Monday, August 14, 2017

A Keen Eye For People

This is how it starts.

A friend sees someone at a bar, and gets my attention on FB. He tells me the fellow is different, not speaking to anyone. Fixated on a book, and a laptop. Animated. A mop of disheveled brown hair, though which he runs his fingers from time to time. Occasionally, he strokes his month-old stubble.

He's drinking beer,and eating a burrito. It is "plain" in the sense that it is not smothered with awesomesauce. He picks up a salt shaker and sprinkles his meal liberally. It seems to bother him not at all that burritos are just not consumed that way in Denver.

We conclude he's a former Tier One operator. He learned to eat food that way in the jungles of Columbia, chasing the FARC. He's out of the service, but remains tied to his friends through a company selling the skills of former SpecOp officers. He stares at his computer, sends a text to his current girlfriend ("Going fishing. Need my pole.") Her reply suggests this is going to be one deployment too many. He'll have to get his M4 and Sig after she's gone.

Cici 2 - the sequel to A More Perfect Union - needed the antagonist, as it were, to have a face. Game on.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Gentle on my Mind

Things ain't what they used to be...and probably never was. Will Rogers.

Many people look back on the early years of their lives and yearn for those simpler times. They did not grow up in the 60's.

The late Sixties and early Seventies were an amazing amalgamation of conflicting social influences. Rock music's expressions were sometimes angrily political, occasionally drug-celebratory, presenting a hard edge. At the movies, one might walk in to a double feature - one being Patton, the other MASH - where the American military is celebrated and skewered. Onto this stage strode Glen Travis Campbell.

He'd had a big hit - "Gentle on my Mind." It was an unconventional love song by any account, a loner on the road, something of a hobo, who remembers someone not because he has to, but because he can't stop himself.

It struck a chord. Doesn't everyone have someone in their past, the memory of whom lingers through the years? Millions of people from around the world answered yes by the simple mechanism of purchasing the record, or listening to it on the radio. Or both.

Campbell grew up in Arkansas, and moved to LA to pursue a music career. He was a session musician, that is, an excellent player who sits in with better known stars and does the heavy lifting. He was an exceptional guitar player. The list of groups with whom he'd associated was a who's who of headliners.

A string of hits helped land him a movie role, and a variety show on TV - a popular genre during that period. My parents loved the show, watched it every week. My mom especially loved Campbell's wholesome appeal, his clear tones and easy manner.

His career was not to be a fairy tale. Drinking and drugs took their toll. Music tastes moved on.

It's easy to dismiss him as a phony, his career brief and inconsequential. But, when he passed away yesterday at 81 there were millions of young men and women my age, remembering the nights when they huddled around a TV with their now-late parents and sang along.  May those memories sit gentle on their minds.