Wednesday, December 5, 2012

773. We Did Not Get Wet

By: Dario DiBattista

            In a rainstorm at 3 in the morning, we stood on the splintery, worn deck. The sound of rain drops falling, pattering through planes of branches and leaves on their way to the ground, was omnipresent. Thousands of white flecks of misty and fat rain glistened in the lone porch light, but we did not get wet.
            I walked the perimeter of the deck and then out onto the yard. Still, I did not get wet. We wiped the plastic arms of patio furniture and thin pools layered over them again, immediately, after our hands glided along them and then away and then were returned. We smoked quickly and tried to disavow ourselves of this miracle. On previous nights, under similar circumstances in this very same spot, we had discussed religion and physics—creation, quantum mechanics, and the Theory of Everything. It was odd that we would be the ones to experience something unexplained.
            Patter of drops still continuing, field-stripped cigarette cherries kicked out in the grass, dulled, and we went inside and finished our whiskeys and then dreamed.

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2012. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Friday, November 16, 2012

772. On Atheism's Popularity on the Internet

Disclaimer: this is another I wanted to put this on Facebook but didn't want to get in big arguments all day long blog post. You took the time to follow this here -- I didn't "force myself" into your news feed. I'm open to discussion, of course. But let's be civil. :-)

Never posted status update:

On, the "front page" of the Internet, one of the major topic categories (meaning, most popular amongst its millions of users) is "atheism." Seriously, out of all the topics on the planet, why do some atheists spend so much time talking about something they don't believe in? If I were an atheist, this would seem illogical to me, and a waste of time. Unless I thought I was doing the world a service by trying to "enlighten" people and get rid of religion. But, again, I guess I'm just not the kind of asshole who tries to force people into what they should believe.

Friday, October 12, 2012

771. Heavy Metal in Trenton (New Publication!)

This is just a snippet. Re-posted from Outside In Travel Magazine who just published this piece! Woot! Click here to read the entire story! :-)

"In the summer of 2001, my best friend and I exchanged our rock and roll dreams for military service. Dispassionate barbers trimmed curly mop-tops into sandpaper buzz-cuts. Piercings and prickly beards were replaced with the poster boy regulations of the image-obsessed Marines. And rifles replaced our sticks and picks.

September 11th occurred just a few months after we had shipped to boot camp. We knew then that our rock star fantasies would be forever replaced by the dark reality of unending global war. Our commander-in-chief told everyone this during his state of the union address after the towers fell. In addition to Afghanistan, Iran was coming. Iraq was coming. North Korea was coming. One of those damned countries was going to be destroyed; and we knew we’d be there, quietly wishing to return to the music that meant everything to us. In our lives, there’s never been a stronger love or a more fervent connection.

At 13, Ryan (a man I call my heterosexual life mate) was a guitar virtuoso, even subbing in at Baltimore biker bars for bands that his parents knew. In his free time, he set about learning every single Metallica guitar solo by ear just because he could. A radio tower near his one-story home in Perry Hall, Maryland used to project classic rock through his half-stack Marshall amp. He’d just raise the volume knob and lick along with Hendrix, Clapton, Frampton, Page, and other greats.

I never was so good back then. But I played the drums, and drummers were always needed, so I became functional since so many bands sought me out. I never turned down any requests for my services. I played in indie bands, punk bands, alternative bands, jam bands, blues bands, acoustic bands, hardcore bands, and experimental bands.

The highlight of my career still is the Perry Hall High School Showcase of the Bands in the Spring of 2000. My group at the time, Pubescent Weasel, intentionally created a wild, grating sound that was meant to offend everyone present in the auditorium. Beautiful people cringed when our singer leaped off the stage to scream into tiny blonde girls faces. I hit every drum and cymbal I could underneath his banshee yelling, not too concerned with any rhythm or beat. Over the wall of sound we created, our guitar player riffed out a hulking anthem of low frequency distortion. Inexplicably, everyone seemed to love us.

Despite our deep musical passion, like all graduates of high school facing the rest of their lives, we made our decisions about what to do next and suffered the consequences. In the following eight years after signing up to serve and shipping off, we’d live in eight states and seven different countries. Between us, we’d serve four combat tours, which would equal almost an entire year of each of our lives. And there would be no way to tabulate the number of rockets, mortars, IEDs, and bullets we’d see.

I can tell you how many of our friends died and how many memorial services I’ve attended, but I’d rather not.

It didn’t matter because we survived, and in the summer of 2009, in Trenton, New Jersey, the Gods of Rock would finally smile down and reward us with one night as rock stars..."

Friday, July 27, 2012

770. Yet Another Deleted and Never Published Facebook Status

Some of you people are so self-righteous on here. Usually when you're lambasting somebody else for acting the same way. From time to time, I disagree with at least one thing all of my friends say or post on here. But I don't pretend like my opinion is the right one or more valid. We all think we're so freaking smart, don't we? This is the American delusion. We shouldn't need social media to validate our beliefs.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

769. America. F*** Yeah.

Happy birthday, U.S.A.! There is a lot of conversation on my newsfeed today about is America great? Is it not? Yada yada yada. I think we're most critical of the ones we love the most. So, I'll say it first: I think you're the BEST, you crazy, freedom-loving, bomb-dropping, world police, isolationist, poor, rich, lower middle class, upper middle class, obese, fit, diverse, racist, tolerant, xenophobic, religious, atheistic, agnostic, monogamous, polygamous, conservative, liberal, reactionary, radical, nation!  You're the BEST because we can decide to be any of these things, truly any of these things. And even if I disagree (vehemently disagree) with someone for being any of these ways, they still have the freedom to make that choice. YES! FTW!

Anything else, to me, is a soft tyranny and not freedom.  More often than not, ideas win in the U.S.A -- not government mandates, or ancient cultures and traditions, a police state, or mobs and groupthink. And we're always evolving.

Are we perfect? No, sir, we have a lot of flaws. Are we really the best? Haha, I don't know. I've not lived in every other country on the planet to make a definitive opinion. Who has? But I like it here. I love it here.

Dario out.

~ Semper Fidelis ~ 

Photo by Jason Hueser -- Purchase this or another from his presidential collection!

(Sorry about two posts in a row about Ah-mur-i-ca!)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

768. American Idolatry

They sell us a dream our whole lives, and then when we're poor and dejected after struggling for so many years and buying into those dreams, there's a man in a question mark suit on TV (get rich quick!), a bullshit online college degree program, an InventHelp, or a credit card debt consolidation company to continue to rape us of our dreams. This is where American Idol contestants come from: the tens of thousands of people each year who are delusional enough about their talent to embarrass themselves in front of millions. No one ever told them no.

No photo credit.
No typical copyright statement by author.
Have a nice day.

Monday, May 14, 2012

767. Check Out Dario's Profile in Urbanite Magazine!

Full article here! :-)

"Like the inuit using every trace of the beastly Leviathan to survive—wasting not, wanting not—Dario DiBattista has been slicing off big, fatty chunks of his six-year war memoir and selling it.

To the Washington Post and Connecticut Review; to Washingtonian magazine and the Three Quarter Review. To whoever will read it, because he "believes in the power that words have in this world."

His story is called Go Now, You Are Forgiven.

You wouldn't think a 28-year-old would have that much to say, especially in an age when, according to author and F. Scott Fitzgerald intimate Frances Kroll Ring, "our young people grow up faster and stay children longer." But DiBattista is the exception. A Marine lance corporal who finished boot camp just before 9/11, he served two tours of duty, used his VA benefits to go to school, became a writer, and now is adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville. He makes an extra buck waiting tables at an Outback Steakhouse.

 And he is decades wiser than the 17-year-old who graduated from Perry Hall High School in 2001..."

Read the rest here!

Photo by J.M. Giordano

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

766. The Rockstar Method to Becoming a Writer

I shared this with our students at the most recent Veterans Writing Project seminar at George Washington University. Just curious what you, dear reader, think :-)

P.S. We, the Veterans Writing Project, were on D.C. Public Radio -- check it out!


Dario DiBattista

In 2006, after not sleeping or eating much for two weeks, a couple cases of Red Bull down, I finished the first draft of my memoir. Awesome, I thought. Ready for literary glory. But what to do next?

How did many pages of writing (I learned these were called manuscripts) get edited and made into books? I checked out from my local library a book called Writer’s Marketplace and learned about agents, and the publishing biz, and why I needed an agent. I pitched about twenty agents forthwith. Nothing. I received a lot of form letters (Dear Author, Thanks for submitting… The industry is subjective… Maybe somewhere else will like your work…) which I mistakenly overanalyzed. There was nothing really to take away from them.

Dejected, I took to the internet to meet and talk with other writers, share with them my writing, and I very shortly kept feeling more and more of the same. You’re twenty-three, why are you writing a memoir? I don’t think this scene works at all; you should start over. You need to get to the action quicker. Sorry, Devil Dog, you’re story is about as interesting as a subprime mortgage. The last comment came from a very successful Marine author, whom I will leave unnamed.

My heart hurt. I stopped. The industry sucked and no one appreciated my brilliance – no one ever would.

Maybe my case sounds familiar to you. It’s probably something we all went through at some point. After a lifetime of writing shitty poetry and reading prolifically, for some reason we decided to take writing seriously for the first time, only to realize how hard of a pursuit it really is.

And then I had it – I had the epiphany. I decided to become a rock star.

To explain, let me take one of my favorite bands growing up, Phish. I’ll use Phish, because like many of my favorite artists, directors, painters, etc., Phish, like me, never were or would be concerned with creating a commercial quality of art; instead, they’ve only ever been concerned about the evolution of sound and pushing the boundaries of their artistic medium. To compare them to writers, they’ve been more like Cormac McCarthy than that chick who wrote Twilight.

The band members of Phish all had, what most will objectively agree, a significant amount of talent and skill. Trey Anastasio’s solos are often included in the 100 Best Lists of All Time. Jon Fishman created a new standard for jam and jazz drumming, which influenced a whole new generation of percussionists. And the bass player and pianist, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell, are definitely 99th percentile musicians. They could easily be candidates for advanced degrees in performance at the best music university programs in America. They’ve sold millions of albums and played in front audiences of 100,000 or more (made especially more notable, because this was at music festivals performed at by them alone).

But of course that wasn’t where they started. Their first show was in a college cafeteria in front of a bunch of disinterested college kids at the University of Vermont. Then, they played somewhat regularly at a local club in front of twenty people or less for the first year or so that they played together. Nothing great seemed on the horizon for them.

But they had the passion. They had the drive. They found that, more than anything, they just couldn’t live without music, and that passion became a commitment to each other. They moved in with each other and practiced hours and hours a day. They learned to be musicians, for real.

I could go on, but I think you’re beginning to understand my point. Although we would all love for it to happen, nothing great happens for any artist right away. We all struggle. Look up the history of your favorite writer, band, or director. They’ve all paid their dues, and worked to very hard to get where they wanted to be.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, I would say, first, commit. You are a writer. You just spent 16 hours on a beautiful freaking weekend to learn about story and telling stories. What’re you, nuts? Yes, to some extent, all of us writers are. Go with it. Say you want to be the next Hemingway, and don’t shy from that goal. Seriously. Do you think Phish said they want to play college dorms and shitty bars? No, they wanted to be rock stars. And they were.

Your possible path:

Start a blog. Think of this as your practice pad. Make a goal to write one post a week about anything on your mind. Think about stories that have been bouncing around in your sleep, current events, daily annoyances, a beautiful sunset you saw, your ex-girlfriend, anything. Write about that. Once a week. Great musicians play their scales and other warm-ups before they perform or compose their great works. You’ll find, the more you write, the more confident you become with your craft. Continually push yourself and challenge yourself. Remember technique.

Join a writer’s group. Pick a group of your favorite friends, maybe some of your new friends here. Keep in touch. Work on something very seriously and consistently for a month, and then submit them to each other. A good friend will tell you what you don’t want to hear. It’s important that you’re honest with each other. Phish’s drummer and bass player often argued about whether the kick drum should be full or half-swung on a song they performed a hundred times before. They were always striving to help each other improve.

Read your writing. Once your writing is good to go, there are, no doubt, plenty of open mics in your area where you can share your work with the world. Think of these as your cafeteria shows. These are necessary before you can sellout college amphitheaters like David Sedaris. Pay your dues. Be proud to do it.

Submit. Start small. I published first with a small online travel website, and then used that clip to pitch a Washington Post blog, who later, because they were thrilled with my work, invited me to write an op-ed which probably was read by a million people or more. But none of that happened without 700 blogs that I wrote for practice, several writers groups and classroom workshops, etc. The clip that most attracted my literary agent, by the way – that first one. Sometimes writing just needs a home. It doesn’t have to be a mansion. Just a place where it can be seen.

Remember, Phish played tiny bars, which became clubs, which became regional theaters, and finally festivals of thousands of adoring fans. It took a very long time. I’m pretty sure, if you were to ask them, if none if it worked out, would they still play music, they’d still say yes. This is a writer’s life :-)

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2012. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

765. Body Bags

Body Bags

How am I to decide whose parts are whose?
The mortuary Marines will need
to piece together the remains,
and what's never recovered
will be shaded black on their paperwork.
But there are so many parts,
and I can’t tell who's Taliban,
or civilian,
or a brother I loved.
I pick up the blackened fingers
in the gasoline mud,
and the pieces of the charbroiled carcass
that don’t crumble when I lift them;
I grab the thigh-less legs,
boots still attached,
and the jawbone.
I hold the body bag over my shoulder,
unimpressed by the weight
of what remains
of mighty men.

Spent 7.62 Brass

Photo attribution:

All written content ©Dario DiBattista 2012. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

764. Cycle of Operations

Cycle of Operations

Cocking clean adolescence,
Feeding murder machine,
Chambering tri-colored rage,
Locking sights on the scene.

Firing closed system,
Unlocking oiled hate,
I, extract stories of spine;
Eject soul, at a cyclical rate.

All content ©Dario DiBattista 2012. All posts are for display purposes only and not to be considered published.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

763. Facebook and the Political Process

These are the thoughts in my head when I scroll over my "newsfeed" these days:

Almost any political graphic to me is just pure propaganda. And I'm a tad annoyed how some people think a single image, a few "facts," or a quote out of context is going to change my vote on anything.

I know how to read books and do research. I've taken the time to contemplate political thought and theory and see firsthand how government works. I consider the main issues that are important to our nation and their possible solutions. If your argument is so simple it can be articulated in the ways above, it's probably not the best argument you can make.

I think we need to get back to having real political conversations and real political discourse instead of always trying to shock or gimmick each other into believing what our side wants the other side to believe. Democracy shouldn't be about bullying and manipulation and cherry-picking facts -- it should be about stimulating reason and promoting realistic progress.

I'm not saying don't participate in the political process in the ways above if you so choose and it makes you feel like you have a voice. I'm just saying, maybe there are better and more effective ways to communicate your beliefs. Maybe, if you challenge yourself enough to be able to articulate your beliefs as well as you can, you'll find your ideas will change and your understanding will grow and evolve :-)

This blog post is not directed at any one of my friends in particular. I'm just sharing my beliefs like many of you are, too. I won't get offended if you won't ;-)