaining counts, including “aiding the enemy” and violating the Espionage Act. Trial is expected to begin in early June. If convicted on these charges, Bradley Manning faces life in prison.

In lifting a bit of the veil of secrecy and lies with which the capitalist rulers cover their depredations, Bradley Manning performed a great service to workers and oppressed around the world. All who oppose the imperialist barbarity and machinations revealed in the material he provided must join in demanding his immediate freedom. Also crucially important is the defense of Julian Assange against the vendetta by the U.S., Britain and their cohorts, who are attempting to railroad him to prison by one means or another for his role in running WikiLeaks.

In a 35-page statement he read to the military court after entering his plea (written ummary available at the Bradley Manning Support Network and an audio transcript as well), Manning told of his journey from nearly being rejected in basic training to becoming an army intelligence analyst. In that capacity he came across mountains of evidence of U.S. duplicity and war crimes. The materials he provided to WikiLeaksincluded military logs documenting 120,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and a formal military policy of covering up torture, rape and murder. A quarter-million diplomatic cables address all manner of lethal operations within U.S. client states, from the “drug war” in Mexico to drone strikes in Yemen. He also released files containing assessments of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These documents show that the government continued to hold many who, Manning stated, were believed or known to be innocent, as well as “low level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence.”

The Pentagon and the Obama Adminstration declared war against WikiLeaks following the release of a video, labeled Collateral Murder, conveyed by Manning, of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter airstrike in Iraq that killed at least 12 people, including two Reuters journalists. American forces are then shown firing on a van that pulled up to help the victims. Manning said he was most alarmed by the “bloodlust they appeared to have.” He described how instead of calling for medical attention for a seriously wounded individual trying to crawl to safety, an aerial crew team member “asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage.”

By January 2010, Manning said, he “began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year” and decided to make public many of the documents he had backed up as part of his work as an analyst. Manning first offered the materials to the Washington Post and the New York Times. Not getting anywhere with these pillars of the bourgeois press establishment, in February 2010 he made his first submission to WikiLeaks. He attached a note advising that “this is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day.”

The charge of “aiding the enemy”—i.e., Al Qaeda—is especially ominous. This used to mean things like military sabotage and handing over information on troop movements to a battlefield enemy. In Manning’s case, the prosecution claims that the very act of publicizing U.S. military and diplomatic activities, some of which took place years before, amounted to “indirect” communication with Al Qaeda. Manning told the court that he believed that public access to the information “could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” He hoped that this “might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the affected environment everyday.” But by the lights of the imperialists’ war on terror, any exposure of their depredations can be construed as support to the “terrorist” enemy, whoever that might be.

The Pentagon intends to call no fewer than 141 witnesses in its show trial, including four people to testify anonymously. One of them, designated as “John Doe,” is believed to be a Navy SEAL who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “Doe” is alleged to have grabbed three disks from bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound on which was stored four files’ worth of the WikiLeaks material provided by Manning.

Nor do charges under the Espionage Act have to have anything to do with actual spying. The law was one of an array of measures adopted to criminalize antiwar activity after U.S. imperialism’s entry into the First World War. It mandated imprisonment for any act deemed to interfere with the recruitment of troops. Among its first and most prominent victims was Socialist Party spokesman Eugene V. Debs, who was jailed for a June 1918 speech at a workers’ rally in Canton, Ohio, where he denounced the war as capitalist slaughter and paid tribute to the leaders of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Dozens of Industrial Workers of the World organizers were also thrown into prison.

In the early 1970s, the Nixon government tried, unsuccessfully, to use this law to go after Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times shed light on the history of U.S. imperialism’s losing war against the Vietnamese workers and peasants. Obama has happily picked up Nixon’s mantle. Manning’s prosecution will be the sixth time the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act against the source of an unauthorized leak of classified information—more than the combined total under all prior administrations since the law’s enactment in 1917.
5 Ways To Support Heroic Wikileaks Whistle-blower Private Bradley Manning

*Urgent: The government has announced, in the wake of Bradley Manning’s admission of his part in the Wikileaks expose in open court on February 28th, its intention to continue to prosecute him for the major charges of “aiding the enemy” (Espionage Act) and “material aid to terrorism.” Everyone should contact the presiding officer of the court –martial process, General Linnington, at 1-202-685-2807 and tell him to drop those charges.Once Maj. Gen. Linnington’s voicemail box is fullyou can also leave a message at the DOD: (703) 571-3343 – press “5″ to leave a comment.*If this mailbox is also full, leave the Department of Defense a written message. Do it today.

*Come to stand-out in support of Private Bradley Manning in Central Square , Cambridge, Ma (corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Prospect Street near MBTA Redline station) every Wednesday between 5-6 PM. For other locations in Greater Boston, nationally, and internationally check the Bradley Manning Support Network - and for details of the current status of the case and future event updates.

*Contribute to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund- as the trial date approaches funds are urgently needed! The government has unlimited financial and personnel resources to prosecute Bradley. And the Obama government is fully using them. We have a fine defense civilian lawyer, David Coombs, many supporters throughout America and the world working hard for Bradley’s freedom, and the truth on our side. Still the hard reality of the American legal system, civilian or military, is that an adequate defense cost serious money. So help out with whatever you can spare. For link go to

*Sign the online petition at the Bradley Manning Support Network (for link go to )to the Secretary of the Army to free Bradley Manning-1000 plus days is enough! The Secretary of the Army stands in the direct chain of command up to the President and can release Private Manning from pre-trial confinement and drop the charges against him at his discretion. For basically any reason that he wishes to-let us say 1000 plus days is enough. Join the over 25,000 supporters in the United States and throughout the world clamoring for Bradley’s well-deserved freedom.

*Call (Comments”202-456-1111), write The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, e-mail-(’contact/submitquestions-and comments) the White House to demand President Obama pardon Bradley Manning- The presidential power to pardon is granted under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution:

“The President…shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in case of impeachment.”

In federal cases, and military cases are federal cases, the President of the United States can, under authority granted by the U.S. Constitution as stated above, pardon the guilty and the innocent, the convicted and those awaiting trial- former President Nixon and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, for example among others, received such pardons for their heinous crimes- Now that Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to some lesser charges and is subject to further prison time (up to 20 years) this pardon campaign is more necessary than ever. Free Bradley Manning! Free the whistleblower!

Coming Of Age In 1950s America- WithMoonrise Kingdom In Mind

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin
Every heterosexual boy (other sexual orientations and identifications can speak to their own dreams, and chaste lusts), every heterosexual boy in Frank Jackman’s old corner boy working- class neighborhood anyway in oceanside Hullsville just outside of Boston, when he came of age, maybe at twelve maybe a little older (rule of thumb for coming of age: when he saw those same elementary school classmate girls, or a stray girl or two around the neighborhood who went to private school, hell, really Catholic school in that neighborhood and thus even more exotic, that the previous year were nothing but distractions and nuisances to a corner boy orderly world had magically become, well, interesting) had his dreams of finding his fair Rosamund and taking her, and them far away from the dreary day to day madnesses that they both faced. Taking that fair damsel drenched in some Sir Walter Scott medieval knightly romance saga from, you know, the endless parent civil wars traps, the other guys, your so-called best corner boy friends, who had no time for girls trying to cut your time trap, the school madnesses and assorted villainous teachers and other authorities trap, and worse, worse the raging hormonal (homicidal?) madnesses trap. And while in those days, those halcyon 1950s days, when it was a very close thing indeed whether we collectively of the earth would blow ourselves to kingdom come that dream, that Frank Jackman dream, looked and felt something like this:

Jesus, Frank said to himself, distractedly, that Rosamund (not the real name of the former girl stick figure turned object of devotion but he used that name above and so it has enough medieval enchantment and adventure to it to be dream-worthy here) sure has changed since last year. Last year she was nothing but a stick (of course Frank, if pressed would not have been able to use that term last year, last year when, at best, girls were not on the radar, or at least had no reason for commentary by Frank and his corner boys) you know all straight lines and right angels, kind of looked like a boy except goofy and was a girl and now she has some curves, little curves, that made her, he guessed, a woman (although coming from a three boy household he wasn’t sure and he wouldn’t dream of asking his mother, his high holy Catholic mother who would have just kept saying don’t think about that now, or ever, and just do your schoolwork). He wondered where did she get those ruby red lips (he, endlessly, was clueless about the very busy cosmetics and undergarment sections of the local department store where such doing were a rite of passage of their own for the other gender aged twelve or thereabouts) and those flashing blue eyes surrounded by some penciled dark lines that made those blue eyes even bluer. And, and, well, he wondered why did he keep peeping over to her aisle and her seat two rows in front in class every chance he got. Every chance he got once he was told, told in the infinitely complicated intelligence boys’ “lav”-girls’ “lav” grapevine that would have put the old time slavery underground railroad or the modern CIA to shame that one ruby-lipped, blue-eyed, soft-curved Miss Rosamund Kiley “liked”him. And also through that complicated network Frank sent the war drums beating that he “liked “her too, kind of.

[And the basis of the she “liked” information? Well she was ahead, way ahead of Frank in her cunning maneuvers, since she had tried , tried in vain to draw his attention last year (of course these years, last or now, are driven by the school term year not the silly lunar calendar). Last summer she had set her eyes (blue eyes remember, ocean blue he thought for a further description) for him when he and his corner boys had started to sing the new rage doo wop like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love and that music had drawn (and the summer heat) her and her girlfriends into the back of the school playground where they practiced one night and that was where she spotted and stayed fixed on Frank, and no other. She probably had her own chaste Galahad dreams but she can tell her own story in her own voice sometime because this is strictly Frank’s dream.]

And that “liked,”even if not couched in less definitive and more satisfactory “kind of” like his was all it took for “reborn” Frank (or any boy if that corner boy night comparing notes then and later had any cache) to decide that he must take his Rosamund far from the madness, far from the humdrum world of school, parents, church, boy scouts, and other drudge matters now that she “liked” him. And so he lined up a dream adventure one night, one restless midnight when he couldn’t sleep. It was all about going, just the two of them, just them, up to Rock Island and starting a little household of their own, just them, where they could talk, and walk around the stony beach, and fend off whatever Mother Nature threw their way. If anybody came looking for them, as they surly would, well, they would keep ahead of that easily enough. And then after a while, after he was sure that he “liked” her, more than kind of, and she still liked him more than kind of too, they would, ah, explore each other, kisses first, not big ones like in the movies but sweet, and fondles later (he was mad to find out about those curves, about how soft she was, about that bath soap smell when she walked within two feet of him and that disturbed his sleep). Yes, he would put his hands softy there, softly on those curves. Then Frank woke up with a start, sweaty, a little confused, and a little flush…

As We Approach The 10th Anniversary Of Iraq War...

Vet who saved many in Iraq couldn't escape demons

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He had a knack for soothing soldiers who'd just seen their buddies killed by bombs. He knew how to comfort medics sickened by the smell of blood and troops haunted by the screams of horribly burned Iraqi children.

Capt. Peter Linnerooth was an Army psychologist. He counseled soldiers during some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds sought his help. For nightmares and insomnia. For shock and grief. And for reaching that point where they just wanted to end it all.

Linnerooth did such a good job his Army comrades dubbed him The Wizard. His "magic" was deceptively simple: an instant rapport with soldiers, an empathetic manner, a big heart.

For a year during one of the bloodiest stretches of the Iraq war, Linnerooth met with soldiers 60 to 70 hours a week. Sometimes he'd hop on helicopters or join convoys, risking mortars and roadside bombs. Often, though, the soldiers came to his shoebox-sized "office" at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.

There they'd encounter a raspy-voiced, broad-shouldered guy who blasted Motorhead, Iron Maiden and other ear-shattering heavy metal, favored four-letter words and inhaled Marlboro Reds — once even while conducting a "stop smoking" class. He was THAT persuasive.

Linnerooth knew when to be a friend and when to be a professional Army officer. He could be tough, even gruff at times, but he also was a gentle soul, a born storyteller, a proud dad who decorated his quarters with his kids' drawings and photos. He carried his newborn daughter's shoes on his ruck sack for good luck.

Linnerooth left Iraq in 2007, a few months short of the end of his 15-month tour. He couldn't take it anymore. He'd heard enough terrible stories. He'd seen enough dead and dying.

He became a college professor in Minnesota, then counseled vets in California and Nevada. He'd done much to help the troops, but in his mind, it wasn't enough. He worried about veteran suicides. He wrote about professional burnout. He grappled with PTSD, depression and anger, his despair spiraling into an overdose. He divorced and married again. He fought valiantly to get his life in order.

But he couldn't make it happen.

As the new year dawned, Pete Linnerooth, Bronze Star recipient, admired Army captain, devoted father, turned his gun on himself. He was 42.

He was, as one buddy says, the guy who could help everybody — everybody but himself.


He liked to jokingly compare himself to an intrepid explorer stranded in one of the most remote corners of the earth.

Linnerooth's best buddy, Brock McNabb, recalls how they'd laugh and find parallels to the plight of Ernest Shackleton, whose ship, Endurance, became trapped in the Antarctic during an early 20th-century expedition. The crew ended up on an ice floe, scrambling to survive.

This was the 100-degree desert, of course, but for them, the analogy was apt: Both were impossible missions — Linnerooth and two teammates were responsible for the mental stability and psychological care of thousands — and both groups leaned on one another for emotional sustenance.

"There's no cavalry to save the day," McNabb explains. "You ARE the cavalry. There was no relief."

McNabb and a third soldier, Travis Landchild, were the tight-knit mental health crew in charge of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in the Baghdad area. They were there when the surge began, rocket attacks increased and the death toll mounted.

Landchild says the three dubbed themselves "a dysfunctional tripod." Translation: One of the three "legs" was always broken, or stressed out, and without fail, "the other two would step up and support that person."

A few months into their tour, McNabb says, both he and Linnerooth — with the approval of on-site doctors — began taking antidepressants. "He had to have training wheels," McNabb says. "We all did."

They worked non-stop, even overnight sometimes. They listened so intently, their nightmares were not their own.

They saw guys who'd witnessed Humvees vaporize before them, medics barely out of high school dealing with double amputations, women sexually assaulted in combat zones. There were soldiers suffering from paranoia, bipolar disorder, anxiety — one was wetting his bed. And then there were those escorted under guard after threatening suicide.

"People are in rough, rough shape ... it's misery all the time, and it does affect you," McNabb says.

Linnerooth — the only trained psychologist of the three — was frustrated by what he regarded as the Army's view of mental health as a second-class problem that can be minimized or overlooked during deployment, McNabb says. At times, he also felt powerless — stabilizing soldiers, then having to return them to missions, knowing they'd be traumatized again.

"Sometimes he felt he was putting a Band-Aid over a bullet hole," McNabb says. "It would be, 'I got you to where you can sleep through the night ... but guess what? You have seven months left in your deployment.'"

For about half his tour, Linnerooth's office was a 12-by-12 trailer. His heavy-metal soundtrack — he banned the Beatles and Pink Floyd, deeming them too sad — provided a sound buffer. A thermal blanket serving as a makeshift room divider also provided a modicum of privacy.

Linnerooth brought hope to those gripped by hopelessness. In a desert, he could always find the glass half full.

He turned tragedies into cathartic moments: When a platoon lost a member, he'd encourage the survivors to deal with their grief by writing letters to the children of the fallen soldier, recounting the great things about their father.

He used irreverence as a balm: When he met with troops in a chapel after a suicide bomb intended for them instead struck a group of Iraqi schoolgirls, he punctuated his remarks with a four-letter word. God, he insisted, surely wouldn't mind him cussing in a religious sanctuary, all things considered. Then he offered comfort.

"It IS horrible," McNabb quotes him as saying. "'There are bad guys out there ... 'You're brave soldiers. You're being asked to do a job no one could do.'"

But Linnerooth wasn't just dealing with emotional trauma. He was in the same complex as the busy Riva Ridge Troop Medical Clinic. When mass casualties arrived, he was there squeezing IV bags, handling bandages.

Later on, talking with family, he'd hint of the horror in sketchy details, describing how a blocked drain once left the soldiers ankle-deep in blood, or the agony of Iraqi kids dying slowly.

Linnerooth did elaborate in one essay. In words both graphic and incredibly tender, he described a female soldier brought in with mortal wounds. Her Humvee, while on a rescue mission, had been struck by an armor-penetrating explosive.

"I stood at her head and considered her hair, for Christsakes!" he wrote. "The blast had mussed her hair. Removed her foot, cleaved her abdomen, but mussed her hair. For whatever reason I looked at it and longed to smooth it back from her forehead. Like I do for my children. It was reddish-blond, curly, almost kinky, and in disarray. I looked around me to see if anyone would notice this gesture, if anyone would mind. Hell, I don't know what to do in an abattoir of human suffering, it's not my job. I deal with easy things, like the paranoid, the personality disordered, and those without hope. All I wanted to do was smooth her hair, perhaps compose her for the next stage of her journey. But I never did it, and regret it to this day."


Even as he continued to comfort others, Linnerooth was showing signs of strain.

Ray Nixon, then a medic at Riva Ridge, remembers anguishing over critical decisions — assigning soldiers to what could be life-and-death missions — and talking with Linnerooth.

"Pete would always tell me, 'You're doing the best job you can. You're well trained,'" Nixon says. "He always made me feel better. He knew exactly what to say, exactly what direction to guide you in — but Pete was very bad at taking care of himself. Any time he was having problems or getting overwhelmed, instead of asking for help, he'd lock himself in his room and try to deal with it alone."

He had always been this way. His mother, Gayle McMullen, who adopted Pete when he was 9½ weeks old, recalls a loving little boy who adored animals, talked up a storm at 18 months old and was very sensitive. He clammed up when upset. "You could see something was bothering him, but he kept a lot inside," she says.

In Iraq, Linnerooth avoided socializing. Friends, he'd say, were potential patients.

His buddies gave him space, but they noticed he wasn't bouncing back as he had before.

A year into the tour, McNabb says, Linnerooth walked in a doctor's office and said: "'I can't stand it. This is too much. How much more misery and torture are these kids going to go through?'"

The doctor, McNabb says, asked if he might hurt himself. Linnerooth replied he wasn't sure.

As he was evacuated, he told McNabb he was crushed having to abandon his teammates. They saw it otherwise.

"We didn't know if any of us were going to get out alive. You never do in war," Landchild says. "We kind of had this hope that one of us made it. Yeah, he's broken as heck and he has a lot of healing to do but he got OUT."


He wasn't the same. His family noticed it when they met him in Schweinfurt, Germany.

"He came home burdened," says his younger sister, Mary Linnerooth Gonzalez. "He was disappointed that he couldn't affect the wheels of change. ... I think he was defeated."

Amy, Linnerooth's wife at the time — they'd met as teens in Rochester, Minn. — says they had trouble resuming their lives. He didn't discuss what he'd seen while in Iraq, and didn't open up at home.

"I think it was just kind of like a wall that he put up," she says. "I asked him about that later and he said if he let that guard down, then it would be like a dam flooding and it would just all come out and he couldn't be that way."

There were some early warning signs, she says, including jokes about suicide. She dismissed it as gallows humor.

In 2008, after nearly six years in the Army, Linnerooth was a civilian again, returning to an academic world where he'd thrived.

He was the kind of student professors rave about for years, describing him as "brilliant" and "amazing."

Patrick Friman, who was in charge of Linnerooth's doctoral dissertation at the University of Nevada-Reno, remembers a day when his then-student joined him for training at an out-patient psychological clinic. A mother was struggling with her 3-year-old: The girl wouldn't sleep in her own bed, wasn't toilet trained and refused to do what her mother asked.

It soon became clear that Linnerooth, the novice, was much better at relating to the mother than the trained professor. "I marveled at how well he described the problem, the solution and the steps that need to be taken to achieve it," Friman says. "She was hanging on his every word. She couldn't wait to go home to try it."

Linnerooth recommended the mother set reasonable bed times, be affectionate when her child was behaving and make other adjustments. The plan succeeded. "He wanted to learn how to work with kids and he was just a natural at it," Friman says.

Linnerooth also had made an impression at Minnesota State University-Mankato, where he earned his master's degree. Professor Daniel Houlihan, who was his adviser, remembers an enormously gifted writer who was prescient about the war — years before, he had warned of a high military suicide rate.

He was hired to teach psychology at the school in 2008. Still raw from Iraq, he quickly became annoyed with 19 year olds griping about tough grading standards. He'd just come from a place where 19 year olds worried about their very survival.

Linnerooth began missing meetings. He seemed paranoid, spending a lot of time in his office shredding papers, Houlihan recalls.

Jeffrey Buchanan, another professor in Mankato who'd been friends with Linnerooth and his wife since grad school, says the confident, self-assured Pete was gone. "It seemed like he was questioning every decision he was making," he says.

Things were also bad at home. Amy Linnerooth says they tried marital counseling.

Her husband seemed two people, she says. "It would be like the guy you knew ... then a little thing would set him off," she recalls. "I remember telling him 'I just want to blend in with the wallpaper. I don't want to be in your way.' It was like walking on eggshells."

In early 2009, Linnerooth's depression took a disastrous turn. He nearly died from an overdose of pills.

His buddy, McNabb, phoned.

"Jesus, man you can't even kill yourself right," he teased. Linnerooth laughed.

But he also confided: "I just hated where my life was going. Here, I'm arguing with my wife. ... I want to be normal for my kids. ... I was tired of being here.'"

Amy Linnerooth says her husband was very remorseful. "He thought that was a really stupid thing to do to the kids and us," she says. She was convinced he'd never try to harm himself again.

By late 2009, though, his marriage was failing and his job was in jeopardy.

Houlihan, his colleague, approached him. "This just isn't working well," he said. "We've got to figure out how we can salvage your career."

The professor expected Linnerooth to be defensive. Instead, he was relieved to confront the problems.

He was given an extended leave and headed west to start a new life.


McNabb had invited his pal to him join him at the Santa Cruz County Vet Center in California.

He arrived looking terrible, but soon shed 50 pounds and shaved his long beard. He moved in across the street from McNabb. They spent nights chatting over beers.

Linnerooth liked his new surroundings but his ongoing divorce and separation from his kids weighed on him. Still, he remained an attentive, loving father. He'd fly to Minnesota often and while in California, he'd call his children, Jack, 9, and Whitney, 6, every night. He'd read to his son; he created a cartoon series for his daughter featuring a spider they called Gigerenzer. He'd Skype with his kids, too, content just to watch them watch TV.

Linnerooth also felt his work as a veterans' readjustment counselor was helping people. He spoke at symposiums about the emotional trauma of war. With McNabb, he conducted a suicide prevention class for an Army Reserve unit, even as he himself was being treated for his own PTSD.

He became more vocal about the strains on military psychologists. Linnerooth talked about the pressures to The New York Times and Time. He told the magazine in 2010 "the Army has been criminally negligent," in not having enough mental health experts to serve combat vets, putting a bigger burden on those trying to do the job.

He joined Bret Moore, another former Army psychologist he befriended before Iraq, to produce an academic paper about professional burnout. "He wanted to write and get the word out," Moore says. "It was therapeutic for him. ... He really was putting his heart and soul into it."

For a time, Linnerooth seemed happy, telling Moore about his budding relationship with Melanie Walsh, a social worker. They'd met a decade earlier when she was an undergraduate assistant at Reno. Moore was invited to their July 2011 wedding in Lake Tahoe.

As the months wore on, though, he reported marital strains. He also was missing deadlines for their paper.

Moore says he eventually toned down Linnerooth's work to make it more academic and less emotional. "You could really see the anger," he says, noting it reflected both his attitude toward the military and his disintegrating personal life. The paper was published in 2011 in an American Psychological Association journal.

Linnerooth moved to Reno to be with his new wife. He was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with vets struggling with PTSD and substance abuse.

There was a hitch, though. He was approaching a two-year deadline to get a state license required by the VA.

McNabb urged him to take the test. Whether it was depression or another reason, he didn't. The VA let him go. (The agency said in a January statement that it was forced to terminate Linnerooth because of the lack of licensing but offered to take him back once he finished the requirements.)

"He felt betrayed," his widow says. "He deteriorated after that and he deteriorated quickly."

"It broke him yet again," his sister says. "He felt let down by the system."

Even for "a fairly resilient guy," Moore says, "there was just one letdown right after the other. He never got any breathing room."


At the end of last summer, Linnerooth returned home to Minnesota so he could see his children daily. He did travel back to California, though, for a joyous occasion — the birth of his son, David.

He spoke often with his buddy, McNabb, and seemed optimistic, considering new careers outside psychology But he kept his distance, too, not telling former university colleagues he was back.

Linnerooth was busy with family during the holidays: He sent his mother a text thanking her for the kids' Christmas gifts, traveled west to see his baby and sent photos of the infant in a green monster outfit to his sister, Mary. On Jan. 1, he spent a happy day with his son, Jack, and was planning another visit with David.

The next day, though, McNabb says, a fight with his wife, alcohol and a loaded gun proved a tragic combination.

He left a note with instructions, but no explanation of why he'd taken his life.

"For the record, Pete Linnerooth did not want to die," McNabb says. "He just wanted the pain to end. Big difference."

For all those who loved and admired him, for all those who saw him at his best and worst, these past weeks have been filled with sorrow, regret and inescapable irony.

"He didn't like to burden other people," his widow says. "He liked to take care of other people. I don't know anyone who knew how to comfort people like he did. ... He was very kind. He was sincere. He was generous. He was patient. He was forgiving. It's such a tragedy. He had the skill, he genuinely cared and he could have helped so many people. And now he's gone."


His family and friends gathered on a bitter cold January day in Minnesota to bid farewell.

The night before, his Army pals flew in from around the country and toasted their buddy with prodigious amounts of scotch and rum. They shared favorite Pete stories and placed his urn on the table, covering it with a Motorhead T-shirt.

Later in the hotel room near Fort Snelling National Cemetery, McNabb mulled over how to leave a legacy for his friend's kids — a memorial that would give them peace and make them proud. But he was limited to 30 characters for the message on Pete's headstone. How do you honor a life in a handful of words?

McNabb then remembered something Linnerooth had once told him: "Maybe we're all meant for just one great deed and we're done."

That gave him an idea.

The next day, on a 4-degree, cloudless morning, Capt. Peter J.N. Linnerooth was laid to rest with taps and a 21-gun salute.

McNabb presented Linnerooth's son, Jack, with his father's Bronze Star, telling him: "Don't forget your dad was so very proud of you."

After the mourners met for lunch and more reminiscences, a small group of Army friends who'd served with him in Iraq returned to the unmarked stone as the sun lowered in the winter sky.

McNabb leaned over a long arm, tapped the marble and addressed Pete:

"You owe me a ---- ton of beers when I see you next," he said with a smile.

Then he surveyed the surrounding graves, calling out to Pete those buried nearby, when they served and in what branch of military. These were now his neighbors.

"You're with all these people who'll love you for all time," he said.

It was finally time to go.

On a February day, the engraved headstone arrived. It's etched with Peter Linnerooth's name, his military service and a tribute to his great deed, summed up in this spare epitaph:




Sharon Cohen is a Chicago-based national writer. She can be reached at scohen(at)

***As March 17th Approaches-The Face Of Old Irish Working-Class North Adamsville- In Honor Of Kenny, Class Of 1958

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin

Another Moment In History- A Guest Post, Of Sorts

Kenny Kelly, Class of 1958? comment:

A word. I, Kenneth Francis Xavier Kelly, at work they just call me Kenny, although my friends call me “FX”, am a map of Ireland, or at least I used to be when I was younger and had a full head of very wavy red hair, a mass of freckles instead of a whiskey and beer chaser-driven mass of very high-proof wrinkles, and my own, rather than store-bought, rattlers, teeth I mean. For work, yah, I’m still rolling the barrels uphill, I, well, let’s just say I do a little of this and a little of that for Jimmy the Mutt and leave it at that. I am also the map, the Irish map part anyway, of North Adamsville, from the Class of 1958 at the old high school, or at least I should have been, except for, well, let’s leave that as at a little of this and that, for now, as well. I’ll tell you that story another time, if you want to hear it. Or talk to that old bastard, Headmaster Kerrigan, Black-Jack Kerrigan, and he’ll give you his lying side of the story if he can still talk the bastard.

Let’s also put it that I grew up, rough and tumble, mostly rough, very rough, on the hard drinking-father-sometimes-working, and the plumbing-or-something-don’t-work-and-you-can’t- get- the-tight-fisted-landlord-to- fix-anything-for-love-nor-money walk up triple decker just barely working class, mean streets around Sagamore and Prospect Streets in one –horse Atlantic. At least my dear grandmother, and maybe yours too, called it that because there was nothing there, nothing you needed anyway. You know where I mean, those streets right over by the Welcome Young Field, by Harry the Bookie’s variety store (you knew Harry’s, with the always almost empty shelves except maybe a few dusty cans of soup, a couple of loaves of bread and a refrigerator empty except maybe a quart of milk or two, an also active pin-ball machine, and his “book” right on the counter for all the world, including his cop-customer world, to see), and the never empty, never empty as long as my father was alive, Red Feather (excuse me I forgot it changed names, Dublin Grille) bar room. Now I have your attention, right?

But first let me explain how I wound up as a “guest” here. Seems like Peter Paul Markin, that’s the half-assed, oops, half-baked, wrote up some story, some weepy cock and bull story, about the Irish-ness of the old town, A Moment In History… As March 17th Approaches to the North Adamsville Graduates Facebook page and my pride and joy daughter, Clara, North Adamsville Class of 1978 (and she actually graduated), saw it and recognized the names Riley, O’Brian and Welcome Young Field and asked me to read it. I did and sent Peter Paul an e-mail, christ, where does he get off using two names like he was a bloody heathen Boston Brahmin and him without a pot to piss in, as my dear grandmother used to say, growing up on streets on the wrong side of the tracks, over near the marshes for chrissakes, wronger even than the Sagamore streets. Or my baby Clara did, did sent the e-mail after I told her what to write. I’m not much of hand at writing or using this hi-tech stuff, if you want to know the truth.

I don’t know what he did with that e-mail, and to be truthful again, I don’t really care, but in that e-mail I told him something that he didn’t know, or rather two things. The first was that I “knew” him, or rather knew his grandmother (on his mother’s side) Anna Riley because her sister, Bernice, and my dear grandmother, Mary, also an O’Brien but with an “e”, who both lived in Southie (South Boston, in those days the Irish Mecca, for the heathens or Protestants, or both, both heathen and Protestant, that might read this) were as thick as thieves. When I was just a teenager myself I used to drive his grandmother over to her sister’s in Southie so that the three of them, and maybe some other ladies joined them for all I know, could go to one of the Broadway bars (don’t ask me to name which one, I don’t remember) that admitted unescorted ladies in those days and have themselves a drunk. And smoke cigarettes, unfiltered ones no less, Camels I think when I used cadge a few, which his stern grandfather, Dan Riley, refused to allow in the house over on Young Street.

I know, I know this is not the way that blue-grey haired Irish grandmothers are supposed to act, in public or private. And somebody, if I know my old North Adamsville gossips, wags and nose-butters, and my North Adamsville Irish branch of that same clan especially, is going say why am I airing that “dirty linen” in public. That’s a good point that Peter Paul talked in his story about Frank O’Brian and not airing the family business in public in that foolish essay, or whatever he wrote. So what am I doing taking potshots as the blessed memories of those sainted ladies? That is where my second thing comes in to set the record straight – Peter Paul, and I told him so in that e-mail (or Clara did) with no beating around the bush, is to me just another one of those misty-eyed, half-breed March 17th Irish that are our curse and who go on and on about the eight hundred years of English tyranny like they lived it, actually lived each day of it. (Yes half-breed, his father, a good guy from what my father told me when they used to drink together, so he must have had something going for him, was nothing but a Protestant hillbilly from down in the mountain mists hills and hollows Kentucky)

Now don’t get me wrong. I am as patriotic as the next Irishman in tipping my hat to our Fenian dead like old Pearse did back in 1913 or so, and the boys of ’16, and the lads on the right side in 1922, and the lads fighting in the North now but Peter Paul has got the North Adamsville Irish weepy, blessed “old sod” thing all wrong. No doubt about it. So, if you can believe this, he challenged me, to tell the real story. And I am here as his “guest” to straighten him out, and maybe you too. Sure, he is helping me write this thing. I already told you I’m a low-tech guy. Jesus, do you think I could write stuff like that half-assed, oops, half- baked son of an expletive with his silly, weepy half-Irish arse goings on? I will tell you this though right now if I read this thing and it doesn’t sound right fists are gonna be swinging, old as I am. But let’s get this thing moving for God’s sake.

Let me tell you about the shabeen, I mean, The Red Feather, I mean the Dublin Grille, bar room on Sagamore Street. That’s the one I know, and I am just using that as an example. There were plenty of others in old North Adamsville, maybe not as many as in Southie, but plenty. If you seriously wanted to talk about the “Irish-ness” of North Adamsville that was the place, the community cultural institution if you will, to start your journey. Many a boy, including this boy, got his first drink, legal or illegal, at that, or another like it, watering hole. Hell, the “real”reason they built that softball field at Welcome Young was so the guys, players and spectators alike, had an excuse to stop in for a few (well, maybe more than a few) after a tough battle on base paths. That’s the light-hearted part of the story, in a way. What went on when the “old man”, anybody’s “old man”, got home at the, sometimes, wee hours is not so light-hearted.

See, that is really where the straightening out job on our boy Peter Paul needs to be done. Sure, a lot of Irish fathers didn’t get drunk all the time. Although the deep dark secret was that in almost every family, every shanty family for certain and I know, and many “lace curtain” families they was at least one reprobate drunk. Hell, the local city councilor’s brother, Healy I think it was, was thrown in the drunk tank by the coppers more times than he was out. They could have given him a pass-key and saved time and money on dragging him to the caboose. But the king hell takes-the-cake was old Black-Jack’s Kerrigan’s brother, Boyo (sorry, I forget his real name). Yah, the North Adamsville High headmaster’s brother, the bastard that I had a run-in with and had to hightail it out of school, although it was not over his brother.

See Black-Jack’s family though they were the Mayfair swells since Black-Jack had gone to college, one of the first in the old neighborhood, and they had that big single-family house over on Beach Street. But more than one night I found Boyo lying face-down on Billings Road drunk as a skunk and had to carry him home to his wife and family. And then head back to the other side of the tracks, that wrong side I already told you about. Next day, or sometime later, Boyo would give me a dollar. Naturally when I went to school after that I went out of my way to flash the dollar bill at Black-Jack, saying “Look what Boyo gave me for helping him out.” That’s all I had to say. Black-Jack always turned fuming red, maybe flaming red.

A lot of Irish fathers didn’t beat on their wives all the time either. And a lot of Irish fathers didn’t physically beat their kids for no reason. Plenty of kids go the “strap” though when the old man was “feeling his oats.” (I never heard of any sexual abuse, but that was a book sealed with seven seals then.) And more than one wife, more than one son’s mother didn’t show her face to the “shawlie” world due to the simple fact that a black eye, a swollen face, or some other wound disfigured her enough to lay low for a while. I had to stop, or try to stop, my own father one time when I was about twelve and he was on one of his three day Dublin Grille whiskey straight-up, no chaser toots and Ma just got in his way. He swatted me down like a fly and I never tried to go that route again. But he didn’t try to beat my mother again either, at least not when I was a around or I would have heard about it on the shawlie wire.

And a lot of Irish wives didn’t just let their husbands beat on them just because they were the meal ticket, the precious difference between a home and the county farm or, worse, the streets. And a lot of Irish wives didn’t make excuses (or pray) for dear old dad when the paycheck didn’t show up and the creditors were beating down the door. And a lot of Irish wives didn’t let those Irish fathers beat on their kids. And a lot of Irish mothers didn’t tell their kids not to “air the dirty linen in public.”But, don’t let anyone fool you, and maybe I am touching on things too close to home, my home or yours, but that formed part of the scene, the Irish scene.

Maybe, because down at the Atlantic dregs end of North Adamsville the whole place was so desperately lower working-class other ethnic groups, like the Italians, also had those same pathologies. (I am letting Peter Paul use that last word, although I still don’t really know what it means, but it seemed right when he told me what it meant). I don’t know. Figure it out though, plenty of fathers (and it was mainly fathers only in those days who worked, when they could) with not much education and dead-end jobs, plenty of triple deckers, no space, no air, no privacy rented housing and plenty of dead time. Yah, sure, I felt the “Irish-ness” of the place sometimes (mainly with the back of the hand), I won’t say I didn’t but when Peter Paul starts running on and on about the “old sod” just remember what I told you. I’ll tell you all the truth, won’t you take a word from me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Out In The 1940s Film Noir Night- WithThe Naked City In Mind

Sure she was beautiful, she knew it too, everybody back in Hoboken, or Trenton, or whatever Jersey town she was from knew it as well, so she was drawn, drawn like a moth to the bright lights, the bright lights of the big city, New Jack City (had she the price of the Greyhound bus ticket she might have headed to tinsel town, headed out west, but just then, that first decision moment, she was short of cash so New Jack it was). See though beautiful, even drop- dead beautiful, did not pay the rent in the city, the bright light city and so she used other charms, other charms that might not have set so well, even with those guys scheming to get her in the back seat of some late model souped-up car in Hoboken or Paterson, or set well, with some god-fearing parents. And the men noticed those charms or heard about them and took note, and she took note that they took note and before you knew it men were swarming all over her, promising, well, like men will do with a beautiful, promising the moon. The moon, that is, once they unloaded that nagging wife, who however controlled the purse-strings. And so the quest for dough, big dough, Mayfair swell dough or its equivalent drove her, drove her for a while until that one night when that beautiful, that man-hunger, and that dough fever caught up with her and she wound up face down in some bathtub. Murdered, murdered most foul.
In tough , hard-edged , watch your step, don’t turn your back New Jack City though murders are a dime a dozen, and many, many cases of average joes with brother-in-law beefs, wife beefs, some drunk who is pushed off a pier in some squabble , or stuff like that don’t get solved or anything but a yawn. A beautiful though is a different proposition, especially one face-down in some forlorn bathtub. People want to know about that, want to know the coppers are moving heaven and earth to find the killer, or to find out why Emma from Hoboken got herself involved in some awful mess, some juicy sex scandal, want to know for a couple of days anyway. And so the coppers will pull out all stops on this one, all stops for New Jack City coppers okay.

So there is a back story. See our beautiful, our Jane Doe beautiful, really did badly want some real dough and unless you get lucky with the horses or marry some Mayfair swell (who are, as noted, usually sewed up very early by other Mayfair swells and so don’t count on that one) you need an angle. And so our beautiful had this little scam running when some Mayfair swell fell for her, fell for her hard (not hard enough for a divorce and easy street, you know that nagging wife scene, the one who controls the dough but hard enough to be the “finger” man for her little operation). She used the bonzo (her term according to one source) to introduce her to the wealthy of the town in order to steal an odd Hope diamond or two. Then she would steal the stuff, not her of course, no beautiful for Hoboken or even Trenton is built for that heavy work, but her confederates, her rough and ready confederates.
See though when you go down mano y mano with the dregs of society don’t turn your back on, or better still don’t try to cheap jack your actual “perps,” because labor costs are high in the heist business so spread the wealth or else you will wind up in that damn bathtub very dead, very dead indeed. And so that was the fate of our beautiful and her death made many a man sorry, and left many a New Jack City resident wondering how the world had gone to hell in a hand basket for a few days. As for the coppers, yah, they plucked their man, some grifter who was unhappy with his cut. And so it goes, so it goes in the black and white gritty New Jack City night…

By the Bradley Manning Support Network. March 13, 2013.
The Solidarity Party of Afghanistan held a demonstration in Kabul last week for Pfc. Bradley Manning. As you can see in the video below, dozens of men, women, and children held signs and banners calling for Bradley Manning’s freedom. Their giant banner reads, ‘Bradley Manning, you are a hero of suffering Afghans!’
Other signs say, ‘When Bradley is stripped, America is exposed,’ and ‘Refusing to kill is not a crime.’

In a post on their website entitled (translated by Google), ‘Bradley Manning: I did not want America to be part of the killing machine and the state murder,’ the Afghan supporters refer to documents that Manning gave to WikiLeaks regarding the Garani massacre in the Farah province of Afghanistan. Manning found and passed to WikiLeaks a video and accompanying investigation of a 2009 U.S. airstrike on the village that killed more than 140 civilians, mostly women and children.
In his statement explaining his release of those files, Manning said he found the incident similar to the Collateral Murder video, except that it had far more casualties. He said, “the investigation and its conclusions helped explain how this incident occurred, what those involved should have done, and how to avoid an event like this from occurring again.”
“I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare,” he said.
He hoped releasing war logs could “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Other documents Bradley released exposed the fact that U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.
See the Afghan War Diary here.
More photos:


*** As March 17th Approaches-Remembrances Of Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade 2012

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin

“Hey, just follow the Veterans For Peace (VFP) white and black dove-emblazoned flags down to D Street and you’ll run right into the Saint Patricks’ Peace Parade staging area,” a grizzled veteran, looking like a man who had seen his share of battles in war and peace, bellowed to one and all as Frank Jackman and his veteran and peace activist companions exited the Broadway Redline MBTA station on that overheated March 17th 2012 Sunday late morning in order to form up in that parade the old vet had informed them about. Headed out into the South Boston (Southie) day.  

[As it turned out, by the way, when Frank “interviewed” him later while they were waiting in that flag-festooned staging area, the grizzled veteran, Bob Ballad, had indeed seen his share of battles, having done two tours in ‘Nam, two tours as a “grunt,” an infantry man, “cannon fodder,” during hell time, 1966-68, and also of peace time battles against drugs and liquor, a couple of bouts of homelessness, a couple of divorces, and a few other of the now well-known  pathologies of  those who had had trouble coming back to the “real world “ after Vietnam that Frank had witnessed in his own family, in his own old time Hullsville neighborhood,  and among his fellow VFPers. Moreover , unlike Frank, who was also a Vietnam veteran and had  turned anti-war while in the military, that grizzled vet had not turned against war, the rumors of war, and all that war entails until his own son started clamoring for permission to go in the service when Iraq exploded in 1991. That is when he put his foot down, kept his son out, and had been a stalwart anti-warrior ever since. Talk about a guy with street “cred” on war issue. Welcome aboard, brother, welcome aboard]                

Frank  had to chuckle to himself a little as he and his companions headed up Broadway among the throngs who were forming up for the official parade that although he had grown up in the Irishtown section of Hullsville (you could hardly walk down a street of that town at this time of year and not be confronted with more green than you would ever see short of  maybe Dublin , and that was true even these days when the town itself, reflecting a couple of generations more moving south out of  Boston had lost it dominate Irish feel) and had lived in Boston on and off for most of his adult life he had never gone to the official parade. Well except that one time in high school junior year when he and “flame” Kathy Flanagan (she of the long wild red hair, light freckled face and green eyes, and thin athletic body who disturbed his sleep more than one night in those days) had “skipped” school (unlike in Boston which was in a different county from Hullsville they did not have the day off from school in the days when the holiday was celebrated on the actual day not only on Sunday) and headed via the long haul Eastern Mass bus armed with a pint of  Southern Comfort, the drink of choice and cheap, over to the parade. They never got there, to the parade anyway. They had stopped off at Carson Beach and started drinking that ambrosia and well, one thing led to another and  who gave a damn about some silly shamrock drunken parade anyway when a guy had a wild, green-eyed, red-headed girl next to him on the seawall. So, although he had many close connections with old “Southie,” the first stop for many of the famine-borne (famine of one kind or another, not just the food kind although that was writ large on that benighted country’s history) Irish, including his family, this was to be the first time that he showed up in Southie for a parade on Saint Patty’s Day. And of course while he might be on those same hallowed official parade streets his purpose that day was to march with the VFP contingent in their alternative peace parade.                  

Frank was not sure of all the details then about why there was a need for a separate parade, although later after the event he dug out some of the details from some guys who were closely involved in organizing the alternative event, but the gist of it centered on exclusion. Everybody in town, everybody who cared anyway, knew that back in the 1990s the official parade organizers had gone to court, hell, had gone all the way to the Supremes, over excluding gays and lesbians (even Irish gays and lesbians like somehow such human categories could not exist in Catholic-heavy Irishtown and was a dastardly thing, a mortal sin maybe, so if there were then they did want any part of it publicly). And won, won the right to exclude whomever they wanted from their “private” parade, as the Supremes in one of their more arcane legal decisions that made no sense when he read it backed them up.

See though, when you have a “right” to exclude that can take you into some strange places so when the VFP decided they wanted march in the official parade to protest various war actions of the American government, or just to send out a peace message to a large crowd they too were excluded by the official parade organizers. The “reason”-short and simple reason, they, the officials, didn’t want the words “veterans” and “peace” put together in their parade.  Hence the march of the excluded that VFP had first organized the previous year. And hence too Frank Jackman had that year responded to their call and was approaching the staging area with that sense of solidarity in mind.

As Frank waited, seemingly endlessly waited for the peace parade to step off  (the officials had, as part of their victory, been able to legally keep any other formations at least one mile behind their procession) he began to think of the many connections he had with this old section of town, this section that he had heard had changed demographically and in other ways as the Irish moved south and the younger more diverse set moved in and rehabilitated the old cold- water triple-deckers that lined all the lettered and numbered streets of the section (at least showing some sense of order since the real of the town was identified by a miasma of odd-ball combinations). He remembered ancient first murky visits to those old cold- water flats where some great aunts and their huge broods lived in splendid squalor and of cheap ribbon candy offered at Christmas time and not much else. Or funny things like the few times that he had been “privileged” to drive his material grandmother Riley  (nee O’Brian) over to Southie so that the sisters (some of those grand-aunts) could go to one of the “ladies invited” taverns and get drunk since Grandpa Riley refused, absolutely refused, to have liquor in the house (or cigarettes either). He wished he could remember the exact gin mill but he couldn’t except that it was near the Starlight Ballroom. 

Or when he was older and his uncle on his mother’s side had taken him to Jim and Joe’s farther up Broadway, up toward M Street, and “baptized” him with his first drink of whiskey straight up (no beer chasers then, that would could later). Or later still when he became something of a regular at Jim and Joe’s while he was working his way through college servicing vending machines for York Vending just around the corner from the D Street staging area and the guys, the mainly Southie guys that he worked with, “forced” him to drink with them after work, drink straight shot whiskey (and hence the genesis of beer chasers). Beyond those episodes though, except an occasion walk on Carson Beach (with and without female companionship) he had not been around Southie much since then.

After a while, a long hot while, since the weather was unseasonably warm for March in Boston, the peace parade stepped off, stepped off with VFP black and white dove-emblazoned flags flying in the lead paced by several cars for those really old (so he thought) World War II  veterans, veterans from Frank’s late father’s time sitting on board. As he looked back he noticed a huge banner calling for No War On Iran and another calling for Freedom For Private Bradley Manning, another worthy cause, and behind that contingents of LGBT in various combinations, and behind them broken up at intervals by marching bands other progressive and social groups wishing to express solidarity with the excluded here, and throughout the world. Frank felt good, felt he had made the right decision to come this day despite some medical problems recently.

As the parade turned onto Broadway, old Broadway, of a thousand drinks and other assorted goings on, he again thought about the old days as he passed various landmarks, or the spots where the landmarks had been once. Artie’s where his first serious serious “flame” Sheila Shea had left him, left him for good, Jim and Joe’s now called the Green Tavern, where he had had more cheap whiskeys than he cared to recall, a couple of places farther up where ladies were invited back then (quaint notion, right),and he had been invited by a couple of ladies and then up where another  small “flame” Minnie Kiley had lived, then up and over to  cavernous East  Broadway where the triple-deckers of his early youth still stood thick as thieves.

Then he started to notice that those self-same triple- deckers had been upgraded and that those who stood on the sidewalks clapping as the parade went by were not the “from hunger” Irish second and third cousins of his youth but looked, well, wed-fed and well-cared for. And as they marched toward the end of the parade route at Andrew Square he also noticed, very distinctly noticed, a small section of streets where gay men were standing with a sign and cheering. Frank then flashed back to an earlier time when the deep dark secret in Aunt Bernice’s brood, the one from K Street, was that one of the boys, Harry, was “different” and had been banished from the house. Yes, things had certainly changed but he wished that those idiots who were so keen on exclusion had moved away from those whiskey and beer chaser bar stools and come into the sunlight…