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What Are You Able to Do?

In Be a Guy, Did You See This?, Yes, You are a Wimp on April 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

This companion piece to “What Are You Prepared to Do”  that the Publisher of The Good Men Project Lisa Hickey requested was prepared  Friday Afternoon April 19. I roughed it out and Lisa and Justin Cascio, my regular editor and unlikely friend, made it something– I was working and then attending an event in which my eldest son was playing. Lisa was standing at the finish line waiting for her daughter to complete the Boston Marathon midway between the two bombs and was awoken Friday morning by the shootout in Waterton in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed.

It does not escape me that it is one hell of a compliment to be asked to contribute to the GMP effort of covering this story.

TrainLast week I wrote a piece—What Are You Prepared to Do?— in which I talked about my first real boss, who had as much influence on me as any Scout Master, teacher or coach. He taught me to drive, run machines, and sell the sizzle, not the steak. He was retired from the US Coast Guard and he taught me, actually drilled into me, that in an emergency you either walk towards it or away from trouble.

He taught me this because I ran after a tag line that had slipped from another worker’s grasp during a tree trimming operation, tripped luckily and didn’t get crushed by a few hundred pounds of arbor falling 50 feet.

His explanation was that if you can’t reach out and grab the problem you will have to move to deal with it.

If you are walking towards the problem you will have time to analyze what is going on without having to worry about your footing. If you are walking away you have the footing advantage and the benefit of not running into someone or something while glancing back over your shoulder.

But you have to move: Lead, Follow or Get the F*** out of the way. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.

This advice has served me well in a lifetime spent around construction sites and other sketchy situations.

I have rudimentary First Aid, conflict, fire fighting and structural problem skills, I’ve had to deal with dangerous wild animals that walk and crawl, killed some, scared some off and walked away from others. I’ve worked on these skills when the chance arose. I’m not a survivalist, but post 9/11 I kept a flat bar, mask, gloves, parachute cord, and duct tape in my bag for a few years.

When I post a picture of a road kill I’ve picked up and people ask me why, I’ll sometimes explain that it is to practice for when I have to pick up something dead. Similarly, I’ve put down various domestic and wild animals injured by cars, in addition to the game I’ve taken. I recently opted to crazy glue a wound on my hand closed rather than go get sutures—mostly to see if I could—and I posted those pics on FB, too.

I don’t know what it is I would have done at the Boston Marathon.

I do know what I did in a dorm fire, at various auto accidents, when I was involved in a scaffold collapse, and on the site of building collapse. I know what I did to a purse snatcher, and to an armed robber with his back to me.

Three summers ago, on the Monday after July 4th, a man dropped dead on the platform of the #1 train. I saw him go down like a puppet with his strings cut, just as I’ve seen deer and dogs fall when shot through the head. I started making my way towards him as a man stepped up and announced, “I am a fireman and I am certified in CPR,” and as a woman walked over and stated, “I am a registered nurse and I will assist.” Another woman said aloud, “I am going up stairs to the token booth and then to the street to call the cops.” I watched this drama unfolding for a few moments—one of the two shook her head at the other and noticed that the victim’s legs were hanging over the edge of the platform.

I walked over and announced “I am nothing, but his legs are hanging over the platform and it is going to suck if a train pulls in.” The fireman at his head looks at me, nods his head, the nurse leans back from his chest and I grab the poor guy by the shoulders of his blazer, pull him to the center of the platform as the heroes knee walk after us, stand up, and step back. A few minutes later the cops come barreling down the stairs with a stretcher board and I walked away to the next exit. There was nothing more that I could add to the situation than morbid curiosity.

The time to decide what you’re able to do—what you can do, what you’re willing to do—is before the question needs answering. That being said, none of us really know what we can do until we have to do it. As an old Irish man once said, “It’s a hard world, and on occasion, we are called upon to prove that.”


What Are YOU Prepared To Do?

In Be a Guy, Fleshed Out Tweets, Yes, You are a Wimp on April 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

From NYTIMESHmmmmm.

Police Now Advise Assertive Response to Mass Attacks

Of course they do…

Gallant thinks it is because the authorities realize that they can’t be everywhere at once, that there were cops on site when Columbine, Tucson and Ft Hood started, that if the rule of law worked the judge you saw in traffic court wouldn’t have a carry permit.

Goofus thinks it is because most cops count on being struck by lightning before they have to draw their weapons on duty and that they are more interested in their vinyl siding business, putting in their 20 and retiring with medical then they are in shooting it out with some kook.

So maybe you better remember the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”; oh and good luck. If you wait for a killing to become mass, to consider an action plan, to contemplate the morality of braining someone with a ketchup bottle, you are too late. If you act earlier on your suspicions you are the NYCPD doing stop and frisk or George Zimmerman and are probably at fault.

Do it in school and chances are you’re disciplined- if not suspended.

Do it on the street and chances you’re sued.

Do it in the subway and you’re a racist who can’t find any peace like Bernie Goetz.

Do it at all and you risk getting branded as some kind of toxic-macho aggressor.

Be a toxic- macho fool who can’t mind his own business & you shoot Trevon Martin.

My first real boss was retired from the Coast Guard “We get paid to go out, not to come home”.  He taught me that you move in a crisis; either towards it or away; me I suggest moving away from gunshots.  He would have laughed at the Steubenville first responders who are all stressed out at having to see bodies.  Well too bad for you, sometimes it isn’t all swagger and lights & sirens, I hate it too when I have to do my job.

The dirty little secret of the Columbine shooting is that the police were behind Fire Trucks & Ambulances waiting for some other guy to go in and do the job for which they were hired as children and teachers bled out. Hillary Clinton was visiting my children’s elementary school while Columbine went down and the school went into complete lockdown while waiting for Marine One to whisk her away. Shortly afterwards I sat my kids down and explained they were under no circumstance ever to stick around for another lockdown- break a window, lay coats or books over the glass and head for the hills. Of course the Jefferson County cops may very well have shot a few students fleeing the school they were so dysfunctional that day.

The lesson of 911 might be that only 25% of Americans could get organized to fight back. Todd Beamer was a rugby player- so by definition he made football players look like wimps and practiced a proto-heteronormative masculinity by playing a contact sport- but he was able to use his faith & his team working experience to save, probably, other lives.

The dirty little secret of the Colin Ferguson LIRR shooting is that Ferguson reloaded magazines, not swapped out mags, but pushed bullets into the magazine for his pistol while the other riders waited for the authorities to do something. Nobody took a ball point and stabbed him in the eye, ear or neck. Eventually, passengers did rush & overcome Ferguson when the police didn’t show up. But bodies did stack up waiting for the authorities. [Full disclosure; the night of this shooting my phone rang several times and the callers said “Good you’re home”. I had no idea that this had occurred on my train line.]

So what is a Good Man of vetted liberal credentials to do, a guy who agrees that post Steubenville & Torrington football should be outlawed? How can a man who believes it when told that physical aggression is an extension of toxic-masculinity pick up the slack while waiting for the cops? It’s tough to toe the line and admire Anonymous taking things into their own hands- unless you can include physical action in your solution tree to physical confrontation.  It is all a slippery slope. Maybe you can see yourself speaking up to a line cutter or grabbing a fire extinguisher. Now try and grasp the basic theory behind gun ownership “when seconds count and the police are minutes away, what are you going to do?”  Are you stuck with the logical progression of the fight back argument- who wants to show up at a gun fight with an umbrella?

The problem, with the escalation of too many incidents, is that increasingly we just don’t know how to fight. In a world of zero tolerance the will and ability to fight back is stripped; we’ve been programming boys away from it for the past 40 years.  This is the Good Men Project here, so let’s talk about men and boys. Where every push or poke is bullying how one does develop the skill set of fighting? You don’t learn to street fight in the dojo, you may learn some techniques that might work in a fight in a sterile situation, but until you’ve busted a guy in the mouth while he is still talking smack you haven’t fought. Until you’ve had your eye opened and your knuckles busted you don’t know what you can do and more importantly how you can carry on hurt.   The next best thing to schoolyard fighting is competitive contact sports if one wants to learn to react instantaneously to violence.  This week that much maligned male “the Football Jock” stepped in in a timely manner.That would be sports with winners and losers, bumps and bruises. I’ll go on record now I’d rather be kicked by a Tiger Schulman disciple that booted by a soccer player.

The rest of the world isn’t worried about participation ribbons. A few million kids got out of bed this morning and hoped that someday they will kill a kid just like yours.

Children the age of your little darling woke up in Asia, Africa and South America grabbed their Kalashnikov and went to work.

A few thousand troubled souls awoke this morning, right here in the US, planning on raping your child or shooting up a public place.

Years ago I had to face that I am not brave enough to be a pacifist. A few years later I came to understand what I disliked about my mother’s favorite novelist- Pat Conroy, I disagreed with his message that it is better to live on your knees than to die on your feet. The only promise she ever asked of me was not to be a cop or a fireman as she was convinced I would run into a burning building. The piece I did about Walking into a Bucket of Blood was interpreted by some as funny- it was a serious piece told in a jocular manner. Threat assessment is a good habit every day and every place.

Dan McKown was prepared at the Tacoma Mall and is in a wheelchair because he fought fair, because he didn’t practice total war.

As Sean Connery asked Kevin Costner in “The Untouchables” “What are your prepared to do?”


Ultimately the end of the Boston situation came about due to a civilian.
“Then one man emerged from his home and noticed blood on the pleasure boat parked in his backyard. He lifted the tarp and found the wounded 19-year-old college student known the world over as Suspect No. 2.”

Another version of this was first published at


What if Kidnapper’s Neighbor Had Just Walked Away?



Victim? I’d say assailant.

In Fleshed Out Tweets, Yes, You are a Wimp on December 23, 2011 at 5:55 am

One of Bernhard Goetz’s victims kills self on anniversary of subway shoot

Oh this Bernie Goetz drove everyone nuts.

Knee jerk liberals had to deal with supporting jackals

Black activists had to deal with the fact that evidently thugs were their constituency.

Young black men felt like punks if they weren’t taking down subway riders.

The gun lobby was embarrassed because only one DOA occurred.

Average white men were ashamed that they hadn’t cowboyed up.

Mayor Koch was embarrassed that troglodyte law ruled the subterranean lifeblood of NYC.

The cops were furious that someone was doing the job they wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t.

Boom Boxes, Wilding, “Pay Me”, My balls are so big I have to splay my legs as wide (as a whore in Hustler) as is possible and push my kicks into the aisle to dare you to trip over them.

A few years after the Goetz incident I accidentally scuffed some punks sneakers and it was game on. We went a few rounds of verbal sparring until I finally offered to buy his sneakers. Negotiations broke down when I told him “here’s the money, give me the shoes”.I told him don’t be scuffing my new kicks by toeing them off. Had he bent down to untie them I would have punted his face. Had he balanced on one leg I was planning on dislocating his patella.

Some old guy in a Postal Service uniform chimed in “young blood, you want to sell your shoes, give the man his merchandise. You want to take the man’s money it’s two on one now.”

One of Bernhard Goetz’s victims kills self on anniversary of subway shoot

1st Guest Post “The Gumshoe, the Judge, and a Tooth Fairie”

In Did You See This?, Guest Writers, Yes, You are a Wimp on August 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

This is presented BY PERMISSION OF :

Albert Berg’s Unsanity Files

From Albert- [This is a flash fiction entry for Chuck Wendig’s Must Love Guns flash fiction contest, and my own flash fiction challenge, Teeth. Enjoy]

“How’d you find me gumshoe?”

Horner looked up into the barrel of the gun, a five shot revolver with a barrel half as long as the cylinder. “Answer me!” Frankie growled.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Horner said. “You weren’t what anyone would call careful.”

Frankie snarled and pushed the barrel of the gun against Horner’s temple. “You think you’re funny gumshoe?”

“And you think you’re smart. So I guess that puts us both in the wrong.”

Frankie dug in his pocked and pulled something out, tossing it on the table in front of Horner. “Know what that is gunshoe?”

“I’m gonna guess…Pez dispenser.”

Frankie pulled the hammer back. “No more jokes, gumshoe!”

Horner reached down and opened the Leatherman pliers. “What do you want me to do with these?”

“Your teeth. Yank ‘em out.”

Horner almost laughed. “You think you’re gonna fool anybody that way?”

“Tooth Fairie Killer’s all over the news,” Frankie said. “No way they’ll trace this back to me.”

Horner looked at the pliers and then up at Frankie. “Which ones?”

“You know which ones. Now shut your mouth and get started.”

Horner grabbed his left front tooth with the pliers and started to pull. He could feel the metal digging into the white of his teeth, and the pressure on his tooth sent jolts of pain shooting through his mouth.

“Faster gumshoe!” Frankie screamed. “You need a little incentive?”

And before Horner could answer Frankie pointed the gun down at his leg and pulled the trigger. The blast from the shot shredded his pants and peeled the top layer of skin from his thigh, but didn’t seem to do much else.

Frankie laughed. “Birdshot,” he explained. “But who knows? The next one might be solid lead.”


Copter Downed by Taliban Fire; Elite U.S. Unit Among Dead

In Be a Guy, Yes, You are a Wimp on August 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

This is a damned shame – evidently 20 members of Seal Team 6, the unit entrusted with the take down of UBL are among the dead.

No matter what you want to say about what we are doing in Afghanistan you have to give these SEALS credit. Think of the greatest athlete you personally knew, the stud in your HS or College. The guy who tears it up in the country club Tennis or at the Y basketball….. He’s a pussy compared to these SEALS. Think about the smartest guy you know….. He is not as bright as these SEALS nor is his mind as disciplined…

I had 2 friends who were SEALS.

One told fantastic stories of being towed by dolphins into Hanoi harbor to set mines and eating Vietnamese peasant food so as not to smell like a GI on night ambushes. Much of it I sort of dismissed as bar talk until I saw him pluck out a bartender’s eye. The bartender was preparing flaming shots and Tom had asked him to move his routine down the bar, one spilled and Tom’s beard caught fire. In the blink of the eye Tom struck out and dislodged the eye, sat back down and said “this is going to be bad”.  He tried to surrender peacefully when the cops showed, but couldn’t and ended up losing to the baton and taser.  Tom died of cirrhosis while awaiting trial.

The second man told tales of South East Asia and the Middle East that pressed credulity. Honestly, I felt he was full of it… And then the piece started to fall into place.  Reading a book about BUDS and the nascent SEALS I came upon a picture of Frank.  Next Frank disappeared within days of Iraq invading Kuwait and reappeared 3 months later. I remarked on his tan, which he claimed came from a fishing trip to Costa Rica, and observed it looked more like a desert tan to me.  He wiggled his eyebrows and said “watch TV tomorrow night”. Suddenly, Frank’s tales of secret air strips in Saudi Arabia seemed more plausible. Several years afterwards I spent some time with a client and his Dad. I noticed James Senior wore an “Air America” plane around his neck and asked him if he ever ran into Frank B.  Senior seemed surprised that Frank was still alive and told me “You know the old CIA quip about ‘I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you?’ that’s the kind of stuff Frank did.”

Spirits of the South Pole

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Yes, You are a Wimp on August 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

As some of you may or may not know- I haven’t had a whiskey in 25 years- and all of this “Hint of pear, cinnamon, crushed almonds, marzipan; whiff of tobacco, leaf-smoke, moist leather.” is pretty much a crock of shit in my book. However, were I still drinking whiskey; no let me rephrase that, had I ever learned to drink in moderation, hell had I any interest in drinking and not in getting drunk….
If I weren’t such an animal I would really like to get my hands on a bit of this…I can only speak for myself when I say once you get to a moderately civilized hooch , Jamesons, and your 4th beer it’s all about the booze.

[As Tred Barta said “Fly-fishing is just another f**king way of presenting a bait” and all this BS about whiskey get’s tedious and the wine thing is just a way guys try to seduce women.]

But I am a fan of Shackleton and having read 6 or 7 books about him amused to hear  “He was irresistibly charming, especially to women, and for his time — he was born in 1874 — was a highly advanced adulterer, who liked sharing his girlfriends with their husbands.” He used cocaine “and heavy drinking and smoking may account for his death of a heart attack at age 47.” Which would mean that Ernest and I had similar hobbies- though I tended to keep the husbands in the dark.

Had this expedition taken off in this century Shackleton would be left on the dock, all the Brits would not have made the cut.  
Roald  Amundsen won the race and PETA would have closed his act down pretty quickly- to me the idea of eating the sled dogs after their load is used up seems like a pretty good idea.
[Another Rake of whom I am very fond is Richard Francis Burton].

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