Straight into the face of war
Lawrence K. Ho / LAT (Hearing out testimonies of personal
pain) Charles McNulty
Times Staff Writer November 18, 2006
"When Patrick came home in a coffin, the media contacted me," says Nadia McCaffrey. "They asked if I wanted the media to cover it. I knew it was forbidden to take
photos of coffins with flags on them. But I thought about it and said, 'Yes.' "
The blond, middle-aged speaker is the mother of Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey from Tracy, Calif. He died in Iraq in 2004, and she has worked tirelessly to keep the
memory of his life- and the reality of loss- in sight.
The visceral force behind McCaffrey's determined, sorrowful recollection is the most powerful experience in "The Fifth Commandment," the multimedia collage
broadly examining war in the context of the biblical injunction "Thou shalt not kill." The production, which opened at REDCAT on Thursday in a co-presentation with
the International Latino Theatre Festival of Los Angeles (FITLA), ends its short run this evening.
If the ambition guiding the piece's construction is more impressive than the actual performance, it's probably because none of the other individuals onstage can
approximate the raw urgency of McCaffrey's presence. Her need to communicate connects her heart to her words in a way that eludes the rest of the well-
intentioned cast, which includes two former Marines, Matthew Howard and Cameron White, as well as local participants who serve as performers.
Devised by Costa Rican American Elia Arce, "The Fifth Commandment" focuses on ordinary lives caught in a situation of extraordinary violence. The artistic method
juxtaposes profound questions (derived from interviews Arce conducted with military personnel and those living around them) in a workshop environment
incorporating personal testimony, performance art, film and community engagement.
How do men and women psychologically cope with their transformation into troops trained for murder? How can they be expected to recover their everyday humanity
as civilians again? Why is the brutality of war allowed to remain so distant to Americans? Who is witnessing the boundless grief?
It's easy to avoid thinking about such things given the feelings of helplessness and guilt that unavoidably ensue. During a recent news program on Iraq veterans
being fitted for artificial limbs, the sacrifice of these mangled young men had a short-circuiting effect. I couldn't process what I was viewing.
Yet process it we must. The question is, how? Bombarded by images of global carnage, we have grown ever more immune to its stark horror. And our language,
debased by partisan politics as well as glib journalism, rarely seems up to the challenge of honest reckoning.
This is where theater can play a role by creating a public space that encourages a deeper responsiveness to the issues dimly hanging over us. A few times Arce
managed to achieve this: for example, in the reading of names of Iraqi and American casualties as audience members settled into their seats- a simple act that
immediately transformed the arty atmosphere of REDCAT into a site of commemoration.
Another instance involved asking people to stand when their year of birth was called out. Photo cutouts of casualties of war were then handed to those removed
from the comfort and safety of their seats, illustrating the randomness of fate.
Less provocative were the monologues Arce delivered as various female characters flirtatiously circulating around military bases. What was intended to provide
salty perspective on the flesh-and-blood nature of men sent into combat came off as self-consciously theatrical and thus out of keeping with the production's
unvarnished activist aesthetic.
The film backdrops tend to hijack attention from what's happening onstage. Satiric gestures, such as a carnival barker dressed as Uncle Sam, are no match for the
perversely serene footage of military exercises. And the biting wisdom of one shattered veteran on post-traumatic stress disorder ("How about a 'going to war and
being able to sleep with a clear conscience' disorder?") is more vividly expressed through close-ups of a soldier's hollowed-out eyes.
Although the production's disjointed parts never yield a sustained intensity, "The Fifth Commandment" possesses something morally indispensable during
wartime — a willingness to confront the most brutal truths.
'The Fifth Commandment'
Where: REDCAT, Walt Disney Concert Hall, West 2nd and South Hope streets, Los Angeles
When: 8:30 tonight Price: $20 Contact: (213) 237-2800 Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Soldier “Pimps His Ride” To Honor Fallen Comrades
August 26th, 2007
In The News, Military, Motivation
We’ve all probably heard of the popular show on MTV called Pimp My Ride in which the owner of a car is chosen and his or her car is restored and customized. The shows generally begin
with the owner showing off their car and convincing MTV why it needs to be “pimped.” Afterwards the star of the show, rapper Xzibit shows up at the persons house, checks the car out for
himself, all the while making snarky comments about it and promises that it will be given a complete make-over. The car is then taken to a custom auto body shop, where the car is basically
torn apart and customized based on the owners personality and interests.
Built as a tribute the fallen soldiers and his friends he proudly served with in Iraq, Sgt. Nicholas Ashby and his Infiniti G35 coupe. Photo by Regina Bell.
Sgt. Nick Ashby, a Florida National Guard membr is a tuner. A tuner is an automotive enthusiast who mechanically and cosmetically alter a car. On the tuner circuit, Sgt. Ashby’s car is known
as the Tribute Car. He and his car recently appeared on Import Tuner Magazine’s front cover of the August 2007 edition as winner at the Hot Import Nights show. Sgt. Ashby’s car is unique.
Custom 20 inch DPE wheels have been airbrushed with the US Army Values (Anthony featured them here a few months ago), on the driver’s side, every war that the US National Guard has
ever fought in is listed, the rear of the vechicles displays the National Guard Motto and the windshiled displays the National Guard Creed. But that’s not what Sgt. Ashby is most proud of.
What’s most important to him, are the airbrushed portraits of the fallen National Guard heroes that he served with in Iraq.
“Every person who sees it helps us to remember the fallen,” Sgt. Ashby said. “After all, that’s why we built the car - to remember those who gave all for us.”
The vehicle has become such as hit that it’s currently touring the country with the National Guard’s “Hot Import Nights” and “Night Shift”. “Hot Import Nights” is a leading lifestyle car show
that is geared towards the Generation X-Y crowd and 95% of those attending are under the age of 30.
In July, the “Hot Import Nights” show came to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Attendance reached record levels, as people enjoyed the exihitibts, DJ’s playing
music, models and musicians. The Tribute Car was there as well. Many imes, National events such as “Hot Import Nights,” the owners of the cars being exhibited aren’t able to attend. This
time however, Sgt. Ashby was able to attend and be there beside his car.
“Having Sgt. Ashby join us in Florida beside his car was really not an option, it was the right thing to do,” Recruiting and Retention Commander Lt. Col. David Peek explained. “He is a
celebrity in the import tuner community.”
Airbrushed designs of Fallen National Guard Heroes, Lt. Andre Tyson on the hood and Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey on the
driver’s side door of the Tribute Car.
Due to the unique nature of Sgt. Ashby’s car and the name he’s made for himself in the import tuner community, the car drew a large crowd, hoping to meet Sgt. Ashby. He spoke about the
car, how it’s was built and explained the design on a much more personal level than anyone else could have done. He was able to tell the crowd the story behind the car. The show was a
success, not only for the National Guard that day but also for Sgt. Ashby and the Tribute Car. Show Judges awarded the car two first place trophies. One for Best Paint and Finish and the
other for Best Mild Infinity.
I’d like to say Congratulations to Sgt. Ashby. What an awesome way to honor his fallen comrades.
University Update - Stanford University - Soldier “Pimps His Ride” To Honor Fallen Comrades Says:
State University Soldier “Pimps His Ride” To Honor Fallen Comrades » This Summary is from an article posted at A Soldier’s Mind on Sunday
Misty Williams Says:
December 20th, 2007 at 8:44 pm
Sgt Ashby. You have done an exceptional theme with your car. I have my own car club in Colorado Springs and we do benefit shows. 2 of them annually and one that we are just
starting up. In March we will be benefitting the Leukemia Foundation(I lost my stepdad to it). In July will be March of Dimes and in Sept is our 9-11 Fire Fighter Memorial Show. Get
back to me if ur interested…email@example.com. I would love to have your car there. WONDERFUL JOB. ~~Misty~~
|Sgt Ashby Photo by Regina Bell.
by Jo Ann
|Below: Oil Painting by Leonore Rae Smith 2004
Patrick Ryan McCaffrey
|Beautiful Art in Patrick's Memory, Thank You
|Thank you Karen Meredith
|Above & Left
Janessa and Patrick
In Memory of all
daughters who have
been left behind
Art work by Connie
|Crosses of Lafayette
|Crosses of Lafayette
|SKETCH * OIL PAINTINGS * PHOTOGRAPHS