Sunday, May 03, 2009

Throwing in the Towel

In summer of 1969, I was still in the Army and stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. I lived off post (Laurel, Maryland) with three roommates that had been previously honorably discharged from the same Army unit in which I was currently serving. We all had the same College backgrounds – we were mid 60’s dropouts. That’s what landed us into involuntary servitude in the first place.

We had the party apartment of our complex. There was a major (forty to fifty attendees) theme party (Saturday night) at least once per month, plus a weekly impromptu get together with friends and neighbors. We even had a 3 Keg Perlick Beer Cooler as the focal piece in the living room of our apartment. It was like living in a Frat house, only better.

We had all served in the Army Security Agency (ASA) and our final destination was Fort George G Meade; the home of No Such Agency. I was the only roommate that was still in the Army. I had even bought a George Harrison style wig (I wore it at all the parties – it impressed the young ladies in attendance) to cover up the fact that I was still in the military.

All three of my roommates had done time overseas.

One was stationed at Harrogate, England (it was known as “Menwith Hill”) for two years until it closed down and was turned back over to the Brits. He had some great stories about the local “Birds” and pubs in nearby Leeds.

Another roommate had been stationed in Sinop (The Second Pearl of the Black Sea, AKA “The Rock”) Turkey. This was considered to be a hardship tour (no wives – no women). In this all male environment, sophomoric antics were certain to reach their peak. Occasional trips to the local Karahani (Sp?) relieved them of some of their pent up testosterone.

My third roommate was stationed at Kagnew Station in Eritrea, Ethiopia, East Africa. This was the same place where I had done my overseas duty. He had left shortly before I arrived, but through our conversations we found that we had a lot of friends in common.

On non major party Saturday nights we would sit around talking about our overseas adventures. There were really some great stories told. Of course they were slightly embellished by the teller of the story.

My roommate who had done time in Turkey suggested that we write a book or even a screen play about our adventures in the ASA. Being the most illiterate and youngest of our group (but with the best sense of humor), I was chosen to chronicle our stories and adventures. Besides, they told me that they all had real jobs and I was still in the Army (I never understood their logic).

I spent much of my free time (I had a lot) in my Army Job writing the definitive screen play about our lives in the Military service. I borrowed some concepts from Joseph Heller’s book Catch 22 (without actually plagiarizing him), that I had read in the mid 1960’s.

After supper (after quaffing a few/many beers), I would read my daily writings to my roommates soliciting comments and input. And most of the time they laughed at the dialogs that I had written. This was a good sign.


I was about 3/4's finished with my work of a lifetime, when in February 1970, I saw the Robert Altman movie M*A*S*H. It had better dialog than mine, but the same concept (different time period). I left my work unfinished. I was heart broken.

Several years later (1973), while attending the University of Maryland, I decided to write the ultimate screen play about growing up as a teenager in the late1950’s and early 1960’s. Again I was stymied, this time by George Lucas and his film American Graffiti. I finally gave up. I was twice bitten and twice heart broken.

Although my friends and professors encouraged me to continue writing; I haven’t. I know when to throw in the towel!

The Beach Bum

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep these writings to serve as the bones of a larger work.

Nothing is original, all concepts are from something else. "Being there" was probably the mirror image of "Tartuffe" The story of Jesus could be based on stories of heroes of the past, such as Hercules. "Stairway to Heaven" seems to have borrowed from "Carolan's Dream." youtube it.

"Good writers borrow, great writers steal." Chet Atkins.

Al

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