Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thirsty dogs lapping at a water bowl: Antarctica vs. Iraq: Interview with a Contractor

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An absolutely beautiful interview with a contractor in Antarctica and Iraq. One of the best things I've read in a while:

From Antarctica vs. Iraq: Interview with a Contractor:

Strange events blossomed without scripts in a landscape of decay, dirty machines, and whiskey-soaked mustaches. Men were piled into old military tents on the side of the mountains far from the heart of the town. It was the only place I had been where at night you lulled yourself to sleep pretending that the noise of a half dozen men whacking off was actually a group of thirsty dogs lapping at a water bowl. As cum-soaked socks hit the floor with gentle thuds, the heavy breathing was followed by the click of zippos and I would grab my blanket for comfort in the darkness. We had stepped back in time to a place that you would never bring your mom or your sister—a primate working class culture in the harshest of environments. Like a small town out of the Twilight Zone, or one of those old "Weird Tales" comic books, anything seemed possible.

[...] All the little things that originally made McMurdo strange and matchless were either eliminated, copied, collected, or reprinted over and over. Abnormal became normal and everyone thought they were so crazy. And it is those practiced "I’m so crazy" looks that still haunt me when I think about MacTown.

Second reason: Raytheon. Raytheon came in and started a slow evolutionary process that took the town and put it in a Petri dish as an experiment. With microscopes, management was forced to sit around in white coats looking for the viruses and discolorations. These coats would have collars with chains that extend to the mother ship where reports were expected at least five times a day. Someone in Denver who drove home in a Lexus with an "I Brake for Penguins" bumper sticker would control the puppetshow on the ice. This Someone in Denver would stop at BlockBuster Video on the way home and rent the latest Robin Williams movie. This Someone in Denver liked Home Depot and decided that McMurdo too could be run like a corporate giant. A new level of idiocy had reached the ice and it became not unusual to find yourself watching a video on "How to Walk Correctly", or being forced to sign a contract disallowing the use of the word "vagina".

[...] I began to hold semi-decent conversations with the several mannequin heads in my room. I had shaved my eyebrows off. I was drinking liquid morphine with someone named Big Hand George. A pair of panties belonging to my friend’s girlfriend lay under my bed as a reminder to my rusted morals.

[...] I have swam in Saddam’s swimming pools and hung out in his palaces, I have shook hands with Bush, lifted body-filled caskets onto trucks with a forklift, built boxes for the KIA (killed in action), have been in over 80 rocket and mortars attacks, have lived in a tent with over thirty insane truck drivers, watched helicopters blow up insurgents. I have shot big guns, have rode in big tanks, have flown in a big chopper as it attacked ground forces, have been rocked by car bombs, have been involved in underground booze operations, have mingled with the Iraqi and Afghan People, have been to cat houses and bars in the red zones, have sang "Blue Suede Shoes" in the middle of Kabul in front of a bunch of locals, have said goodbye to somebody and ten minutes later they were dead, have worked with soldiers from all over the world, have lived with a porn-crazed Iraqi who is part of the new forming government, have seen Saddam go in and out of court, have watched bullets pound the wall directly above my head as I smoked a cigarette, have watched them pull bloated bodies from the Tigris, have ran from camel spiders and snakes, have done road trips across Afghanistan in a pickup drinking Heinekens purchased from Afghan soldiers, and have been introduced to local warlords.
Thanks, Seth

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