Message On a Helmet: Another Mystery

22 01 2008

While trying to decipher what’s written on the paper snippet on Barnes’ helmet, I noticed small, hardly visible graffiti on the strap, up side down, as if to prevent the viewer from reading it: on the right there is “Chi-Town hustler” written in thin letters, on the left ?ELLEZ written in capitals. Looked through all visual evidence I own, the first letter could be T or F.

Chi-town is the nickname of Chicago, Berenger’s birthplace, but what the hell is TELLEZ? Googling didn’t help much, both versions are popular second names, ellez seems to be a word in Turkish and French. Again, your only friend in such case is patience and strike of luck.

Then I thought what if it is a name of the “real” Barnes? Looked up at The Virtual Wall website, getting multiple hits and my heart started to beat faster… But again, the details don’t fit. Too young, a pfc, wrong branch, wrong time… sigh. It’s not good for my blood pressure. 

What the hell is it? A number (835539/335539)? Name? Acronym? A damn hidden message?

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The Things They Carried… on their helmets

22 01 2008

For someone who had no clue about military, it was easy to recognize only one sort of helmet attachments in the movie. Cigarette packets.

Warren and Lerner also wore rosaries, the little metal thing clearly visible on Lerner’s helmet in the village scene is a can opener. By chance, I own a similar one – a simply but surprisingly effective tool. 

I guessed that the plastic bottles contain the insect repellent, which plays prominent part in the story. The smaller packs looked like wound dressings to me, I think it was good to have them handy.

Ace and Morehouse wear Ace of Spades cards.

For some reason, one of those helmet attachments has been driving me crazy for 20 years now. The little square piece of paper(?) on Barnes’ helmet, placed in the front and slightly right. Since I have seen the first decent photo of Barnes and kind of recognized that there are lines of text on this item, I wonder what can it be. A piece of newspaper? Unlike the Marlboro pack and other “crap” (as a friend described it), it seems to be always in the same place. Would a newspaper survive 6 weeks of shooting in the jungle, not to mention several months of the story the movie shows? I asked all possible people about it but noone knew.

Recently the DVD and the high resolution of a computer monitor allowed me to see a whole load of new details, but in that case it was still not enough. I think I can recognize words “when wet” and “long exposure”, so at least I was right about the text. I successfully googled more crazy sets of words, but not this time. All I can do is to sit and wait — I don’t know if there is an adequate Murphy’s Law for searching, but JP’s Law would go: If you look for something, you will find it as soon as you start looking for something else. 

Another thing on Barnes’ helmet is a toothbrush (for cleaning weapons, as some friendly soul explained to me on IMDB board), wondrously appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the church battle, and disappearing: as Barnes shoots Elias, there is nothing on his helmet at all, (not even the Mystery Paper Thingy, he apparently has lost it in the village brawl), then there is that pack of Marlboros again. … which is a small continuity goof.

Chris seems to carry a hand made pipe under the strap, but it doesn’t last for long. 

Hmmm, I think the matter still needs some further research. 🙂