Stanley McChrystal: Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer.
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
|General Stanley McChrystal|
relationship with the military, its personnel, and its ability to wage war or
unseat freely elected presidents has been an ambivalent part of my life.
As a child
my father would take me to Avenida Lavalle in Buenos Aires where they had long
blocks of movie houses one after another to see “películas de conboys, de guerra
(war) y de espadachines (sword fighters).
In my teenage
hood I often asked my mother to play the US Marine Corps Hymn on the piano.
love of all things military hit a brutal reality when my head was being shaved
by Angel at the Arsenal Naval Buenos Aires in 1965. Suddenly I could not make
any important decisions and there was a book that spelled the little freedom I
had if any.
impulse was to rebel. That cost me many days of lice in a navy brig with the
added feature of having to clean every day a kitchen bell that fed thousands.
found out the subterfuge was a better tactic as a few in the Argentine Navy did
not know any better. I was working as a translator and aide to the US Naval
Advisor, Captain USN Onofrio Salvia. To escape arrests and brig visits I
removed an 8x10 glossy of the then Argentine Chief of Naval Operations, Almirante
Benigno Varela from Salvia’s filing cabinet. I wrote on the glossy in my mostly illegible
handwriting “a mi amigo Conscripto Jorge Waterhouse-Hayward con afecto
Almirante Benigno Varela” and then placed it under the glass of
my desk. After that it would seem I was immune to arrests. I was treated quite
But it all
stopped when an Argentine Commander told
me that I had to report every day in the morning at 6 am for a couple of weeks
to translate some important documents. I told him this was impossible as there
was no train that early that would take me from my rented room ( a privilege
and much better than navy barracks) in the suburbs to my downtown office. He
asked me to repeat myself. This I did. He then said, “In time of war I could
have you shot for insubordination. Or a kinder me would send you to Tierra del
Fuego or the South Pole and the only women will be female penguins. But we need
you to translate. So you will be under arrest for two weeks and you will report
here at 6 sharp.” And so it was.
Captain Salvia who noticing how troubled I was told me, “It is obvious that you
and the Argentine Navy will never agree. My advice to you is to take what’s
left in silence and when you get out of the navy do something with your life
and then reach some position of authority where you can change what you do not
like.” That was good advice.
I have had mixed views on wars and I have been unable do decide exactly what a
just war is. I remember sitting in my navy uniform in front of the tiger cage
of the Buenos Aires Zoo and reading the Viet Nam body counts in Time Magazine.
I read how many Communist jets had been shot down my Phantoms and almost
gloried at the idea of Rolling Thunder.
|Captain USN Onofrio Salvia|
long ago I read Ulysses S. Grant’s excellent Memoirs and it made me think that
here was a general who was not bad. He was human being and pretty good US President.
can add another American general to that short list. It is General (retired)
Stanley McChrystal, of some fame for his involvement in Afghanistan. He has
written a remarkable, almost out of context essay defending the funding of PBS
and Sesame Street. It seems that the great general thinks Americans would be
safer! Read it here.
I believe that Captain Onofrio Salvia was and General Stanley McChrystal is enlightened and perhaps not exceptions to the rule.
Those Fine Argentine O'Reillys
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
|Inesita O'Reilly Kuker 1966|
Two weeks ago Rosemary, my youngest granddaughter Lauren,14
and I visited my Buenos Aires where I was born in 1942. I wanted to see my city
through the eyes of Lauren who had never been abroad except a couple of times
to El Cabo, Mexico and San Diego. I wanted her to experience a real big city. I
made up my mind that I would not bore her with museum visits.
And yet I found myself telling her how I loved the subte
(the Buenos Aires underground) or how I was always in awe when arriving at the
huge, English style, train station of Retiro.
Lauren is generally monosyllabic but I can now use a brand
new word in my vocabulary that I spotted only yesterday while reading from
Julio Cortázar’s Octaedro in his
story Cuello del gatito negro:
…se olían en la sombre murmurando una dicha de
monosílabos y diástoles.
Diástoles or diastoles in English is that period of
relaxation in the heart between pumping. But using it in a literary form it is
the lengthening of a short syllable!
Lauren talks in monosyllables and diastoles!
I believe it was all almost for naught. I have no idea how
much of what I said bored her to death. Sort of a war veteran talking about his
exploits in a long forgotten war.
|Georgito O'Reilly - 1966|
But Lauren did experience the Irish side of my family. My
nephew Georgito O’Reilly’s mother was my first cousin and godmother. Her mother
Inez Hayward was my mother’s eldest sister. She loved my mother and was the
first in the family to hold me in her arms (after my mother, of course). Since
she was divorced in the conservative Roman Catholic Argentina of the 1940s she
could not be my godmothet. Her new husband, Alejandro Ariosa was my
godfather as he also was Georgito’s. He was not a divorced man. So Inez’s daughter Inesita (18 years
older than I) became my surrogate but excellent godmother. She was the second person from her family to hold me in her arms (she was 18) when I was baptized. As a young woman
she married an Irish/Argentine called Jorge O’Reilly. That explains the Irish
side of my family. She became a widow and married a wonderful widower, Dolfi Kuker. Two of his daughters are in the picture below with Inesita and her daughter Marinés ( I carried a torch for her!).
It was then in Georgito’s son Jorge’s home in El Tigre, that
Lauren spent two days surrounded by five sisters and a brother, with a many
boyfriends and husbands and one dog. Unfortunately Jorge and his wife Lola were
in San Francisco. Jorge’s son Jorgito became the pater familias and he cooked
up a wonderful asado on a Sunday. He introduced me to the latest rage in Buenos Aires, Fernet Branca with Coke. The first sip was questionable. The second was tolerable and the third wonderful.
It is my hope that a lot of those two days will sink in with
Lauren and that after returning to an orderly, super-efficient but small city
in comparison to the Buenos Aires sprawl of orderly-chaos she might have a
broader idea of what the world is all about.
The O’Reilly family (there are tons of them) opened their
doors to us and invited us to restaurants and family gatherings full of guitar
and song. It is a family with no divorces, all devout Roman Catholics who are
all, in mass, courteous, generous and kind.
But even such a family is subject to the tribulations of
life. Inesita died just two weeks before we arrived in Buenos Aires. Lauren was
never to meet the woman who talked like the Queen of England. But in the last
few years around I said that was not true and that the Queen sounded like
Inesita as Inesita was two years older. Only today I received an email from
Georgito that his youngest son, Johnny was killed on Sunday in an automobile
accident. He was a diabetic and it seems he fainted before losing control of
Rummaging through my oficina desk today I found these three
slided which I took sometime in 1966. They are delightful particularly since I
see them in the rosier times of my past youth.
I tip off my hat to the O’Reillys and wish them few
tribulations and much joy.
| Lauren Stewart,14,Agustina O'Reilly, 14 El Tigre, Buenos Aires, March 2017|
Champagne - Scotch & Red & Black Pumps
Sunday, April 02, 2017
You would think that the two people here would have nothing
in common. That is not exactly the case as what they have in common is a shared
experience that I had with both.
Tarren won the Golden G-String prize in Las Vegas many years
ago. Since I was there courtesy of Maclean’s and the Vancouver Province, I had
a double scoop in my hands. A Vancouver Canadian had won amongst a large roster of
American and foreign ecdysiasts. To celebrate the occasion Tarren suggested I
drink some Champagne from one of her red pumps. This I did.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko and I connected in the late 90s. To
our mutual surprise we both spoke Spanish. His was a delightful Cuban accent.
We were joined by a young Vancouver/Russian poet who had stellar eyes.
Yevtushenko asked for one of her black pumps and we all drank Scotch from it.