My "other life"
I lived the first thirty five years of my life as a leaf. Music has been a part of my life since I was about 10 when I started actually "hearing" it. Most musical types I've met usually say something along the same lines. But there are always these "real life" parts of our lives that we many times neglect to speak of. So while music was the single constant (other than Missi being in my adult life since 1979) I did other stuff as well. For about twelve years of my adult life I was an armed professional. This page gets my "service" days out of the way. :)
I joined the military to get away from home. I specifically joined the Air Force just to spite my stepdad who was in the Navy reserves for two years as a young man (he never even went to sea). He had an ongoing "male competition" thing with my real dad .. who when he was a young man was in the .. guess what .. Air Force. So it wasn't some grand "serve my country" B.S. that most guys that went in ~say~ is the reason (it just sounds so darned cool to say "I served my country" .. doesn't it? I think it sucks! I think taking that position is smug, as if to say "what have YOU done anyway?". As if it's so tough being in the military. Most military jobs are far easier than their civilian counterparts. I didn't go off-base in uniform .. ever. To be honest when I was in it was far less "cool" to be a servicememeber anyhow. You were more likely to get spit at or given this sortof "so what" glare. I only met one guy that I knew that claimed to have joined out of a sense of national service .. his name was Jody P. And after knowing him for a while I would have to say I believe him. Every other person I ever met in the service joined out of some other motivation. Most of them were just looking for employment. After all, it was the late 70's
I was in the United States Air Force from 1979 to 1985 (not an officer or anyone important .. just another enlisted body). There were many "sensitive" career fields in the AF, the one I was in was just another one of them. It involved securing nuclear weaponry .. BIG nukes. Essentially anything that had to do with delivering a nuke, or the warheads themselves .. our job was to keep badguys away from them. That's pretty much it. I wasn't involved in any kind of intelligence gathering, the group I served with was basically just "the guard dogs". One of the few military jobs that require one to be armed everytime they went on duty. If we were on duty, we were carrying loaded M-16's (as well as M203s, M-60s). It was fairly non-eventful in the manner of having to carry out anything dangerous. The TITAN-II silos facinated me to no end. They reminded me of Irwin Allen TV shows like Lost In Space, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Time Tunnel. Even the orginal 1960's Batcave. The racks full of unknown high-tech (for the day) gear. Blinky lights everywhere. Those "aircraft safety covers" (aka Nuke Switches) that I use on my pedals were e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. The control panels looked like enormous modular synthesizers. An 80-foot deep "Moog" is what those silos were! A Moog with a nuclear warhead in it. (Geez! Sorry Dr. Moog, I didn't mean to disturb you in your slumber with such a sacriligious notion). In "combat lighting" the lights are dimmed and the control panels POP with activity. In a very ironic sense .. those nuclear silos looked very much like any version of Dr. Frankenstein's Reanimation Lab. Ironic indeed.
1981 .. met new people, moved new directions. Still no hero.
After a time I ended up taking my job very seriously, even got into a training postition. I made the Olympic Arena Team in 1980, and in 1981 our team did very well at the OA competition at Vandenburg AFB with a score of 98 out of a possible 100 (a record at the time for my career field). My time on the Olympic Arena Team exposed me to some influential people during my enlistment in the Air Force. That exposure led me to some v.e.r.y exciting work after I "got out of the war" (was honorably discharged from the USAF). It involved working for a contracted security provider doing some work for the DOD. Some of it was based on experiments with aerial photography and development of some new equipment for what pop-culturists call "SOCOM" outfits. High-flying days, to be sure. I'll never forget those times. I ended up getting hurt pretty bad when I streamed-in once during a public demonstration (equipment failure) which ended that involvement for me. (Note to those concerned: Since her cancer and mega-chemo Missi doesn't always remember things properly so when she reminisced about my injury and involvement elsewhere it didn't quite come out properly. That thread has been "closed" by the admins so we can't correct the text. I hope that helps.) And we walk on ...
The Mayor of Shyte Town.
A little later I became a streetcop out of a sense of adventure (not out of any political convictions or whathaveyou). I was missing the "structured" ways of the military and was horribly disappointed with the job I was in, as well as the area we lived in. Every single cop I ever met went through the same thing .. you convince yourself that law enforcment is some sortof lifelong dream .. if you say that enough you sound convincing enough to sound more "comitted" than the next guy. The hiring process is horribly competitive and pretty difficult to endure, let alone survive it and be hired. So you convince yourself that the job is something that you have "dreamed of" all of your life. You think you sound soooo original, and convicted. Until you get in the academy and you realize that every single swingin' dick in the joint sounds e.x.a.c.t.l.y like you do! Oy! All a bunch of single minded robots! After you get out of the academy, and you get settled on your feet a bit on the streets, those "convictions" seem almost quaint. Certainly they become very naive. Of that there is no doubt.
I was a police officer in Southeast Los Angeles while that area was experiencing the highest violent crime rate of any place at any time in US history (late 1980s - early 1990s). We didn't know that at the time, we all just knew it was "friggin nutso!" every night. Just in my area alone (3/4 of one square mile) there were EIGHTEEN separate street gangs to deal with. (Kansas Street, 18th Street, Maywood Locos, Bell Locos, Grape Street, to name a few of the more notorious ones). At least one murder per week (still just talking about my little "beat"). I also survived the Rodney King Trial Verdict Riots that went on from April 29th, 1992 to about three weeks later. Very nasty business, them riots are. My precinct was located about 4 blocks from the actual epicenter of the whole thing. I got to work about an hour after the verdicts were read and crap started up. There were already road blocks going up on the freeways ... I had to literally "badge" my way to work. I was not able to return home for four straight days, forced to camp-out in the locker room. One man had to remain awake at all times in the event the locker room was located by the idiots. Our locker room was not hidden or secured in any way from anyone on the street by anything other than the lock on the wooden door. Our parking lot for our personal cars was exactly the same way. Anyone that wanted too could watch you walk from the locker room to your own car in the parking lot (just like any place anyone works at .. no different) and follow you .. knowing that the person in the car was an off-duty cop that didn't have the luxury of being able to radio for backup! It was some spooky-assed time. There were at least four "follow home shootings" that we were made aware of, all four were fatal. I created at least seven different routes to get home from work from that time on.
Then at the end of May (1992) my partner and friend John Hogland was shot five times in the back and once in the back of the head. He never even got to draw his gun. I had to ride around every night in the car he was in when he was murdered, the bullet holes in the seat were never repaired (budget reasons, I was told). I could easily write a book filled with the things I lived through while "wearing the badge". I found inner city police work to be FAR AND AWAY more dangerous and demanding than the USAF nuclear security gig EVER was. Every third Sunday night a patrol officer had to work "dispatch" instead of one of our regular sworn dispatchers (another budget thing). My turn to "work the 911 desk" came around about once every four months or so. Even THAT was far more stressful than the nuclear security gig. I found every aspect of working as a law enforcement officer in inner city LA area to be about the most demanding and easily the most dangerous thing I had ever done on a day to day basis.
It isn't anything like you have ever seen on "COPS" or whatever. We used to poke fun at that show when we were getting dressed in the locker room, the TV in the corner would have "COPS" on ... it always felt kindof like ironic humor. Some nights were just deadly out of the sheer boredom. Then six minutes before you're to go off duty the whole world falls apart and you're there on overtime for another eight hours. We were most often the first repsonders to any type of emergency event. So our abilities to do even simple things like basic first aid and cpr were put to the test often. "Baby not breathing" radio calls came at least once per week during the summertime. I never once got there after the fire department .. not once. It was due to the fact that the fire department doesn't actively patrol around in the firetrucks, whereas cops are constantly patrolling in a car. They're more available so consequently they and up being "first on scene" most of the time. You end up being this "multi-responder" after working in an area like that long enough. I learned very quickly that I had to really "sharpen up my first responder chops!" if I was going to be effective.
Severe inner-departmental corruption drove me away from that whole line of work. Pile that on top of the riots and John's murder and it was simply time to go. It was affecting my health in several ways, as well as the health of my relationships with loved ones. I don't want to make other cops look bad so I'm just not going to go into what I saw with my own two eyes. A lot, leave it there. But I found it to be an unnecessary added danger to an already ridiculously dangerous job in the first place (it was already hard enough negotiating the landmines cops have to deal with without adding more of them in the form of corrupt power structures). Guys that you thought you could trust to back you up in life threatening situations were few and far between. The reasons were valid and many. The riots made some of the idiots surface. The shit I saw ...
All done, and still no hero.
We opened our own industrial equipment repair business in Yuma, Arizona in 1994. I think we left skidmarks on our way out of the LA area. The ghosts, I left behind.
I'm no-one's hero, I never set out to be one. I've only posted this page because some folks have said that I've overdramatized my military involvement. I can't help the fact that my military involvement seems dramatic when spelled out. So, to quell the naysayers they've got what they wanted. An un-sacred "truer" rendition of the reality of what we all did in that career field. By comparison to inner city policework the AF was nearly like playing make-believe .. like kids playing "army" or whatever. In many ways .. we were just that. Kids with loaded machineguns. Some of us took it very seriously once we grew up a bit. Others, just went along for the ride and brought nothing to the table. Simply consumed a paycheck and showed up for work every day with their boots shined and uniform pressed. Bare minimum effort that was usually rewarded with automatic promotions resulting in mundane leadership and mundane military performance. Unfortunately it's what most of the military was like. I'm sure it isn't much different these days.
To be announced.