Saturday, October 19, 2013

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Portuguese-bar-on-Pavilion-Ave--Riverside-NJ








Joe, 64 years old, fought in Vietnam for two years, 1967-68. He was there for the Tet Offensive. "My father fought in World War I and World War II, and four of my brothers were in the service. I was a baseball prospect, you know. After high school, I had sixty scholarship offers."

"Six?!" I interrupted him.

"No, sixty."

"Sixty! You must have been great!"

"I was. I was a catcher, and I hit .400 in high school. I could probably make it as a professional, but my father said, 'We have a war now,' so I enlisted. I didn't know what I was doing. I had a small life. We were into bebop and Elvis, and next thing I knew, I was killing people. Your people!" And Joe started to cry. "The government put us into this terrible situation. All of a sudden, we were there. Our first day, we saw two American corpses, and they had their genitals cut off and stuffed into their mouths."

"What?! I've never heard of anything like that."

"But that's what we saw. And now, I'm thinking I'm not sure who did this. I'm thinking maybe it's our own government that did this, to get us riled up. They did it so we would hate the Vietnamese."

It wasn't all heavy, our conversation. Before this photo, Joe joked that maybe I was his bastard son, and that's why our heads are clumped together, to show the similarity of our faces. Looking at the image in the view finder, Joe and I were awestruck by how much we resembled each other.

Riverside used to have 22 bars, but now there are only seven. We were sitting in a Portuguese joint, RaceTrack 75 Sports Bar, on Pavilion Avenue. Two televisions at the back showed Portuguese programs, the two at the front had on ESPN and ESPN2. Each noon, the bar owner picks Joe up at his house and brings him here, then takes him home at around 6PM. Joe drinks roughly $20 a day, which amount to 8 bottles of Bud, though usually somebody would buy him another bottle or two, or three. Joe has liver cancer. Seven years ago, a doctor said he had six months to live.

The owner's wife, Teresa, is the bartender. A few minutes after six, she said, "Joe, you have to go now. My husband is driving you home!"

"But I'm sitting here, talking to my new friend!"

"You have to go, Joe. It's time!" Then, to me, "If I don't stop him, he'll just keep going."

Without the ride, Joe would not be able to get home by himself.



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7 comments:

Unknown said...

Yo linh:

Regret dropping-out of communication, can "blame" stress & pressures @ work. For example, this past Wednesday into Thursday I cleaned up the remains of a 15-year old buy who was struck by oncoming train in Elmira NY. Will spare you gory detail, the unfortunate kid wore headphones while walking in the middle of RR-tracks, did not hear train horn-blasts, ground trembling. Maybe he listened to favorite song prior to quick-end.

I appreciated this photo of you with the talented baseball player, and 60-scholarships at-hand before WAR intervened. You know I'm Byzantine Catholic, I accept any & all chiding from any one, and St. Augustine wrote,"What is the State w/o justice? A band of robbers?"

Present day Amerika, the Common youth get watered-down & business-designed public education, and move on to "specialize' in certain fields, & are tagged with incredible tuition debt. I am educated to a certain B.S. undergraduate degree, & am turning rather psychotic in a plight to make ends-meet -- pay $14,000 annually for life-giving & financial-killing family health care insurance.

Returning to the PHOTO & world of Major League Baseball, the late owner of Oakland A's, Charlie Finley, prophetically said, "Free Agency will turn MLB into a Den of thieves." I am very sad America is operated by an Augustinian "Band of Robbers," I cope, and no doubt, minus "ass-kissing," I am happy knowing YOU are on Citizen-Street-Patrol, watching, experiencing, & telling the common man stories. Great thing is that you're recording TRUTH, & not merely idealizing Average Joes -- I saw such impulse in Postcard "Norristown" and your bizarre run-in with the tattooed fellow, 1st considered ally, turned persecutor.

Finally, if you'd like to see a news story about a local police department "Band of Robbers," please go to www.thetimes-tribune,com and read the hapless story of Old Forge Borough Chief of Police, Larry Semenza. Note that Old Forge is the town where we drank beer and watched couples at bar, rarely SPEAKING to one another, and occupied with tapping cell phones keys. A good day, very unseasonable weather here in N.E. PA, my family awaits your 2nd Coming. Naz drowie, long live Resistance.

Chuck Orloski

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Chuck,

I will try to get up there before too long. Lately, I've been limiting my travel to cheap day trips.

To readers: If Chuck wasn't so bogged down by work and family matters, he could write articles based on his work of cleaning up after so many disasters, including murders and suicides. He's seen so much sadness and desperation.


Unknown said...

Yo Linh!

At present, at 61-years old, with real-concerns about being "shit-canned," I can only write (with limitations) about work-stories, travesties, horrors.

I do not believe my VISION measures-up to the "sadness & desperation" you have witnessed. In contrast to you, I was not on a Pacific island with money strapped to underwear, domiciled in a tent-city. Consequently, in my mind, you are the common American's greatest writer. So tragic was the Counterpunch feud-outcome, reading Linh Dinh was one key method for the "intelligentsia" to get into contact with the Common American.

Unknown said...

Yo Linh,

Suppose you're busy, have little time to spend with what I say. That's certainly O.K., understand you have WORK to do. But one more comment?

As you witnessed Fall of Saigon, ominous approach of N.V.A., US military in retreat, I watched the Fall of Scranton to a band of robber-Occupiers, residents in dismay. Such historical action is in microcosm-example to what's happened to the US, in general. A sordid re-make underway, of course NOT in the "people's" interest.

Finally, the dude in your photo looks very seasoned to reality -- maybe a lot like Alexander Solzhenitsyn appeared upon release from Lubyanka.

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Chuck,

You, I and many others are witnesses to this unraveling firsthand, so we have plenty to say, and we should not care about all these venues with their petty minded gatekeepers. They can stay aloof and arrogant all they want, but it's their losses.

A reader told me about "progressive" Common Dreams' annual budget of over $600,000, two thirds of which come from foundations. In their fundraisings, however, Common Dreams routinely hide this income, but make passionate appeal to ordinary readers as if these are their sole backers. Their primary supporters (and masters), however, are the big donors who staunchly back the Democratic Party.


Linh

Justin said...

I had no idea, though by now should have known it possible and likely, that a website like CommonDreams survives mainly on big foundation money. Unfortunate.

Linh Dinh said...

We don't know all of its funders, but here are the proven ones:


* Schumann Foundation (Bill Moyers)

* Schumann Media Center (Bill Moyers)

* Park Foundation

* Lear Family Foundation (People for the American Way)

* Fidelity Investments "December 2nd Fund"

* Hewlett-Packard Family Foundation

* Environmental Working Group (funded by some of the largest foundations in the USA, including the Ford, MacArthur, Rockefeller and Schumann foundations)

* Lannan Foundation