WBEZ | Matt Ulrich http://www.wbez.org/tags/matt-ulrich Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Military propaganda, as seen through NBC's 'Stars Earn Stripes' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/military-propaganda-seen-through-nbcs-stars-earn-stripes-101874 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3874845297_a5c8c77958_z%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 294px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="The soundtrack to 'Top Gun.' (Flickr/Tilemahos)" />Summer is usually known for its dearth of impressive television programming, and this year is no exception: NBC is currently in the middle of airing <a href="http://www.nbc.com/stars-earn-stripes/"><em>Stars Earn Stripes</em></a>, a reality TV show where &quot;Eight celebs compete and take on challenges of real American heroes.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Stars Earn Stripes</em> isn&#39;t just the latest in reality TV glut; it&#39;s the latest endeavor in a long history of Hollywood and the United State&#39;s government&#39;s use of film and television, argued performer, veteran and former WBEZ employee Matt Ulrich at <em>The Paper Machete</em>. &quot;The thing is, it&#39;s you&#39;re American right to give a show to the general public that showcase an altered reality of military service,&quot; said Ulrich. &quot;It&#39;s your constitutional right, a right that is defended and protected by real military servicemen and women. It&#39;s a burden that they earn.&quot; Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><blockquote><p><em>Earn is a word with many definitions. In Webster&#39;s dictionary this verb has three of them, but the most fitting one would be; &quot;gain or incur deservedly in return for one&#39;s behavior or <u>achievements</u> : </em>through the years she has earned affection and esteem<em>.&quot;</em></p><p><em>Keep that definition in mind when you sadly find yourself with enough free time to watch </em>Stars Earn Stripes<em> on NBC, 8 pm central time. This program is a showcase of seven nobodies, and Terry Crews (the only tolerable actor in the movie </em>White Chicks<em>) as they go through a set of military training followed by a series of combat operations with real life soldiers and first responders by their side. They compete against one another during every single one of these exercises for, what is oh-so-fitting to all war scenarios, a cash prize! Now even though these nobodies, and Terry Crews, are pseudo-celebrities and could probably use the money, they don&#39;t get to keep it. Instead they earn their winnings for military-related charitable groups such as The Wounded Warrior Project, Hiring our Heroes, USO, and so on. All of these charities have done great things for our current soldiers and veterans so no one, including NBC, should have a problem with them receiving any funds of any kind.</em></p><p><em>However, this doesn&#39;t take away from the video game like presentation of war that NBC delivers this program to national viewers.</em></p><p><em>Now I&#39;ve challenged myself to sit through a two hour debut of </em>Stars Earn Stripes<em> through the scope of a seasoned veteran. My first knee jerk reaction came when they presented Terry Crews as an action star. I felt this was an insult to him since he has made me laugh more than he&#39;s made me feel &quot;action&quot; so I began to mentally root for him from the beginning. But once the smash cuts of all the celebrities began with reasons why they are participating in this show, he said, &ldquo;I can&#39;t wait to fire a real gun, with real bullets.&rdquo; Maybe NBC&#39;s crack team of editors allowed me to take this out of context, but I couldn&#39;t help but feel appalled. That&#39;s sort of like being on a reality show based in a morgue, and our pseudo-celebrity James Woods, says &ldquo;I just can&#39;t wait to touch a dead body!&rdquo; And with that began the increase of my anger and frustration for the next 120 minutes.</em></p></blockquote><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a>&nbsp;<em>is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/military-propaganda-seen-through-nbcs-stars-earn-stripes-101874 WBEZ's Matt Ulrich celebrates his fellow veterans http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-10/wbezs-matt-ulrich-honors-his-fellow-veterans-93928 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-10/g2e22e2000000000000be8855cfa02c2906cb763d0fe9bf6054d697a416.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor the men and women who have served their country. But for those who have served, the day carries special meaning. </em>Eight Forty-Eight<em> turned to Matt Ulrich, an account executive here at WBEZ who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the United States Army, to find out what the day means for him:</em></p><p>Growing up I didn’t know the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. I knew they were days set aside to honor anyone in military service.</p><p>If you knew someone in the military, or had the rare chance to see one in uniform, you thanked them for their service and carried on; I wasn’t oblivious to it all. When I was 10, my parents asked me to lead grace at Thanksgiving dinner. During prayer, I asked God to watch over our soldiers serving in Operation Desert Storm; it made my Aunt Geeda cry. Looking back on it, it seemed like the thing right to say, but I’m pretty sure that I didn’t know what it meant.</p><p>On September 11<sup>th</sup>, 2001, I woke up to a phone call from my friend Kevin telling me about what happened. Later that day I was listening to Russ Martin, a local shock jock in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He was taking calls about how people were feeling about the terrorist attacks. One of the calls was from an Army recruiter from the Dallas suburb where I grew up. He said people were walking in to join the Army so that they could help the U.S. hold those accountable for the terrorist acts. I found it odd that it took an act of terrorism to inspire patriotism; seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to me. I dismissed any and all idea of military service and continued the life of a struggling college student with a healthy partying lifestyle.</p><p>A few months later, I was watching the HBO series <em>Band of Brothers</em>. That’s the epic story of the 502<sup>nd</sup> Parachute Infantry Regiment, who fought in WWII.</p><p>I watched, reflected on each episode and even did some research on the military vernacular. I wanted to understand every detail of war. And, I became inspired! I wanted to grab a rifle, don a uniform and help fight off the Germans with the allies by our side. Unfortunately, time travel doesn’t exist. Instead, I stepped into an Army recruiter station.&nbsp; It was the very same recruiter station that was mentioned on the radio a few months earlier.</p><p>Four years later I was a leader in an infantry reconnaissance team about to embark on a yearlong deployment in Iraq. Our primary focus was Iraq’s second largest city Mosul. It was our job to stop the flow of money and guns; it wasn’t easy. It was about building relationships within the community, understanding patterns of enemy behavior, and doing a little detective work. We were immensely successful and I’m proud to say that a lot of it came from understanding the culture and having a lot of faith and patience.</p><p>During my time in the military, many things about me changed. I no longer felt as if I was serving my country. I felt like I was serving my family, my military family. As promotions came and my responsibility for life increased, I felt like a big brother or a father to some of these men; I always put them first.</p><p>I sent my unit home before I took leave, skipping holidays with my family at home. There were repercussions to this. My then wife pointed to this loyalty to my unit as a reason to leave me. She told me this when I flew home to meet her during my two weeks leave. I had just landed in Dallas, a hub for soldiers returning home, and all I wanted to do was jump back on the plane and return to Iraq. Iraq, where I felt my real family was.</p><div class="inset"><p><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);"><span style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">"Four years later I was a leader in an infantry reconnaissance team about to embark on a yearlong deployment in Iraq. Our primary focus was Iraq’s second largest city Mosul."</span></span></span></p></div><p>There was a feeling I had like there’s no other person on earth that could care for these men and guide them like I could. Now that may not be true but it’s certainly the way that I felt. So it was tough to be the one to tell them we weren’t going home after our yearlong tour was complete. We were only eight days from heading home when President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld sent us down south to Baghdad. The rumor was that we may not see Christmas stateside that year. Devastation doesn’t begin to describe the look on a soldier’s face when you tell him he will have to wait longer to go home to meet his newly born child for the first time.</p><p>Baghdad was an eye opener. I know the U.S. media was saying &nbsp;it wasn’t a civil war but I was there, and that’s exactly what I saw. They were fighting each other, not us. It was very difficult to understand why we were there. But I still stuck to my number one priority, keeping my men safe and bringing them home alive.</p><p>After a little more than three and a half months, it was music to my ears to hear that we would be returning home on December the 1<sup>st</sup>. I’m proud to say every soldier under my care came home unscathed. They were returning to wives, girlfriends, children that had grown. I was returning with a sense of accomplishment, not for what we had done in Iraq, but for the simple fact that all of my men were coming home. I was beaming and nothing could stop that, not even my wife leaving my life.</p><p>I love this country, I really do. But its days like Veterans Day that remind me of what kept me going and why I did it. It wasn’t for the home I grew up in, or the freedoms I have. It was for the men, friends and family members that were by my side. Sometimes I feel guilty when someone says thank you. It was a TV show – not 9-11 – that inspired me to join the military.</p><p>I don’t need a day like Veterans Day to remind me of what I’ve done and what it means to people in this country who haven’t served. Veterans Day is our nation’s chance to say thank you for our sacrifices, our losses and our dedication; because there’s no way of understanding what we really have gone through. Please don’t misunderstand me. When you say, “thank you,” I appreciate it. It’s just that I don’t know what to do with it. All I can say is thank you as well.</p><p><em>Music Button: Kabanjak, "High Priest", from the CD Tree of Mystery, (ESL)</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 16:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-10/wbezs-matt-ulrich-honors-his-fellow-veterans-93928