Monthly Archive for September, 2010

DRAFTED/Part Three


Part 3

It’s 1962 and Morris Krieger’s dire warning is ringing in my ears.

“World War III is coming.”

I’m taking my Army physical with several hundred other kids in Selective Service Headquarters off Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. A red faced Sergeant, crewcut bristling, hash marks covering his khaki sleeve, sharply creased blue trousers with a red stripe strides along our line, shouting:

“Strip to your shorts and shoes. Guard your belongings. If you lose your pants you will go home to your mothers bareass naked…”

Krieger, the last anarchist orator of Union Square, greeted JFK’s election with a prediction:

“Camelot will have its war…”

I kept myself awake all night smoking Gauloises to increase my heart rate; chugging Coke to turn my urine brown. Now I’m lightheaded. I stumble into the kid in front of me. He turns with a snarl: “What the fuck’s the matter with you?”

After the Bay of Pigs, Krieger became more strident.

“No one will remember the poor fools left to die on the beach…Millions more will be led to their death…”

I’ve been in high school locker rooms, but have never seen such a grotesque profusion of male flesh. Fat and woebegone, buff and arrogant, slight and timid…Red pustules on white flab, acne clusters, pimples, sores, weird Rorschach bruises. Gray jockeys, bulky boxers with stripes and flowers. The undersized sneak covert looks. The muscled strut and sneer…I try to place myself along this continuum. I am tall, but slouched and narrow-shouldered. I always made the team, but was never a star. I can do sit ups and push ups, but strain at pullups and chins. I’ve fought to defend myself, but have never attacked anyone in anger…

The Russians move their missiles out of Cuba. Krieger scoffs at claims of victory.

“Russians don’t blink. They merely look for another battlefield.

They give us a form to fill out.

“Print clearly,” an older man in a doctor’s white coat says in a German accent. “If we can’t read it you’ll do it again.”

I curse my good health. There’s an endless column of diseases, but I’ve never had one.

The mental disorders are more promising. Bed-wetting, problems in school, visits to a psychiatrist, arrests, convictions, feelings of persecution, sudden eruptions of rage, homosexual attraction…

I’ve been advised I’ll arouse suspicion if I check them all. Just pick one aberration I can defend.

I check “use alcohol and illegal drugs…”

” Word War II was just a sideshow,” Krieger says. “The Tsar and the Robber Baron tried so hard to get Adolph on their side. Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Mosley, Chamberlain, Joe Kennedy, JFK’s dad. If only he wouldn’t be so stubborn about the Jews. Even Uncle Joe Stalin wanted to make a deal. From one mass murderer to another. You keep your camps I’ll keep mine. But Adolph wouldn’t share. So they formed an uneasy alliance to silence his Wagnerian oompah band. And when it was over they couldn’t wait to return to the eternal debate on what is the best way to control a subject population–Communist regimentation or Capitalist exploitation…”

We form a single line and shuffle into a large room, the size of a gymnasium where doctors in white coats are waiting. They are elderly, probably retired, and bored. Stethoscopes are pressed to our chests. “Deep breath…Breathe out.” Lights are shined in our eyes, noses and ears…A tongue depressor is thrust so deep in our mouths we gag. “Say Ahhh…”

Some kids are taken out of the line and sent to smaller examination rooms. They’re the lucky ones, but they walk with heads down as if they’ve been found wanting.

A doctor with a hammer gestures impatiently to a chair. “Well, sit down…” He taps our knees lightly. The kid ahead of me shudders and his knee shoots up. Mine hardly moves. “You waiting for the second feature?” he snaps. “Get up.”

Krieger spots me carrying Camus and Hesse.

“Alienation and mysticism,” he thunders. “The cheap thrills of the bourgeois state. Meant to distract the intelligentsia from its oppression.”

It’s pointless to explain that I use the books to start conversations with girls in coffee shops.

“Drop your drawers,” a doctor shouts. A kid walks up to him. He thrusts his hand under his right testicle and orders:


Then moves the left.


And does this a hundred times.

At the end of the room a doctor commands:

“Lean over and press the wall with both hands. Now reach back and spread the cheeks of your ass…Spread ‘em!”

He walks up and down the line looking up every one’s ass.

“Did he lose somethin’?” some kid whispers and we all get hysterical laughing.

We walk into a room with rusty sinks, faucets sputtering, along all four walls. A man in a white coat hands out plastic vials.

“Piss in the vial and bring it to the desk,” he orders.

Another moment of truth as we check out the line of pissing penises. Dark ropes, purple veined monstrosities, fragile pink wands; it’s amazing that they are all the same organ. I am abashed by the larger ones, but not encouraged by the smaller.

After all that Coke my urine rust brown.

The man at the desk hands me a tiny dipstick.

“Stick it in your specimen,” he says. “Show it to me.” He hardly looks. “Dump it in the sink…”

We’re done. Our journey through the rooms has taken us back to the entry hall. A man in a white shirt covered with medals checks my form. Suddenly, I am sorry that I checked off drug use.

“Down the hall to the left,” he says.

A line of kids is waiting outside four offices. We hear snatches of conversation.

“How many times a week?”

“Was there a police report?”

“Don’t give me the letter. Send it to the Draft Board.”

I am steered into an office. An old man with two brown moles, each sprouting a hair, on his bald head looks down at my form.

“Drugs?” he asks.

I nod.

” Heroin? Opium? Hashish?”

“Marijuana,” I say.

He writes in a blank space on my form.



“Sweet wine, dry wine? Beaujolais, Chablis?”

“Italian Swiss Colony,” I say. “Whiskey, too?”

“Rye, vodka, gin…?”

“Scotch,” I blurt.

“What kind?”

I panic. Try to remember the weird-shaped bottle in the sideboard that my father sneaks shots out of while my mother is in the kitchen.

“Haig and Haig…”

He looks up with a smile. “Haig and Haig. Can’t afford that on a private’s salary…”

JFK is sending 16 thousand “advisors” to help the South Vietnamese repel the Communist invaders from the north.

“The Tsar cannot take his army away from oppressing his own people,” Krieger says. “He will use the Vietnamese as proxies. The Robber Baron will send his own young men to keep them from making trouble in the Civil Rights movement and Organized Labor…”

Krieger’s wife comes to keep him company. A wiry old lady with sun-leathered skin, she knits while he rants. Unwraps salami sandwiches and pours coffee from a thermos.

“Were you in the Army?” I ask.

“It was important to defeat the Nazis,” he says. “But I did not support the oppressive military system…”

“He was a good soldier,” his wife says, placidly knitting.

Krieger twitches in irritation.

“I was not,” he says.

Three weeks later I get a letter from the Selective Service System. I have been classified “1Y”, which means I am deferred for a year.

It’s what I wanted. Still, I feel rejected and vaguely ashamed.




Igor Yopsvoyomatsky, Editor-In-Chief of
answers readers’ questions

Dear Igor,

I live two exits down Interstate 75 from Gainesville, Florida where that pastor says he’s going to burn the Koran. I don’t mind telling you I’m afraid for my life. My cousin Fred says the Muslims will declare southern Florida Dar al Harb, House of War, and will call the faithful to jihad against us. Fred says that General Petraeus over in Kabul gave the secret signal when he said the Koran burning would cause more troops to lose their lives. Fred says Petraeus is a Muslim agent who sends our boys into ambushes with orders not to shoot back. He says I better haul ass before the suicide bombings start. Is this paranoia or fact?


Culo Raton, Florida.

Dear Petrified,

This is paranoia. The only jihad here is being waged by the mass media–and your Cousin Fred– against your mind.

Let’s look at the facts: An obscure pastor from an unaffiliated fundamentalist church, which claims 50 congregants, announces “Burn a Koran Day.” Does this call resonate? Not yet. As of Tuesday, after weeks of torrential coverage, Reverend Terry Jones had 8,663 friends on Facebook. Lady Gaga has over fourteen million.

Reverend Jones puts up signs on his balding lawn reading “Islam Is The Devil.” Do similar signs sprout up? No. Gainesville is preoccupied with its Downtown Arts Show; the town is buzzing about the start of the Florida Gators football season.

But does this non-event fizzle out? Does Pastor Jones give his party and nobody comes? No again. The ice cream Jesus may be melting in his backyard, but people are lining up in the alternate universe anxious for an invite. Everybody–from the Taliban to President Obama–wants to dance with this new star.

We live in an inverted era. In the past people made the news. Now news makes the people. Never mind that nothing is actually happening. The monomaniacs who have seized power over our lives see this as another opportunity to burnish their tarnished images–flog their flagging agendas.

So New York Mayor Bloomberg, trounced for his ringing support of the Ground Zero Mosque, now acknowledges Jones’s “Constitutional right” to burn the Koran. The man who thwarted free speech by outspending or simply bribing anyone who might oppose him now presents himself as a defender of the First Amendment.

President Obama, who dilutes the power of the Presidency with every quixotic attempt to assert it now urges Reverend Jones to listen to his “good angels.” Does he really think the good Reverend will pay heed to the son of a Muslim?

From his fastness in Kabul General David Petraeus warns the Koran burning will put American lives in jeopardy. Petraeus, the pushup champion of the Pentagon, is celebrated for his counter-insurgency doctrine of “nation-building.” He coined the dictum, “money is ammunition,” and advocates the use of discretionary funds to win the confidence of the indigenous population. In other words, bribe them into not shooting at us.

In the mysterious process of military advancement Petraeus achieved the rank of Major General and commanded the fabled 101st. airborne without ever seeing combat. He is credited with stabilizing the Iraqi city of Mosul, although the majority Kurdish population were strongly pro-American and it took several prolonged operations by Infantry brigades to kill and capture insurgents. Since taking over command in Afghanistan from General Stanley McChrystal, who won the sack race three years in a row at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Potomac Picnic, he has emphasized the need to minimize civilian casualties; although without uniforms everyone is officially a civilian. His Rules of Engagement require troops to identify targets as “combatants” before firing. In other words, eliminate the element of surprise or force protection in combat operations.

The Petraeus Doctrine doesn’t work in Afghanistan. The Taliban are incorruptible, which in the Middle East means they make more money shaking down opium smugglers than the American taxpayer can give them. So Petraeus is looking for someone to blame. First, he tried the Israelis, saying their intransigence, was turning the Muslim world against the US. But when nobody saluted he ran that down the flagpole. Now he has decided to blame an eccentric with no popular support.

On second thought, maybe you should start packing. With all the hysteria that our responsible leaders and our free press have whipped up, Terry Jones might end up with as many friends as Lady Gaga. And then you can bet somebody will decide to do something crazy.

Stay safe,





Igor Yopsvoyomatsky, Editor-in-Chief of
Answers readers’ questions.

Dear Igor,

My cousin Fred says the mosque will be a headquarters for the sharia takeover of America. That the Muslims have mind-control techniques that turn weak-minded people like me into suicide bombers and assassins, just like that Major in Texas. He’s like, “all they have to do is play that snake-charming music and you’ll get all hypnotized and walk around like a zombie going ‘alahu akhbar.”” He’s all, “don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning with a towel wrapped around your head and a bomb strapped to your chest and the S.W.A.T team snipers have to take you down in the 7-11 parking lot.” He’s got me so crazy it takes hours for the Ativan to kick in. Is this paranoia or fact?


Megiddo, Ohio.

Dear Scared,

It is paranoia. The mosque is a plot, but not against America. It is a desperate attempt by two struggling New York real estate hustlers to scam billions out of the doddering Wahabists who rule Saudi Arabia. They are wrapping themselves in the Koran and the Constitution at the same time. They face Mecca and rattle the rhetorical sabers against the West, while preaching “interfaith dialogue” and the First Amendment in New York. They were close to cashing in when the vengeful God of the Internet, Google be praised, rose against them.

Mosque leader Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf might be the first Sufi slumlord in the history of Islam. He’s the prodigal son of an Imam who raised millions thirty years ago to build the Islamic Cultural Center on Upper East Side of Manhattan. The business model was simple: promise to spread Islam or “Dawa” and the money would roll in. But Rauf eschewed the family trade, getting a physics degree from Columbia, teaching high school, selling insurance and real estate with little success, before declaring himself an “Imam.” He developed a profitable line in the American-Muslim “outreach” and “reconciliation” business. Became an Ambassador of Good Will for the State Department, lecturing, writing–explaining us to them and them to us. The few anti-American remarks he made in the aftermath of 9/11 were understood as a way to maintain his street cred with “them” so he could convince them to like “us.”

Like any ambitious immigrant Rauf speculated in real estate. He bought “affordable housing”, formerly known as “tenements”, at bargain prices. He used his political connections in New Jersey to get “Section 8″ status where the federal government subsidized a portion of the rent, thereby guaranteeing him an income on a minimal investment.

But Rauf failed to maintain his buildings. Tenants complained of rats, bedbugs, vermin, heating and electrical problems, hazardous structural defects. One tenant accused him of being “greedy and only caring about the money.” Another told the Sunday Record that Rauf “doesn’t respect us because we’re non-Muslim.”

Defending lawsuits and bringing tenements up to Code is an expensive proposition. Imam Rauf was stuck with a lot of real estate he couldn’t even sell at a loss.

Enter Sharif el Gamal. Son of an Egyptian immigrant, el Gamal is what New Yorkers call a “knockaround guy.” He knocked around the East Side bar scene in his early life, waiting tables at hot spots, Michael Jordan’s and Serafina, picking up arrests for disorderly conduct and petit larceny until he and his brother Sami discovered the real estate grift. They rented apartments they didn’t represent, collecting deposits they never returned. There were complaints, but the mill of justice ground exceeding slow, giving them time to go to Florida and pick up more residential properties with the help of silent partner, Nour Moussa, nephew of Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League. There they continued their thuggish ways, facing court actions for tax delinquency, non-payment of loans and assaulting a tenant.

Back in New York, el Gamal amassed what the Huffington Post called a “modest” real estate portfolio worth over $50 million. When a distressed widow put up 51 Park Place for sale he snapped it up at the bargain price of $4.6 million.

El Gamal told the seller he was thinking about renovating and putting in condos. But that would require millions of up front investment and in the volatile real estate market might take years to show a profit.

A mosque would be an instant windfall. The location, so close to Ground Zero, would be very compelling to orthodox Muslims who wanted to, in the words of Imam Rauf, send out a “call to prayer from the world trade center rubble.” It would have non-profit , tax-exempt status. Money could be raised from donations or from a technique of Sharia banking whereby a bank buys a building for cash and then sells it back in installments to the original seller. Imam Rauf and el Gamal would control $100 million with no oversight from donors. They could take a fee out of every construction contract. They could form companies to do the renovation themselves. The profit potential is dazzling.

Now protests and publicity have put their plans on hold. The NY Post reports that el Gamal owes $229,000 in taxes on the building and faces foreclosure if he doesn’t pay.

Yes, there is an Islamic plot to “enter the crumbling house of the West and hasten its destruction.” But there was also a Communist plot to infiltrate the American government and cause its downfall. And a John Birch plot to take control of the Republican Party. And a behavioral economist plot to prod and coax and nudge you into doing what some academic careerist thinks is best for you.

You should be concerned about the plot by Mega Capital to control your economic life and thus your mind and eventually your spirit. The lords of finance and their Washington lackeys have rigged the system to reduce you to a state of slavering subservience, working for starvation wages, lining up for government handouts. They have made it impossible for you borrow to start a business, get a mortgage to buy property, even have a savings account that pays a paltry 4% a year. In their zeal for “productivity” they have shrunk the labor market through outsourcing and automation. If you’re not working you’re counting the weeks until your unemployment runs out as you despair of ever finding a job again. If you have a job you are probably working twelve hours a day with no overtime just to keep it. You’re afraid to take sick days or ask for a raise or better conditions. You can be fired on a whim.

Turn off that talk radio, Scared. Flush your meds. Join with your brothers and sisters to overthrow the theocrats and plutocrats, the technocrats and bureaucrats who are plotting against you.

But first, throw your cousin Fred out of the house.

Your friend,