2. Not in Kansas Anymore
(ten minute read)
18A. Pitcher of Beer With the French Legionnaire
Let’s cut to the chase.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine, I promised you that, instead of another Jumpin’ Jubilee Club chapter, Chapter 18 would be something completely different. I had planned to take you on a rollicking excursion through the lighter side of my other website, We're Not in Kansas Anymore, and then introduce you to my 600-page political satire, The Einstein Sisters Bag the Flying Monkeys. Both are obviously themed around the Wizard of Oz.
But that’s not going to happen. Here’s why.
Both of these works are also about wars, USA’s wars. For example, the bad guys in The Einstein Sisters are the Flying Monkeys, George W. Bush and his neocon war hawks that conned us into the devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few of the retired officers, who were also responsible, have been recycled by CNN, Fox and MSNBC for the current Ukraine conflict. I don’t envy them after our withdrawal from Afghanistan. I doubt if they'll fess up for that twenty-year nightmare. Why shouid they?
After all, you have nothing to lose for being responsible for an American war that cost billions of taxpayers' dollars and left millions dead and maimed. The destruction of entire towns. Wailing women. Crying children. Deformed babies. Environmental waste zones.
You're off the hook even if our nation loses your war.
Consider, for example, Victoria Newland, who is now in charge of President Biden's Ukraine and Russia policy. Her husband is Robert Kagan, founder of the Project for the New American Century. That's where all the Flying Monkeys satirized in our graphic hung out.
Americans are losing patience with wars. That's why the politicians and corporate media are pulling out all the stops to suck us into this one. That's also why Fox News' Tucker Carlson has the biggest viewing audience just for challenging the official narrative.
Wars are, by far, the evilest behavior human beings can engage in.
They’re started by war criminals. If we win their war, they’re set for life. If we ever lose big time they’ll be tried like the Nazis and Japanese leaders after World War II. I wonder if they are beginning to think about that. Unlikely.
For years I taught American History. I’m obsessed with war criminals, American wars, American war criminals. Can you name one kind of criminal that’s taken the lives of more good people, or wasted more precious resources. Yet ours always get away. So far.
I know other countries have war criminals too. But when it comes to the statistics about deaths and destruction over the last couple hundred years, no other country holds a candle to us. And "our" war criminals were responsible for killing people dear to me. Friends. Former students.
Ask Smedley Butler. Or his great granddaughter Major General Agnes Grendel.
Soon you will read more on this site about Agnes’s crush on her West Point colleague, a historian who just wrote the definitive United States history on the subject of America’s wars.
(Remember, this is a teaser for upcoming chapters in Jumpin’ Jubilee Club!)
Getting back to We're Not in Kansas Anymore, the most important item posted on my first website is my widely published five-part series on the United States Military’s extensive use of depleted uranium munitions in both Iraq wars.
Few Americans had heard of Gulf War Syndrome at the time Depleted Uranium for Dummies was posted all over the internet. The government had successfully suppressed the information and its really dirty little secret. At the very same time the Pentagon was imposing its cover-up, almost half of the war’s conflict zone veterans were showing debilitating symptoms of the illness and their children were being born with grotesque deformities.
Some way to treat veterans!
I had to do something!
I was in the middle of writing a novel titled "We're Not in Kansas Anymore". Hmmmm! I had posted several weekly chapters of this story when I read about what was happening to tens of thousands of patriotic families and how the military was trying to suppress their story.
So, my old colleague and webmaster Bruce Henderson helped modify our fiction website to post the first installment of Dummies.
The novel was never finished.
I’d been here before. Vietnam. Agent Orange.
In fact I spent the ’sixties opposing the Vietnam war, after dropping out of graduate school.
Somehow, I’ve been finding ways to expose the lies behind all our country’s wars for sixty-four years.
Yes, sixty-four years. How did it all begin?
I can remember, almost to the day. It’s a story I’ve shared with a few people but never written about. The homepage of "We're Not in Kansas Anymore" is devoted to the second personal event that totally transformed my life.
I’d dropped out of Stanford the first quarter of my Junior year. That might surprise you if you’ve read about the crazy adventures, political success and budding literary career I enjoyed as a Freshman and Sophomore. I’ve got a lot more to write about that!
But not here. Not yet.
No, I wasn’t expelled, although as you know from the “Prankster” piece, some might think I deserved to be.
No, I dropped out purely by choice. It was sheer boredom with Political Science 101, Sociology 101 and (the worst) Economics 101.
These were required introductory courses.
“Okay, poli sci, soc and econ,” I thought as I jotted down my last note seated obediently in Stanford’s gigantic Memorial Auditorium, “We’ve been introduced. And I don’t want to have a damn thing to do with any of you!”
“I want to write. I want adventure. Paris! Spain! To live outside the box!”
After a year of digging ditches for sewer pipes in Riverside California, I decided to enroll in school again. Study literature. University of California, Riverside (UCR).
That’s how I wound up at the Hotel Tetley bar. I was waiting to share a pitcher with the student who’d just given me my first tour of the campus.
He never showed up. If he had, my life would have been very different.
The bartender was a young guy. Cocky asshole.
“I’m going to join the Army Green Berets, kill a bunch of communists and come back to school on the G.I. Bill,” he boasted.
The Green Berets were among the earliest American Special Forces. They had been around for a decade. Sgt. Barry Sadler’s “Ballad of the Green Berets” hit the charts seven years later and inspired more than a few good men to die in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
There were only two customers sitting at the hotel bar. After all it was only 11am. The other guy looked like someone you’d expect to cadge a beer off you. Tacky clothes, unshaven, a bit hunched over. Uncertain age. Into himself.
“I’m Victor,” he announced as he moved to the stool next to mine. “Want to share a pitcher?” he asked as soon as the bartender took his money and ended his shift.
“I’ve been killing communists with the French Foreign Legion for a couple of years. It’s not an experience I’d recommend.”
* * *
18B. The Woke Amazons and Injuns Wreck Bruin Deck
Just look at that photograph! It was me dropping that axe! Would you want that punk teaching in your college? “Injuns Wreck Bruin Deck!”
Not “Indigenous People Wreck Bruin Deck.”
Not “Native Americans Wreck Bruin Deck.”
Not even “Indians Wreck Bruin Deck”!
And the photograph is posted on social media! Anyone in the world can see the vile racism of me with the 'fifties crew cut.
Raw unvarnished prejudice!
That’s when my nightmares with the Woke Amazons began. Now I realize that when most people think “amazon” they think about some exploited worker in a humongous factory pissing in a Coke Bottle because Jeff Bezos won’t let him go to the bathroom.
After all, nowadays when we hear “Google” who remembers “Barney Google, with the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes”?
Amazons were Indigenous Women Warriors from the Amazon jungle. Badass women. The kind who’d cut your balls off and watch the dogs fight over them.
You do not want Amazons in your nightmare! Especially Woke Amazons.
The school auditorium was packed with them. So was the jury, prosecutor and judge up on the stage. Big women. I had to represent myself in this academic court. Even the Liberal Amazons refused to defend me.
The trial was over in fifteen minutes. I was banned from entering any class room in the entire world. Even North Korea issued a condemnation.
Of course, I’d always wake up in a cold sweat.
But that was only the first nightmare starring the Badass Amazon Women.
The second started when a co-ed at Stanford stumbled across my “Disappointment or Dissection” in a dusty basement . It was the one-page piece in the archived 1955 University humor magazine.
“Cutting a thousand living women into three is not humor!,” she shouted, running around the campus with a battery bullhorn and clenched fist.
18C. French Foreign Legion Gets Asses Kicked at Dien Bien Phu
Victor, my new drinking buddy, joined the French Foreign Legion while bumming around Paris in the early ’fifties. The Legion fought at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. The huge French military forward operating base dominated a large heart-shaped valley located in the northwestern part of Vietnam, near the border with Laos. World War II had ended ten years earlier. The Japanese had occupied Vietnam but the Vietnamese resistance or Viet Minh defeated them.
Now France wanted its colony back. Rubber, oil, timber, bamboo, shrimp. Cheap labor. Old story. Classic European imperialism.
Despite their plans and efforts, the French were attacked by the Viet Minh and suffered an historic defeat. The battle lasted 56 days but one French Legion unit kept fighting for one more day. Victor was there, one of the few survivors.
The defeat forced the French to withdraw from Southeast Asia, after almost 100 years of providing cheap stuff to Parisians and the world. Like Michelin Tires.
“That bartender’s a fool,” Victor said, drawing another pitcher over the bar when no one was looking.
“The United States backed the French colonialists. The Cold War was fifteen years old and the American government simply transferred the military aid it was sending to the French to “our” new wealthy "anti-communist" dictator in South Vietnam. A temporary “peace agreement” had divided the country after the French departure. The Viet Minh got the north. Free elections were to be held north and south for a united independent Vietnam.
The United States made sure those elections were never held.
Victor said, “That bartender is going to get his ass shot off. The Vietnamese just want to be left alone in their own country. No country in the world can stop them. The Japanese Army conquered China and dozens of other Asian countries. But they could not subdue the Vietnamese resistance.”
Quickly I jotted down the names of the authors of the books he recommended that I read about Vietnam and its long struggle for independence.
For the next couple of years, I rarely ran into anyone else who had ever heard of the country. But I couldn’t help following the story as our government, first under President Eisenhower, then under JFK, got more and more deeply involved in the quicksand.
I made the war the topic for the second semester focused on foreign policy in the American Government class I taught at Claremont High School. Best teaching that I ever did. They never knew where I stood. Years later, former students would stop me on the street. "Which side did you want to win, Mr. Hall?" That’s quite a story too. Later.
Pop Shaw tells his own Vietnam story in the coming chapters of Jumpin’ Jubilee Club.
The next year I returned to UCR for more graduate work: Latin American history and United States policy toward our “southern neighbors”.
UCR students held a preplanned rock concert the next night in the school auditorium. My friend was the MC. During the band’s break he handed me the mic.
"It's all yours, Irving."
“Hey guys. Cambodia. Kent State. College and High School students all over America are going on strike. Shutting down American education to end this fucking war. We need to join them. I’ll be speaking on the quad at noon tomorrow. Join me. Shut this place down!”
The strike was successful. We were still out when the school year ended. A lot of solid "out of the box" education.
I spent the rest of the decade speaking, debating and writing against the war. I counseled young men on how to avoid the draft. I shared my knowledge and assessment with active-duty airmen in Riverside. Quite a story. Very moving. I still tear up to this day.
It all started with two pitchers of beer with Victor. Never got his last name. Never saw him again.
* * *
18D. “Disappointment or Dissection?”
New nightmare! The Woke Amazons discovered another one of my crimes against humanity on social media. Another incriminating incident from my two rambunctious years at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Miraculously I’d got my tenure back in this dream. But I faced a new trial to cancel me from teaching.
“Mr. Hall,” the Chairwoman of the College Academic Senate, began, “this is a faculty proceeding, but many of our students want to testify. Will you give your permission?”
How could I refuse? I’ve always been student oriented. Hell, in Jumpin’ Jubilee Club the kids take over their school. I’ve always been weird that way when it comes to educational philosophy.
Of course, the students in this nightmare were all Woke Amazons!
“Mr. Hall, isn’t it true that you openly advocated in this magazine cutting every one of the girls…women…lactating persons. . .at your college into three parts, first, armpit to armpit, second, across the waist and third, ‘a pair of legs joined at the top by the lower abdominal region’?”
A huge gasp from the courtroom.
“Please,” I protested, it was satire. I was poking fun at Stanford University’s longstanding policy of accepting three men for every woman applicant for the Freshman Class! I was attacking the university’s long-standing policy of gross, overt sexual discrimination.”
“Overruled! The Woke Amazon judge banged her gavel. “Continue your testimony, sister.”
“Hall wanted to distribute those precious feminine body parts to all the male students to use for their own perverted sexual pleasure. Like bicycle racks, beer mugs and back scratchers…”
“It’s satire!” I shouted. "An assignment in Freshman English inspired by Jonathan Swift’s satirical attack on the British who’d plunged his native Ireland into grinding poverty. Potato farmers went hungry in the Great Potato Famine. Mothers watched their children die of starvation. Swift was a famous author. He wrote Gulliver’s Travels. I got an A on the paper.”
Banging gavel. “Madame Prosecutor?”
“We don’t study fiction by old white men anymore. Now you'll learn why! Mr. Hall, What was Swift’s solution to the poor mothers' tragic plight?”
“The Irish should eat their children,” I replied visibly shaking with fear.
The courtroom broke into pandemonium. The Woke Amazons jumped out of their seats wielding knives, machetes and axes.
“Cancel him! No, castrate him!”
That’s when I awoke in a another sweat, glad I didn’t teach anymore, happy to possess two websites that, so far, no one has tried to shut down. Every time I read about Julian Assange rotting in a London prison, Harry Potter’s author, J. K. Rowling, shamed and canceled, Twitter, Face Book or You Tube taking someone else down for saying or writing something that challenged the latest fashionable idea or governent approved narrative , I shudder.
18E. Guess Who Was Cancelled for Supporting Veterans?
Of course, it’s already happened to me. But I snuck my message in before they could stop it.
The editor of the Norwich, New York Evening Sun published my Letter to the Editor on Veterans Day 2014.
MY TROUBLED TRIBUTE TO VETERANS ON VETERANS’ DAY
Most of the supportive comments in the community came from veterans. Two days later the newspaper owner took the unprecedented step of attacking his editor and apologizing to readers for printing the letter. He promised "better controls…and judgment…in the future."
18F. A Serendipitous Coincidence Hot Off the Press
(From the March 2022 Stanford Magazine 1958 “Class Notes”)
Irving Hall writes: “Ellen and I have enjoyed a decade in our modest two-story 1898 Victorian in rural New York. Our Village of Oxford inspired my latest work, Jumpin’ Jubilee Club. It’s a contemporary coming-of-age story, except all the kids are precocious revolutionary environmentalists and their favorite teacher is a former Stanford running back and ex-Black Panther.
Now you know it’s fiction!
Here’s a shout out to my formative years at Stanford. My freshman English teacher accused me of plagiarizing my first paper. From the Reader’s Digest! Arrggghhhh! Then, at his recommendation, my final paper—a satire on the misogynist “Stanford Ratio” was published in the Stanford humor magazine, The Chapparal.
My imagination could go wild! Literary career launched!
Our Class of 1958 was fortunate to experience a classical education before its extinction. Historian Edward McNall Burns! How many college grads spent an entire year immersed in World Civilizations? What did we get out of it?
Plenty. Critical thinking. A broader vision.
Consider this. In our eighty-odd year life spans, our country became the greatest power in world history. We Americans were united by national pride. Now we’re reeling from simultaneous economic, political, ideological, health and existential climate crises. Our gargantuan military was defeated by another peasant army after another twenty-year long war. Americans are bitterly polarized and grumbling about a second Civil War.
If he hadn’t died in 1972, Edward McNall Burns might describe this as the death agony of the biggest and shortest-lived empire ever, collapsing and imploding simultaneously. What a frightening historical framework for a teenage novel!
Can the students of Rockwell Central meet the sobering challenge? New chapter every Friday:
And it’s free! Jumpin’ Jubilee! Brothers and Sisters. . .Comrades!
Next week we return to Rockwell Central School. Peg Shaw gets an emotional boost from several unexpected sources. Pop Shaw agonizes over his responsibility for the MAGA Boys’ display of Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. And Major General Agnes Grendel discovers something beyond belief in the Mercedes Benz in the spooky parking lot.
Of course, you may be surprised by next week's fare just like you were by this one!