The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Entries from May 2017

Reasons to live

May 31st, 2017 · No Comments

“They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing—these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight. They carried shameful memories. They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many […]

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Tags: The Vietnam War · Tim O'Brien

In dreams begin responsibilities

May 30th, 2017 · No Comments

“During my first month back I woke up one night and knew that my living room was full of dead Marines. It actually happened three or four times, after a dream I was having those nights (the kind of dream one never had in Vietnam), and that first time it wasn’t just some holding dread […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

The company one keeps

May 29th, 2017 · No Comments

“All kinds of thieves and killers managed to feel sanctimonious around us; battalion commanders, civilian businessmen, even the grunts, until they realized how few of us were making any real money in it. There’s no way around it, if you photographed a dead Marine with a poncho over his face and got something for it, […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

The bullshit circus

May 28th, 2017 · No Comments

“It was characteristic of a lot of Americans in Vietnam to have no idea when they were being obscene, and some correspondents fell into that, writing their stories from the daily releases and battlegrams, tracking them through with the cheer-crazed language of the MACV Information Office, things like ‘discreet burst’ (one of those tore an […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Not proud of it, either

May 27th, 2017 · No Comments

“Somewhere on the periphery of that total Vietnam issue whose daily reports made the morning papers too heavy to bear, lost in the surreal contexts of television, there was a hideous war and all kinds of victims. But there was also a Command that didn’t feel this, that rode us into attrition traps on the […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Top billing

May 26th, 2017 · No Comments

“I keep thinking about all the kids who got wiped out by seventeen years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good. You don’t know what a media freak is until you’ve seen the way a few of those grunts would run around during a fight when they knew that […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Testify

May 25th, 2017 · No Comments

“They would ask you with an emotion whose intensity would shock you to please tell it, because they really did have the feeling that it wasn’t being told for them, that they were going through all of this and that somehow no one back in the World knew about it. They may have been a […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Wash day

May 24th, 2017 · No Comments

“The sergeant had lain out near the clearing for almost two hours with a wounded medic. He had called over and over for a medevac, but none had come. Finally, a chopper from another outfit, an LOH, appeared, and he was able to reach it by radio. The pilot told him that he’d have to […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Ways to go

May 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

“There were choices everywhere, but they were never choices that you could hope to make. There was even some small chance for personal style in your recognition of the one thing you feared more than any other. You could die in a sudden bloodburning crunch as your chopper hit the ground like dead weight, you […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

The lion-hearted

May 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

“It was hard to know what you really learned about courage. How many times did somebody have to run in front of a machine gun before it became an act of cowardice? What about those acts that didn’t require courage to perform, but made you a coward if you didn’t? It was hard to know […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Getting off

May 21st, 2017 · No Comments

“ ‘Quakin’ and Shakin’, ’ they called it, great balls of fire, Contact. Then it was you and the ground: kiss it, eat it, fuck it, plow it with your whole body, get as close to it as you can without being in it yet or of it, guess who’s flying around about an inch […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

The field of battle

May 20th, 2017 · No Comments

“Roof of the Rex, ground zero, men who looked like they’d been suckled by wolves, they could die right there and their jaws would work for another half-hour. This is where they asked you, ‘Are you a Dove or a Hawk?’ and ‘Would you rather fight them here or in Pasadena?’ Maybe we could beat […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Crazy days

May 19th, 2017 · No Comments

“A lot of men found their compassion in the war, some found it and couldn’t live with it, war-washed shutdown of feeling, like who gives a fuck. People retreated into positions of hard irony, cynicism, despair, some saw the action and declared for it, only heavy killing could make them feel so alive. And some […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

This ain’t no game, homes

May 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“One night I woke up and heard the sounds of a firefight going on kilometers away, a ‘skirmish’ outside our perimeter, muffled by distance to sound like the noises we made playing guns as children, KSSSHH KSSSHH; we knew it was more authentic than BANG BANG, it enriched the game and this game was the […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Weariness terminal

May 17th, 2017 · No Comments

“Imagine being too tired to snap a flak jacket closed, too tired to clean your rifle, too tired to guard a light, too tired to deal with the half-inch margins of safety that moving through the war often demanded, just too tired to give a fuck and then dying behind that exhaustion. There were times […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Quick, cover that up

May 16th, 2017 · No Comments

“Year after year, season after season, wet and dry, using up options faster than rounds on a machine-gun belt, we called it right and righteous, viable and even almost won, and it still only went on the way it went on. When all the projections of intent and strategy twist and turn back on you, […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Truther

May 15th, 2017 · No Comments

“There wasn’t a day when someone didn’t ask me what I was doing there. Sometimes an especially smart grunt or another correspondent would even ask me what I was really doing there, as though I could say anything honest about it except ‘Blah blah blah cover the war’ or ‘Blah blah blah write a book.’ […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

National war zone

May 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“You could be in the most protected space in Vietnam and still know that your safety was provisional, that early death, blindness, loss of legs, arms or balls, major and lasting disfigurement—the whole rotten deal—could come in on the freakyfluky as easily as in the so-called expected ways, and you heard so many of those […]

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

Taking secrets to the grave

May 13th, 2017 · No Comments

“Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened.” – Unidentified U.S. soldier (quoted by Michael Herr in Dispatches)

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Tags: Michael Herr · The Vietnam War

On the national seal

May 12th, 2017 · No Comments

“Vietnam harbored a variety of exotic animals, and they were often attracted by our perimeter lights. I once watched an anteater collect dinner for nearly an hour. Bats swooped at us; their sonar seemed to be attracted by the telephones. And there were the reptiles, especially the ‘fuck-you’ lizard. Science calls him the gecko, after […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

Uncivil war

May 10th, 2017 · No Comments

“One of our men was killed when he approached a forlorn dog that had a satchel charge cleverly sewn into its belly. (A stupid mistake. Dogs were eaten in Vietnam. Cats were a delicacy. Pets did not exist, and the unusual in The Nam was usually deadly.) More common, and perhaps the most heartbreaking memory […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

Careful where you put that

May 9th, 2017 · No Comments

“Like everything in The Nam, even lovemaking could be deadly. One member of our company, affectionately referred to as ‘Champ,’ contracted gonorrhea seventeen times in twelve months. A legendary superstrain, the ‘black syph,’ was supposedly incurable. Fearful of introducing this horror to Hometown, U.S.A., the army supposedly sent ‘black syph’ victims to Okinawa (Camp Crotch-rot) […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

You put your money down and you take your chances

May 8th, 2017 · No Comments

“The barber was too young for military service, but he was a fine barber. He shaved you with little tin razors that looked like toys, and carefully shaped your eyebrows and shaved the insides of your ears. After each shave or haircut, he urged you to lean forward and ‘popped’ your vertebrae into place one […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

You’re next

May 7th, 2017 · No Comments

“It was a world of exhaustion, heat, mud, mildew, rot, and few pleasures. You peed into a large tube fashioned from the metal shipping canisters that had brought artillery rounds from The World. You ate powdered eggs and powdered potatoes and drank powdered milk. The water tasted like medicine, and the Kool-Aid tasted like fruit-flavored […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

They run and hide their heads

May 6th, 2017 · No Comments

“It rained every day, starting about nine in the morning and pouring in translucent gray sheets until about midnight. The rain in The Nam was as different from the rain in the United States as anything we would encounter in this strange land. The drops were as large as marbles and driven with enough force […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · The Vietnam War

The hour of the rough beast is come

May 5th, 2017 · No Comments

“It was a strange time in American history, a time when many seemingly unrelated events were combining to shake the very foundations of our most cherished institutions. It was a time of the Beatles and sub-orbital flights, of civil rights marches in the deep South, and black-and-white TV. After the simple satisfaction of the fifties […]

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Tags: John Ketwig · Politics & Law · The Vietnam War

Slipping away

May 4th, 2017 · No Comments

“In his attempt to keep planning for the war as closely held as possible, Lyndon Johnson would not give accurate economic projections, would not ask for a necessary tax raise, and would in fact have his own military planners be less than candid with his own economic planners . . . . The reasons for […]

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Tags: David Halberstam · Economics · Politics & Law · The Vietnam War

Play balls

May 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

“Westy [General and former Eagle Scout William C. Westmoreland] at the Cercle Sportif, playing his last tennis game, at the end lining up the little Vietnamese urchins who had served as ball boys, street-tough from some of the meanest streets in the world, unlikely candidates for Eagle Scouts, learning the black-market rate before they learned […]

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Tags: David Halberstam · Economics · Politics & Law · The Vietnam War

The whiteface follies

May 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

“For all the evidence the Vietcong gave of their combat toughness, and for all the abundant evidence of the ferocity and professionalism (and size) of the North Vietnamese army there was a certain Caucasian arrogance about the Vietnamese ability, a belief that when pitted against American troops, the Vietnamese would have to cave in, that […]

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Tags: David Halberstam · The Vietnam War

Crusts for the little people

May 1st, 2017 · No Comments

“If we get into this war I know what’s going to happen. Those damn conservatives are going to sit in Congress and they’re going to use this war as a way of opposing my Great Society legislation. . . . They hate this stuff, they don’t want to help the poor and the Negroes but […]

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Tags: David Halberstam · Economics · Politics & Law · The Vietnam War