"Malcolm's Chicken," Willie Cole, styrofoam, matches, brooms, wax, marbles, 2002
In your world it is Memorial Day. You are connected to someone who died while serving in the military. Unlike many in my generation, no one among family or friends died in World War II or the Korean War.
Then there was U.S. intervention in Vietnam, or as it was known there, "the American War." In my twenties and thirties then, I met parents of young men who were intent on not being drafted. When Ron taught at Oberlin College (1967-69) there was a Dean who left his job, moved the family with two almost draft-age sons to Canada.
Once I began my therapy practice, a few Vietnam veterans came my way as spouses when Ron and I did couple therapy. One clearly had PTSD though it had not yet been named in the DSM-3. A state trooper, he had grown up in a family with profoundly problems. He entered the military, as happens often, to get distance. We told him he could not bring his gun into our office (also our home),
Another couple we were seeing for the first time. Husband worked for the FBI. This led to one of several unexpected experiences I had with client behavior. Because we were getting supervision from another therapist, we'd tape record, with permission, all our sessions. We were using a two-sided, 60-minute tape.
At the end of 30 minutes, the machine clicked. This man immediately reached for his gun, then stopped. Along with his wife, Ron and I were stunned for a moment. He, like the state tropper, was not pleased when told the weapon would have to be left in his car next time.
Before Vietnam, my connection with war were only two. My father who was in business at the time took a second job in a St. Louis munitions factory making weapon for the war. My mother told me this when she decided to leave St. Louis with me to move back to New York. "Your father might get drafted," she announced. Since he hardly spoke to me about the experience, that might have been the reason for another of our numerous moves. Or the beginning of the end of their relationship. My wartime memories are school connected--collecting tin foil from my mother's cigarette packs, adding stamps to my war bond books.
Where my dread of guns came from is unclear to me. Like other Americans it was Vietnam that put the images of war into my consciousness. Last week Portland became another city have an Art=Ammo demonstration in support of sensible gun laws. Lorin Latarro, dancer and choreographer initiated the idea last February in New York; video from that one starts when you click the link.
Even though I knew my body did not have it to lie on the ground, I went because there is so little happening in a creative way around gun control. Maybe it would be helpful, I thought to draw a chalk outline around the bodies on the ground. Discovered my serious limitations in this. Even crouching to make the chalk marks was too much for me--apparent in this video from the Oregonian. It did not help that I went to Pioneer Square just after an appointment at the Apple store and carried my MacAir.
The Oregonian actually covered the event, estimated it drew 30 people on a rainy day. If you watch, I am the one wearing a bright green jacket and struggling to play with chalk. The anti folks, trolling as usual, leave comments that are a window to why gun control bills are stalled in the Oregon State legislature.
March against Monsanto arrived on Saturday, brought out estimated 6,000 women, men, children. Sunny Saturday a couple of days later. It is an equally dark cause--us against big corporate money--but somehow defending food makes joyfullness more possible. I could have created a little red hen hat to wear. And stayed upright.
Yes, I have things to figure out about ways to be acting my age when I care too much about a cause.