by Cullen James
Cullen is on vacation this week, so we are running a "best of" for his column. This is the first thing he ever wrote for FTTW, when Michele and Turtle were on vacation back in August.
The hadji-ee-ee don’t like it, rock the chapel, rock the chapel
However, I was deploying out of Fort Polk, and during my tenure had spent a lot of time in the "box" at the Joint Readiness Training Center. By the time we deployed, I had about as much field time as any infantry troop. One of the things I knew was that to survive long deployments, you needed to take as many comfort items as possible.
The main comfort item I decided to take was my guitar.
Which spent most of the time zipped up in its case, stacked behind my coffee counter in my office while I surfed the net (thank you internet gods from GE contracted by the Army to run our backbone).
The building I was in (an old Russian office building) was next to the base chapel (another converted building). So, the chaplains would come over to our office often to try and get us to publish information about upcoming services or events they were holding.
Oh yeah, I was the editor of the newspaper.
Anyway, every chaplain in the Army has an assistant. One of the assistants turned out, like me, to be a fan of punk and metal. He also happened to be a drummer. He also happened to have a drum kit. Well, it was the chapel’s kit, but still, there was a kit.
And lo, it came to pass, two Army sergeants jammed Misfits tunes mightily in the Bagram Air Base chapel. And lo, it came to pass, several other military folks did enter the chapel. And lo, they did think it good, even though the guitarist sucked.
We jammed for about an hour and did this about three times. The third time, one of the chaplains came out and motioned for us to stop playing.
"Um," he said. You know that look that people get when they’re about to tell you something you don’t want to hear, well he had that. The thing you have to keep in mind is that people in a war zone don’t like giving each other bad news. You see, you carry a loaded weapon with you everywhere. Unless you’re a chaplain.
But we knew he was about to take our toy away. We’d already started packing up when he motioned for us to stop.
"This is probably not the best place to be playing that kind of music," the chaplain said.
"Okay, sir," I said. And our jamming was over.
While we found other things to occupy our time (I mean, I still had the internets), it made both me and my drummer pal happy to hear that several people who’d stopped by to hear us had asked the chaplain why we weren’t playing any more.
His reply? He didn’t think that kind of music was "good for morale."