Browse Month: November 2018

The Sea Stories of T.D. Euwaite by Richard Brotbeck

“The stars in a pitch-black night sky a thousand miles out to sea are breathtaking. It’s easy to see how religions were born The majesty is overwhelming.” Pop Eye would have never transverse these haunts but perhaps he should have, for this is a rousing tale of our present day military sea man attached oiled down at the gaps with plenty of humor, charm and a rumpus beat. I think of the lightness of heart I had along with the respect for the crew when I first road the pages of the classic ‘No Time For Sergeants’ many years ago. And there’s this kid’s thirsty fascination with riding submerged on the submarine that even the several sub hunt movies have yet dissolved. It’s all here in The Sea Stories of T.D. Euwait, a ripping ride with Richard Brotbeck, ‘dolphin’ designated submarine sailor. We take our hats off to the piercing determination that moves this tale through choices, training, travel, exotic foods, roasts and frozen steaks, and plenty of pot and fights and yes, women. Breathing the nuclear sub’s metallic air, engaged in seaman tasks listening to sonar, Shore Patrol duty, even the final engaging brig scenes, the truth is that “Submarine patrols are long and tedious… You need some comedy once in a while to keep everyone loose.” And occasionally you wonder if the sea has this much water in it, for the easy rippling humor flows nonstop.

Perhaps it’s the matter of man who Richard represents. His dad took the family from its Midwest Missouri origins to Guam where he served as an FAA flight standards officer. It’s the late seventies and Richard forages with fellow seamen, the new ones, who yet to have seen war in a culture of American rock, drugs and motorcycles. Across waters, over lands, they were able to advance the much-fabled innocent, sweet, anti-communist American nonchalance while equipped with the most powerful of the instruments, “wire-guided acoustic-sensing torpedoes, nuclear warhead tipped ballistic missiles, a nuclear reactor.” They had machines producing copious gallons of fresh water. The missiles stations had the near genius ‘weird scientists’ while crew-cut bunches of sailors pursued practiced care to manage the “boat”. Cramped quarters, manufactured air, fire watches, roving shore patrol duty, a spam fondness, ‘monochrome green explosions’ with garbage, the wonder of seamanship is all here. Not a thing’s missing from Popeye’s Brotbeck sightings that could be called out of his sight.

He was initially trained in Groton, Connecticut at the Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS). The love of the New England small town never leaves Brotbeck, where he eventually returns to retire. Frank Zappa, Queen, some group called ‘Journey’, there’s more training near San Diego, jungle motorcycle riding, Liar’s poker, pool, and shifts between Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island, Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach, and his familiar second home, the Navy’s refitting quarters at Apra Harbor, Guam.

Being part of “America’s Drunkest Generation,” its ongoing spectacular competition between weed and drink; the pages flip through large flying roaches, unqualified chief petty officers, destroyer escort duty, a Dante-like Olongapo, Philippines, bar knockouts, becoming of age via an Aussie woman, the Indian Ocean and wildebeests and astonishing orgasms in Kenya but no Kilimanjaro. Shellback Day passing the Equator, Jinhae, South Korea, ‘cleaned, painted, and lubricated,’ tarp and tackle, throwing line and chain, the artist in Richard, the t-shirt designer, has so many marbles on his plate, one does wonder of his plunge into the brig, solitary at that, at the end of the tale. Five years a navy man, an ‘evil genius’ of astonishing creative character, was it merely weed or the chaotic thought of not being allowed passage to his father’s funeral who, with his brother, flew B17s in WW2? I don’t know, but over a richly written tale, Richard Brotbeck manages to recoup his good military status and now grows foodstuffs while tendering word craft on his New England farm. From this seamanship arises an admirable man who, in “The Sea Tales of E.D. Euwaite,” you get to like a lot, very much.

Richard Brotbeck (Author), John Nebraska (Illustrator), Nessa Shields (Editor), Joe Cavallo (Photographer), Jim Herold (Photographer), Rick Macionis (Photographer)

RELLIK: An Anti-Novel by Dom Ritter , Tina Lewis

Now here I’m sitting here about to read this novel. I gots me drink, a little smoke and I’m thinking I need like a little more to blow me head away. You know what I mean. I was getting ready to make that cell call. Well, so I decided to go on and read a few pages and I say, ‘god d—, what!!!’ Me head gets BLOWN AWAY! It’s like this dude Toby, the main character who’s been looking for a satisfying lay and now working it nice and proper in coitus with a real fine woman, and about to make another nice satisfying thrust when Bam! Right in front of him APPEARS MIA, the ex whom he had only just broken up with a few weeks ago. The beautiful rider atop him screams from the man’s shockingly abrupt grip on her breasts and it appears right from there on, this dude, who had just broken up with Mia a few weeks ago, is headed to a whole series of volcano gripping shocks and stuff because MIA IS A GHOST.

Okay, alright. Another lady appears somehow on the scene. She’s a little older than our protagonist. So it’s like I’m sitting here, my drink (little wild turkey bourbon yall) helps me recover a little bit, take a little toke, reading along. So like at Toby’s place – hey, did I tell you how somewhere, a feature of Somerset Maugham appears on Toby? You remember Betty Davis in ‘On Human Bondage’, a cub-footed Leslie Howard hopelessly pursuing his life’s love thing on her? Well yes, it appears that crazy man, author Dom Ritter, loads Toby down with a special feature of deformed toes. ‘Chinese bums’ he calls them. Let’s skip that, and I’m wondering here should I make that call when somehow the dude appears in Dr. Webb’s office where she weasels his life to the final embarrassing question: ‘You ain’t never had no committed long-term relationship with a woman’ and our gent wants to stop it right there. Any other dismissal of his existential angst could not have been more fatal, even Toby’s apparent lack of control of his bowel movements when unconsciously under severe stress. ‘Get off my back, I ain’t gay.’ He says something similar. And it’s like immediately his luck turns and something continues in the same pace, the same way and manner of the near quixotic searching and questing similar to the ongoing pounding on that Gunther Grass tin drum. Only ringing out before Toby’s eyes as svelte and mysterious as she wants to be is….

No, wait. There’s too many angles to all of this. Too many morsels, too many delectable features of these routes turned out in an anti-novel whacking and morphing and photoshoppng Toby’s sexy Philip Roth-like romps through some brilliant and fantastic twists of multiple duplicitous personality syndromes. I want to say that Dom Ritter handles this funny, sophisticated, and whacky tale of sex, love and mystery with thorough and mischievous aplomb. Ceaseless times you will retrieve your head and sanity through Toby’s near miraculous escapes only to have it again caught and BLOWN AWAY. Goodness god, gracious. And I never did have to make that call.

Novel: “Love Dreams” by Mia Zorrita

Good sex is a rare thing – and most of us know that it can be wonderful and exhilarating. In Mia Zorrita’s ‘Love Dreams’, it is like you are on a wild and glorious hayride, that hold-on-tightly hog ride, straight through Sexville. The writing is sharp, engaging and perceptive, levitating a smooth flow from page to page of overpowering lovemaking. The protagonist expresses a freedom and indeed a trust that I think we all want to believe we can have, something we can believe is still possible. Julio, a hard muscle-toned, non-stop sex machine, is the main male character for our protagonist ‘T’, and it is good that he is actually the sensitive, respectful, and, of course highly-sexed, inventive and patient gentleman of love that there is too little of in the media as regards Hispanic men. T is the older woman who daringly finally steps into a free expression of full, unabashed sexuality with her dedicated lover. The love-making is so overwhelming, so full and imaginative, I ask myself how is it possible that an older woman can accept and enjoy herself as much as she does? T is very attractive, she has built a physical presence and persona that wields men toward her. But does she want to get married? No! She doesn’t. Then who is T? What has she found that makes her character so special? Is it possible to build a protagonist, develop their character through sex? I began to understand that it’s her freedom that allows her to accept these hugh challenges to be completely taken over by Julio in certain ways at the drop of a hat. Excellent writing from Zorrita renders page after page of her fictionalized diary as a fantasy, a dream come true. Eventually, along with T – ‘Julio, I can’t take anymore,’ – I found myself putting the book down to catch ny breath. Yes, I believe there are some great insights here on a woman’s character. It is the beautiful nature of woman’s freedom, so delicately wrought and effortlessly expressed throughout the book that makes it difficult for me to wait for the second volume. I’m expecting and hoping that there will be one. Until then, I will just have to read this first hot potato again.