I fear I've been diluting our brand lately with my detours into the world of global and domestic politics but, alas, we live in interesting times. Anyway, I found this essay by Michael Massing, on what kinds of people are joining the military these days, pretty fascinating on its own terms. It also speaks, however, to some of the despair/anomie/ennui/alienation of the typical American male (or, if not the typical American male, than one kind of typical American male) that our new friends at GlennSacks.com have been telling Jamie and me (privileged fuckers that we are) about.
Massing writes, in this excerpt, of one recent recruit from the Playstation Generation:
In 2003, Colby Buzzell, then twenty-six, was living in a small room in a renovated Victorian house in the Richmond district of San Francisco, doing data entry for financial companies. Raised in the suburbs of the Bay Area, Buzzell had hated high school and, deciding against college, ended up in a series of low-paying jobsflower deliverer, valet parker, bike messenger, busboy, carpet cutter, car washer. Data entry paid somewhat better about $12 an hourbut even so he was barely able to get by. At one point, he ran into an old friend who had joined the Marines, and, in his telling, military life sounded like one big frat party, but with weapons and paychecks. After nearly a year of feeling stuck, Buzzell decided to visit an Army recruiter. He describes his state of mind in My War: Killing Time in Iraq, an uproarious account of his life in the military:I was sick of living my life in oblivion where every fucking day was the same fucking thing as the day before, and the same fucking routine day in and day out. Eat, shit, work, sleep, repeat.At the time, I saw no escape from this. I was in my mid-twenties and I still had no fucking idea what the hell I wanted to do with myself....I figured if I joined the military it might be a quick-fix solution to my problems, it would add some excitement to my life, and at the same time give me the sense that I had finally done something with myself. And who knows? A trip to the Middle East could be one hell of an adventure.
Buzzell had a long rap sheet and a history of drug use, but, with his recruiter's help, he made it through the application process, and before long he was off to boot camp.