Just Above Sunset
May 15, 2005 - Naked Aggression

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

World’s Laziest Journalist

May 16, 2005

By Bob Patterson


While searching frantically for a topic for this week’s column, we got an e-mail from a friend, colleague, and regular WLJ reader, in Australia, who is researching the topic of warriors who fight naked - and he asked about any material we could provide.


We like to choose a topic that hasn’t been overdone on the Internet, and since we had several items to pass along to our pal in Oz, we figured that we’d put it all together in the column. 


Hey, when you know all your regular readers by name, you can do such niche writing.  If we were writing a column read by thousands and thousands of readers, we’d have a T-shirt store available.  (Soon maybe but not this week.)  So we are going with as much as we can provide on the topic of people who engaged in combat while naked during the last 200 (or so) years.


Some time back, I knew a struggling actor who had been a “tunnel rat” in Vietnam.  He told me those guys used to go down into the Vietcong tunnels and flush out the enemy.  The thought of going down into a small tunnel and rooting around looking for someone who might want to shoot you might seem a difficult assignment.  The tunnel rats cultivated the image that they were “crazy bastards.”  Smaller guys were chosen to work in the small confined passages.  They would, the actor told me, strip naked, take a Colt .45 and a flashlight and go do their job.  They would hold the flashlights high or low so that anyone who fired a gun at the light might be tricked into not hitting their target.  That strategy must have worked because “Rocky” didn’t seem to have caught any stray bullets sent his way.


A few weeks back, this columnist came across a WWII photo of a young man manning the nose gun in a bomber and the caption related that he often chose to fight naked.  (Unfortunately I did not note down the name of that particular book or its author.)  Subsequently I was one of the members of the Just Above Sunset staff who got to take a flight in a B-17G and it was quite drafty in the nose leading to the conclusion that the photo in question was either taken on a mission where they came in “on the deck” in the South Pacific, or it was a bit of photojournalism with spin added.  Many of the pictures of B-17 crew men at work show guys in fleece lined jackets.  That would seem to be a more logical wardrobe choice because it would probably have been rather chilly at high altitudes.  Then again, like the football fans who are photographed bare-chested at certain stadiums, it might promote a ferocious attitude on the part of the guy being photographed, which is probably just what he wanted to project.


This isn’t exactly totally relevant, but do you know how prostitutes got the label “hookers”?  I’ve read (somewhere) that during the American Civil War the Union General Hooker was concerned that his men might share strategy details with some of the ladies of the night.  It would be dangerous to let that type of information get to the opposing Army, so General Hooker sequestered the working girls for a few days before the battle and kept them there until after the battle.  They became known as General Hookers Ladies.  Hookers for short.


Somewhere else I have read that the Sioux tribe forbade women from participating in combat, but that the Cheyenne had women warriors.  [Note for fact checkers:  the book referred to is, most likely, a biography of General George A. Custer that was written by a woman who grew up in Sioux country.  She interviewed folks who knew or were related to the Native Americans who participated in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.]


The phrase “naked savages” is quite common and we wondered if that phrase had any relevance to our friend’s topic.  American Indians in the movies were always shown wearing “loin clothes” but that probably had more to do with the power of the Hayes code than any bit of history or fact checking. 


Did we read somewhere about a half a century ago, that some female Native American warriors fought topless?  Our roster of regular readers doesn’t include any members of the Cheyenne tribe.  We wondered if there were any readers whose name we didn’t know, who might have some relevant information about that possibility.


As we recall from that biography of General Custer, he was found nude after the battle, but the writer had speculated that since all the other Americans had been mutilated and, since the Sioux regarded a suicide victim as sacred, the conjecture was that they had determined that General Custer had committed suicide and thus they did not desecrate his body.


Back in the fifties we had seen a movie with James Garner that indicated that the U. S. Navy frogmen were nicknamed “The Naked Warriors.”  We even thought that was the name of the movie we recalled.  James Garner, starred in a 1959 movie titled Up Periscope, which is probably the one we remember.  It was about a Navy UDT guy who is sent on a submarine to land on a Japanese held island, plant the explosives and then get the hell out of there, alive if possible.


We also recall that Richard Widmark had starred in a 1951, movie titled The Frogmen, which, in the case of this viewer, spawned a lifetime goal of someday getting a SCUBA certification.


As part of our preparations for this column we contacted a former Navy frogman who recommended that our Aussie pal get and read The Naked Warriors: The Story of the U.S. Navy's Frogmen (Naval Institute Special Warfare Series) by Francis Douglas, et al.  Hardcover: Naval Institute Proceedings, 01 October, 1995.


The former Navy SEAL who occasionally reads this column, will probably check in after he reads this.  “He no start this topic, but he sure finish it.”  We’ll pass his comments along to our Oz scholar.


Sometime ago, right before the search for the WMD’s in Iraq began, some comedian suggested that since women were going to be sent into combat in Iraq, they might want to stun the Muslim soldiers by fighting naked.  The comedian got a laugh or two from that wild idea, but as far as we know, that never happened.  The concept that the Muslim soldiers would be so stunned by the strategy sounded very logical.  The Americans did use various means of psychological warfare, but, to the best of the JAS fact finding team, the naked women ploy was never “unveiled” in earnest.


Some of the folks at Abu Ghraib prison used nakedness to achieve psychological advantages, but we don’t know if that particular aspect of naked aggression will be part of the scholarly research.


The World’s Laziest Journalist is not sure that “request line columns” are a good idea, because now we may have to write one column for each regular reader.  Once you’ve done a column about the Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, what else is there to write about?  Our British Isles regular likes to publicize the work done by a non-profit, art organization that promotes the appreciation of British artists who lived in America, so that means we might have to travel over to the Motion Picture Academy Library and read up on folks like Aldous Huxley and the like, to do a column in the near future.


We’ll assume that our Aussie posse member has done all the Googling necessary and found the sites that might add to his fact finding; so we’ll ask any readers who have some pertinent information to send it to JAS’s “beloved editor and publisher,” Alan Pavlik, and he will pass it along to our subscriber in Australia.  (Do a Google search for “beloved editor and publisher.”  It has almost become a cliché phrase applied to the Perry Whites of all publications.)


John Updike has been quoted: “Being naked approaches being revolutionary; going barefoot is mere populism.”


As we were writing this column, the disk jockey has been playing the Twin Peaks soundtrack album (he must have been influenced by a recent Tuesday morning show on KXLU) repeatedly, but now we will ask him to play the song that was facetiously suggested as the fight song for the UCLA streaking team (back in the day) Running Bear.  We’ll streak on out of here for this week.  Tune in again next week, ostensibly our topic will be “Hippies traveling ‘On the Road’ now get a senior discount.”  Have a week that would make the characters on Desperate Housewives blush.



Copyright © 2005 – Robert Patterson





From Rick Erickson, editor and publisher of MetropoleParis


I thought Bob was being his comical self when I first saw this…


But I am thinking, didn't Greeks fight naked?  Didn't Brits paint themselves blue and fight naked against Romans in short skirts?  Did not your own Indians fight naked against the blue coats? Think of frogmen; weren't they almost naked?


Well I finally get around to looking at this again, and 'lazy journalist' Bob - middle name, 'Copout' - is mucking up the waters by asking for bare ass warriors, within the past 200 years!


But before reading this I am sitting in the high-back swivel chair with a broken wheel I got for 50 francs on a street market in Montmartre, watching an Arte-TV documentary about nudists.


Early nudists, according to this Franco-German propaganda, were society's reformers, no less.  They were do-good folks, looking at the rotten living conditions of workers at the times of the great industrialization.  Cities had exploding populations, near the factories, but there were few urban houses and apartments were small, dark, unequipped, stinking... they were airless slums.


So these do-gooders said to the these beat people, "Take off your clothes to free your spirits!" Das Deutschen Hellas!  Out, out, out into the woods, the grassy fields, the lakes with cool, pure waters - 'Wandervogel!'  Naked sports, Naked skiing.  Naked in the North Sea.  Freikorperkultur!  Proletarian nudists, skin under the sun, beach ball in the buff.  I think we're talking about the period after 1870 here.


The nudists went off to WWI like everybody else, and no sooner were they demobbed than there they were again, jumping around in the bushes with all the jiggles hanging out.  Every time the bonzen took them to court, the nudists - the FKK people - won or lost, more people joined, the nudie life got more popular.


A blow fell in 1931 when naked swimming was verboten.  It didn't work because the people in textiles kept on crossing over to the nudist beaches.  Then in 1933 the Nazis won and declared the organized FKK clubs the 'greatest' danger' to the state, and Nazi goon police went out and suppress the clothesless.


But the nudists noticed that Hitler didn't drink or smoke and ate no meat - like many liberal nudists didn't - and gradually the Nazis came around and expropriated the nudists and their 'body culture.'  Echt und edel nacktheit, nichts wahr?  Gar Supermensch!  Next thing you know there are Nazi nudists, wearing heroic bikinis for the '36 Olympics. (I've been in that cement stadium; it gave me the creeps.)


Bloody puritans!  Goebbels going on, white nudists, making a personal crusade by calling Josephine Baker with or without bananas a jungle animal, untermensch.  Anyway Josephine survived the war of wars and Goebbels didn't.  So much for Supermensch.


In 1946 in Germany the Allies suspected Germans of plotting all sorts of things and were reluctant to permit nude romping in the bushes, especially the Americans and the Russians.  But the beaten Krauts got the old FKK going again between shifts of picking up bricks downed down by half-ton cookies and blockbusters.


Postwar the nudies were extra popular for a few years because they were the only ones with showers or baths.  Life in the mucky rubble.  Nudists were also Socialist fans, but more so in the west than in the east.  The Russians were a bit uptight; they didn't want socialist competitors.  Yeah, so they called them Nazis.


In the west FKK membership fell off as folks got their own showers at home.  Besides, many said, why join a club just to strip?  Stripping is free!  So they went on holiday to France and stripped off all over.


In the zone the puritans running the DDR forbade nude beaching.


East Germans pretty much did what they were told, but any lines drawn against swimming au natural were there to be stepped over.  One Sunday the Stazi showed up on the Baltic by the truckloads and said, "Show us your papers!"  These bare ass people had no papers.  The cops hopped up and down and the people said, "So arrest us already!"  And then everybody left the beach, without bothering to dress, and climbed into the Stazi's trucks.  "Take us to jail!" they said.  "Quit dicking around!"


On Monday everybody in the DDR heard about how the nudists won the war with the Stazi and the next weekend you couldn't see the water in the Baltic because everybody but the Stazi and the bonzen was in it, stitchless.  After that East German weekend TV used to run reports from the Baltic, conducted by an anchorman wearing a tape recorder.


Now of course these 'natural' people are all over the place and the few hiding behind scraps of textile are in the minority and if they say boo, they get sent off to the ghetto for people with bad heads.  Some supermarkets do ask customers to wear flip-flops at least.


So, basically, Bob, not many wars have been fought by nudists but the few that have, the 'naturals' won.  Tell that to one of your Hollywood palms!



Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis






Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....