Options Aerial View: Playlist from November 11, 2014 Options

Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me. (Visit homepage.)

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Options November 11, 2014: Lay Down Your Arms
Today is Veterans Day... my thanks to all of you who served.

That Marine pictured above is my Uncle Bob - Robert DeBono (RIP) - from whom I get my middle name. I had no idea he was a former (you're never an "ex") Marine until I was scanning stereo slides taken by my Aunt Isabel (RIP) ten years ago and saw him in his service uniform. He hadn't ever mentioned his time in the military, like many of his generation. Unless it was to be a career, those men and women went back into civilian life and put it all behind them, rarely speaking about their experience unless in the company of comrades. Many who saw combat suffered silently from what was originally called "shell shock" until the euphemisms took over (George Carlin dissects it for you here). Some of them took advantage of the G.I. Bill and went to college or bought a house or started a business with help from a grateful nation.

After the debacle of Vietnam, joining the military voluntarily in the U.S. fell out of favor. Though the Selective Service System requiring males of a certain age range to sign up for a possible draft had been around since 1917, by 1973 the all-volunteer armed forces came into being. By 1975 the registration requirement was dropped.

The year I turned eighteen - 1980 - President Carter re-established Selective Service registration in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I went down to my local post office and registered but was never "called up". Maybe it was the flood of anti-war Vietnam-based films I'd seen by 1980 - Heroes, The Boys In Company C, Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Go Tell The Spartans - but I also had absolutely no desire to volunteer. These movies all said the same thing "Those who didn't come home in a bag either went mad or were missing some part of themselves."

The idea of serving a country that treated young men (and, later, women) as nothing more than cannon fodder was appalling to me. Never mind my strong anti-authority streak, there was also plenty of agitprop on vinyl to convince me the military was not a choice for a nascent punk rocker like me.

I didn't know I was one of the lucky ones, someone from a blue-collar background who had options, who could choose not to join up. For many Americans of a certain economic background, a career in the military was the only path out of crushing poverty to a better life... if you weren't destroyed along the way.

I was lucky. In all the ensuing years, through all the conflicts in which U.S. troops served, I never got that notice in the mail. When I was too old to have to worry, along came 9/11, after which many young men and women signed up and were shipped off to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We all know how that turned out.

I've heard it said the best way to "Support Our Troops" is to not send them into harm's way for indeterminate goals. Since World War II our record with that has been abysmal, with no end is in sight. The only thing worse is our approach to our veterans. Watching the piece about the new head of the Veterans Administration on 60 Minutes this past Sunday I was struck by a number of things - they need 28,000 doctors and nurses just to get up to speed, for instance - but especially by the new director Bob McDonald's appeal for 2,5000 shrinks. Military suicide is all too common. Members of the military kill themselves at double and sometimes triple the rates of the civilian population. The latest figures show 22 vets and 1 active-duty member die by their own hand each day. It's absolutely scandalous. On this Veterans Day let's thank those who served but let's also do something to help them preserve body and mind.

Today, I'd like to hear from any and all veterans in the WFMUniverse. Did you sign up? Were you drafted? Where did you serve? And what did you find when you returned? What fictional film or documentary best reflects your military experience? Call 201-209-WFMU... and thanks.

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Artist Track
Black Chris T. Sabbath  War Aerial View Pigs   Options

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:04pm Marcel M:

Hey Chris, hey all
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:05pm JakeGould:

Nice theme!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:05pm Greg from Bloomfield:

Let them have it, Chris!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:08pm JakeGould:

Veterans get treated like crap. The biggest lie about Vietnam was somehow those veterans had it the worst. No they didn’t. Yes, they saw horror. Yes, that war was horrific. But not only did they experience the horror, but the general public saw it as well thanks to people not being media savvy at the time. The horrors are the same nowadays but now the military has better control of the media. So there you go. War is war.
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:11pm Robert:

It's the day for happy veterans. I know many happy veterans of armed services.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:11pm Mike East:

I was thinking that same thing re: "happy" veterans day. I've been saying, "Thank you for your service" to all the veterans in my life. Trite or not, I think they probably appreciate it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:16pm Mike East:

I turned 18 in 2001 and had to register. There was a period there when it felt entirely possibly that they would startup the draft. All my friends kept talking about running to Canada...I called bullshit
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:16pm blee:

Signing away your freedom to your government should be an absolute last, last, last resort. It seems to me that all macho nationalism serves those on the top of the military industrial complex. We feed the youth to the old guard.
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:18pm Hugh:

"Wuss" used to be "wussy" combo of wimp & pussy...I failed the pre-induction physical, '66...don't loose any sleep over not serving..my old man served...all he did was drink beer in Hawaii, ..rebuilding Pearl Harbor...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:20pm Fuzzy:

"The Navy: It's not just a job -- it's $96.78 a week."
(me: USN, 82-86)
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:22pm JakeGould:

I turned 18 in 1986. Prior to the Berlin wall coming down & post Vietnam. Also pre-Gulf War. Heck, since the 1990s the U.S. has been in the Middle East at some war or something. My parents met in the aftermath of war torn Poland; my dad was a soldier and my mom on the run for all that crap. So when I turned 18 I had no desire to engage in that B.S. I can’t imagine what it is like for someone to be born & raised in this crazy post 1990s world of seemingly endless U.S. conflict.
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:24pm giraffe-o:

Great show today, thanks Chris!
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:27pm fred:

nation building and bringing democracy to iraq and afghanastan is asking american forces to do the impossible. the bush admin has a lot to answer for including those suicide rates
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:28pm fred:

good show chris
  Tue. 11/11/14 6:37pm chad from oregon:

Thanks for doing this show today, Chris T. I'll be passing the link of the archive on to my colleagues who work with veterans in crisis later.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:38pm JimB:

Hi, Chris - Coast Guard in the 70s. I mainly remember the general tedium and oppressiveness that characterize enlisted military service. Went back to Governors Island recently, which is now a basically a park, and to see art museums in what had been the Third Coast Guard District headquarters, food trucks in front of the Aids to Navigation School, children picnicing on the officer's golf course, and North Bravo Pier behind the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel ventilator where we tied up our dinky 65' tug turned into a dock for kayaks, and to contrast that with the semi-prisonlike atmosphere of most military bases, was truly surreal. Movies: The Last Detail (Jack Nicholson & Randy Quaid) and Antwone Fisher really capture that sense of what it's like to be on the bottom rung.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:43pm Marcel M:

Nice guest Chris, very interesting. Enjoyed that.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:45pm JakeGould:

JimB, I have always been fascinated by Governor’s Island. Happy it was opened up to the public. Visited it when it was first reopened. It was still a bit “raw” back then. Now it’s more of a park. Surreal small town in the middle of NY harbor. Also heard the movie theater there would get films past their last runs. Past even the time when $1 theaters would get them.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:48pm JimB:

A really scorching piece on "Thank You for Your Service" from Bill Moyers's website: billmoyers.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:51pm Stevel:

Putting in a pitch for NAMI/National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Generally, a great organization that is good at helping people who suffer from mental illness, as well as helping their family members cope and be supportive. Lots of local chapters around the country.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 11/11/14 6:52pm chad from oregon:

The Veterans Crisis Line (which is also linked on the site of the guest today) is available 24/7/52/365 1-800-273-8255.
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