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Driving to the Music: Padre Steve’s Traveling Music Part One

I’m back in North Carolina after a quick trip home and despite a number of things that I want to write about just feel like I want to chill out tonight.  I have been doing some reading of late, I finished a couple of books recently on religion and public life and I am continuing to read Eric Hoffer’s classic primer on the psychology of mass movements The True Believer and re-reading the first volume of Richard Evans trilogy on Nazi Germany The Coming of the Third Reich.  I have also started a book that I picked up a few years back Roger Knight’s tome on the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson The Pursuit of Victory. But enough about reading this article is about music, the kind of music that I like.

Sometimes it is good just to chill out. I haven’t spent much time online this weekend and with the exceptions of checking the headlines I haven’t done much looking at the news the past couple of days.

Since driving throughEastern North Carolinahas become a big part of my life over the past year and one of the few benefits to driving is listening to the music that I enjoyed in high school and college.  This is in large part due to dearth of interesting radio programming that exists in this part of the state. This article will be the fist of several dealing with some of my favorite songs and since I do a lot of driving between Virginia Beach and Camp LeJeune figured why not do a couple of articles about some of my favorite road music.

Sports radio, which is my default setting since I gave up AM Talk Radio afterIraqis in short supply. My local Virginia Beach ESPN Radio 94.1 only reaches toElizabethCityand the local ESPN AM stations in the Jacksonville-New Bern area are very limited in coverage being low power stations.  I like NPR but there are wide gaps in coverage in this area and the weekend line up is not the most exciting and sometimes by my standards pretty lame.  There are a plethora of low power “Christian” or “Gospel” stations as well as Country and Western stations along the route but I am not a big C&W fan and am definitely not a fan of what passes for music or preaching on the religious stations.  There is one pretty good “Oldies” station, FM 107.9 WNCT inGreenvillethat has a nice selection and good coverage area but there I times that I want to be in control of my music.  When I do get a new car when this tour is over and I don’t have to have to pay for two places to live I will get some kind of satellite radio system but for now I’ll make due with my collection of CDs especially the ones that I had made with collections of my favorite music. I know that I am dating myself with CDs but maybe I will eventually move all my music to the digital side of the house on my I-Phone someday but I’m too lazy and don’t want to spend the money until I have to actually do it, I think I remember doing the same with LPs, 45s and cassette tapes.

The music that I like was what was on the radio back when I rode the bus to junior high and high school and when I got my first car during my senior year of high school.  I remember listening to the late “Doctor” Donald D Rose who had the morning show on KFRC San Francisco during the 1970s as well as the local Stockton AM station KJOY both of which were AM Top 40 stations.  In college I would listen to Kasey Kasem’s American Top 40 on Saturday and Sunday mornings when making dough and doing food prep at Shakey’s Pizza.

Since I am a now a relic by the standards of young people having come of age in the 1970s and early 1980s my music taste reflects my era.  Now I do like other music but my favorite is the music that I grew up with so here are a few links to music videos of some of my favorite groups and artists who still manage to keep me alert and focused behind the wheel as I travel the highways and byways ofEastern North Carolina.

I always like the Eagles and for driving music one must start with Take it Easy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL683aq49_M which is a great driving song and relaxing at the same time as I start my trip on I-264 inVirginia Beach.

Of course driving in Hampton Roads is no picnic and Kenny Loggins Danger Zone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwL5xmhJejQ from the classic Naval Aviation movie Top Gun is a perfect song for traveling on our roads.

Olivia Newton’s John Magic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g is a bit of a change of pace when I get snarled in traffic in Chesapeake or when I hit the Downtown tunnel in Norfolk depending on the route that I try to use to get out of the Hampton Roads metro area.

Judy says that I never tire of Abba; indeed I think I have almost every song and album that the Swedish super group ever recorded.  I find that a lot of Abba songs are great road music and that Waterloo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4 the hit that launched them to stardom in 1972 has a nice feel at 70 mph on the US 17 bypass around Washington NC.    


Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0 is one that I like as I begin to pick up the pace on either US 17 or US 13 once I break free into the open country.

I always loved the big voice of the late Laura Branigan who died far too young of a brain aneurism in 2003, her song Gloria http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk is about a woman living in the fast lane and going a bit crazy in the process. The song remained on the Billboard “Hot 100” for 36 weeks in 1982. The song makes for great open country driving, especially when you have to pass someone doing 48 mph in a 60 plus zone just because they can.


Blondie’s  Dreaming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4-1MhH7dwQ and Heart of Glass http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1all9_blondie-heart-of-glass_music were favorites in college and from when Judy and I started dating back in 1979.   I can listen to Blondie songs all day long and on some trips Blondie is all that I listen.  Today was kind of cool because I listened to their new album Panic of Girls a couple of times on first part of the trip.

Rod Stewart was a favorite back then and still is for me today and though he has done a lot of work lately with classic pre-rock and roll era songs I always liked his early work the best including Maggie May http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfWl1Fn-FrE&feature=related .  This is a more recent concert version of the classic.

The music from the movie soundtrack of The Blues Brothers is always nice to drive to and when you are driving alone it is always good to know that Everybody needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU.

Then there is Starship and the great Grace Slick with Nothing’s Going to Stop us Now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w5s6V8rQH4 which is great on the final stretch of any trip.

That’s enough for tonight.  Have a great week and remember that this is Veteran’s Day week so thank a veteran.


Padre Steve+

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Hollywood and Recruiting Since Vietnam

I have been thinking about how Hollywood occasionally helps military recruiting in the post-Vietnam and all-volunteer era.

Back in World War II Hollywood Moguls signed on to further the war effort with films which were entertaining but also inspiring to those on the home front.  Films like Wake Island, they Were Expendable, Destination Tokyo, The Fighting Sullivans, the Flying Tigers, The Memphis Belle (1943), and Thirty Seconds over Tokyo all helped bolster the war effort.  Stars like Jimmy Stewart served in combat.  These were the high tide of patriotic war films.  In the post war era more films about the war were made until Vietnam made war films a riskier proposition for studios.  With the exception of The Green Berets and a few Second World War themed films such as The Longest Day, In Harms Way, The Battle of the Bulge and Patton war films became much more anti-war and often anti-military.  Such films as Catch 22, M*A*S*H, Go Tell the Spartans, Kelly’s Heroes showed this while films like Platoon, The Deer Hunter and Coming Home showed the dark side of Vietnam.

In the 1970s some films like Midway began the return of film makers to more positive looks at the military. After the election of Ronald Reagan Hollywood began to produce more military themed films.  Some were fully endoresed by the Department of Defense and others not.  Some were designed to make the miltary look good and well, some which were not intended to do so had the opposite effect.


The most successful of these films dealt with the Navy and Marine Corps, those dealing with the Army and Air Force were not as successful, though the Iron Eagle series with Louis Gossett Jr. had a pretty good run.  Films like Top Gun thrilled young audiences with both the story of Naval Aviators, a great musical score and some really hot and sensual scenes.  The Hunt for Red October was another thriller in which Tom Clancy made the Navy look great.  An Officer and a Gentleman had some of the most memorable Drill Sergeant scenes of any film, with Louis Gossett Jr. in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Foley destroying and rebuilding a class of OCS candidates led by Richard Gere.


Once again a good story well acted and some great love scenes and musical score made this appeal to the younger generation.  I was across the Puget Sound when this was being filmed having my own ass ripped by an Army Special Forces, Ranger and Vietnam veteran Drill Sergeant.  I could relate to Richard Gere crying “I’m not going to DOR, I’ve got nowhere else to go.” Thank you Sergeant First Class Harry Ball for making me a better person by destroying all preconceptions that I had about myself and rebuilding me.  Judy when she first saw the movie asked if I had a Puget Sound Deb but alas, I did not.  I was too busy cleaning latrines with a toothbrush for any extra-curricular activities even if I was so inclined. Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge was a positive portrayal of a Marine taking over a Recon Platoon before going into Grenada.


A Few Good Men was not supposed to be a film that made the Marines look good.  Director Rob Reiner attempted to get permission of the Marines to film at Guantanamo Bay but was unable to do so because of the script.  The film turned out to be a cult classic among many Marines.  Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Colonel Nathan Jessup became a hit.  The line You ant the Truth, you can’t handle the truth!” followed by the rest of the speech is classic.  The character that Nicholson was based on was a real CO of Gitmo.  He was relieved after about a year into his two year tour.  A former CO of mine who served under that man at another duty station said that officers and enlisted alike lived in fear of him. More recent films such as Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers HBO mini-series brought positive attention to the men of the greatest generation.  Films about Iraq have varied.  Perhaps the best is Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon playing a Marine LtCol. escorting the body of a young Marine killed in action home.

So it is interesting to see how Hollywood sometimes helps and sometimes hurts recruiting.  We’ll have to see what the next batch of war films turn out to be like.

Peace, Steve+


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Wear of the FWU-“Faggoty White Uniform” or Summer Whites

fwu-crete-2002Me in my FWU’s as a LT on USS Hue City CG-66 off Crete July 2002

We in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Navy have now transitioned to our summer uniforms.  I’ve talked in depth about the NWU or Navy Working Uniform which is now an all year working uniform.  While this is not the most traditional Naval uniform, we do still maintain some traditions.  Both enlisted sailors and officers still have white uniforms for the summer.  Enlisted in the pay grades E1-E6 wear the Service Dress White, or the Cracker Jack uniform for Dress occasions.  A new service uniform which looks similar to the Marine Corps Charlies with black versus olive green trousers is replacing the short sleeve summer white and long sleeve Winter and Working Blues.  So for the enlisted the Cracker Jack remains for dress occasions, the Summer Dress White and Service Dress Blue for summer and winter respectively.

Navy Chiefs and Officers have three, make that four variations of whites.  We have the Summer Dress White which is short sleeve, Service Dress White, which is the choker jacket worn with ribbons.  The Full Dress White, which is the same with large medals and ribbons as well as white gloves.  Lastly there is the seldom worn Tropical White which includes shorts and knee socks, a very colonial British look if you ask me, though the thought of the sun maybe reaching my legs and allowing them to tan while I am at work is an interesting thought.  Since when summer hits I normally am in shorts almost every day when not in uniform, I think shorts with the Whites would work fine here.

However, here lies the problem.  White is white and it is nearly impossible to keep clean.  If you sneeze and blow a huge luggie that ends up on them, it will be seen.  If your coffee is too hot and some drips on the uniform, it too will be seen.  Please do not even think about trying to eat a chili dog, wings or ribs in any of these uniforms.  If you end up making a splort on them it will be there for all too see and someone will be asking who the homeless dude masquerading as Captain Stubing from the Love Boat is. So when wearing any of these summer uniforms caution is required, and if you are eating, probably a bib.  However I am not sure if Naval Uniform Regulations permit you to sport a bib or not.  I suppose that if it was a Go Navy bib it might be okay, but otherwise I believe that it would be frowned upon as violating the decorum of the Wardroom.

Additionally, every time I wear this uniform I can hear the theme from the movie Top Gun playing in my head.  I’m sure that my dear Judy would kill me of I were to walk up to her in a bar or Officer’s Club singing You’ve lost that Lovin’ Feelin.’ Neither the humor or the singing would be appreciated as I think that they should be.  Likewise every time that I wear this uniform, especially when I was serving with the Marines I can almost hear Colonel Nathan R Jessup (Jack Nicholson) of A Few Good Men snear at me and say:

“You see Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don’t want money, and I don’t want medals. What I do want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth extend me some f**king courtesy. You gotta ask me nicely.”  (sorry if anyone is offended by the language but it is the line from the movie and yes Marines can and do often talk that way, sometimes using the F-bomb as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective and sometimes even an action verb  in past present and future tenses in the same sentence. After all I am sure that the Deity Herself will forgive them as she will have Marines stationed on post around the Pearly Gates.)

Thanks to Colonel Jessup I have thought of the Summer Whites as the Faggoty White Uniform or by the acronym FWU since I arrived at Camp LeJeune North Carolina in 1999.  I figure now that we have the NWU this will work.

Today was my first chance to wear this uniform since last year.  I have to admit that it looks pretty good on me, especially with my weight loss, which I do plan on maintaining and continuing.  As I walked through the hall I could hear the Top Gun Theme going through my head and Colonel Jessup growling at me.  When I was stationed with the Marines I would ask what uniform we might be wearing for a certain ceremony.  If the answer was Your Summer White I would say, “Oh, the Faggoty White Uniform” often drawing looks of amazement and comments of “That’s really bad Chaplain,” followed by a laugh.   Now I simply call them the FWU.  Let’s keep things simple.  As long as I don’t run into Colonel Nathan R Jessup anytime soon I should be okay, at least I am not scheduled to go to Gitmo anytime soon.

At the same time this is a classy uniform.  Sorry to say, or beat the hell out of anything in the Army or Air Force inventory, and only is really outdone by the Marine Service Dress Blues.  It is traditional.  You can go to any Navy around the world and find a similar uniform.  I find this kind of cool.  I do like tradition and hope that the wear test of the Service Dress Khaki uniform is successful and that it will be brought back by the Navy.

So anyway, those are my thoughts about the uniform change.   A final note.  I went and saw the Tides tonight.  They won their 9th straight beating the Durham Bulls 8-2 and moving into first place in the Southern Division of the International League.



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