Navy Anniversary

This weekend will be my 5 year anniversary of separating from the Navy which means its been 10 years since I went to boot camp. Holy crap!

In honor of this glorious occasion I want to share a sea story. I did something that would have gotten me in a ton of trouble but I’m thinking the statute of limitations has passed.

A little background information first. When ships pull into foreign ports sailors are only allowed to leave in groups of two or more. The idea being that you guys can take care of one another should you run afoul of some degenerates in whichever exotic locale you happen to find yourself in. Another thing the Navy likes to do is outline which parts of town are off limits to the sailors who visit. While this makes sense in theory I always found it a bit pragmatic as I usually had no idea where I was in relation to these areas. They also don’t anyone renting cars. Basically you are expected to attach yourself to a few buddies and mill around in a very concise area of whatever town you happen to be in.

Anyways, in the spring of 2009 the mighty warship Iwo Jima and I were in Spain. A friend of mine cooked up quite the scheme and roped me into it. He was determined to go on a grand adventure in the space of a single afternoon. The first leg of our journey took us to Gibraltar which was about 45 minutes away. Of course we rented a car to get there. This would have been bad enough but on our way back to the ship inspiration struck. The Straits of Gibraltar are approximately 7 miles wide which means on a clear day you can see Africa from Spain. Something else you might not know is there is a ferry that runs regularly from Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Can you see where this is going yet?

Our trip across the Straits was uneventful aside from the thrill of doing something degenerate. When we got to Morocco staying more than 45 minutes wasn’t an option because weather conditions forced us to take the next ferry back. That trip was much more dramatic. The seas had gotten much worse. I’ve spent a fair amount of time at sea and I can say these were the roughest conditions I ever experienced. I used the bathroom at one point and found every sink and urinal filled with vomit. I wasn’t convinced we weren’t going to die until we were moored again in Spain.

The rest of our day was uneventful. We made it back to the ship and no one was the wiser. I felt like I had robbed a bank and gotten away scot free. Outside of my family and friends I trusted beyond a doubt I didn’t tell anyone this story until I had scribbled my name on my DD-214.

P.S. This is my best story from the Navy unless you like hearing about the freaks and na’er-do-wells I met while serving.



Well gang recently I was in Missouri having been drug there for my girlfriend’s family reunion/eclipse viewing party. While the cosmic ballet was pretty neat that’s not what I’m writing about today. No today I’m writing about our visit to Ozarkland.

Ozarkland was a magical place filled with tacky bullshit conveniently located off the highway between St. Louis and Columbia. I could probably write an entire encyclopedia to the crap I found there but here are the highlights:

1.The Duke Cannon Supply Co. U.S. military grade special issue soap on a ropeTactical soap? Are you fucking kidding me? This marketing ploy, in addition to being idiotic, is insulting. Here’s a secret about the military…you don’t get issued soap. When you’re in you use Dove or Irish Spring just like everyone else. Its nice some sales are donated to veterans although that kind of bothers me as well. Maybe this is my deeply ingrained cynicism talking but it seems like they are trying to guilt you into buying their product. I am of the opinion that it is rather tacky when someone draws attention to their own charity. Isn’t a good deed its own reward?



2. Pickled beet eggs. My favorite thing about this is the label on the jar says it contains eggs. I should fucking hope so! I have to imagine these are revolting. Hard boiled eggs are good, pickling is good, and even though beets taste like dirt they are edible. However these three things do not need to be combined. Its almost as if a mad scientist sought to create the perfect culinary abomination to market to hillbillies.


3. This blanket. I don’t have anything snarky to say just look at it! Practically giving them away at $99. I should have bought ten.


4. Something else that’s dumb? This magnet! Actually I take that back…I love this magnet. I wish I bought it (it was surprisingly expensive and I don’t like the idea of carrying around magnets for an extended amount of time). There were other Missouri magnets for sale that made more sense. One had a largemouth bass on it and the other had a flower. What does a dolphin have to do with the state? Who the hell knows!



BONUS: For the longest time I thought Missouri was nothing but pig farmers, Confederate flags, and Branson but I visited a grocery store with a bar in their liquor section! What I’m trying to say is it turns out the Show Me State might be the most advanced society we have.

missouri bar


Tear ’em down

Well gang I’m weighing in on the controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate statues.
I’m really excited these ugly fucking participation trophies are being torn down. The Confederates lost the fucking war. We didn’t build statues for the Buffalo Bills when they jobbed out in four consecutive Super Bowls why does Robert E. Lee deserve better? Lest we forget these people were traitors. Do we honor traitors? Fuck no we don’t! Unless I’m mistaken (and if I am please do not hesitate to put me in my place) but there aren’t any statues dedicated to the Rosenbergs or Robert Hanssen.
My only problem with the way we’re going about removing these statues is no one is going around town collecting all the dog poop they can find and then piling it up where these statues are landing. This is an egregious oversight.
Oh, you oppose these statues being dismantled because it erases history? Lucky for you there are literally thousands upon thousands of books written about the Civil War. I’m positive you could fill a Scrooge McDuck sized vault with them before running into a duplicate. There’s also this little thing called the internet where the human race has managed to store a quote unquote buttload of information about anything and everything. I can’t say for sure but I have a feeling you could find your precious rebel flags and articles about revered dead assholes there if you look hard enough.

Dumb crap on cars

Well gang there’s something I want to bitch about and that’s people who put shit all over their cars. It makes me sick and anyone who does this is despicable. Recently I’ve encountered three especially egregious examples of his nonsense that I will elaborated on.

1. Riding my bike to the train station I pass an SUV with a window cling that states “real heroes don’t wear capes they wear dog tags.” The first time I saw this my eyes rolled so hard I thought my optic nerves might snap.
Also, this vehicle belonged to someone not very familiar with comic books. While I could easily wax indefinitely about superheroes with ties to the military whose costumes don’t boast capes (Capt. America, Carol Danvers, War Machine, and The Punisher just to name a few) I think my time would be better served by pointing out that at its core this type of sentiment is bullshit. Serving in the military and/or being a veteran doesn’t necessarily make someone a hero. I’m not going to debate the merits of service instead I’m going to share anecdotes about abominable human beings who have worn the uniform.
Let’s mention some famous disgraces. Timothy McVeigh was a decorated soldier during the first Gulf War. The guy Ewan McGregor’s character from Black Hawk Down was based on is serving a 30 year sentence for child molestation. Also, let’s not forget everyone involved in the My Lai Massacre.
I served alongside at least two people who are now registered sex offenders one of who was actively producing kiddie porn. I lived in a building where another sailor literally shot a cop. I could go on indefinitely but I hope I’ve made my point.

2. While in traffic one day I spotted a car with a stick figure fucking another stick figure from behind and the words making my family underneath. Under that was a naked cartoon woman on her back with her legs spread and the words I love sushi.
I caught a glimpse of the guy and if I had to guess he was mid to late 30s. I was honestly embarrassed for him because here’s a man child tooling around in a truck that screams mentally stunted pervert.
Another thing I couldn’t help but think about was imagine if his car was stolen and he needed to describe it to the police. “Yeah, it’ll be the one covered in cartoon characters fucking one another. You can’t miss it.”

3. Last time I was in Baltimore there was some Eastern shore knuckle dragger driving a truck with “kill your local heroin dealer” in huge letters tattooed across the rear window.
I’m not advocating drug dealing or heroin usage but I can’t side with this sentiment either. I also couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of this inbred vigilante in the mold of Charles Bronson’s Deathwish character tooling around Charm City. If The Wire is ever brought back this guy’s reign of terror would provide an interesting foil for the men and women of Baltimore’s Police Department.

Honorable Mention: When I was in grad school there was a guy living in my apartment complex whose van was decorated with a stick figure family. Across from the family was a condom advocacy sticker. I love the mixed message being sent there. “Son, I love you but I wish I wrapped it up before slipping it in your mom.”

OJ Simpson

Well gang the big news from this past week is OJ Simpson being granted parole after serving 9 years of a 33 year sentence.

The OJ murder trial was the first news story I remember as a kid. When I was young my sister and I were pawned off on my grandparents during the summer while our parents were at work. Our parents would pick us up after work. Usually one of them would stop by and leisurely shoot the breeze with grandma while we gathered our things.

That was not the case on June 17, 1994. The old man showed up in a rush and got us in the car as quickly as he could. We were probably out the door in under 5 minutes which left no time for smalltalk with grandma.

In a scene reminiscent of what was going on thousands of miles west dad furiously drove across town.

Aside from glancing at a newspaper on occasion I don’t remember my dad following the news. He was riveted by the OJ chase though. Even at 10 years old I found this odd and not just because I had no idea who OJ Simpson was.

Nine years later I was laying in bed and the old man woke me up with news Saddam Hussein had been captured. This confused me more than his fascination with the OJ debacle. As I grew up I understood that (who could resist following that shit show) but the Saddam has remained a mystery. Pop isn’t what I’d call a hawk and I have my doubts if he could even find Iraq on a map. Maybe I should ask him.

NYC Adventure

This week I took a trip to New York. My original plan was to watch the destruction of the Kosciuszko Bridge which had been scheduled for Tuesday the 11th. The morning I was set to arrive I found out the bridge’s destruction had been postponed but I still had my bus ticket and you don’t need a reason to visit the big city.

I took a Megabus because I’m cheap and was hoping for an eventful journey, but I was disappointed. There were no notable characters or incidents. I supposed this was for the best but I was a bit surprised since Megabus does not a sterling reputation for safety among other things. The only thing remarkable about the trip was I could have easily snuck on the bus without paying and by the time I arrived my ass felt like a piece of wood.

The friend I was staying with picked me up at the bus stop and we stayed out drinking until three AM. This was a nice change of pace compared to my usual weeknight practice of being in bed by 10.
The next day I slept in on account of a hangover but when I woke up my friend insisted we watch an episode of Catfish he had been telling me about. I was skeptical since this was an MTV show, but my friend had never led me astray so I acquiesced. I’m glad I did because it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen on television. The producers of this episode managed to find some dolt who was convinced he had been dating Katy Perry online for the past six years. I won’t go into too much detail in case you, the reader, have any interest in watching this shit show but his teenage dream ended up being a lesbian living in England.

After my mind had been expanded we headed into Manhattan to jack around. Since the bridge’s death sentence had been commuted we were without an agenda. The highlight of our wanderings was finding some Toynbee tiles that had yet to be paved over. If you don’t know what a Toynbee tile is do yourself a favor and watch the documentary Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles.

After our urban anthropology activities concluded we headed to Chinatown to meet my friend’s wife for dinner. One of her co-workers was joining us and while waiting for her to arrive I demanded we track down a durian. We scoured many a fruit stand looking for the pungent luck but it was all for naught. Having all but given hope we came across a Chinese supermarket that was full of interesting items (including a tank full of largemouth bass). There were no durians on the shelves but we befriended a clerk who spoke approximately two words of English, and he took us down to the cellar where they had stockpiled an entire heap of them in a refrigerator.

I had never encountered a durian before and it turns out they are enormous. This thing had to weigh at least 10lbs and it was covered in spikes that while not incredibly sharp weren’t pleasant to touch either.It was a pain in the ass lugging that thing all the way back to Brooklyn but I was determined to sample this pungent delicacy.

We cut the thing open on the roof of my friend’s apartment building, and I’m not going to lie I was nervous. These things have a pretty bad reputation and are banned from mass transit in Singapore. I had no idea what to expect and was mentally prepared to vomit from the stench. Maybe the one I picked out wasn’t a good one because the stench wasn’t nearly as powerful as I expected although it did smell like rotting onions.

I grabbed a big glob of the fruit which was a mistake because in addition to the onion smell it had an oniony taste. I would describe it as tasting like a candied onion. It also had a custard like texture which I wouldn’t describe as delightful. My friends and I didn’t eat much of it but I was happy for the experience. I wanted to fling what remained from the rooftop but ultimately decided against doing so because of societal norms. Maybe next time.

The next morning I got back on the Megabus and headed back to DC better for having had an adventure.

Man Overboard!

Looking around the interwebz the average person’s reaction to this story seems to be shock and/or disbelief. Since I am a navy veteran my reaction was to laugh and let our a hearty “meh.”

Don’t get me wrong. This kid fucked up big time. I can‘t imagine how much that search cost, or how much grief he caused his family. However stuff like this isn’t as uncommon as one might think. I had a friend on the Nimitz who told me almost the exact same thing happened on his ship.

What I’m most curious about is what was this kid’s endgame? He definitely painted himself into a corner by hiding. If he was smart he would have ridden out whatever was bothering him until the ship hit a foreign port because then he could have vanished. He was screwed on the ship especially one as small as Shiloh which only has a crew of around 400. That may sound like a lot of people but it really isn’t. An aircraft carrier fully manned has around 5,000 personnel onboard and offers much more anonymity.

I never deployed on an actual aircraft carrier but I was on the navy’s next largest vessel which would be the amphibious assault ship. When we deployed we carried around 3,000 sailors and marines. I mentioned anonymity earlier because when you’re part of a crew that large you’re practically individual unless you draw attention to yourself. If you look busy and act like you belong somewhere you’re usually left alone. In theory someone could make their way on a ship and ride wherever it sailed. The tricky part would be finding a space in berthing and evading questions about who you were on the off chance you were confronted. You probably couldn’t go an entire eight month deployment undercover but I think someone could make it long enough to disappear upon arrival in a foreign part. I never got a chance to test my theory but like I said I did think about it on occasion.

Before I wrap this up another fun fact about being on a ship is you could smuggle anything you’d like so long as you had half a brain. Returning to the ship after a long day ashore our bags were only given a cursory search upon return, and I was never frisked. I could have had pounds of black tar heroin taped to my torso and no one would have been the wiser. Customs were also a joke. Before returning stateside we were given customs paperwork but if we didn’t declare anything no one ever asked questions (I secretly think it was encouraged). Additionally during my three deployments I never encountered a customs inspector. Of course I am an individual in possession of the highest moral fiber who would never have given any thought to betraying the public trust BUT the opportunity certainly presented itself on occasion.

Cruise Book

I finally got my grubby mitts on the cruise book from my 2012 deployment onboard USS New York. I’ve spent the past four years since my escape from the navy trying to track one down to no avail. Normally I wouldn’t care about about such trifling matters, but I helped make this book and was miffed because I never got to see the culmination of my efforts. I separated from the service before the book was printed and no one bothered to send me one. That’s gratitude for ya!
If you’re wondering what a cruise book is its like a yearbook but for the military. This analogy is especially apt if you realize just how similar high school and military service can be. For instance in both cases gossip is rampant, many don’t want to be there, and cliquish enclaves are formed.
Anyways, this book brought back plenty of memories. Some were good, some were bad, and all were interesting. Here are a few of the highlights:

1. I’ll start off with the tale of a gross girl the guys in my shop nicknamed Animal Planet. Animal Planet was in her early 20s and married to a young Marine that was on another ship in our battle group. I doubt their marriage lasted because during our eight months at sea there were rumors of her infidelity. Wait, did I say rumors? I meant documented instances of philandering! I won’t go into too many details but on one occasion she was caught with a male Marine in her rack (shipspeak for a bed) which is a huge no-no. Her nickname came about one evening while lounging in the local Houlihan’s on the island nation of Bahrain. Animal Planet walks in with some Marine and they head to the dance floor to show off their moves. They start grinding on one another and before you know it she’s on all floors and this guy is dry humping her doggy style. One of my pals remarked “its like something you’d see on Animal Planet” and the name stuck.

4. Another memorable shit-head was the fucking redneck homophobe who slept under my rack (for any landlubbers reading this racks are stacked three high). He was covered in shitty tattoos of bible verses which normally I could overlook except he would boast about fucking prostitutes in various ports. Nothing says Christian like supporting the import and exploitation of Filipino women to be used as sex slaves amirite? As if that wasn’t despicable enough he had a wife and young kid. Even more terrifying is he planned to leave the navy to return to whatever jerkwater he had crawled out of prior to enlisting and taking as a sheriff’s deputy.

3. Then there was the helicopter pilot who was a male bimbo. He embodied just about every stereotype I had about military pilots (tall, handsome, and brimming with confidence) but left me flabbergasted with his lack of knowledge about simple technology. He needed a CD burnt once, and when I dragged the files off the disc he asked if I had just erased the CD. It blew my mind. How the fuck did this guy manage to fly a helicopter?

4. The best part of any cruise, besides getting home, is port visits. Since I did photography onboard I had it pretty sweet whenever we pulled in somewhere. I could always justify leaving the ship to take pictures for the cruise book, and I never let it interfere with my own adventuring.

While visiting the Seychelles I ate a bat and got sunburnt so bad my back turned purple. I went on a three day bender in Spain, and skulked around a souq in Dubai. I even ascended the world’s tallest building which was a sphincter clinching experience for someone with my fear of heights. I always had a pretty good time because I didn’t end up like the pair of idiots who were ripped off while we were in Naples. They met some guy at the end of our pier who they thought was selling iPads. Upon returning to the ship and examining their wares they realized they had been fleeced and in fact had been bamboozled into buy boxes of rocks. When I heard about this I laughed until my sides felt like I had been on the receiving end of a beating because I am an asshole.

Birthday Zoo Adventure

It was my birthday the other day and my girlfriend and I went to the National Zoo. If you’ve never been I can hardly recommend it enough. Its very nice and most importantly free.

Its not perfect though. My biggest problem with zoos, aquariums, and museums is they are frequented by idiots. There’s always some dolt around with no clue what they’re talking about despite big signs with clear lettering right in front of their faces. Unfortunately this does nothing to stop illiterate troglodytes from hooting and hollering about the garter snake they just mistook for a boa constrictor.

Speaking of dumb apes we some orangutans as well. One of them was named Kyle. Isn’t that the worst fucking name for an orangutan? I have to imagine they let a 6 year old name it. There was also one named Bonnie which is also dumb but it made me laugh since that’s the name of my mother.

One of the orangutans had an infant which was pretty cute. It was just a tiny red hairy thing and resembled my beard if it were an anthropomorphic creature. The little guy(?) must have been a tough nurser though because mom’s nipples were about two inches long. She looked like she had a pair of pinkie fingers dangling off her chest.

After the apes it was off to the elephant house where I learned quite a bit. Did you know an Asian elephant weighs 250lbs at birth, and at a year old tops out at 650? I didn’t think that was much weight gain for an animal that tops out of 12,000 lbs but I guess it makes sense considering an elephant’s diet which is nothing but roughage. Also, elephants take several dozen dumps a day (each the size of a soccer ball) and piss an ungodly amount (another fun shit fact I learned at the zoo is that sloths relieve themselves so infrequently that any given time roughly 30% of their mass is waste). There were visual aids on the premises, and one was a large cylinder filled with pachyderm turds (or boluses if you’re a dignified sort). I assumed they were fake but upon further inspection noticed some streaks on the glass. They were the real deal! Imagine having that as your job…collecting poop all day to put on display. I imagine if that didn’t make you question your career choices nothing would.

Hard to believe but the huge piles of feces on display wasn’t the highlight of my visit. That would be the reptile house. Full disclosure, as a kid I wanted to be a herpetologist but was too dumb to get through the math and chemistry. The DC Zoo has all sorts of wonderful snakes, lizards and crocodilians but if you ask me the crown jewels of their collection are the Aldabra tortoises. Aldabra tortoises are another species of giant tortoise (picture a Galapagos tortoise but living on islands in the Indian Ocean). I had the pleasure of visiting their native islands (the Seychelles) while in the navy, and I was more excited to feed those tortoises than a Kardashian sister is to hop on a rich guy’s penis.

Something I didn’t know was apparently you can train a tortoise. These colossal testudines spend part of their afternoons hanging out in a yard gnawing the grass down to nothing, but at the end of the day are brought inside. Their keepers condition them to respond to the sight of a red disc. When the tortoises touch their faces to the disc they get a bite of carrot, and are pied-pipered back into the reptile house. After witnessing this spectacle I feel as if I owe all turtledom an apology because I previously assumed tortoises weren’t much more than empty-headed sentient rocks.

After the tortoise wrangling demonstration I had a talk with the zoo keeper, and rumor has it you can own Aldabra tortoises legally. Once I got home I looked up breeders and sure enough I found some. Most are in Florida (big surprise) and will sell you one for around two grand. At the time of writing I haven’t been convinced not to dump half a month’s salary on one of these magnificent creatures, and if I’m ever rich you can rest assured I will be moving out west and opening the world’s first tortoise centric dude ranch.

Memorial Day Gropefest

Well gang my Memorial Day was rather interesting. I spent my holiday covering big events at Arlington National Cemetery. First thing that morning I was at JFK’s grave site to photograph a wreath laying ceremony. Apparently it was his 100th birthday. Who knew? 
From there I sauntered to the top of the hill to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for another wreath laying, and the biggest photoshoot of my career. The top dog himself, Trump, was going to lay a wreath at the tomb and little ol’ me would be following him around snapping away.
I have photographed Trump before but from afar, and I’m not going to lie I was a bit nervous. I read he didn’t want John Bolton as Secretary of State because of his mustache and I wasn’t sure he wouldn’t erupt when my yuge beard was in his vicinity. However like Sen. Elizabeth Warren I persisted and took some damn good photos if I do say so myself. 
It was mission accomplishedor so I thought. I was gathering up my gear preparing to head back to the office to edit my images when my co-worker pounced on me. She informed me that the White House was requesting all of our images and needed them pronto. I thought this was odd and little did I know it was about to get stranger. Soon after one of the women who does public relations at Arlington Natl Cemetery called us with her hair on fire. She was hooting and hollering about how Ft. Meyer police (Ft. Meyer straddles Arlington Natl. Cemetery for all you non DC-ians) needed our photos and it was a matter of national security.

I knew there was no way this was a matter of national security but I humored her. A peon such as myself probably wouldn’t be involved in a security crisis(this is real life not some shitty espionage movie). Secondly, the cemetery was crawling with secret service leading up to the event, and letting in a possible terrorist would be a colossal fuck up even for this administration. Regardless I got her the requested imagery in a timely manner and my team and I were left wondering what the emergency was. I figured I might never know either…

BUT I WAS WRONG! I got to work today and my boss sent me a very interesting link. Apparently there was some pervert at the cemetery Monday who groped a young lady during the ceremony. While I can’t condone groping anyone this act was especially repulsive and outrageous. Imagine being such a degenerate you couldn’t resist the urge to cop a feel on an unsuspecting stranger in the middle of a ceremony honoring your nation’s war dead! Even John Waters would think that was tasteless.

Anyways, here’s the link to the story if you’re interested in learning more. Also, familiarize yourself with the suspect’s photo in case you run into this slime on the street. Finally, I want it on the record that there is no evidence that supports these acts were inspired by being in the presence of our pussy-grabber-in-chief.