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6 > Page 6 of Blue-Tail Fly, No. 7

Part of Blue-Tail Fly

"Mmmm, maybe. It's all about the same, we never have had any bad stuff. " "I wonder if they know. " "Sure, but they can't catch us. iTiey probably don't even want to. We do our jobs OK. That's all they really have time to give a shit about. " "Anyhow, there are too many of us. Do you realize if they busted all the guys doing it in this company there wouldn't be anybody to empty the trash? " "Yeah, I'm going to quit for a week or so, in a couple of days. Ryan did it and said it was pretty freaky. He said he did it every once in a while just to make sure. " "Yeah____of what? " "Hmm? " "Make sure of what? " "What do you mean? " "Man, you're spaced again. You said Ryan quit smoking to make sure, but you didn't say of what. " "Oh, yeah, well, he didn't say either. I guess that he wasn't hooked, or some shit, you know, not physically, but, uh---" "Psychologically. " "Yeah, something like that. Anyhow he said it was freaky, but OK. He's a little weird anyway, you know. " "You got anything to eat? " "Just some dried fruit, I think. I had some chocolate, but the house-girl must have got it. They eat anything they can find, " Such is an average conversation, while smoking. Not much about signs of the Zodiac. No chantings, or group massage. Very little "Wow" and "Beautiful. " No cosmos. No talk about the Army (which does not exist . any more as a monolith), but only about individuals in it. Not much about politics. Less philosophical talk. (The point should be made here that smoking dope does not make a person a revolutionary; you can't tame the cops of the world by giving them grass. ) Sex is seldom discussed, love hardly ever. The talk is about the drugs, and about the daily activities, which are so horribly repetitive, and so mentally stifling. When there is music, any new record or tape, all else is silent. It is difficult to talk about a full life, or the fullness of life, while not being allowed to live one. of the free life, the rush in the morning, which is far preferable to the hangovers experienced by the juicers. Why do G.I. 's use marijauna? Well, why does anyone? Ninty percent of the soldiers in Vietnam are non-combatant and almost no one who is a combat soldier fights every day, and certainly not every hour. Tremendous spaces of time in which there is little to do are commonplace. With the boredom comes anxiety, and the desire for tranquility becomes as much a need as the need for food. Vietnam is a humorless place; intoxication of some sort is a must. Beer is a bummer, and must be consumed on some pre-arranged premises (usually gathering places for red-necks who seem never happy unless drunk, obnoxious and as violent as possible). In the course of the last year I discussed the marijuana issue (the Army prefers the phrase "marijuana problem") with numerous supervisory authorities, from sergeants to colonels. No one is totally aware of the widespread use of pot, yet no one is totally unaware of all aspects. The Army in Vietnam has a drug suppression program, which had formerly been intensely oriented toward detection and prosecution, but that has largely been abandoned as unfeasable. Education is now the thrust, and the reasoning is somewhat as follows: 1. Marijuana affects different people in different ways. (Note the acknowledgement that people are different from one another. This admission is not often made by military people) 2. Viet nam is a combat zone. (Hardly disputable, but then again, not always true in all places at all times) 3. The safety of yourself, and the safety of your "buddies" (right) depends upon your operating at maximum efficiency with all your mental faculties as keen as possible at all times. (This explains the beer halls, does it? ) It is hardly a secret, military or otherwise, that anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam have at least sampled marijuana on more than one occasion during the tour. Marijuana grows freely and is transmitted through the economics of Vietnam with rapidity to reach the big 5, spender, the enlisted man. Its price is anywhere from one-tenth to one-twentieth the stateside rates. There are many other drugs in circulation, the common varieties of speed, even some hard drugs in Saigon and other heavily populated areas. But primarily it is pot. With it comes the nostalgia suspended sentences in all cases, by orders of Army Headquarters at Long Binh, and seoond offenders are in almost all cases eleminated from the Army as being "unfit" under Army Regulation 635-212. Many troops have admitted to getting themselves caught intentionally, to receive that trip home, and to hell with the G. I. benefits. ) The Army does not have a very good argument, as is characteristic, and there is hardly a doubt that the drug usage in Vietnam and in other theaters is on the increase. The soldier who does like his daily duties can expect very little hassle about drugs and can be almost frank about admitting use of drugs to his superiors, just so long as he does not attempt to inspire work slow-downs, or in any way organize the other men against the system. Many soldiers who might have worked more vigorously to educate the masses of troops as to the immorality of the war, or the cruelty and inefficiency of the military, have i'ound themselves pleasantly pacified by the truly fine grass growing in the war zone, and were regarded by the Armyas "good soldiers. " Rick Hose was a student in the UK Law School when he was drafted and sent to Vietnam. He iust returned from a year's stau there. If you smoke marijuana, you endanger your self and those who depend on your fighting abiltity (The Generals, usually), and YOU MIGHT DIE. (This arguement generally has some adherents. ) You students who wish to go on into life without damaging your record could be seriously hampered if caught and court-martialed for use of drugs. (Very little emphasis upon the possibility of going to jail in Vietnam, for almost all troops are aware that first offenders for drugs NEVER serve any bad time, but get Rai1 road whorehouse at Collierville, Tenn. Its place on the square is solid, undisputed as the soldier boy who stands with nranito sauirrcl aun and nineon shit face to guard the Confederate dead. In parlors citizens complain and have some bourbon. It remains. One year they painted it yellow, and the courthouse itself looked dull. And here is a town that would burn you alive for loving one of its daughters. WALTER BROWN 6/Number Seven