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Viet Nam Generation Journal & Newsletter

Announcements, Notices, and Reports
V4, N1-2 (April 1992)

This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1996 by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., or the author, all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Muc Hoa

Subtitled, A Viet Nam Military-Medical Adventure, this is a book of journal entries, letters home and photographs from the author's military service. Kammholz is a graduate of Winnebago Lutheran Academy, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Marquette University School of Medicine. He completed his pediatric residency at Milwaukee Children's Hospital. He practices in Oshkosh, where many of his patients are the children of Southeast Asian refugees.

Kammholz' preface explains that he was drafted after completing his medical internship and served with the Military Provincial Hospital Assistance Program, part of a pacification effort, under the jurisdiction of USAID. He was in Viet Nam from summer 1966 to mid-1967. The book includes letters from his friends still in-country after Tet '68, and journal entries from Fort Sam Houston after returning home. He says that Moc Hoa is on the Me Kong Delta, near the border with Cambodia, and that one third of the population at the time were refugees from the North. The U.S. military presence consisted of U.S. Special Forces personnel and their Vietnamese A-Teams.

Muc Hoa is a handsome and distinctive book. It is perfect-bound, 8 1/2" by 11", with a coated card stock cover. There are dozens and dozens of photographs, including 16 pages worth (about 10 per page) in color. They show surgery and fishing and street scenes and many Vietnamese. All photos are numbered and labelled. The book is decorated with present-day pen-and-ink drawings by Theodore William Gostas, now a retired U.S.A. Major, who was captured at Hue in '68 and held for 5 years mostly in jungle camps. There's a fanciful dragon, and sketches of battle.

Kammholz has lavished time and resources on making a permanent record from the documents of his past. Though he has strong feelings about the war, he sternly limits himself to making a presentation of his work as a young man among Viets. A really unusual and worthwhile war memoir, a steal at $19.95 plus $1.50 for shipping from Starboard Publishing, 955 Starboard Ct., Oshkosh, WI 54901.

Vet Fiction in my Bulk Mail

Marlow RFD: Motherboards and Apple Pie from the People at PC Connection. "No. 1: Special Collector's Issue: 37 cents. Inside: Hi-Tech Nomadness! Product Reviews, Too." From PC Connection, 6 Mill St., Marlow, NH 03465, (800) 800- 0020. Dated March, 1991. Saddle stitched, Interview-sized, 35 pp., non-glossy hand-colored photo cover of an Eskimo man in fur parka and girl in down parka and glasses standing in an alpine meadow backdropped by some pine and a few peaks. Portable computer resting on man's knee, girl's hand on keyboard, both figures facing the camera. Cover story is "Learning it Cold: Technology and the Education of the Alaska Bush," by Barry Sponder. Other features story: "On the Loose in Dataspace: 'Do you ever wonder,' asks the author, 'when technology will live up to its promise and really set you free?'" by Steven K. Roberts. Departments: "Mill Street News: a few words on where we're coming from," by Patricia Gallup, "Off the Menu: a story for families with small computers" by Jay Heinrichs, "Behind the Screens: our not- altogether-typical product review section," call (603) 446- 7701 for Advertising, "Bookmarks: Samplings from America's small and regional presses," by E. Annie Proulx, "Roads Less Taken: the next time you drive I-80 through Ohio, detour to Route 6 and prepare to be charmed," by Jay Paris, and "Modern Arts: Why of all people would Jackie Doyle be thinking about computers?" Fiction by Pat McSherry.

This is a catalogue dressed up with editorial content by some sales people who have shown taste and restraint and actually delivered real editorial content. This almost never happens, including at The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and the staff is to be commended, to wit: Editor-in-Chief Jim Collins, Art Dictator Dave Nelson, The Book Fool E. Annie Proulx, Editors in Spirit Stephen O. Muskie, Jay Heinrichs, Georgia Orcutt, J. Porter, and Christine Schultz, Publishers- at-large David Hall and Patricia Gallup, Advertising-in-Chief Carol Driscoll, Ad Producer Peter Bowers, Copy Greg Blanchette, Dave Hume, and Andrew Morrison, Special Thanks to Jean Dole. Of interest here is the general point that microcomputers are allowing some quality publishing in odd places. Of specific interest is Pat McSherry's short story, titled "To See What Comes of Science and Invention." It is about an English professor at a small college who gains acceptance into local rural society by an understated display of his command of the fine points of country community, and the casual mention of his service in the "Third Marine Air Wing, Cherry Point and Danang." (p. 26) Harry Drummond uses the trust his vet status gives him among the natives to introduce them to the wonders of microcomputers.

Well, New Yorker fiction sells Steuben glass, it's nice to see a good story promoting modems and such. The story exploits U.S. anxieties about geographic mobility (one fifth of the population moves every year, a local is someone who manages to shop in one supermarket for 15 years, but we all seem to imagine that there is regional authenticity hidden somewhere and that furthermore we can partake in it if we flash the right lodge signals upon unloading our U-Haul) and what your access to information says about how you earn your living (the country's full of working people who learn for the love of it and have a real hard time owning up to that and are puzzled and abashed by the careerism of professional academics) to hold the reader's attention. Pat McSherry "has tended bar, cooked in restaurants, served 20 years in the Navy, worked in the civilian software industry, and handled explosives in the coal mines," in the best back-of-the- paperback 1950s tradition. Wish there was a photo of him in a t-shirt, too. Would love to print his work here.

People Lie About WWII

My skepticism about the accuracy of people's recollections has been confirmed by a careful study made by an organization in London called Mass Observation. During the Second World War, Mass Observation had people in London keep nightly diaries of the blitz as it fell. Thirty-four years later Mass Observation asked these people to write from memory what they felt and did then. It found that there was "usually little or no logical relation between the two sets of accounts...Memory has glossified and sanctified these 'finest hours.'" The collective image of the past had imposed itself on and even erased individual recollections.

From "Memoirs and Memory" by Escott Reid, in Scholarly Publishing, Vol. 23, Number 2, January 1992, pp. 105-109. Reid's source for this anecdote is Robert Hewison, Under Siege: Literary Life in London, 1939-1945 (Newton Abbott: Readers Union, 1978): 36-7. Reid is a retired Canadian diplomat who participated in the creation of the UN and NATO. His memoirs are called RADICAL MANDARIN, University of Toronto Press, 1989.

Life is Art is War, and That's Business

If you've been following the coverage of Jeff Danziger's Rising Like the Tucson in the last two issues, you'll appreciate this, from Mary McCarthy's VIETNAM, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967, page 23:

Occasionally, the profit motive is undisguised. Flying to Hue in a big C-130, I heard the pilot and the co- pilot discussing their personal war aim, which was to make a killing, as soon as the war was over, in Vietnamese real estate. From the air, while they kept an eye out for VC, they had surveyed the possibilities and had decided on Nha Trang--"beautiful sand beaches"-- better than Cam Ranh Bay--a "desert." They disagreed as to the type of development that would make the most money: The pilot wanted to build a high-class hotel and villas, while the co-pilot thought that the future lay with low-cost housing. I found this conversation hallucinating, but the next day, in Hue, I met a Marine colonel who was back in uniform after retirement; having fought the Japanese, he had made his killing as a "developer" in Okinawa and invested the profit in a frozen-shrimp import business (from Japan) supplying restaurants in San Diego. War, a cheap form of mass tourism, opens the mind to business opportunities.

Peter McGregor

Kali and I met our resourceful Australian subscriber at the American Studies Association convention in Baltimore last November. He wrote from Miami in December to say that his tour of the U.S. had been productive and fruitful, especially in terms of getting advice from various experts in our field. McGregor passed on a copy of his "Kennedy Miller's Viet Nam: The Reconstruction of History" from Metro, Spring 1989. The work under review is an Australian TV mini-series dealing with that country's involvement with Second Indochina War in terms of a particular family. McGregor finds the series to be revisionist trash, evading history by focusing on intimate life. He also sent an abstract of a paper "Lap Dogs or Watch Dogs: Australian News Media During the Viet Nam War 1967- 1975," but doesn't say where the essay appeared. Please inform.

Peter passed along a number of xeroxed flyers and brochures. One is for the film Vietnam Cinema, "an introduction to the history of the Vietnamese film industry, from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the present...Neil Gibson's documentary is full of fascinating detail about combat unit photography, interspersed with excerpts from landmark films like The Fledgling (1962) and Little Girl from Ha Noi (1979). It also gives us some idea of the situation for Vietnamese film makers now, who are desperate for equipment, as well as the freedom to say what they want to say." The film is directed, edited, produced and given commentary by Neil Gibson. Viet with English subtitles, 78 minutes. Contact him in Viet Nam through telex at the offices of Viet Nam Cinema 412250 VICINE VT; by FAX through Dan Van Dong at 'SECOFILM,' Ha Noi at 010844259617; or by mail at First Secretary, British Embassy in Ha Noi, Viet Nam c/o BFPO 5; or finally at the Campaign for Viet Nam, P.O. Box 1962, London W113TS, UK. There's also a distribution contact for the film: Exclusive Enterprises, 57 Holland Park, London W113RS, UK FAX 081-9696865, ph 071-2292830. Here also is a listing of the videos offered by the Asia Resource Center, P.O. Box 15275, Washington, DC 20003, (203) 547-1114. Among them Lament of a Warrior's Wife, 1991, 60 min. VHS video, purchase $75/rental $35, highlights interviews with family members, illustrated with historical footage, concerning Viet Nam's "300,000 MIA." I've heard 100K and 200K, and have never seen any breakdown or attribution whatsoever, but you can be sure there are whole lot of them and they aren't working as slave labor in Alabama. The title is taken from that of a long poem that anti-Chinese-Communist, anti-decadent-bourgeois-U.S.-puppet, Third Way intellectuals promoted during the war as an alternative to Kieu as a national epic. Also, A Journey to Viet Nam, originally released as When Night Comes, 1988, 30 min. VHS video, purchase $50, rental $25, an emphasis on new economic policies and your basic tour of the Cu Chi tunnels. Kampuchea: Its People, Land and Culture, 1988, slide show with script and cassette $50/$25, 25 minutes VHS video same price, shows that country after Pol Pot, emphasizing the role of voluntary agencies from abroad. A Journey to Laos, 1986, 45 min. VHS video $50/$25 interviews all walks of life about culture, daily, and religion since the war. The Gentle People: A Look Inside Laos, 25 min. slide show $50/$25, covers similar ground.

Finally, Peter has forwarded a page of solid information he wrote for the Asian Studies Review, July 1991, p. 175, about how to find in Australia films and videos made in Viet Nam. Since I am tired of typing and most of you aren't in Australia, I just refer you to the journal in question if you're curious. He investigated the collections at libraries (not much) and at embassies (a little better).

National Archives Declassifies Files

On December 7, 1990, Kali Tal requested a declass- ification review of records in the National Archives. The request was made in the name of "Kali Herman," under National Archives reference number SP91-140. The National Archives notified Tal on December 27, 1991, of the following: "The records identified as Vietnam War Crimes--Working Group, accession 338-77-0983, Record Group 319, have now been declassified. You may review them in the research room at the Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland." The records deal with the U.S. military's inquiry into the testimony of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at various hearings on war crimes in Viet Nam, such as the Winter Soldier and the Dellums hearings.

Nicosia Book

Viet Nam Generation subscriber Gerald Nicosia has a book of poems out, Lunatics, Lovers, Vets & Bargirls, Host Publications, 2510 Harris Blvd., Austin, TX 78703, 1991. Perfect-bound, 65 pages, six-panel storyboard cover, headshot of Nicosia by Julie Duran on back, with blurbs from Harold Norse, Anne Waldman, Paul Carroll, Barry Gifford, Larry Heinemann, and Ron Kovic. The book is illustrated by Jakub Kalousek with abundant full page black-and-yellow prints I will associate with Ralph Steadman and Slavic whimsy for lack of more exact and evocative pictorial vocabulary. The 34 poems of two lines to two-and-one-half pages are presented in six groups: Sadnesses, Old and and New; Women; Gerry's Shorts; People Poems; North Beach; and Marcia Suite. Nicosia is author of the Kerouac biography Memory Babe (Grove 1983, Penguin, 1981) and the television documentary West Coast: Beat and Beyond. He is at work on Home to War, about the Vietnam Veterans' Movement, drawing on his fabulous collection of audiotaped interviews with U.S. veterans of the war in Viet Nam. Norm Lanquist Writes Jan. 9, '92--What a great boost for the start of the new year to receive copies of the VNGN with my stuff in it [Vol. 3 No. 3: pp. 59-60]. Thank you so much for sending them and for including me in them. It means a lot to me. I hadn't anything in print for '91 and it looked like I'd broken a winning streak of consecutive publishing years...I'm enclosing my only other extant VN item: the poem "Flashback" that was in Flights, a lit mag from a college in Ohio, a while back. Now that I've gone through the Newsletter I see that this poem is right in keeping with your theme, and the other materials I sent are not...It doesn't look like I included "Flashback". I guess only because I couldn't lay my hand on it that week when I made up the packet. It all seems so long ago...My appreciation to Dave Willson, whose work I read in this issue and who contacted me in San Antonio and put us in touch. I enjoyed being termed a "vet biker tattoo fetishist" and was a bit amazed at the inclusion of "Cruel Embroidery," not particularly a war poem but that it saw print for a slightly wider US audience is A-OK by me. I was initially pleased by the full inclusion of my bio, but vaguely embarrassed that others who seemed to have real books out and were real war correspondents and the like, had such minimal bios. I was relieved that typos in "War Story" had been fixed, a little startled that a word in "Cruel" was rendered 'nightmaresmares'; I figured it just gave a bit more odd-ball zest to the poem. Mainly I was impressed that your "newsletter" is an eighty-page journal, a lot bigger than a lot of things that are called quarterlies and the like. Would a title-change be in order? "Vietnam Journal"? I found the graphic layout to be very professional, but extremely severe: just print. It seemed that an ambitious effort like this deserved a cover, maybe just some of the yellow-gold stock of your letterhead maybe with an enlargement of the M-16-by-the-TV logo? Just a thought.

I had just read Iron John (All us guys at work read it that month) and made it a point to read the review. I think the reviewer [Daniel Egger] described the deficiency of the book well--the isolation of the readers. He articulated my reaction, though my thought was just that a book like this while surely describing the phenomenon, really makes no difference in what we can do. I'm a bit fatalistic, a bit pessimistic. Kali's reaction to the review rubbed me the wrong way, frankly. Of course as an apparent feminist she wouldn't like the book or the review; that makes her part of the problem in my book. Her remark about the 'Sensitive Guys' smacks of the Politically Correct, one of the grave illnesses of the '90s as a lot of us see it; it'll get worse, too: Liberal Fascism is a term some use. May I refer to a journal, The Regulator, out of Bowling Green, run by Prof. Howard McCord, in this regard, also a book I just sent for, Backlash, about the decided reaction to so-called Feminism in America? I've had enough of Feminism/Affirmative Action just here at work in our microcosm, have a feeling it's immeasurably worse in larger venues, like the U. of Arizona just down the road. I don't think this is Reaganism talking whatever; far from it. This is me, an old-time San Francisco '60s Marxist Anarchist talkin' here, too, a disenchanted Liberal. A lot of us in academics pulled out of the Modern Language Association in disgust at the obnoxious antics of the Feminist profs and the proliferation of 'feminist' topics and sections, especially in our Rocky Mountain MLA; a lot of us defected to Pop Culture in hope of a less restrictive setting ideologically. Is this a secret? It's been a sore point in Rhetoric circles, too, primarily a female enclave anyhow, with the exception of gurus such as Ross Winterode and Father Ong. It's exactly the 'Sensitive Guy' that Bly is so annoyed with --our passivity. The Feminists made some bad mistakes, historically in the '70s, the worse in alienating us Liberal men who were sympathetic at the outset to the movement: now bitterly, I with others, buffeted by 'sexual harassment' think of it all as the 'Crypto-Lesbian Agenda.' The genders are driven apart merely by humorlessness and a negation of grace. How nostalgically Southern this all sounds, eh? Excuse my rant; I just got a little ticked--and uneasy. The Kuwait campaign was genderically integrated, but 'Nam was a man's war; yeah, I know, don't tell me about the female nurse casualties. Preponderantly, men fought, women waited; those were the times--our last old-fashioned war, in that sense. So sue me if I'm wrong. Sorry, Kali, I'm just part of a cross-wind that's a-blowin'. And Connolly thinks he was a Boromir, or Orc. Whatever. Like I concluded my "War Story," "we all were," even REMFs. All the Best, cautiously, in '92. Norm Lanquist

Dan answers--I don't think that the main drivers on either side of the PC debate would give Norm or Kali the time of day. The PC issue is a column of smoke about style, rising over the flaming conflict about giving power to women. People who speak frankly about the urgency and the cost of this process are not welcome at the New Republic or at the Village Voice. I bet that an English professor who wears a righteous beard, leathers and tattoos probably does get a hard time from his lefty colleagues. Biker garb makes a man threatening to the citizens, but vulnerable to authority. I don't think he would have a university job at all in the bad old days. Neither would the women who bother you Norm. I don't think that the publisher of Viet Nam Generation is part of any problem at all. I do think there are 35 million or so Vietnamese women who would be surprised to hear it was a man's war.

Kali answers--I'm always amazed when guys who I'm inclined to think of as otherwise bright, rational and fair minded start foaming at the mouth about feminist control of academic discourse. Wait, I say... What percentage of tenured faculty members are women? What percentage of department chairs? What percentage of publications in prestigious journals are authored by women? What is the relative salary of men and women in the academy? If women have all the power, how come the guys have all the jobs and all the money?

You don't know me from Eve, but you seem to have read volumes into a short couple of sentences of my prose--I'm one of "those" Liberal Fascists, a Crypto-Lesbian and an Enforcer for the Political Correctness Police. When anyone bothers to ask me, I call myself an Anarcho-Communitarian, and I'd like to welcome you to the community I live and work in. Come in, make yourself at home. It's pretty friendly here. If you hang around with me a bit you might find out that I'm a tattoo freak too (I have a Lyle Tuttle on my arm, and a bunch of others scattered hither and yon) and I have a definite affection for leather. I like women and men, and I laugh a lot. It would be right courteous of you to get to know me a little first before you used my head as a soapbox to stand on while you rant about feminists climbing to power over your prone body.

You sound real nervous, Mr. Lanquist, but I think that it's not me that you ought to be afraid of. Back before I got into this Viet Nam war stuff, I used to be a student of Southern political history. And I'm still convinced that part of the reason the Populist movement crashed, burned and died was that poor white folks couldn't overcome their suspicions that terrible things might happen to them if they took their boots off black folks' necks. The end result, of course, is that rich white folks are still in power. The divide-and-conquer business is purely bad news for people like us.

Think hard before you appropriate terms like "sexual harassment" and use them to describe female power and male victimization. It sounds a lot like calling affirmative action "reverse discrimination" to me. Any Marxist Anarchist worth his salt knows where the power really lies in a society--you can count it up quickly by taking a tally of all the women who head Fortune 500 companies, or who hold a seat in the Senate.

I'm an honest woman, and I say what I think is true. I'd like to see Viet Nam Generation include a lot more feminist voices. But I don't censor my publications, and I don't tell my editors what they can and cannot print. We work together as colleagues and equals. Though I didn't like the content or context of the Bly review, I printed it in the book review section where it belonged. When feminist reviewers write for me, I will print their reviews too. I promise I won't try to silence you in order to make room for them. I hope, in turn, that you will do me and my sisters the same courtesy.

Owen Wister Review

Vet poet Jon Forrest Glade sent us the Spring 1992 issue of the classiest university literary review I have ever seen. It doesn't look like it was published in the U.S., let alone by students. Outstanding graphics. The cover shows a vivid photo of a man's left shoulder and arm from behind, hand grasping the back of his head, elbow high, the figure in greys but parts of a great big dragon tattoo showing vivid in four colors. The back cover shows the same photo, reduced, with a partial list of contents. Other photos and paintings inside include 16 views of the same watertower from the same perspective that don't look at all alike, more male tattoos, and female figures. Drawings and cartoons and a storyboard, too, from about 30 artists. Mostly poetry from about the same number of poets, an essay on tattoos by Karol Griffin, fiction and essays and a translation from Lucian by Philip Holt. The poems include W.D. Ehrhart and lyn lifshin and David Willson and B.D. Trail and Bill Shields as well as University of Wyoming students, 88 pages, perfect-bound cover with four color printing on all four surfaces, Contributor Notes. Jon Glade is editor, the poetry editors are Spence Keralis and Erika L.S.C. Knudson, the Fiction Committee members are Shelly Norris, Brett Rice, Wanda G. Wade, the production assistant is Geoffrey Peters, and the art director is Terry R. Reid. The Owen Wister Review appears twice a year from the Student Publications Board of the University of Wyoming. Annual subscription is $10. Individual copies are $5. Contact: OWR, P.O. Box 4238, University Station, Laramie, WY 82071. Owen Wister wrote The Virginian and a lot of other good books.


McCain, whose son was a POW in North Vietnam, was to play an important part in the story of Cambodia. He is a tiny, sprightly, man with a straightforward view of the world. His military briefings were legendary. He would talk very excitedly for forty-five minutes on a subject that might be dealt with in ten and illustrate a doom-laden message with lurid maps of Southeast Asia. Extended from the bright-red belly of China were gigantic red arrows or claws reaching all over that part of the free world for which McCain felt responsible. Sometimes his sermons on the "Chicom" threat were so energetic, his passionate pleas for aid so draining, that at the end of a briefing he would drop into his chair, ask for questions, and fall fast asleep.

McCain's son used to talk like that in the Ha Noi Hilton, and they beat the shit out of him for it. From p. 136, William Shawcross, The First Full-Scale Investigatoin into the Lies and Secret Treacheries of Those White House Hears--And the Leaders Who Treated an Innocent Nation as a Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, Pocket Books, published by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, October, 1979, 396 pp., chronology, notes, bibliography and index. Nice cover with David Levine NYRB caricature of Nixon and Kissinger.

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