The gustavhasford.com Blog



    Shut your scuzzy mouth, fat body, and listen up.  I am going to give you the straight skinny, because you are the biggest shitbird on the planet.
    --The Phantom Blooper
 
 

Odds and Sods
3/5/05
Just popping up to let you know about some updates on the site.  There's a great new piece in the Remembrance section by "Crazy Earl" himself, Earl Gerheim.  It's about their days together as combat correspondents back in 1967, and I call it "Gus The Chauffer."  I've also added several new finds to the Short Story section, including my all-time favorite Gus Hasford short story, the creepy sci-fi tale "The Disneyland Man", as well as the oddball "CEZANNE, dying in the rain" from Weirdbook #11, "A Periodic Table of the Elements" from New Venture #4,  "The Man Who Ate Greek Coins", a love letter to Greek history, also from New Venture, and  "An Admirer of Acne" from Juice II, which comes courtesy of die-hard Gus fan Keith Seward.  Thanks, Keith.

And thanks to everyone who's taken the time to sign the Gustav Hasford petition.  Please pass it on.

I've been behind on updating the site lately.  Marriage, a new baby and some new writing gigs will do that.  Belated thanks are due to our old friend (and cousin of Gus) John Hicks for his piece 'Nam Is Back: Read All About It.  Thanks, man.

Be seeing you.

Jason Aaron

 

"What Is Your Major Malfunction, Numbnuts?"
7/19/04

I noticed not too long ago that our old pal R. Lee Ermey has a new commercial out.  It's for Dick's Sporting Goods, and I've caught it several times recently, despite the fact that I don't want much TV.  Even if you haven't seen it, you can probably guess how it goes.  Ermey screams at people and marches them around like the maggots they are (in this particular case, he's a little league baseball coach who takes his job a little too serious).  It's a familiar formula, one that Ermey has used countless times over the course of his career, in ads for Coors, on TV shows like "Space: Above and Beyond," "The Simpsons" and most recently "Mail Call," and in several films, from Toy Story to The Frighteners.  Ermey's little song and dance has even found its way onto wax, as his voice was  sampled in "I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor," a tune that Vivian Kubrick put together for the FMJ soundtrack (and a song that actually charted in the UK) and on a tune by the industrial metal band Ministry, from their album A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.  Through his official website, you can purchase R. Lee Ermey t-shirts, bobbleheads, DVDs, a "personally signed" Smokey Bear Drill Instructor's hat and for a mere $40 (plus shipping and handling) you can be the proud owner of a 12 inch "motivational" action figure that spews familiar phrases like "Lemme hear your WAR CRY, scumbag!  That ain't a WAR CRY! AHHHHHHHHH, now that's a WAR CRY!"  But wait...there's more!  The all new "Xtra salty" action figure will warn you "Fuck with my button again and I'll punch you in the snot locker so goddamned hard it'll hospitalize your mother" and "Knock off the whining, you unorganized grabbastic pile of civilian shit or I will gauge out your eyeballs and skull fuck you!"

Ermey’s entire career has been built off playing this one character: the angry, foul-mouthed drill instructor.  No surprise, since that one character is all he's really capable of as an actor.  Remember, Kubrick didn't cast him in Full Metal Jacket because he was a master thespian.  Ermey was a technical adviser who displayed an impressive arsenal of graphic insults while whipping the extras into shape.  Before Kubrick came a'callin, Ermey's acting career consisted of a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance in Apocalypse Now and a role in the low budget Boys of Company C that more than anything showcased his pressing need for dental work.  Don't get me wrong, the guy was perfect for the role of Sgt. Hartman in FMJ, and he played it to the fucking hilt.  Would Tim Colceri have been better in the role, as the film was originally cast?  We'll never know, but still, despite Colceri’s acting tour-de-force in films like Leprechaun 4: In Space, I somehow doubt it.
 



Hartman’s sucking chest wound

What annoys me about R. Lee is that he's spent the last 17 years playing a character Gus Hasford created, without ever giving Gus any credit.  Sure, Gus didn't hold any creative copyright on the angry, abusive Drill Instructor.  The Short-Timers was heavily influenced by both the 1957 film The D.I. (where Jack Webb played a gruff but kind-hearted lifer who made recruits hunt through the dirt for a dead flea, asking if they'd seen “the light, the white light, the guiding light”) and Robert Flanagan’s 1971 novel Maggot, which was set entirely in Marine boot camp.  Years before Full Metal Jacket, every green recruit from Donald Duck to Gomer Pyle had a loud, foul-tempered arch nemesis looming over them, barking orders and threatening physical violence.  Gus didn't dream up the idea of the drill instructor as arch villain.  But more than any other portrayal, his novel and its resulting film version personified the character and ultimately cemented its place in popular culture.  One would think Ermey owes Gus a debt of gratitude.  So how come he never seems to miss an opportunity to dismiss Gus’s contribution to the film while hyping his own?

In August 1999, Ermey was quoted in Premiere magazine's tribute to Kubrick:  "I was watching a football game one Sunday and the phone rang; it was Mr. Kubrick.  He asked me if I had read Gustav Hasford's The Short-Timers, and I told him it was full of inaccuracies and a piece of shit as far as the boot-camp sequence goes, but interesting as hell and off the wall."

In August 2000, on an HBO Online Chat, Ermey said:  "I was also technical advisor of the show.  I advised Stanley that the first half -- the boot camp portion of Full Metal Jacket -- was laced with fictitious crap, and he and I sat down and re-wrote the first half of the show."

And in a 2001 interview, Ermey remarked:  "The best part about the movie, and everybody seems to rave about it, is the boot camp part.  I got to write most of everything I said.  It was based on a novel called The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford, who only went through boot camp. That's his only experience with the Marines.  According to Gustav, the only reason drill instructors existed was to harass, punish and torture recruits. There was no rhyme nor reason."
 



A minister of death, praying for war.

Gus, in turn, never thought much of Ermey.  As a technical adviser, Gus preferred his buddy Dale Dye, though Dye chose to work on Oliver Stone's Platoon instead of FMJ.  As a Marine, Gus resented Ermey's pro-war stance and referred to him as a "fucking pogue lifer."  His words, not mine.  To be fair, I do have a copy of a letter that Ermey wrote to the editor of The Veteran magazine in 1987, in regards to an interview they'd published.  Ermey claims he was misquoted in the interview, that he never said Gus was banned from the set during filming, and while he found The Short-Timers inauthentic in "a few places," he also found it to be "the most outstanding novel written to date about the boot camp Viet Nam experience."  Still, if Ermey ever did have much respect for Gus and his novel, he seems to have forgotten it over the years.

With Gus dead, Kubrick dead, Michael Herr living as an outcast and the rest of the cast either forgotten or off having actual careers, R. Lee Ermey has become the popular face of Full Metal Jacket.  Every year, his supposed contribution to the screenplay grows exponentially, and there's no one around to dispute his claims.  It's true that Kubrick had Ermey's litany of profane insults typed up and sprinkled throughout the script, but every bit of dialogue other than that comes always verbatim from The Short-Timers (Don't believe me?  Here, read it.).  "I got to write most of everything I said," claims Ermey.  Wrong!  "(Kubrick) and I sat down and re-wrote the first half of the show."  C'mon, nobody believes that.  Don't you think you might be exaggerating just a tad bit, R. Lee?

I've offered Ermey the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions regarding his level of involvement with the scripting of FMJ and his relationship with Gustav Hasford, but as yet he hasn't taken me up on that offer.  An offer that still stands, I might add.  In addition, I'd like to know why Bob Bayer's photos of Vietnam (that Kubrick borrowed during the film's production) are still on Ermey's website, labeled as photos from FMJ's set?

Hey, Ermey, if you're out there, why no take this one opportunity to give a little credit to a guy, without whom, you would have no career.  If Gus Hasford had never written The Short-Timers, you wouldn't be doing ads for beer companies or sporting goods stores.  Nobody would tolerate your screaming, let alone on the History Channel.  Nobody at Disney would return your calls.  Nobody would care how many colorful curse words you knew.  And you certainly wouldn't be selling $40 hunks of plastic on your website.

I can't hear you, R. Lee...sound off like you got a pair!


"Do you think I'm cute?
Do you think I'm funny?"

Got a few updates to the site I wanna mention, both in the Remembrance section.  Donna Murray Hines, Gus's friend from Russellville, Alabama, contributed a great new piece that I called You Are Loved.  And I also assembled some of the best emails I've received over the years, from fans, from friends, from people all over the world.  Be the first kid on your block to check it out.

I also added a couple new photos of me, which of course is always a cause for celebration.  These however are different in that they contain photographic proof that there's a woman out there who's actually willing to consent to marry me.  Scary thought, I know.

If you're eager to see Gus's books back in print, and you haven't signed the new Gustav Hasford petition, please take a moment to do so by clicking here.  To all those who've already signed, thanks a bunch.  And please pass it on.

If you haven't signed up with the Semper Gus email discussion group, please email me at jason@gustavhasford.com to join.  And I get a shit-ton of junk email, so please put Gustav Hasford in the subject line whenever you email me.

Our old friend Scott Bradley recently brought this site to my attention.  It's called Books For Soldiers, and it's definitely worth your time, regardless of your feelings about the war in Iraq.

That's all for now.  If the good Lord's willing, and the creek don't rise, I'll see ya again real soon.

Jason Aaron


 

"Flush Out Your Headgear, New Guy"
5/15/04

In 1999, I threw together what little I knew about my cousin, Gustav Hasford, and this website was born.  In the years since then, the site has opened lots of doors for me.  I've played roulette with the Snuffies and spent a night in Bob Bayer's official Gustav Hasford Memorial Library.  I've met dozens of fans, friends and family of Gus and made life-long friends of my own.  I met the real life "Crazy Earl."   I got technical advise from Dale Dye.  I've published essays on Gus.  And I've had the honor of standing before the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., alongside a fascinating group of veterans.

The website has grown exponentially over the last five years.  It now houses the complete downloadable text of two full novels and has been viewed by thousands of people around the world.  Plus there are 8 short stories, 11 interviews, 15 reviews, 13 letters, a gallery of over 50 photographs, and 11 remembrances from fans, friends, and fellow authors.  But wait...there's more...

Welcome to the first entry in the gustavhasford.com web log, your new one-stop shopping source for all info Gus-related.  Through this new blog, I'll keep everyone up to date on any changes or new additions with the site, and I'll also occasionally rant about various matters related to Gus and his legacy (coming soon, my long-festering rant against everyone's favorite profanity-spewing DI, R. Lee Ermey, the man who Gus so lovingly dubbed "a fucking pogue lifer").  Recently, my own feeble attempts at a writing career have kept me from working on the site, but now I'm trying to balance the two pursuits a little better.  I've already been back at work, making a few changes.  Here's the rundown:

The Full Metal Jacket section now has some nifty pages of Cast and Crew notes, as well as a page of little-known FMJ factoids.  In the FMJ: Fandom section, you'll notice a link to the Full Metal Jacket message board on imdb.com.  It's a good place to check out every now and then, if you're looking to chat with FMJ fans.

gustavhasford.com now has it's own store, courtesy of amazon.com.  No, I'm not making any money off it.  It's just a collection of Gus-related items available from amazon, like biographies of Stanley Kubrick, Dale Dye's various films, books by Gus's favorite writer, Ambrose Bierce, and works by Gus's friends, like Art Cover, Harlan Ellison and Kent Anderson.  Be sure to check it out.

Whoring myself out even more, I've also added some Google ads.  Please support the site by clicking on the ads whenever you visit.  Thanks.

Last but not least, I've started an online petition for people who want to see Gus's books back in print.  Nuff said, right.  Go here to add your signature.

There are also plenty of updates still to come.  I just purchased a copy of Other Times #1 from 1975, which features a creepy horror story by Gus titled "The Disneyland Man."  Look for that real soon.  A few other mags boasting stories by Gus have popped up on ebay recently.  I was able to snag Weirdbook #11, which includes something called "Cezanne, Dying in the Rain."  Should be interesting.  I'm also working on a section of the site to house Vietnam-era reporting by all of the Snuffies, not just Gus.  I already have plenty of stories to put online, by the likes of Sgt. Robert Bayer and Cpl. Earl Gerheim.  If you're a Snuffie, and you're interested in having your stories online, please send them to me.  If you already have stories online that I could link to, just send me the link.  Other imminent updates include a Gustav Hasford FAQ, detailed FMJ production notes, tons more FMJ photos and audio files, and a full-length online commentary track for FMJ, featuring contributions by fans, scholars and vets (more info on that a little later).

I'm still hoping that 2004 will be the year I begin serious work on a full-fledged biography of Gus, along with my eager co-writer, Scott Bradley.  If so, you'll be the first to know.

Free time on your hands?  Check out this terrific interview with oddball character actor and legendary madman, Timothy Carey, written by former Gus associate Grover Lewis.  And if you're really bored, check out my own humble film and DVD reviews at eKC Online.

Wishing you a lifetime of cold LZs.  Semper Gus.

Jason Aaron
 
 


 

Thanks to all of the following people who assisted in the creation of this website.

Jon Falkner, my Amazing Friend.

My mom, Betty Aaron, and my aunt, Juanita Davis.

David Willson, a true scholar and a gentleman.

Bob Bayer, Gus's best bud and my most generous patron.

Everybody who's contributed to this page, whether willingly or otherwise:  Bob Carlton, Jens J. Bauer, Laura Dominick, Mawk "Skipper" Arnold, "Crazy Earl" Gerheim, Dale "Daddy D.A." Dye, Steve "Sgt. Bernie" Berntson, Jeff "T.H.E." Ault, Scott "the other Private Joker" Bradley, Grover Furr, Tim Kreider, Stephen Oleszek, Joe Haldeman, Al Kramer, Luca Signorelli, John Hicks, Daniel Robbins, Günter Bein, Ivan Lerner, Keith Seward, R J Del Vecchio, Art Cover and Michael Reaves.

And of course, thanks to Gus, for the inspiration.

Sincerely,

 
 

The Short-Timers  |  The Phantom Blooper  |  A Gypsy Good Time  |  Full Metal Jacket

Stories  |  Poems  |  Letters  |  Unpublished Works  |  Profiles  |  Interviews

Book Reviews  |  Book Theft  |  Obituaries   |  Remembrance  |  Photos  |  Blog  |  Store  | Links