Wednesday, November 8, 2017

So, There we stood, waiting in a cold mist for the next earth moving command
to be given. Without warning the booming voice of our sergeant major brought
our meaningless mass together. We became a solid block. Twenty five hundred
men became an imposing figure. We were at attention. The battalion commander
appeared and marched to the center of the parade grounds. The commander was
himself an imposing figure. He was taller than any of us, and carried
himself the way his West Point Credentials required. He was a full bird
colonel. The emblems glittered on his shoulders as he viewed us as if
inspecting the most powerful group of warriors ever seen on this planet. To
a man we were taken by our leaders presence.

Our sergeant turned a sharp about face and reported to the colonel, "all
present and accounted for as ordered sir," he bellowed and saluted
simultaneously. The colonel returned his salute, and the sergeant moved to a
side position, taking his place and becoming one of us. Again the colonel
did his review. His eyes inspected all of us with an amazing display of
pride. At a precise moment the sergeant was again in front of our body. He
shouted "parade rest" and as one unit we snapped into position. The
sergeant again moved aside and our colonel took charge. The man¹s presence
was nothing short of inspiring. All was still as the colonel prepared to
speak. Then it came: "Men, you are about to experience what only a very
select group have ever had the privilege of experiencing."

At that moment the battalion color guard appeared. To the beat of a single
drum they marched into position on the parade grounds. If you can visualize
the configuration of a football field; place the color guard at one end of
the field. The colonel would be directly behind the guard. Next to enter was
the Fort Lewis Army marching band. They took their position directly behind
the color guard and in front of the colonel, and our (twenty-five
hundred-man) battalion.

 "Today you will be representing your country, the United States of America.
Are you ready?"
As one we responded with "yes sir!"

"Then give them hell men!" He shouted.

The chills came in waves. What might seem cornball was anything but. The
band struck up with John Philip SousesWashington Post March, and at the
precise moment the colonel bellowed again, "Give them hell men." He turned
and signaled as if he was conducting a cavalry charge. We marched as one.

And then the final emotional wave, which has remained with me all of my
life. I caught sight of our American flag leading our way. To date my chest
has never expanded as much as it did on that very chilly day. We weren't the
same group of young boys messing around as we did before the parade.

The next day we all returned to kidding around and still playing our
schoolboy tricks on one another. But as this day wore down there were
conversations about some unexpected feelings. For me personally, I never
totally shared up until now what a life changing experience it was.

For those of you who have visited with me on Sparks Ave. in Burbank, you
will recall our flag flying proudly in front of our studio doors. It¹s there
every day that I¹m there.

This coming Friday, November 10, we pay tribute to our veterans. I pray you
share my pride.

Today, I repeat the words, I remain proud to say I am a veteran. I MAY BE A

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It’s All The Rage: Don’t Act Your Age

“This is the lesson: Never give in... Never, never, never, never, …in nothing great or small, large or petty-never give in except to convictions of honor or good taste.”
Winston S. Churchill

Not then, as a child,
Or as manhood took over,
Physically following nature's
predictable course of events
Happening to find myself experiencing,
Never quitting, though provoking,
Or as is so aptly put in the world
of pugilism, throwing in the towel.

Regardless of personal mindset.
Each day of my manly humanization
Fortunately learning the curative value
a good night of sleep might bring...
And the next day with God once again
turning on the brightness of a new early morning
Looking forward whatever the reason
Was then my implacable direction?

Though his discernable direction
Far in the future
Never to be disclosed!

And the above
Truth be said
For all who knows the man
Or knew of him when living
If only by letters read

All agreed, some ferociously
No man ever more stubborn
Before, or in his stead.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are all shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

One person who had read his quote, instantly allowed complete agreement, expounding on how their total lifestyle was joyous and giving.

While another person, formed and covered by a different cloth, disregarded the author's substance while observing dispassionately, “How could a guy named Waldo know anything about real life or love?”

Is serving a form of elegance?
Is giving a form of graciousness?
Is turning the other cheek a loving thing to do?
Where do I travel at this seemingly late date to get the answers to my penetrable questions?

Questions most likely not answerable: a homeless man asleep on the street, obviously without any noticeable wealth after being mugged, knowing no other alternatives rivaling his survival, when asked by a reporter, “What were you thinking?” replied, "I felt I was about to die, and you know what…I didn’t give a damn until I realized I was far too young for a final breath."

It kind of shoots the shit out of what our friend Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say. Maybe the question about whether a guy named Waldo had credibility turns out to be a good one? I’d never be guilty of trying to explain to either of my children how the person who was stealing from the homeless man did so from a position of love. And, if the man were a loving guy, he would have informed the crook he had missed the real hiding place.

Mom and Dad were loving people, I guess, but they dispensed love on a family first quota. Simple people with a simple regimen; family first, followed by friends, if you happened to have any. Stay where you belonged in your own neighborhood. Don’t go looking for trouble. Stay in good shape so you could blossom tomorrow when God decides to turn the lights on for another day.


Have you ever given blood?
Been mugged?
Been in our country’s military service?
Been insulted because of your race or religious preference?
Been frightened to the point of vomiting, or losing control of normal bodily functions?

No? Then how the hell do you know what it might feel like to do so? But... you do qualify to become an elected official and, most likely, you already are one.

As I become older and older it becomes easier and easier to act my age. Often the thought of curtailing my emotional outbursts doesn’t remotely enter a psyche, which has endured a parade of dishonest and self-centered politicos hell bent on being a feature player on any power-driven stage that might have them.

A singer who can’t carry a tune, a comedian who isn’t the least bit funny, the pretty or handsome face that isn’t capable of any form of an honest portrayal, all joining forces with a ventriloquist whose lips move uncontrollably during a performance all manage to join hands and take a bow together, knowing it will be their last.

It is, after all, a paid election.
No audience will pay to see them ever again.

The actor, however, is forced by the nature of the beast that governs his life or death the constant necessity to audition for his future sustenance. His past and present will dictate the future. Unlike the elected official, who revels in being elected one term after another although his performances have been shoddy at best, he nevertheless is able to blame his ineptitude on the actors who trod the boards before him as the culprits, who should be the ones blamed for his deceit and malfeasance of performance. An actor who performs poorly usually experiences a short-lived career.

Shouldn’t that be the case for our civil servants?

As actors, we have in common an honesty that cannot be taken from us. We strive to perform well. We all seek the applause and standing ovations accompanying our fine performances. But what about our civil servants who lie and cheat? What about those who promise to serve my brethren--service men and women, who served those same civil servants that now without care make our heroes wait in endless lines?

My name is Harvey Kalmenson. I’m too old to concern myself with anything but the truth. We have men and women in line waiting to be helped. They paid for their tickets to get in, and now the people who own the theatres are not living up to the promises made to them.

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Abraham Lincoln

Friday, July 4, 2014

Would I Serve Again

Sadly, those of us who have served our country and experienced the explicitness--and the lack there of--of fear, pain, and endless yearning for those we love to return home, have also borne the brunt of neglect and despair caused by leaders who have failed--and continue to fail--at executing the promises they made to us as elected government officials. When we stepped forward and raised our right hands while swearing allegiance to our country, we did so bearing no thoughts of deceit. To the man, we considered ourselves to be exceptional men and women in an exceptional army.

As a nineteen year old, I was wrapped in our American flag. I boasted--without a smidgen of shame--that we were the best trained, best clothed, and best fed troops in the history of the world. Our doctors, nurses, and front line medical corpsmen were without equals. Our driving force for being an American was just that: being an American. Our military leaders told us they had our backs, and they never failed.

Memorial Day 2014 has come and gone.

As I gathered with many other veterans to express our thanks to all those who served the American cause before us, the overriding question asked was, “Would I do it over again?”

I feel, even though a fellow veteran raised the question, that my answer at this stage of my life’s tenure is completely innocuous. If I could turn the clock back to that day long ago, when my buddies might have been the ones in search of the answer about reliving my life’s trip, then--without question--they would have replied, "Sign me up."

“Never in hell! Why would I start again in harm's way, especially when the only ones who give a real damn are my own family and friends? Get a real life for yourself, shithead, or go get your ass shot off by a guy in a beard who’s never attended a baseball, basketball, or football game in their lives!

Asking me a would-I-do-it-all-over-again kind of question today was followed by the sort of an answer I didn’t like coming from me. Or maybe, what I offer as a reply makes more sense then when I was a nineteen year old soldier sharing my cares and fears with a couple of tent buddies.

Yes, I’ll volunteer to serve you
But only if those who accept my service
Agree to serve along side
Promises made to me by countrymen
Are promises by which to abide.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One Veteran Speaks

AS THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION struggles to repair damage caused by shoddy handling of health care for U.S. service members... many veterans who had their records wiped out in a massive fire at the National Personnel Records Center more than 40 years ago are still fighting to collect their benefits.

One veteran speaks is the title of this thing, but that one veteran also happens to be da harv, a.k.a Harvey Kalmenson. And, I am speaking, not in an attempt to tell you the truth about government, but to share and bear witness to the incongruity of seemingly almost everything the federal government lays claim to. Well, maybe not everything... only the stuff those who lack practical experience are in somewhat control over.


It may help to know and understand the rules of the road when it comes to the medical welfare of United States service personnel. All of us, without exception, are informed when we become G.I.s (government issue) that our well being is now the direct responsibility of the branch of service we joined. In my case, it was the Army. And, from the very beginning they, the army, took care of everything, regardless the cause. If a soldier was hurt or needed dental work while in the service, our medical corps saw to it or it was handled by a civilian doctor or hospital in the event we weren’t within reach of a service run installation.

Many years ago, as I was being mustered out of the United States Army, I found myself in the throes of one more, final medical exam. If you can conjure up the sights and sounds of a meaningless cattle drive, you’d be well on the road of picturing my hopeful and last experience with our government’s civilian handling of our military.

Two years earlier...

It was during basic infantry training at Fort Lewis, Washington that I had reason to have an Army dentist remove two teeth that had become loose during an accident while I was still a civilian.

Don't fret--it went off without a problem; all went well.

The Army Captain doing my dental work was as good a dentist as any I might have experienced as a civilian. It was explained to me that the Army would take care of replacing the teeth as soon as the toughest element of basic training was behind me. The way it worked out, the original plan had to be placed on hold due to the immediacy of me being shipped out to a combat zone. I was told not to worry then, too, as the teeth would be replaced by an Army dentist at my overseas location.

The needed dental work never occurred.

Goodbye to the Army--two teeth still missing.

Aside from a variety of small ailments not necessary to discuss, I was checked from stem to stern and found to be in exemplary good health at my final medical examination.

“When do I get my final dental work taken care of?” I asked the officer in charge.

It was explained to me in very short and rather curt terms that I was now the responsibility of the Veteran's Association (VA). It took six months from my mustering out of the Army for my appointment at the West Los Angeles VA to be set. On that day, I showed up on time with all of my papers in perfect order, or so I thought.

That was the laughable beginning and the end of my involvement with the Veterans Administration. (I did try one more time to get my work done--all to no avail.) It turned out that neither the Army, nor the VA had record of my teeth ever being extracted.

“So, you’re saying I pulled my own teeth?"

It was all a very long time ago and, I am able to report that my teeth have been replaced, but nothing else seems to have changed!

Friday, May 2, 2014

He Was "Grrrreat!"

For close to 25 years, Lee Marshall has been a part of our lives here at Kalmenson & Kalmenson. As an acting student, VO actor, and forever a friend, we will affectionately remember him always as the voice of "Tony the Tiger.”

Lee passed away Saturday, April 26, 2014.

We had the honor of casting the voice of this animated American icon, "Tony.” And then, we had the joy of learning that Lee, a Kalmenson graduate, was the choice.

Rest in peace, Lee.

Cathy & Harvey
On Behalf of Everyone Here in Our K&K Family

Friday, November 15, 2013

Looking Forward to the New Good Old Days

The New Good Old Days;
Don’t give up yet;
Maybe; if all goes well;
So it shouldn’t be a total loss,
And in order to help our digestion;
GOD decided to “throw us a bone.”
So to speak.

Urban Dictionary: throw me a bone: "give me a break"/ "give me a hint," Give me a chance.


One day, while I was attentively listening and observing what God was up to at that particular moment in time, there came upon me a new and even more intensive reckoning to deal with than I had ever experienced (while endeavoring to reckon with what was then currently on my plate at this unbelievable moment of life’s urgencies).

If all this is a touch confusing to you, well then, I have succeeded in conveying what it was like for me as I turned off the evening news and sat there alone in deep thought (no longer multi tasking) wondering what in the name of hell were our elected officials talking about.

After Many Centuries


Finally, God decided to correct our years of dialect corruptions. Many of us, usually the ones who have inhabited one of our larger cities, developed their own peculiar way of talking. For whatever the reason, and I am sure there must be an explanation for it, often very good words – nice ones with intellect, manners, and substantial couth, bearing, and, of course, above average stature – along with correct pronunciation have been discarded. Think about my plight – what a shame it is to look for a word definition and discover no such word exists – words like “freakin’,” or “friggin’” like my Mother used to say.

When I was about eight years old, there wasn’t a kid in my Brooklyn neighborhood not using today’s common place derivations of slang as a daily ritual. "Freakin’,” and “friggin’” were comfortable words that our parents allowed around the house, but never in the classrooms. A good example of the typical immigrant usage of these famous American slang words could often be heard as a useful add-on during a heated or semi-heated discussion amongst friends where two folks engaged in a vigorous bartering exchange. One asks how much money the other would take for a particular item. The guy thinks for a second, and then says it’s too much money. The seller becomes indignant and tells the prospective buyer to “Go s--t in your friggin’ hat,” as he walks and sulks away. (So very American, don’t you think?)

For a moment, please enlist yourselves in a personal pleasure of mine: re-creation, remembering, or for want of the more precise, reflections of my past – something I have, and you don’t. Please consider me, in this case, a smug “rememberer.” At this point, if you happen to get it, understanding where I’m coming from you’re most likely in a state of (as the immigrants would put it to whomever) “eating your heart(s) out.”

(Humorous definition)
Something you say that means you or someone you know can do something better than a person who is famous for doing that very thing;
“I'm taking singing lessons. Sammie Davis, eat your heart out.”

So, what am I getting at, alluding to, bragging about, or really and truly philosophizing? Perhaps rhapsodizing over this is the cause of my often smiling and joking at the “eat your heart out” syndrome that allows me to celebrate a form of relief from the daily rigors of my incessant observations of the untidy lives so many folks are forced to live. (I choose to use the term “untidy” as opposed to “cruel” as a descriptive for what the newspapers and television happens to be spewing forth in a regular dosage for us, the common man; bullshit to place in our own personal hats?

Decades of listening and reading have fostered my ability to self indulge. If reflections of the past relaxes and brings with it a heartier laugh than younger people would understand, then my celebration by the mere conjuring of the past could also validate the statement: “I'm taking singing lessons. Sammie Davis, eat your heart out.”

I (almost) love when a loved one, family member, or friend asks a favor of me. While not usually looking for a helping hand, I never the less adore those people who freely come forward with the pleasantness of their smiling face asking for nothing more than my reflective countenance.

QUESTION: “So, damn it – what’s the point, Harv?”

As I prepare to answer your question regarding what my point is, or what the hell is he writing about now, the question reminds me of a time in the fifth grade when a teacher of mine was asking the same thing of my Mother.

“What the hell is your kid talking about now?” was the question.

My Mother responded with, “If you figure it out let me know.”

At that point of her life, Mom thought an abstraction was something done by a dentist.

By age eleven, I was firmly convinced almost anything could be considered funny, or at worst, a reliable source of humor. Honestly, I knew nothing about abstract art in any shape or form. It was the great humorist Robert Benchley who helped to set me on a course that I’ve never successfully veered from – and good God I’ve tried earnestly to do so.

Please don’t get the idea that, as a little kid in grammar school, I was being personally enlightened by the likes of the crowd, which held daily lunchtime meetings at the now international landmark the Algonquin Hotel in New York City.


It was, however, the early days of film; the famed Robert Benchley, a charter member of the “Algonquin Round Table,” aside from his adeptness as a syndicated writer, was being recognized for his disjointed humor presented as short films in movie theaters countrywide.

Week by week, Benchley witticisms were creeping into the American vernacular. It was becoming an in thing for young adults to be able to quote lines from a short Robert Benchley film. As an adept copyist I was prone to repeating many of the things I heard, regardless of being able to understand their meanings.

But, it was actually a line delivered by Dorothy Parker to her cronies at a roundtable luncheon that got da Harv well on his way towards constant trouble with his grade school teachers.

The Algonquin Round Table
The group was playing one of their many word games when Dorothy floored them with her latest and perhaps greatest quip, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her drink.”
**Obviously, it's a play on words of the familiar, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink,” and is spoken as, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.”

Now, if you’re able to imagine a ten-year-old kid saying this in a classroom, one might also imagine the indignant response of my teacher. In any event, I was labeled as an intentional teacher’s foil; whatever that means. Compare all of this to today’s culture, and I’d come across as a choirboy. What a difference a few decades can make.

What hasn’t changed for da Harv, regardless of the extensive lapse of time, is that I still find myself spending a great many hours up in front of a classroom filled with students – still playing with words – still reflecting on the words of Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and a proverbial laundry list of Americans from the past.

Back then, what we considered raunchy would not raise an eyebrow today.

Raise (a few) eyebrows:
To shock or surprise people

Imagine the effect it would have had if I were a rapper? Talk about raising an eyebrow; I’m laughing as I get a mind’s eye picture of me as a ten year old, up in front of my class, dressed in jeans down around my butt with my underwear covering what would have been a visible slit in an inappropriate area of a plumber’s calling card.

The thing I find sad about today’s supposed great communicators is that most of them can’t be trusted with the real meaning, or truth of the matter they’re attempting to communicate.

Is it really so difficult for any of us to look the other guy straight and forwardly into his or her eyes and say, “You voted for me, and I screwed up.” Can you just imagine the effect a statement like that would have? Almost, without exception, all of us Americans would agree – we had just heard a politician being honest. How very uplifting for all of us, don’t you think?

But, they don’t seem to get it, for now. But, we all do. Without reservation, deceit will be reckoned with – it always is.

Sure hope that it applies to will, without hesitation, “Put that in your (their) pipe and smoke it!”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Price To Pay

And as I flew through the air enjoying the crowd’s
appreciation of my reckless abandonment
Bearing no concern for life or limb,
in the then present
With zero regard for what the future had in store;
This, a young man, exiting his twenties;
As a personal prologue
Too deeply etched, never forgotten
The many shades, which at times diminish the pain
Never fully does it disappear
Each an alternating segment of life
Bringing with it future memories to be lived
As new shades dissolve revealing its currency,
or a summons to be paid

Recalling a collision, be it mind or body, doesn’t require any
special skills;
Pain will always be pain,
Mental or physical;
Hurting like hell for a split second, then following the momentary
relief brought on by a pill or subsequent unconsciousness,
It all too soon returns without glory or fanfare.
But return it ultimately will,
Dosage? Perhaps of a lifetime, its duration.

Hello, my future has arrived.
It came in ten-year gulps
Too speedily to comprehend
Both shoulders ache; thanks to God they are mine
While my left knee groans out the same song.
They too are mine
The penalties endured by this older man
brazen disregard bringing forward
Punishments received
Once a youthful mind and body
Years upon me without discrimination
Unrelenting, without warning, or the extent of suffering to
be revealed
Always disregarding the time or importance of my day.
At work, at play, during the confines of sleep

A young man enquires of my wisdom…

“How do you endure, and to what end?” He asks.

“If you can, examine my alternatives,” I respond.
“If the hurt remains, with justification, so too will I remain.
Without this life to live, there will be no pain.”

The young man’s eyes grow more quizzical...

“Each day I laugh at all things being offered me...
and yes, I sometimes cry as well.”

“What do you laugh and cry about?” Another question.

“Giving and taking, mostly,” is my response.

As was expected the young man didn’t get it.
People leave and they return.
I may smile and I may cry.
Never thinking about it
It just happens, no certain way
But always in a certain way


Boys and men, from the time this great country of ours was formed, strode out to war, some returning, and some remaining as fallen heroes on battlefields to be forever deplored. All damaged to the man. Without exception, being in the ungodly position of harm’s way will never provide for the memories to ever be cleansed from any soldier’s soul – the sights, the sounds, and the total disbelief over what will eternally be etched within our human mind’s eye.

Many years ago as a high school drama student I came across a poem written by Robert W. Service.

The poem was recited in class, and then repeated over again on a few separate occasions during the remainder of the semester. With all that transpires repeatedly on our globe, as we have come to expect it to happen, it occurred to me perhaps the relevance of a young sergeant in the Canadian Army might ring a pertinent bell with those of you who may have experienced some of the doctrine of loss.

By Robert W. Service

The Wounded Canadian Speaks

My leg? It's off at the knee.
Do I miss it? Well, some. You see
I've had it since I was born;
And lately a devilish corn.
(I rather chuckle with glee
To think how I've fooled that corn.)

But I'll hobble around all right.
It isn't that, it's my face.
Oh, I know I'm a hideous sight,
Hardly a thing in place.
Sort of gargoyle, you'd say.
Nurse won't give me a glass,
But I see the folks as they pass
Shudder and turn away;
Turn away in distress...
Mirror enough, I guess.
I'm gay! You bet I am gay,
But I wasn't a while ago.
If you'd seen me even to-day,
The darnedest picture of woe,
With this Caliban mug of mine,
So ravaged and raw and red,
Turned to the wall -- in fine
Wishing that I was dead....
What has happened since then,
Since I lay with my face to the wall,
The most despairing of men!
Listen! I'll tell you all.

That poilu across the way,
With the shrapnel wound on his head,
Has a sister: she came to-day
To sit awhile by his bed.
All morning I heard him fret:
"Oh, when will she come, Fleurette?"

Then sudden, a joyous cry;
The tripping of little feet;
The softest, tenderest sigh;
A voice so fresh and sweet;
Clear as a silver bell,
Fresh as the morning dews:
"C'est toi, cest toi, Marcel!
Mon frère, comme je suis heureuse!"

So over the blanket's rim
I raised my terrible face,
And I saw -- how I envied him!
A girl of such delicate grace;
Sixteen, all laughter and love;
As gay as a linnet, and yet
As tenderly sweet as a dove;
Half woman, half child -- Fleurette.

Then I turned to the wall again.
(I was awfully blue, you see,)
And I thought with a bitter pain:
"Such visions are not for me."
So there like a log I lay,
All hidden, I thought, from view,
When sudden I heard her say,
"Ah! Who is that malheureux?"
Then briefly I heard him tell
(However he came to know)
How I'd smothered a bomb that fell
Into the trench, and so
None of my men were hit,
Though it busted me up a bit.

Well, I didn't quiver an eye,
And he chattered and there she sat;
And I fancied I heard her sigh --
But I wouldn't just swear that.
And maybe she wasn't so bright,
Though she talked in a merry strain,
And I closed my eyes ever so tight,
Yet I saw her ever so plain:
Her dear little tilted nose,
Her delicate, dimpled chin,
Her mouth like a budding rose,
And the glistening pearls within;
Her eyes like the violet:
Such a rare little queen -- Fleurette.

And at last when she rose to go,
The light was a little dim,
And I ventured to peep, and so
I saw her, graceful and slim,
And she kissed him and kissed him, and oh
How I envied and envied him!

So when she was gone I said
In rather a dreary voice
To him of the opposite bed:
"Ah, friend, how you must rejoice!
But me, I'm a thing of dread.
For me nevermore the bliss
The thrill of a woman's kiss."

Then I stopped, for lo! she was there,
And a great light shone in her eyes.
And me! I could only stare,
I was taken so by surprise,
When gently she bent her head:
"May I kiss you, sergeant?" she said.

Then she kissed my burning lips,
With her mouth like a scented flower,
And I thrilled to the finger-tips,
And I hadn't even the power
To say: "God bless you, dear!"
And I felt such a precious tear
Fall on my withered cheek,
And darn it, I couldn't speak.

And so she went sadly away,
And I know that my eyes were wet.
Ah, not to my dying day
Will I forget, forget!
Can you wonder now I am gay?
God bless her, that little Fleurette!