Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Draft Dodgers And Chickenhawks

Given the recent howls from the Conservative outrage machine over the release of Bowe Bergdahl and the cries for his trial and possible execution for "treason, desertion and cowardice". not to mention the strident demands for a re-invasion of Irag. Or Syria. Or the Ukraine. Or Gaza. Or Libya. Or Nigeria. Or...Oh Fuck it; whoever is in the news today. It is worth once again recalling the phenomena of the Chickenhawk.

Chickenhawk; (noun) A person who publicly and stridently calls for war while consistently avoiding serving in one himself. See also; "Neo-Conservative".

Question; "Why did the Chickenhawk cross the road?"
Answer; "To avoid going to Vietnam".

Like Dick Chaney say; who took five deferments to avoid Vietnam. Or George Bush jr and Dan Quayle whose wealthy and connected fathers pulled strings to ensure they would stay stateside in the National Guard where they would be safe and close to home. After which Bush jr then got a further exception to go help a friend of his father (then a Texas congressman) campaign for election, which Bush jr then skipped out on to go on a drinking binge. Or former Texas Congressman Phil Gramm who claimed he wanted to serve but was kept out of the US Army because there were just too darn many minorities to make room for him (seriously?). Pat Buchanan, George Will, Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Bill O'Reily, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeldt, all of whom were and remain loud supporters of the Vietnam War and all of whom managed to avoid going anywhere near the place themselves. Most shameless of all was Mitt Romney who actually led student demonstrations not only in favour of the war (a war that his father, Michigan Republican Governor George Romney later expressed public reservations about) but also in favour of the draft itself. There are even photos of him carrying a pro-war sign. Following that he took a special religious deferment available to Mormons that allowed him to spend the war as a missionary in France, where he no doubt spent many tense moments dodging flying croissants and escargot. In fact virtually every other top Republican bigwig who was old enough to serve in Vietman managed to be elsewhere but that has not stopped them from swaggering about like General Patton ever since, attacking Democrats as cowards and traitors, including those who actually served in Vietnam such as John Kerry, Bob Kerry, John Murtha, Max Cleland, Wesley Clark, Chuck Hagel, Al Gore (who was a non-combatant writing for "Stars & Stripes" but still spent time in-country) and Oliver Stone.

Then there's the king of the chicken hawks; Ted Nugent. Rock n' Roll's loudest and proudest chickenhawk. Nobody, not even Rush Limbaugh, has been more loudly bellicose in his calls for war of any kind and his worship of macho guns n' guts American Exceptionalism, and his equally loud contempt for the effeminate and effete liberal traitors who oppose any war. Oh; and the entire nation of Canada. His General Patton act would be a tad more convincing if it weren't for his own admission of how he dodged the Vietnam draft by literally shitting his pants.

In interviews, Nugent has provided varying accounts of how he avoided an all expenses trip to Vietnam. In a 1977 High Times interview, he claimed to have stopped bathing a month before his draft physical, adding that he showed up for the exam with pants “crusted” with urine and feces. “I was a walking, talking hunk of human poop,” Nugent proudly recalled. The avidly anti-drug Nugent also claimed that he did a line of crystal meth beforehand because; “I wanted to see the look on the Sergeant’s face.” In his High Times interview, Nugent recalled his glee at evading the chance to defend his country (though he mixed up the 1-Y and 4-F deferments which are for health reasons). “And in the mail I got this big juicy 4-F,” he said. “They’d call dead people before they’d call my ass.” Previously the anti-elitist, anti-intellectual Ted had previously also taken a college deferment, but he forgot to mention that part.

Actually it wasn't so much an admission as it was "Ain't I the Motor City Madman" bragging back in the 1980's when he still had a viable career as a rebel rocker. Now he's a has-been and the only way he gets any press at all is as a braying Republican shill. So after some enterprising reporter found his now embarrassing old quote he eventually backtracked and claimed that he made the whole thing up. He just doesn't know why he didn't get called up to serve gosh darn it, cuz he really really wanted to go to Nam. So according to Ted he's no cowardly hypocrite, he's a shameless liar. Because that's much more inspiring. Of course even if you buy that he spent years lying about his draft dodging Ted still could have volunteered to fight with the guns he so loves though, and he clearly did not.

Ted is not Rock n' Roll's only chickenhawk however. There's Strangler's bassist J.J. Burnel. Even during the original punk wave he was known for his public adoration of good old-fashioned macho warlike stuff like martial arts (in which he claims to be a black belt) and guns. He's also been known to praise the idea of a military draft, reckoning that a stretch in the army will make a man of you. This sort of macho bragging made The Stranglers plenty of enemies in Punk's 1977 summer of hate. So it was a tad embarrassing when English punk journalists Julie Burchell and Tony Parsons reported that he was dodging the draft himself. Burnel was originally from France where they still had the draft when he turned of age. Seeing his duty Burnel wasted no time, he claimed a deferment citing health reasons, then he skipped off England to be a rock star.


Then there's New Country singer Lee Greenwood, best known for his "Proud To Be An American" which is required listening for any Republican convention, especially the part where he praises the troops and states that he would be proud to "Stand Up, Next to you" and defend Old Glory. Ah yes; that line never fails to bring a tear to the eye of Tea Partiers everywhere. Kind of makes you wonder what Lee Greenwood was doing during the Vietman war. Serving in Khe Sahn? Da Nang? Saigon? Not exactly. He took a hardship deferment and then was a little busy protecting America from Communism by bravely serving in Las Vegas as a blackjack dealer and part time musician. That'll learn 'em.

There are a few other celebrated Rock N' Roll draft dodgers, although they can't be called Chickenhawks since unlike Ted, Lee and J.J. they opposed the war they were being sent off to, they didn't support it and expect others to fight it for them, nor did they call others cowards for not going. A few others didn't actually dodge the draft but ended up with seriously abortive military careers due to their being complete fuckups.

Lester Young ~ The great Jazz saxman of the 1940's and 50's was drafted into the army during World War Two, although he really shouldn't have been since he was clearly not Army material. Already a fairly well known musician, an alcoholic pot smoker in poor health, he should have have been rejected from the start and Army doctors were inclined to do so. He could have easily been sent out to perform for the troops and do war bond and Red Cross drives as other musicians, actors and athletes were, and as Young was quite willing to do. However the Army stubbornly decided to make an example to other Bohemian types, especially black ones, and inducted him anyway. While still stateside he received numerous warnings for sleeping in and slacking off, got poor marks for his physical condition, twisted his ankle on an obstacle course and was eventually caught with pot and barbiturates and court martialed. At his trial the previous recommendations from doctors to turn him away became something of an embarrassment and the presiding judges admitted that he "would not make a suitable soldier". However he was found guilty and sent to the stockade anyway. Fortunately the commandant there allowed him to form a band and perform at Army functions for the rest of the war, which is basically what he should have been doing from the start.


Fred Lacy ~ A lesser known jazz guitarist who was drafted in the Army around the time Young was, Lacy soon got himself in trouble too and wound up in the stockade as well. In fact he was surprised to find himself in the same jail as the great saxman Young and would join his combo. After the war he would continue to play with Young's band. Another occasional member of Young's wartime combo was Canadian born pianist Gil Evans who was however not a prisoner but was assigned to a nearby army hospital. Evans would later go on to greater fame as arranger for Miles Davis' classic late fifties albums. Yet another non-prisoner member was drummer Fred Below who would become the ace session drummer on numerous blues records recorded by Chess Records in the 1950's.

Willie Dixon ~ The great blues songwriter was a young bassist and former Golden Gloves boxer when World Wat Two broke out and he refused the draft as a conscientious objector. He did not oppose the war on religious grounds but racial and political, namely he saw to reason to fight for a government that denied blacks basic civil rights, allowed segregation and refused the right to vote in many states. He served a year in jail then moved to Chicago where he became the main songwriter, producer and session bassist for Chess and Cobra Records on hits for Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and many more.


Magic Sam ~ The great Chicago bluesman, Sam (real name; Sam Maghett) was already making a name for himself first backing his harmonica playing uncle Shakey Jake Harris and then with a series of classic recordings for Cobra Records when he was drafted into the Army in 1959. He was not the most successful of soldiers, impulsively going AWOL and quickly getting caught and sent to jail for a couple years. Upon his release he went back to Chicago to rebuild his career. This took some time as Cobra Records had been shut down and rock and roll had taken center stage. He played backup to Otis Rush until he was picked up by Delmark Records for whom he made some groundbreaking records that showed much promise but before he could finally make the big time he died of a sudden heart attack in 1969 at the age of 32.


Frankie Lymon ~ The teenage Do-Wop singer's career had already hit the skids due to bad management decisions, a drug habit, multiple and simultaneous marriages and his being a chronic fuckup when he was drafted in 1965. Not surprisingly it didn't last. While serving on a base in Georgia he did stay off drugs but he also he married yet another woman and went AWOL to play some gigs. He was caught and dishonorably discharged in 1967. He then moved to New York to resume his career but died of a heroin overdose in 1968.


Roy Brown ~ The great Jump Blues singer was 4f in World War Two due to flat feet.

Arlo Guthrie ~ The son of singer Woody Guthrie, Arlo did not actually intend to dodge the draft, it just worked out that way. He would later explain the story in hilarious detail in his classic song "Alice's Restaurant" and still later in a successful movie. Prior to his being drafted Arlo had gotten himself busted for the heinous crime of littering and the United States Army suddenly decided that he was a potential trouble maker and sent him home as unfit for duty. Actually his name may have been a factor, even though Woody had served loyally in the Merchant Marine during World War Two, he had also become well known as a left wing activist and Arlo himself had openly opposed the war so the Army may have looking for an excuse to be rid of him. It's not like the pale, short, scrawny Arlo had great military potential anyway.


Iggy Pop ~ Iggy's escape story is outlined in his autobiography; after showing up at the induction center, Iggy was told to undress for his physical. Whereupon he stripped naked and began masturbating and running around with a hard-on, hyper-ventilating and sweating. After being subdued by MP's he explained that he was gay and couldn't control himself around all these big strong men. The annoyed Army doctors swiftly sent him home and that was that.


Scott Asheton ~ The Stooges drummer was too bad-ass to use Iggy's fake gay routine. Instead he showed up at the induction center in his van full of crushed beer cans, drunk and strung out on acid and speed, having not slept or bathed for days, dirty and with a lightning bolt painted on his face. The wild eyed incoherent Stooge asked where the guns and napalm were before being sent to the stockade to dry out. Apparently this took some time. Eventually the Army gave up trying to make any sense out of him and discharged him.

The Allman Brothers ~ When older brother Duane was called up he tried to pull the same gay act that Iggy had gotten away with, showing up in makeup and pink panties and acting effeminate. Unfortunately the Sergent was wise to this sort of thing, or he just didn't go far enough (unlike Iggy) because they did not buy it and signed him up. At this point Duane switched to plan B and simply refused to take the oath or sign the induction papers. Apparently nobody had tried this before so the Sergent was caught by surprise and angrily sent him home vowing that the nervous Duane would be arrested as a draft dodger and sent to Leavenworth. By the time younger brother Greg was called up Duane still hadn't been arrested but the brothers had switched to plan C; shooting himself in the foot. Accordingly the brothers prepared for Greg's big day by getting roaring drunk, then they discovered that they didn't have a gun. So they had to stagger off to the seedy area of downtown and buy a Saturday Night Special. Now they ran into another problem; who would do the actual shooting? Duane went first but he was so drunk that he couldn't find the target and instead stumbled around waving the pistol randomly until the slightly less drunk Greg disarmed him and finally managed to shoot himself in the foot, after first carefully drawing a target on his sneaker, which turned out to be the wrong foot. The doctor spotted the target but did not turn the brothers in. Later the Brothers discovered that the whole routine was not really necessary since they could have easily applied for a hardship deferment as being the sole supporters of their sickly widowed mother.


Terry Dene ~ Little remembered today; Dene was one of the early rock stars in Britain, having built up a reputation as Britain's Gene Vincent. A leather clad, motorcycle riding, brawling wild one who married a movie starlet named Edna Savage, he had a short string of hits like "Pretty Little Pearly" and "A White Sport Jacket" and scored miles of tabloid coverage in the late 1950's as Englands wildest rocker. Compared to the well behaved likes of Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, Tommy Steele, Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Duncan and Billy Fury, Dene was an out of control speed freak, both with his motorcycle and the amphetamines he gobbled back. Behind the scenes however he was fragile and troubled, drinking heavily, and with a failing marriage when he was drafted into the British Army in 1958, being called up on the very same day Elvis Presley reported for duty. At first Dene was unsure what to do. Dene was inclined to go, not least because he wondered if Army discipline might not straighten out his mess of a personal life. But his managers were afraid that the time off might kill his career momentum. At the very least they would miss out on their commission off of his sold out live gigs. Their attempts to keep Dene out of the army ran into a bit of a hitch when Dene went off on another drunken bender and got himself arrested. Dene was let off on the drunk and disorderly charges on the condition that he report for duty, which he duly did. Followed by the inevitable swarm of paparazzi. Once in the barracks Dene had a complete nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, eventually being fully discharged nine weeks later. Now clean and sober and ready to resume his career but the public reaction was swift and merciless; he was attacked in the press as a coward and even in Parliament. He was booed off stage in Blackpool and divorced by Savage. Dene returned to drinking and wandering the streets alone. Washed up at age twenty one. In 1964 he became a born again christian and started a new life as a preacher working with drug addicts. He would occasionally perform religious songs in public but he would make no attempt to resume his musical career, denouncing his past life as a "false idol and false person". In the past decade however he has made some appearances on the oldies circuit.


Richard Carpenter ~ The pianist and arranger for The Carpenters avoided the Vietnam draft by taking a student deferment.

Paul Revere ~ Keyboardist and bandleader for Paul Revere and the Raiders. Forming a band originally called the Downbeats then The Raiders and had already had their firts midsized hit by 1961 when he was drafted into the US Army. He claimed conscientious objector status and spent a year and a half as a cook (he had previously owned his own fast food restaurant) at a mental institution before resuming his career to have a slew of later hits.


Bob Mosley ~ Bassist for classic San Francisco psyche band Moby Grape; a band led by Skip Spense who turned out to be a schizophrenic and left the band after a violent psychotic break and was institutionalized. Mosley was not much healthier in fact and eventually quit to join the U.S. Army, perhaps hoping army discipline would keep him balanced. It didn't and a violent brawl led to his discharge after being diagnosed as a schizophrenic as well. Mosley ended up homeless and living at the side of a highway when his bandmates found him and invited him back into the band for a reunion in 1996. He has recorded sporadically since while Spence has not.

MOBY GRAPE ~ "OMAHA" & "8:05";

Nervous Norvus ~ Singer of the gory 1950's rockabilly number "Transfusion" in which the singer narrates a tale of his numerous blood transfusions required by his endless car wrecks. He followed it up with some equally odd (if less gory) singles. Nervous came by his name due to his stage fright and overall jittery nature. When drafted during World War Two he didn't want to go but as it turned out his asthma and overall poor health made him 4F anyway.


Rick James ~ Just as Mick Jagger and Eric Burdon sought to emulate black blues singers, James,(born James Johnson from Buffalo, NY) aspired to be the black Mick Jagger and after dodging the draft by skipping across the border and settling in Toronto he formed a band called The Myna Birds with the unlikely partnership of Neil Young and bassist Bruce Palmer which created a buzz that was heard all the way down to the offices of Motown Records in Detroit. Motown signed them up and proceeded to record an album. Unfortunately James had not bothered to tell anyone he was a draft dodger and he was arrested while in the studio and dragged off to a stint in the brig. An angry Motown pulled the album (which has never been released), the manager skipped off with the band's $25,000 advance and then overdosed and the band broke up. Young and Palmer would move to Los Angeles and form The Buffalo Springfield while James would take years rebuilding his career. He worked for a while as a session guy for Ray Charles before being fired by Charles' manager for sharing drugs with him, then he went Europe with a blues band. Later in the 1970's he would rebrand himself as the "Superfreak" funk master.

Bruce Springsteen ~ Bruce was fresh out of high-school and hoping to make a go with his band Castiles when he was faced with the prospect of being drafted. He chose to take a student deferment and go to college even though he was a poor student. His choice was made clearer when his drummer proudly volunteered and went off to Vietnam and was killed within weeks. Springsteen's school career was short lived but as it turned out when he was called up he failed his physical due to having suffered a concussion from a motorcycle accident the previous year.

Johnny Paycheck ~ The future "Outlaw Country" singer really was an outlaw. Born Donald Eugene Lytle, he was playing professional gigs in rough honky-tonks throughout the Southwest by the time he was in his teens. Only five and a half feet tall the diminutive young singer was sensitive about his size and changed his name from the unfortunate "Lytle" to "Donny Young" and became a hellraising drinker and brawler, ready to throw down at the slightest provocation. In 1955 he impulsively joined the Navy to see the world but went AWOL when he got bored and spent time in the brig when he got caught. Seeking revenge Young went after a superior officer and and beat him senseless. That got him a court martial and an eighteen year prison sentence which he tried to escape from by somehow sawing through the ceiling of the shower room. Again he was caught. Thereafter he apparently behaved himself long enough to get his sentence reduced to two years. After his release he made his way to Nashville where he worked as a backup singer and session guy with the likes of Faron Young, Ray Price and George Jones as well as recording some obscure singles. Eventually he changed his name again to Johnny Paycheck (after an obscure boxer who was beaten by Joe Louis) and started to score some hits of his own in 1965. He would go on to a checkered career marked by frequent arrests for drunkenness, brawling, a house-breaking and at least one bar-room shooting as well as at two bankruptcies before scoring his biggest hit with "Take This Job And Shove It".


Harry Choates ~ A fiddling playing singer, Choates became the first Cajun crossover artist by taking traditional Cajun music and adding influences from Honky-Tonk and Western Swing, recording in English and French. His version of "Jole Blon" became a massive hit in 1946. Before that he had been a raging drunk from his early teens and was so irresponsible that for most of his career he did not even own a fiddle of his own. He simply "borrowed" them and often did not bother to return them. Drafted in World War two, the paunchy, pasty alcoholic Choates was clearly not Army material and he was quickly released for civilian service in a shipyard for the duration of the war. After his discharge he continued his career and his drinking and carousing until he was arrested in 1951 for drunkenness as well as abandoning his wife and children and was tossed into jail. He was found in a coma when his manager showed up with bail money. The official cause was cirrhosis of the liver caused by drinking as well as epilepsy, however there remained a strong suspicion that he was beaten to death by persons unknown.


Gene Vincent ~ Before he became the very prototype of the leather clad rebel rocker; Eugene Vincent Craddock briefly served on a naval base in Virginia, as his father had before him. His career as a shipbuilder came to a quick end when he suffered serious injuries in a traffic accident n 1955. In later years he would insist that he had been injured in a motorcycle crash, and that has been the usual story ever since. However there is an alternate story that the hard drinking Vincent was staggering back to barracks drunk after lights-out when he stumbled into the path of an speeding jeep. The nature of his injuries, which were a break to his leg at the shin bone which was so deep that it was almost severed, suggest the latter story is more plausible. Vincent, who adored Hank Williams, spent his long hospital recuperation practicing his guitar and dabbling at song-writing. Unfortunately he also developed an addiction to pain-killers which along with his drinking would stay with him for the rest of his life later exacerbated but the amphetamines common to most country and rockabilly singers of the era. He would score some classic hits and become a huge influence through his extended tours of Britain, Europe and Japan. His addictions would catch up to him when he died broke and alone of ulcers and other complications in 1971.


Don Joyce ~ Singer with Sound Collage band Negativland. Originally Negativeland didn't have a singer at all and built songs by using sound collages. Joyce was a host radio show Over the Edge on the Berkeley, California, radio station KPFA who was also a convicted draft dodger during Vietnam, although he served no time. He joined the band to contribute snidely mocking vocals that often parodied popular songs including U2 on their cover of "I'm Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".


Arnold Schoenberg ~ The father of avant garde composers was drafted into the Austrian army during World War One in spite of the fact that he was already 42 years old, out of shape, asthmatic, nearsighted and with no military training. He was also already a well known composer, notorious amongst the deeply conservative Habsburg establishment for his experiments in atonal music. Given that Schoenberg was also a converted Jew in the deeply reactionary Hapsburg empire he could hardly expect a good reception in the Austrian army. Arnold's own rather prickly personality didn't help. He was greeted by one officer with the words; "You wouldn't have to be that notorious Arnold Schoenberg would you?" To which he replied; "Well yes; I did have to be since nobody else was willing to". Still, he was well educated and so was sent off to officer training in 1916 but was eventually discharged on health grounds. A year later he was actually drafted again, this time to serve in a military band which at least does make some sense, but was quickly discharged again for the same health reasons. Once Hitler came to power he would fled the country and move to America.

Edgar Allen Poe ~ As a youth Poe clashed with his adoptive family and looking to escape from gambling debts he enlisted in the U.S. army under an assumed name. He later attended West Point under his own name but was quickly court martialed due to his refusal to attend formations, classes or church. Upon his release he would concentrate on his writing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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