mlah The “culture” that has evolved here isn’t conducive to sissies

June 13, 2004


Filed under: Sea Stories — mlah @ 12:37 pm

when i was a seaman in the navy, i got sent to spain. it was my first real duty station. up ’til that point, i had only gone to training commands. for two years the navy sent me to school! and i was finally going to spain to do some work.

i had started my career, like my great uncle and grandfather before me, by going to san diego for boot camp. san diego is now closed as a boot camp. the navy only send recruits to great lakes, right outside of chicago. i think it was a mistake. i had the fortune of being in boot camp when saddam invaded kuwait. i have stories from that, that i’ll be posting later.

from there i flew up to monterey, ca. for a year and a half of language training. and to follow my language training, at an army school, i went to goodfellow afb in san angelo, tx. i’ll leave that school alone. from there i went to subsurface training school in groton ct. first time i got to spend any time at a navy base. san diego doesn’t really count as you have no free time.

but i finally made it to rota after 2 – 2 1/2 years.

i was a young arabic linguist, eager to save the world for democracy (despite what juan-a-be feels). so i get to rota, which is right across the bay from Ca’diz, Spain, and down the river ‘guadalquivir’ from Seville and it was the fall. and i got introduced to the wonderful world of navy politics.

the balkan war was raging, as well as the algerian troubles, lebanon was starting to calm down a little, and if memory serves, the chechen thing was just really getting going.

and i was an arabic linguist. but the balkan thing was the ’cause du jour’. so when you take a room full of around 10 arabic linguists, and 10 russian – turbo serbo linguists with only 6 computers, guess who got all of the computer time?

we actually had work to do as well, but God forbid one of us even dared approach a terminal.

But that’s where wayno came in. wayno had a wonderful idea. i had no idea about any of this. i was just along for the ride. but wayno went and pitched the eve shift to the powers that be as an efficiency improvement to our workcenter.

it was shot down. no way could the day staff let 6-8 arab linguists out of their sight. we might burn the building down. we did have that reputation. and i think it was well deserved. some of us still have that rep. not me of course.

ya see, with an eve shift, say, from 1500-2300, we could have a couple of hours with the day staff, just in case they actually needed anything. and then at 5, when the ‘daysmegs’ ventured outside of the windowless building we worked in, we would have all of the computers to ourselves.

the day staff wasn’t buying it.

but we launched an attack on the few terminals that existed. we just kept logging off serblinguists. and when they whined, we got our way.

so began the biggest boondoggle i have ever been involved in. this whole fall- winter- and into the spring was just one big drunken ‘blur’.

so this is what my typical workday was like. monday through friday for 8 months or so.

wake up at noon. drag myself out to the beach and drink a ton of water to cure myself of the huge hangover caused by the night before. lay on the beach while i rehydrated myself.

drag myself back across the street to my apartment (yeah, you read that correctly, my apartment was across the street from the beach), shower, shave, dress, and go to work at 14:45.

mill about from 14:45 until 15:30, so that the day staff could see us and know we were accounted for. proceed to the ‘outback’ and order breakfast from sebastian, the fast order cook at our little dive diner. head back in around 16:45 to watch the daysmegs leave.

actually work from 15:30 until around 1900. i was new, so i had a lot of tech to read, as well as country studies. then from 1900-2000 i would work on my requirements to get advanced..

with 2000 would begin the biggest onslaught of 7 arab linguists trying to pursuade wayno to cut us loose early. he would lament, and remind us that if he cut us loose early every single day, we would get moved back to days, and the serb linguists sucked. but we were diligent, and persistantly badgered him!

after many offers of the first round, and the second, third, first shots…. he would lament that we hadn’t finished our work, and we would retort, ‘why, of coors we have wayno’.

wayno was in hell. because he knew he shouldn’t, and he knew he would. he also knew there was a crew of irish and english girls out at the bars right off base that we knew all too well…….

these girls would come to spain in the summer, and work as bartenders only for enough money to pay bills, and for their flight. guys would buy them drinks, take them to discos. all they did was party. and every year, a few would stay over the winter as well.

buy 2100, wayno would be reduced to a quivering pile of jelly as the likes of eddie ‘special ed’ smith, john ulrich, karl ‘he, who has no butt’, myself and a few others would be constantly badgering him bart simpson style to hit the bars.

wayno was our bitch. we could almost set our watches by him. at around 2115 every night, he’d finally mumble the words we were waiting to hear. ‘see you in guays at 10’

guays was alway the beginning of our nightly sojourns. we would bounce back and forth between there and bar ‘california’ pretty much all night. ’til they closed at 3:30.

then i would stunble home, and sleep it off.

and hey, it’s noon again. time to get up again, go to the beach again…..

it was a blast. but the best thing…. then came the weekend!

i can’t remember too many things from those nights out. i still remember my tech i studied under the tutelage of wayno and the raghead eve watch. i can remember the girls too.

there was a foam night at disco ‘aprils’ out be the ‘playa de la luz’. some girl got the policia called on them for throwing a potatoe (spelled dan quayle style, just for you, pinkerton) at some construction workers.

i’m sure there is more…. but i just thougt i’d let y’all know how hard i worked my first 8 months or so i was in spain.

the pictures in this post are,

1. the view from my bedroom window the second time i was posted in spain.
2. simone ikonomidis after losing a bet.
3. jason hagman enjoying a brew at the boars breath.
4. myself and claire mctigue at bar ‘guays’.


  1. Because they had you studying Arabic, does that mean that you had a perfect score on your D-labs? You still have to work on your English, looking at this post. Did you fuck that chick? Not bad. Did you spend your time translating secret intercepts and shit? Not that you can answer yes…

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 13, 2004 @ 1:55 am

  2. I believe I’ve heard some of these stories before. “Sucks bad John” con fotos would be a good blog story!!savagemodel99

    Comment by dad — June 14, 2004 @ 6:28 pm

  3. It’s obvious some people will never have any class. And it’s obvious they don’t get laid either, as that’s the first low blow they have to resort to in a comment…what a shame, what a waste of intelligence…

    Notice how I didn’t have to use the word fuck?

    I guess because my vocabulary is evolved above neanderthal.

    Hey, Mlah, how are you?

    Comment by Madame Butterfly — June 14, 2004 @ 9:46 pm

  4. I don’t “fuck” or even “get laid”, it’s true. I make love, sugar. Spread your delicate wings, Mme Butterfly. I was just giving Mlah the benefit of the (considerable) doubt. Would you fuck him? I didn’t think so. The only obvious thing around here is the neanderthal political philosophy.

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 14, 2004 @ 10:19 pm

  5. Hey, Juan Cole, if you keep on posting on my friend’s site like that, I will rip out your throat. Mlah will tell you that I know how. Quit wasting everyone’s time. Also, that story was completely random.

    Comment by medium john — June 14, 2004 @ 10:32 pm

  6. easy john. let the profane one talk. it is an easy way for us people to know who the socialists are. besides, ask yourself, is he worth prison? he’s not. believe me. let him talk his smack. it’s ALL that he can do.

    sen~or juan-a-be. mme butterfly is better looking than the girl in the photo. too bad she’s married. so it’s not really a fair question to her, now is it? i think the more appropriate question would be, which of the two of us stands a better chance.

    Comment by mlah — June 14, 2004 @ 11:25 pm

  7. I won’t go to prison, I’m not 18 yet. He’s fair game.

    Comment by medium john — June 14, 2004 @ 11:49 pm

  8. Medium John said: “if you keep on posting on my friend’s site like that, I will rip out your throat.” What a charming little munchkin you are! I don’t doubt that you could do it, you animal. I only wonder where you learned your delightful response to Freedom of Speech! There’s our little Reagan Youth (“Seig Heil! Seig Heil!”)… God Bless America, my son, Land of the Free and Home of the White Guys With Anger Management Problems! How Christ-like can you get, I ask you!

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 15, 2004 @ 12:25 am

  9. Mlah said: “too bad she’s married”. Now, now, don’t go coveting thy neighbor’s wife, dude! Stick to the chicks you have to pay for, haha!

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 15, 2004 @ 1:05 am

  10. “…your hands are those of murderers and your fingers are filthy with sin. You lie and grumble and oppose the good…You spend your time and energy in spinning evil plans which end up in deadly actions. You cheat and shortchange everyone. Everything you do is filled with sin; violence is your trademark. Your feet run to do evil and rush to murder; your thoughts are only of sinning, and wherever you go you leave behind a trail of misery and death. You don’t know what true peace is, nor what it means to be just and good; you continually do wrong and those who follow you won’t experience any peace either.”

    Comment by The Prophet Isaiah — June 15, 2004 @ 6:58 am

  11. that sounds like you pinkerton.

    Comment by mlah — June 15, 2004 @ 7:06 am

  12. I see our little friend JC (he who must call himself by the name of his Revolutionary hero!) is sticking around like an annoying little brother. JC, conservatives don’t consider themselves perfect, just ‘right’ (get it?) on many social issues. You wanna change our society into a Dictatorship of the Masses (check out the PRC Constitution….), that’s fine. We can all go somewhere else (ala Atlas Shrugged) — or even continue in your brave new world (many of us have practise at subsuming ourselves into the society in which we live, having done the military thing) laughing up our sleeves at your inane social policies. But when things go to hell and fall apart, don’t come whining to us. Now, go sit at the feet of your Commissar, the real Juan Cole — he who preaches history without context — and learn your little socialist lessons by heart. Must gird your little loins for battle against us Capitalist Roaders!

    Comment by yup — June 15, 2004 @ 7:12 am

  13. hahahahaha! he doesn’t realize that he doesn’t even think. he is just a parrot for his master. he can’t even answer to his own name but must use the handle of he who he must obey.

    be free jc. spend the money in your pocket how you want to spend it. and most importantly, let others have the freedom to spend their money how they see fit.

    oh, i forgot, you think all of our money IS your money too…..

    Comment by mlah — June 15, 2004 @ 7:19 am

  14. No no no, you’ve got me all wrong Juan. I’m not trying to impede your “Freedom to talk out of your ass”, I’m simply exercising my right to beat the living daylights out of anyone who annoys me or my friends like that.

    normal guy + anonymity provided by the internet = total jackass

    Comment by medium john — June 15, 2004 @ 9:15 am

  15. Oh yeah, and I’m not a munchkin. I’m 5’10” and 140 pounds of pure muscle who has taken apart much bigger and better people than you.

    Comment by medium john — June 15, 2004 @ 9:18 am

  16. JC: I think those of us who read Mlah’s website on a regular basis have come to some conclusions. You don’t have much of a life, you don’t have much positive input, and you don’t have much positive influence on those around you, and it’s evidenced by what you have posted thus far on this blog.

    I think a concensus has been reached. Post as much as you like.

    From here on out, you are PNG’d.

    Do yourself a favor, and learn to be a positive influence. If you don’t like something, it’s ok to say it, but after a while, quit attacking someone, and instead be constructive instead of destructive. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself isolated.

    Like now.

    Comment by Madame Butterfly — June 15, 2004 @ 5:41 pm

  17. Yup suggested I want a “Dictatorship of the Masses” a la China. Sorry, Mao’s Little Red Book has been out of style for quite a while. In fact, I wouldn’t even be trading with them unless they got their shit together more (human rights, Tibet). why do you all insist i’m such a dangerous radical? i love america and would hope that america loves all of its citizens. why don’t you all want those on the bottom (and there will always be a bottom) to be taken care of? why must some americans suffer so much when we have such a kick-ass country? how did we go from having the world’s sympathy after 9-11 to all this disgust for us now?

    Re: the real Juan Cole, if you read his blog daily, you get sourced news and context and sometimes his opinion, hardly a revolutionary. don’t take my word for it, read it yourself to see how off base you are, if you dare. to me, he’s just another voice, out of many voices, talking about Iraq.

    I gonna be isolated here? wow, that’s a switch!

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 15, 2004 @ 9:00 pm

  18. Dude, take a hint. No one here likes you or your ideas, commie. I love this kick-ass country too, but the fact that it’s populated by so many people like you just makes me sick.

    Comment by medium john — June 15, 2004 @ 10:09 pm

  19. Medium John, your ground-breaking, eloquent and erudite homoerotic confusions are duly noted.

    Comment by Juan Cole — June 15, 2004 @ 10:30 pm

  20. homoerotic? Where in the world did you pull that out of me calling you a jackass?

    Comment by medium john — June 15, 2004 @ 11:13 pm

  21. mlah, you really caught yourself a big Troll. This one is fighting hard so you better get the net out. We’ll get the tank for you. Should we put the colorful pebbles and little divers in it for him to play with or do you think just place some water proof non-revisionist (gotta keep saying that) history books in it for him to read?

    I’m with you Madame Butterfly!!!!!

    Comment by CJ — June 16, 2004 @ 12:13 am

  22. Interesting how JC brought up the First Amendment and yet ignored one very clear fact about freedom of speech. Yes, US citizens have a right to freedom of speech HOWEVER freedom of speech does not mean consequence free.

    Comment by Uptown Girl — June 16, 2004 @ 6:50 am

  23. Ah, the good old days. Earthquake drills in San Diego. That first Christmas vacation in Monterey. Oh wait — Mlah, you didn’t get that one, did you? Hehe. Hey, San Angelo was only a three hour (or was it 12 hour?) drive from lovely downtown Cuidad Acuna!

    You make Rota sound so clean and friendly. And you had computers? We had to use abacuses (abaci?) and our fingers! After work we used to sit in the bars until the MPs came and closed them down at 0200 (gotta ba careful, those nasty North Koreans might attack while we’re all drunk!). Then off to the unit’s private bar on base (not as much fun, as there was no entertainment). MWR had the private bars closed down when they found out how much business they were losing…. Subsidized booze and tobacco at the PX, so we didn’t get all maudlin over being stuck in the human feces-covered rice paddies. Least we didn’t have to eat boiled camel meat, like my Marine friends did last year.

    Comment by yup — June 16, 2004 @ 7:40 am

  24. Oh, and let’s not forget that wonderful smell of amine permeating every pore of your skin and thread of your clothing. Don’t you miss it all Mlah?

    Comment by yuo — June 16, 2004 @ 7:42 am

  25. Jees, Mlah, Did you frag a latrine? How do you come up with all these reeking trolls?

    Cool stories. Keep ’em coming!

    Comment by og — June 16, 2004 @ 2:31 pm

  26. When were you there? I was stationed in Rota ’86-’89. I lived in La Costilla. I remember Guays. “Guay” is Gypsy slang for friend. When I first got there it was a leather shop that sold boots and saddles and stuff. When the leather shop moved an English guy and a Spanish guy who’s names I can’t remember rented the place and called it “Guays”. For some reason it immediately became popular. The English guy told me that in six weeks they made as much money as they thought they were going to make in six months.

    I had a good time there. I wish I could go back.

    Comment by R. Gregg Reed — June 19, 2004 @ 9:32 pm

  27. 92-95, and then again from 96-99, the picture was taken from my apartment in the virgen del mar, right above the ambulance station.

    Comment by mlah — June 19, 2004 @ 11:01 pm

  28. Good job.

    Comment by Tisli — August 6, 2006 @ 10:35 pm

  29. hey have you got Simones address. I’ve been dyin to catch up with her.
    It is I Egg. AKA Elga. Bo Diddly but now lookin more like Bo Derek.
    I worked in Guays in 91 with Simone and I’d love to tell you some funny stories but I was always too drunk to recall. xxx gosh – Rota! oh to be back with lorenzo “DAD” I gave him such a hard time!

    Comment by elga — May 10, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  30. I was a 5 year old kid of Navy parents in 87. I remeber Guays bar, I used to pass by it to buy my parents wine coolers for the beach. I used to leave next to the hospital in Rota spian, not the navy hospital, the Spanish one. Anyone know the name of the road.

    Comment by jonathan berry — August 30, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

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