Showing posts with label 70's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 70's. Show all posts

Sunday, May 15, 2011

1972: Facing the Selective Service System, and The Draft

By Jack Brummet
Unexplained Phenomena Editor

It's hard to remember now what we faced in the late 60's and early 70's, when involuntary conscription was still the law of the land.  It wasn't so much the draft per se, as the fact that there was a bloody war raging in Vietnam (and vicinity) and every single day, the 'papers and news were filled with body bags and body counts.  And very little of the news was good news.  Before the war was over more than 58,000 American boys would die in Vietnam.

The debate over the war was constantly raging--between parents and sons, teachers and students, police and protesters. . .it happened constantly, and everywhere.  It was absolutely exacerbated by other changes in the "youth culture": drugs, sex, rock and roll, underground newspapers and radio stations, long hair and beards, strange clothes, rock festivals, gigantic marches, people dropping out of society for communes, and people joining political and action groups like the Students for a Democratic Society, The Yippies, The Panthers, The Weatherman, The Draft Resistance, and hundreds more.  It was a strange and wonderful time.  And always hanging over our heads (I turned 18 in 1971) was the draft, and being sent to Vietnam, or at the best, enlisting in the Navy or Coast Guard to avoid 'Nam.  When you were drafted, they did not send you to dig ditches in Omaha.

In 1970, the the Selective Service System instituted a national lottery for draft numbers.  The target draft age was 19.  In 1972, the picked the numbers for people born in 1953.  My birth date came in at 182; I was safe.  That guy born on March 6th--he was No. One.  If you were born on Christmas Day, you were No. Six.

The draft (not just the lottery) ended on July 1st, 1973.

This list shows the number of inductions into the military over the terrible arc of the Vietnam War.

Year   Inductees
1962     82,060
1963   119,265
1964   112,386
1965   230,991
1966   382,010
1967   228,263
1968   296,406
1969   283,586
1970   162,746
1971     94,092
1972     49,514
1973          646

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Doors' LA Woman

I forgot just how much I loved LA Woman by The Doors until last weekend when it came up in the dance music at the Hokit-Roberts annual blowout, and we danced our asses off! It's my favorite LA song of all time--I also like it because I can sing along perfectly with Jim Morrison on this last record. We had the same register but I could never confidently sing along until he'd ravaged his voice.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Patti Smith music video 2006: Because The Night

Patti performs an awesome acoustic version of the tune she wrote with The Boss. This had to end he biggest, or maybe only, "hit."


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Elvis Costello video: High Fidelity from one of the great albums "Get Happy," produced by Nick Lowe

Knowing Elvis's personality, and knowing how cranky he was back then (remember the Ray Charles Incident?), it's amazing they got Elvis to do so many videos, and seriously dance and is Get Happy's High Fidelity. . .


Friday, August 10, 2007

Jerry Melin, Master Forger and Craftsman

ckick Mel to zoom him up

Two days ago, I wrote a brief piece detailing the summer of 1973, and my friend Scooter's couch surfing and imbibing at the Sundowner. Now Scooter wrote back (See italicized text below), and brought up a fact I had forgotten. I am usually the victor in these memory wars, over Scooter and Keelin Curran. Scooter trumped me this time, with a memory that is now crystal clear, but never would have bubbled to the surface without this cue. However, in retaliation, I challenge him once again to remember his friends, the painter, Fred Birchman, and his lovely wife Paula!

Jerry Melin developed an almost foolproof system for forging Washington State ID's. I think the reason this slipped my mind is that I never actually had Mel make one for me. In his comments, Scooter pegs this to my having a girlfriend and being on a diet. However, it was something deeper than that I think. In those days I was never a particularly meticulous law-abider, but for some reason I don't ever remember going to a bar until I was 21. And I never attended a day at the Sundowner, as far as I remember. I don't know why, but it worked out OK in the end. I was able to spend plenty of nights in bars after I turned 21. However, to this day, I very rarely go to bars, and when I do, it almost always involves music. I always preferred a party at someone's crib to a bar. On the other hand, some of the craziest times I had in NYC were, naturally, in bars. Like the time we bumped into Allen Ginsberg at the Grass roots Bar on St. Mark's Place. We listened to a recitation of his latest poem and chatted, and he gave Mel a big, wet kiss on the forehead.

I remember Mel, sitting for literally, hours, working as Scooter details below, to alter a license. He was changing one digit in the birthyear, and it took hours to get the perfect letter and get the registration just perfect. Even cops would miss the alteration. So, Phil, "schubert," Spurge, Kevin, Mike Thies, et al, would have these nearly foolproof licenses. After I turned 21, I joined them in the bar wars. Still, we were college students, trying to live on $200 a month, so there were limits to how much we could even go out to bars at all, except for jazz night at Pete's, where you could bottles of wine for $4.99 and listen to jazz,

Mel would labor the same way to produce these fantastic Blake-ean drawings of ethereal winged, adrogynous angels. . .none of which I still have. We wrote a lot of poetry together in much the same fashion, taking hours to build up poems, usually focused on America, the police state, art, drugs, philosophy, sex, jazz, and rock and roll. And when he was serious about school it was the same thing: he would study for 12 hours straight, and whenever he decided he wanted to apply himself, he would pull straight A's. Jerry/Mel was the smartest person I ever knew who was constantly on academic probation. There was nothing like seeing him utterly engrossed in whatever project was at hand: art, poetry, forgery, calculus, economics. We would sometimes spend an entire night reading one of Blake's work's like America or Jerusalem, aloud, with endless bowls, digressions, and sidebars.

Needless to say, I miss Mel, still. A few stories about Mel:

Photograph: Jerry Melin At Mud Bay, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Jerry Melin, still missing, still missed
Mel, Part 1
Audioblogger Post::::Kevin Curran And Jerry Melin Meet The Poet Allen Ginsberg At The Grass Roots Tavern On NYC's Lower East Side
Senator Jerry Melin Speaks Out About 1979

Scooter references on all this is that:

Mario Cuomo's 1984 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address
The Brummets, Currans, Kruses, and Sanchezes in NYC
Interview with a Manhattan bartender: varnishing coffins and 86ing the rubes
Manhattan Nightmare - The Transit Strike Is A Go/Remembering The 1980 Strike
Scooter and $2 all you can drink beer day at the Sundowner circa 1973
Audioblogger Post::::Kevin Curran And Jerry Melin Meet The Poet Allen Ginsberg At The Grass Roots Tavern On NYC's Lower East Side
Rolling Stones dodge Depends [tm] barrage at Superbowl
My Worst Jobs: Fifty Tons Of Sand


Scooter here, usually I am happy just to sit back and enjoy the show at All This is That but Jack, we called him Johnny in 73, got me thinking. He says that I may have been depressed, maybe/maybe not, but I did have a lot of time to kill that summer and, as he points out, very few dólores to fund any meaningful diversions.

I had gone from tending dogs to the dogs in two summers and had nearly depleted my savings account after paying for freshman year at WWSC and my share of body work to repair Mel’s parent’s Pontiac Le Mans after Phil K, Kev & I put it into a ditch during a night of carousing while Mel prudently elected to ride shotgun.

Mel misdesignated drivers to his advantage on more than a few occasions in those years and when he didn’t the cops usually learned about it.

I remember that Kev played softball for a local men’s team in Kent that summer but he always joined me at the Downer on Thursdays. Mel and Phil K would come by regularly too but Johnny less frequently because he had a job and a girl friend and I believe adhered to a fitness regimen then that frowned on 12 hours of brews guzzling. Anyway, all of us, with the exception of David Fuller (RIP) were still underage in 1973 but we never, I mean never, had a problem gaining entrance to drinking establishments.

In the early 70’s WA had begun to roll out a new state photo ID that replaced the bifurcated WSDL and State Liquor Photo ID cards that folks had to carry previously. The new ID/DL used a process that impregnated a dense fibrous paper backing with the licensee’s vitals and photo and then sealed the face with a fine but durable laminate overlay. This new photo DL quickly made the State Liquor Card obsolete. While some youngsters purchased faked up generic out-of-state IDs from shops along Seattle’s 2nd Avenue they would only pass muster at skid row dives, so we relied on Mel’s obsessive compulsivity to create nearly perfect WA State issued DL’s with modified birth years.

For a few years Mel would periodically cook up some tea and then patiently scour magazines, novels, textbooks, trade and professional journals, telephone directories, and newspapers in search of the perfect pica/font to match the DOB stat on the WADL. He had assembled an impressive file of matches by 1973.

His strategy was simple. He instructed us to make a claim to the DMV that we had lost our license so that if we had a real run in with the heat we could always present a valid DL. Once the replacement DL was in hand he would set up shop. He worked at a brightly lit table fitted with a square of picture frame matting. He always used medical implements instead of paste up tools. I had had access to scalpels and hemostats from my year at the veterinary clinic and Mel had built a fairly extensive kit of medical supplies for this and other endeavors.

He affixed the license to the matting with two hemostats and set about altering the last figure in the birth year. He was a master in this procedure by the summer of the Downer. He would cut a tiny square around tiny figure, taking exquisite care not to pierce the backing of the card. He extracted the character and a slight layer of backing leaving a void that read 195 . He then embedded a perfectly matched “”0”, “1” or “2” into the void. Once the card was relaminated even we had trouble detecting the alteration. By the time we reached majority age most bartenders had learned that shining a flashlight through the back of the card would highlight the incision around the altered birth year so the jig was up by 74 or 75 but I don’t remember the cards failing any of us, ever. How about you, Jack?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

scooter said...

Oh, it's important to note that none of us could grow a respectable moustache until our thirties and most of us could have passed for high school students until our mid 20's. That's a fact and it proves the mettle of these IDs. To watch a bartender or bouncer go from scowling disbelief to incredulous befuddlement whenever we presented the ID for the first few times was priceless. No body believed to see us that we were of age but the cards didn't lie. And after we were established in the bar Downer or otherwise they never asked again.