Since my rock career had died aborning, I decided to turn my hand to politics. And, since 1976 was a presidential election year, I found ready employment with The New York Times-CBS News poll. Both of these legendary news outlets were and are notoriously slanted Left. The man running their poll “war room” was a recent graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism – a hotbed of Cultural Marxism. Barry was prematurely balding, preternaturally sweaty and hell-bent on becoming the next Woodward or Bernstein. Preferably, Bernstein. (America was still obsessed with Watergate.) This pushy prick saw polling as a necessary step up the media ladder to his heroic, muckraking future. At worst, he might be the next Geraldo Rivera.
Barry was drawn from the “rootless cosmopolitan” class so he had nothing in common with and nothing but contempt for anyone who lived west of the Hudson River, i.e. most Americans. He radiated disdain for what he held were the pinhead opinions of Mr. & Mrs. Mainstreet. And, all of Barry’s minions shared his belief that, parts of Manhattan aside, America was populated by knuckle-dragging nitwits. The office mantra was – “Don’t forget, Tricky Dick won the last election in a fucking landslide, man!”
Barry’s polling posse consisted of Columbia School of Journalism undergrads, grudge-bearing McGovern voters, Hadassah hags and lifetime members of the Fist Fuckers of America who gloried in being refugees from that “other America” – a land bereft of beauty, culture and glory holes. There is nothing so haughty and censorious as regional queens come to Gotham – unless it’s their balding, sweaty boss. I did my level best to man-up against them, stand-up for America and screw-up the poll results.
I am standing in a long line of young men, all in our underwear, all shivering and all ascared to be in a long hallway waiting for our physicals, waiting for our fates.
So, this is the Army, I muse.
Shivering before I die, I muse.
Nixon can shove it up Kissinger’s ass, I muse.
Then, I hear a voice. Faint. It comes from mid-air just above and to the left of my head. The voice says, “Walk out.” The voice repeats, “Walk out.” Like a good soldier, I obey orders. I get dressed. I walk out. No one says, “Hey, you.” No sentry shouts, “Stop or I’ll shoot.” I go home. I wait for another letter pushed under my door. I wait for the knock of the MPs. Nothing. Then, a week later, the Lottery brings deliverance in the form of a life-saving high number. And, just like that, it’s over. Over. I have slipped through the cracks. I have avoided Vietnam – avoided the Draft, dismemberment, death. I feel joy, of course, but it’s tempered by survivor’s guilt – I know young men who have lost the Lottery. Most of all I give thanks to that Voice. How? What? Why? Who was that Voice? Was it the voice of my Guardian Angel? I didn’t believe I had a Guardian Angel but I’d been hedging my Catholic bets and sorta-kinda hoping he was there.
In the spring of 1969, I dropped out of college and was instantly stamped USA PRIME CANNON FODDER – FOB VIETNAM. So, I did what any red-blooded, college dropout would do – I dropped a tab of LSD. Then I wrote a letter to my Draft Board. So, along with the FBI’s recording of my castrato voice in Casa Storta restaurant, there sits somewhere in the U.S. government archives my literary attempt at dodging death in the Mekong Delta.
My apologia was neatly handwritten and coherent until I peaked on the LSD at which point my penmanship and prose style achieved heights of evagination, opacification, introflexion, contusion and abrasion not seen since the automatic writing of the Surrealists. My text was pre-post-modernist in the truest sense while its semiotics encompassed elements of proto-Beat, neo-Symbolist and crypto-koan poetics. The last legible bit was a Socratic dialogue between Ho Chi Minh and The Electric Prunes. Then I reached for my Crayolas and lost all connection with coherence and sanity.
My Draft Board read my cri du cœur.
My Draft Board told me to report.
I reported and, with knees knocking, told my Draft Board to their astounded, furious faces that they could go fuck themselves. Then, with knees knocking even louder, I wobbled out of the room.
Single proudest moment of my life.
And, I remain proud that I was a Draft resister, not a Draft dodger. I publicly proclaimed myself opposed to the unfair Draft system. LBJ and Secretary of Defense McNamara had become so desperate for fresh meat that they were drafting men who were physically deficient and mentally defective. (Look up “McNamara’s Morons” if you don’t believe me.) Meanwhile, Bill Clinton and many other politicians of the Left and Right were Draft dodgers. They did not publicly oppose the Draft lest it harm their political futures. Instead, they had influential people protect them from present and future harm. I had only my Crayolas.