...The Crappiest Fun We Ever Had...

...here are some more photos from my most recent mission. They involve us sitting in a sand storm for roughly four hours because visibility was so low and the convoy couldn't move forward....this was a sandstorm we already drove through and were told to go back, which forced us to sit in it...part II.

- The Exodus


...A View Through my Window...

...here are some photos from my most recent mission....part I.

- The Exodus


...A Day in the Life...

...so to keep this blog from falling off the face of the earth I'm going to start posting a photo or group of photos everyday until we leave, assuming I'm not on a mission. When Giunta writes something new I'll post it. Until then here are two photos from the 40 man tents we just got put in until we leave. Myself and Russell were given the phrase, "You sank my battleship!"

This will become, in some form, a day in the life series for the next month and a half.

I also have a bunch of work from my previous mission, they should be going up in the next few days.

- The Exodus


...Salt of the Earth...

There’s a certain level of charm to any unsuspected, hipster-hangout, where the smell of decayed fish meets the latest cool guy cologne; aerating into what could best be described as scented Lysol disinfectant spray, settling over a not so often scooped kitty box. Think of the open sea markets of Seattle and Tacoma, or the dingy dregs of dockside shanties in Duluth and Superior. This stagnant odor of lagoon at low tide lingering in the woodwork of this dive was a heartwarming happenstance to fumble upon here in Brooklyn—a peaceful aside from the apparent social normality of climbing down basement stairs or entering through utility closets to find what this month’s in-crowd calls the cat’s pajamas.

Not that last night’s unexpected entry into my agenda wasn’t without its own, “It’s cool because it’s obnoxious.” The G train—which, in itself being elusive, that it, and seemingly at random, will reverse enroute, not completing its fully advertised run—is the closest connection in the only neighborhood in the borough that hasn’t fasten hold to out-skirted, metropolitan public transportation; making the pub only accessible by car or taxi or a well-soled pair of new kicks. Further still, the mere arrival at this watering hole is but hardly the first hindrance to elbowing the sticky bar counter to call for a pint; finding that, the hours of operation hold significant variation of arbitrary listings; welcoming patrons three to four days of the week, at what may seem, a trickling of sporadic, late night hours.

In regards to my personal attempts to belly-up at this particular pub, my initial voyage out to Red Hook was thwarted by what could only be described as hurricane force winds. The skies turned green and gray and rotten in general, and along came the types of winds that make the rains go sideways, pushing on and on until the thick-trunked trees pull over and bring with them the pavement secured to their base, coming to rest within the interior of the parked cars along the curbside. I would hear the following morning that this storm had even spawned no less than two tornados. Florida weather found in peak season, a piece of home, come to visit while I played and drank and acted a fool. It was ambiance befitting the establishment’s motif, heightening my next day’s desire to seek out the adventure once more and with better luck.

The face of the building, along with its location, the proximity to the dockyards and the stench of last month’s bait lines cooking away in the Autumn air, had me nicknaming the place and calling it so in no time, “Popeye’s Hangout.” Through the doorway I found a long and slender bar ally, crammed with drunkards as the sign of a truly fine and notable enterprise. It had the usual row of barstools lining the counter but obstructed as always by the max. capacity, standing room only crowd, who loyally remain indifferent to your want for rest. The stools themselves, if ever you’ve the chance to claim one, rock from side-to-side, I imagine for lack of the complimentary four bolt set, required to fasten them steadily—given the atmosphere and plentiful clich├ęs on hand, I couldn’t help but recall my nights on the bay with heavy wake rolling and rocking me so.

The first of many pleasantries I noted came with my stout, poured into what you would expect to find a malt or milkshake or float; not the average, “Well, you’re having an ale from a pint, a lager from a pilsner, a stout from a stein, because it’s easier to hold your nose tilted so, when drinking each beer from a glass according to its right.” And so on. This made me happy, and the beer from my shake-cup made me drunk, which made me happier still, which, by and by caused me to explore deeper.

In doing so I found this narrow line of herded customers, stacked on the counter as if stuck on the trough at feeding time, was only so at first glance. Beyond the cattle were two or three rooms, including a back patio, and each room not packed shoulder-to-shoulder but properly seated with tables and chairs and each affixed with its own lighting and mood. A multitude of individuality making Popeye’s Hangout much more complex a thing than I could have deduced the night before, from outside looking in with all that gloomy weather causing such a fuss.

It wasn’t until the band struck up a new set, that I took the appropriate measures to note the breed of customer, having previously not paid any attention to their sect of trend or fashion. My initial impression, rather assumption, was some gritty ode to “The Salt of the Earth,” which, I imagine I gathered from the structure of things; the haggard old barmaid, the working-class neighborhood, and moreso, perhaps, from the white polka-dot pattern of sidewalk outside—courtesy of the flocked pigeons and seagulls and the like. Now I am hardly the musical aficionado—which is to say I still hold on to classic rock like it’s all I’ve ever known—but I imagine still, it will do their play justice to simply say it wasn’t quite rock or jazz or blues or swing, but some illegitimate child of the lot. To which it wouldn’t shock me to see fans of The Charleston or Zoot Suits or long and loose gowns of the Big-Band era—to which, by the by, I saw each and more. It was a horrid display of chaos, somehow made to come to order. I couldn’t help but wish that prohibition were somehow reinstated, feeling, and by gut only, that the evening was of the sort my drunken brethren experienced many decades ago; coolness factor increased not hindered by the oppressive Big Brother of the day.

The evening, in spite of how original and happy of a start it began, soon fell in line with what is expected from all evenings. Which is to say the slow and inevitable haze of intoxication began its removing of single details of my surroundings, one-by-one at first, and shortly, fistfuls at a time. All vanished until one lonely picture remained of a peaceful and serene clarinetist. She was patient and unbothered while tapping her foot and nodding her head so, waiting measure upon measure for a small note or two, which was presently all the music required of her skill. I do not mean to belittle her, for in those few notes the song was made complete, and having been removed would have been a notable loss. I find, I believe, it is in those little details that make a night worthy of remembrance—which is to say, a drunk cynic gives the same romantic value to a beautiful musician, as he does a forgotten bass, pan-seared on the asphalt adjacent to the East River.

- The Exodus