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The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America's Secret War in Laos

The Ravens: The Men Who Flew In America's Secret War In Laos - Christopher Robbins image

<!--<br/>i'm sitting in a suite on the 13th floor of the W hotel in Seoul, overlooking the Han river, looking out onto a smattering of settlements that resembles nothing so much as scum, the lights and blinking traffic of a developed, prosperous economy, yet the ramshackle construction of an unzoned culture, the hills that recede into the distance, the starlight of a declining night, the faint star-streaks of intercontinental jet ways. on the floors of the suite are expensive persian rugs, redolent in their deep reds and purples; on the deep stained-wood walls are calligraphy wall hangings; there's a plasma screen, muted, showing bbc, the lips of the announcer communicating chaos and war; in recessed nooks, mood lighting changes with the the changing hours, a minibar with a small plastic baggie, 30 grams, of cocaine; a box and styrofoam pieces from a recently acquired Acer laptop and the luxurious high threadcount egyptian cotton bed in which i sprawl, staring monotonously out into the unknown city, my duffel, my mirror. my thought recycle endlessly through the hours: the unfinished masters in the philosophy of aesthetics; the decline of the west; the nature of literature and the reader; the random personal encounters I have elicited in the last two hundred forty-four hours. every day is the same: wake up at 10 or 11, scroll through the latest news off the wifi, calculate whether we have reached the 600 hour mark before the life of the student begins; contemplation of the naval; memories resurfacing like fish in a mountain lake before disappearing again, scudding off into depths unplumbed. a childless in-law will enroll me in language classes for a year starting in a month's time. afterwards, i can continue on to finish a master's or possibly continuously do language study. i watched a youtube video the other day off wifi showing some engineering phd who was homeless--he had tried to keep his mother in their family house using up all his savings because she had alzheimers. the ethos of the man communicated itself strongly, his desire for limitations, his need to be of service; his victimhood, his self-victimhood.

what is this monument to Literature I have created on this cyberspace electrons-shooting-out-to-the-ether on the edge of cyberpunk pacific, blue LEDs, mirrorshades, unknown economies, random streetside encounters? I can't save that boston master's degree in engineering from himself. it's become the internet's latest little thing, from 7000 views to 700000 thanks to the shifting mood of the internets http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eNPAH46oI8 this from a 3 year old video. human interest is restless.

the perversity of civil-military affairs is that if you think you're in decline, you probably are, because expansion is obvious: every day brings new inventions, new frontiers, new cultures acceding to your own. it's the opposite of military life, because military defeat is extremely obvious: the enemy is storming your headquarters, gun in his hand. so military victory is actually the default, the norm, the targets distant and suppressed.

what I was contemplating was the nature of defeatism and decline itself. if you were educated in the arts, you were surrounded by similar personalities and understood only decline. if you went for an engineering degree or the MBA, career progress was the established norm. it was inculcation of values through a setting. but i purchased the cocaine specifically not to use it. if it i can keep it in the fridge, untouched, for 600 hours, then this will be the time that I remained completely sober on a suite floating in the clouds, awaiting the next phase of life. little to no money was spent: only the contemplation that followed; decline, the Bloomsbury Group, Keynesian economics; the physical changes wrought in a post-industrial, post-punk, post-modern, post-everything life, defeated.

post-punk, post-modern, post-everything north of england? once againanomie within the golden prison

img src=http://mentaltornado.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/gwenstefani.jpg

you're gone baby! if you had a concept you had to ride, no matter how far it took; no matter it went. the cycle ran: afterwards, you were exhausted. and then you became reinvigorated. #anomieinthegoldenprison was one of stefani's tropes, the billboard #47 artist of the 2000-2009 decade, (the 'aughts'?) the thinking girl's Britney, the pacific northwest madonna, the groundwork-layer for gaga herself. of 10 million-view plus videos, 3 had 'meta' themes; sweet escape about the prison she had constructed for herself; whatcha waiting for about the pressures of aging and creativity; some other third video and then seven other 3 minutes pieces about the standard beginning, ending, or nostalgia for love.

what will 2050 anthropologists think? probably: "oversweet" (go check out 1990-9 hits; all 'caramelly', from 'who let the dogs out' macarena and so on...). 5 second conclusion: auties music is edgier than 90s--- innocence moves to experience SUITESCAPE was not wanting to pursue any new friendships or human contact in general if life was going to change dramatically in 600 hours. listening to the bose stereo, counting seconds from the bottom of the sun touching the horizon to the top; streaming No Doubt to capture stefani's early sound; but most importantly taking escapism to some whole new art level. "is this the real self" sans work, sans obligation, sans plans? or is it the real self when you are where you would prefer to be, i.e., endless language school, forced sociality, a longer duration of consistency? such questions are like the question of RAVENS itself, where some small, insular group of commandos, death-warriors, 'secret soldiers' fight a deniable war in laos, while the rest of the country begins to spit on veterans. (guilt complex leading to '89 burst of patriotism)

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suite escape; 2 June 2013

I dug some cash out of an old postal savings account. the ishiguro debate has heated up, incrementally, as I sort of suspected it would as middle america/heartland takes on the internationalist reading. america is a complex and in some ways all-encompassing entity, but it fails where it believes its version of multiculturalism explains the world. it's why 'borat' works; the Central Asians are actually completely out of touch with US cultural standards, but then, so to speak, same with the vice-versa. I'm not really sure I'm going to dive into the heartland debate. when you meet a person who's never filled up a passport, especially if they're already middle-aged or older, they tend to be very much set in their view of the world: xyz entity is 'evil'; 'abc' entity is 'good'; all these manichean categories don't stand 20 miles into a foreign continent. but whatever; that's life.

as i was musing on this little piece amidst the swarm of 'almost first world' asian crowds, it struck me that other than the accident of this review coinciding with SUITEESCAPE, there is no actual reason to have done it on this entry. in fact, probably a bunch of air traffic controllers are, like wtf?; = internet. instead , i guess it is fair to say, the book is pretty controlled, pretty even-toned. it is a straightforward history of the O-2 air war over the Meo homeland.

is this making more or less sense as time goes by??? dunno. nor am I really checking some of the threads that are going active here and on other networks. in fact...~~although I sorted out the postal savings account and mused on the inferiority of heartlanders who never travel to the rest of the world, the thought that really occured to me was that amazon.com's monthly deals were so bad this month that I actually sort of wondered whether they had actually renewed the list. just a whole stream of b-list and c-list ties, wahh. well anyway it's gotten warmer lately so probably less need to hole up and read. and chat. and stare out into desolate asiatic landscapes.

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anyway, not to be too change-of-topic:

http://www.salon.com/2013/06/02/bret_easton_ellis_interviews_matthew_specktor_people_in_l_a_arent_afraid_to_read/ (WP skeptical that Specktor is a Notable Writer, btw)

okay quick story, since I've been selfishly spamming the site for a few days. sometimes somebody runs into you on the street and so you get all the gossip that has been stored up for a few years. the theme of this data d/load is "fate's arrow?" -->

once upon a time there were two people arriving in japan around 2006 to take up a job teaching English.

Alfa was a "texanette," a small but athletic girl who was proud of her home state and took pride in her combination of analytical talent and social popularity. She was the class president of her high school, a private school in the San Antonio region, and she played lacrosse well enough to get nationally ranked, if not very high. (like #583 of her age cohort in the country). her parents were lawyers, they had two Mercedes benzes, and from age seven to age twenty-five she had known nothing but success and being at the top of the social pyramid. so okay, texas is not connecticut, and an S500 is not a bentley; a mcmansion in san antonio is not a castle in yorkshire. but, by all measures, very high social elite.

Charlie was Ting Rong Ding, the Malaysian who nobody understood got the visa to teach English in Tokyo. He speakee Inglish likee dis, yeah? He say Malaysian pidgin gud az British English you no can . iz not dialect but gud regional inglish wid own grammar. u thinkee u bettah 'cuz u english in book?

now as you can imagine alpha and charlie lived in very different expat worlds. somebody organized a football tournament I don't think charlie even got the email. a beach blast was held in two or three summer weekends, and of course alpha had her pick of which to attend or not, making by her attendance the one she went to the "cool" one. charlie went around spikin' ching-chong changlish for sixd ord seben months, and I think mostly the foreigners in Tokyo avoided him--at least the aussies and brits and californians, though of course there is no exact demarcating line, it was just a matter of whether you felt more comfortable a fellow member of a developed country or you preferred charlie ting rong's unique experiences in the japan nightclub.

fast forward ten years.

Alfa has completed her doctorate, gotten married (a socially high individual from a professional Minnnesota family), is doing clinical research and some patient care. she has a number of papers out and is board-certified, making a good living.... yet, strangely... she seems at times troubled or disappointed in some way. there is this faint air about her, not entirely having to do with her specialty (mental health), of things going well... but not exactly as dreamed about.

well Charlie! mr. Charlie has dated and then married a japanese girl--not a Tokyo University graduate, but still a regional school; they have land outside osaka, a famous soba restaurant; charlie runs a number of town noodle night events, and he is integrated into japan, considered lucky, and he's loud and happy and boisterous.

what happened!!!

if you had met the two people, you would have instantly picked alfa as the person to hang out with. how could a person brought up in one of san antonio's top families, with a lineage extending to the bushes and the prescotts and the astors go anything but total success?

and what value would there be in hanging out with two shoes charlie?

but that's the thing, right. alfa was already born at the top. no matter what she did, she would only just maintain her position--although collapse was also possible had she pursued some unfortunate path-- working for enron, or deciding to go into development and being shot in the congo.

for charlie, every day in tokyo was a success. getting the visa was a success. making a first world friend was a success. just talking to a japanese girl was a success. for charlie, starting as he did at the bottom of the heap, mere survival was an accomplishment. and of course, despite his greater happiness, of course he's still socially lower than alfa. if you met Dr. Alfa in her lab coat, of course you don't know about the bottle of vodka stashed in her file cabinet. you don't know about the affairs and drama hidden behind proud WASP faces in San Antonio's elite social scene.

that is the story of alfa and charlie. now is this a book review, I dunno. maybe there is more than meets the eye. but it is a story i suppose.