A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back from the field...

My thanks to those who asked where I've been, and my sincere apologies to all who actually want to hear my ramblings! I'll have much more up soon, but wanted to drop a quick note to say I'm back online, at JAF. The last couple of weeks required me to take hundreds of photos, so I've begun the painful process of sorting/editing, and have actual work to do besides. But never fear, I'll tell my tales of Operation Mountain Lion...just be patient, grasshoppers...

Monday, April 10, 2006

More from the JAF

Continuing the all-access (not really) tour of Jalalabad Airfield, we see a most typical scene on a JAF morning. I think because of the pretty snow coverings, I've taken roughly 500 photos of the surrounding mountains.

Afghan commandos speed by in their vehicles on their way to training. You've got to be careful running around here...not just because of the mines, but because of nutcase drivers who don't have to obey such trivial things as speed limits or troop safety.

Did somebody say 'aircraft wreckage'? No? Well, here it is anyway. There are a few leftover reminders of conflict past (and probably just bad piloting) that litter the airfield area...

Here's another doozy. This guy came so close! The only surprise to me is that it hasn't been hauled off for scrap metal. But ah, there may be no such it's all coming together.

Supposedly a former Soviet bathhouse, this sits off the dirt trail surrounding the airfield. There is a reason for its location, as some hot springs bubble in the marshy pit alongside it. All I know is to stay the hell away on Thursdays...

Or just stay away from it altogether, for that matter. See the little red sign in the corner? Mines, mines, everywhere in this country.

No mines here, at least of the literal variety. Just another long chow line. But at least it's in the sun...

Then came the rains. Powerful thunderstorms, followed by some weird tropical-feeling soaking rain, changed up the desert pace of J-bad for a few days...

And a mud camp it becomes. Not to worry, though, as the J-bad sun hardens things up quickly enough. See, there it goes already.

And what good is a little mud if Marines can't have fun in it, anyway?

Now the winds of the past few days...that's just been strange. Last night they picked up in hurricane force gusts, and as we're in tents, it was one of the most disruptive nights of sleep I've ever attempted. I think I got in a half-hour of consecutive shuteye at one point.

That reminds me- what on earth am I doing up right now? OK, when flags are snapping high enough that they point up, and it stays that way long enough for me to actually take a decent photo of it, that means it is serious wind, people.

Thus concludes your viewing day. Please tip your bartenders and waitresses...Lord knows they need the extra cash when this many Marines and soldiers are away. Thank you!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

JAF sights (provide your own sounds)

Fire up your favorite call-to-prayer tape, or at least the old Ravi Shankar you still have collecting space in your cabinet, and take a tour through the sights of Jalalabad Airfield, or in true military fashion, JAF (not to be confused with JAL, the former amusing Japanese airline...well, at least it was amusing to 5-year-old American boys who got to fly on it and had imaginary friends named Aso...but I digress).

The shield of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, the great Lava Dogs of Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii, welcomes you to the airfield's camp. It's a lot like summer camp, as far as the food and flies are concerned...

The view through the wire to the farmlands directly behind the camp. The kids are funny, always yelling and waving when you run by. The men...well, they just stare longingly, especially on Thursdays. The guards might glance up from their tea parties, but then it's back to lounging.

If you're looking for the authentic Soviet-architecture-meets-central-Asian-construction motif, it's hard to top eastern Afghanistan. This is the back of Jalalabad airport's hanger, where (sigh) the bazaar was once held on Saturdays. It's since been shut down due to some...improprieties.

Can I interest you in some crappy bootleg DVDs, some cheap checkered hankies, maybe both? Bring for your wife...she like very much!

You want some of this, roundeye? Didn't think so! I kid, I kid...the Koreans are great. At least I think they're having fun- they laugh a lot, sometimes cook their own rice when our chow hall doesn't, and play a wacky soccer/volleyball hybrid in a tiny pit (in teams of 3-on-3) all afternoon.

One of the giant transport planes that lend the airfield its quiet feel. Ever seen one of these big birds take a dump? Well, stand by...

Isn't that impressive? It may not be Mayor Quimby riding a horse onto a cargo plane and then parachuting it out, but it still entertained me.

Ah, home sweet home, the latest edition. Just wait and see what accomodations I come up with next...I should photograph the regression, put in a coffee table book, and call it "Standard of Living? AfghaniDan's Downward Spiral"

Really though, despite the complete absence of privacy, a decent gym or chow hall, and a population that's three times its capacity, the place ain't so bad when you see scenes like this in the morning.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Lasting Legacy

This posting is something a little different. I've been holding off on relaying the story until it's officially released, which it now is. Since websites are not linked properly for me on this page, you must cut and paste the link. It's worth it. This man was truly a remarkable corpsman, warrior and human being.

(Other than editing, my only contribution is hand modeling. Seriously, that's my hand in the photo below. I feel like Costanza.)


U.S. Navy Petty Officer is remembered and revered not only by fellow servicemembers, but also by residents of a tiny Afghan village.