Tuesday, March 13, 2007
eating in the ghetto on a hundred-dollar plate:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The Arcade Fire have made it to Camp Liberty, after a fashion: MSNBC is broadcasting on the huge flatscreen in one of the recreation centers, and as I typed an e-mail I heard them play something from Neon Bible, which they announced as the top iTunes download. As far as I could tell, no one cared. There are three soldiers in the row in front of me engrossed in World of Warcraft, and no Arcade Fire hype can sway them from the duties of their guild.

So, what's with the Iraqi Police? I have a bit on that up on IraqSlogger here, and today met with the senior police commander of the Karkh Directorate, which encompasses the western half of the city. (East of the Tigris is the Rusafa Directorate.) Like the commanders I interviewed in the Slogger piece, Brigadier General Saleh blames a lot of the sectarianism within the police on the Ministry of Interior, but some of the MPs I'm with deride that explanation as buck-passing. Unlike the other commanders, Saleh blames Iraq's problems on the "generation born in the '80s, during the war with Iran." The kids have gone feral, and he laments that there's practically nothing he can do about it. When I asked him if that meant Iraq was destined to get worse and worse, he replied, "I believe so."

One of the MPs I rode with today is a sergeant named Gary Comeau from Boston. Goddamn, what a good guy. He spent his morning collecting police stats at Karkh and correcting IP mistakes at checkpoints in Mansour -- like the daydreaming gunner who let U.S. advisers get between him and a detainee -- and the afternoon bullshitting with me about the Yanks and the Sox. He served six and a half years in the Army, and then returned to Massachusetts to become a state trooper and a National Guardsmen. He volunteered to come to Iraq. He couldn't take "reading about an 18-year old at Walter Reed while I was home eating a steak dinner, or a free cup of coffee 'cause I'm a trooper. It's a good job, you know, but this, this is a calling."

Nearby me is a briefing for a bunch of soldiers who are getting ready to go home on leave. "Sex," the instructor advises. "Just take it slow." Lots of laughter. Later on: "Don't think about VBEIDs, RPGs, any of that," an instructor advises. "Just enjoy yourselves." I don't think he meant during sex, but it's still good advice.
--Spencer Ackerman
This is immaterial, but it's about food. Maybe you've seen this piece on Top Chef. If not, enjoy.

http://www.nplusonemag.com/topchef.html
Blogger Hyatt | 5:36 PM

Needless to say, excellent pieces you've been producing. And hey, you got a big shoutout from J Klein on Swampland today, if you haven't seen it.

But Spencer, since you're filing pieces in multiple places, could you maybe give us a headsup here when a new piece appears? I found your IraqSlogger by accident. And burying the link in a post doesn't count.

I hate to sound like a mother. But engaging in a little self-promotion for yourself and some PR for your distribution vehicles isn't beneath the left blogosphere's top video chef.
Blogger nadezhda | 7:01 PM

Seriously. I've been *looking* for your pieces, Spencer.
Blogger Jackmormon | 10:44 PM

Got it, you guys. Thanks for your interest. The reason why I haven't been providing links is because for the last week, I've had about half an hour of internet access a day, and it's about as slow as you'd expect on a forward operating base in Baghdad. Combine that with the time difference, and I've been filing stuff but haven't been around to receive the links for them. I've got a few days in the Green Zone now, so I should be able to do better. Thanks again for your interest.
Blogger spencerackerman | 6:19 AM

Spencer,

I add my thanks for your reporting. I'd second what nadezhda said, a linkdump of your pieces on here would be really helpful.

Stay safe over there.
Blogger Shane | 10:42 AM