Friday Night Music: The Hogwash Interlude

As I may have mentioned before, the vast preponderance of my Army time was spent as a draftee in the South African Defence Force, as a musician in the Entertainment Group, actually a small unit of some sixty personnel in the Permanent Force (PF), but augmented by the addition of a few draftee National Servicemen (NSMs) usually, like myself, having been professional musicians before being drafted — Trevor Rabin of Yes  was an alum, a couple years before I arrived.

There was a Big Band, managed by the unit’s Commanding Officer Maj. George Hayden and staffed almost exclusively by PF musicians, and was of astonishing virtuosity and quality — mostly older men, many of them recording stars of an earlier era, they performed Glenn Miller-type material and played concerts all over the country.  Sometimes the concerts would feature solo artists, singers, violinists and classical guitarists, most of these being NSMs who’d been sent there after completing their basic training (boot camp).

Then there also were a few dance bands which played mostly popular music of all kinds, whether Top Ten hits, country music or Afrikaans Boeremusiek, “sakkie-sakkie”  as we irreverently called it (here’s an example).

And then there was Hogwash.

(yes, that’s Yer Humble Narrator on the left, age 24)

We were thrown together one Friday night because some Army unit was having a dance and all the Entertainment Group steady bands were already booked — I mean, we found out at 3pm that we would be playing at 8pm, and a two-hour drive to the venue lay between.  A frantic scramble followed, to get some band equipment together  — only I had brought my own gear into camp, so everyone else had to content themselves with equipment that none of the other bands wanted.  At least it all functioned, more or less.

We were saved by the fact that we were all good musicians — the others, to be frank, quite a lot better than I — and fortunately, our keyboard player Boze knew the lyrics and music to a jillion popular songs, so the rest of us just followed him along.  I knew a bunch more, of the Creedence Clearwater- and early rock ‘n roll genres, so we busked our way through five hours of music — and enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to make the band a permanent one (or at least for the remaining time of our draft).  We found an empty practice room, and set about putting together a repertoire that was astonishing in its variety (as you will see below).  And because our whole job was to play music, we played all day and every day, five days a week — sometimes taking two or more days to master a complex song.  We played gigs at military bases all over South Africa and, to our great joy, at forward combat bases in the “Operational Area” of South West Africa (later Namibia).  And we rocked.  We were better than a lot of professional club house bands, all but the drummer could sing, and harmonies became our stock-in-trade:  nobody  could sing with us, not even the pros.  As we already had a good list of oldies and party songs, we could concentrate on playing stuff that we wanted to play, and which made us all better musicians.

Hogwash was together for just under eighteen months, but it was quite honestly one of the happiest times of my life.  We had no responsibilities and nothing else to do but play, and play, and play — and when we weren’t playing music, it was like being in Monty Python, with wicked humor, outrageous behavior and general mischief in abundance.  (We discovered, for example, that “gronsk” was not a word, but a letter  — the first letter of a magic word.)

Here’s some of the music.

The Fez (Steely Dan) — played note-perfect, as we did a couple other Dan songs

Who Loves You (4 Seasons) — ooooh those harmonies

Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether (Alan Parsons Project) — we played several Alan Parsons songs, and loved them all

Lazy (Deep Purple) — we played this version, not the indulgent live one

Breezin’ (George Benson) — smooth jazz, baby

Fantasy (Earth Wind & Fire) — funky (well, the way we played it, anyway)

China Grove (Doobie Brothers) — and a whole bunch of other Doobies

One Chain (Santana) — and a couple others by Carlos

I Wish (Stevie Wonder) — tough bass part and complicated backup vocals… I sweated bricks playing this one;  thanks a bunch, Stevie

Jive Talkin’ (Bee Gees) — and all their other disco songs;  hey, it was 1978

I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Foghat) — hair band music, even though we had no hair

…and the song which we played in our very first impromptu gig, and never stopped playing thereafter because we loved it, and because Boze sang it better than Garfunkel:

I only Have Eyes For You (Art Garfunkel) — best version of this song ever recorded

Here we are playing at some dismal Army camp or other:

Sadly, although we’d planned on staying together and playing professionally after the Army service was complete, Boze decided that he didn’t want to play pro.  Without him, the whole thing fell apart.  “Grundelstein” the vocalist quit music altogether and went into the hotel management business.  I rejoined Atlantic Showband (believe me, it was no hardship) and played with them from 1979 until I emigrated in 1986.  “Bee” the guitarist and Franco the drummer went on to play for two of the most well-known club bands in South Africa (Circus and Ballyhoo, respectively, for those who might know what I’m talking about).

Not playing pro with these guys is one of my greatest disappointments in my musical career.  I miss them all still.

My Kinda List

That would be the Top 25 Badass Planes Of All Time (and I especially like their choice of #1).

Now, as with all this kind of geekery, one can argue with the choices (or omissions, e.g. the WWI Fokker D.VII), but it’s still a credible selection.

(Yeah, that’s Ernst Udet in the foreground.)

And I don’t agree with Gen. Spaatz’s characterization of of the B-17, but it’s a minor quibble:  the Flying Fortress was a dandy, any way you look at it.

 

Feel free to add your suggestions — but:  if you do so, you have to say which of the existing 25 you’d drop.  (Mine would be the DC-3/C-47, to make room for the D.VII, for example).

VD Is Not Victory

Used to be that “VD” used to mean “Victory Day” — i.e. the day the war ended — but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, does it?

According to a report released earlier this year by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, incidence rates of chlamydia in service men and women more than doubled from 2013 to 2018, gonorrhea infection rates also doubled for men and rose by 33 percent for women, and diagnoses of syphilis were nearly three times the number just 10 years ago.

Of course, the brass is always ready with a “DUH!” statement:

In a press release Wednesday, Defense Department officials said the increases can mean negative consequences for military readiness.

Ya think?

Then again, maybe the higher incidence of disease in our modern Armed Forces is, as the article puts it, just a parallel of the population as a whole.

Of course, the pox (of whatever flavor) is a perennial problem for any  of the armed forces, whether invading armies, fighter jocks [sic]  or dockside navies, as whores have always known that randy young soldiers of whatever branch are a prime target, so to speak, for their eager little cashboxes.   And everyone, especially the military brass, knows it.

I recall reading somewhere that the British army sent to Spain and Portugal to oppose Napoleon’s Grand Army suffered infection rates of around 35%, but maybe that’s a feature of Spanish- and Portuguese totties, not to mention the ineffectual / non-existing prophylactics of the time.

And even the Edwardian-era U.S. Expeditionary Force sent to France in WWI became a walking pox factory, despite the Puritanic nature of American society at the time.  As the song put it, How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?”  (Translation:  now that they’ve experienced the French flavor of booze and debauchery, they’re not going to listen to us when we tell them to be sober and chaste back home.”)

My favorite line, though, is that of the late Spike Milligan who, in recounting his artillery unit’s preparations for the invasion of North Africa in 1942, pointed out that each soldier was issued a single condom prior to landing.  Milligan’s comment:  “One? One?  They must have been expecting a short war.”

‘Twas ever thus.  The distinctly modern take on the increased poxiness of our modern Armed Forces is that it seems to be about the same for both male and female soldiers — which equality no doubt pleases Teh Feministicals greatly, but which I for one find ineffably sad.

Unexpectedly

So let me make sure I’ve got this right:  you force a bunch of twentysomethings of both sexes to live together in cramped quarters, and are then surprised when the young men set up a “hit parade” of the women’s bonkworthiness?  Only in Today’s Navy.

Sailors on a US Navy submarine were said to have created a ‘rape list’ ranking their 32 female crew mates and listing sexually-explicit comments by their names, according to a military investigation.
The ‘rape list’ was said to have been shared by some sailors on the gold crew of the USS Florida, an Ohio-class cruise missile submarine that was the second to integrate enlisted women into its two crews in 2016.
According to an investigation, the list was said to be circulating among men on the gold crew. Two versions of the list existed, one which ranked female crew members on a star system and the second which added sexually-explicit comments to those rankings.

Oooohhhh the Shock & Horror that such a thing could happen.

I would put serious money on the possibility that the female sailors had a “Fuck / Marry /  Kill” list of the men, but of course that would never be punished because feminism.  (“If we do it, it’s a bit of harmless fun;  when men do it, it’s rape culture / oppressive patriarchy etc.”)

Here’s another thing to consider.  Any disciplinary action following from this silliness (because that’s what it is) is not going to put an end to this, either.  If the Navy wants to solve this problem for good, go back to male-only submarine crews (and surface ships too, but that’s a topic for another time).  Otherwise, reap what has been sown, and suck on it.  I see no good outcome from this.

Definitely No Snowflake

Yikes.  Try this wilting flower for size:

Virginia Hall was fluent in French, Italian and German when she went to work for the US foreign service before World War II but was invalided out of the service after a hunting accident in Turkey.
Her shotgun slipped from her grasp and as she grabbed it, it fired, blasting away her foot.
By the time she got to a hospital, gangrene had set in. To save her life, the surgeon had to amputate her left leg below the knee.
Always able to see the funny side of things, Miss Hall immediately named her wooden leg Cuthbert.

When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, she fled to London, and with her language skills, was soon recruited by the SOE.
After training in the clandestine arts of killing, communications and security, she went to Vichy France to set up resistance networks under the cover of being a reporter for the New York Post.
After the November, 1942, North Africa invasion, German troops flooded into her area and things became too hot even for her.
She hiked on her artificial leg across the Pyrenees in the dead of winter to Spain.
During the journey she radioed London saying she was okay but Cuthbert was giving her trouble.

…and then she got really serious about doing bad things to Nazis.  Read the whole thing.

Turning Round And Biting

It appears that the BritGov has a perennial shortage of men wanting to join their army.  This led them, amid much merriment, to launch an ad campaign appealing to the Snowflake Generation — and apparently, to pretty much everyone’s surprise, it worked:

The controversial Army recruitment campaign aimed at ‘snowflakes’ led to an unprecedented wave of youngsters signing up, figures reveal.
Posters released on January 3 targeted ‘snowflakes, selfie addicts, class clowns, phone zombies and ‘me, me, millennials’ ‘ as part of a £1.5million campaign aimed at overturning negative stereotypes.
Critics said they patronised youngsters and the soldier used on the ‘snowflake’ poster threatened to quit.
But the Army said yesterday it had 9,700 applications in the first three weeks of January – a five-year high – compared to 5,437 the previous year.

Whether anyone would want  more of said demographic in their army, or anywhere for that matter, is a topic for another time, but whatever.

What’s troubling is the way that the Brit Army supports its soldiers once they’ve joined.  Try this little horror show (and you may want to put all guns and/or throwable objects out of reach before you read it):

How hero soldier won the Military Cross for unimaginable bravery in Iraq then years later was smeared as a war criminal by leeching lawyers

Disgusting.  And I’m not just talking about the fucking lawyers.


P.S.  Mind you, that’s not to say the U.S. doesn’t do the same thing.  Fuckers.