I was supposed to get together with Roger Ames, but my writer personality and lack of understanding of my plans prevented me from locking in a time, and then all the windows of opportunity suggested evaporated.

However, when I was in the bowels of the Imperial War Museum, Roger’s assistant rang me with a time, but the message didn’t show until I got upstairs, my mobile not working underground where I was experiencing the blitz.

I wouldn’t have been that late.  The tube runs at light-speed.  But whether they’re not used to people taking the tube, or they figured Lambeth North was just too far from Kensington High Street, upon being questioned by Sue Roger said there wasn’t enough time.  So I continued my assignation in the Holocaust exhibit.

There’s a line in a Laura Nyro song, "In my mind I can’t study war no more".  If you’re of my generation, you’ve heard it.  "Save The Country" was covered by the Fifth Dimension.  But there’s a power in Laura’s original.  When she sings this line it comes from deep in her heart, her whole body is emoting, she’s representing all the angst we felt about the Vietnam War.  Angst that doesn’t seem to be felt about the Iraq debacle.  Probably because it just doesn’t seem real.  Although the Yahoo News leads with the body count every day, it’s not featured in other media.  Just go to the Google News for proof.  For the latter is assembled by machine rather than hand.  By link rather than importance.  And it appears that the body count just isn’t that important.  You know you don’t want to ruin everybody’s day.

But in the sixties there was a draft.  And you had to think about your ass getting shot.  And if today’s youth were confronted with this same dilemma there would be chaos in the streets of the U.S.  Karl Rove would have no control.  Iraq would be THE story.  Because no one wants to die.  Unless their own life is threatened.  And very few people believe their lives were threatened by Saddam Hussein and his country, especially now.

Driving down from Manchester Harry pointed out where he and Richard had had lunch.  Where Eisenhower and Churchill, or was it Montgomery, had plotted war strategy.  The Second World War is palpable in the U.K., and I wanted to find out more, about the country’s experience.

After taking the bus from Barnes to Hammersmith, and then the District Line tube from there to Westminster, I took a bus to Lambeth North, since the Bakerloo line was down.  It didn’t register that when I got out of the station in Westminster the Abbey and Big Ben would be there.  And I thought of how exciting, how cool this was, how it must have an impact on locals, then I remembered how much of an impact Washington, D.C. has on Americans…not much.

In front of the museum were two large guns.  Which functioned in BOTH World Wars.  They were moved from ship to ship.

And after hitting the bathroom downstairs, I went into the Trench, the World War 1 replica.  And although a bit hokey, and filled with teenagers, it did bring up the reality of living in a hole for seemingly ever.  There was a whole world down there.  Even a store in the ground.

And then I went upstairs to where two blokes were watching an interactive movie display about the six aircraft hanging in the sky.  And after watching the info on the last two, I fired up the movies on the first four.  I learned about the U.S. Mustang.  And the Sopwith Camel, very hard to fly.  But then I pushed to read about the German fighter jet, the first and only such aircraft flown in the Second World War.

The engine was built by BMW.

I drove BMWs.  How could I?

I remembered when Jews wouldn’t drive German cars.  Sure, most of the Nazis are gone from those companies now, but when I bought my first Bimmer in ’74, they were probably RUNNING the company!

The plane hung in the sky.  Looking like something from a futuristic cartoon.  It was creepy.

And after investigating the tanks, and the submarine, I caught up with the V2 rocket.  I was impressed with the inner plumbing.  And the fact that there was NO DEFENSE against it.  NO DEFENSE!  As in you could do NOTHING ABOUT IT!  You just had to let it fly, and experience it.  Hope it didn’t hit you, and kill you.

We’re so used to answers, responses.  But what if this was beyond your purview?  What if you wanted to respond, but didn’t have the power?

That’s what I learned in the basement.  England was pissed that Germany annexed Poland.  But didn’t have the power to do anything about it.  Couldn’t really stop Germany’s taking of Norway.  English and French troops had to be evacuated at Dunkirk.  Germany was a JUGGERNAUT!  That the English beat with pluck and luck in the bombing raid of 1940.  It was creepy, and scary, and ultimately terrifying.

But not as terrifying as the Holocaust exhibit.

Oh, there were videotaped testimonies of survivors.  But it was the explanation, the line by line historical story, the coming together of the facts, that was so frightening.

Germany hated the Jews.  After all, wasn’t a Jew part of the Communist regime that lorded over them?  Hitler gained power via a government compromise.  Then books were burned.  They had film.  Burning books?  WHY?

Very quickly Hitler tightened control and moved against the Jews.  They had a wall detailing every law against the Jews, of which there were a plethora, enacted starting in 1932.  I told myself those who remained were stupid.  Until I saw the exhibit about the conference in Evian, where the remaining world powers decided not to admit more refugees, their economies couldn’t handle it.  It got worse and worse and worse.  The yellow stars on clothing.  The ghettos.  And eventually the Final Solution.  Put forth as a euphemism so the outside world, those doomed, wouldn’t know.

Anti-Semitism is very real.  I know, because a couple of weeks ago two callers on my KLSX show railed on about all the problems in the world being attributable to Jews.  That the Jews controlled the media, that’s why Bob Dylan’s album hit number one.  That Rupert Murdoch is a Jew, it’s on the Internet.  My jaw dropped.

I wondered if I would have gotten out.  I tend to have difficulty acting.  I’m either immediately impulsive, or hold back…

I’m hoping my sister Jill would have worked the angles.  Or my father before her, he would stand in line, he would get us out.

But what if not.  I imagined being in those railroad cars.

The hatred.  The public furor.  This is what we have in the United States right now.  A President who wants to torture.  Go to a war museum and read about torture, man’s inhumanity to man.

And the intolerance after 9/11.  Where Bill Maher becomes a public pariah.  This is serious stuff.  Not new, but straight out of history.  Sure, there are many dissenters, but there were dissenters originally in Germany too.

I don’t know what happens when people die, can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try.  But although I am a member of the Jewish faith, the tribe, I really don’t believe in an afterlife.  You’re here, and then you’re gone.  Should some other person be able to snuff out your life, on a whim?

Eventually, after a long ride home, I went to Riva with Harry and Serena.  As Andrea said, our meal was a walk in the woods.  With food appropriate to the season.  The dessert was again phenomenal.  Ice cream drenched in vinegar and honey.  On a base of fudge and nuts.  Forget how it reads, it TASTES spectacular.

And I guess this is what life is about.  Good times with friends.

I’m not sure Iraqis are having such good times with friends right now.  But we’re fighting the evil force, in the name of religion.  One bombing of east coast towers has our country in a frenzy.  Then again, those close to the World Trade Center who survived have been traumatized.

But it seems in our fervor we’ve lost all humanity.  We’ve let our emotions overrun our hearts and minds.

We don’t live in a world of love your brother, we’ve just got a planet of warring adolescents, trying to illustrate how big their dicks are.  You’ve got to pay attention.  Otherwise you end up a victim.

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