A Brief History of Richard Asmus
I was born at a very early age in Wheeling, West Virginia and spent eight glorious years toddling into the mysteries of small town life. Then my Dad bought 11 acres of wild, wonderful hills for us to play on, complete with a creek, a swamp, a desert, grassy fields, dense woods, 48 peach trees, a quarter-acre of strawberries, 60 head o’ chicken, an Airedale named Muggsy and a goat named Hubbsy; “Almost Heaven,” an all-natural amusement park. I quickly developed a passion to see everything and decided to travel the world. So fresh out of high school, I joined the Navy.
As a sailor, I learned the electronic art of airborne weapons guidance using the state-of-the-art radar and computing devices of the early 60s. Then I was assigned to a fighter squadron on an aircraft carrier to span the globe repairing military video games that could destroy any enemy who dared confront us. Since there were none, we cruised and played to our heart’s content. But then Charlie raised his horrid head and we had to defend ourselves.
We began carpet-bombing to incinerate everyone in Vietnam in hopes of char-broiling Charlie, apparently to no avail because he kept popping up. One day I questioned the morals of such activity and the response was immediate and precise, “What the fuck do you care? They’re Gooks.”
But having met several appealing Gooks in Japan and the Philippines, I cared. So when my division officer wanted me to reenlist, he pleaded, “You know, good men are hard to find.”
My response was also immediate and precise, “Well if I see any, I’ll let you know.” Nobody was re-enlisting.
San Diego, my discharge point in 1965, was chock full of electronic opportunities in all areas including defense and telecommunications. I knew I could make more money selling flame throwers than cellphones, but I wouldn’t make nearly as many friends. So I morphed my mind from the technology of military radar to microwave radio for telecom. Soon, I was traveling the world again, but without the need to participate in pre-mortem cremations.
First stop was a project in Bangladesh with side trips to Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok. After finishing, I delayed my trip home to pass through India then Europe, but got lodged in the small town of Leysin, Switzerland to spend the winter ski-bumming. I fell in love with a beautiful, young adventurer from Australia named Felicity, and we spent the next summer traveling Europe in an old wreck of a minibus, given to us on the condition that we would also give it away when we finally reached Calais on the way to Felicity’s mid-wife studies in London.
When my meager bank account finally drained, I lied about having an engineering degree and, with the help of literary genius Tom Bolander, landed a one-year contract in Iran, only to learn the civilian side of American international arrogance. Felicity and I spent 13 months chiding the intruders, (click to read book) then went to Australia with a significantly refreshed bank account. But after meeting up with Aussie-rules footballers who had been best friends with Tony Tighe, a mate I knew in Switzerland who died on Mt. Everest, Felicity left me saying I loved beer more than her. I spent another year traveling Australia on what locals called “working-holidays,” doing kitchen work and other odd jobs, then finally limped back to the USA broken-hearted. I stayed tipsy for ten years, but still managed to do telecom projects in the USA, Canada, Europe and Central America.
At 40, I sobered up, enrolled in Arizona State University and got a BA in TV production at the Walter Cronkite School of Broadcasting and Journalism. As an independent, I produced more than 150 TV commercials in Phoenix, AZ, and then went on to earn an MFA at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. But after a few interviews with mainstream media executives, I was every bit as disgusted with journalistic supremacist ideology as I had been in the Gulf of Tonkin and Iran. So I used my newest education to found a small telecom consulting firm called Positive Technology, Inc. After 12 more years of work-related travel, my swan song was a three-year contract to develop an engineering department for a telecom construction company in Kansas City.
When the economy tanked early in the millennium, I spent a year recuperating my financial affairs enough to retire outside of the United States, eventually settling in Peru. I now teach English part-time at a technical institute in Lima, and have started to write. As my good traveling friend Donald Barry would have said – had he survived melanoma – “You’ve suffered enough for your talent. Now it’s our turn.”
All the stories in this blog are true. But if not, I’ll quote another deceased traveling friend, Tommy Tunkin. “And if that ain’t the way it happened, it’s the way it should’ve happened.”
I hope you enjoy my stuff.
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