Saturday, February 21, 2009

PUMA R.I.P Feb.14.1995-Feb.18.2009

Life comes full circle for some.  Puma was one of two strays kitties I took in from a Manhattan animal shelter back in Feb '95. I got him to be company for my other cat Togo(Jun '94) whom I felt needed a friend since I was on my freelance film/TV hustle and didn't want  her to be a latchkey cat.  I like black cats because of the stigma associated with them. I identify with being "the outsider", "the other".  Plus having 2 black cats canceled any notion of  "bad luck".   Puma and Togo barring family/friends, probably knew me the best. They were privy to all sides of me; the good/bad/ugly, the highs/lows and knew when to let me be or come over to remind me that there was somebody in the room that thought you were OK by them no matter what.  When I decided to enlist, it was the most stressful period in trying to find them a suitable home/caretaker. Giving them to a shelter was not an option. I was blessed to find a caretaker via Pets for Vets, a non-profit organization that placed servicemember pets with caretakers until their deployment was over.  I was hooked up with this wonderful woman named Barbara H.  who lived in NYC.   I couldn't of dreamed of a better surrogate mother for Puma and Togo.  If you remembered the old school sitcom, "The Jeffersons" that was Puma and Togo's theme song.   Puma and Togo were soldiers in their right.  They spent many years in Fort Greene, Brooklyn through thick and thin with me. The evictions, the lack of employment, artistic agonies and ecstasies,  relationship drama,  etc.  They "deployed" out to LA with me for a year and we lived at the base of the Hollywood Hills where coyotes often roamed and killed dogs/cats.   Puma truly had luck on his side while we were out there. We had this nightly ritual of letting him out at evening and him returning between 3-6am. He would give his typical meow/bark to be let  in.  Sometimes, I found myself playing the role of the worried parent and scolded him for staying out late.  Togo would stay put-she was the homebody and was more of the reserved type. Puma liked to roam and I often imagined him going to some cat club or hang out spot to chill with other cats.  I even pitched a reality show about tagging cats with mini cameras and seeing where they go( as it has been with a majority of my ideas to date -too far ahead of the curve, or frequent encounters with unimaginative development persons who thrive on using narrow mental bandwidth).  So they were not your average street cats.   Most recently, Togo was diagnosed with a tumor and was losing weight. We felt that her time was coming to a close and  often given the unpredictability of current career choice,  I thought I'd visit NYC over the dead president day Feb 13-16th weekend(Valentines Day to some).  While visiting that Sunday the 15th,  Togo looked frail and but was moving around, Puma was a bit standoffish.  I have seen them several times over the past year and a half and to some degree it's very difficult because I feel they are wondering/ or confused about why I am not around anymore.  There was no indication that Puma was ill. I Just chalked it up to him being moody, jealous or even affected by Togo being sick.  One thing I forgot to mention, Puma always had to be the center of attention.  Sometimes, it would be frustrating that you couldn't pet him enough. He was extremely friendly and wanted everyone who met him, to be his personal back scratcher.  He also was a vicious mouse killer -having notched 2 on his collar.   The memories...I got a call Wednesday(18th) that Puma had to be taken to the vet because his mood from Sunday hadn't changed and he hadn't eaten. Puma could eat.  He had a bottomless stomach. He was diagnosed  with a tumor under his liver and choices for getting better were slim. I had to make the painful decision to let him pass on. Barbara was there and they gave him some gas. We are blessed to live in a society where we elevate our pets to equal status of ourselves. Pets are family.   I lost a member of my family.  It won't be the first and certainly not the last but it's reminder of the cycle of life. We come and we go.   RIP to Puma aka "Man", "Greedy P", "Blackie" and countless other names over the years that he answered to.  

Monday, February 9, 2009


I know personally 2 soldiers who happened to be gay. I was introduced to them while in AIT at Fort Meade last year. "Adonis" (not his real name of course ;-) was color of brown sugar and hailed from some South Pacific island. He was flamboyant and had the habit of putting on his barracks lounge act wearing his polka dotted housecoat and fuzzy slippers whenever new soldiers arrived at Student Company. As new soldiers where getting briefed about life at Student Company, usually in the evenings when they just arrived fresh from Basic, Adonis would suddenly appear in the door and mimic that classic seductive pose seen in black n' white noir movies. There would be looks of anxiety/surprise/horror/discomfort by the newbies. We'd laugh and then introduce our newbies to Adonis. Adonis was our Klinger but a soldier. I remember becoming slack jawed after my first few days there and hearing one of the best cadance calling voices and seeing it was Adonis getting his march and cadance on. He would often come by the rooms at night drunk, announcing how drunk he was. He was a drama queen in a fun sense but a soldier. His flamboyance was known and for the most part tolerated by the cadre. Of course there were a few who couldn't stand him and his kind and spoke freely about it. Don't ask , Don't tell didn't apply to Torres nor was it much of an issue at Student Company. Gay/Straight -the issue should be allowing people to serve their country no matter if their personal flag is rainbow color or a pink triangle. In combat, it's all about who has your back
and you theirs.


Here's a NYTimes piece I came across recently that I strongly agree with. I hope O and his crew will explore the writer's suggestion of greater use of Special Operation soldiers. This issue of the supply routes came closer to home late last week when my old unit -which I got swapped out of my first day here at Bragg- sent word back to the other Public Affairs Units that they needed care packages of toiletries, snack food and cold medicine since the coalition supply trucks driven by foreign nationals are being frequently attacked by the Taliban along the roads into A-stan.

February 4, 2009
Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands

The Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies. The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means
that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union. But the Russians were unhappy about the Bush administration’s willingness to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, and they will probably not want to help with American supply lines unless Mr. Obama changes that position.
In addition to our guaranteeing that NATO will not expand further, the Russians seem to want the United States to promise that NATO forces will not be based in the Baltic countries, and that the United States will not try to dominate Central Asia. In other words, Russia wants the United States to pledge that it will respect the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They will probably want this guarantee to be very public, as a signal to the region — and the Europeans — of Russian dominance. This is one guarantee that Mr. Obama will not want to give.There is also no certainty that countries in the Russian sphere of influence, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, would agree to let the United States use these routes without Russian permission. Here is where Mr. Obama could use some European help. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to come soon. Many Europeans, particularly Germans, rely on Russia’s natural gas. In January, the Russians cut natural gas shipments to Ukraine. As much of the Russian natural gas that goes to Europe runs through Ukraine, the cutoff affected European supplies — in the middle of winter. Europeans can’t really afford to irritate the Russians, and it’s hard to imagine that the Germans will confront them over supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan, unfortunately, is hardly a reliable partner either. So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission. What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed. They would make us much less dependent on supply deliveries, which would help solve our Russian problem. Winding down the conventional war while increasing the covert one will demand a cultural change in
Washington. The Obama administration seems to prefer the conventional route of putting more troops on the ground. That would be a feasible strategy if supply lines to Afghanistan were secure. The loss of that bridge yesterday demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

George Friedman is the chief executive of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and the author of “The Next 100 Years.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
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Op-Ed Contributor - Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands - NY...
2 of 2 2/4/09 7:36 PM


Anyway, it being Black History Month, I'd like to bring back my friend Brendan Koerner's book to honor this month especially since his book's true larger than life character, Herman Perry was a resident of D.C. I wondered if spirits could talk, how this brother must feel at seeing D.C. truly being what George Clinton called "Chocolate City" so if you are reading this, cop this book on Amazon, or at your local book store- it is military history, Black history...American History all rolled into one. Btw, Spike Lee optioned the rights. I hope he makes a great movie out of this great book by Brendan.


"It's beena long time...sorry I kept you..." words from the great Rakim. Mundane army life since my last posting, has started to settle in with daily doses of (PT) Physical Training, occasional army videos to video/edit with direction from high command just as muddled and confusing as any given by civilian commercial clients(the only difference is the uniform) and what to do in Fayetteville -when not heading to Raleigh Durham or going to Walmart to shop for groceries. I did recently find a health food store and an indie theatre where I saw "Slumdog Millionaire." I recently learned Combat Lifesaving and learned how to administer battlefield first aid since medics they tell us, are in short supply. The war in Afghanistan(A-stan for short) got a bit closer when news of one of our sister public affairs units(ironically it was the same unit I was supposed to be assigned with but was switched out at last minute) is needing some "comforts of home"(supplies) since the coalition supply routes are currently under frequent attack by "foreign fighters." Everytime I look around there's another term coined to describe our latest adversary...Insurgents/Al Qaeda/Taliban/H**** what's in a name right? 2012 is my estimated date of separation from the Army and I wonder if the Mayan calendar will ring true and will Obama be up for a second term or will these wars in A & I be at some point of closure or will I even be alive? Interesting times...with moments of anxiety...what's next???