September 8, 2009
From Art Shay’s review, “Sick Glourious Basterds”, at Swans.com:
Some big Swans fans don’t like the past joy I’ve taken in killing Nazi fliers in the real war. Next month I’ll be at the head table of a reunion of 9 survivors of the infamous Kassel mission — 35 B-24s went out, 4 of us returned. One hundred and seventeen kids like me, average age 24, were killed by FW 190s. A movie made largely of German films of that Sept. 27, 1944, will be shown. On an advance disc I think I saw my own Sweet Sue flying unscathed past a friend’s plane as it blew up 40 feet away. The friend, Ira Weinstein, survived 19 months in a Stalag, and will sit next to me at the reunion.
Ira goes back to Germany every two years and has dinner with the German Luftwaffe crews who shot him down that fatal day. (Farmers forced him to bury five of his crew members who couldn’t get out of their burning Lib fast enough.) I could never bring myself to break bread with these people, even though they vas obeying orders, as was I. My play, Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart? (Jimmy was my Squadron commander), which ran in Chicago three years ago, made that point to great applause. As somebody on Swans has reminded me, all war is immoral.
The trouble is I’m no Quentin Tarantino. My real life war plays over and over again in my mind like a CNN bulletin. It must by now be etched onto my synapses. It is exciting to see that an artist who writes and photographs, as I do — but was born 18 years after WWII ended — has made an imaginative masterpiece of the same materials from which I have merely made a life.
And come up with the same conclusion as must come to all sentient humans, even those ratiocinative aggressive moralists who think they have stumbled onto something new: Like cautioning water not to run uphill. For Christ’s sake folks, all war is immoral.