Thursday, February 23, 2017


So it was on Albemarle Street and the
man had a dishevelled gun; black guy,
seemed too big for his own opinion
and walking around like that, with a
strut, he already deserved a jail. I'd ask
what was the last book he'd ever read,
but he'd probably not even understand.
Man, we have to put up with his kind
always? Whatever he was doing, it wasn't
for me and I intended to pass right by.
On the other corner, the Salvation Army
Store was busy, black guys too, pushing
carts of clothes across the street from
the receiving room and the offices,
where they checked and cleaned and
then priced the incoming clothes. I'd
guess. Other than that, just a Newark
slum filled with filth and scabs and
now Mexicans too, in little round cars
filled with 7 or 8 people. They pull
in like monkeys chattering, and all file
out together. Whatever they eventually
buy, I guess it's all shared among them.
I can never figure out the poor; I mean
the lousy poor, who shop used clothes
and sneakers. Illegals, and dudes without
money. Landscapers and apartment
painters. Snide bastards too. But I
never complain. They talk in English
when they have to, but mostly use
their local tongue. That's OK. I
don't speak Ciudad Juarez either.
What's with all this anyway? Up above
my head the railroad passes  -  New
Jersey Transit, with those shitty, 
cramped trains and Amtrak and Acela,
with their speed and acclaim. Want to
go to Philly, or DC? Here's your grab.
Metropark or Newark, either one is
fab. But, here and now is Newark,
where everything's broken down :
the culture and the magic are all 
gone. I used to come here, in a
'62 Chevy estate wagon, to pick
up a Spanish guy named Angel.
Now that's all gone  - those old
Spanish types are finished, and
I don't know where they've gone.
Everything's been replaced now
anyways, with cereal kids  -  Kix 
and Cheerios and Alpha-Bits. I've
not met a kid yet named Kix, but
I bet it's coming soon  -  pack the
car enough and someone will have
a baby, right? Look at those old 
stones that make up the wall. New
graffiti for sure -  nifty and modern.
Today's 'brites' got the old colors 
beat, and they get away with this
stuff now easy. It's so simple. No
one draws nudes of their sister on
the wall  -  just weird names in big
fat and goofy letters. 'Tyco 21', 
and 'Mash Omari 3'. What's any 
of it mean; beats me. Along the
McCarter Highway now, in fact,
to combat the graffiti, they have
some guys's painting of white
dresses, repeated like 30 times, 
all down the rock-wall row.
Nothing left for me; I want to
go get drunk in the old Mac Turner's
Tavern that was on the corner, but
it's now gone and I don't care. I can
still go to McGovern's, but that's a
hell-hole now, and the last time I
was there they were holding a union
meeting in the big back room and I
just sat at the bar  -  where this ancient
old lady, probably 70, just stared at
me for half the hour. She had one of
those small grocery carts, the kind
you pull along, and it was filled
with baby clothes, while she wore
a full-length, old tweed jacket. The
whole scene was weird, but they'd 
let her in and she nursed a beer.
Staring at me, enough that I wanted
to punch her out. Somebody's Mama,
I figured; so I just let it go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

9207. UM, MAYBE SO

I've walked that mile of broken glass, 
and my feet are unaffected though my
toes may be bloody. And I haven't a 
care in the world. I am wholesome 
and I am dismembered. My limp, 
remember, is not my walk. Here is
the salvage of the solace I sought.


No I don't know about that. Sitting in
Cranston's, the girl comes up to me
with the magic mirror and says, 'would
you like to come in?' I was flabbergasted
and meant nothing by my non-reply.
What I wanted to say was, 'Get lost,
you pesky bumble-bee.' 
Now it's five days later and they're
rehearsing the torches for the
St. Patrick's Day Parade. I never
know why men do these things  - 
maybe just as their excuse for
staying drunk. Medieval saints
and Serpents of Evil? Give me
the break, when it gets here.
Where I'm living now, there's no
excuse for anything at all. They 
too have their Saint Patrick's Day 
Parade, but for some reason, for 
them, the end-site awards and
the festivities are held at the
Hungarian-American Club.


These daily briefs are so boring :
reports of this and reports of that,
making me feel like General 
Washington at my own Valley
Forge. I remove my wig for no
one, but no one seems to care.


Far, far afield from
anything of the real,
I conspired with myself.
Had to. Couldn't not.
Sometimes I'd sit
around in the Mayflower
Cafe  -  which was 
nothing more, really,
 than a foul Chinese 
Restaurant that had,
at one side, a long 
counter and served
coffee and various 
pastries. Remember, 
this was 1967 or so, 
there weren't any 
Starbucks kind of 
things around. If you 
weren't drinking alcohol  
-  for which there were 
10,000 bars  -  you 
were stuck looking 
for rough and tumble 
coffee places. There 
wasn't much. Twin 
Donuts, and Schraft's 
or Andrews Coffee 
Shops weren't for me; 
they were more heavily 
invested in the regular, 
working guy, normal 
people and tourist 
class. They bored me. 
The three or four 
'diners' I knew of, 
they were OK, but 
sitting at the counter 
all night meant talking 
it up with one of the 
counter-girls or guys, 
and after a while, 
once it all gets that 
friendly, I always 
began avoiding it. 
Most all of the 
Automats were 
closing up (they 
often became Burger 
Kings. Go figure 
that out)  -  and 
perhaps the last 
one was right by 
the Chrysler Building 
back then, something 
like 41st and Lexington 
maybe. I went there 
too, but towards the 
end they really started 
ruining the place  
-  in fact, right in
 the center, they 
nearly gave the 
whole thing over 
to a big cookie 
a thing called Famous 
Amos, some black 
guy who made these 
supposedly grand 
cookies. The cool 
China-men at 
Mayflower, they 
were so far off and 
distant that I never 
had to talk. They 
served  -  the Chinese 
food restaurant side 
of course was regular 
Chinese Menu stuff, 
but really cheap and 
really good  -  all 
sorts of pastries 
but they were all 
Chinese pastries, 
which was weird, 
meaning they 
weren't anything 
like American stuff, 
donuts and all. These 
were gummy 
concoctions of 
a really cool texture, 
and usually filled 
with any sort of 
bizarre filling, 
anything ranging 
from either chopped 
and pasted almonds 
to some kind of 
prune-pudding stuff. 
It was strange, but 
good. And the coffee  
-  just regular stuff 
out of a big urn  -  
was intense, thick 
and dark and strong. 
It was a lucky 
break and pretty
 cool. Most of 
the time it was 
Chinese, but not 
always  -  there'd 
be little clumps 
of two or three, 
intense poetry types, 
political debaters, 
crazed NYU socialists. 
You could always 
tell them, non-stop 
going at it into each 
other's faces about 
arcane issues while 
they chomped 
down on piles of 
75 cent lo mein 
and a pile of rice. 
I could always 
tell the real politics 
nuts, those leftist 
types, back then, 
were all about 
Sandanistas and 
Nicaragua. Which 
were just normal 
words and places
 to me, but they'd 
spit out the 
words with some 
oddball guttural 
tone. It made them 
sound as if, or think 
that they were really 
from there and 
authentic fighting 
leftists battling 
whoever it was 
those guys battled. 
Arturo Sandino, I 
think his name was. 
It was a real kind
of drama, a personal
role-playing that kept
them going. You could
see it as they acted it
out. Satisfying and
intense, as if they
were trying out for
the role of Che 
himself, in some 
cheesy flick. Every 
so often, an older few 
would come in, 
big-time guys (this 
was Allen Ginsberg's 
last favorite haunt, 
back when he could s
till make the 15 or 20
 block walk; constantly 
talking, intense, with 
whomever was with 
him. It was always 
fun to see). I guess 
I was just 'funky' 
enough,in the terms 
of the day back then, 
to get along with 
this stuff  -  I really 
had little and wanted 
less. And I lived a
really slum life, the
slummiest you could
think of. It was all, 
for me, just things I'd 
face off. What used
to scare me the most, 
I'd admit, was, below 
11th street, rather 
east of 11th street, 
the avenues, A, B, 
C, and that area. 
It was wildman 
country and I seldom 
stepped in without
real hesitance. Two 
girls I knew, from 
the Studio School,
 they lived there, 
in some corner 
walk-up that 
seemed impossible 
to live in. I had 
given them my 
cat, Blake. I don't 
know what I was 
thinking, or why 
I'd done what I 
did by even bringing 
it into NYC with 
me. But once the
apartment was raided
and everything taken,
all I was left with 
(again) was the cat. 
The whole thing 
was a pet nightmare 
and I was an idiot, 
and I knew it didn't 
work  -  so I let 
them take it. But 
I never really saw 
it again, and even 
just writing this 
now is painful. 
I'm do for a spell 
in Petkeeper Hell, 
I think. Couple of 

bad mistakes in 
that department. Anyway, 

down there, once past 
Avenue A, all Hell 
broke lose : needles, 
pushers,  users, killers, 
and everything in 
between. By the 70's 
the world down there 
had crash-landed, 
everything had just 
fallen dead onto the 
heads of the people 
who were still there. 
I don't know how 
they managed; 
they too were 
walking dead. 
There was no 
money, unless you 
could steal it. There 
was no frolic, unless 
drugs and crazy sex 
and madness were 
your thing. None 
of that was mine, 
and I even hated 
the smell. It was 
from all this rubble, 
in a little bit of time, 
that an interesting 
derivation of rock 
and hippie culture 
broke out  - after a 
year or two of death 
and bad bodies and 
countless OD's left 
on the curb where 
they died, You'd see 
them, looking so 
much like a garbage 
bag out for pickup, 
that you could walk 
right by. Or maybe 
wonder...last night, 
what time this one 
happened? How'd 
he pass? I always 
wanted to lay my 
hands on, raise the 
dead, say a powerful 
prayer, do something. 
Life sucks, but that 
kind of death 
sucks worse. 
Well, anyway, let 
me get back on 
track. About this 
time, amidst all 
else, I really knew 
I wanted to be, 
had to be, a writer, 
had to set all this 
crap down sometime 
and somehow. I 
was determined 
that Id start and 
do it right then. 
It was doable, 
and I knew it. 
Craziest thing is, 
everything else 
always got in the 
way and it took me, 
out of control, nearly 
40 years to get down 
to it. And there is 
was, finally, coming 
out of me like blood 
from a knife wound. 
I found these things, 
to sort of explain 
myself : 'Here's a 
book that has been 
conceived unashamedly 
and directly without 
a thought either to 
critics or to the 
book trade, to the 
prevailing tastes 
or styles of the day. 
Nor fitting into 
any of the pigeon-holes 
of style and content
which prevail now. 
Neither novel, play, 
essay, history, or 
travel book. A book 
that exists because 
the author was so 
moved to write it; 
amused by a certain 
slice of his existence 
in which these things
happened  freely and 
cantankerously and
were committed to 
writing. And he had 
the nerve to let such 
things happen. To 
tell about. In this 
pattern-cut time 
of being, most 
writers are too 
afraid of losing
their private 
reputations as 
well-dressed and 
to make any attempt 
to feel and express 
directly the life 
about them and 
in them. And why 
is it, in addition, 
that when anyone 
commits anything 
novel in the arts 
he should always 
be greeted by the 
same peevish howl 
of pain and surprise? 
The interest people 
show, or claim to, 
in these endeavors 
cannot be very 
deep or very 
genuine when 
they wince so 
under any 
unexpected impact.' 
Yep, that was 
going to be me, 
and I was sure 
of it.
*****THE END*****

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The wonder of a million 
things is the same as the
wonder of one thing : I 
stood around taking it
all in. If I can return to
the Staten Island Ferry
for a moment, I wish to
add that the perceptual
basis of all that, (see
previous chapter) as
I broke it down after 
repeated seeings, had 
the same elemental 
quality as the rest of
life - thus the connection
of One Thing to the All.
Viewing Reality as a 
farther-off fixed point,
everything before it, in 
the 'foreground' as it 
were, was (and is) always
in motion, and is what we
react to in our daily living.
Spinning and moving.
Life thereby gets its
weird perspective, and 
the Staten Island Ferry,
by the obvious way
all of that happened, 
was in actuality a 
scientific trip through 
that premise. If properly 
explained, it could have 
been a wonderful school 
trip for any bunch of
5th grade kids. Of course,
the stupidly sanctioned
'school-teacher' crowd
of today can't think like 
that; they'd rather have
their kids dragged in and
pushed around in some
dirigible-inflation of 
poor information and 
lousy air like the 
Liberty Science 
Center, where they 
can get their science 
delivered instead as 
propaganda and
kiddie-fodder and 
go home happy and 
gleeful. I daresay
that's what passes 
for educational
protocol today.
It would do no 
great dis-service to 
the world of today 
if we simply got 
back to essentials, 
and broke down a 
lot of the unseemly 
crap that gets sponsored 
and established by 
government services  
-  grown way out of 
proportion and into
realms where it no 
longer has any business 
and was never part 
of the original
American plan at 
all. Like any of 
these Science 
Centers and Zoos 
and Hands-On Museums.
It's all such prattle. Back
in 1967, of which I'm 
here speaking, man 
when I hit the streets 
of New York there 
was no soft landing 
or safety net. It was 
real, and it was a 
forest fire. There 
was no one there, 
for any of us, to 
guide us along 
and soft-talk us 
into what we 
should or should 
no be thinking about 
things  -  or if there 
was it kept far, far 
away from the 
sort of crowd I 
was mixing with.
Listen, I'm a veteran,
but of many different
kinds of things; and
I never got anything 
from it. I had a friend
who came back from
Vietnam, completely
drained and voided of
any personality  -  
haggard and drawn 
and crazy, with a look 
in his eyes like he just
dropped his infant 
baby down a coal 
chute by mistake.
Yeah, that scary. Years
went by, I'd see him
here and there. He 
was completely 
spinning around 
town on his bicycle 
like a mad hatter. For
thirty years plus, no 
one would give him
the time of day. That
kind of veteran. Then 
one day about ten 
years ago I bumped 
into him, quite by
accident, and he was
all cleaned up  -  they'd
cut his hair and his
wild beard; he had a 
brand-new Chevy truck,
which he called 'my 
Baby.' I asked him 
how was everything, 
and he responded with
happiness. The soldier
re-hab people had taken
him in, cleared him up,
fixed and mended him,
to the point where, he 
said, he now felt 
perfectly right
and normal. Which
all meant trouble to 
me, but which to him
meant normal and
happy and right. I
was glad for him, 
at that level anyway, 
even though secretly 
I was sad they'd
taken back another 
one into their 
infernal system. 
But anyway, he 
said he was about 
to embark on
a round-the-world 
plane jaunt, on 
regular commercial 
jets, with free passes 
all, and maybe six 
or eight stops along 
the two-month journey. 
It was all paid for, the 
travel part anyway, by
government stipend, 
available to all military 
vets as part and parcel 
of their completed 
treatment. So he 
was going off, and 
thrilled by the idea
 to finally get to 
'tour' the world.  
I thought of myself 
and my little battles 
with those same 
bastard authorities
in 1967 at Whitehall 
Induction Center on 
Broadway; (same
induction year as
this guy,  as we were
the same age, or 
within a year),
and I just laughed. 
Yeah man, I was a 
veteran too, but 
of what, I couldn't 
say. But I do hope 
Kenneth enjoyed 
his jaunt.
That's what that 
whole fixed horizon 
thing is about  -  
how that distance 
stays the same but, 
right in front of 
us, all things change 
and transform. Life 
is a magical realm, 
and I had trouble 
distinguishing the 
magic, one trick 
from the other. 
Rabbits coming 
out of hats is 
one thing; acceptable, 
sort of. But I had 
hats coming out 
of rabbits, which 
made lots of things 
really difficult 
for me.