Friday, November 17, 2017


I can drink flame and fire your sister and
stake your claim. Mister. Three Fingers.
Of. Doubt. That's Me. There's a devil
of a time to be had just now washing
up on shore. This ain't no Philadelphia
brothel. Here the coins stick in the slot,
and nothing comes down the chute.
Hey, Mugambe, here's to you. Today.
Twenty blind soldiers are washing your
face, taking alkali to Tennessee, 
Zimbabwe and Malay.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


I wonder and I bet they can't.
Joseph Conrad notwithstanding,
some fool would take offense.


A seventh-level 3/4 inch bolt
can hold this bridge aloft, or,
missing, take it down. That's a
pretty stark distinction between
two worlds, I'd think. Still, we
have to make up our minds
about so many things. I look
out from your rooftop level,
and I too can scan your raging
sea. Have you ever been to
Mount Barker? Aldinga?
Or Adelaide?


And dog-legs cause crow's feet and 
bad eyes cause crashes. How's that?
Is that okay? Boy I get mad at those
stalwarts few with the correct angle
and all what they do about it : succint
be the proper language and watch
your pointed phrasings too  -  I've 
got my unbroken family to consider.
It's funny as Hell to watch what rings the
bell : proper intonation and proper tales 
to tell. Hand holding with the butcher's
wife  - till someone chops off your fingers.

10,183. RUDIMENTS, pt.137

Making Cars
One phrase I used to like, but not
always understand, was 'playing
both ends against the middle.' I'd
guess I still don't exactly know what
it means to say, except maybe
hedging, or covering all bets, or
remaining non-committal, in the
middle, of any issue. I'm not sure.
I did, however, in my own version
of it, end up seeing things that
way : take cars, for instance. In
the years around 1968, I'd read
the monthly issues of  'Car and
Driver', 'Road and Track'  -  the
reviews of new models, racing
exploits, stories and histories
behind cars and design, etc. I
liked all that. They'd always
manage to have an occasional
article, into the early 70's, about
how car technology hadn't much
changed at all, how that '68 Chevelle
was, under its changing skin, still
not much different than a '48 Chevy.
I granted them that argument, and
whatever. And, then, the other
arguments, endless, about safety,
always cropped up. That's when
I realized  -  about playing both
ends against the middle  -  how the
car and design people were screwing
that up too, in the name of safety.
That old design (one end) of the
heavy metal and steel, was slowly to
be replaced with newer, lightweight
items of plastics and composites (the
other end of that argument) that
would make the cars safer and
better for survival. The middle here
was to be lighter weight, less impact
damage, air bags and safety belts,
and all that crap. What you ended
up with in about five years, was
manufactured cars that had become
look-alike, jelly-beaned, pieces of
crap. Crap that did eventually, yes,
run better and last far longer, but
which had lost all soul. The cool
thing about cars, until that point,
was the raw entryway they offered
for getting into their guts, hands
dirtied, things learned, re-tunings
made, things altered and manipulated.
Playing off both ends against the
middle genericized the automobile
until it was no more than a function,
now, of efficiency, wind-cutting shapes
of curve and arc, safety matters. And,
alas, plastic. Who ever had heard,
after 40 fine years for massive,
iceberg smashing metal bumpers,
of the smoothie, cover plastic over
white foam board junk, they use now,
and still call 'bumper'? Maybe if you're
one of those who hits a lot of pillows
and marshmallows. Good grief,
everything's gone crazy.
Headlights, too  -  there was a time
when a headlight was a round, glass
globe, always the same and you knew
what it was. Then, about 1974 or so,
the new law said that the shape of
lenses and lights was no longer to
be regulated and they could simply
become weirdly-shaped and integrated
pieces of the design fabric as long as
certain 'lumens' were maintained  -
a lumen is a light value, for purposes
of illumination, etc. So, all of a
sudden, you began seeing these oddball
lozenge-shaped things (the lights, not
the cars  -  though they too suffered)
where headlights used to be. The 'light'
became a design piece too, and apt
to be noticed spreading all over the
car. By that time I'd pretty much
lost all faith in the old integrity
of the metal, mesh, and steel of a
car. By playing off the parts, as
was done, somehow the idea was
lost as well, and it all just turned into
sleek conveyance, with now even
thought of turning the 'drivers' out
are underway. Alter the designation!
So, as things move along, the human
defines the meaning. And the shape.
And the usefulness. Just another thing
we must get used to. Joseph Conrad
wrote that 'the only indisputable
truth is our ignorance.'
It was a lot different a long time ago  -
my father would rip into an engine on
a Saturday clear, working at something
all day, and by evening whatever it was
had been accomplished. Drive-shafts, 
universal joints, tie rods, drum brakes,
radiator and cooling system, any of that 
stuff, I'd hear about and he'd replace or
fix. At the top of the driveway he even
kept an engine hoist. The junkyards
were just down the street. He wanted
for nothing at all. I remember one time
he'd gotten a '53 Dodge, from somewhere,
for some ridiculous price, 30 bucks and
you take it; that sort of thing. It was a
nice, dark green car. I liked it, except at
about 30 miles per hour the pronounced
shake and shudder it had would rattle 
your teeth. He got to work on it, and
by the next weekend it ran smooth as
silk, right up to to speed. 65 or 70 was
a lot back then and that speed asked
a lot as well, from tired engines and
brake systems. So he stayed always
reasonable with his driving (even 
though my aunt always called him 
a 'cowboy' behind the wheel. We
never went much of anywhere with
her except graveyards, to visit other
relatives  -  so I figured maybe her
cracks about his crazy driving had
something to do with her not wishing
to end up there as well. Who knew?
Playing two ends against the middle, 
I figured: One end, life, and the other
end, death. The middle was fine.

10,182. DINK

There's a little bug in the
swarming here : light, like
an icicle gets light in its
melting. Not heavy with
things of this world.


First I suppose it's Happy Birthday, even
though I did give up on all that long ago.
There's a fence around my batting cage
that lets no one in. Those who come and
go just end up avoiding me anyway. The
way a killer avoids Bad Karma. Or tries.
You see, that's a prison in Kansas. Bad
Karma Federal Penitentiary.
Just the other day it was Happy Halloween.
Now it's something else, and then another.
Never keep up with that unending line
of froth myself. Turtles like that, they
come and go. People start each one 
earlier now, and it's like they overlap.
Just today I saw a sign for 'Santa's
Crackling Freedom Fourth of July
Black Friday Veteran's Day of
Thanksgiving Sale,' and then it
went on how the deals are so good
that Black Friday now is every day!
I still get amazed by lightning bugs
and weeping willows; you know, the
way they sway in a nice light breeze.
I've got no time for manufactured things.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


It seems like every morning I
wake up broke, and just tell 
myself I'll be rich by four. It's
always a lie, but nothing bad
ever happens from it. Of course,
I'm still broke when it comes, but, 
hey, what can any man do about 
stuff like that? They let the old 
like me now just shuffle around.
I don't really need to go anywhere,
and anyway, with all I've found,
there's not that much new I care
to do. My fun is right before me,
just with what I see. I can mostly
go anywhere yet  :  not for free,
no, but the most minimal cost,
and I'm not a big eater.
It seems to get easier, even though
it's a bit of a pain. I can't think about 
anything too much; it's all memories, 
and, from that, what's the use? A lot
of the guys I used to know are dead.
I can hear them crying, and wonder
where they're buried  -  some, the
ones I don't know. I only have to
find out once, really, because once
you get put down you're put down; 
nobody aims to move you once 
you're dead and buried. Unless
you're an urn of ash on some
mantelpiece that keeps being
moved from town to town.
But, I don't keep up and my
address book's closed. I used
to play tennis, but now I just

10,179. MILEPOST 91

Do shed it all, ravage-boy, and
let the coat and the feelings fly.
C'mon over, ravage-girl, let's
talk. The coffee-counter's open
and again they're serving tea and
Sandstorm Devil's Food cake. I
never tried it before. It's great.
I see the Arkansas plate on your car.
How'd you get it here, so far? Was
there a problem along the way?
I think I've got about 140 more 
miles to go. I'm hitting River Bay
Junction next. After that, who
knows? And I really don't care.
If I ever get there.

10,178. RUDIMENTS, pt. 136

RUDIMENTS, pt. 136
Making Cars
One of the most fascinating and
captivating things for me, growing
up, were magnets. I suppose in the
years - 5 to 8 years old  -  they took
up a lot of my time and thought.
My father, for whatever reason
it was, had two very large magnets,
each of them about the size of 3/4
of a shoe-box, but quite thick.
They were horseshoe-shaped.
Massive objects, to me. A dark,
almost harsh, metallic grey, and
always cold to the touch. They
were also heavy, surprisingly so.
(As I sit here writing this it hits
me now that I have no idea
where these may have ended
up. Long gone). In addition to
these 2 objects, I began collecting
or getting small magnets of any
size and shape wherever I could.
Puny and weak by comparison,
there were, surprisingly enough,
lots of places from which to get
them. Toy counters, five and ten
cent stores, model kits sometimes
had a small magnet involved, and
I even remember small horseshoe
type magnets, wrapped in pressed
paper, in cereal boxes. No matter,
that. One time, for Christmas or
something, I remember getting like
the worst possible, most dumb, gift
of 'electric football.' It was hideous,
but each player had little magnets
at their base (I soon enough detached
them). The idea of the game was
that the weak magnets, once you
plugged in and turned 'on' the game,
were not 'strong' enough, or just
adequate, to hold the players in
place UNTIL, with the electric
current, the board began vibrating
smoothly enough and the vibration
moved the player/magnets along.
You'd have your players in their
formation, and it basically just
was a magnetic vs. current free-
for-all to see which 'quarterback'
or runner made it to the goal line.
There was no passing or anything,
and the players were quite static and
boring, so I wouldn't know what the
moronic motivation would have
been to play this game. It sure
made no sense to me, and really
annoyed me. Funnier than that
annoyance was, was the fact that
we had family friends who came
over and they had a kid my age,
named George, who thought this
was the coolest, most fascinating
game in the world. I got stuck
playing it that day, over and over,
with the nitwit  -  who, amazingly,
in later life went to Drexel Pharmacy
School in Philadelphia, and college,
and became a Pharmacist. I may be
biased but for the rest of my life I
always grouped pharmacists with
the same categorical, dull, and
rigid-by-prescription people who'd
become toiling pharmacists, mixing
their allotted doses of powders and
concoctions, by rote.
What it was about magnets was the
idea of attraction and repel. I was
absorbed by the conditions of the
magnet's power to make physical
some weird invisible force. The
little magnets were just for fun, but
those two large magnets entertained
me philosophically and conceptually
at all times. Whatever the 'power
force' of magnetism is, the two
large magnets were so fierce when
placed in opposition to each other,
repelling one another, so as to move
the other, literally, in the opposite
direction. I could feel and fight the
force, but I could never break it. I'd
sometimes pile heavy objects on one,
on the floor or a table-top, just to see
what weight was needed to stop the
force of movement. It was amazing,
and the fighting force of 'repel,' in my
hands could be felt, but never harnessed
or controlled. It was always on the
verge of being out of control, would
run sideways, or move my hand. I
would observe that the small, weaker
magnets behaved in the same, patterned
behavior, just in weaker forms and
with fewer resistances. I was fascinated
by this mimic-behavior between large
and small. I would take one of the
the large magnets and just walk with
it, running it over things just to see
what was magnetic and what was
not. A simple matter, but intriguing.
I can also (and this was most wondrous)
remember doing something with the
large magnets  -  though I can't now
recall what I did  -  so that, overnight,
whatever I'd conjoined with the magnet
would, the next day, be a magnet itself.
Right now, this still baffles me, the
memory is hazy, but the concept rings
clear  -  how stunning and fresh it was
to realize that 'transference.' Truly,
one of life's mysteries.
There are so many things of like and
ponderous thinking that went on. Well
after I was no longer a 'kid,' things still
kept bubbling through me, these fantastical
concepts that I'd then try to handle. It was
difficult sometimes, to go on, walking
in the normal fashion of people, one
step in front of the other, to propel
oneself along. Simple as it sounds,
where did that start? I never fit in well
with normal character groups, mostly
because I simply wasn't 'there.' I never
'shared' space. In later years, one of the
concepts was how we 'create' time. How
it doesn't really exist, and is just an
affordable, discrete 'word' to signify
what we are agreeing to by it, or
agreeing to do. That was a difficult
concept, but it came to me one day
as I was driving. Yes. Here, I'll explain:
This explanation may be a little
convoluted and strange to handle,
but it's the manner in which I went:
I've always hated jamming on my brakes.
last-second stops, emergency jam-ons,
they really annoy me, and I much prefer
the well thought-out, organized and more
gradual come-to-a-stop routine. When I'd
get to a light that turned yellow suddenly
close, or the guy in front of me who I
thought could make it, suddenly stops
instead, causing me to jam to a stop,
I'd get all annoyed, and then I (thinking 
of brake use and wear) begin counting 
the lights and stops I DIDN'T catch,
realizing, in turn, that each of those
was adding time to my my use, and
essentially removing time from the
heavier brake use I'd just had to do. I 
was driving 'ahead' into a still uncreated
time, in which I had already been sourcing
some duration, of moments which didn't 
exist -   except for my agreed-upon
stipulation that it (they) did. Perfectly
non-sensical sense, delving into places
where nothing existed except concept.
Yet to me it WAS the perfect logic, the
equivalent of a pharmacist's formula
for curing aches and pains with a pill. 
My rational attraction AND my magnetic
repel, as well to the life and situation
I was living. Needless to say, I never
was able to tell anyone about this.
It made little sense, and who had
the time for it anyway?


Chevette Holmay...with such an 
unlikely name as that he said 
'I think all the world is always 
laughing at me,' and I wanted 
to believe him, say that's true. 
Maybe. What can you do?
We were sitting at El Rocco 
Cantina, which had been his 
choice. Just another 9th street 
dump with Spanish food. I
guess OK. Down here, this
part of the east Village, 6th
Street is all Indian cuisine, 
and 9th street starts up 
Mexican and Spanish. 
Those are the streets, mind you;
along the avenues, A, 1st, 2nd,
it's all mixed. You can get most
anything, and drink yourself to
death doing it. That's good too.
One time, when my son was 
about 15, I took him and two 
friends,  along 6th street to one 
of the Indian places. It was all 
new then, about 1986, to the kids. 
Anything past a hot dog and soda 
was exotic cuisine. Anyway, my 
son barfed all over everything. 
Like right in the middle of a
sentence, just talking. Boy, that
sucked a whole lot, right then.
I told Chevette, I said, 'Talk
about getting laughed at, man
you should have seen that scene.'
He went wild with giggles.


I wanted that to be
mine, an old car, it 
was named, called ,
a Trocadero, I think;
It had a ringtone like a
hammer, and went 204
miles per hour, sitting
still, cruising, it felt 
like. I drove one once,
just once, all the way 
down, I went, to Trenton 
and back. I took old Route
One, where it separates
down there at Lawrence
or wherever that is. The old
road, it says, runs through 
a business district, but it's
not really, just a string of
roadside stores, like plazas,
where you've got to have a
car to park; well, know what
I mean? Of course you've
got to have a car to park, 
otherwise you wouldn't be
parking. I guess I meant 
you've got to have a car 
to get there. To park? No
that doesn't work either.
The hell with it, don't go
Man I hate the precision
that language sometimes
call for.


As that American president said
to that Vladimir Rasputin guy, about
the hollering masses in the streets :
'You can grab them by the new world;
they love it. They'll let you do anything.'

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Not liking too much, Robert, yeah,
but, you know, I mean, no. You
haven't been watching? No, not
really. You wish you could go to
what? Splash Mountain? What's
that? Whatever it is, it doesn't
sound near as good as just saying
here. My mother used to put rice
in the salt. I think it was rice.
To prevent caking from moisture.
Probably not 'caking,' but I do
forget what it's called. Clumping?
When the salt sticks together.
She said she would have done it
with the sugar too, but it was in
a bowl, and you couldn't possibly
spoon out rice with your sugar.
A shaker, like salt, was different.
Unless you're a cereal, I said; it was
meant as a joke, but it went right
over her head. Cereals put sugar
in everything  - rice, wheat, oats,
bran, whatever the crazy cereal has
to start out with, it gets sugar too.
So I never knew her point  -  I
guess it went right over my head
then too. So, I tried recovering,
and I said, the rice in the sugar,
or salt too, for that matter, is just
like a radical particle, maybe,
no one knows what to do with it.
I still don't think it clicked.

10,173. RUDIMENTS, pt. 135

RUDIMENTS, pt. 135
Making Cars
I had an uncle who made wine,
or some strong version of it called
grappa  -  more like the mushed
and fermented grape leftover of
a peasant kitchen mash. My father,
in his turn, made what he called
anisette, in the basement where we
lived. I never knew much about it;
it was syrupy, reeked of vanilla, or
something I couldn't place, licorice,
maybe. I used to figure that, if you
touched it with a match, you could
probably light it up, and have some
cool, flaming, happy dessert. It
never made any sense to me, nor
why anyone would want that, and
neither did I ever did get to taste the
grappa my uncle made. He lived
in Fort Lee, right by the George
Washington Bridge, which was
a great draw for me -  I'd just
go out and wander, they could
have their drink. The fort was
a real place, once a lookout and
a redoubt for Washington's
retreating army, after being
driven from Brooklyn and across
the heights in those first, horrible
battles of the war. Ragtag soldiers,
peasant armies, no supplies,
disorder and vomit, blood and
death. It was all up there; you
could look right out and see
it all. My mind flamed with that
stuff, and I lived re-fighting that
war each time I visited and wished
I would never have to leave. The
people alive today, they know
little about any of this, especially
the new arrivals  - south Asians,
Russians, Chinese and Japanese
too. They're all over the place in
the Fort Lee area now, and they
give no mind whatsoever to a
version of the American past.
Neither do most Americans
anyway. It's sad, and it's real
stupid. People now would rather
 just die watching something,
anything, on a screen, TV or
hand-held, while  their reality-fist
of a President takes his place in
the very faulty line of all those
before him  -  the men who've
destroyed this nation; women
too. I can think of a few.
On that rocky bluff, you had all
that history  -   if you dug  -  and at
the same time, if you just walked
out towards the edge and the
overlook, there was all that
amazing bare and rigid gridwork
of the bridge. Iron and steel and all.
The George Washington Bridge is
bare and barren, just a great, boxy
metal grid, without a lot of the
grace and swoop of other designed
bridges. The 'GWB' was never
finished. That accounts for the
look. The Depression, killed the
project, for expenditures anyway,
and the projected masonry and
stone/bridge finish simply never
was put on. It just stayed raw 
steel, and that became, in a little
time, its glorified, trademark look.
It was funny it all got to be
reverse-marketed into a 'symbol'
of man's pure engineering power,
raw and forceful. Except it really
was supposed to have been a more
graceful and finished, monumental-
looking thing, akin to the masonry
and religious look of the Brooklyn
Bridge. In any case, I spent a lot of
my time there, there. The adults and
uncles and aunts sat around, enjoying
their food and drink; I loved my spot
Over time, as a youngster, you learn to
begin reading all these little impulses
as they come to you. Being up there,
feelings arose. I sensed I was 'someplace.'
In that sense, it was more about ghosts
and voices, I guess, more than anything
else. I certainly was often reluctant to
trudge back those five or ten blocks
into the town of Fort Lee/Leonia, and
get to that little, blue house.And see
all of them and that again. I didn't
belong to that scene at all, and didn't
understand it. Awkwardness and the
alienation of growing up is one thing,
but this was much different. It was
spiritual, and my spirit star was racing
across my own Heavens, certainly
 not theirs. I used to have to think,
'How'd I get in this situation?' I
could have at any time just jumped 
off there to my happy death, but, never
having heard much of age brackets,
and still being young, I'd think, 'I
don't want to be the youngest suicide.'
So I just kept waiting, and nothing
on that count ever happened. But I
did wonder how young the youngest
'suicide' ever was?
My uncle here was a cool guy, sort of
a wild man. He kept his motorcycle 
in the kitchen, and made his wine 
in the basement garage. That always
seemed pretty strange to me. No one
ever said anything, although they did,
eventually divorce. Money. Drink.
Personalities. Things don't always
work out. The house was always
empty; very little, or no, furniture, 
except the five or six basic things 
needed, like a kitchen table, and 
a couch. The rest of the place was 
kept bare-assed empty. I guess the
bedrooms had dressers and beds, 
but I never checked and, as I said, 
no one ever mentioned a thing. The
house was so empty, in those other,
larger 'sitting' rooms, that, if you 
talked, the big empty rooms echoed.
This was the cousin once, who told
me, as a local crazy guy was walking the
shortcut path that angled through the
rear of their yard, that he 'wasn't all
there.'  That's all she said, mysteriously,
'See that guy, he's not all there.' I
looked him over as he was passing, 
two legs, two arms, and all that. I 
was baffled, thinking 'what could 
she mean?' Of course, I later learned 
of it as a euphemism and all, for 
crazy, but I'd never heard it previously,
and  -  really  -  just kept wondering
what sort of shadow this guy must 
throw. I always thought of their
place as shadows and echoes.
It was funny like that.
This uncle, by the way, who had 
married my father's sister, he made
his wine (and he also made anisette 
as well) in a great big wooden vat  - 
it was really interesting  -  wooden 
staves, and all grape stained and
things. He knew just what he was
doing, mashing stuff, doing the
aging for fermentation and all.
Or whatever you do for strong red 
wine, I don't know. He had nice
bottles and tubes for the clear 
anisette, which smelled about 
the same as my father's versions.
However, I'd always notice, my
father's cellar operation was nothing 
to compare. A crummy sink, a bottle 
or two, a stopper, and some sort of 
tube. It seemed more like a Dr.
Caligari set-up, making poison
elixir. Maybe that's why I never
drank it. I had another uncle who
use to make horseradish, the real
stuff, with an original horseradish
starter plant that his father had
smuggled into America when he
arrived, in his coat liner. It took, 
and over the years grew plenty of
offshoot plants, strong, Polish-variety
stuff. They'd sit around, the men,
sloshing this stuff on crackers, 
with something or other they'd 
be drinking too. One day, I can 
recall, I was probably 6 or 7, they
were sitting around a table in my
father's basement and he (my father)
playing it up, globbed a huge pile
of this onto a cracker and wolfed 
it down in one swallow. (He'd
been warned against it). As I
watched, gape-mouthed, he was
down in a second, flat-out, passed
out on the cellar concrete floor.
He later told me it had felt like, 
in an instant, the top of his head
had blown off. I guess horseradish
straight from Poland can do that.