Jack Wilson, Frederick Street (HOME PAGE)

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    •  Jill Stabenau
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    •  Jan Houbolt
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    •  Suzanne Ecker
    •  Evan Kaltschmidt
    •  Andre Rorsch
    •  Jo-Anne Rosen
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    •  Lastri Trimiharjo
    •  Rachel Wohl
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    •  December 17, 2011
    •  Miscellaneous

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From Jack's Journal

November 24, 2002 — Flight from Jakarta to Taipei
I left Jakarta in fear for my life on many levels, not the least of which is my ability to simply survive aging combined with all the horrible ravages voluntarily inflicted, yes! Voluntarily inflicted on myself. (If you don’t stop drinkin and gamblin, you gonna drop right out of sight boy.)

After the October 12th bombing in Bali, Indonesia had taken on a sinister aspect. I could hear it especially in the early evening broadcast from the mosques. (Islamic countries broadcast prayers five times a day on loud speakers from religious centers to the entire community. In the evening prayer the broadcast may contain sociopolitical commentary.) I had just learned enough of the language to at least get a gist of what was being said and it was ugly. As well, my Indonesian friends were telling me that the radio was full of hatred for white people and Christians.

You know what, I hate the fucking United States and never want to live there again, it’s kind of unfriendly these days, an angry place, most individuals obsessed with making money. (Besides, I can’t live with the restrictions of modern society America has in fact fabricated a middle management techno-facism, based on the computer capability to track every aspect of our lives. And at the same time severely damaged freedom and creativity and in that, has severely damaged our ability to survive as a species. You can not base a society on negativity and fear.) You know what I really hate is all my fucking traffic tickets and the nasty letter threatening my right to drive and I don’t have accidents. In Indonesia you just pay off tickets to the cop. They don’t even keep computer records of serious criminals; much less you’re financial and medical records. (There is a downside; one day rounding a corner on my motorcycle, in the few nano-seconds before broad-siding a car, I remembered, there are no police, nobody has insurance, no ambulance and the hospitals suck. The motorcycle fell on me and damaged my knee. It was a week of ice and ibuprophen).

Maybe the Islamic world instinctively has this same aversion as I to America? and well they should. However, it is much more complicated then that doesn’t everything finally come down to ‘control.’ Happily, Bali bombing aside, Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world, doesn’t really reflect hardcore Islamic values.

January 17, 2003 — Rose Hotel, Jogja
I am happy here. This morning I woke up to birdsong (We won’t talk about that fucking rooster.) and set about organizing the room for a long stay. I need a month in one place. I have decided to use this journal entry to sketch some directions for BreakEven. Just leave the computer on all day so when I want to do something boom there it is !! Everything seems to fit, my little hand phone is quietly charging, I have two changes of clothing, 12 books, the lap-top and some toiletries. More than ever I need to let go the world of possessions and enter the vast region of mind and universe to explore every avenue from the farthest galaxies to my relationship with God Yes, call it what you want, but I know the spirit flows in all things and it is vast beyond comprehension, beyond infinity E=MC squared deliriously dancing in relativity of molecular/photon flight My God the dream I had, it has to be an out of body experience too strong to be anything else. I fly down a long dark corridor and enter a room of delicious people who are all flying. It’s really sexy; I hold on to a big brass bed to keep from hitting the ceiling. Woo dipsey what fun and then it is over; back in my body, I look down the long corridor and there is a square of light with everyone waving and then it becomes a picture frame with no one moving, very far away.

So, I seem to be avoiding the task at hand. I need a kind of diagram of where the novel might go. I feel constricted by the story line and want to write with freedom inside a looser framework. The sense of constriction ....


From the Prologue to BreakEven: The Story of a Vietnam Veteran

The plight of the Vietnam Veteran is perhaps more poorly understood then any that of any other returning veteran in the history of American warfare. Vietnam represented the first truly crushing defeat of American military might and left the nation bitterly divided. To complicate matters, the war falls into a period of social upheaval, which is preceded by the Civil Rights Movement in the South and the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley. This then blossoms into the Anti-War Movement, Women’s Liberation and finally the Environmental Movement. It was a chaotic, exciting period and in the chaos, the Vietnam veteran was lost.

(Except you could usually find him in jail or prison. During the period of the 70s, 80s and 90s, Vietnam Veterans made up a whopping 50% of the prison population.) The now known history of drug abuse, burglary, homicide, mental illness and suicide, associated with these veterans is a matter of national shame. Over time, we have come to classify this variety of psychological disorders as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). From a layman’s perspective PTSD results from a traumatic experience that permanently scars a person’s emotions at a level below the conscious mind. The feeling is “how can you get away from something which is always there, the background against which all other events are colored.” This ‘scaring’ actually alters the victims brainwaves and can lead to SMI (Serious Mental Illness). There are many symptoms: poor sleep patterns, nightmares of the event, disconnected thinking, unable to hold a job or relationship, drug and alcohol abuse and every manner of crime. There are other symptoms and not everyone has all symptoms.

And yet our fathers and older brothers didn’t have and/or were not diagnosed with PTSD when they came back from WW II and Korea; the emotional after effects of combat were more readily absorbed by the society. Why is that? Certainly the combat experience in the previous wars was as, or more intense and deadly then Vietnam. No, Vietnam is special....

From Chapter One of BreakEven:

It was a hot morning, the sky a ruthless cobalt blue; not a cloud anywhere to blunt the tropical sun; my clothes were drenched with perspiration and it was only 9:30. The smells of alien spices mixed with diesel exhaust and stale urine wafted through open bamboo windows while a large blade fan twisted languidly from the dingy ceiling, re-circulating heat and pollution.

I was seated in the dilapidated café attached to the Borneo Hotel, watching the re-run of a grade B Vietnam war movie and trying to ‘get well’ on cheap, warm Indonesian beer. Tropical rot was eating away at the bottom of the bar and creeping up the walls. Gunfire flared from the ancient TV set as US soldiers killed everyone in sight, then burned and evacuated a hamlet. The small, brown skinned Indonesian man that waited my table watched the action disinterestedly.

Fuck, what was the word for that? Something benign like ‘Rural Relocation Program’. It seems the Viet Cong were following Mao Tse-tung's philosophy of moving through the peasant population ‘like a fish in the sea,’ then using them as a source of food, shelter and recruits.

I was in one hell of a foul mood; the toxic, aftertaste of Agent Orange (herbicide 245T) oozed out of the TV like a bad fart or maybe it was just the damn fungus trying to crawl up my leg. Another morning in a seemingly endless chain of mornings I find myself drinking booze, just to feel un-sick, what’s the point? Can’t even get a buzz-on anymore. Maybe I should just face the agony and hopelessness lurking in the murky shadows of my shattered persona and stop trying to drown it in alcohol abuse? Nah!
On top of that, I was sick with a bad cough. So bad in fact, I stumbled from the café and down into the street, coughing blood from my lungs. Crap, this day was going from bad to worse. From the elevated sidewalk behind me, a small female voice said.

“Kamu harus berhenti merokok.” I turned to look at the person speaking, the sun was directly behind her head creating a silouhette and spilling harsh light into my bloodshot eyes.

“Can you speak English; I have only been here three days”

“You stop smoking cigarette.” I looked at the pack of Indonesian Marlboros in my pocket, down at the blood on the ground and thought if she only knew. I had been smoking crack for ten years and cigarettes for forty years — she did have a point though, I handed the Marlboros over to her.

“Don’t want, Yani not stupid” and she threw the pack 15 feet to an open ditch. Five small boys appeared out of nowhere and scrambled for the smokes.

“You need girl?”

It occurred to me, I do need a girl, but I think it’s more like my mother.

I said, “Maybe we could sit and talk, I really don’t feel very well. What’s your name”?

“Nama saya Yani, I live in Manggar.”

“Nice to meet you Yani, My name is Dan Foley” Thinking to myself, probably the last person you want to meet....

   

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