Thursday, April 9, 2009

(Part 50) Well I Don't Give A Damn...Next Stop Is Vietnam


The war in Vietnam was really starting to get out of control in 1966, and I was scheduled to be drafted into the army at any moment. There I was, trying to get my life to make sense while worrying about getting sent to Vietnam. The "Monkees" thing was still on, and I was still trying to get over being in my first major drug bust, which was as fresh as wet paint in my mind. I had to sit in jail for 3 days, thinking my life was as good as over, when out of nowhere I was just kicked loose without explanation.

To this day I'm not sure what happened, but I figure the police had done something wrong, like not get a search warrant, or violated some other provision of the law. LSD had been legal, but somewhere along the line in 65 they had written new legislation, and I guess it kicked in sometime in 1966. I learned to pay far more attention to things like that after my arrest. Everybody had heard about it, but because I was out on the street, and it was the 60's, it didn't cause that much trouble. What I'm saying is, that I was not avoided by anybody or blacklisted because of it. It didn't effect my position for example as a possible "Monkee".

My draft date came, and I was ordered to show up at the draft board and the military. I had no choice, and I hadn't come up with anyway to get out of it, so I just had to show up on the date specified, and that's what I did. I stood out like a sore thumb. I attracted negative attention from the wrong people, as soon as I walked through the door. "Well who the hell are you bright eyes, one of the goddamn Beatles?" This was a question hurled at me, amongst others, as soon as I arrived. I tried to hide myself in the crowd, which was large and not get noticed so much. I looked around at all these young guys of every color and description and it was not a pretty picture.

Each one seemed to be terrified on the inside, but trying hard to put on a brave face on the outside. I knew I was scared, hell I just didn't want to go to Vietnam period. I knew I'd get shot, or shoot someone on our side, for ordering me around. I was as piss poor at taking orders as anyone you've ever met. We were ordered to remove our clothes down to our underwear, and then put through a bunch of arbitrary jumping jacks, for what purpose I'm not sure, maybe just humiliation. It was similar to what had been done after I was arrested and there didn't seem to be much of a difference. I stood in line while a Drill Instructor screamed at us. I tried desperately to think of some way to get my ass out of the situation I was in. It was then that I heard the D. I. say, "Has anyone here been arrested in the last 6 months for a narcotics violation?"

I looked around the room and up and down the lines of these 300 or so guys, and didn't see a single hand go up. The whole room was silent and everybody else was doing the same thing, looking around to see if anyone was stupid enough to raise their hand. "Me," I said, as my hand went up. "I was arrested for drugs." All eyes were glued on me. "You what?" the D. I. screamed. "What the fuck makes you stupid enough to raise your goddamned hand and admit to a chicken shit thing like that you asshole?" I was scared, but responded to him saying, "You asked if anyone had been arrested and I had, so I told you."

The Drill Instructor looked at me in utter disbelief. The whole room was completely silent. "Why you cowardly little shit, you see this yellow line on the floor asshole?" he screamed. "Yes Sir I do," I said. "Well I want you to follow that yellow line where ever it goes until you can't go any further. Do you understand me asshole?" he shrieked. "Yes Sir," I said. "Well then move your ass and get out of my sight you goddamned little coward." I pulled on my pants, and hauled ass along the root of the yellow line. It went on for a long way. It was a big building in downtown L A. I walked Down halls and up a flight of stairs, and down some more halls until it stopped outside the door of an office. I figured I was supposed to knock on the door so I did.

A voice yelled from inside for me to enter, so I opened the door slowly and looked in. It was a tiny dark office with a desk and that's about it. Behind the desk was seated another guy in uniform who ordered me inside, and who had a similar personality problem as the guy who'd sent me there. This one wanted every detail about my arrest that I could give him, and he was just plain pissed off at me. I filled him in on the details of my arrest, and then he basically kicked my ass out and said I'd be notified by mail of a decision regarding my military status. That was it! I left the building and I was the only one who did. Every one of those other guys was still there when I left. I have always wondered about it, why I was out and they were in? I didn't know whether to be grateful or guilty.

Months later I received a letter from the government telling me that I had been reclassified as 1-Y. I didn't know what that meant so I had to find someone who did. After a long search, I found someone who knew about such things, and asked them what 1-Y meant? They said, "It's a National Security deferment." "Well what the fuck does that mean?" I asked. "It means that if the Russians attack Long Beach they'll take you, otherwise you're out." "You mean I don't have to go to Vietnam?" I asked. "Right! You don't have to go to Vietnam."


  1. I love the yellow line. This should be a movie.

  2. i agree, this should be a movie and/or a book. thank you. fantastic story telling, incredible life.