Caught between a war zone and a monastery; between the penitentiary yard and the Sound of Music

I’m a journalist and I once tweeted this:

“Wrote in my journ pad that every story that matters is worth living for+dying for beat my ass and I’ll just put it in the lede my shield law”

Now that sounds a bit like a loose cannon talking and I was actually told by a fellow journalist that an editor of mine once referred to me as a loose cannon. A magazine once profiled me and used the headline “The Risk Taker”   So just on the self reflection tip, I’m not really macho, I like show tunes and musicals, I’m pretty sensitive, I believe in all forms of welfare, charity, kindness, gentleness.  I hate bullies, wise-asses, sarcastic people, know it alls.  And I think listening to a person deeply is a really good quality.  My heroes are people like Dr. Oliver Sacks, my idea of demeanor to aspire to is Federal Judge Richard Howell of the Southern District Court in NY (Manhattan) in whose courtroom I covered a 3 week trial and stood for him eagerly and gladly when he entered and exited the room.  Also Andy Hardy’s judge father in those old films.  I can’t hit anybody in the face; I don’t like seeing people pranked or laugh when people slip and fall.  This train wreck business — that we’re supposed to be guilty pleasured into watching horrible displays on reality shows, that it’s compelling to watch people destroying themselves.  I can’t watch that, no desire to — I used to look away like crazy if a performer forgot his or her line in a play and I would be too embarrassed and hurt for them.

That said I’ve been wrestling and body punching, tackling, mixing it up, throwing people around, been thrown around on concrete, grass, barracks, jails — I love that contact.  Breaking up fights, I can’t not.  Cop chasing someone, I join in (true story, Southwest Yonkers, 1991 home of DMX and Mary J Blige, saw some guy running from the courthouse down the middle of a busy service road, two cops in pursuit, way behind, I started after him, we ran parallel for a while and then I grabbed him in the middle of the road, cars driving by, held him until the two cops arrived then threw him into their arms and they slammed him on the hood of a car (and I still got turned down for a NYPD press pass this year; c’mon DCPI).

I was also made a serial killer reporter for APB for two years and I covered a lot of crime, saw, heard, a lot of horrible things — but I can’t watch Nancy Grace or any of them, I don’t ever watch horror films.

I’m brave when I have to be because it’s easy — I become a different person, transported — if something is really wrong and bad and I’m in front of it, I get this righteous indignation spirit and I, I do anything, say anything, just confront it no matter how threatening or dangerous.  But give me some day to day — how to live, what people think of me, if I’m a good person, how to keep a job, talk the right way to the right people, job interviews, money issues, the possibility of boredom or shame, yeah that I’m not brave about — it’s scares me steadily, always.  Where do guys like me go when they want to live then, caught between a war zone and a monastery between the penitentiary yard and the Sound of Music.  I don’t — their is no home for that.  Journalism is the closest,  just watching and recording and telling other people’s lives and your life on the page — it’s what you have to do when you can’t live; you have to write.  It works.

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6 responses

  1. So you have done things for the good cause in itself, like people do everyday in wars, everywhere, even you risk yourself maybe death, when you are not actually in Somalia, in a war, but the war damage? carries again when you act as a civilian, though you didn’t actually return from any war as a civilian damaged, I don’t get it, -guys do 20 years, break facing life somehow, come home, try to adjust,..that makes more sense,…..I’m missing?

    • Liz, can you tell me a a bit more, little more specifically, what you mean, not sure I completely understand and I want to try and answer your question/comment as honestly and thoroughly as I can.
      Thanks, Kevin

  2. “an editor of mine once referred to me as a loose cannon. A magazine once profiled me and used the headline “The Risk Taker”- I’m not really macho,
    That said I’ve been wrestling and body punching, tackling, mixing it up, throwing people around, been thrown around on concrete, grass, barracks, jails — I love that contact.”
    For what, to be be good writer? people do all this in the street, or in the war zone, to not die, writing never enters their mind, most are illiterate, what’s the point?”.

    “I’m brave when I have to be because it’s easy” — brave in things you put yourself into,
    “I become a different person, transported — if something is really wrong and bad and I’m in front of it, I get this righteous indignation spirit and I, I do anything, say anything, just confront it no matter how threatening or dangerous.” You believe in a piece to write on in ESL and will stand strong, when they don’t even want you there,….ok.

    “But give me some day to day — how to live, what people think of me, if I’m a good person, how to keep a job, talk the right way to the right people, job interviews, money issues, the possibility of boredom or shame, yeah that I’m not brave about — it’s scares me steadily”,
    But while liking tough guy chest pounding, and riding edge, Vollmann late night coffee share, you are an emotional guy too that is troubled by it all? is this right? I mean, where is the real war, Vollmann too plays it. Bosinia full of aching minds, with missing legs.

    “Where do guys like me go when they want to live then, caught between a war zone and a monastery between the penitentiary yard and the Sound of Music.”
    Real killers want nothing on this their/there is no home for that.

    “Journalism is the closest, just watching and recording and telling other people’s lives and your life on the page — it’s what you have to do when you can’t live; you have to write”. No, you can live, and write well, but why you are center to real mayhem makes no sense.
    Liz

  3. I hardly comment, but after browsing through a bunch of remarks
    on this page Caught between a war zone and a monastery; between the penitentiary yard and the Sound of Music Every Single Word Is
    True. I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it simply me or does it give the impression like some of these comments appear like they are coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at other online social sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Would you post a list of the complete urls of your social community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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