Sunday, November 23, 2008

Freddy Got His Gun

“Johnny Got His Gun” is a wonderful little anti-war polemic by Dalton Trumbo. It’s a fast read, mostly depressing. Mr. Trumbo was one of the Hollywood notaries blacklisted in the McCarthy era for being a Communist, or a Socialist, or insufficiently warlike, or whatever was really on the minds of those House Un-American Activities Committee sons-of-sea-cooks.

The unfortunate protagonist in “Johnny Got His Gun” is a GI from WWI for whom Dr. Nobel’s invention of TNT was a mixed blessing. Make that an unambiguous curse. Dr. Nobel’s genius greatly enhanced the effectiveness of all explosive weapons, such as bombs and artillery shells, and by extension all projectile weapons, such as rifle and machine gun bullets. WWI was the first great flowering of Dr. Nobel’s art. The exponential increase in fire power deprived Johnny of his arms, his legs, his face, and his vocal cords. If memory serves, he finishes out the book tapping Morse Code with his head, nursery rhymes or something, he’s quite insane by then.

My life is a flippant, self-serving, totally inapt analogy to Johnny. I also have been separated from most of my accoutrement. He was deprived of the continued use of actual limbs, while I must suffer to live what passes for my daily life deprived of:

1. 99% of my recorded musical recourses, which even a fool could have seen were very important to me;

2. I am reduced to about twenty books, half of which I own only to enable myself to communicate such ideas as “please fix my printer;”

3. I possess ten or fifteen color Xerox copies of covers of some of the magazines that I actually possess in their entirety in another time zone, thousands of magazines representing six decades of American culture that I can read whenever I feel like it if I happen to be there, which I am not;

4. I have to “hand” one semi-acceptable flat-top, acoustic guitar, Takamine made in Indonesia, and no electric guitars, and no bass guitars at all, and no amplifiers, while in the other time zone I have a half-dozen of great guitars (well, four and a couple of mediocrities) and four amplifiers, two of which are surpassingly excellent;

5. I am deprived of 99% of my recorded video recourses, most of what I have on hand is material that I am only half interested in and in languages that I do not understand at that;

6. I am forced to go forth every day dressed like a beggar, because almost all of my decent clothes are in the other time zone, many days I just hold my breath and pretend that I am on my way to a rock fight or a mud-wrestling contest; and

7. I am deprived the enjoyment of my car, which is a classic, luxury hot-rod of the first order, in like-new condition, a rocket on Pirelli P-2000’s, a transcendent joy to drive.

I am generally healthy, and as such, of course, I have no right to complain. I will sleep soundly tonight in my own bed, the mattress of which had a price tag the equivalent of three or four decent months salaries in this country. I have a new Hitachi refrigerator full of food and all of my clothes, such as they are, are properly laundered (by me) and properly stowed (Navy style). Things could be much worse. But, please note, everything is relative.


Anonymous said...

You need to get yourself an ipod with lots of memory. Then you could hold in your hand 100% of your music collection, and many many hours of your video collection, too. Then get a Pignose guitar amp. It's about the size of a coffee can. Plug a geetar in and play anywhere on batteries.
And with internet access such as you have, you can access any number of online magazines, movies and TV shows from all over the globe.
You're not utilzing all the resources you do have.

fred c said...

Actually, I have a forty gig i-pod. It's back in California. It's full of five or seven thousand songs, most of which I stole from Napster in the good old days. The computer with all that stuff is long gone, and I'm afraid to lose it by trying to up-load it. Fear rules my life, it's very sad.

The magazines, please understand, it's not the information. As a result of poor toilet training, those are my little treasures and I only long to hold them in my filthy hands.

Anonymous said...

There are needs, and there are wants. You have all you need and more (look at that jelly belly!). But the yawning chasm of your wants is really obvious.

fred c said...

N.B. I am not asking for anything; nor am I moaning about wanting anything; I would only like to be one of the people who is actually enjoying my shit, my right now fucking own shit, right now.

Like I said. Poor toilet training.

And "jelly belly?" Let's see your glossies, bitch. Age 25, 35, 45 and 55. When I still had a metabolism, I was thin. I continue to eat every day. Fuck you.

Anonymous said...

When I were away from my country visitin in America. I had an good time and fun with the freinds in the New York upstate. When I were there I miss things from my home to likw my old brother and young sister and freinds. I no what you feel likw when you miss things from the home and time be sad. My English writeing not to good now my English speaking better I am learning fast. You teach English MR Fred C I try to learn fast and good when I see you blog Spin Easy Time. Nhoi is my freind and you teach her in the class and Nhoi sayed you are nice teacher and Nhoi showd did me Spin Easy Time blog. I have English queston what are jelly belly what are chasm what are N.B. Somethieng bad I think must be why you sayed some curs. I hear American curs. I go now and help brother and sister. I see you soon allegator.

Chaeng freind of Nhoi

Anonymous said...

Imagine how proud i am of myself having read that book.

Have you seen the Metallica video?


fred c said...

"Jelly belly" here is a reference to my fat stomach; a chasm is a deep space between two cliffs, hard to cross (often used to describe the "chasm" between two people or two cultures which makes understanding difficult; N.B. means "pay careful attention," from "note bene," Latin for "note well."

Anonymous said...

Chaeng you sound like a very nice person. Are you a young man or a young woman? Are you from Thailand? Where in upstate New York did you visit? I have some nice friends in upstate New York and in New York City. I am not a English teacher but I can help you with your English speaking of words. If you come back to visit New York I can show you around and show you the sites in New York. You said curs in your comment. Did you mean I hear Americans curse? If that is what you mean you are right and it is not a good thing for Americans to curse. My friends and me do not say curses. Do you have an Email address? I would like to write to you and send you pictures of me and my friends and you can send me pictures of you and your friend Nhoi. It will be a pleasure to meet you Chaeng. My name is Johnny and I live in New Jersey right next to New York.

fred c said...

Attention, Chaeng: I don't know this Johnny person, so I must advise you to be careful. In New York, we grow up with good "bullshit detectors," and mine is ringing right now. Johnny, you may be a right guy, but this ain't a personals column.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I am almost 100% in agreement with you