Wednesday, December 5, 2012

‘Dog & Pony Shows’

Anyone out there remember the ‘Dog & Pony Shows’? You know… where some Admiral or Special Interests came aboard to be entertained with our significance in this small little world while proving to ourselves sometimes we really do run a three ring circus!?  You don’t have to be a barnacle encrusted ancient mariner to remember those extravagant acts of bullshit!!!

Down below the Deck apes would break out the  chipping hammers, needle guns, paint scrapers, knuckle busters and an ol’ folgers ‘in your cup’ coffee can full of haze grey and a couple of dirty paint brushes for over the side work’n parties! Forward with the punts and scaffolding painting over oxidation and deterioration… haze grey but not yet underway!! Figure if the public can’t see the rust it must not exist…

Once the Admiral… Commodore… Commander-In-Chief… or King of Timbuktu came aboard…

“Very Well… Very Well… Very Well…”

The son-of-a-bitch could give two shits about a white glove inspection or how sparkly the brass is on the Quarterdeck!!

Off to the Wardroom… Messdecks… or Flightdeck to address the crew…

“We are gathered here today…”

Rattling on like the clapper on a gooses ass!! Every gaudamned Chief instructed to inform their crew not to ask any pertinent questions…

“Seaman Jones… I don’t want you say’n shit… I don’t care if your mouth is full of it!”

Inevitably some passive aggressive little prick would ask some jeezus in cahootz with the devil shithead question knowing the answer wouldn’t be what he’d been hearing all along…

“Well that ain’t what the Skipper says…”

That kind’a horseshit got everybody in hotwater!!!

But my first chance encounter with the ol’ ceremonial ‘neal & bob’ picture show was onboard the good ol’ USS Baglady… FF 1069! Man I gotta tell you… the crew on the ol’ Baglady was like a gaudamned script right outta McHale’s Navy!! We didn’t really much care two shits about peacock strutt’n bravado or prancing around like a whore with the fleet import kind’a thing for the transitory brass!! Get all primped and fancy for some dang ceremonial formal was nuttier than a squirrel turd in our book!!

I found out the hard way when we failed our first round of exercises better known as REFTRA! I guess the Commodore wasn’t too pleased with our lack of diligence and embarked aboard for our second round of trials!! By the time it was all said and done the Skipper had his proverbial tale between his legs before we were finally announced ready to join the fleet!!!  

Then came my tenure onboard the good ol’ Chucky ‘V’… CVN 70! I remember the Big Sea Daddy of all Sea Daddies was coming to pay a visit and my Warrant Officer approached me…

“Petty Officer Swing… I don’t know why I’m putt’n you in this position cause your about as handy as a pocketful of paper assholes… but you’re gonna be a sideboy for ‘Slick Willie’ when he comes aboard!”

That’s right… you guessed it… Mr. ‘Cigar Swilling’ Bill Clinton… Commander-In-Chief himself! I gotta tell you folks… I wasn’t too excited about it!! I started thinking of ways I might meet & great the fella when he came aboard…

“What’s up Slick”


“Willie… you’re slicker than greased goose shit on Christmas morning!”

Once he was piped aboard and head’n for the platform the sideboys were dismissed and I never even got to actually meet the son-of-a-bitch… not even a damned handshake!! 

Then there was Lucky Ol’ Number 7… USS Rainier… Legend of Service! I gotta tell you… that was the best gaudamned command I ever served under!! I commissioned that bad boy… and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Boorda was onboard that particular day!!  Everyone topside was look’n sharp and feel’n fifty feet tall proud as hell!! When the ship came alive I was manning the aft CIWS mount… it crossed my mind to push the fire button and let the whiz-bang make it’s chainsaw brazen sound… dummy rounds of course… but sure as hell would’a scared the shit outta the folks on the pier… and sure as well would’a went over like a pregnant pole vaulter… yeah it was a thought but on that particular day I didn’t have a hair on my ass…

But you know we did a lot of tours onboard ‘Lucky No 7… once tied up to the pier with the brow in place we’d be giving tours in San Diego… San Francisco… or anywhere else our Skipper might deliver us! The citizens of the free world were always quick to greet and praise us in admiration of our wonderment!! Little did they know what was on our devious minds with the smell of lady perfume and skimpy summer dresses… ‘hide your daughters & lock up your wives cause the Navy’s back in town… as soon as ‘Knock off Ship’s Work & Liberty Call’ go down… we were on the prowl!!!

Then after a few years of shore duty and donning the ol’ khaki crown of thorns… I was headed to the USS MOMSEN DDG92… what a bunch’a nonsensical nonsense that turned out to be… or as Darrell Smalley used to say…

“This shit is fuckdiculous!”… or something of the sort!!! 

After the ship was built in Maine we headed off on Sail around to homeport Everett, Washington!  There was no way in hell we were passing Norfolk without pulling in!! But this required some butt snorkeling action from a few in the mess… as our illustrious Electronic Warfare Chief decided to paint his portion of the super structure without coordination with deck department no matter how ill advised… as every rust stain that ran down the bulkhead was covered just before pulling import… after all ‘there’s a lot of brass hang’n round them there piers!! Later that night after a good night of drink’n at the Chief’s Club and stumbling back in the Virginia rain… there was one hell of a maelstrom going on up on my aft missile deck!! Upon entering the area in question to see what the hell was going on… I couldn’t help but notice the series of cofferdams built around the superstructure to protect the deck from the running paint as it seeped its way down the bulkhead!!! The next morning was noth’n but a big ol’ fight in the mess with finger pointing and name call’n… it was worse than a band of hookers fighting over the last John in the bar!!!

If that weren’t enough… I’d been the Section Leader on this particular morning when word came that our Commodore, DESRON NINE, would be coming about. I swear the Chain of Command was up & down the Quarterdeck like a whore’s drawers… the XO making sure the OOD & Petty Officer of the Watch knew the proper amount of bells and proper terminology and when to give the stinger… the CMC making sure the OOD & Petty Officer of the Watch knew the proper amount of bells and proper terminology and when to give the stinger… the CDO making sure the OOD & Petty Officer of the Watch knew the proper amount of bells and proper terminology and when to give the stinger… and of course I was up there the whole time watching this unfold…

“If it ain’t broke… fix it till it is!”… was the phrase of the day…

And the Commodore came aboard with all the pomp and circumstance a fullbird DESRON Commander could muster! I gotta say the Quarterdeck watch was stiffer than a wedding dick as the Petty Officer of the Watch, a Seasoned Boatswain I might ad, had such a nervous twitch it could'a registered quite high on the Richter scale and managed to FUBAR the whole gaudamned thing making us look utterly ridiculous…

“I’m sorry Chief…”


“The next fuck’n word outta your mouth better be some genius Mark Twain Bullshit cause it’s  gett’n chiseled on to your tombstone you dipshit!”

I stuck around the Quarterdeck so I could incur the wrath of the ‘COC’ directly… as the CMC insisted that I relieve everyone on the Quarterdeck…

“Master Chief, that’s between me and the CDO and you know as well as I do that you the XO and the CDO have all been down here several times ramming this shit down our throats… it’s no wonder something was bound to go wrong!” 

I intended on relieving the Petty Officer of the Watch but not the OOD… but the CMC did not agree with my analysis… though the CDO concurred with me on this one and so it was done!! Needless to say the CMC had me in his office chewing me up and down every which way but loose… I could feel the ‘Bullshit-O-Meter gett’n pegged in the RED’!! That was pretty gaudamned standard on the Mighty Momsen!!!

You see… it always amazed me when some Navy Brass turned up on a pier, the ship’s ‘COC’ dropped the mission and assumed the position… crisis management… and oxidation miraculously stopped and everything got painted over… dirt & rust alike!?!? The outside looked all spiffy and squared away… but beauty my friends, is only skin-deep!  Just once I’d like to hear an Admiral say…

“And Captain… by the way, you might also want to tell your sailors that painting over rust doesn’t make it go away… it just hides the rot!”

Yep, it’s all for show… just a grandeur collection of brownie points… lamely contrived visuals… and a complex presentation of politics… politics… and more politics! I suppose sometimes it’s better to look good than to be good!! Hell… they say you can tell who the brown nosers and ass kissers are… ‘Always acting like a bitch in heat!!!’

It's also been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions! And with all the bells and whistles that come out spit shined and ready for action during those ‘Dog & Pony Shows’… there will never be a shortage of ass kissers and boot lickers!! Not in this ol’ Canoe Club!! But Hey... just leave it up to a ‘Crackerjack’ sailor to come up with the term ‘Dog & Pony Show’… with all the Sex acts in Tijuana… Thailand… and the likes of the PI!!!


  1. Boy this brought back some memories. You really need to do a whole book of these. Awesome!

  2. When we were on the Rat, the OOD had the word passed "Shitter alert! Shitter alert! Man the brown and yellow teams!" (code word that Desron Three Five was coming aboard).

    When I was a hot shot FTG2 I had the deck one fine afternoon in Pearl and my POOW bonged the Commodore aboard and said "Desron Three Five.... a leaving". The CO, XO and CDO were on the quarterdeck but were so stupified they couldn't chew me out (matter of fact, the CO did snicker a little bit); however I think they refrained because I was about ready to rip off the POOW's head and shit down his windpipe.

    Anybody in Pearl Harbor that was there between 1984 and 1987 may very well remember COMNAVSURFGRU MIDPAC (RAdm Reimann). He would stop some unfortunate soul who failed to render honors to his vehicle, escort him to the ship and have the word passed for the CO, XO and CDO (chew them out and have them explain why the lad didn't render honors to the vehicle). He also went on a mission at random possibly with the intent of seeing how many quarterdecks could possibly screw up ringing him aboard (proper being six bongs followed by "Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Arriving") and, invariably, about half of them did screw up. He also came in the CPO mess on the Rat during one visit and was asking why some of us weren't out and and about in the workspaces. In Pearl Harbor, you've been Reimannized.

    Then there was always the sweatex of painting the nonskid prior to returning to homeport (I was called by my divo on a Sunday and, although he was usually low key, HE was doing the sweatex thing about shaking people out of their racks to paint topside). But, yeah.... some of the twidget and scope dope Chiefs had their troops painting over rust. FCs, of course, being "Glorified Boatswain's Mates with a Hunting License" knew better.

    It's true, you know.

  3. Best visit I ever saw on the Cali. was Cruiser/Destroyer Group 8 visit without advance warning. Apparently, they are supposed to call first. The panic that they weren't ready conflicted with the anger that he did not call.

  4. Just as Mr. Clinton was getting ready to fire my ass (1997), I was thinking on how easy the modern Boatswain's Mate has it: only contractors could lay and maintain nonskid (seriously! we went thru a Med cruise with 6 square feet of bare deck in the middle of the forecastle!) and now, with the "radar reducing" crap they were slapping all over the superstructure, half of our painting was now in the hands of contractors as well!

    Fine by me, 'cause no matter how loud you yelled or how patiently you taught, the young folk of today just can't seem to grasp proper painting techniques. We threw away more god-dang brushes...

  5. We had some really old-fart Admiral pay a visit to Gridley when we were berthed in San-Dog... We put on the whole dog and pony show for this old fart who looked like he was just back from a 3 day bender, still maybe a little buzzed, and slept in his uniform, using his hat for a pillow....after he inspects the crew topside, he tells the CO we looked "rumpled"! Fortunately we had the most outstanding CO I ever sailed with at that time...he REALLY cared about HIS Crew.... and after Admiral Oldfart left the ship, he passed word down the COC about the Admiral's comment, and we were all told not to worry about it... of course no CO in his right mind is gonna badmouth an Admiral, but the message was received loud and clear!

  6. Contractors now do the non-skid. Hmmm, wonder if the KITTY HAWK had something to do with that. They painted half the deck on hanger bay while we were in Bremerton for overhaul in 69/70 and sprinkled on the non-skid crap/sand whatever it was. After about a day they realized they did not add the hardner to the epoxy paint :-). What a mess as it all had to come up so they could re-do it. Soooo maybe it is a good idea having Contractors do it!

  7. Back then, it seemed like everyday on the Rat 1983-1987 was a dog and pony show! Now I just laugh about it but it wasn't too funny back then!

  8. Once for dust and twice for rust!

  9. We had an inspection team come onboard and the skipper went all out. As I left the conferance room one of the inspectors said, "This ship must be FUCKED up if they went to all this trouble." The XO asked me what they said and when I told him you could hear his jaw hit the deck. I laughed all the way back to the galley. The ship was straight, the command was whipped and chicken.

    1. Yep... when I was on the MOMSEN it was the same way... technically and tactically we were spot on... but the Command could never get there heads outta their ass! We were socially incompetent as a command...

  10. Hell, on ff-1052 we always had the dog and pony show except there never were any dignitaries.

  11. Aboard the Tulare, had an admiral question me about the painted over rust, just after being piped aboard (I was honors Boatswain Mate), after explaining I was ordered to do it, he said" Pipe me over the side. Captain, let me know when proper preservation is done, and I will return." Best and worst day, all in 5 minutes.