Cheeseburger Gothic

Soldiers once, and young

Posted March 27, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

The Boston Globe has a photo essay which is worth checking out, about fifty snaps from the Vietnam War. They were taken by Charlie Haughy, a 24 year old draftee who was called up in 1967 after running out of money for college tuition. He arrived in country where his commanding officer told him to start making with the happy snaps.

"You are not a combat photographer," the colonel said. "This is a morale operation. If I see pictures of my guys in papers, doing their jobs with honor, then you can do what you like in Vietnam.”

Haughy took thousands of shots which lay undeveloped for decades until recently. The Globe has a brief piece about what happened when he digitized them, and the photo essay is worth checking out.

I grew up reading about the Vietnam War. It felt close, even though it had ended about seven or eight years before I really started paying attention. The cultural ennui of the 1970s was in part a product of social and economic atomisation brought on by the War, amongst other things. And the mad, economic hysteria of the 1980s was in turn a reaction to that.

I found the photos eerie because they seemed to come from a time that was much more remote than my own childhood. Almost a far removed as the earlier war in the Pacific. Perhaps it was the black and white exposures, but I dont think so. Looking at the men Haughy photographed they seem to have lifted out of history, a fading, fast receding history. Their faces, even their body shapes, mark them as from a different era. The past as another country.

11 Responses to ‘Soldiers once, and young’

Murphy mumbles...

Posted March 27, 2013

I'm headed off to the site now but in looking at that first photo I had the same experience I had when I read Tim O'Brien's The Things they Carried. You tweak that image just a bit sideways and it could easily be my time in the military. I used the same weapon, wore the same flak jacket in Korea, probably had the same type of boots. The only real difference besides age and location would be the steel pot and the OD green uniform.

Some aspects of soldiering are timeless. That is what this photograph tells me.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted March 27, 2013

Yeah, poor choice of photo to make my point. That looks like it could have been shot in the backstreets of Falluja. I just thought it a very strong image. But I found rest of the series was weird the way it seemed to be lost much further back in time than a couple of decades. Even the equipment looked antique, and most of it is still in operation somewhere. But it was the faces that most arrested me. They looked like the faces of long gone ghosts.

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted March 27, 2013

I don't think it would have mattered which image you picked. They are all strong, haunting images and yet to me, they are all equally familar. I could have seen these guys yesterday.

Might be worth a longer ponder when I get a moment.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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tqft puts forth...

Posted March 27, 2013

Fascinating and a bit surreal.

I grew up in an army town houses on both sides army people shuffled regularly and up and down the street.

Occassional war stories would come out.

For some reason the B&W's affected me more than the colour pics.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted March 27, 2013

How young is that kid in #40? Also like the Huey slung under the chinook.

Nice one JB

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BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted March 27, 2013

Some powerfull images there.

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 27, 2013

The image that got to me was the sergeant with the injured child. I was immediately reminded of Michael Yon's similar image from Iraq of the major and the little girl dying in his arms.

It's always the innocents ...

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Jacques Stahl asserts...

Posted March 27, 2013

The images are arresting, I think, because of the relationship these guys have with the photographer. He is one of them, therefore they are not on edge at any level because of the camera. That doesn't underestimate his ability to find context and compose his subjects very well, but it may explain the intimate nature of his work.

Contrast this with the work of, say, Don McCullin and there is a difference in the edginess that is portrayed.

The photo of the .50 Cal and the boys reading mail reminded me immediately of the scene on the PBR in Apocalypse Now, which I still believe is close to some of the best conceptual work on film of the 'feel' of a combat zone (in very select parts).

Note also the body shape of these soldiers, much closer to the WWII soldier than the typical modern day build.

I like this portfolio a lot, thanks JB.

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted March 27, 2013

As an amateur photographer I love the images. They are so powerful, well composed and show so much technical ability on a film camera. I fkn love them.

From my own memory as a scrawny 18 year old skinny soldier I can relate to these these young men. I don't completely relate to the musclular soldiers I see in the images from Iraq or Afganistan. Different time different place but how did we become so large?

I'm interested to read Murph's and Havocks view on this (and any other ex soldiers). Have soldiers become bigger? Or am I living in a dreamworld from 1989 where I was young fit and normal and now the world is populated by monsters?

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Jacques Stahl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 28, 2013

If you follow the link, it leads you to Charlie's story - this guy worked as a FKN forward scout (!!) for over two months, having arrived in country just after the Tet offensive! No wonder he was able to get this feeling into his shots. See the photo of the scout looking into the bamboo to try and find the MG - just before it opened fire on both of them. A legend this man, looking forward to seeing the rest of his portfolio published.

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted March 29, 2013

Awesome.

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The West Wing guys know not to put a goat on the White House lawn

Posted March 26, 2013 into Politics by John Birmingham

So who let Kyle Sandlilands into Julia's easter egg hunt?

I'm only half joking? I mean, she does employ people to make sure that stuff like this never, ever happens.

I wanted to embed this video below in Blunty, where I wrote about this, but we haz rights issues.

24 Responses to ‘The West Wing guys know not to put a goat on the White House lawn’

Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2013

That picture was the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning.

I will have nightmares, I tell you. Nightmares.

Dave W asserts...

Posted March 26, 2013
I thought it must have been one of those 'chaser-style' pranks at first. But it was intentional?

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Conspiracy Cat has opinions thus...

Posted March 26, 2013

Where's the chocolate? Someone said there was chocolate.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted March 26, 2013

That pic looks as though its an entry for Viz's "Up The Arse Corner" segment. Ten comments in and 'Juliar' gets a mention by some fucking boneheaded muppet. Cap the fucking lot them. Would have commented over there but can't contain the fkn sweary.

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted March 26, 2013
At least when he's at the PC's place we can keep track of the hateful little fucker.

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013
At least when he's at the PC's place we can keep track of the hateful little fucker.

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013

I like Kyle! :)

I think her is misunderstood!

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted March 26, 2013

I'm guessing that the same people who think Kyle is a good idea are the same people who think a 2PP ALP vote of under 40% is also a good idea.

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Jacques Stahl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013

Methinks there is only one bunny in that photo.

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Spanner puts forth...

Posted March 26, 2013

Oh sweet baby retarded jebus what fkn numbnuts adviser thought that was a good idea?

Arent the ALP in enough shart already after little Ruddy's petulant hissy fit and their own policy bungles? Now this! FFS they might as well hand Gina R and George Pell the keys to the Country.

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JG would have you know...

Posted March 26, 2013

Love the West Wing video. Haha.

Easter Bunny? That's the scariest Easter Bunny I've seen. Enough to give the sick kiddies nightmares. Geez, if you saw that Easter Bunny coming, you'd be saying your prayers. Looks more like the abominable snowman. Poor Kyle. He just isn't on anyone's pool party invite list at the moment. Maybe if he smiled. So, he tells it like it is (even if he's frequently wrong and just, *wrong*!).

A lot of Australian men (and women) do that: spit the dummy. I do. Hell, all redheads do. And I wouldn't be Australian if I didn't spit the dummy on occasion. A bit of tolerance for Bad Easter Bunny please. Let's not ban Easter Bunny from trailing the Orange Roughie, as John Bunny likes to call our beloved prime minister.

I gather the comments over at Blunty are insane, JB, seeing as you're weilding the ban hammer like a tomahawk. I never go over there. Too dirty. I read your Blunty here and never read the Blunty comments.

Joanna, another JB cyber bunny.

Lulu reckons...

Posted March 26, 2013

"Bad Easter Bunny"

Bingo! KS looks downright disturbing in his get-up & your comment made me realise he looks like a Easter Bunny version of Bad Santa. Except for one thing - the Billy Bob Thornton film was actually funny.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted March 26, 2013

God, the extract pic in the slider is even more disturbing than the real thing.

Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted March 26, 2013

The whole thing is disturbing in a weirdly wacky way. I wish I had time to photoshop it and substitute Mr Rabbit sneaking up on the Orange Roughy but as it is the look on Kyle's face is priceless.

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Spanner mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

Eeeep. Turns out you can't cut and paste from word eh.

DNABeast ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2013

You should be able to from now on.

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Spanner mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

In my comment that got scrambled by word I was going to say that the derp is unbelievable at Blunty. The crowd has abandoned discussion about the merits of having the Snotgoblin at a children's event and instead moved into the default lefty righty fighty. It's so pointless.

Timmo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013

Yep, reading those comments just makes me sad. Is this really the best we can do as humans? Sniping and hating and cutting others down?

Yes I'm generally a Labor voter and am disappointed at the almost certainty that Abbott will get in - mostly cause I think we'll see the same immediate detrimental impact on marginal groups and social justice that we have seen in the wake of the Newman govt here in Qld. And the same bias toward big business at the cost of the poor, the environment and general workplace conditions.

All I'm hoping for is that it's not a massive margin that gives him room to claim a "mandate" to do what he pleases - given the lack of detail except "rolling back what Labor have done" he could weasel anything into a mandate.

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Brian mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

I went, I saw, I fled.

Seriously though. Didn't anyone make a comment likening Kyle to 'Harvey'? The 6 foot invisible pooka from the James Stewart movie of the same name?

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 26, 2013

Any column which points to the PM or the Opposition Leader is going to attract Max Derp, my new psuedonym.

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theangrywarden mutters...

Posted March 26, 2013

Kyle Sandilands is a cunt.

This public service announcement was brought to you by theangrywarden.

theangrywarden puts forth...

Posted March 26, 2013

I get no brandy to swirl?? This is bullshit!

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2013

But you got to say 'cunt'.

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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2013

That's an insult to cunts everywhere ...

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