Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Who Would Have Guessed? An Interesting News Day

Office Lit -- The "Beowulf" of the 21st Century

Stephen King rightly wonders in his non-fiction book On Writing why so many readers enjoy his stories involving jobs and places of work. As a person who despises corporate life, yet enjoys office-satire stories, I concur that this is a strange phenomenon.

After working a surreal year at a company called Engineering Animation, which was bought up by Unigraphics Solutions soon after I was hired, and ultimately swallowed by E.D.S. -- which led to my blessed lay-off -- I was inspired to write my own office farce, Der Komplex. My unnamed protagonist muddles through the same hyperbaric-chamber-environment I encountered at E.A.I., where there was no defined job description, no real workload, no tangible responsibilities, no measurable results; nothing but an unpleasant tingling at the top of the head that throbbed like a warning beacon.

Bill Vitanyi's slim novel Kyuboria is a first rate office satire. It follows the exploits of State employee Clint Palmer, a programmer who seeks to open and run his own business. This far-off dream suddenly seems attainable when he reads of a government sponsored grant offered to people fired from the I.T. industry (if such a grant existed, I would be eligible for it three times over). However, Clint soon learns that getting fired from his job is not so easy. In fact, it's virtually impossible. Comedy and painfully-rendered-reality ensue.

My own surreal experiences in I.T. did not end with my lay-off from E.A.I. After nine months of job hunting, I landed a technical writing job with a company in Dexter, Michigan. The company was called Creative Solutions, and I remember feeling a rush of excitement as I sought out its Web site, wondering what sort of work went on there (yeah, sorry HR wonks, I don't just "multi" submit my resumes, I mega submit, so I never have much idea -- in total -- where I've sent my C.V.s). Did they do digital animation? Innovative Web marketing? Magazine work?

Turned out Creative Solutions created and sold accounting software. My twelve-month tenure there saw me steeped in the United States Internal Revenue Service tax code. Although my colleagues were a wonderful, incongruously creative bunch, the job had me doing the devil's own busy-work. All of which was bookended by a 106-mile daily commute. The pay was good; there was even profit sharing. But the brass tacks of the job itself was like something from a nightmare: so deadly, so mercilessly boring was it that I could not concentrate on my tasks for even a few minutes without glazing over. After crashing my car, one morning, into the rear end of a tractor trailer United States Postal vehicle, I somehow managed to find a job in my own hometown.

Enter McIll. That's not the name of the company, but it's close enough. McIll designed and created computer- and Web-based training products. The job, as described to me by a recruiter, sounded terrific. The company was on the rebound from having been bought up by a larger corporation, virtually gutted, nearly eviscerated, before the larger corporation sold the place back to the two guys who had started McIll years before. It was a great local story.

And then the owners plunged a blood-guttered dagger into the side of the place -- they hired a consultant.

I'll never forget this battered, waify woman introducing herself to the company -- about fifty employees at this time -- referring to herself as, among other things, a "life coach" and corporate consultant. She met with each employee individually, and I was stunned to find during my meeting that the woman appeared barely able to read. All employees had to fill out forms about what changes they wanted to see implemented in the company. She read mine in front of me with a finger under the line she read, and her lips moving, her whispered voice stumbling over every other word.

And so the process of turning a modern, cool office space into an I.T. Wal-Mart. The dim, dark-painted upper floor where I was stationed was repainted, everyone relocated to the mainfloor where fluorescent hell beams blazed above all day long. The designers who needed to work in dim confines wore sunglasses to combat the glare. The staff was corralled into a mass of desks in an open room, reminiscent of the hangar-sized office filled with typists in the early portion of Saving Private Ryan. Right out of the Tragically Hip's "My Music at Work" video.

A grotesque woman from Chicago with a dubious PhD was hired to act as smiling, soothing taskmaster. She struck me as the type who could hand out termination papers in a Christmas card. Her helmeted hair style echoed the old advertisement line "... hair is for protection..." She stalked around the office in her power suits and assailed us over the telephone from her "home office." And soon after the "life coach" consultant went her giddy way -- doubtless literally laughing all the way to the bank -- the helmet frau instituted a domino-fall run of firings. I was among the first wave and one of the very few who actually deserved termination.

From McIll I went to Hewlett-Packard in Dearborn, Michigan. Another hyperbaric chamber; an ant-hole filled with consultants. I remember they were all named "Bill." How painfully apt, because that's all they did: bill, bill, bill the company. Three months of that and my madness meter was nearly blown.

My forays into office life have been as fantastical and surreal as any Grimm Brothers story. The array of fractured personalities, along with the unaccountably cool folk, encountered in these enchanted forests defy description. Kindred souls met in the fog by copier, in the mist of the kitchennette, in the dungeon of the conference room. Our eyes met. Our senses of humor tickled one another. Then we disappeared from one another.

And it's heartening and entertaining to see that people are telling the stories of this strange land. Max Barry is now out with Company and maybe I will one day get beyond my traumas to complete my office-novel-in-progress Swimming Under Water.

Following my absolute last venture into office-life, I wrote Geek Barn as my farewell to that brain-damaged, soul-perforating purgatory.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Good Show, Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols have opted out on appearing at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Their response:

"It's my parade and I'll cry if I want to!" -- Protestant marchers are not welcome in Dublin, Ireland

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer - February 25, 2006 - DUBLIN, Ireland - Several hundred Irish Republican Army supporters attacked police in Dublin on Saturday to protest an unprecedented parade through the capital by Protestants from Northern Ireland.

In scenes rare for the Republic of Ireland, protesters hurled bottles, bricks, concrete blocks and fireworks at police officers trying to clear the hostile crowd from Dublin's most famous boulevard, O'Connell Street.
If a person can only express himself by throwing a brick (or, a wheelbarrow, for that matter), then he has nothing to say. I do not side with the rock/brick/bottle-throwers who protested the "unprecedented parade through the capital by Protestants from Northern Ireland"; "a Love Ulster rally involving Orangemen and relatives of IRA murder victims". But this does not keep me from recognizing the Love Ulster members as pure and simple shit-disturbers. What empty lives these pruned orange bastards must lead when the pillar of their lives are these incendiary marches.

In 1999, the site of this parade and ensuing melee was my neighborhood. I lived in an apartment over the Spar on Westmoreland Street, on the other side of the O'Connell Bridge from where this fracas erupted. It is no place for a parade other than the brilliant St. Patrick's Day parade that will occur next month.

I'm reading much about the clash and how these poor, put-upon Prostestants meekly called off their parade, but I'm not reading why these people sought to march in central Dublin. Yes, we must condemn the violence that resulted, but will someone please answer why this march was planned in the capital city?

Democratic Unionist Party "lawmaker" Jeffrey Donaldson claims it was outside agitators who ignited the violence. I definitely group Love Ulster into this category.

During the two years I lived in Dublin, Ireland in the late 1990s, I found the city and country to be among the most civilized, pleasant and lovely places I've ever known. I walked nearly every neighborhood of Dublin City, some dodgier than others, and never had any trouble. I don't romanticize the Dirty Old Town; a city with that population has its problems. Whenever I saw the stirrings or making of "trouble", I shifted gears, changed directions, and moved to safer ground. But the city is not a tinderbox of sectarian hatred. The people I knew there really couldn't care less about mafia-like factions in the north, whether it be the bullet-headed IRA or the delusional royal imperialists.

I know Irish Catholic Republicans who live in the town of Crossmaglen in County Armagh. I have witnessed firsthand the intimidation tactics the British forces there use on the citizenry of aged farmers and families, flying their helicopters menacingly low over their rooftops. The afternoon I saw this happen -- in 1995 -- I raised my camera to photograph the oddity. The friend I was with nearly knocked the camera out of my hand, saying the British troops would likely shoot my face off if they caught me photographing them.

The British forces in Crossmaglen mercilessly harassed the populace there with random, violent searches of peoples' homes in the middle of the night. The soldiers used the butts of their machine guns to break up the peoples' dishes. They once poisoned the beloved dog of a farmer I know there. Soon after that poisoning, the British forces one night landed their helicopter in this farmer's yard and burst into his home. After breaking all of his dishes, the farmer had had enough. He fought back, taking the heavily armed soldiers by surprise, and using nothing but his fists and righteous indignation, he throttled half a dozen of them before finally being subdued. He was arrested on the spot and taken away in the helicopter. He was taken to a dungeon-like holding cell, stripped naked and left in the dank darkness. The judge who presided over his case saw how unrestrained and in the wrong the British troops who brought him in had been that the judge simply found the farmer guilty of "disrespecting the Queen's uniform" when he beat up the soldiers. He was given a small fine and released.

The IRA is widely viewed for what it is -- a mafia of unemployed thugs who fraudulently use "Republicanism" and "Irish Independence" as a ruse for raising money abroad. IRA members usually live in unaccountably lavish style and are woefully responsible for so much violence that is visited upon their countrymen -- either perpetrating it themselves (Omagh bombing; Robert McCartney who was stabbed and kicked to death by a gang that included at least three members of the IRA) or bringing it upon them with their own acts of violence against the royal imperialists in the region.

The Irish "troubles" as they exist today occur within a few blighted blocks of Belfast; in squalid, thug-infested, gnacker-ridden ghettos.

So, the Protestants of northern Ireland brought their damnable marching to Dublin City. Love Ulster has no right to march down O'Connell Street. They're peas-in-a-pod with their brick-throwing adversaries -- where one goes, so follows the other.

What a sad day for Dublin and for all people who love that city.
Editorial by Brendan O'Connor in the Sunday Independent: In case anyone had forgotten, violence is what republicans do

LEST you had been lulled into thinking republicans were all about chicks in mini-skirts and equality, we all got a good reminder yesterday what they're all about. Every schoolchild in the country and every Provo-suckered yuppie radical should have been brought into O'Connell Street to witness the aftermath of the battle of Dublin yesterday and been told: "Always remember, this is what they do and this is what they do best."

It was the kind of thing you'd expect in the Middle East, or in France. It was the kind of thing we like to think we're too civilised for in this country. It was the kind of thing you'd expect to see in Northern Ireland.

It was the kind of thing, don't forget, that the people of that state have lived with for nearly 40 years. And now it's down here too.

And let's not scurry to blame the people who've been repaving O'Connell Street for what seems like a decade now. Let's not blame the people who left that street like a building site, or a rioter's dream. We can't stop leaving building blocks lying around in case someone might pick them up and throw them at the cops. Should we ban glass bottles as well? They are the kind of precautions you need to take in a mad house.

It is republicanism, the violent tradition of republicanism, and indeed republicanism's reverence for violence, that allowed what happened yesterday to happen. They tore apart our town, they tried to kill our cops, they ripped our fire engines to bits. They attacked the heart of this country and the very people we trust to protect that heart and it is Irish republicanism's twisted morality that made this acceptable.

And let's not be fooled into thinking that this was about politics in any real way. This was about the sectarianism that is at the heart of republicanism in this country. This is about a group of people who would deny another group the very right to exist. This is about one tradition's heartfelt need to wipe out another tradition, to ethnically cleanse Irish unionists and Protestants and everything they believe in.

On this occasion they wouldn't even allow them to remember their dead. Republicans killed the people that were to be remembered on Saturday's march and as if that wasn't enough they shat all over their memory again this weekend. We should be disgusted at ourselves for allowing this culture to thrive, disgusted at what some of us have become, no more than animals. We should remember too that no matter how much peace they talk, republicans at their heart will do whatever is necessary, shamelessly so, to deny minorities their right to exist.

I met a foreigner on O'Connell Street. He asked me what had happened, and I told him, half ashamed.

"It's just like Iraq where I am from," he said. "People talk a lot about democracy and then do things like this. Because up here," he said, motioning to his head, "they never change. Ireland has been free for 80 years now but still nothing changes." It was a depressing thought.

Of course, he wasn't the only foreigner around. This happened in the heart of tourism country. This didn't happen in some kind of no go area. It kicked off next to Ireland's premier shopping street and moved on to even more salubrious and central areas of town.

And all the tourists were there - watching, horrified. Because everybody loves the Irish, after all. Nobody thinks we'd attack our own cops and attack other people just for being different or for disagreeing with us. But some of us did.

Republicans disgraced us internationally on Saturday. And you know what the most embarrassing thing is? The Orangemen got on their buses and quietly went home while we tore our city asunder. And they're supposed to be the crazy ones.

February 26 Letter to the Editor by Matt St. Amand: Brendan O'Connor writes at the end of his editorial about the February 25th riot in central Dublin: "The Orangemen got on their buses and quietly went home while we tore our city asunder" as though the Love Ulster marchers had nothing to do with the fracas that ensued. I have no respect for rock- and bottle-throwers -- if a person can only express himself by heaving a wheelbarrow at a police line, that person has nothing to say that I have time to hear. However, the damnable incendiary marching tradition of the North is just as much to blame for Saturday's melee. Marching Orangemen is a provocative sight. Everyone knows it, particularly the Orangemen. So, to characterize those Orangemen as "quietly" fleeing the rabid Republicans falsely casts them as blameless victims. Having lived above the Spar on Westmoreland Street for a year in the 1990s, I know the area in which this riot took place intimiately. I was saddned and angered reading what happened on O'Connell Street yesterday. Maybe outside agitators are to blame for much of the violence, however, the marchers of Love Ulster are plenty culpable for what took place. Why wouldn't they gathering at Trinity College or organize a rally in Phoenix Park? No, they are not satisifed until they've ruined the busiest day of commerce in the busiest city in Ireland by halting traffic and grinding everything to a stop with a march. Condemnation should be heaped upon the Republican rock-throwers, but the Orangemen of Love Ulster ought to be taken to task for organizing this unprecedented march in Dublin. Because everyone knows the Orangemen do not march to the beat of drums, but to the beat of gnashing teeth, to the beat of riots.


Read what a peace-loving northern Irish chick has to say about this posting -- which she evidently didn't read too closely.

My reply to said-chick: "I see my opinion has been as welcomed by you as those Love Ulster folks were welcomed in Dublin. Your attitude is just as much a part of the problem as marching and rock-throwing. There is not a single dot of hatred in my blog entry about the marches that were interrupted by violence in Dublin on Saturday, only the question why the Orangemen aren't being taken to task for provoking the violence that ensued. They are just as culpable for what happened. You would make a wonderful honorary right-wing American with your ability to slant my views and use your own venom to accuse me of hatred. My opinion is as valid as yours, and possibly more civilized.

"I would put my experience in Dublin up against yours any day of the week."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

New G.O.P. Fundraising Strategy

From CNN.com: Harry Whittington on being "peppered" with birdshot by Dick Cheney -- "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week..."
That's like the World Trade Center buildings apologizing to those hijacked airplanes. This is the world in which we live. Embrace it.

The American Republican Party has, and they're opening the field to creative fundraising. Rather than attending a boring $1,000-a-plate fundraisers, the G.O.P. will now allow contributors to give $1,000, $10,000 and $100,000 gifts in exchange for being "peppered" with birdshot by either the George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. Since it's such an honor for this to happen -- obviously Harry Whittington is embarrassed and contrite because he has so far paid Dick Cheney or the G.O.P. no money for his peppering -- this will be added to the Republican Party fundraising handbook. Let's hope as many Republican contributors as possible avail of this new way to give.

Contribution Scale:
  • $1,000 donation to the G.O.P. -- contributor will be peppered in shins and feet

  • $10,000 donation to G.O.P. -- contributor will be peppered in rear thighs and buttocks

  • $100,000 donation -- contributor will be peppered in chest, shoulder and choice of which side of face
Some precision shooting may be performed by Secret Service personnel under the supervision of George W. or Dick Cheney, or their proxies and designates.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Film Critics, Why Do You Mine For Diamonds in a Garbage Dump?

Why do film critics of every mainstream media outlet continue to review the garbage spewed by Hollywood? I could understand this if CNN or USAToday were paid money by Hollywood film production companies to review their latest coiled piles of linked sausage. After years of working in video stores I was convinced the thumbs of Siskel & Ebert were for hire. Yeah, yeah, I've heard Roger Ebert's lame defense of why he's given a "thumbs up" on some pretty wretched fluff -- and I'm not buying it.

The latest Hollywood abominations I've seen reviewed star Steve Martin and Harrison Ford, but it doesn't really matter who the star of the moment is. Actors we've all come to enjoy and rely up (for their judgment in the work they choose, as well as their performances) are lining up to star in "celebrity welfare" projects. Need some examples? Look at Richard Gere or John Travolta's career choices in the last decade. I nearly wept when I saw Robert DeNiro star in Analyze That, sequel to the landmark comedy (ha!) Analyze This. DeNiro spent the first half of his career defining what brilliant acting was all about, and has spent the second half of his career destroying that reputation.

All the while there are some enormously talented, ingenius independent filmmakers who go completely unnoticed. These ignored filmmakers are not creating remote, high-brow art films involving sad clows in black and white. These original voices possess original visions and are creating fascinating, compelling work in virtual obscurity.

Update 02/17/2006:

I've enjoyed no greater discovery than that of contemporary Canadian cinema. For so long, we were saddled and harassed with "classics" like Goin' Down the Road and The Million Dollar Hockey Puck that we all watched more out of guilt and obligation than actual enjoyment. Well, there are some incredibly talented Canadian filmmakers plying their craft, and producing work that every serious film buff must seek out:
  • Finding Electra by Chris Pickle, a hilarious film about a loser-guy who enjoys being a stripper's boyfriend, but is soon dropped by her. The film documents his attempts to win her back.

  • How it All Went Down by Sylvio Pollio, a riveting drama based on a true story. Apparently Pollio had gone to film school with a guy who was a former drug dealer, who went back to dealing drugs in order to raise funds for a movie project. He thinks he can keep "the life" from swallowing him and his art whole, but his actions set his karma into a full tailspin.

  • Waydowntown by Gary Burns is a slick, smart, surreal comedy about a group of friends who work in a large office/mall complex who make a bet to see who can last a month without setting foot outside. I usually hate "bet" movies, but this film has so many genius, quirky moments and insights that it won me over immediately. Actress Marya Delver is mesmerizingly gorgeous in this film.

  • Treed Murray is a fantastic "one room" thriller in which "Murray", a business man, is cornered in a public park by a gang of thugs one afternoon. He escapes them by climbing a tree. After thwarting their initial attempts to get him down from his perch, Murray and the gang have an extended opportunity to engage one another in dialogue, analyzing, insulting, and gaining insight into the other.

  • Bar None by Mark Tuit, this is a hilarious, though rough-around-the-edges, indie film about a night in a Vancouver bar from the perspective of the bar staff. Mark Cunningham's script is excellent, and most of the performances are fabulous. Shot in black and white, the film has a great look, as well.

  • American Beer about four young Canadians on a roadtrip in the western U.S.A. is saved by its script, which is very funny and thoroughly unpredictable. The great setback with this film is that it's rife with horrible acting. However, the story and comedy are more than sufficient to make up for that.

  • The Cube trilogy should not be missed by any fans of futuristic/realistic science fiction. The story of these three films centers around a futuristic prison in the form of a seemingly endless maze of rooms, some of which are booby-trapped. The occupants of the cube have no idea whey they are there, and in most cases, don't even know their own identities. All three films in this series are highly recommended. Each has its flaws, but the scripts and performances more than outweigh any limitations posed by bland, anonymous setting.

  • Vinyl is an engrossing documentary by Alan Zweig about album collectors. By turns hilarious, poignant and informative, Zweig talks about his own obsession with collecting and interviews more than a few fascinating characters who have their own unique philosophies guiding their acquisitions.

  • Jesus Christ Vampire Killer by Lee Demarbre is a "rough-around-the-edges" gem that is as funny as its title leads the perspective viewer to believe. The writing is solid and innovative, the performances are -- for the most part -- very competent,a nd the story is surprisingly involved and well wrought. Superficial as it might sound, the actresses in this film are startingly pretty.
There is Brad Anderson director of the 2001 surreal, psychological thriller Session 9 and his 2004 dark, dream-like pscyhological drama The Machinist, which is actually titled Maquinista, El because he had to go to Spain in order to make the film. Neither film is perfect. Both rely on "trick" endings that work to varying degrees. However, each film is rich in story and character, mood and atmosphere. These films were not shot by a Hollywood myopic whose idea of cinematography is ensuring the lense cap is off the camera. Both films occur in raw, unsettling landscapes -- the first in an abandoned asylum in which a team of professional hazardous materials handlers are hired to clean out the asbestos; the second occurring in the grim, dreary confines of a machine shop, and the equally bleak life of a mentally deteriorating machinst. Neither film cops out, neither film treads familiar, easy territory. Neither film is without its problems, but both strive for emotional, psychological heights (or depths) and the effort in both cases are admirable at least and mesmerizing at most.

There is John Maybury's 2005 psychological thriller The Jacket. The film stars Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Kris Kristofferson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kelly Lynch. Until very recently, I had not heard word-one about this film -- and I'm plugged into these things. Like the work of Brad Anderson, The Jacket strives for some pretty lofty objectives and does not achieve them all. But the effort is a brilliantly conceived, wonderfully executed dark film that takes on subjects like war, regret, and time-travel -- all to fantastic effect. The film is not perfect, but it was made with passion, and the aspects that it gets right far outweigh any elements that come off as underdone.

There is Shane Carruth's Primer; an independent film masterpiece that tackles the subject of time-travel in the most credible fashion I have ever seen. The performances and dialogue are bang-on. Although the explanations of how the time-travel works are somewhat difficult to follow, the visuals are excellent, and the storyline is more than enough to carry the audience along. It's a great ride, but who has heard of this film? Who has seen it?

As Hollywood continues to cough out the "remake of the month" every few weeks, I've turned to the Orient for my horror film fix. Hollywood has attempted to remake Japanese horror films, two of the notable efforts being The Ring and The Grudge. The Japanese originals are superior on all counts, though The Ring was a worthy try. I have recently watched Gin gwai otherwise known as The Eye, Yogen (The Premonition) and Pon (Phone), all of which are visually stunning, driven by excellent stories, excellent performances, and all which scared the royal hell out of me.

The Thai action film Ong-bak is first rate entertainment. Nothing like Tony Jaa has been seen in cinema since Bruce Lee.

For more lighthearted fair, which does not insult one's intelligence, there is the compilation DVD that comes with Issue 19 of Paste Magazine, which features the following independent short films:
  • Hilarious short comedy titled Moved directed by Jim Issa and Scott Ippolitu

  • Animated short comedy titled Dear, Sweet Emma directed by John Cernak

  • Very moving short film called Wow & Flutter directed by Gary Lundgren

  • Funny short titled Ten directed by Scott Smith

  • Short, smart comedy titled Love Math directed by Kent Carpenter Zambrana

  • Excellent, hilarious documentary short titled Found in America directed by Scott Patterson

  • Heady animation titled A Plan directed by Tom Schroeder

  • Fascinating short music documentary titled Matisyahu directed by David Baugnon

  • Harrowing short film titled Silent Years directed by James Sereno

  • Dramatic short Giving Her Away directed by Andrew Stanfield

  • Surreal short titled Facechasers directed by Gabriel Judet Weinshel
There is no excuse beyond laziness, narrowness, or financial inducement for mainstream media to encourage the slockmeisters in Hollywood to churn out their detritus by reviewing said-detritus. Even bad reviews are publicity. That the Sundance Film Festival opened this year with a Jennifer Aniston film was both disheartening and completely unnecessary. If any film festival or media outlet claims independence from Hollywood bribery, then why are they not ferreting out films like those listed above?

Paste Magazine does an outstanding job of this, and even has a very short spot on CNN Headline News. Clips of Paste's Headline News recommendations are included on its most recent sampler CD. It's interesting watching the intros made by the Headline News talking-stiffs, warning the enfeebled, quivering audience that what they are about to see and hear falls "just below the mainstream," followed by quick assurance that the whitebread suits In Control have vetted and pronounced "safe" this otherwise radical material. Read "radical" as anything smacking of intelligence or originality.

Let Hollywood continue to wander its lightless, uncharted way. Let it continue its celebrity welfare programs. But devote some real time and attention to the art that's being created by talented, innovative independent filmmakers. Reviewers, when you feel compelled to start a reveiw by wondering aloud why a particular film was made at all (Slate's tagline today "Why, Why, Why Remake the Pink Panther?" comes to mind), maybe you should question why you are reviewing that film in the first place.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Beancounter Brigade -- Somehow these rotters always win

Is this the conduct of a country that's winning a war?

Army demanded $700 from city man who was wounded

Rebrook said he tried to get a battalion commander to sign a waiver on the battle armor, but the officer declined. Rebrook was told he’d have to supply statements from witnesses to verify the body armor was taken from him and burned.

“There’s a complete lack of empathy from senior officers who don’t know what it’s like to be a combat soldier on the ground,” Rebrook said. “There’s a whole lot of people who don’t want to help you. They’re more concerned with process than product.”

Update 02/08/2005

Army blasted over soldier’s body armor

Update 02/09/2005

Hurt soldier billed for gear to be repaid