Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Muddy Waters and Charlie Wilson



Two DVDs that are magnetically riveting, to me:

Charlie Wilson's War;
and Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981.

The reason these films figure prominently in my life experience is, they each fill in a blank.  Each of these films answers questions and shares info that I wanted, earlier in time.  Information and music that I heard about, did not get enough of, could not get a full picture of, and therefore felt something was missing, until the piece of the puzzle appeared and could be put in place.

(Aahh.  Phew!)

1.  Charlie Wilson's War.
In the 80s I used to play Paul Harvey News & Comment on reel-to-reel tape on the radio.  Had to listen closely so I could stop the tape for commercials, then run the tape again when ads were over.

Paul Harvey would talk about Afghanistan, and how the Afghan people, with no modern equipment, were fighting off the advancing Soviet army with, like, some rocks and sticks and stuff. 

(Not literally, but you know -- pretty primitive "armaments") -- and typical Paul Harvey, he told it like it was this great, idealistic thing -- like the Afghans love their country so much and refuse to be taken over by communists, so they are able to overwhelm insurmountable odds and give the Russians a run for their money...Paul Harvey was framing it as a "David-and-Goliath" type of situation.

I thought:  that's nice, good for the Afghans, my goodness, that's amazing.  But had this nagging question -- "But seriously, really?"  It sounded good; but it didn't sound real. 

At the time, I didn't put the question into words, even in my mind..."is there another component to this?  Is there an explanation that Paul Harvey doesn't know about...?"  But a vague "Wondering" remained, like when you wake up from a dream and cannot quite remember the dream.

Then in 2007 when I read about the then-new movie Charlie Wilson's War (based on a book by George Crile), in an issue of Vanity Fair magazine, it said, Well hey here's what it was -- the Afghans were being provided state-of-the-art weaponry, by the CIA, covertly, and the project was in large part engineered by Congressman Charlie Wilson and an out-of-favor CIA agent, Gust Avrakotos.

The Afghans did the fighting.  But they didn't do it with sticks and rocks.

(Avrakotos:  "When an Afghan freedom fighter gets captured, it can't be with an American-made weapon...he's got to have a gun that could have plausibly been taken from the Russians."

Charlie Wilson:  "You know who's good at that?  Israel and Egypt." ...)

After reading that article, a light went on & I went, OH-kay, and kind of thought about all those Paul Harvey reports in the 80s.

The missing puzzle piece!

2.  Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981
In 1981 I had only recently, within last 3 years, really been introduced to music of Muddy Waters (blues) and the Rolling Stones (blues-based rock and roll) and then I heard that one night in Chicago, in November, Muddy Waters was playing at a small club, and the Rolling Stones came up onstage and played along with him.

I felt happy and ticked off at the same time.
Happy because it sounded great -- thrilling; the best thing in the world.
And ticked off (or frustrated) because I wasn't there.

(Well, a person can't be everywhere.  That's one of those things you're learning, when you're young...)


they put it on DVD.