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Yippee! Flashback Heaven. Forty years ago today sees the first appearance of one of the most important long-term characters in the strip -- Walden Puddle!
I remember working my way up into the PAO (Public Affairs Office, Tonkin Gulf, VietNam). From that auspicious view, I covered the war, and our efforts. My takeaway? War is hellish lying bullshit. We feed our finest young people into one end of the grinder, add millions in hardware, and get shiny aluminum coffins out the other end. I hate to admit it, but I was a whore for an air conditioner. I never went back to writing. The Muse was forever tainted by Mars. Did I say tainted? The Muse looked like that movie where the pig blood is dumped on the Prom Queen. You just never see it with that clarity again. This flashback stuff, in a comic strip, is likely the most accurate reporting we're ever gonna get.
Roland is a mix of Sam Donaldson on his worst day, and Geraldo on his best day. Annoying...
Go Mel go! Give Roland the takedown every other soldier he interviewed wished they could give him!
I have read Doonesbury from the first strip, but have always found Roland Hedley to be a depressing character. He perfectly sums up all that is wrong with the media these days. So bravo, Mr Trudeau, for creating such a monster. But sometimes I wish you hadn't.
At least in my country, in the real world of journalism -- which I happen to inhabit -- it's the Rolands who get jobs, and the Ricks are left to blog and get scarce or no compensation at all.
What's with the Xmas tree in April?
Today's strip is a Flashback Sunday which originally appeared in December, 2010. Whenever GBT takes a vacation, the syndicate sends out a week of previously-published Flashback daily strips and a Flashback Sunday. Due to the production schedule, the two don't appear together. Client newspapers are provided with a Flashback header, but many do not use it, leaving some readers wondering if they are reading a re-run or experiencing deja vu. You can always check here on the site, where we run a Flashback header at the upper left corner of the strip.
The last panel of today's strip: That's Roland "still clueless after all these years" Hedley in a nutshell. I am still offended that he holds a job and Bick (sorry, Rick) does not.
Thank you so much for posting the full concert video of The Band on your website today. One of my biggest regrets in life is going to be that I never went to one of Levon Helm's Midnight Rambles. He lived only about 10 miles from me, practically a neighbor. It would have been so easy to go, yet I thought I'd always have the chance, so I waited. Now it's too late. Levon Helm was unique, a gift from the universe, and now he's been taken back.
Today's SAYWHAT? quote from Bishop Jenky brings to mind Godwin's Law, and this commentary upon it: "It is generally accepted that whoever is the first to play the 'Hitler card' has lost the argument as well as any trace of respect, as having to resort to comparing your adversary to the most infamous mass-murdering dictator in history generally means you've run out of better arguments."
This week's comic takes me back to Don Martin from Mad Magazine. Throw in a "Thwap!" or "FLOOT THWIP THOP KLOP" (man unfolding beach umbrella) and the mood will be complete.
Sunday's strip was a powerful reminder -- deployed soldiers haven't stopped needing contact and support. As a beneficiary of both Books For Soldiers and Any Soldier during my two OIF tours, I can testify to the impact of both those organizations. They have done and are still doing a great job of organizing on both ends, and ensuring that packages sent to troops contain usable, desired items along with caring cards and letters. My units couldn't thank them enough, and I am so glad to see they are still on mission.
Thank you for Sunday's strip about Mel not getting mail. I am a longtime volunteer member of Books for Soldiers, a troop support organization. Our members not only send books to our deployed troops, but also food, clothing, hygiene supplies, bedding, movies, music, comic books, computer and board games, letters, birthday cards and more -- just about anything they need to make their deployment a little easier. They and their families make great sacrifices for us as they serve our country. It's the least we, their fellow Americans, can do in sharing the challenges of deployment with them. I've lost count of how many times deployed servicemembers have mentioned to me that they feel forgotten because no one they know is writing to them despite promising that they would. I hope many of those guilty of forgetting our deployed troops read Sunday's strip and felt compelled to write a letter or send a care package. Thanks!
It's been sad to me, to see, in the this week's FLASHBACKS strips from ten years ago about Mark's father's death, that all Rev. Sloan could find to say about Phil Slackmeyer was that he "was a decent golfer, collected tie clips, and subscribed to three newspapers." What is heartbreaking is the juxtaposition of this total lack of mourning, with the FLASHBACK episode exactly 15 years earlier. There, Phil Slackmeyer spends an entire afternoon dancing with homeless taxi dancer Alice P. Schwarzman, for a dollar a dance, making her feel as enchanting as "the debutante [she] once was," before (and after) turning himself in, to the SEC, for arrest and imprisonment. That takes class, and courage. I wish there were more public media honoring those corporate criminals who do the right thing, admit what they've done, and turn themselves in.
What else could be said about Phil Slackmeyer? He accepted his son's same-sex partner and focused on his shared political views with Chase, rather than on their differences. He framed his son's Dean's List notice and hung it on the wall. He wrote memoirs of the war, admitting that he had lied to get out of combat. He did his best to encourage his son and his colleagues to succeed. He didn't hide his Jewish ancestry, even from racist colleagues at a segregated golf club. "In short," as Rev. Sloan eulogized, "a life well lived."
It's interesting that some Blowback posters are upset that Jeff has written "war porn" and made some money. James Jones was Jeff's age in 1952 when he was paid $82,000 for the movie rights to From Here to Eternity. Taking inflation into account, that would be about $775,000 today for the movie rights to a novel that, at the time, didn't rise to the level of "war porn," but was merely considered porn and unfilmable. Perhaps 60 years from now The Red Rascal will be considered a literary classic, just as From Here to Eternity now is. As a side note, it is interesting that soldiers who served with Jones have said that the novel was almost entirely fiction and had no resemblance to their actual service in Hawaii. Neither The Red Rascal (actually a double fiction) nor From Here to Eternity are history books, but rather are novels for people who weren't there.
I just saw Sunday's strip. Damned if it doesn't bring back a lot of hurt from 40 years ago. The 99% still forget those they send in harm's way.
Sunday's "Are we still there?" strip expresses the lack of interest among most of us for the fate of our military. Do we all have something more important to do? Someone else can face the danger, someone else can feel the pain, someone else can volunteer to sleep out in the rain. Someone else can face the bullets, someone else can face the bombs, someone else can do the dying like they did in Vietnam.
I returned from Vietnam in '69. I recieved my first "Thank You" in 2004 from someone other than my immediate family. However, as with most Vietnam vets (and, I think, current vets) I rarely mentioned that I was a vet. I'm glad to see the gratitude and appreciation for those who are currently serving or recently served their country.
As a Vietnam veteran I am always honored to meet the young men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they have as a group been the most gracious when meeting those from my war. Not a phony moment passes when anyone from these two eras meet. That they are my heroes goes without saying.
The British used to fight their colonial wars with an army made up of men that the public could get sentimental about but didn't really care about. That's what Nixon had in mind when he ended the draft 40 years ago, and it's worked out pretty much the way he figured it would.