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...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Morning shines its light on the strangest outpost in Afghanistan, as Afghan soldiers perched on top of one lumber pile look out. It wasn't nearly as serene a scene if you could hear the horrific music blasting from their boom box though...which was more like cats being tortured as a rythm-less class takes drum lessons.

The command post, now properly adorned with the battalion shield, was the center of activity as local elders began to arrive by the dozens for a large shura, or what we would later call the SuperShura.

Though it definitely be cheesy, I thought I'd pose with the backdrop of the heart of the valley, whose villages were represented at the large gathering of leaders.

"So whatchu whatchu whatchu want?" asked Afghan Col. Esop of our battalion commander. Well, that's what I think he was rapping in Dari. I later showed this photo to Mike, the interpreter in sweatshirt and ballcap, and he said, "Yeah, that colonel likes to shake hands a lot."

The SuperShura takes shape. A couple hundred gents wound up attending this meeting, dressed in all variations of manjammies and beard/hair dye (red is clearly the most popular).

Expectantly we all waited...for the governor was taking his sweet time getting to the helicopter that would take him here, I later learned.

Though it seems like a ton of pictures of the same event, believe me - I only selected relatively few. I was fascinated by this gathering, and the setting. This 'amphitheater' had been hastily shaped by a couple of the towering timber stacks.

Each time a new contingent of important or self-important people, or another gaggle of elders, arrived the crowd would undergo another round of musical chairs in order to strictly enforce priority seating. Punctuality, on the other hand? Not enforced.

Get those shawls over your faces, because every few minutes there were the repeated intrusions of those pesky blackhawks, which - as we were below the landing zone - kicked up the whole dirt of the hillside into our faces.

"Now people, please! We thought there'd be enough punch and cookies for all, but you each brought a dozen friends, so you'll just have to accept cash instead."

An up-close look at one of our colorful participants. I learned quickly that the seats on the side are coveted, for the ease of spitting off to the side instead of just down, like old man firebeard here is busy doing.

Some of the key leaders huddled for more substantial decisions after much of the SuperShura had dispersed, such as where to go for lunch (seriously). Remember, blue sport jacket = big man on campus.

"Thank you all for coming. Remember to get your parking validated on the way out!"

When it was time to go, there was the standard way home for some...

And the standard for others.


Anonymous Janet said...

A very interesting cameo into the Alghan culture; absolutely fascinating!! That certainly is the word to describe it. Thank-you for the vicarious peak! Oh, and I love the priority seating and the musical chairs. Do you suppose the very elder and the truly VIP arrive late in order to "Shuffle the Deck" among the lesser folks??? Finally the blown up pic of the alternate standard means of departure is incredible with the light on the mountains still sunny and the shades of late day hovering over the rest of the activity around little donkey. Incredible photography Capt Dan.

June 28, 2006 at 6:44 PM  
Blogger I Love Jeets said...

You should've gone up to one of the guys who didn't have a blue sport coat and say, a la Happy Gilmour, "where's your jacket?"

Ha ha... WOAH!

June 29, 2006 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger I Love Jeets said...

One more comment: I wonder if those town elders are like those old-fashioned, un-hip bastards from Footloose who banced dancing. That is MESSED UP.

June 29, 2006 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Sully said...

I thought the blue jacket was awarded for winning the Afghani Masters. And I didn't think it was allowed to leave the clubhouse. Someone alert Hootie Johnson!

June 29, 2006 at 3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we miss you, Dan. Great work, and as usual, the photography is great!

Love, Chris Huvane

June 29, 2006 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Betsy said...

You're A#1 in my book, Capt. Dan. Glad you will be home soon - even though I love seeing your photos and reading the commentary.
Love, Aunt Betsy

June 29, 2006 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger ur pal said...

Captain Dan - Just jumped aboard as of "A-Bad." Have very muched enjoyed your photography and insight into the locales of the Afghani world.

You said you much of your news via TV and Internet...what news sites do you visit on the web? Do you know the name of good english language news sources in Afghanistan? I'm always looking for more input.

Three cheers for you and all the soldiers working in Afghanistan, Irag and all over the world. We here at home are filled with gratitude and hope you are sensing our love and respect. Get back safe! Thank-You!

June 29, 2006 at 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job of giving us insight and knowledge of a different world. It seems we have changed that world to a more peaceful one without changing the culture. I really like the job every one of you now in the military are doing. Thanks.

Jason's dad

June 30, 2006 at 6:30 AM  
Anonymous Agnieszka O. said...

And I thought that dying one's hair orange is a statement :-)

June 30, 2006 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Pondering American said...

Awesome pics. I planning to link you on my blog. I know holidays have a way of slipping by over there but have a Happy 4th and thanks for serving

July 2, 2006 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger PatriotDream said...

On this July 4th, Independence Day long week-end, I wish to thank-you for your service to our nation. We celebrate in safety and security because you and our military have been in dangerous and often unforgiving locations very far from home on our behalf.

July 2, 2006 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous joy said...

Thanks for the pictures and the commentary.

I'm always appreciative of any opportunity to see how it really looks over there. You guys go to places where our mainstream media don't bother to go.

Be safe.

July 6, 2006 at 4:50 PM  
Anonymous MACK1 said...

Great pics, Captain. I appreciate your efforts, and your service.
Semper Fi!!!

October 11, 2006 at 8:45 AM  
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