Friday, November 20, 2009

"Bondi beach," surf Aborigines call "water over rocks"

Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia ( Photo by Duncan Rawlinson)

Bondi beach: a story and song
A song of a Yank surfer on a flight from Vietnam to Australia to survive big waves at a place Aborigines call "water over rocks"

A new recording by folk poetry band Mike Marcellino

Listen on the widgets on Notebook Writer, or on our band site on ReverbNation


Like our music page on Facebook



Mike - lyrics, vocal
Tomas Texino - guitar, drum, composition, production
Recorded in St. Augustine Florida, November 20, 2009

Bondi beach
by Mike Marcellino

From an old French
Tan Son Nhat,
a khaki clad
Yank surfer
four thousand miles
a mission of redemption
to New South Wales
into the water over rocks
the Aborigines
Bondi beach.

A mate’s long board
water logged,
the Yank surfer
by ever strong winds
made his way
into the water over rocks
the Aborigines 
Bondi beach.

his long board
the surf,
the lone
silent rider
left in his wake, rice paddies
and triple canopy jungles,
kept head of rip currents
and deadly bull sharks
into the water over rocks
the Aborigines 
Bondi beach.

For the seventh wave
he waited, the Yank
took off
all out
the twelve foot high
over head,
sent the long board
like an arrow,
driving him
into the water over rocks
the Aborigines
Bondi beach.

Bondi beach, Copyright Mike Marcellino, 2008, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Growing hunger in America called "a catastrophe"

Hunger in America
A commentary by Mike Marcellino

"USDA: Number of Americans going hungry increases" the headline read.

Another neglected headline. That thought compelled me to bring attention to this story by Associated Press writer Henry M. Jackson.

WASHINGTON – More than one in seven American households struggled to put enough food on the table in 2008, the highest rate since the Agriculture Department began tracking food security levels in 1995.

That's about 49 million people, or 14.6 percent of U.S. households. The numbers are a significant increase from 2007, when 11.1 percent of U.S. households suffered from what USDA classifies as "food insecurity" — not having enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

Researchers blamed the increase in hunger on a lack of money and other resources.

Later in the article, an expert expresses his shock at the plight of too many of America's children.
"What should really shock us is that almost one in four children in our country lives on the brink of hunger," said David Beckmann, the President of Bread of the World, an advocacy organization.

How long are we going to neglect our children while waging wars in the Middle East when we can't even identify how we can win or what our objective is?  If we can't set a good example at home, how can we continue to try to shape the rest of the world in our image?

This is not just a government problem; this is a problem that all Americans should start solving.

In addition, three of four of 17 to 25 year olds do not meet standards for military service due to obesity, other health matters, drugs and alcohol problems, criminal records or the lack of high school diplomas.

We can't sit by and expect the government to do something about this; our government should have addressed this long ago.

Ask yourself - "What is our nation's future?"

When will we realize that in a democracy "we" are the government.  Looking for political scapegoats in red or blue alone won't do it.  It is time for Americans to start looking beyond themselves, be unselfish, roll up their sleeves and save their country.

The solutions to America's problems begin at home.

Link to the entire article:;_ylt=AmqNWHK3W9KbIFroCjEd5Les0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTMyZzFtaDljBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkxMTE2L3VzX2h1bmdlcl9yZXBvcnQEY3BvcwM2BHBvcwMzBHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5faGVhZGxpbmVfbGlzdARzbGsDdXNkYW51bWJlcm9m

 Copyright Mike Marcellino 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

The making of music

A band of brothers
by Mike Marcellino

Eight weeks ago, a writing and musical journey began when I again hooked up with an old Army buddy, Tomas Texino.  We served in the Vietnam War together.  Tomas makes a mandolin sing, plays guitar, writes fascinating and funny stories about bluegrass music and whatever else he feels like, like stuff about Rozz Savage rowing around the world and playin' a one-on-one game of basketball against his buddy Bill Monroe shootin' at a hoop that comes outa the trunk of Bill's Cadillac.

My friend played in a cool bluegrass band, "Salt Run," for many years out of St. Augustine, Florida. Never forget our time together as far up in he mountains in Virginia as you can get, for the Carter Family Memorial Concert years ago.

This September, I found Tomas once again after a 10 year absence and we began to see what we could do with some of the poetry songs I'd written.

Well, out came "Amelia Earhart, soft silver wings" about the fearless aviator, just in time for the release of "Amelia," starring Hilary Swank.  I didn't know about the film, but got a MySpace message from her cousin, saying she liked the piece and that she isn't biased and thinks Hilary will win another Academy Award.

Haven't seen "Amelia" yet.  Was waiting for my special invite to a private screening.  The film kinda got ripped up by most critics, but then that's why they call them critics.

Tomas played mandolin on the song, composed it, threw in a bass. Singer songwriter David Dowling was on his guitar for the recording at a house in St. Augustine.  We had dinner together; it was a beautiful night overlooking America's oldest city the Spanish settled in the 1600s.  That recording night was priceless.

Along the way I got back to my first love - surfing.  Body surfed nearly every day for five weeks.  Caught one four foot wave and shot right out the curl.

Then Tomas and I did another piece, "Las Cruces," about living on a tiny horse ranch in the desert hills in southeast New Mexico, near the border.  It brought me back to wandering the streets of Juarez, Mexico, just a few months after getting out of Vietnam and the Army.  I had served as a combat correspondent and photojournalist and met Tomas as he worked helping refugees build a new life and a new village.  They called it "civic action" back then.  I think we need a lot more "civic action" and a lot less killing in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and the streets and Army bases in America.

To record "Flatbush" with musician Randall Leddy I left the surf and  hopped a train to New York City.  Randall's father served in the Special Forces in the U.S. Army.   "Flatbush" is about a writer's view of life in the West Indian neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Special thanks goes to Randall's wife, Stacy Rock, a very talented, emerging singer songwriter.  Yes, that's her read name and she comes from a small  town in the middle of Montana.  Now she's making passionate, music in New York, mixing her classical background with pop,, rock  and folk.

On the way to Brooklyn, I had sort of a homecoming in Baltimore were I was "born and early raised" (a phrase from a song I wrote, "Full moon Baltimore" recorded by my first band, Split Pea/ce in Cleveland).  I performed a solo gig without music at the Baltimore Hostel for a poetry series, "Last Sunday, Last Rights," put on by Pat King, the go to guy for Outsider Writers, a writers' cooperative I've been a part of the past couple of years.  After all these years, I discovered the original "Washington Monument" isn't in DC but in Baltimore.

When I got back down to Florida, limping as my left calf kept freezing up, Tomas and I finished work on our band's fourth song, the hardest one to do - "The Walls of Fire."

In "The Walls of Fire" I traced the sacrifice and courage of American soldiers from the Civil War through World War II, Korea, Vietnam  Iraq and Afghanistan.  We started on it before my trip to New York City but it sounded just too sad.

Tomas figured that Irish tin whistles were just the sound to turn horror into a band of brothers tackling anything and everything thrown at them.  Mandolin and a drum are also in the piece.

Now, I'm wonderin' just what's going on.  In eight weeks, the Mike Marcellino Band has reached 64 among the Top Folk Artist in New York City on the ReverbNation charts.  Not sure what that means, except there are 400,000 bands on that music site and we also rose to 654 in the United States and 965 in the world.

We reached a milestone today, recording the 9000th play on our MySpace music site.

We appreciate people listening and reading the lyrics.

We released "The Walls of Fire" on Veterans Day.  It's an important piece to us, taking us back to 1968 when we served together in Vietnam.  Not sure how we survived; just lucky.  Many of our brothers in arms didn't.

Looking down the road, we hope to put out our first CD, play some paid gigs. No matter what happens with the band, I'll be getting a surf board by spring.

A national award winning newspaper reporter and congressional and mayor aide, I now have my sights set on being a rock star.  Trouble is my eyesight is fading.

We do appreciate people listening to our music and especially their comments.  We hope you'll continue, some day buy a CD or pay a few bucks to hear us play.

After the release of "The Walls of Fire" on Veterans Day I was surprised to get a comment on ReverbNation from a musician, Destination Dawn from Ocala, Florida.

Later I found that "DD" is the Top Alternative Artists in the world on ReverbNation with tens of thousands of fans.  She wrote this about our band -

("Flatbush") Cool spoken word!!!Great music and interesting revelations!!! 

("The Walls of Fire") has great background music and effects that befit the deep revealing words. You have an intriguing style. 

Wishing you all the best and much continued success with all your endeavors!!!
Much Love, 


Hope DD doesn't mind that I included her last sentence.  Her comments are both very sweet and quite encouraging.  

Didn't ask her if she makes any money from her music though.

By the way, thanks to the modern techie miracles I finally figured out, you may listen to Mike Marcellino  right on the ReverbNation Widget on my Networked Blog, "The Point of the Whole Thing."  

Here I thought a "widget" had something to do with croquet.

Band of brothers, by Mike Marcellino, copyright 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

“The Walls of Fire. What a powerful piece"

Search and destroy, South Vietnam, 1968, photo by Mike Marcellino copyright 2009 

"It's like listening to time as it passes over the dead and damaged of wars past and present. It's a voice for peace, no a cry for peace and for the carnage to end...This (The Walls of Fire) lovely and haunting piece of poetry should be a world wide sensation" – Paul Donohoe, writer/editor, Tasmania, Australia

The walls of fire

By Mike Marcellino

The walls of fire
grow higher, higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
rock cliffs and open fields -
Hornet’s Nest at Shiloh
Devil’s Den, Gettysburg.

The walls of fire
grow higher, higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
sea to shining sea -
lost in the Argonne Forest
face down on beaches at Normandy
frozen by the waters of Chosin Reservoir.

The walls of fire
grow higher, higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
paddies, highlands -
Nui Ba Dinh, the Black Virgin Mountain
the Ashau Valley
along the perimeter of Khe Sanh.

The walls of fire
grow higher, higher
pools of blood, carnage
bodies of brothers
empty deserts
filled with giant rising suns -
Fallujah rooftops
unknown streets of Sidr City
barren mountains, caves of Tora Bora.

The walls of fire
grow higher, still higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers

The walls of fire copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009

I wrote this song earlier this year, but it seems the moment to share it as I feel the loss of my US Army brothers and sisters and the police officer at the Fort Hood massacre. It is also the eve of Veterans Day and I remember my brothers in arms that did not return from Vietnam and those living with the wounds, physical and mental, from our nation's longest war. I only hope that our soldiers can return home soon. 
Our new folk band, Mike Marcellino with Ensor expects to release a recorded version of this piece tomorrow, Veterans Day on ReverbNation and MySpace.

Our new folk band members are Mike Marcellino songwriter, vocals and Texino, mandolin, production - two Army "brothers" who served in the Vietnam War together and lived to make music together many years later. Musician Randall Leddy from Brooklyn played bass guitar and did the production of "Flatbush."  
To listen to our first three (now five) songs, recorded this fall in Brooklyn NY and St. Augustine Florida, go to My Band on Facebook or to ReverbNation and be a fan, help get our band off the ground (or beach).
Mike Marcellino on ReverbNation

My Band on Facebook

Listen now to our debut songs - "Flatbush" (with Randall Leddy on bass guitar and production) "Las Cruces" and "Amelia Earhart, soft silver wings" (with David Dowling on guitar) 

A listener says we're "unique" and I take that as a compliment. Listen for yourself, if you like, message your friends. And, remember Veterans Day is 365 days a year because our troops protect us every day and many give their lives or pay the price every day.

Since this was written our band has also recorded and released "Bondi beach" a poetry music story of a Yank's flight from Vietnam to Australia and facing big waves in the third most shark infested surfing beach in the world.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fort Hood, Texas massacre

Horror at the home of Armor
By Mike Marcellino

They’re calling it the Fort Hood massacre.  It is the greatest mass killing on a U. S. military base in America’s history.  Fort Hood, Texas, about an hour north of Austin, is the home of the Army’s armor.  The morning after the massacre doctors, friends and families of the soldiers who were on their way back to the Middle East wars wonder if their wounded loves ones will survive, survive to fight again in a war with no end in sight. 

The morning after the Fort Hood massacre the roles of Americans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder lengthens after the mind of a Muslim American Army psychiatrist, blew up, allegedly putting his index finger on the trigger of a semi automatic handgun spraying bullets into his military brothers, some patients, leaving death and jagged injury in his wake.

It’s the morning after mayhem; also the day millions of New Yorkers bury their beloved Yankees with paper in another ticker tape parade to celebrate another World Series victory.  Oh, if we could only settle the world’s differences on a diamond field of dirt and grass with gloves, baseballs and bats.

The morning after the Fort Hood massacre, President Obama called the score at Fort Hood “horrific.”

At the end of an afternoon of a life and death game, the score read:

Nidal M. Hasan - 13 dead, 30 wounded 

America - 0

Witnesses heard the U. S. Army psychiatrist shout, “God is great” in Arabic, as he allegedly sprayed bullets into his fellow soldiers in a Fort Hood center getting ready to deploy to the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq from America’s biggest military base, the home of our armor. 

Americans left reeling, shattered, their protectors ripped apart.

After a hail of bullets, Hasan was stopped by well aimed shots from a female cop.

The first of the dead identified as 21 year old Army private first class from Bolingbrook, Illinois, outside of Chicago. And his mother’s tears flow just after 11 this morning in sorrow and grief defying description.

Our nation did score big on the field of unemployment, spikes to 10.2 percent today, the worst in a quarter century, but the CNN wire does tell us the number of Americans on the street without work.  They call it the “nation’s longest and deepest downturn since The Great Depression, coming to be known as “The Great Recession” least we scare ourselves thinking we’re in a depression.

All is well on Wall Street, however, as Even Newmark reports today in his “Mean Street” column in The Wall Street Journal:

“Now, you may recall that I’m pretty skeptical of any stock market predictions, including my own. But you may also recall that in July as the S&P500 index traded around 900, I predicted the index would close the year between 1150 and 1200.  And so far, we’re more than halfway there. The S&P 500 closed yesterday at 1066 — the year of the Battle of Hastings, for all you day-trading English history buffs.”

Oh, well, someone’s still making money.

It took a little Google digging but here it is, the actually number – “Over the past two years, the number of unemployed has jumped by 8.4 million to 15.7 million,” according to the “One Ugly Jobs Report” story in the Seeking Alpha a Internet site.

In the shooter’s brief biography, The Washington Post reported Major Hasan“attended the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring and is devout, according to Faizul Khan, former imam at the center. He attended prayers at least once a day, seven days a week, often in his Army fatigues, Khan said.

The Army psychiatrist treated soldiers suffering from what experts discovered once again, with great pain, from the invisible wounds of war, creating identification, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” 

Nearly a century and a half ago, when in America brothers fought and killed brothers, Union and Confederates were said to have “a soldiers’ heart,” much kinder words then than being called a coward, a stain that to this day remains. 

As proof, I found an article on the Civil War Forum Internet site dated, June 16, 2009, oddly I found the day of the birth of this U. S. Army Vietnam War veteran.

In a discussion of the history of PTSD, a reporter asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates whether the military would consider awarding combat soldiers mentally wounded. 

And yesterday, today and for some time, thousand of American civilians will pick up a bit of delayed stress from being glued on their TVs, laptops, I Phones and PCs watching the aftermath of the massacre at Fort Hood.

Then CNN broke into their news with a live address by President Obama, our Commander in Chief.  After a moment of reflection about the Army armor massacre at Fort Hood, what he called one of the worst mass killings in the history of America’s military, the President went on to talk about the sick state of the economy, and expanding unemployment rates and home mortgage benefits.

It’s nearly noon now, the day after the Army armor massacre, but already it appears America’s back to business as usual after a deadly interlude the President called “horrific.”

Early news reports today say the devout Muslim major didn’t want to go to Iraq to fight his forefathers. 

“Well Hasan, all I can say now is you aren’t alone. 

I know a lot of soldiers that don’t want to go leave their jobs, families, loved ones, either.  Go off again and again to war, maybe die or return home maimed.

I do know those who survive will never be the same. 

And I ask myself, ‘Where is the end of this gruesome, chaotic game?’”

And, as I tire of writing this depressing story, I wonder whether after one o’clock this morning I heard a report on CNN that Hasan is the son of Palestinians who fled war in their homeland to live peacefully in Jordan

I do find it interesting that the American born alleged mass killer grew up in Arlington, Virginia in the shadow of our nation’s national cemetery -

And in my mind I could see seas of white crosses on those rolling green slopes, a fusion of beauty and sadness, to mark the final resting place of our brave soldiers.  Just after noon now, after red Thursday, I remember my brothers, those living and dead from another war. 

Horror at the home of Armor by Mike Marcellino copyright 2009