1970 – Jill, Kent State, Leaving the Odyssey & "A Continual Roar of Musketry"

 

Jill: It’s been a while since I posted a Memory.  This is because I’ve been hoping to make contact with Jill Baskin, who over forty years later is still plugging away as a professional actor.

I have loved many people in my life in many different ways.  Jill Baskin has a place in my heart very high among the four women with whom I “fell in love.”  Over the six years that we knew one another, our relationship evolved into many expressions; but in the end when we parted ways, it was an act of love.  She’d found someone who she loved and wanted to marry; but there was no way that he could deal with me in any part of her life, so she asked me to let go, we said good-bye, parted ways and that was that.

Last month I found her agency, called, got their email and asked them to forward this message:

Jill,

My but you've been busy in these last few years.  I have to say I'm quite impressed with your performance credits.  After all this time I feel pretty sure that you probably remember me; but I'm not so sure that you may want hear from me.  For the past eighteen months I've been posting my Memories on a site called Our Salon - mostly for my niece, nephews, step-son and their kids - and after 117 posts I'm finally up to that point in 1970 where you and I are about to start getting to know one another.

Tom L. has been a huge help in my recollections from our time together at the Odyssey; and I've touched bases with Norbert Weisser, who, in turn put me in touch with Susie, Alan and Jacob.  I sent them all links to my posts about the Odyssey at the Our Salon account JMac1949 - Memories. http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2bjp4sb2j2wk7

Susie got back to me and set me straight about some stuff and Jacob has replied as well.  In any case, click on the link or copy and paste the address into goggle and you can read what I've written about my time with the Odyssey so far.

Again, I'm not sure of your situation or inclination; but if you're up for it, I'd love to have the chance to sit down and chat with you the next time I'm down in Southern California on business - which will most likely be late August and again in September.  I'm really hoping that we can at least talk over the phone.  Every time I talk with Tom or Norbert, some new old memory gets uncovered in the cluttered attic of my brain and I find more grist for the mill.  Hoping to speak with you soon,

James

This is my contact info:…

So far Jill hasn’t replied to my email, and that is as it may be.  As I wrote this, I recalled a very short poem that I composed about Jill around 1972.  I don’t remember if I ever showed it to her:

My lover has a mirror

            on the ceiling

                        over her bed.

It was a gift from her lover,

            or her lover’s lover,

                        I’m not sure.

I think she is my lover.

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard.

…Kent State…:  “On Monday, May 4, 1970, a group of 77 Ohio National Guard troops from A Company and Troop G were ordered to disperse students at Kent State University who were demonstrating against the invasion of Cambodia during the war in Vietnam.  They fixed bayonets on their M1 Garand rifles, began to advance upon the hundreds of protesters.  The students retreated, throwing rocks and bottles at the troops.  According to eyewitnesses, at 12:24pm, a Sgt. Myron Pryor turned and began firing at the students with his .45 pistol.  A number of guardsmen nearest the students also turned and fired their M1 Garand rifles at the students.  In all, 29 of the 77 guardsmen claimed to have fired their weapons, using a final total of 67 rounds of ammunition.  The shooting was determined to have lasted only 13 seconds, although John Kifner reported in the New York Times that ‘it appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer.’[26] The question of why the shots were fired remains widely debated.” - edited excerpt from Wikipedia.

Killed (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20; 265ft (81m) shot through the mouth; killed instantly
  • Allison B. Krause; age 19; 343ft (105m) fatal left chest wound; died later that day
  • William Knox Schroeder; age 19; 382ft (116m) fatal chest wound; died almost an hour later in a hospital while undergoing surgery
  • Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20; 390ft (120m) fatal neck wound; died a few minutes later from loss of blood

Wounded (and approximate distance from the National Guard):

  • Joseph Lewis Jr.; 71ft (22m); hit twice in the right abdomen and left lower leg
  • John R. Cleary; 110ft (34m); upper left chest wound
  • Thomas Mark Grace; 225ft (69m); struck in left ankle
  • Alan Michael Canfora; 225ft (69m); hit in his right wrist
  • Dean R. Kahler; 300ft (91m); back wound fracturing the vertebrae, permanently paralyzed from the chest down
  • Douglas Alan Wrentmore; 329ft (100m); hit in his right knee
  • James Dennis Russell; 375ft (114m); hit in his right thigh from a bullet and in the right forehead by birdshot, both wounds minor
  • Robert Follis Stamps; 495ft (151m); hit in his right buttock
  • Donald Scott MacKenzie; 750ft (230m); neck wound

Those were the facts, but hardly the whole story.  On May 14, ten days after the Kent State shootings, two black students were killed (and 12 wounded) by police in Mississippi at Jackson State College under similar circumstances - the Jackson State killings - but that event did not arouse the same nationwide attention as the Kent State shootings.  What followed was a spontaneous nationwide student strike on college and high school campuses, which after five years of combat and protests, forced the Vietnam War back onto the front pages of America’s newspapers.  In 1970 the toll of the Vietnam War was significant: 6,081 of the 335,790 American soldiers who served in Southeast Asia that year came home in body bags.  That brought the total US dead to 53,840 and now almost everyone in the country knew someone who had died in Vietnam.  There were virtually no degrees of separation.  Hundreds of thousands more had been wounded and the estimated totals of the dead and wounded Vietnamese and Cambodians exceeded two million.

Neil Young wrote and composed “Ohio” and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young recorded the song on May 21, 1970, at in Hollywood.  It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills' "Find the Cost of Freedom", and peaked at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnOoNM0U6oc

…Leaving the Odyssey…: Amongst that year’s protests were the guerrilla theater performances by the Odyssey and The Company on the streets of Los Angeles.  I chose not to participate for fear of arrest and being exposed as a federal fugitive.  My ignorance of Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera wrapped around my unrequited love of Jill Baskin to put me off the Odyssey’s performance agenda.  THE SERPENT was one thing but, times being what they were, the revival of what I regarded as a dated Broadway musical seemed to me a waste of time and energy.  My most personal reaction to what happened in 1970 was a daydream in which I held a loaded semi-automatic pistol and reflected: “This weapon is a thing of exquisite beauty elegantly designed for a single purpose, but of itself, it has no power of life or death– only potential.”

Instead of buying a gun and getting stupid, I chose to leave the Odyssey to begin work on a speculative fiction novel about an inadvertent combat fratricide in the jungles of Guatemala and the ironic political intrigues of a war crimes trial set in post-revolutionary Austin, Texas.  I’ve still got a copy of the first draft that pretentious fantasy floating around somewhere.  It was my very first attempt at writing a novel.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wTU33dZmGs

… “A Continual Roar of Musketry.” : Here’s the IMDb link to A Continual Roar of Musketry, www.imdb.com/title/tt0528647, where, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the cast you will see my aka: James MacHeath.  Finally, Boland had come through and I was summoned to Universal Studios to read for a small part: Student #2 in an upcoming episode of the TV series starring Hal Holbrook The Bold Ones: The Senator.  It was five days work and paid SAG minimum which as I remember was a bit more than $800 at the time.  To my surprise when I read the script, it was a two hour fictionalized presentation of the events at Kent State, a completely scary crazy thing to put on network television in 1970 a few months after the actual event.  I had to get this part and apparently my passion showed because I was cast.

The part had another advantage in that because it was a five day shoot, it fell under a Taft Hartley provision in the SAG contract, and I was exempt from paying the chunky union membership initiation fees until thirty days after the date that Universal cut the check.  Otherwise I’d have to come up with big bucks and join the union before I could set foot on the set.  All in all it was a blissful Karmic alignment of the powers that be.

An ironic side note: The Senator, which lasted for only eight episodes,] earned nine Emmy nominations in 1971, winning five, including best drama, best "continued performance" by an actor (Hal Holbrook), and three additional separate awards for outstanding achievement in direction (for which I got no credit as a technical advisor), film editing and Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama. 

Next up on JMac1949 - Memories, 1970 – My First Day on the Set, the Big Speech and finally, Action.

Except for attributed video, photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2013 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Views: 351

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on August 26, 2013 at 4:15pm

I am delighted we're being treated to these Memories again. :)

Comment by koshersalaami on August 26, 2013 at 5:45pm
I remember The Senator.
Comment by Arthur James on August 26, 2013 at 5:52pm

`

Maryland's (real estate crook) VIce P.'

s `Agnew etcetera called anti-killing of

other human beings ` damn hippie bums.

No be sorry. DEMS/GOPs gulp` red blood.

`

proverbially` the warmongers chew flesh, 

tendon, grizzle` and they suck bone marrow.

I was wounded on Feb. 10th, 1970. I lay flat.

I lay:`Fort Mead's ` Kimbrough Army Hospital.

In my thoughts . . .` Bloodletting visited USA.

`

The First Air Mobile Calvary ( Gads I no like war )

was accused of crossing the 'disputed' Cambodian

Border.

GI's never were briefed about Military Missions.

Generals were ` SErvile Pawn string` PuppEteers. 

How can semi-informed citizens Forget History?

I lay flat on my back when Kent State Happened.`

I have walked through many lives, some of them

my own, and I was not who I was, though some

principle of being abides, from which I stuggle

not to stray. -Stanley Kunitz ( It's a sad recall).

I remember hospital visitors and four-letter word

comments. I decided to try to forget bloody war.

Memories invade my Psyche . . . Day and Night.

`

Vietnam, that's why.

Vietnam, that is why.

Vietnam, that's why.

`

At Walter Reed, on

the PTSD "Psycho" 

ward .. . a ` GI

ran from window

to window, and

all he'd say was:

`

Vietnam, that's why.

Hospital staff sedated

with a needle to behind.

Comment by Arthur James on August 26, 2013 at 7:04pm

`

testing . . .

I got a comment

stuck. Maybe fish

glue. I'll try to

send later. . .

Comment by Arthur James on August 26, 2013 at 7:09pm

`

The "honorable' senator from capital hell

enters sheepishly the K- Street Stripper

Dance Hall. When time to tip the garter

belt . . .

The senator ask for the senior discount.

`

This comment got stuck. I resend it.

Comment by Arthur James on August 26, 2013 at 8:17pm

`

The news isn't encouraging.

Maybe Barack Obama bomb.

Muslim boy tries to hug girl

and finds that she lay dead.`

`

Steel Breeze - Never quit.

I got a QUIT email from

Bush's White Collar Crime

Investigator - FBI QUIT.

I weary of fed baloney.

The architects of war

could care less? No.

Yes, they don't care.

They are sick, numb

and their dark heart

is full of FEAR, guilt.

There is true moral

guilt. Human heart

becomes inner dead.

Maybe after mortal

death, we'll recall.

We'll remember.

Then, we can't 

invent excuses.

We'll stand as

lone individual,

and give account.

Comment by Claudia Darling on August 26, 2013 at 11:26pm
Kent State...what a mess. No one charged with murder...collateral damages.
Hal Holbrook...for so long he was such a good looking fellow. I saw him in The Event on Netflix. Only one season, it wasn't renewed. My goodness, he looked awful. You know what they say, in Hollywood, they don't care what you think, only how you look! I guess that's why te prevalence of scary, scary plastic surgery faces on screen.
Comment by James Mark Emmerling on August 27, 2013 at 6:40am

I see you haven’t lost your touch, James, master of juxtaposition.

And we made it to the 1970’s! I wasn’t quite sentient yet, in 1970, being only 3.

Kent State is utterly shocking to me. To hear the details. To realize how close to the brink we were…

So much violence in that time… only 7 yrs ago a president had been murdered..then the land’s great prophet…and of course the young idealistic brother who would have changed history if president…

It’s amazing how little of this we kiddos who grew up in the 1980’s realized. Lost in the Reagan Shangra La. Smokin our pot, listening to these “old songs” as a refuge from the mechanical synthesized shit on mtv…thinking the 60’s were a better time, an era of free love & chicks in miniskirts & orgies & good drugs…

I hope this gal gets back to you so you can spill the beans.

I dig your poem, man!

I do not wish to read your novel, though, sorry.

Comment by Lyle Elmgren on August 27, 2013 at 9:13am

Action Jackson are you.

Comment by Rodney Roe on August 30, 2013 at 12:46am

I remember this so well.  The Kent State "incident" happened on May 4, 1970  In August of 1970 I was on my way to Vietnam. 

"...Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, and don't hesitate
To send your sons off before it's too late.
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die."

Country Joe and the Fish

Our neighbor's son, Leroy Kolb, jr, a helicopter 'door gunner', came home in a box in 1966.  At least he wasn't a "pinko, commie, hippie fag."  I wish I could say that we were all so proud.  We were all just so confused.

Notice how fresh-faced and young and innocent the members of the audience were.  You, Jill, we must have looked like that then...

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