I just got back from family vacation, where, for ten days, I violated all my rules and everything I’ve ever preached about how to travel. I stayed put. I rarely left the hotel grounds. I ate in the same two restaurants for most of my trip—rarely deviating from pasta, pizza and gelato. Though there was a lake a few hundred yards walk down, I never put so much as a toe in it—spending the bulk of my days instead, splashing around in the shallow end of the pool with a Barbie pail , an inflatable porpoise, and a relentlessly energetic 4 year old girl. It was marvelous. Continue reading: SOUTHERN COMFORT »
August, 2011 Archive
In the end, we were all fine–as untouched and untroubled as we’d been before Iraq.
If anything changed, if there was a single takeaway from what we saw in Kurdistan and what we learned during three days of “Hazardous Environment Training” in what our British instructors called “Virginiastan”, it was the absolutely jaw-dropping realization of exactly how physically difficult it is for our military personnel on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.And I’m not talking about the fighting. I’m talking about just being there, moving about in regulation gear, training. the day-to-day. Watching on TV and in films, perhaps you realize intellectually that the standard issue body armor, with the ceramic plates weighs around 45 pounds, but until you actually wear the stuff, much less try and help carry the slippery dead weight of an unconscious man across broken ground, you have no idea. Add the additional burden of an M-16, ammunition, pack and gear, Kevlar helmut and you’re already humping about 95 pounds of additional weight through heat that, in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, reaches well over 110 degrees. The body armor doesn’t exactly breath. You’re running sweat within seconds–just standing still. Presumably, you are being trained to–at moment’s notice, hoist a similarly attired buddy over your shoulder and carry his weight as well. It’s damn near superhuman. And that’s before you’ve ever had to fire a shot in anger. In the back of your mind too, I came to find out, is the certain knowledge that none of this heavy armor–not the Kevlar vest, not the ceramic plates—and not the helmut–will protect you in the slightest from an AK-47 round. Nor will a cinderblock wall. A bullet from an AK, the most widely used weapon on the planet, will cut through all of it like cheddar. Continue reading: SAFETY FIRST »
I hear you were very upset with me after seeing the promo for this show, which I filmed recently with your Daddy and his friends. You saw me take Daddy’s guitar and smash it against a tree and I’m sure that was upsetting. That this was in fact a not so subtle homage to the early works of John Landis and John Belushi is something you could have hardly been expected to know, ANIMAL HOUSE having been released long before you were born, and I apologize. Continue reading: DESERT SESSION: A Letter to Josh Homme’s Daughter »