Last November we reported on the new opera Glory Denied, which is based on the 2001 book of the same name by Tom Philpott. The book and opera tell the amazing story of Col. Floyd James “Jim” Thompson, the former Special Forces officer who was captured by the Viet Cong in Vietnam in 1964 and not released until 1973. Thompson was the longest-held POW in U.S. history.
Composer Tom Cipullo’s two-character operatic version of Thompson’s life during captivity and after will be performed next by the UrbanArias Opera Company at the Artisphere in Rosslyn (Arlington), Virginia, beginning April 1. The company is offering discounts to active-duty military folks for the six performances.
For more details and to check show times and dates go to Urban Arias’ website.
Posted on March 30th 2011 in Music
Homer Hickam (above), the best-selling author best known for his 1998 memoir, Rocket Boys, which deals with his life growing up in a small West Virginia coal town in the fifties, will receive the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award at the Saturday night (Aug. 20) Awards Banquet at VVA’s National Convention at the Silver Legacy Hotel in Reno. Hickam served as a 1st Lieutenant with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967-68.
His latest book, The Dinosaur Hunter, is a fast-moving adventure novel set in the present-day Montana ranchlands. It centers on a former L.A. homicide detective who uses his police skills as sketchy things begin to happen in and around his ranch. The book “is fun, ” reviewer Carolyn See wrote in The Washington Post, “and if you don’t already live in Montana, it’s a perfect escape.”
For more info on the book, and Hickam’s other novels and memoirs, go to the author’s web site.
Posted on March 30th 2011 in Book News
We took the name of this web page (and the column in The VVA Veteran where it originated) from the classic book of military strategy, The Art of War, written by the Chinese general and philosopher Sun Wu in the 6th century B.C. That book has been republished in countless print editions over the centuries.
Now, for the first time–according to articles in The New York Times and the web site Graphic Novel Reporter–The Art of War will be published as a graphic novel by Round Table Companies, in partnership with Smarter Comics.
The 58-page comic book will be released April 11 in an array of formats. You can get it as an online eBook; or as an iPhone, Android phone, Android tablet, or iPad eBooke (for free). Or you can buy the printed graphic book for $12.95.
Corey Michael Blake, the chief executive of Round Table, says the new comic book is aimed at busy professionals who are looking for a fun and educational read, as well as at traditional comic book readers.
Posted on March 29th 2011 in Book News, History
Despite the fact that it contains perhaps Hollywood’s most psychotic Vietnam veteran (and that’s saying something), the 1976 Paul Schrader-Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver is widely viewed as one of the best movies of the last half of the 20th century. In 1998, for example, the American Film Institute ranked the one hundred greatest American movies, and Taxi Driver came in at No. 47. (Francis Ford Copolla’s 1979 Apocalpyse Now was ranked No. 28; Michael Cimino’s intense The Deer Hunter (1978) was No. 79, and Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) came in at No. 83.)
The film, in which Robert De Niro (above) gives an unforgettable performance as the unbalanced title character, Travis Bickle, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It also was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture (it didn’t win; Rocky did).
The Film Forum in New York is showing a restored version of Taxi Driver now through March 31. Check the Film Forum’s web site for times and other info about the movie.
Posted on March 22nd 2011 in Feature Films
The Wayne Writers Forum and Wayne State University Student Services is sponsoring “A Salute to the Music and Literature of the Vietnam War Era,” featuring Vietnam veteran poet/essayist/memoirist W.D. Ehrhart (above), beginning at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday, March 24. The program will be held at the Bernath Auditorium in the David Adamany Undergraduate Library on the Wayne State University Campus.
Also on the bill of this free event: Vietnam veteran poet David Connolly (above); Moby Grape’s Peter Lewis, who will be doing a solo acoustic performance of tunes from the Vietnam War era; and Rev. Robert B. Jones and Matt Watroba, who will perform a set of folk songs by Phil Ochs and others.
The event is free and open to the public. For more info, go to the events pages on the WSU web site, call 313-577-7713, or e-mail MLLiebler@aol.com.
Posted on March 21st 2011 in Music, Poetry
Bob Dylan, who first made a name for himself as an antiwar folksinger in the sixties (Blowin’ in the Wind, Masters of War, The Times They Are A Changin’ etc.), will be performing in Vietnam next month.
According to Rod Quinton, who runs Saigon Sound System in what is officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Dylan will do a concert on April 10 in the former South Vietnamese capital at the 8,000-plus-capacity RMIT University stadium.
“We are bringing him here because Bob Dylan is a very important legend of music and we think it’s important that Vietnamese people, particularly the younger generation, are exposed to his legacy and what he’s done for music,” Quinton told the Associated Press.
General admission tickets will go for about $43, which, the AP points, out is “slightly higher than Vietnam’s monthly minimum wage.” Good seats will set you back about $120 per.
The trip to Vietnam will be part of Dylan’s Asian tour, which includes his first ever concert in China.
Posted on March 15th 2011 in Music
The Pritzker Military Libary in Chicago’s Saturday Film Series continues this Saturday, March 12, with a showing of The Green Berets (1968), the only movie John Wayne directed—and the only Hollywood Vietnam War movie made and shown during the war itself.
Wayne also stars in this unabashedly anti-antiwar film as an unlikely looking (read: old and overweight) Special Forces Colonel fighting the nasty Viet Cong. When the film was shown to the troops in Vietnam during the war it was met with derisive laughter because it was so eggregiously unrealistic.
That includes one especially embarrassing gaffe: the final scene in which Wayne and another Green Beret are walking along the beach as the sun sets over the South China Sea–in the East.
The film starts at 1:00 p.m. at the library, located at 104 S. Michigan Ave.
It will be preceded by a brief talk by the historian Jason Waak. Admission is free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
For info, call 312-374-9333
Posted on March 9th 2011 in Feature Films
You can listen to the stirring tune, “The Wall,” written by Vietnam Veteran Timothy Murphy (above), and sung by Pat Garvey, on line. Murphy, whom we profiled back in 2004 in an article in The VVA Veteran, is working on his first CD, which will consist mostly of original music. The tentative title is “Heroes.”
Murphy, originally from Massena, New York, was drafted into the Army and spent a year in Vietnam, from September 1968-69. He served as a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division in the Central Highlands near Pleiku. He received a Silver Star.
He wrote “The Wall” after his first visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in 1983 with his brother, Pat Murphy, who also served in the Vietnam War.
“That first visit affected me so deeply,” Tim Murphy told VVA’s Bernard Edelman in 2004. “I came away with an abiding comfort which endures to this day. It was dramatic. It was cathartic. And I felt I had to write something about it. I wanted others to know this peace that I’d experienced there.”
After all, he said, “I have a lot of friends on The Wall.“
Posted on March 8th 2011 in Music
The play, A Shadow of Honor, which had its world premiere at the Keegan Theatre in Washington, D.C., in January, has a two-pronged plot tied together by the legacies of America’s wars on different families from different generations who live in the same farmhouse in rural Nelson County, Virginia.
The first story line, set in 1907, deals with the still-strong feelings about the Civil War. The second, set in 2007, has a young couple grappling with, among other things, the husband’s father post-Vietnam War maladjustment and its continuing impact on his family.
The play was written by Peter Coy, the co-artistic director of the non profit Hamner Theatre in Afton, Virginia, south of Charlottesville. Coy also is a long-time theater director and producer, and has written a slew of other plays.
Posted on March 4th 2011 in Drama