Colonel Jungle Jim and Dancing in the Street

excerpt: “History of the Groove, book three” Russell Buddy Helm ©2014 all rights reserved

1991. Colonel Marsh looked at me over his drink with the eagle eyes of a man who had seen more action in more wars than most men. In Viet Nam he was called “Jungle Jim” because he had implemented the notorious Phoenix program. In World War II, Jim was OSS, operating in Asia as well as occupied Europe. He had been active during the Cold War bringing out scholars, classical musicians, professors, poets and outspoken writers from behind the Iron Curtain. He had a wife who had been with him the whole time and a beautiful daughter who approached me in Florida, to write her father’s story. It would have been a doozie if it had been allowable.

“One of the most culturally potent exports of the United States.., ” I opined carefully, “…is our music. The rock n roll and our folk music. Our entertainment…even our television shows.” His thick eyebrows arched, intrigued, ready to debunk at the first sign of a weak argument. As it turned out he knew more about cultural propaganda than I would ever know. I wanted to know certain things about the history of our intelligence business because I was still struggling with the cypher of my father. This retired soldier was sympathetic but not that helpful. He let slip a few morsels about the creation of CIA using Nazi personnel. I accidentally tricked him into talking about the Abwehr Intelligence spymaster I mistakenly referred to as, “…Major Gorlen…” he corrected me, emphatically, “COLONEL Gorlen!” He watched himself a little more closely after that, but told me to say hello to several A list producers when I got back to LA. “We’re old friends.”

I had unknowingly been pulled into a propaganda operation a few years earlier and I was still feeling culpable about the gruesome outcome; Tiananmen Square massacre. Two producers, claiming to have written the Jan and Dean hit song, “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” approached me to write a rock n roll radio show to be aired on Radio Beijing. I recorded the show, complete with voice over rock n roll enthusiasm ala Wolfman Jack, to show the Chinese DJ how to do it, but I pulled out because I thought they were playing with fire. The Chinese kids would go crazy listening to good old American Rock n Roll and the repercussions could possibly be fatal; which they were. The pictures showing the Chinese college student standing his ground in front of a Chinese Army tank did not have the soundtrack being heard across the square and across China. It was my nerdy voice, imitating Wolfman with a touch of Rodney from KROQ, introducing Martha Reeves and the Vandellas singing, “Dancing in the Street”; the beginning song of a one hour radio show that aired every day at noon all across China. I chose The Vandellas’ song because it stirred the blood when it first came out in the early sixties and it did the same thing in China. It was a cultural incursion into Communist China by these two crazy assed producers who had the largest soft drink company as sponsor along with God knows what unofficial covert government US support. The first person shot by the Chinese Army was the DJ at Radio Beijing. I would have been in that control room if I hadn’t backed out at the last moment. Maybe the ghost of my dad was watching out for me. I had some kind of angels keeping me out of harm’s way.

excerpt: “History of the Groove, book three” Russell Buddy Helm ©2014 all rights reserved

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