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23 April 2011

always know the shortest route to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel & always have U$4 in your sock

Click image to enlarge.

The night before I showed up to be drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, by chance I drove past the Detroit entrance to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a big, cheap hole that promised me a short trip to Canada, and (thanks to Pierre Elliott Trudeau) sanctuary. 
I parked and gazed into the tunnel and smoked cigarettes and thought for about an hour. 
Then I got back in the car and drove home to be drafted. Whatever dangers lay in store for me, I refused to be chased out of the Land of my Birth by scoundrels and psychopaths. I was lucky. I lived, and was honorably discharged two years later with all my parts.

~ ~ ~
Hiya R**,
Well, your original question asked what to believe and what wasn't true about the Jane Fonda visit to North Vietnam. I don't know if you've been following this thread on VleeptronZ -- as usual, I redacted your name and K's name (but did mention that you live in the USA state shaped like the palm of a right-hand mitten etc.), but one Commenter sent along this well-regarded Urban Legend Debunking Site about Hanoi Jane:
and there's a lot of interesting stuff on it. She certainly brought her Big Mouth to North Vietnam, but the forwarded e-mail's most damning treason indictments seem to be made up, fictitious -- well, self-perpetuating lies.
And Obama has nothing to do with it. Ten years ago ABC TV had a special honoring the century's 100 Greatest Women, and named Jane as one of them. Obama had nothing to do with it then, and now as president has nothing to do with it now. Apparently as this very old e-mail evolves through time, someone recently retrofitted a slur against Obama to it.
Specifically, the most damning attack is that POWs at the Hanoi Hilton secretly slipped Jane their Social Security Numbers, and when the parade was over, Jane gave the slips of paper to the North Vietnamese guards, and the POWs were brutally punished for it. The Colonel POW whom the forward claims is the source of this story is still alive and kicking, and vehemently denies it; he never even met Jane.
Of the rest of the Hanoi Jane saga -- and this is me talking, not any website -- when our responsible political leaders screw the pooch with a shitty, ghastly war like Vietnam, they're inevitably begging for outrageously misbehaving goofballs like Hanoi Jane, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Daniel Ellsberg, Timothy Leary -- and in his final years, the stridently anti-war Martin Luther King Jr.
Whatever the fuck Treason really is -- in my lifetime, it begins with the presidents, senators and congressmen who launch these psycho wars and don't have the guts to stop them. After that, it degenerates into the Battle of the Pro-War Traitors versus the Anti-War Traitors. Treason, as the Constitution describes it, ceases to have any real meaning when it's not war, but violent. pointless, endless madness.
Yes, I take a side. All my high school friends deserved to live a long, natural life with family (or a variety of hot young babes hither and yon around town). Anyone -- old vet or scoundrel politician -- who thinks our national interest was served by killing 52,000 young men and women isn't just Wrong. The scoundrel politicians are Evil, and the old vets have been driven insane, and need help, which they'll never seek, and which will never be available.
It's the Life Cult versus the Death Cult -- the naked Woodstock Free Love LSD crowd versus America, Military Terror of the World (Stephen Douglas's proud phrase in the Lincoln debates). I was young and had a right to be dumb, but I began to see clearly in the barracks that it really boiled down to Life Against Death, and I voted for Life. Escape to Canada, dodge the draft, or, if luckless enough to have to serve, keep your head down, never volunteer, and when ordered to kill strangers, have shitty aim.
(In Berlin, the wonderful Checkpoint Charlie Museum has a gallery honoring the East German soldiers who were shitty marksmen -- when they were ordered to shoot their neighbors who were fleeing to the West, they always seemed to miss.)
Oh Jesus, look what you've started. Where's my Valium?
Happy Easter, Happy Passover, a Long and Happy Life, Happy Wife, Happy Kids! Make sure they all know the shortest way to the Windsor Tunnel, and always have the fare in cash on them.


abbas said...

in the 15 years that i've been going to the detroit/ann arbor region from toronto every couple of months, i've never taken the tunnel save once. i didn't enjoy it.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Yo Abbas!

It's an antique ... something like grandma's parlour lamp which maybe still works, but might catch your house on fire. I think the wiki says it was the 3rd under-river auto tunnel ever built, at least in North America.

As I told my silly old story, I was only there by accident -- on the way back to DC to be drafted, I'd given a UC-Berkeley student a ride home to Detroit, and the next thing I knew, I was at the Tunnel, and I knew what it was and I knew where it could take me. It certainly game me a lot to think about.

The Detroit-Windsor Bridge about a mile parallel -- yeah, that's the traffic-sensible modern way to get across. But I find it a particularly unattractive bridge, and I had no personal history with it.

Hope all's well with you and yours.

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hiya Scott --

I suspect you like visual art.

Have you seen the spectacular new Klee museum in Berne? The architect is Rienzo Piano. I like Klee a lot and will certainly swing by to see this joint.

Oh also, after a long delay, the Riijksmuseum in Amsterdam has finally reopened, all spiffed up and expanded!

So like who are you, where are you, how'd you bump into Vleeptron? Do you like Saul Steinberg?