Posts Tagged ‘Currie’

The Quartermaster Controversy


25 Sep

quartermaster

The Quartermaster

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So my pal Joey Higgins invites me to stay at his house in Boynton Beach, FL. We do a demolition-construction job for this guy who has no permits. We get our first check before I've opened a bank account. So I sign it over to Joey.

He takes off for the weekend...goes shooting on the other coast. I watch the house. Feed the dogs. Feed the fish. Brush the pool. When he returns, he doesn't give me my money from my check. Next week no money. Then he wants me out. I say okay, give me my money so I can pay for my greyhound reservation back to DC. He says he paid the bills. All $262.12 of my money to run his house. My laptop and two external hard drives are not sucking that much electricity. Plus there was no discussion of expenses. At least give me the opportunity to offer. Don't just steal my money. Plus what about the food I bought that he ate... saying that doesn't help out the house... so he doesn't want to give me my money from my check. I start earning money for 3d art done for Tom Howell's steam punk comic. So Joey lends me the car keys to go get beer. Then reports the car stolen. i spend a weekend in jail. Then have to walk the streets of Boynton Beach till my reservation date with Greyhound comes up. Money comes in from Tom Howell and Ashby and Seamus to answer my distress call. I spend last weekend in Miami. A $5.00 tri-rail to Miami, $12.99 a night at the Miami Beach hostel. a bed, jaccuzzi, bar, and bath. Refreshed I get to the Greyhound Station in Fort Lauderdale and arrive in DC. Quite an adventure. All in all. But Joey Higgins in no rasta mustafa. All of those at Dupont [Circle] back in the day who warned me of this wannabe were right. just another wannabe. Thanks all for your friendship.

"You DO seem to have quartermaster issues, Roland..." I wrote three or four entries below this description of one Roland Currie, a six foot six giant of a man and virtual reality graphics expert with whom I have been acquainted for about twenty years, although our relationship was nearly entirely accidental or second hand, a byproduct of a mutual friend, Tom Howell, or Howellnymns as I like to refer to him in print.

However, I also got an "F" in Deportment that quarter, and upon my wish was sent to the principal's office on the last day on school that year since I thought it might be fun. It was, and a bit painful, also, but fun just the same. An experience, a gas, a gag, a goof. You see, I was a straight A student, and I learned to rebel early against feckless authority...
Robin Slusher, a pretty girl from the North Country I presumed, poked me gently, "Gabriel Thy—what are quartermaster issues?"

"In Roland's case, roommate and landlord struggles...go figure, I use a single world to replace several, and then have to explain the stretched single-word metaphor to the public thus defeating my original intent," I obediently supply.

"Hahaha-go figure! I retired from the Navy and we use that word often but never in that particular way—I was just curious. Just googled it; you used it in an "Army" way. Navy uses it differently. I was institutionalized; sorry.

"No problem, but as you well know, words are authentically extended from their original usage quite frequently..." I responded, with a sigh of relief that this wordslinging tete a tete was over, adding one more round for good measure, "Roland's been on both sides of this enterprise. He knows what I'm talking about even if some of the rest of you do not. And that is not a slam on any of you. You may just not be aware of the entire scenario as I framed it. But I too, am saddened that Roland is having troubles. I was hoping good things for him in Florida."

But no. Somebody else was pricked by the word I had used to describe a condition I knew Roland was now facing again as some kind of karmic swarm.

His best friend DC "Max" Hughes rushed into the area where words only have subtlety it appears if they are perceived and experienced that way by the "official" lexiconographers. He copies and pastes the following:

Quartermaster

Quartermaster is one of two different military occupations.

In land armies, especially US units, a quartermaster is either an individual soldier or a unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior unit, post or base supply officer is customarily referred to as "the quartermaster". Often the quartermaster serves as the S-4 in US Army, US Marine Corps units and NATO units.

The function of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps is to provide the following support to the Army:
—general supply (except for ammunition and medical supplies)
—Mortuary Affairs (formerly graves registration)
—subsistence (food service)
—petroleum & water
—field services
—aerial delivery (parachute packing, air item maintenance, heavy and light equipment parachute drop, rigging and sling loading.)
—shower, laundry, fabric/light textile repair
—material and distribution management

"Well, thanks, that was very thorough. In the Navy, a quartermaster deals with navigation—that's why it confused me," offers Slusher.

I have no choice but to respond to this jolt of authoritarianism, "What's your point, Hughes? Rock & Roll hardly translates to fucking, but there it is, fucking you, fucking me, fucking Elvis...muster your thoughts if you have a point to make. I certainly am capable of defining quartermaster as stated in the military protocols (or Wiki), but I used the word as a metaphor for this material fiasco that Roland seems to find himself struggling against from the opposite side now, not so long after a fiasco involving another in which he held the controls. Uh, the simple notion of managing one's quarters, supplies, and provisions is one of man's most basic transactions.

"Got a stick? Poke me. I'm done."

But true to his nature Max wasn't done, "Quartermasters, counterintuitively, do not handle quarters; lodging/housing."

To get to the point the customer service rep said, “The invoice says returns are SUBJECT to restocking fees. ‘Subject to’ means you WILL get restocking fees”. I said no it means I “MAY” get restocking fees and that she didn’t get to decide the meaning of words; that the meaning of “subject to” had already been defined. So….I didn’t have to pay.
Are you kidding me, I thought. So, true to my own nature, I continued to beat the dead horse just to see how much snot would spray across this language cop boondoggle he seemed genuinely certain I needed in order to improve my writing and not appear to be the fool, "Is Roland Currie not complaining about lost provisions? Shower, laundry? Do puns not exist in your splendid mind? As I wrote earlier, in Roland's case, his roommate and landlord struggles cover a lot of ground...go figure, I use a single world to replace several, and then have to explain the stretched single-word metaphor to the public thus defeating my original intent. Last time I was a scout quartermaster, I was in control of issuing Army issue cots and sleeping bags, cooking pots & utensils, et cetera to my fellow scouts. Max, you just don't get it, do you man? This discussion reminds me of when I was in the eighth grade. English class. We had to write a short story. I wrote a sports story, a baseball story. I used the word carom, as in the high fly ball caromed off the left field wall. Teacher marked my usage wrong, saying it was not a word, a made up word. I told her it was most certainly a word. I had heard it all my sports-conscious life. In baseball, in basketball, even in golf. She wanted proof. I pulled the dictionary, found the word, showed her, and the entire class, and she still denied me the word because the example the text gave was "as in the game of billiards." She was very young, and a very pretty slender red-head who, as I learned later from my mother who worked for the US Navy, dated a lieutenant stationed there at Glynco Naval Air Station. But she was stubborn, and so was I. Needless to say, I rebelled, and soon owned one fifth of that class as a five or six of my friends and I sat in the back of the class and played a game I'd invented in the 4th grade, the rest of the year, goofing off and making each our "A" in English despite her best efforts to restrain or punish us. However, I also got an "F" in Deportment that quarter, and upon my wish was sent to the principal's office on the last day on school that year since I thought it might be fun. It was, and a bit painful, also, but fun just the same. An experience, a gas, a gag, a goof. You see, I was a straight A student, and I learned to rebel early against feckless authority, and you sir, seem to have completely lost your good sense in arguing this point with me. Guess, I can add this exchange to my memory banks. Oops, banks hold money, and an exchange is where Obama plans to send me to purchase overpriced insurance. I fear this analysis in writing from one's own nostrils will never end."

Robin was beginning to feel the weight of the argument upon her own quarters, "I'm sorry I mentioned it. It was a genuine question—not intended to start a fuss. Hey—Dave Howard got fired because people didn't understand the meaning of the word 'niggardly'...that's even worse than an "F" in Deportment!"

"Robin, just because you might have refrained from mentioning it doesn't mean Max would have taken the same tact..."

Tom Howell was always a deft and absolute genius conversationalist, but was never much of a writer. Not that I didn't think he couldn't write a fine sentence when the muse shed her grace. Quite the contrary. He held his own on the page, but he seemed reluctant to go large, and he might have known that he did tend to write commonly at certain times when the task required a more spectacular presentation. I always sense he must have had some history to overcome before he could become a competent and confidant writer.
Roland was not amused apparently by the way his thread had dissipated into another topic, as he still continued to argue with his old friend who have done him wrong. So he wrote a humorous line of clarification he think I needed. "Roland did not have a landlord. Roland was invited to crash at a "friend's" house."

"And now you are going to start up another ruckus, Roland? Those words were used loosely to describe what is generally speaking a housing situation. Okay, I am indeed done. This is stupid." My words again.

"Ok, since we've totally hijacked this post anyway.....your Wittgensein quote reminded me of when I had to return some wood flooring to Lumber Liquidators. I was unsure of the square footage of my house and the salesperson said just order a lot and return any extra. So, I did and they try to charge me $100s in restocking fees. To get to the point the customer service rep said, "The invoice says returns are SUBJECT to restocking fees. 'Subject to' means you WILL get restocking fees". I said no it means I "MAY" get restocking fees and that she didn't get to decide the meaning of words; that the meaning of "subject to" had already been defined. So....I didn't have to pay." Slusher was finished.

But Tom was just knocking the dirt off his brown shoe act, and injected, "I was invited to crash at Gabriel Thy's house and stayed on for what seemed like years. I gave him the benefit of my wisdom during many a Black Label fest, proving in a double-blind test that Black Label was NOT a premium beer and "Life was NOT a submarine." Gabriel will be forever in my debt."

"LOL. Based only on the unassailable notion that life is a bowl of cherries. But what about iLife?" ask I, feeling the pull of nostalgia, as Tom was the only person in this discussion with whom I had actually spent any amount of sweat, sanctimony, and satisfaction. Or put another way, spent time shackled to the same ditch with half a notion of what it meant to be chasing and still defining that spectacular pursuit of happiness we learned about as kids and young scouts, he in mostly rural SW Virginia, and I, in mostly rural SE Georgia..."

But Tom and I had only recently become reconnected after a fifteen year exile during which we only heard from each other once or twice. I had turned my back on that early DC crowd for the most part, turning inside, to a nearly agoraphobic state, as my social life went from zero to nothing.
"Gabriel has a penchant for coining his own words, someday I hope he'll be able to bank on it," remarks Tom.

"There has been so such coining here today. iLife is a Mac term," I respond, thinking he may have imagined I just did it again.

"Life is a sandwich, the more bread...no, no, wait Submarine is a sandwich! I prefer 2nd Life anyway," he pretends he's extending the game. But I've had enough. Tom came late to the party, again. Wait a minute, he's usually early. An entire day early...

"How are you old man? Doing great things I presume..."

"I'm in a Writers Group here and learning to make eBooks with InDesign 6. Future plans are for enhanced eBooks," he replies, ending the mystery as to why he recently wanted to bury the political hatchet he and I had been swinging the past few months on rare occasions. Scorned for my politics by nearly all the old crowd of woeful leftists from the old days, most had just ignored me altogether. But Tom and I had only recently become reconnected after a fifteen year exile during which we only heard from each other once or twice. I had turned my back on that early DC crowd for the most part, turning inside, to a nearly agoraphobic state, as my social life went from zero to nothing.

The Internet, and later, my splash into the not so fine art painting mud pit changed things for the better. I began to venture out again, but that social season only lasted for another three years until the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent election of Barack Obama to the US presidency changed my path again. Only recently had Tom finally come aboard this network. And after a few battles with each our unmovable arguments, aren't they all, he was tired of stultifying politics and wanted to talk writing which I thought was a strange move for him, not the political rot, but his interest in discussing this craft you are now reading. Makes sense now. Tom Howell was always a deft and near genius conversationalist, but was never much of a writer. Not that I didn't think he couldn't write a fine sentence when the muse shed her grace. Quite the contrary. He held his own on the page, but he seemed reluctant to go large, and he might have known that he did tend to write commonly at certain times when the task required a more spectacular presentation. I always sense he must have had some history to overcome before he could become a competent and confidant writer. I understand that Tom, too, has renegotiated his survival strategies, moving his psychic investigation and motion picture experiments back to the Smokey Mountain railroad town of his beginnings, Roanoke, VA. We salute you, Thomas Jefferson Howell, as you pace along the hardy roads of old picturesque Virginia in becoming a man of letters in some small gratitude to your namesake, perhaps of note only to a few tar & feathered friends, but in the end, as you once echoed the trope from a Dollhouse easy chair—Gabriel, when we die we die alone.

My nephew Dylan and his wife Jennifer named their firstborn son Jefferson, who is a precocious sunny blonde lad now about four, and to this day he answers to Jefferson, when he answers at all.

S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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