Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Thousand Cats

Hey all. Sorry for being off-line for so long. I took some much needed vacation over the holidays. Since coming off of leave time has been quickly devoured with all the sundry tasks related to putting together a museum show. There's a catalogue to design, all the pieces for the show photographed for a variety of uses, and written material to update and create. My "artist's statement" needs to be expanded to reflect two additional deployments, and the head curator of the hosting museum, the James A. Michener Art Museum, asked for a half-dozen text panels to accompany the show. The framing of new pieces, and eventual layout, appraising, insuring and transportation of the entire show has to be arranged, financed and scheduled. The catalogue has to be finished and a printer engaged. AND, I'm writing an article about another project I was instrumental in, the Marine Corps Combat Art Prints 2006, for the March issue of Leatherneck magazine.

Although the show is six months off, there is a sense of urgency behind getting the lion's share of exhibit preparation done by the end of February. Why is that? This February 18th will find me down at Camp Lejeune going through pre-deployment training. Sometime during the month of March my boots will find themselves back on the ground in Iraq covering the "surge" for approximately three months. Sergeant Battles, our deployed artist, is transitioning home and I'm the next of our three combat artists in the rotation cycle.

Like most of you I follow the news very closely. The other morning Michelle Malkin appeared on the Fox News morning show to talk about her recent visit to Iraq. What she related, both at her website and in the Fox interview, reflect my "boots-in-the-dirt" experiences. In truth, the war will be won or lost not in the back alleys of Baghdad and Ramadi, but here in the political mean streets of America. For myself I find no greater clarity with regards to the present state of American politics than in the incredibly lucid writings of Victor Davis Hanson.

For most GIs there is a gross disconnect between our real-time experiences in Iraq and the way the situation is portrayed and percieved on the homefront. The morale and dedication of those actually conducting the mission is high while at the same time the corresponding will of the American body politic is deteriorating. How is this possible? I had a journalist explain it to me this way, "if there's a thousand cats and there's one up in the tree, the one in the tree gets covered." One of our History Division historians, Lt Col Kurt Wheeler (a Harvard grad), posted recently about his up close and personal impressions of the progress of the mission and the sentiments of the Marines in Iraq that bears witness to the stories behind the thousand cats on the ground. Dr. Sanity did a great expose' January 19th on this cognitive disconnect with respect to current events entitled Bambi Meets Godzilla and Other Weird Cartoons of the Modern World, you may find interesting reading.

At anyrate, as one of the thousand cats not up in the tree, I promise to continue to tell my story.


Flag Gazer said...

It is good to hear from you... You sound incredibly busy getting ready for the shows and your deployment.

Since we have far too much contact with those who are there and have been there, I can't ever believe the "cat in the tree" story... it flys in the face of what I hear from too many different sources who ARE THERE.

We depend upon you to keep us informed and thank you for it. I still handoff the "Don't sell the farm, Ray" post you did.

It's All Good Now said...

First, let me wish you luck in all your "side" projects. You are one busy man, and the projects will be that much better because of your involvement.
Second, I sometimes wish that the soldiers on the ground in Iraq do not have access to American media during their deployment. And I wish, just as fervently, that the American public could have a real time bird's eye view of the goings on in Iraq. Oh how public sentiment would change in a New York minute! Yes, the war is fraught with danger and strife, but come on! Speak to any soldier and he/she will tell you how much progress has been made and how much the risk is worth it.
Best of luck to you, and please don't keep us waiting so long until your next post!!

Grimmy said...

Semper Fi Sir.

As to your being busy, you know how it is. According to the Corps, if you're sleeping more than 4 hours out of every 24, you're just being lazy.

And, if you have the free time to get the full 4 out of 24, you are under utilized.

Laurie said...

Will miss seeing you at the milblog conference this year. But of course will look forward to your posts as always.

Bag Blog said...

Speaking of cats, there is the old saying: as busy as a longtail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. It suits you better than just being a cat on the ground.